Depression: How to turn unsolicited advice into relapse prevention?

Depression is a mood disorder but it touches on every aspect of your life. Every persons pathway into depression is different, and every persons pathway out of depression will be different and unique [1]. While in depression I heard a lot of advice that I didn’t ask for and was just too tired and too sad to deal with. Now that I’m in a place where I search what can help me with my mental illness. I thought back and asked myself if some of that unsolicited advice was pointing to something useful? What did people mean and what wasn’t I getting at the time? Instead of getting upset by what others told me, I took a dive into that advice to maybe unravel something.

 

lack of-min

‘Are you sure it’s not because of a lack of vitamins?’ Biological factors influence your risk at getting depressed. Genetics play a part of that but there is no such thing as a ‘depression gene’. Psychological and social factors play are role too. Children of depressed parents are more at risk to develop a mental illness through modelling [1] . Kids do as they see. A variety of diseases can be preceded by depression like cardio-vascular disease. What I was thought in school as the first step before approaching anything from a psychological point of view was to exclude any other possible cause. In my experience this doesn’t always happen, even doctors dare to skip this step. If you have a sneaking suspicion that something is the matter in your body (hormones, vitamins, tumors, etc) you can have blood work done. Some medications require regular blood work,  keep an eye on that one, it may be crucial. Biology matters.

 

you're too-min

‘You’re too sensitive’. Learn about your vulnerabilities, what are your triggers? You need to learn about yourself. Medication can help you to raise the floor on depression, it can help with sleep, mood swings and resilience because it can help you too stabilize those things [1]. How to deal with your triggers, is going to be up to you. Medication can help you with finding vast ground beneath your feet but it will not shield you against life. Life continues no matter what. I found out that – as almost everybody – I value my freedom in general and freedom of choice in particular. Growing up with little of that gave me a sensor like a sniffer dog has one for a dead body, when someone wants to limit me or tells me what to do. I rebel like there is no tomorrow. I’m learning now how to stay true to me no matter what ‘others’ tell me (hence this post). Life will be challenging and everything changes, it’s best to deal with that. Once you know your triggers, you can work with them. Learning how to adapt, how to be more flexible. You can choose how many triggers you’re willing to deal with at once time. When vulnerable to stress, you can try to adjust the amount that you can handle, so you have room to grow. Everyone is sensitive to something, it’s how you go about it.

 

confetti-min

‘Live a little, go with your gut.’ Facts vs feelings. When you use internal orientation, you use (only) your feelings to make decisions and to interpret events that are happening in your life [1]. When depressed I didn’t feel any feelings and my head wasn’t functioning as well. The fact that people told me not to take important decisions made me feel even more incapable of doing something. When you see the world through a depressed mood, your outlook will be not optimistic. It is very good to trust your internal compass but sometimes it needs to work together with your (sane) thoughts. Trust that you know some things. Maybe you don’t feel like taking your meds, when you know deep down that they are working for you, take them. When you feel deep down that they are not working, speak about that with your health professional. When you don’t feel like going to bed because of bad dreams but you know you also need your rest to recuperate, try to sleep, try to relax before going to bed. Being happy seems to need both your feelings and your thoughts. There are different routes to take and you are the driver. When stuck, try to take another road, and yet another, till you find a road that will lead you to your goal. Plan actions according to your goals and not always according to your feelings, those actions need to be timely and effective.

 

Have you been confronted with unsolicited advice? What is your take on it?

 

Resources and further reading.

[1] Online transcript of talk: How to prevent depression? by Michael Yapko.

30 thoughts on “Depression: How to turn unsolicited advice into relapse prevention?

  1. When I get unsolicited advice, I usually get a bit annoyed (or sometimes a lot annoyed) and then ignore it. Unless the advice-giver actually has a reason to know what they’re talking about, the advice given probably isn’t going to be all that useful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know how this feels, cause I sometimes feel the same way. But Hey, no advice is actually useless, it might not make you feel better but doesn’t mean it might not be helpful in other areas of your life. The advice might not fit the circumstance or issue at the moment but I am sure it can always help other times. You don’t need to get annoyed. It’s just one of those things, we really can’t control what people say to us you know. If you feel the advice isn’t needed, then just ignore it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I ignored every bit and was very skeptical. It did depend on who said what and when.
      But some of the advice kept on coming back and did stay somewhere in my brain.
      It is such an individual proces that I’m sort of deliberating what can actually be a fit for me at some point. My abilities seem to change too and that’s where the puzzling begins.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think the biggest thing for me is learning to hear and trust myself. Everyone has an opinion and advice to share. I’ve also learned to share things with people who are close to me that won’t judge or overshare. Many times I just need a sounding board, someone to listen as I let words flow. If I can talk, I can understand myself better.
    I have a hard time letting go of the opinions of others. It’s the perfectionist people pleaser in me.
    This was enjoyable to read, thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re very welcome and thank you for the compliment! Oversharing; that is another hot topic that can become an issue. Finding the right people to built your supportteam is such a needed but difficult step.
      The perfectionist people pleaser in me recognizes the perfectionist people pleaser in you 🙂
      I think you are really right about having a soundboard, I still find it difficult to open up in real life, it’s easier on the blog because other people here share their experiences too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree about sharing in the blog. I can be so detached when sharing in real life. It’s like I’m talking about someone else and not myself

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember when I finally told my parents about my depression some months ago (I’m not sure if I can call it that since I was never diagnosed, but it’s had pretty severe consequences on me for quite some years now, so I decided to finally put it out there to them), and my father’s first words were “It’s because you’re not exercising. Are you getting enough sun?”

