Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do I attract depressed friends

My closest friend has had a horrible year, her husband left her, her older son is failing a good portion of his freshman year, her younger son was diagnosed as ADHD, she had to sell a house she loved to a completely unreasonable buyer and she was demoted at work. Not surprisingly she is depressed...clinically depressed, and suffering from anxiety. She feels like she is failing in every area of her life. When I was in the depths of my depression this winter I wondered if trying to help her was part of the reason I was getting so depressed. Is it contagious? Was it from all of the depressed talk that we were sharing? Or was it a horrible coincidence? I say horrible because I wasn't nearly as much help as I wish I was.

She isn't climbing out of her depression, in part because it seems as though she is still getting hit with new problems nearly every week. I've managed to climb most of the way out of my depression. Sometimes I find that I have less patience now to listen to her. Part of it is that I'm afraid to be pulled back down. Part of it is because nothing seems to be changing in her life. Part of it is that I have no idea how to help her or what advise to give her. I KNOW what it feels like to be so far down in the pit that you can't see daylight above you. I KNOW the helpless feeling you have when you are so depressed that you can't figure out how to do anything to improve your outlook. I also KNOW that you can't tell a person in that situation to simply "get over it." So I feel helpless. I do what I can, and I hope that it helps.

I also have to pull back sometimes and hope that someone else will step in and help her too. For myself and my own children I need to back off sometimes and allow myself some time to recharge and heal. I know that if I get worse and step into that pit that I won't be any help to her. But I can't help but feel that I'm a bad friend for doing that.

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