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