Depression and friendships

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Depression and friendships Empty Depression and friendships

Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:12 pm

So I didn't think that this belonged in either of the other two depression discussions we've got going, but this is something I've been turning over for the past week or so and I realized I could use some other eyes on it!

I know quite a few people with depression and I have it as well, but I'm at a loss about how to be around one particular friend of mine. I know he had a pretty shit childhood (like, moved out of his house at 17 and lived in a friend's basement level-bad) and he's also got major depressive disorder which isn't helped by the fact that I think he wants his family to be loving and supportive in a very basic way that they just aren't. Obviously, I can't fix that for him, nor would he want me to. When he's going through a depressive period, which is pretty often, there's something dark and borderline-violent in the way he interacts with the world on an essential level. While I'm sure he'd never be violent toward me or anyone else, it's also something that makes me feel VERY skittish around him in an involuntary way.

He talks to a therapist regularly, although he just changed doctors because the last one had more or less thrown up his hands about helping him in part because he is really just relentlessly pessimistic, he takes medication and I know he's on top of things as best he can be.

Does anyone have any advice about how to act around someone whose depression manifests in this way? He's a new-ish friend and I want to strike the right balance.

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Depression and friendships Empty Re: Depression and friendships

Post by Enail on Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:29 pm

I think you should not be around him when he's in a period that makes you skittish. It won't help him (if you're someone who tends towards helper), and it turns a potentially good friendship into one that you're essentially enduring some of the time.

I think you might do best to figure out what concrete behaviors you're not okay with or an easily recognizable cue for when he is in that mode, something specific that you can point to to let him know what you're not okay being around. And then, be upfront (but kind) about it - ask him to let you know/reschedule/talk by phone instead of in person/ whatever not-being-around-him-in-ways-that-make-you-feel-skittish alternative works for the two of you.  

If you don't feel safe being upfront about this with him, he is probably not the friend for you.

As well as being straightforward about what you can't manage in the friendship, I think it might help to be straightforward about the good things. For some people who've had unstable family lives, it seems like anything that feels negative or rejecting puts them into second-guessing stress and rejection hurt mode, so it can be helpful to be really clear that you like him or you do want to do X or Y with him or it's okay with you that he has periods where he's like that and it doesn't make you dislike him but it's not something you can be around, or whatever is appropriate to your friendship.  That way, the boundaries you set can come across more as just boundaries, rather than an insult or a rejection - you are someone who will be upfront, so there's no need to look for hidden meanings.
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