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Friendships And Depression


pilar ternera

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This is my first post, I tried to do an introduction post over in the other area, but for some reason, I felt ridiculous trying to introduce myself, so I thought I'd just lay out what's actually bothering me this (rainy NY) morning.

I have lived with depression since as far back as I can remember. I don't think I've ever managed to be a full functioning adult. The idea of grocery shopping for a week in advanced totally eludes me, let alone making plans for later in the month to see a movie or a concert. The idea gives me a little anxiety, actually. When my significant other asks me if I want to go somewhere this weekend, I go into panic mode. I have no idea why.

Anyway, what's bothering me today are friends. My friends are a very tight knit circle (think F.R.I.E.N.D.S, just slightly less funny and not worth watching). They are all very strong willed and extroverted. I am....pretty much the exact opposite. They're mostly cool though, we like to watch movies and play video games, no big deal. They have a set schedule to hang out every Friday and Saturday night (Friday is designated movie and dinner, Saturday is for games).

Someone as introverted and anti-social as myself should be thrilled that I always have plans for Friday and Saturday night, but it's actually quite dreadful. None of them really understand depression and mood swings. They don't understand (and worse, almost become personally offended) if I don't want to come over and hang out. Let's be honest, some days the idea that I can actually make it from the bed to the shower is surprising to me. Let alone from the bed, to the shower, dressed, outside of the house, across town, someone else's house and CHEERFUL, to boot. The cheerful is the part I struggle with. I can't fake it. I'm not typically a cheerful person. Especially around other people.

These friends think I'm a happy person. They see me once or twice going through a 'good' cycle and they think i'm eff'in hilarious and the life of the party. Then when I'm in a 'bad' cycle they think that I hate them and they're the worst friends in the world and I'm a stone-hearted mega-craphead. And then they talk about me behind my back and make packs against me, and start hanging out without me and stuff. Which....wouldn't truly be that bad, because it would take the pressure off me for having to hang out.

So, moral of the story is, I'm a crappy friend and I don't know how to be a better friend when I can't even look people in the eyes when I'm in a crappy mood.

Any other bad friends out there? Oooor someone who's become a good friend?

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You defintely aren't a bad friend. You are a normal human being who has their ups and downs. Have you told them about your depression and your bad cycles and how it doesn't have anything to do with them? It might help them understand a little bit better. It's okay not to be cheerful when you don't want to be. It's not okay however for them to gang up on you and talk about you behind your back.

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I haven't said anything to them. I guess I can't figure out a way to be like, "Yo guys, I love you, but I seriously hate you right now and don't want to be anywhere near people."

My ex husband was raised by the greatest parents ever and he was a super nice guy. But he didn't get depression. I guess I'm just afraid to put all my feelings and personal stuff out there and then just get blank stares in response. When I told them my dog died, I got a slap on the back and then they changed the subject.

Crap....maybe i just need better friends.

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Hey pilar!

I wanted to say I'm on the other end of things. My best friend who is like a sister is dealing with depression and anxiety. At first I did not understand why she was avoiding me. When we did catch up she was very itritible and flat. I kept thinking it was me.... Kept thinking she just hated being around me. We use to talk everyday and now I haven't heard from her in weeks. Anyways, I took this personally at first and handled things wrong. Now that I've been researching depression I feel like I have a better handle on things. I've asked her to just be honest with me and she has pushed me so far away it's not even funny. I try to contact her occasionally and will send a card every once in awhile. She told me at one time it was hard to be around me because she gets itritible and can't pretend to be happy. She can where a mask with others. Anyways, I am very hurt. Maybe u should just try to help educate ur friends on depression. If they truly care about u like I do for my friend they want to be there in whatever way they can. :)

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You are a great friend to her for even educating yourself about it. But she's right, this is how it feels. We don't mean to hurt our friends, we just can't fake it around most people. I can fake it 95% of the time at work, but I don't have the energy to fake it around friends or family. I have avoided calls from my mother for so long that she thinks I'm dead in a ditch somewhere, because if I pick up the phone she'd be even more worried about my state of mind, than my state of body. Have patience with us and don't stop sending her cards, that's really sweet.