    At the time I was so angry and felt so hopeless, but just for the sake of doing something, I tried exercising. Of course, nothing miraculously changed, but just building myself a little routine and sticking to it got me out of bed and that left me feeling a teensy bit better about myself, and feeling things in general. And that’s probably the only bit of unsolicited advice that I’ve been able to make something constructive out of.

    I really liked reading this post. I think it puts a very refreshing spin on something that can leave us feeling misunderstood or as if we are not being taken seriously, which can be quite disheartening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great comment, that is exactly what I mean. Sometimes those small ‘silly’ things can help us anyway. I learned that people want to help but when you can’t ask a specific question, it’s going to be more difficult for them.
      But not all advice is so ‘unsolicited’ because it comes from a good place, like your fathers.
      And I also really wanted to take of different look on it because, like you said, it can leave us more separated if we take it too personal and feel misunderstood. Not to say that you should take everything on board but depression has a way to isolate us, in thoughts and in action. I see it as a part of my recovery to open my mind to different things, not to be too perfectionist about it but give it a go and when it doesn’t work out, to try something else. We need to keep on trying.
      I’m glad exercise helped you to find some structure and a better feeling about yourself. Those small steps make a whole journey at the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My boss used to tell me when I want your advice I’ll give it to you! But seriously Kacha, I think I’m too sensitive about my lack of vitamins. I also tend towards internal orientation so that I don’t keep bumping into walls. So my question to you is, do I need a lobotomy? I found a DIY site but I would have to buy a better drill. Namaste. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would recommend the lobotomy, I’ve tried it and it did wonders, see, I can write blogs and all that kind of stuff. But I would wait, first to further self-isolate and after the economic depression address your own worries. One day the drill will be on sale (please keep on chanting for this to come true) and than you can make your move.
      Good work with the internal orientation!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The word “sensitive” is very *in*sensitive, but there has to be something behind that, surely? Because the same thing might affect one person but might not affect another person in the same way? So there has to be something about the person which makes them more or less susceptible? Or, is that rubbish, do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think so too but it was said too me in a broad context, ‘you’re too sensitive for this kind of work’. Now I know more about what is uncomfortable to me, it is a lot more detailed than ‘me being too sensitive or too weak for this or that’. Everybody has stressors they will react too and it’s the key to get to know them and to work with it and not against it. So I agree that it is very personal and I think a sensitivity can be something that you can work with.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so interesting to me because I think (imo) that when I feel stressy about the advice, something is the matter that it touches me in that way. Otherwise I would discard it right away. The overthinker in me needs to know what that is.
      I ranted too about all the weird things I’ve heard and I heard a lot (tap your kidneys to awaken the life-force!) 😂 I ignored that one quite easily!

      Like

  6. Great post! And well yeah…I often get unsolicited advice and people do tell me that I was too sensitive – or another thing that they often tell me is that I should just “stop thinking” about my OCD thoughts as if it was something that one could just turn off 😀 and well…I do not really get annoyed by their advice cause most of the time I guess people just want to be helpful and its not their fault that it does not always work – but then it obviously depends on the way they actually give their piece of advice

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They way something is said can sometimes be more important than the actual message. I guess there needs to be some common ground before advice can be accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I get some really ignorant unsolicited advice all the time. My own father convinced me that my doctor was conspiring with the deep state and convinced me to stop taking my antidepressents, because he thought they were prescribed so the system can control me. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Parents! My mum believes in ‘all things natural’ and ‘when it doesn’t hurt you’re not really ill’ and ‘when it hurt, it means you’re healing’. Sometimes you can’t win.
      We need to find some middle ground but it can be so confusing to get mixed messages from all directions. I hope you’re doing ok now!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I think we’ve all had it at some point. I’m trying to think when did I last give out unsolicited advice, I’ve no doubt done it in the past. lol. For me when people try, I just smile at them and when they’re done, change the topic 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so good, to let it go if it doesn’t suit you at that time. And it ‘s also useful to turn the tables around and maybe think when we ourselves gave out advice (maybe for the sake of feeling better or being able to ‘help’).
      On an entire other note: your comment was in the spam! What a weird thing, as this didn’t happen before. I hope it’s a quirk from WP or the filter!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, as we move from one phase to the next, through depression etc, we learn more about it and what not to say to people lol.

        Yes, it happens, some messages go to spam for some unknown reason xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! I think I either ignore it or listen to it. Mostly unsolicited advice is off target and I forget it when it could be relevant.
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think we need to pick out the things that we can use at that time. Not everything is bad but it needs to be personalized. ‘Love, light and glitter’ seems good advice to me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The glitter especially! Yeah, we should. I’ll try learn from you to do that 🙂 it’s just unsolicited advice is often when a person wants to help and cares but completely doesn’t understand where you are at or why you’re there so isn’t relevant at the time. It’d be hard to listen even if it were relevant. I hope I get to a place where I can 🙂
        Sending sunshine and sparkles

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “You’re too sensitive” seems like a harsh thing to say to someone with depression. Especially if anhedonia is present, the symptoms can be a bewildering combination of extra sensitivity and deadening. Without knowing the context, I can’t tell how the people saying that meant it, but it strikes me as a criticism that only adds to the burden of fighting depression. I’m glad you were able to find some constructive reflection on it at this point in time. I would probably still be mad at anyone who said that to me while I was struggling. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wasn’t mad but searched for the faults in myself, I tried ti ‘toughen up’ but could not do it. Looking back people can’t always know what is the matter. But as they see you as a whole person, they could see the vulnerable parts as an asset. That was a message I couldn’t get across at that point in time. The remarks did made me think and made me stronger as I no longer believe that I need to toughen up, it will come with the healing. At that point they were right, something was missing but it was far more fundamental than a personality trait. Maybe I should have seen it more as a warning sign that something was the matter.
      I’m still learning and I’m glad your on that journey with me, thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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