Losing Friends to Depression


I’ve been reflecting a lot lately and to be honest this post is a little bit of a brain dump. Hopefully you see the message behind it though.

I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with depression. Not because it was clearly a horrible time in my life, but because minutes later I received a text message from a close friend telling me that she didn’t like who I was anymore.

‘You’ve changed,’ she said.

She wasn’t wrong, I had. I’d changed a lot. I wasn’t myself at all, I had been possessed. However, despite her observation being absolutely true, it still hurts. I didn’t like who I was either, but for a good friend to point out what a horrible, selfish person I’d become, it felt like she was kicking me whilst I was down. If I’m honest, it still feels a bit like that. She told me to ‘look at myself’. The last thing I wanted to do.

The reality is, people don’t understand depression. People aren’t educated on mental illness. They think that you can ‘snap out of it’; ‘pull yourself together‘ they say. My friend thought I could do that. She thought I was choosing to be a miserable cow with no purpose, motivation or energy. She thought I was choosing to cry myself to sleep each night and question my worth every minute that I was awake.

‘I don’t like you as a person anymore.’

We argued. I lost my rag a little bit. I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed of my diagnosis and I felt ashamed of who I was. Now, I don’t feel ashamed, I feel proud. I fought a hard, hard battle. It’s a shame that I lost people along the way, of course it is. But to hear that your friend has been diagnosed with depression and decide to tell them that you don’t like them anymore is a low blow.

No thanks to you, I’m doing okay. I hope you like who I am now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t give up on somebody with a mental illness. You find it hard to be friends with them? They’re finding it harder, I promise.

Hannah x

 

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29 Comments

  1. Susan Falconer
    July 26, 2016 / 10:55 am

    I totally get what you are saying. I have lost so called friends that said I had to get a grip I had nothing to be depressed about. It was my own fault my life was the way it was. I had made my bed so I had to get on with it.
    Well I am getting on with my life with new friends who are amazing. I still have dips but they help me so much as does my family.
    Those people from my past left their mark but their ignorance isnt my fault.

    • Anna
      July 26, 2016 / 2:49 pm

      For me it wasn’t a friend, it was my boss. Once I told him, it was as if all trust had vanished and I was suddenly an irrelevance as a manager, just a problem.

      Worst of all I let him win and left, so always have it in my head whenever I try and do something new. Really should have hung on and come out as trans to him. Would love to have seen his head explode… šŸ™‚

  2. Geoff Holland
    July 26, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    It can be a very painful lesson to learn, but please remember this, now and in the future. You can’t lose a friend because you’re going through a difficult time. You can only find out that someone who you thought was your friend isn’t your friend after all.

    • Kat Brkic
      July 28, 2016 / 5:33 pm

      Amen You’re so very right, not a real friend at all. A real friend would try to understand and if not understand still be there and try being as accepting as they can be and supportive, you don’t have to like the changes the person is experiencing cause the fact is, that person themselves is trying to cope with it themselves. People don’t realise it’s not just feeling sad and unmotivated, it’s way more than that that goes on with depression and if the person hasn’t had it themselves they have no idea what they’re talking about nor should they try pushing that person to snap out of it for their sake, leave that to the experts.

  3. Karen Birkett
    July 26, 2016 / 4:05 pm

    Your story is so sad, however there is still such a lack of understanding and stigma around mental health illness, hopefully this will end with brave and selfless people such as yourself sharing you stories, I wish you peace and happiness x x

  4. becky
    July 26, 2016 / 6:41 pm

    Hi Hannah, thank you for this post you’ve made me feel less alone and less guilty. I have PTSD and depression and I always felt so ashamed I lost my best friends, i still wish I’d acted differently. its hard when everyone has old school friends around and I have none now.
    But actually you’re right; to never speak to me again when all I wanted was some support is very cruel. It’ll always hurt, all my memories were with those girls. I know I didn’t handle it my best, I think I lost my rag abit too, but it all came from this deep pain inside, that hurt so much it was hard to be myself.
    hope you have a good week, keep going and thank you šŸ™‚ xxxx

