Do you have difficulty discussing your work depression with family and friends? Do you feel that they don’t truly understand, and they just think you are complaining and that you should just be happy to have a job? Do you think they are tired of your venting without exploring solutions?

Or are you not even able to verbalize your negative feelings about your job? Are you ashamed to even discuss it with friends and family?

Summer can be a time of hope and possibility, which may relieve some of your work depression, but summer can often exacerbate it. As the Fall approaches, are you feeling anxious about the possibility of staying another year with the company contributing to your work depression? Are you drained and struggling to find the energy for a job search?

Despite the warmer weather & sunnier skies, your disposition may not be so bright. Work depression can affect anyone, at any time. In a previous post, I discussed the nature of work depression and how to overcome it. One of the ways that I shared was the importance of seeking social support. In this blog post, I’ll discuss some tips on how to speak about your work depression with friends, family and contacts:

  • Talk about what is causing the work depression – does your manager undermine or belittle you? Do you feel overworked and underappreciated? Have you been passed over for a promotion or ignored when you lobby for career advancement? Are you fearful of being fired? Do you feel unable to leave, due to financial or other considerations? When you are suffering from work depression, it is important to first understand what is driving the depression.   Identifying the cause and examining the mix of emotions you might have about your work situation (e.g., fear, anger, frustration, etc.) can help you to acknowledge and validate the experience.
  • Clarify your needs and let loved ones know what you want from them – sometimes it may be that you just want a supportive shoulder on which to cry, or an advocate to help strategize an exit strategy. Let your loved ones know exactly what you want from them. Such clarity will help you and your loved ones feel connected, enabling you to receive the appropriate assistance you seek. Also, be able to tolerate when he/she tells you that they can’t do what you ask. For example, if you ask your friend to just lend an ear and not provide solutions, he/she might feel like that’s not possible for them. Then you should be honest that as a result, you might not share the issues at work with them, at least not in this phase of your process. It’s also important to recognize that your needs may change and be open about when they do.
  • Be Grateful – spending time regularly speaking about the things for which you are grateful, including your friends and family, can assist you in putting things in perspective and also gives balance to the situation for both you and your loved ones.
  • Keep them in the loop – often people reach out to others, when things are particularly bad, but then forget to loop them in as things change. If their suggestions worked, if things are improving, if you are searching for a new job, share this with your social circle because it will be useful for them to know the current temperature of your situation.
  • Reflect and Act – while sharing your challenges may feel very relieving, it’s also important that you make some changes especially around the things you can control. When people give suggestions for action steps, let them know which ones you think you are ready for and which ones you are not. Then share the new action steps that you are taking.
  • Let your relationship be about other things as well – make sure that the work depression isn’t the only conversation that you are having with the people around you. While it may feel all consuming, it’s important that you are also asking about how your friends and family are doing, and are able to be present for them as well.
  • Honor your truth – do not feel ashamed or guilty about your work depression and how it may be affecting you. Further, if you are not ready to leave your job, due to financial concerns, confidence issues, or other challenges, it is important to acknowledge this reality. You should be intentional about your actions or inaction. A large part of work depression is due to feelings of powerlessness. By recognizing that you have more control than you may initially realize, you can increase your power, even if it means staying in a toxic situation for a period of time, until you feel truly ready to transition. Acceptance of your truth may enable you to improve your work depression, and decrease feelings of shame & guilt, while you contemplate your next steps.

When you are suffering with work depression, it may be extremely difficult to communicate your experience to friends and family. You may feel further isolated and demoralized, due to your inability to convey your feelings to your loved ones. By using the above strategies, it may ease your work depression, while getting the type of support you want, and eventually helping you to find a better work situation.

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