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Pilar

Thank you so much!!! I would never lose patience! I want to be a friend that I would want someone to be to me! I have made my fair share of mistakes with all of this but I am really trying to educate myself so that this friendship will make it through! I told her I don't understand but I have empathy. I can't even imagine what it must feel like. She is trying to stay strong for her two kids that are 20 and 17 and she is able to work. That's what she has been doing at the moment is throwing herself into work. I do know that it's hard for her to be around me right now and I'm trying to be understanding and not take it personal. :) I wish she would let her walls down some but it must be very scary!!!! I will be here when she is ready and she knows that. She said at one point that she doesn't understand how I've continued to be so kind when she has been awful to me at some points. I told her because my love is unconditonal.... I have no expectations. Just love and patience. :) it doesn't matter if it takes days, months or years, I'll always be here. :) she can push me away at the moment but I will be here when she returns. I also told her.... She hasn't been awful. She has been very strong to work, take care of kids and her mother..... And be dealing with this. :)

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Sometimes the realization that I have to be strong and stable for someone else actually sends me into an episode, so I can only imagine what your friend is going through. Even if she doesn't reach out, the understanding that you're there for her just might be a tiny thing that keeps her head above water. And having no expectation is just even better. She knows you're there, and they'll come a time when she'll be able to rely on that. :)

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Pilar, been there, done that!

I pretty much dropped every friend I had back in 1991 or so, including a young lady I was very much smitten with.

Since then I managed to get myself married and divorced, diagnosed with depression (dysthymia), and have been fighting it for a little over thirteen years now.

I am CONSTANTLY making plans or accepting invites and wimping out because I'm scared, don't want to, and unwilling to leave the warm bosom of my couch. And I'm sure some of my friends are tired of it. But virtually all of them are accepting of the facts that this is a disease, not just me playing tricks or being funny or whatever. I run into few people whose lives aren't touched in some fashion by mental illness - depression, bipolar, schizo... (sorry - forgot how to spell it!), or other malady.

Most of the time when I'm around others - coworkers, acquaintances, friends, relatives - I'm able to function well, and can display a wickedly dry sense of humor.

And I'm grateful that my old friends have (with one notable exception!) been able to welcome me back into their lives. I'd do anything for them!

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Thank you so much for your reply! I do know that I'm a friend that is going to be here for her. I know this illness has got her down right now, but I know that she will get through this!! I'm so glad that your friends welcomed u back. I think that there are only a few friends that we meet in a life time that are truly there for is no matter what!! She has been through so much and I am trying to be as understanding as I can. I know I handled things wrong in the beginning but I had no idea she was dealing with an illness. This person changed over night and I thought she was just acting this way towards me. Our communication was always great until this happened and she was unable to really say what was happening.

I blame myself because I believe i was with her the night she says she "broke" she was having panic attacks and poor concentrations etc before his happened and so deep down I know I didn't cause this. However, I was with her. My fear is that she related me with what happened. I think she will get over it but it's going to take time. I was the closest person to her and it's hard for her to pretend around me. She is able to wear a mask at work, with aquaintences and others. With me, I immediately can tell something is wrong and she doesn't have the energy to hide it. 9 months is a long time though and I keep hoping when she comes out of this she will reach out and be able to realize I'm here. :)

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I have friends that like to pretend they understand, and its good they make the effort but they dont understand. Its not friends I worry about, its my future. I dont want to spend it alone and I know with the way I am I will be. I'm able to make new friendships and maintain them, but intimate relationships is where I fail. I dont know how the hell to even approach a woman let alone talk to her and I know if I was to gain a relationship it would fail within months, maybe even weeks due to.. well due to me being me.

I also dont want to use somebody else to make me happy, I want to be happy within myself before I commit myself to somebody else. Which I never will be.

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Never is a long time, Doommantia.

All I can recommend is that you get/continue treatment. We're only given so many hours on this earth. So many opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others, so many sunsets to watch. So many opportunities to learn. To smile.

