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I don't know how to help my friend

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Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
Hello,

My apologies if this is in the wrong section. I have a friend who suffers from depression and I try to support them as best as I can. It gets rather difficult though. I can say that their mood swings get pretty draining on me. I'm their only friend but when they go through a shift, so to speak, they completely shut me out. At this point, it has been a week since we talked, other than a little friendly message that I'll send and the reply is always short or just a happy face. It is so weird though, I mean, just a couple days prior, they were thanking me for how much I mean to their life (via a FB post as they are awkward with saying things directly) They also asked me if I thought they could have a pretty severe mood disorder, I answered as honestly as I could.

They are pretty suicidal (two attempts that they have told me about this year) and it seems lately they are down more than they are up. There is a lot of mental exhaustion on their part from different stresses in their life. Childhood trauma, rape, issues with their ex making parental responsibilities difficult, work, feels invisible, etc. In this particular instance, they had an argument with some people online, then decided they wanted to purposely dive into their past to see where things went wrong, then a conversation reminded them of how they never had any emotional support growing up.

A few weeks ago, my friend's sister sent me a screenshot of a comment that she wanted me to be aware of where my friend was saying that she wanted to unfriend me but didn't have the stones to actually tell me and there were a few minor lies as to the nature of our relationship. Basically they were planning to ghost me. Then all at once, my friend turned around and started messaging me and as mentioned above, the post about how much value I have in their life. A pretty drastic shift in how they feel. I'm not sure how relevant it is, or useful, but this person is also an ex of mine, which is one reason why we do have a close connection. So now in addition to the usual anxiety of being worried about them, there is now the anxiety of wondering if they are going to actually ghost me this time.

Unfortunately, they will not go into any sort of therapy as they believe having pills shoved at you is not helpful in the least. I can understand that, especially when it would be more efficient to really get to the root of issues to help heal. I can't even ask how they are doing for two reasons, the answer is always "I'm fine" and it agitates them to be asked.
 
dreambuggieIII

dreambuggieIII

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Hello - I hope there's a selection of replies for you - but 180 turn in any situation is deceitful. Deceit and friendship don't go too well.

I stay in touch with ex's and I understand 'the tie'.

Try giving it a break, as you are quite embroiled with emotions, together with the madness of social media. It will allow you to see the wood for the trees, so to speak ......

You seem reasonable, if not kind to help, but 'help' with mentals (for want of a better term) sometimes needs distance. They have to hit bottom, to really turn and the journey is sadly a solitary one for most.

Do post again, the story has many turns - hopefully you'll hear something that will resonate.
 
M

Mistral

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353
I have just looked up "ghosting". It is when someone does not contact you any more I believe. F If someone does not want to to contact you, then that is up to them. It happens in all walks of life.
 
R

Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
Hello - I hope there's a selection of replies for you - but 180 turn in any situation is deceitful. Deceit and friendship don't go too well.

I stay in touch with ex's and I understand 'the tie'.

Try giving it a break, as you are quite embroiled with emotions, together with the madness of social media. It will allow you to see the wood for the trees, so to speak ......

You seem reasonable, if not kind to help, but 'help' with mentals (for want of a better term) sometimes needs distance. They have to hit bottom, to really turn and the journey is sadly a solitary one for most.

Do post again, the story has many turns - hopefully you'll hear something that will resonate.
Hello and thank you for your reply,

I completely agree that deceit is not okay in any sort of relationship type. It was one of those situations where upon first seeing it, my instinct was too go and defend myself by showing screenshots that dispute everything she said. Ultimately I said to myself, "okay, you're not supposed to know about this so it is better to not betray the trust and you know Person A isn't mentally well"

Thankfully (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it is Monday and back to work so that'll be a decent distraction for a little bit. I'm trying to give Person A some space and let them breathe a bit and reflect on what is going on in their lives. They did actually message me last night. It was nothing major just to share something they found but still, some of their Facebook posts do raise some concern as to their well-being. Which as you said, social media can be rather maddening and posts themselves can be misinterpreted or more dramatic than what actually is.
 
