Here’s the thing: depression is an insidious invisible illness. It affects every aspect of a person’s life, from their career and health to their personality and relationships. And one of the relationships that depression affects most is friendships. Here are some typical ways in which depression impacts friendships, especially if it’s of the chronic kind.
1. Fake friends will disappear
When one is feeling blue, they tend to see the world through black and white colored glasses. Their mind tends to see the problem in every solution, the flaw in every good situation, and so on. Yes, a depressive is not easy to be friends with because they tend to have a cynical and jaded outlook on life.
Of course, this doesn’t mean people should avoid their company; indeed, only a fake friend will write off someone with depression as ‘unfriendable’. The fake friend is not interested in putting up with or understanding your blues. They might try to be supportive for some time, but soon they will avoid you because you are not “fun” to hang out with. Eventually, they will disappear from your life – and that’s a damn good thing because fake friends are worse than enemies.
2. You will be lonely
As good as it is for your mental health, you will feel lonely when fake friends disappear. It may be a few days, weeks, or even months until you stop feeling this way. It’s funny how we tend to miss even the most awful people, isn’t it? I guess it’s because people and their memories look rosier in retrospect.
Anyway, the silver lining in the cloud is that you will not feel lonely forever. As long as you accept what you are feeling and allow yourself to process it, this too shall pass. Over time and with therapy—whether self-therapy or professional therapy—you will stop missing your ex-friends. As you spend more time by yourself, you will learn to find solace in your own company.
3. True friends will stay
If you’re lucky, not all your friends will be fake. Some will be genuine and stay in your life even when you are in the throes of depression. Genuine friends will make an effort to stay connected and try to uplift your mood. Even if you push them away due to reasons like trust issues and low energy levels, they will find ways to be in touch with you. Yes, even after you have bailed on plans way too many times to keep track.
Through all the depression-induced ups and downs in your friendships, you will know who your real friends are. Because they’re the ones who will stay – even if they don’t fully understand what you’re going through. Still, if you find yourself friendless, you are never too old to make new friends. And this time, you can choose friends who are woke and empathetic, irrespective of whether they have depression or not.
4. You will keep to yourself
Despite the presence of true friends, you will become less social. And that’s normal as it’s a symptom of depression to want to be alone. While it’s not ideal to be asocial, this tendency helps protect your limited energy. According to Spoon Theory, we only have a limited number of spoons per day. So it makes sense to use them for the bare necessities like paid work and housework first, and then use whatever’s left for other essentials like spending time with loved ones. Realistically speaking, this translates to a lot of alone time. Unfortunately, this won’t be the fun kind of alone time like taking hot bubble baths. Instead, you may find yourself taking long and frequent depression naps.
Reclusive tendencies like these are not only bad for your mental health, but they may also make you seem cold and uncaring. While it’s hard to stay in touch with friends as a spoonie, being aware of the tendency to self-isolate can prevent you from becoming a lone wolf. The right kind of friend will also show up at your doorstep on occasion to stop you from turning into a hermit.