Take charge of your treatment and don't dwell on "nevers" and this one aspect of your being. Work. Volunteer. Eat right. Exercise. Pursue hobbies. As you do these things, opportunities for love will arise. And you really want to be at your best when those opportunities DO come along, don't you?

I have no idea what your specific diagnosis is or the cause. I've been living with dysthymia for 45+ years. And I believe that we're all put here with basically the same structure and abilities. Mostly, anyhow. And we can all contribute to our communities - help each other along life's path. And those efforts will prove rewarding. And in looking back on my sad little "life" I can see that virtually all of my shortcomings were due to depression. Opportunities missed. Personally, professionally, financially. All due to my timidness. Due to thinking "what's the use".

Well, take a lifetime of those thoughts, those missed opportunities, and what do you get? A self-fulfilling prophecy.

So get/continue treatment. Diet properly. Exercise. Decide to excel at work. Do the things that interest you. And you'll find that you've enriched your life immeasurably.

Treat your friends as rightly as you can. Explain your disease and how it might impact your relationships. And if they shy away or don't get it, well then you couldn't count on them anyway, could you? And if they stay, and are supportive, you've got a relationship to be proud of!

Take care. Be your best. For yourself.

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I agree! There are people out here that want to understand as much as they can and be your friend:) u guys just hang in there and take one day at a time. :) I'm sure an intimate relationship will come along at some point but until then you just concentrate on u. And I do understand wanting to be happy with yourself first. Just remember that depression makes things seem impossible! Never give up! U can do this!!

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I am CONSTANTLY making plans or accepting invites and wimping out because I'm scared, don't want to, and unwilling to leave the warm bosom of my couch. And I'm sure some of my friends are tired of it. But virtually all of them are accepting of the facts that this is a disease, not just me playing tricks or being funny or whatever. I run into few people whose lives aren't touched in some fashion by mental illness - depression, bipolar, schizo... (sorry - forgot how to spell it!), or other malady.

Ugh, yes. This sounds familiar. I make plans during the week, and then by the weekend leaving the house seems worse than cleaning the garage out.

With friends that aren't more intimate (see also: those that are used to be bailing on them, whether they like it or not) I usually preface by saying "Hey, if I'm feeling up to it....." then they typically don't have any expectations. ......or at least I hope not. For all I know I've been secretly disappointing people with that phrase for years.....

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Wow! Once again you guys have really taught me something. I wouldn't understand when my friend went from asking me to do things daily to barely making plans. Especially in advance. I really took this personally at first and I wish I would have known more about this illness. I guess I cant go back :( I wish I would have been more understanding from the beginning but I just didn't know what was happening. I'm trying to make up for it now by reading on this and I hope it's not to late :(

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"Any other bad friends out there? Oooor someone who's become a good friend?"

I was looking for this thread as I wanted to add my $0.02 to it...

Firstly, you're not a bad friend. I have simply come to the conclusion that most people cannot handle depression or talk of negative emotion in any way, shape or form. I haven't fully figured out why this is exactly...maybe it shatters their notion of a shiny-happy and wonderful world? Or maybe people just don't care to make the effort to just listen to someone and be there for them (which is often all that's asked)?

I was looking for this thread because I'm actually rather tired of fair weather friends. While I do not wear my depression on my sleeve, it is a part of who I am and I should not have to pretend to be someone else, just because negative emotions seem to repel people. I decided to try to filter out such people by (very slightly) expressing the negative side of my personality / sadness to "test the water", so to speak of. What I found was that the majority of people simply couldn't handle it, so I was left with the decision of either retaining them as loose acquaintances or moving on (usually I opted to move on as I don't care for acquaintances as I'm not the "hanging out" type).

Also, a good friend should understand that there will be times you don't feel like hanging out and should not take it personally. They don't have to understand depression or anxiety to do this...it should be common sense really.

I would rather be alone than among a bunch of people whom I have to constantly "act" around and feel like I have to force myself to go out at times so as not to offend them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Never is a long time, Doommantia.

