Those considering how to stretch out a helping hand to a loved one they believe may be in trouble should act carefully, says Bridie Collins, director of relationship support services at Marriage Care. Withdrawal from others or an unwillingness to talk can signal a problem, she says. “Being open and prepared to listen without criticism or giving advice is sometimes all a family member needs to do to support someone who seems troubled.”
While extreme cases of relationship breakdown need careful professional intervention, experts suggest that relationships that have eroded with time or neglect can be revived relatively simply. Peter Saddington, a counsellor for relationship advice service Relate, believes that we should learn such techniques at school.
“We don’t necessarily get taught about relationships and how to communicate and that needs to change because it is so vital to our wellbeing and everything we do. The quality of our relationships isn’t just down to fate. There are practical things that we can do that make a difference to our relationships with friends, partners, family, colleagues or neighbours and in turn benefit our wellbeing.”
Saddington suggests that simply saying hello to neighbours can heighten a sense of belonging, while banning technological devices from the home for an evening a week can allow partners to enjoy quality time together. “Is there a colleague who you haven’t got to know yet? Make an effort to chat to them each day and make them feel welcome. Call your parents once a week to see how they’re doing rather than waiting for them to call you,” says Saddington.
He adds: “We can sometimes forget how much work a relationship needs. It takes effort to maintain and is easy to take for granted but ultimately the more you invest in relationships the happier you are likely to be.”
Tyburski believes that it is his relationships that will give him strength as he continues to deal with depression. “My journey is far from over, but I would urge anyone who is suffering in silence to simply regularly meet up and chat with a close friend, or another human being, as having a connection with someone, from my experience, can go along way to helping anyone feel supported.
“It doesn’t matter what it’s about, but just start a conversation with a person you have a relationship with, and you may begin to smile on the inside, as well as the outside.”
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