Wedding Woes

Your mental health and the friendship 'break' are two separate issues.

mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
edited January 19 in Wedding Woes

Dear Prudence,

About a year ago, I moved to a new city and was lucky to instantly find a friend group. I met the four kindest and most supportive people—two couples—and even though I’m technically a “fifth wheel” in the group, it’s never felt that way. My friends do a great job of including me in their lives, so even though I live alone, I’ve rarely ever felt lonely here. We talk almost every day and see each other multiple times a week.

This all changed about a month ago, when my friends suddenly all got busy with work, school, and some difficult life stuff. I’m now barely seeing them at all, which I completely understand. Unfortunately, around the same time, I started a new medication that’s making me have adverse side effects—more specifically, I’ve felt suicidal for the first time in my life. These feelings and thoughts have been compounded by the fact that I’m suddenly always alone in my apartment with little distraction. (I’m also injured in a way that makes walking or going outside tough, so I feel especially isolated.)

I was hesitant to tell my friends about this because I didn’t want to burden them, but I finally talked myself into it. I figured these are some of the people I love most in the world, and they’d want to help me however they can.

I messaged the friend I consider myself closest to, explaining that I was having a tough time and being around friends would help. I asked if we could see each other that week. He responded with a nice but non-committal “maybe.”

I then texted a second friend, also telling her I was struggling. She seemed more receptive to the conversation, so I opened up fully and told her my medication was making me suicidal and that I was scared for my safety. Her response was that self-harm is triggering for her, and she wishes I could help more, but I should talk to a doctor instead.

In the following days, neither of these friends ever followed up to make sure I was okay. It feels important to note that I’m doing alright now. I’m sorting out my medication, and in the meantime, I’ve been able to lean on old friends and better support systems. But I feel rattled by the way my friends dealt with this situation. This might be unfair, but I feel like they let me down when I needed them most. 

I’m not sure how to move forward with this. Should this change the way I view what I thought was good friendship? Am I overreacting? Do I simply accept that these aren’t the kinds of friends I can turn to for this stuff? I just can’t stop thinking about how much their responses (or lack thereof) hurt me.

— Needy and Neglected

Re: Your mental health and the friendship 'break' are two separate issues.

  • You have two things going on here but if this is a medical issue you also need a trusted therapist who may be able to help guide you through the medication's side effects AND how you deal with interpersonal relationships. 
    STARMOON44
  • You need to get professional help for your mental health. It isn’t a friends job to manage suicidal
    ideation. 
    banana468VarunaTTCasadenaei34
  • While I'm so glad that our society and culture are now pushing to be more responsive to mental health needs and teaching us how to deal with it, when it comes to being part of someone's support network...we're not really teaching people how to do that well or how to handle it for themselves.  One of the things I was so angry about in my divorce was the people who made me the villian of the story b/c exH was depressed.  Yeah, he was.  He had been depressed for years, would go to therapy 2-3 times, consider himself fixed, then drop back into the cycle.  It had pulled me in as well and I couldn't handle it anymore and he rejected the ultimatum.  I wasn't wrong for saving myself from someone who wouldn't save themselves OR me.

    LW, I get that it hurts. The one friend gave you a boundary and made it clear she wasn't here for that.  Of course she wouldn't reach out to ask you about your self-harm again.  The other one, who knows what is going on?  They might have their own story to deal with too.  In the meantime, you've got other support systems and management (by your own admission), so use that.  And maybe reach out to these people in a few weeks and actually ask for an actual activity that you've planned out?
    charlotte989875downtondiva
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I have to say, I really, really hate Prudie's response to this one. I'm not sure if it's not wanting to be real with someone who is/was suicidal or what, but the response is basically that the friends are shitty. In case anyone is curious: 

    This hurts. They did let you down when you needed them most. I am so glad you were able to lean on old friends. I don’t know that there’s a huge lesson here. People can be selfish, flaky, and unreliable (sometimes, just because they’re dealing with their own stuff!), but we knew that already. I honestly think the more important takeaway is about you—and it’s a positive one. You were in a terrible place, and not only did you reach out and directly ask for help, you kept going, undeterred by being brushed off, until you found people who could support you. That’s amazing! Many people don’t even want to make a single phone call to have a hard conversation when things are going well for them. You should be really proud of yourself. And while no one wants to be in the position of having to learn who their real friends are, now you know and that’s a good thing.
    VarunaTTbanana468
  • I have to say, I really, really hate Prudie's response to this one. I'm not sure if it's not wanting to be real with someone who is/was suicidal or what, but the response is basically that the friends are shitty. In case anyone is curious: 

    This hurts. They did let you down when you needed them most. I am so glad you were able to lean on old friends. I don’t know that there’s a huge lesson here. People can be selfish, flaky, and unreliable (sometimes, just because they’re dealing with their own stuff!), but we knew that already. I honestly think the more important takeaway is about you—and it’s a positive one. You were in a terrible place, and not only did you reach out and directly ask for help, you kept going, undeterred by being brushed off, until you found people who could support you. That’s amazing! Many people don’t even want to make a single phone call to have a hard conversation when things are going well for them. You should be really proud of yourself. And while no one wants to be in the position of having to learn who their real friends are, now you know and that’s a good thing.
    Agreed. It's one thing to know that you can lean on old trusted friends or your partner but looking for mental health help from new friends is asking way too much of them.  That advice is also unrealistic.   

    I think Prudie did a poor job of reading between the lines here. 
    VarunaTTMyNameIsNotSTARMOON44
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