Losing Friends Is Normal if You Live with Depression
Trigger warning: This post involves a frank discussion of suicide.
Last week, an online friend died by suicide. While I am still grieving and in shock, I am not surprised. They had been struggling with depression for a while. As someone living with clinical depression for years, I know that thoughts of self-harm and suicide are standard. It is hard not to act on them, and doing so can be fatal. Depression may or may not be visible, but it is always cruel. It impacts every aspect of one's life and can even cut it short. She is the first friend who I have lost to death by depression, and I hope she is the last. However, metaphorically speaking, depression causes one to lose friends. I know this because it has happened to me quite a few times.
The Average Person Cannot Deal with Depressed Friends
Even in 2022, the stigma of mental illness prevails, especially in the real world. People have a lot of preconceived notions about mental health, like how positive thinking is the antidote to depression, exercise wards off negativity, and so on. Due to a lack of information, the average friend does not know how to support their depressed friend. On the contrary, the average friend may suggest that the latter become strong and positive no matter what. This kind of advice hurts us because depression is an illness, not a weakness. And then, we tend to avoid such friends because we don't need to feel worse about ourselves.
If the above scenario hasn't happened to you, I'm sure this one has: your friends get tired of you. In my experience, "normal" people dislike spending time with us because we are difficult company. Oh, and of course, we are hard to reach and often cancel plans at the last minute. Sooner or later, depression-free friends stop staying in touch with us. It's far easier to unfriend us than checking in routinely and having mental health conversations.
Learn to Be Okay with Friends Walking Away
Friends who leave are not bad people by default because depression is a challenging condition. Of course, if a friend lacks empathy or abandons you in your time of need, blame them for failing you. But whatever you do, don't blame yourself. Go to therapy regularly, especially if you are prone to suicidal ideation and self-harm. Ensure you are not lonely and give yourself some credit. After all, you are doing your best to survive with an insidious mood disorder.
If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.
Shaikh, M. (2022, June 9). Losing Friends Is Normal if You Live with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2022/6/losing-friends-is-normal-if-you-live-with-depression