Having a support network during your recovery is very valuable. But it is important for you to be clear who you want to include in that network. Not all friends and family are naturally supportive people. Some may define “support” as criticizing or giving you unsolicited advice that you do not need. Others may have nothing more to say than, “Get over it.” In most cases, it is not because they do not want to help. It is because they simply do not know how. These people may mean a lot to you in many ways, but they may not be good candidates for a support network.
The first step is to choose one or two people with whom you feel safe. Consider individuals you can trust and who will keep your confidence.
Be straightforward when you approach them about joining your support network. You have been diagnosed with depression and are beginning a treatment plan. Part of that plan is to develop a support network and you are hoping that they will be part of it.
One of the symptoms of depression can be irritability.1 Getting angry and snapping at members of your support network may have consequences that you will later regret. If irritability accompanies your depression, you may want to explain this to your support network. Let them know that you are doing your best to manage this part of your illness, but you may become irritable from time to time. Friends and family who are forewarned find it easier to be patient.
When you are ill your judgment will be off, so your support network can also help you by looking for signals of relapse and other danger signs. Your support network can also offer feedback that will let you know that things are improving even if you cannot see it for yourself.
Busy health care professionals often make patients feel rushed – and shy about asking questions. However, good communication is a two-way street. You have a role to play in this relationship and a highly active one. After all, this is your journey to recovery.
Here are some tips for having quality ongoing dialogue with your professional recovery team members:
Recovery is a process and it will not happen overnight. An ongoing dialogue with your professional team will help you (and them) continually adjust and improve your treatment to suit your needs and in response to the changing stages of your recovery.