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.