    • July 30, 2016 / 4:18 pm

      There is no reason you should feel like you should’ve acted differently – depression is an illness that seizes your self-possession and destroys it. You are no way to blame. I don’t have friends from school either, and I’m so glad I didn’t try to hang on to people who weren’t really my friends, because now I have so many good, true friends who I know will be there for me, always. I really hope that you are able to do the same – it can be hard to make new friends, particularly when you feel everyone else already has ‘their set’, but opportunities such as travelling, going to university and starting a new job can give you the change to meet other people in the same situation and looking for friends. I generally find that if I like the look of someone and start up a conversation, they’re happy to continue it and more often than not, we come away friends. It can be challenging, but it can also be so rewarding. I have faith in you!

  5. SavedbytheArchers
    July 26, 2016 / 8:40 pm

    I guess I’m lucky that I had depression through most of my school years. It weeded out the intolerant, the narrow-minded, the selfish and the stupid. All I was left with were the kindest, most forgiving and most loyal of friends and family, who are with me still, standing by me as I fight the ex-husband who is trying to use my past depression as an excuse to take my children from me.

  6. Sam
    July 26, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    People’s lack of compassion when people have depression is sad and makes me sad about the world. Be compassionate everyone!

  7. Chrissy
    July 26, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    You have made a great point there Becky. If your friends understood your PAIN- and how much you were hurting -if that pain was visible like an open sore or a javelin through the heart- people would ‘get it’ – and true friends would do anything to help alleviate that pain and most definitely not abandon you to go through the pain alone. Depression should be renamed Acute Chronic Emotional Pain- as everyone seems to be able to relate to the concept of pain- and how you would not wish it on yourself or knowingly do anything that would prolong that acute chronic pain- anymore than you would twist a knife in its wound. If a ‘friend’ cannot understand they will probably unintentionally hinder recovery as genuine understanding is necessary (or at the very least – the open ability to try and understand) for genuine support to be given. What even the most lovely friends sometimes don’t understand is that the very tool required to help heal you (the brain) is temporarily malfunctioning – so it is impossible to just ‘snap out of it’. With the kindness and patience of true understanding, however comes the supported breathing space which allows your brain to find its way again. Never berate yourself Hannah for temporarily ‘not being yourself’ – your self can just be a little lost in the fog- but it will- and does- clear. True friends are there when the cloud clears , looking forward to welcoming you back xxx

  8. July 26, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    I was the so called friend. I am saddened and ashamed to this day that I couldn’t be there for my mentally ill friend. I was there, for a really long time, during much of the crisis. But things fell apart. I had my own problems going on. She wasn’t able to be there for me. She didn’t have the capacity to help me because she had been so ill. I could never understand what she went through. But I had nothing left to give. We are cordial now, but I don’t think she has or will ever forgive me for giving up on her. For being angry with her things I knew she couldn’t control. I lost a really good friend.

  9. Susan mclaughlin
    July 26, 2016 / 11:22 pm

    It seems nasty but at least u had friends I don’t

  10. July 27, 2016 / 6:36 am

    From experience the friends that you loose during depression make space for new ones to come into your life going forwards. Depression changes you as do so many experiences and some friends cannot cope with that. It an issue with them not you. Hope you recover soon and go forwards stronger living your life to the full.

  11. Ktob
    July 27, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    As a friend of someone diagnosed with manic depression, it is very very hard to know what to do and what not to do, and to remain a friend to someone who appears completely self-centred and who is sometimes cruel or out of touch with reality. (Sorry if that sounds brutal but it’s the brutal truth.) Of course people with depression need help and support but there should be more advice out there for the friends and family of sufferers too, so that we know what to do, how to support them and how to remain patient and indeed maintain a friendship/relationship. This article is helpful in explaining why we should continue to be patient and be there for our friends.

  12. July 27, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    I totally get what you are saying. The frustrating part is my friend who has depression and didn’t tell me. He told another friend and that’s how I even found out. If I hadn’t known, I would have taken him going from being super close to just randomly stop talking to me personally. He told me some deep stuff, said he trusts me then disappeared . Okay, what just happened then he complains that no one supports him. Supports what? You didn’t even tell me you had depression? I’m still confused, he could have at least said I am going through some stuff I need space, news flash having depression does not give you the green light to be a jerk. News flash, just because I don’t have depression doesn’t mean I don’t have my own struggles which he knew and was super understanding so why wouldn’t I support you??? That’s what pisses me off!