R

Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
I have just looked up "ghosting". It is when someone does not contact you any more I believe. F If someone does not want to to contact you, then that is up to them. It happens in all walks of life.
Oh yea, ghosting is pretty much a horrible thing and, imo, often speaks poorly of the person doing the ghosting. In certain abusive situations, I can understand the merit in breaking all connections quite suddenly without any explanation or reasoning but, having been ghosted before, I do know how much it can hurt. Being that Person A was ghosted during a longterm relationship once before, it does strike me as odd that they would even consider doing it to another person.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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I'd be anxious from uncertainty about where I stood in regards to a friendship with this person. I've had similar relationships before, I felt like I was yo-yo.
I wonder if their on/off nature indicates your friend has an anxious attachment to you or if it signifies actual mood?

Unfortunately, they will not go into any sort of therapy as they believe having pills shoved at you is not helpful in the least. I can understand that, especially when it would be more efficient to really get to the root of issues
This confused me. I've never known medication to be necessary in order to get therapy. Or, vice-versa. I wonder if the conclusion that therapy must lead to meds is based on fact or fears?
 
R

Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
I'd be anxious from uncertainty about where I stood in regards to a friendship with this person. I've had similar relationships before, I felt like I was yo-yo.
I wonder if their on/off nature indicates your friend has an anxious attachment to you or if it signifies actual mood?


This confused me. I've never known medication to be necessary in order to get therapy. Or, vice-versa. I wonder if the conclusion that therapy must lead to meds is based on fact or fears?
It is quite the trip to go into everything with this person. It feels kind of like push/pull a lot of times with this person. We may go a few weeks where we talk constantly from morning until late at night and then all at once, radio silence. Yo-yo is a pretty accurate term to how it feels.

I know they have suffered a lot of emotional abuse from past partners, as well as at least two friends who didn't care when this person reached out to them during a vulnerable state. Which, when the friendships ended, they spread lies instead of telling the truth of the situation. The conversations were shared with me in their entirety for me to know exactly what happened.

Well, they've been in mental hospitals a couple of times since they were young and the basic conclusion is that if they seek treatment, there will inevitably be medication given instead of helping them learn to cope or heal from the problems themselves. Which I have made it known to them that if they are ever interested in going, I'm willing to attend sessions with them if it will help them feel more comfortable.

So, they have basically invented this whole other world where the reason for all their problems is that they are here for a greater purpose and have yet to heal from a past life encounter.
 
S

Snowshoes68

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Oct 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
USA
Hello,

The friend you are describing sounds a lot like me and my behavioral patterns. For a while into your post, I was actually wondering if it was one of my friends writing. So I hope I can help you with my personal experiences.

I think first, it's important to set and define boundaries. You said it's very draining for you and I imagine it always is but shouldn't have to be so much. I've often caused a burden on people I turn to for help and it's one of my greatest senses of guilt so I've been working on ways to set boundaries to find a balance of asking for help while not pressuring anyone. I ... Haven't really been successful yet. But you can decide for yourself how much of yourself to give and when to say no and honor it. For example, with my friend, I'll say "I'm having a bad day" but not mention any details like if I'm actually feeling suicidal. And I also have to respect if he says no and doesn't want to help me.

There is some self help for your friend and I think some therapists who won't force medication. I use the dialectical behavioral therapy book. I think it would be reasonable to have a therapist to help monitor the progress with the book and go in just for that purpose and maybe then you could avoid the topic of medication.

But then your friend has to commit to that and want to change and get better.

It sounds like your friend has very volatile behavior and when I feel that way, it's really difficult for me to commit to "doing the right thing" (like self soothing, calming techniques) because there's more relief in giving in to erratic and extreme swings.

I think you should also tell your friend how their behavior affects you and upsets you. It's tricky because sometimes people aren't in a good place to receive that sort of feedback . But ultimately, you have to look out for yourself. When you have the conversation, I would recommend setting boundaries and be prepared to walk away if they can't respect that.

I'd be happy to discuss more as this is something that's very important to me in my life and maybe I could help someone going through something similar
 
R

Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
Hello,

The friend you are describing sounds a lot like me and my behavioral patterns. For a while into your post, I was actually wondering if it was one of my friends writing. So I hope I can help you with my personal experiences.

