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How Depression Affects My Ability to Communicate

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Communication does not come easy to me. It doesn’t come easy for many people. Over the years, I’ve learned how depression has affected my communication. I’ve noticed the patterns and I’m sure a lot of people struggling with their mental health will also recognize some of the patterns.

1. I’m going to zone out while you talk to me.

I’ve had many people chide me for not “paying attention” or “not listening.” They’ve asked me, “oh, I’m sorry, am I boring you?”

I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’m trying really hard to listen to what you’re saying to me. I know I’m zoning out. My eyes are glazed and have wandered. My face looks blank. I’m trying my hardest to zone back in. Not only am I trying to concentrate, but I’m also beating myself up for not being able to concentrate. I know you feel offended. You feel that I’m not listening. You think I’m choosing to think about something else because I find you boring. I value what you have to say. I feel blessed that you want to talk to me. I want to hear what you have to say, but I’m sorry, I won’t always hear you. Please don’t give up on me. Keep trying to talk to me and I’ll keep trying my hardest to hear what it is you have to say.

2. I may forget what you have said or what we are talking about.

Even when I’m mentally present in a conversation, I may get lost. I may forget what you said two minutes ago or I may forget the topic of the conversation. I have been listening. Sometimes it takes me longer to process information. This means I may be a few minutes behind in the conversation. My brain is working hard to process the information as quickly as possible. It’s sluggish, this brain of mine. It takes time and effort to fight through the fog. Unfortunately, sometimes I’ll become overwhelmed. The information that I haven’t yet caught up on drowns me. My mind will go blank. I no longer know what we are talking about. We have to start over again because I’ve lost everything. It’s not because I lost interest; I just fell behind. I know it’s disappointing. You’ve spent all of that time telling me something that’s important to you. You hoped it’d be important to me too. And it is. It is important to me. I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten everything you just said. Maybe we could backtrack to where we were before I fell behind?

3. I may not respond to your text as quickly as you would like.

I appreciate your text messages. I want to text you back but I don’t know what to say. I might not be able to find the words. My mind might be stuck. I may not be able to process my thoughts and take the steps necessary to text you back. I might not be able to find the balance between oversharing and being honest. Maybe I’ve given up on everything for now. I may have been asleep all day and not seen your message until 2 a.m. when I was wide awake. I know it’s not appropriate to text you back at 2 a.m. The problem is, I know I’ll probably be asleep all day tomorrow and not wake again until 2 a.m., so I don’t really know when to text you back. I do want to communicate with you. I don’t want to lose touch. I value your friendship and I know the effort appears to be lacking on my side. It looks as though I don’t care enough to get back to you. I’m sorry. I hate myself for not being able to do something as easy as texting. Please keep trying to communicate with me and I’ll keep trying too.

Photo by Alexandru Bogdan on Unsplash

Originally published: June 13, 2021
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