  13. Carol Townend
    July 27, 2016 / 9:30 pm

    I have a personality disorder. My symptoms went undiagnosed for years. However when they were diagnosed finally, many friends noticed the way I was, and like you, they stigmatized me by telling I was ‘crazy, nuts, insane, of my head.’ I had thought my behaviour to be ‘normal’ as noone ever pointed it out to me before they knew my illness. I hadn’t changed, I stayed the same. I don’t know how they expected me to change by saying those things, which I knew were not true about who I really was. Eventually with the right help, I started to get well. After that, something clicked, the people who stigmatized me were people who had bullied me in the past at school, and I hadn’t noticed. That bullying which went on for years, has made me more aware of the way people abuse others who to them, do not seem to fit in. Rather than retaliate, I’m turning it around by standing up for children and adults who are being bullied for ‘being different.

  14. Terry K.
    July 27, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    Friends? What are those?

  15. July 28, 2016 / 4:31 am

    As a parent of a depressed child I have watched my son loose friends that he has had since infancy. The disease has changed the family and how we deal with people. It’s sad but true. People ii thought would stick by me and help me through these difficult times backed off and distanced themselves. I don’t dare have my daughter’s friends over when he is off the meds because we don’t know what may happen. Just sad and hard on the whole family. I’m often lonely and miss the company of adults .

  16. July 28, 2016 / 10:22 am

    Thanks for sharing. I have found the best and strongest friend because of depression, my wife. I know she found it difficult but she is amazing and supportive. Of all my past friends only a couple stayed in touch and for that I am thankful. Also my 4 kids are very understanding and a source of joy.

  17. Katie
    July 28, 2016 / 11:42 am

    This happened to me too. I developed acute anxiety overnight coupled with severe depression. I stopped going out and completely lost confidence. My friends walked away. I’d fallen out with my best friend a couple of years before over her relationship break up (she wanted me to lie for her) and it left me with a hole in my life anyway. Then my new boss lost confidence in me and made me redundant. My life fell apart. It was a horrible time. I felt no one understood. I got a new job which was worse as my new bosses were bullies! You couldn’t make it up! I left after 4 months more ill than ever before. I lost 4 stone in 10 months and age 48 fitted into my 13 yr old daughters clothes. My husband didn’t know what to do. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist and he put me on the medication which helped me recover but my friendships never have. I’ve made new friends but they don’t live near me. It’s been a really tough time. Getting a new job also helped.

  18. Dwight
    July 29, 2016 / 2:11 am

    My was a woman I loved and lived with for over 8 years. Told me it was my problem, I had to deal with it on my own. So I did , found new friends that try to motivate me and actually makes me fight it and feel better.

  19. Carol hillman
    July 29, 2016 / 4:09 am

    Hannah, thank you for your honesty. I hope you are feeling better.

    • Kimberley Honer
      July 29, 2016 / 6:11 pm

      It’s so sad that this happens as much as it does, I had terrible post natal depression, which lead into depression, my husband left me with an autistic 3 year old and a one year old just 10 days after our wedding, we’d been together 11years, the reason being he’d met a 22 year old he’s been having it off with, the reason? I had post natal depression, he couldn’t handle it and felt It was taking over his life, after an attempted overdose and hours of therapy I’m now in a position to realise I should thank him, I’m far stronger and have far more confidence than I ever did when we were together!

  20. kt
    August 2, 2016 / 11:16 pm

    Ive also lost alot of friends from this.. I’ve tried reaching out and they just dont get it. I feel so alone. Ive lost more confidence after telling my friends why im so down. Making me feel more guilty for feeling like this. If I cant talk to my ‘friends’ which was a huge obstacle for me, who can we talk to without feeling judged. . People just dont get it..