All I can recommend is that you get/continue treatment. We're only given so many hours on this earth. So many opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others, so many sunsets to watch. So many opportunities to learn. To smile.

Take charge of your treatment and don't dwell on "nevers" and this one aspect of your being. Work. Volunteer. Eat right. Exercise. Pursue hobbies. As you do these things, opportunities for love will arise. And you really want to be at your best when those opportunities DO come along, don't you?

I have no idea what your specific diagnosis is or the cause. I've been living with dysthymia for 45+ years. And I believe that we're all put here with basically the same structure and abilities. Mostly, anyhow. And we can all contribute to our communities - help each other along life's path. And those efforts will prove rewarding. And in looking back on my sad little "life" I can see that virtually all of my shortcomings were due to depression. Opportunities missed. Personally, professionally, financially. All due to my timidness. Due to thinking "what's the use".

Well, take a lifetime of those thoughts, those missed opportunities, and what do you get? A self-fulfilling prophecy.

So get/continue treatment. Diet properly. Exercise. Decide to excel at work. Do the things that interest you. And you'll find that you've enriched your life immeasurably.

Treat your friends as rightly as you can. Explain your disease and how it might impact your relationships. And if they shy away or don't get it, well then you couldn't count on them anyway, could you? And if they stay, and are supportive, you've got a relationship to be proud of!

Take care. Be your best. For yourself.

This inspired me to be proactive. Since I saw this post, I started exercising and eating right. I feel better. I've made appointments with a new therapist and a new psychiatrist. I've taken charge of my treatment. Thank you old timer for sharing your wisdom.

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Depression has made it very difficult for me to maintain friendships. The few friendships that have stood the test of time are the ones with friends who know that I struggle, and have made their peace with how that might impact them. It doesn't stop me from feeling guilty when I let their calls roll to voicemail because I just can't talk when they call. But I know that I am doing the best I can with what I've got, and they know that, too.

Edited by yourlocalwonderwoman
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Never is a long time, Doommantia.

All I can recommend is that you get/continue treatment. We're only given so many hours on this earth. So many opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others, so many sunsets to watch. So many opportunities to learn. To smile.

Take charge of your treatment and don't dwell on "nevers" and this one aspect of your being. Work. Volunteer. Eat right. Exercise. Pursue hobbies. As you do these things, opportunities for love will arise. And you really want to be at your best when those opportunities DO come along, don't you?

I have no idea what your specific diagnosis is or the cause. I've been living with dysthymia for 45+ years. And I believe that we're all put here with basically the same structure and abilities. Mostly, anyhow. And we can all contribute to our communities - help each other along life's path. And those efforts will prove rewarding. And in looking back on my sad little "life" I can see that virtually all of my shortcomings were due to depression. Opportunities missed. Personally, professionally, financially. All due to my timidness. Due to thinking "what's the use".

Well, take a lifetime of those thoughts, those missed opportunities, and what do you get? A self-fulfilling prophecy.

So get/continue treatment. Diet properly. Exercise. Decide to excel at work. Do the things that interest you. And you'll find that you've enriched your life immeasurably.

Treat your friends as rightly as you can. Explain your disease and how it might impact your relationships. And if they shy away or don't get it, well then you couldn't count on them anyway, could you? And if they stay, and are supportive, you've got a relationship to be proud of!

Take care. Be your best. For yourself.

This inspired me to be proactive. Since I saw this post, I started exercising and eating right. I feel better. I've made appointments with a new therapist and a new psychiatrist. I've taken charge of my treatment. Thank you old timer for sharing your wisdom.

Thanks, americanoaks. It makes my day to know I helped someone.

Best of luck!

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I do worry about alienating people sometimes. Some know more than others and others have no idea at all. Feels almost like a betrayal that I'm not letting everyone in on this depression malarkey. I think some of my friends would struggle to draw a line between lazy and depressed. You could feel so much better if only you tried a bit harder, you know? Sometimes I just want to hide away and wait till I'm out of the trough and on the way to a peak yet people will take that personally. Yes it is a kind of avoidance, but I'm not avoiding anyone or anything in particular.

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