Author Topic: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?  (Read 3070 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Chinchillazilla

  • SQUEAK.
  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 508
How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« on: September 01, 2013, 07:10:57 PM »
My best friend is going through a rough time. I've always tried to be there for him in the past, but right now, I need a break. I'm a very introverted person and I get tired from social interactions, and this week, I've done something every single night. Seven nights in a row of being out, in loud environments, around people. I'm completely exhausted.

My friend keeps texting me that he needs to hang out, with wording like "Please? I need this". I feel selfish, but he often does this to me and I always end up getting (irrationally) angry and just avoiding him entirely for a few days. That's what I did last night, instead of explaining that I had yet another obligation already. But I don't feel like it's fair to just leave him hanging, especially since he's depressed. At the same time, I feel a lot of responsibility, like I'm his only source of social interaction and that if I don't talk to him when he "needs" me, he might kill himself or something, which makes me kind of resent him even when we do interact.

Don't get me wrong, I do love him and like spending time with him. But I often feel manipulated into hanging out when I would really rather be alone, and that's when I resent him. I feel like I have to ignore my own mental health to look out for his, and that's not fair to me. Is there any way to tell someone "I need my space" without being hurtful?
No running with scythes.

Firecat

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2591
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2013, 07:43:20 PM »
I think the fundamental issues of this are kind of beyond an etiquette forum. What I can say, from an etiquette perspective, is this:


It is not rude to be an introvert.
It is not rude to need time to recharge in your way.
Despite your friend's depression, it is not rude to prioritize your own mental and emotional health.
 Someone who ignores your needs and manipulates you into spending time with him...is not being much of a friend.

Your friend will feel however he feels about your saying "no, thank you" to some of his invitations; you need only be polite in replying. "Sorry, not feeling up to it tonight" is a perfectly polite and reasonable response.

If you are concerned about your friend's welfare, maybe it would help to look into some local resources? (In other words, your friend's issues sound to me like more than any friend should be asked to deal with alone...professional help may be needed.)

sweetonsno

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1425
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2013, 01:16:39 AM »
I agree with Firecat. You can only do so much, and it's unreasonable for him to expect you to be on call 24/7. You should not have to justify or explain yourself when you do turn down an invitation. However, I understand your concern in this particular case. .

I vote for the "no, but" technique.

If you're up for getting together but don't want to go to the club that he's requesting, say so. "I'm up for getting together, but I don't have the energy to go out drinking or dancing. How about we meet for coffee/dessert?"

If you just don't want to socialize that night, say, "I'm really not up for it tonight; would you like to get together tomorrow/Friday/whatever?"

If he protests, say, "I understand that you're in a tough spot, but I really wouldn't be good company. I'm really not feeling up for [whatever he wants to do]. [Repeat your alternate offer.]"

Safety trumps etiquette note: if you really do think he is a danger to himself or others, you need to get in touch with the appropriate resources/authorities. Family members? Teachers? Don't worry about the fallout. Just alert someone who can help him.

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12478
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2013, 09:38:32 AM »
"Friend, I have just realizing that in supporting you by hanging out every night this week that I feel that I am the one that now needs support.  I feel like have been on call 24/7 this week.  I think I am going from friend to therapist.  I think you need to talk to a therapist so I can go back to being your friend."

Bethalize

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4784
    • Toxic People Survival Checklist
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2013, 09:57:09 AM »
Don't get me wrong, I do love him and like spending time with him. But I often feel manipulated into hanging out when I would really rather be alone, and that's when I resent him. I feel like I have to ignore my own mental health to look out for his, and that's not fair to me. Is there any way to tell someone "I need my space" without being hurtful?

You're looking for magic words. You are denying someone what they want. They don't have to be happy about it, they just have to accept it. Certainly it sounds you are being dragged into an enabling role. If he needs that much support he needs to seek professional help. It's amazing how saying that gets rid of the emotional vampires.