I think first, it's important to set and define boundaries. You said it's very draining for you and I imagine it always is but shouldn't have to be so much. I've often caused a burden on people I turn to for help and it's one of my greatest senses of guilt so I've been working on ways to set boundaries to find a balance of asking for help while not pressuring anyone. I ... Haven't really been successful yet. But you can decide for yourself how much of yourself to give and when to say no and honor it. For example, with my friend, I'll say "I'm having a bad day" but not mention any details like if I'm actually feeling suicidal. And I also have to respect if he says no and doesn't want to help me.

There is some self help for your friend and I think some therapists who won't force medication. I use the dialectical behavioral therapy book. I think it would be reasonable to have a therapist to help monitor the progress with the book and go in just for that purpose and maybe then you could avoid the topic of medication.

But then your friend has to commit to that and want to change and get better.

It sounds like your friend has very volatile behavior and when I feel that way, it's really difficult for me to commit to "doing the right thing" (like self soothing, calming techniques) because there's more relief in giving in to erratic and extreme swings.

I think you should also tell your friend how their behavior affects you and upsets you. It's tricky because sometimes people aren't in a good place to receive that sort of feedback . But ultimately, you have to look out for yourself. When you have the conversation, I would recommend setting boundaries and be prepared to walk away if they can't respect that.

I'd be happy to discuss more as this is something that's very important to me in my life and maybe I could help someone going through something similar
Hello,

Thank you for your reply and I'm so sorry that you deal with these things in your life. I always tell people that confide in me what they are feeling, that their feelings are valid, and not to let anyone tell them different but to try to hang on. I'm sure it is really difficult at times going through life feeling things so deeply and carrying such a large burden.

My friend is a really good person at heart, there are just all these things that make them think otherwise. I've never looked at them as being a burden and encourage them at any point day or night to call me if they need to do so. My friend, when they are speaking to me, has never shied away from bluntly saying they wish they would die. They know that even if no one else cares, that I do. The idea of saying no when my friend is having a bad day or a problem on their mind isn't something that ever occurs to me, I don't want them to feel like they can't talk to me about anything on their mind. That might be one of the reasons that things are the way they are.

My friend reads a lot about psychology and cognitive behavior and claims that it has helped them a lot but outside looking in, it really doesn't seem like it. Especially when I look at how much more frequent their shifts have started to get as of late. At times, I really wonder if they want to get better or if they have reached a point where they have made depression and suicide their identity, so to speak.

I don't mean to speak ill of them, but they have a way of thinking that they should be able to say and do whatever they want, and others should be okay with it just because it is their personality. For example, we used to have a mutual friend, and my friend would be rather insensitive and when I would point it out, my friend would just kind of be like, "oh well, I didn't mean to be insensitive but my statement is true" Needless to say, that mutual friend couldn't stay a mutual friend for long. I tried to get them to understand for a long time that they are free to say what they want but need to be mindful of how they say things.

How they make me feel is a conversation that I've been wanting to have for quite a while but I always worry about how receptive they will be to it or if I bring it up, is it going to cause them to overthink and cause them to withdraw again. I know I worry a lot and with my friend, and knowing how many attempts they've made since I've known them, I think it is with good cause. There are times that I need a break from things but I'll oftentimes feel guilty for thinking that way when I know they are struggling, or I'll feel guilty for letting my own emotions be known.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
508
Location
California, US
I should mention I live with major depressive disorder and I'm currently in a recovery phase. That means I'm high functioning and relying on therapy and tools I've learned more than upon medication. Many of my good friends live with depression, bipolar, borderline and other conditions. To sustain healthy friendships, it's necessary that we (not just me) have defined boundaries--and I agree with what @Snowshoes68 wrote about how important that is.

What do you think about when you read "boundaries"? How would you define that word in the context of any relationship? I wonder because the answers you find within yourself may be relevant to the question you posed in your original post. And, the answers may provide you with self-reflection on the matter of how to stop feeling like a "yo-yo".

