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Depression And Friendship

Question:

I have been going through a very severe depression (I have been diagnosed as bipolar). My best friend, also female and 34 years old, has completely cut me out of her life. My heart is broken and I can’t seem to get through this! She had written me a card explaining that she couldn’t bear to see me so depressed and that I needed to go back on my antidepressant. She said that she just couldn’t “be close” when I was feeling like that. Well, I’ve started taking the medication again and she still wants nothing to do with me. What did I do wrong? I keep replaying in my mind all the things that I could have possibly said or done that she just couldn’t handle. It’s torture. I wonder if she wants a “perfect” friend. I just can’t live up to her standards and I hate myself for it. I love her and miss her and I need to talk about this but she won’t even say hello when she sees me (we work together). Is our friendship doomed? She has been my main source of support and fun and companionship for the past two years and I can’t bear to think of losing her friendship! Help!!! Thank you so much!

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

It’s hard to recognize this when you are depressed, but it really is very hard for non-depressed persons to be around depressed persons. Your friend may love you very much, but just have reached a place where she needed to take a break from the chaos of your disorder. This is NOT because you are a bad person, but rather because due to your disorder you may be acting in ways that are difficult for your friend to comprehend, and that make it hard for her to maintain her own feeling of okayness. She may also be worried about your safety. She probably doesn’t want a ‘perfect’ friend. She does need to take a break for a while. What you need to do is to show your friend that you can manage yourself and your disorder responsibly without her help. My advice is for you to do two things: 1) resist the urge to beat yourself up over her withdrawal from you, and 2) tell your friend (in a note) that you are going to take care of yourself, that you love her and hope she’ll want to be your friend but that you know you need to give her space now, and then don’t try to contact her again for a long while. If you frantically pursue her and act desperate you’ll likely drive her further away. On the other hand, if you gather yourself, resist the urge to beat yourself up, and take responsible care of yourself, showing yourself and your friend that you can stand alone for a while or find support elsewhere your friend may come back to you. Take your meds while you’re at it. Good Luck!

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