Psychopoesie

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 959
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2013, 10:02:35 AM »
It's okay to set boundaries with your friend. You won't be much help to him if you fall over yourself.

Like PP's suggestions, especially the "Sorry not feeling up to it tonight."

It's also okay to say, "I'm really worried about you. I really want to support you but you need more help than I can give you. Please say you'll talk to [a counsellor, parent, health professional, whatever's appropriate]. Let's [find someone, set up an appointment, etc]."  Sounds like you're close enough to do this.

Not sure where you're from but there are so many resources about depression available online. Here in Australia, beyondblue is a great starting place. http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/family-and-friends/caring-for-someone-with-depression-or-anxiety Hopefully there'll be something similar in your country/area.

Wishing you and your friend all the best.

Winterlight

  • On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog- arf.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 9976
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2013, 10:14:23 AM »
 You can't be his therapist or counselor- legally you'd be barred even if you were trained for it. Also, there's a reason counseling sessions don't last for hours. It's exhausting for the therapist after a while, and they need a break.

I vote for the "no, but" technique.

If you're up for getting together but don't want to go to the club that he's requesting, say so. "I'm up for getting together, but I don't have the energy to go out drinking or dancing. How about we meet for coffee/dessert?"

If you just don't want to socialize that night, say, "I'm really not up for it tonight; would you like to get together tomorrow/Friday/whatever?"

If he protests, say, "I understand that you're in a tough spot, but I really wouldn't be good company. I'm really not feeling up for [whatever he wants to do]. [Repeat your alternate offer.]"

Safety trumps etiquette note: if you really do think he is a danger to himself or others, you need to get in touch with the appropriate resources/authorities. Family members? Teachers? Don't worry about the fallout. Just alert someone who can help him.

This.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

AzaleaBloom

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 152
  • Help, I'm stepping into the twilight zone...
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2013, 10:59:22 AM »
As others have said, it is okay to say no. 

If you're in the US, NAMI is a great resource.  They can give you information about trained professionals so that you can possibly give your friend the tools to help himself, so the burden can be taken off of you.


JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6093
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2013, 12:22:40 PM »
If he's depressed to the point you are afraid he will consider suicide, it would be good for you to recommend he seek professional help.
Yes, you can just say no.

cwm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2427
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2013, 12:25:24 PM »
You can always say no.

"Friend, I understand you feel like you need company tonight. In the same way that I need to be alone."

If he still doesn't get it and you are his only lifeline/friend/whatever, I would strongly encourage you to try to find him other help.

shhh its me

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7045
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2013, 12:46:21 PM »
  Just for clarity you've been out with other people all week. I think it gives a bad impression of your friend if he has been monopolizing your time all week and guilts you the one time you said no.

1)  do answer and say "no " don't just let him go to voice mail that's one consideration I would make for a depressed friend. I wouldn't just not answer even though a phone call text is not s summons.  Then  offer an alternative " I don't want to go out but I'm up for a movie." or  "in 3 days I'll be up for .....".

2) I think even though he is depressed you can say " I'll be there for you in the ways I am able but it hurts my feelings when you only seem to call when you need me not when all is well just to enjoy my company."

3) If you think he is going to attempt suicide call the suicide helpline or 911 as appropriate.  I want to be very careful here I'm not offering advice this really happened .I truly believe someone was just doing that vague not exactly threaten suicide but wanting attention and wanting me to think that's what they were thinking. I have with complete sincerely  said " ok if you keep speaking like that I am hearing " I wish to end my life "  so I'm going to call 911 and tell them you are threatening to kill yourself then will take you to get psychiatric help immediately  ."

CakeBeret

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4264
Re: How can I tell my (depressed) friend he's smothering me?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2013, 01:03:40 PM »
Can you set up a regular once-a-week outing with him? And when he says "but I neeeed you to go out with me!" you can say "Friend, I can't tonight. I will see you Wednesday. Do you want to talk about what's going on or would you rather wait till Wednesday?"
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."