You mentioned one boundary in your relationship when you disclosed that your friend is an ex. Is it alright to ask: does being exes mean there's a physical intimacy boundary you observe? Or, some other defined and mutually observed limit?

but I'll oftentimes feel guilty for thinking that way when I know they are struggling, or I'll feel guilty for letting my own emotions be known.
Feeling guilty for needing a break from the drama. Feeling guilty about telling your friend you have genuine emotions you're holding in. Those sound pretty heavy to carry quietly, or would be for me. I can't imagine how tiring that can be at times.
I'm curious, would your friend understand how difficult it is to carry on as normal with unexpressed, and at times, powerful feelings concerning them? Would your friend agree that your feelings as well as theirs matter? That your mental health is important?
 
R

Radorix454

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Missouri
I should mention I live with major depressive disorder and I'm currently in a recovery phase. That means I'm high functioning and relying on therapy and tools I've learned more than upon medication. Many of my good friends live with depression, bipolar, borderline and other conditions. To sustain healthy friendships, it's necessary that we (not just me) have defined boundaries--and I agree with what @Snowshoes68 wrote about how important that is.

What do you think about when you read "boundaries"? How would you define that word in the context of any relationship? I wonder because the answers you find within yourself may be relevant to the question you posed in your original post. And, the answers may provide you with self-reflection on the matter of how to stop feeling like a "yo-yo".

You mentioned one boundary in your relationship when you disclosed that your friend is an ex. Is it alright to ask: does being exes mean there's a physical intimacy boundary you observe? Or, some other defined and mutually observed limit?


Feeling guilty for needing a break from the drama. Feeling guilty about telling your friend you have genuine emotions you're holding in. Those sound pretty heavy to carry quietly, or would be for me. I can't imagine how tiring that can be at times.
I'm curious, would your friend understand how difficult it is to carry on as normal with unexpressed, and at times, powerful feelings concerning them? Would your friend agree that your feelings as well as theirs matter? That your mental health is important?
The first thing I'm going to say is that I'm really glad you're in a recovery phase. I've had some friends, as well as my own brother who dealt with major depression, he ultimately took his own life. So when someone tells me they are recovering, it makes me really proud of them for the strength it takes to pull themselves out of such.

You know, I'm honestly not really sure how I define boundaries. I've never had to verbally say, "ok, I won't accept this" people generally learn, my friend included, by my reactions. Such as if something is said that offends me, they usually pick up on my posture or the tone in my voice and learn to not do such. When I think about boundaries, and I have to put things in physical perspectives in order to wrap my mind around it, I think of like a concrete barrier that can't be broken. Such as with my friend, I think of a concrete barrier with the words, "respect my thoughts on things". It doesn't mean you have to agree, or that we can't debate it, but simply respect that I think differently. We used to have an issue where my friend would tell me their problems and I would try to talk them through but when I would speak of my issues, if online because I'm terrible about talking about such in person, they would only give me a sad emote. I had to eventually tell them, "look when I open up about a problem, and that is rare, I need more than a sad face. I need to know that you're actually listening" They claim to be really empathetic and willing to listen to others, but haven't quite grasped that really isn't the case.

I'm pretty open about anything but yes, with my friend there is no physical intimacy anymore. It is actually kind of an odd situation there with my friend because since we broke up neither of us have dated a lot of people and have talked a few times about getting back together. We do have an unspoken rule between us about not talking about a crush with the other. Which brings about another thing that brings us to an issue. She gets upset that their sister and I are good friends, mostly because of worry that people like the sister more, which has been a past experience. Regardless of the fact that my relationship with both is different. With my friend, it's a pretty well-rounded experience in that we talk about pretty well anything that we want. Whereas with the sister, we stick mainly to light-hearted and societal issues.

It is pretty draining and I don't think my friend would understand. I know with certainty that they would say that my feelings mattered as well but I think their ability to fully understand that is lacking. They are incredibly intelligent but also so wrapped up in their own pain they can be rather insensitive to the needs of others. They have a lot of trouble understanding their own worth (due to emotional abuse and as I mentioned above an instance of rape) and the idea that other people could be affected by their actions or lack of presence is pretty lost on them.
 
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