  21. Jennifer
    August 11, 2016 / 3:01 am

    Depression is selfish, it is. it is the nature of the disease. Maybe your friend was correct and you were being selfish because you couldn’t see anything but yourself when you where in the throws of depression. It is not our job to judge, it is our job to experience. Your friend was upset and hurt by you and you cut her off, so you did the same thing to her that she did to you! That is the lesson in itself, maybe you both needed to lose one another.
    .

  22. Sandra Evers
    August 16, 2016 / 9:45 am

    He took me to the doctor. He heard the doctor’s words and still 4 years later he never taken the time to listen to what the doctor said. He left me 2 months away from our 25th wedding anniversary. His best friend posted on facebook the next day that “It is better to have loved and lost than to have to spend the rest of your life with a psycho.” His response was “No kidding”. Many who have heard the story of my battle with Major Depressive Disorder are disgusted by those statements. To me the worst WAS that we have known each other since we were 5. Childhood friends, high school sweethearts, married almost 25 years. He has looked straight at me and pointed saying “THAT, is not what I married”.
    To this day 4 years after my suicide attempt; he is still willing to declare openly that “depression is a figment of people’s imagination; basically folks it is a crock of shit for the lazy asses who don’t want to work.”

    I am fortunate; I have wonderful parents who even though they are into their seventies now have stood strong and at my side. They have witnessed some of the lowest of my lows. They have listened when I needed someone to just listen. They have sat in uncomfortable waiting rooms while I visited doctors and therapists. They have supported me through it all. And they have never complained only asked what else could they do.
    Now 4 years later; I am living on my own in my own apartment. I hold down a full time job. I visit my parents every weekend even though sometimes there are other things I would like to do. They are my rock, they were and are there for me. Because of the love and support of my family even when my grandmother passed away a little more than a month ago; I was able to speak at her funeral. I was able to deal with the emotions of her passing and not sink back into the bottom of that pit. My grandmother was 98.5 years old and even she took an interest in what I was going through. She learned as much about depression as she could because she wanted to understand. You can’t MAKE people understand, they have to WANT to understand.

    I know that many are not here today because they did not have this kind of support. I can’t change that but what I would like to change is the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. I want to scream from the biggest stage. I am not different; I am not a loser; I am certainly not lazy. I am very simply me and some times you may see a different side of me that you haven’t before but I am still ME. “Depression is not bumps or bruises you can see, depression, it lives inside of me.”

    If you or someone you love has these different sides; you are not crazy or insane. You are not lazy because the energy expended trying to keep on the straight and narrow in this cold world we live in is immense. During the toughest times concentrate on one thing at a time and when you can start on a second. It may be that you get knocked back to the first thing once or twice before you can move forward again but every movement is movement.

    I know I have rambled on a bit; I tend to do that. Mental health isn’t just something I watch on the news; I live it everyday. Some days are not good at all but others are beautiful just because I am still here and I now understand that everyday is a fight I must fight or I lose my life. My life is worth more than a 25 year marriage and a 45 year friendship, it is worth more than taking medication every day. My life is worth so much because not matter how big my fight or how low my low; my life is MINE. No one can live it for me because no one else has the same strength as I do. We need to keep talking about mental health, not just about depression but mental health. It needs to become as okay to talk about as cancer because both can kill you and those dealing with cancer are probably dealing with some mental health issues brought on by their other disease.

    The most important organ in our bodies is our brain and if it is ill it affects every other part of who we are.

  23. August 16, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    I have postnatal depression and I think I’ve been quite lucky where my friends (I don’t have many) haven’t abandoned me and totally know where they stand even if I don’t contact them much. I love this post so much!

  24. Louise Williams
    October 16, 2016 / 11:18 pm

    But what if it’s the person with depression pushing you away. My now ex boyfriend has ended our relationship because he says he needs space and has to fight it alone/ with his family. I love him with all my heart and would support him through everything, he just won’t let me. Now, I feel like I’m fighting my own black dog and the one person I want by my side to help me can’t.

  25. GLYN WILLIAMS
    November 28, 2016 / 8:18 am

    I m having another major bout of depression. I hate the pills – thought I could get through this without them. I just want someone to share this with. CBT doesnt help me. Depression is horrible as its invisible.

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