Disconnection in Depression: Family Impact & Perception

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I heard from family members and friends this week about the emotional impact of experiencing a loved one’s withdrawal during depression. It was enlightening to hear them express that many of them sometimes harbor negative feelings toward the depressed loved one for their “ghosting.”

 Some of the supporters were simply not aware of this relational distancing pattern, and once informed, all negative feelings dissipated.  However there were others who were aware and surprisingly *still* possessed negative feelings towards the suffering loved one. 

I validated their experience and also challenged them to consider whether or not they would harbor negative feelings toward a cancer patient who socially withdrawed after a round of chemotherapy due to sickness. Most agreed they would have no negative feelings. Why then, would you have different expectations and feelings for  a depressed patient? 

In the same way that a cancer patient might be experiencing symptoms like poor appetite, disrupted sleep, extreme fatigue, anhedonia, etc., so does the depressed patient. 

Dare I say it would be outright ludicrous and incredibly insensitive of someone to expect a person who just endured chemotherapy to be super social with the energy of babes...eager to complete a multitude of tasks and entertain others? Dare I challenge people not to expect these things of someone with depression either? Adjust your perspective and expectations, and as a supporter, you might find that those negative feelings morph into something like empathy.

Parents, be steadfast in your optimism...& my tweets of the day!

Today, I have parents on the brain. It can be a challenge when your teen or young adult is making the poorest of choices and maybe even deliberately being counterproductive or outright ignoring all external attempts made by others to help him or her. It can be tempting for parents to personalize the experience and blame themselves, or even lash out and blame someone else. It can be scary to watch on the sidelines as your efforts to guide and empower your child fall frighteningly short. It might seem as natural as the sun rising, to try that much harder to control your child, the environment, outcomes, etc. I have no guaranteed solution for you, dear parent. But, I do urge you to remain calm, and have some degree of faith. Believe the best, allowing only positivity to occupy space in your brain...and choose to be hopeful. If you are meeting with resistance from a teen, momentarily pause preoccupation with performance and outcomes and shift focus towards your relationship. Never be so overcome by the adversity you are currently facing with your child, that you somehow cannot find goodness in him or her to hold on to and nurture. Shifting focus and conveying unconditional love does not equate to unbridled acceptance or condonation. But it might be worth it to reevaluate your some of your expectations and for sure be aware of all your inner desires/dreams for the lad...abandoning preconceived ideas of how things should be, opting instead to practice radical acceptance of the current reality.

Tweets for the day!

"Parents, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to always believe the best in them and convey it often...even as they make poor choices."

"Time is precious. Don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty about valuing the one resource you cannot acquire more of in your lifetime."

"Boundaries include acknowledging that 'your way' is not the only way. Don't be rigid. Allow space for others to try creative alternatives."

"Parents sometimes selfishly forget that unfortunately, they can negatively reflect on their children. I have seen people avoid a child because of who their parents are. Please, don't forget your unintentional reach."

Creative Communication with Teens

Get creative when coming up with conversation starters! If you're a "preacher," and you notice that preaching isn't really super effective, abandon, abort, throw it away! Try something creative as a way to open up communication with your teen. I created a quick and pretty direct powtoon (below) as a way to introduce topics with a group of teens. Sure they laughed at me and my "tragic" video lol...one teen decided to "narrate" the entire presentation and the monotone voice she used was certainly not the one in my head as I was making the video. But the point is, she read it! They all listened, and the dialogue that followed was important, thought provoking, and likely influential. Don't be afraid to get creative in your approach to communicating with your adolescent/loved one.