One thing I’ve learned from my significant other that has helped me a lot is the matter of perspective. This has a lot to do with putting yourself in other people’s shoes and trying to understand where others are coming from when their views don’t quite match yours.
I’ve considered this matter for a while on and off, and I realize there’s something to be learned from those who tend to be more understanding of others. I’m really thankful to have met a guy who is this kind of person, because it has been a great comfort to me as one who struggles with depression, on and off. The symptoms are nonexistent sometimes, and then they sometimes surprise everyone including myself when they decide to make an unwelcome special appearance. But usually my depressive episodes last no more than a couple days, and then I’m back to “normal” again, which makes both my life and everyone else’s lives easier.
From my own experience, I think having trauma-induced depression for the past few years has enlarged my view (when I’m not feeling blue, that is) toward others who may seem to be more “difficult.” Not everyone’s unfavorable behavior is caused by depression, but I realized that there usually is an actually reason behind a person’s bad attitude.
Maybe one of my best friends texts me a picture of an item to ask for my opinion, and for some reason, I can’t handle replying to that text, let alone receiving it. Did my friend do anything wrong? Absolutely not. My reaction had nothing to do with her, but she happened to send that send right in the middle of a short depressive episode, during which I was especially irritable and any extra little thing felt overwhelming. What does it feel like to be irritable? Well, it really sucks, because life is so much more enjoyable when nothing irritates me, and those times do exist in my experience. But when there’s something biological and psychological affecting me, then I just have to manage the symptoms and I’ll live, knowing that I’ll be fine in a day or two.
Since these negative feelings don’t last forever, I’ve started to learn that this principle seems to apply for everyone as long as he or she is human, whether “depressed” or not. Maybe someone just didn’t get enough sleep, or has a stomach ache and feels terrible. I mean, it’s really hard to be happy and upbeat when you’re in physical pain. So I would expect that anyone in a physically painful situation would not treat the ones around him/her in the best manner, and perhaps would be rather slow at responding to a loved one’s text messages, not because of lack of love or appreciation, but simply because of a hurting body part, or a low supply of energy.
Sometimes I’ve had texting conversations with ones who became very heated and wanted to argue or debate or just complain or yell over text. After learning the hard way, I’ve found that the best thing to do is to exercise wisdom and not respond so quickly to their messages, or to respond in a very neutral, brief manner, like “Ok” and save any longer texts for at least a couple hours later, after the person has had time to cool down and think about everything more objectively and soberly. Who knows what could have stirred up the strong reactions from the potentially heated debates – maybe the person had a long day at work and was therefore quite fussy, or maybe our texting conversation touched an old wound that I wasn’t aware of. You just never know, and I guess we can’t just jump to the conclusion that so-and-so is SO difficult and annoying and rude, until after we’ve tried to put ourselves in so-and-so’s shoes at least a little bit, so that we don’t take things so personally when oftentimes a person’s reaction to you really has nothing to do with you.
I can testify to this – when I’m seemingly symptom free, the same person who really irritated me the other day (when my hormones were out of whack) is no longer an issue to me, even if he or she does and says the exact same thing. Strange, but I guess that’s how us frail human beings work.
So the next time you encounter some uncomfortable human interaction, or a non-customer-friendly cashier, stop and consider for a moment what that person might be going through.