Social Question

Mariah's avatar

When someone comes to you for help, is it fair for them to get critical when you don't help in the right way?

Asked by Mariah (25876points) May 20th, 2013

Dealing with a depressed friend an I have no f***ing clue how to handle any of his problems. He’s pissed over some things I have done (eg. calling the student counseling center on him) and I feel a little slighted by that considering the position he has put me in.

Any experiences of your own with something like this, from either side of the story?

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15 Answers

Judi's avatar

In my experience, people who suffer from severe depression often put their loved ones (or whoever cares about them) in a double bind .
Its not you. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes everything you do is wrong in some people’s eyes.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Sometimes a friend is just a good listener.

Judi's avatar

My word of the day yesterday: Zugzwang—A position in which any decision or move will result in problems.

Pachy's avatar

They call it free advice because the receiver is as free to ignore it as the giver is to offer it. Don’t waste your time feeling upset.

CWOTUS's avatar

Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about something.

janbb's avatar

This link may help you understand a little more about what a depressed person may be going through and why it is so hard at times to help them. Sometimes what we feel is help is not what the person can use.

On a personal note, my son once called the police because a friend was threatening suicide. The friend was not happy with him but he had done the right thing. They were both in high school at the time.

Coloma's avatar

If you do not want to give the help they request then you are free to decline, otherwise, you should give what they ask for with no strings attached. Just like lending money. Taking things upon yourself without their consent, like making phone calls on the sly borderlines on codependence and control issues on your behalf.
It sounds as if this relationship is not healthy for either of you and you might just have to accept that it is time to set both of yourselves free of the dance.

bookish1's avatar

I think I remember reading about this friend of yours before. His problems are his own. You can’t fix him. You probably did the right thing by calling the counseling center on his behalf if you were worried about him and he refused to do so himself. It’s dispiriting when people have resources and they won’t even take advantage of them.

I feel that, like with addiction, people experiencing depression have to come to the realization by themselves that they want to change and need help. I lost several relationships due in part to chronic depression, and was not in a position to be in a healthy relationship until I realized what had been making me depressed and took steps to change it.

If he does not want to seek help himself, the best you can do for him is listen and spend some time with him now and then. But take care of yourself and do not let him bring you down. You deserve time to yourself, you have your own health problems and stressors, and you can’t and don’t have to take care of everyone.

zenvelo's avatar

What you’ve described is when boundaries are really important. When the friend pushes back, that’s when you need to be firm and say “that is not acceptable”.

They may get really angry, but that is when you have to disengage. Don’t try to assuage them! They are in error, and your being abused verbally does not help them and really doesn’t help you.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

Um.. that’s a difficult one to answer.
Well, it depends. Have you been friends for years? How much do you want to help? If you love that person and really, really want to help them, then try to help them in any way possible, no matter what they say or how angry they get sometimes.
But if that person isn’t a very close friend, and you’ve been there before, trying to help them, and you think it’s going to be a waste of time, well then… explain them you’re not their mother and stay away.

Mariah's avatar

@Judi Thanks. That’s an interesting term to read about. I do feel like nothing I ever do is right by him. I’m not beating myself up though. I know his wellbeing isn’t my responsibility.

@KNOWITALL Thanks. I should be so patient, but I’ve found that very difficult. I realize that’s a shortcoming of mine, but I also feel that I shouldn’t really be in the position of being his therapist in the first place.

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room I’m torn by wanting to walk away and wanting to keep trying because he is a friend and I care about his wellbeing. I don’t know. Thanks for your input.

@CWOTUS I don’t know, I truly think he’s clinically depressed and I don’t want to just write off his problems as him being difficult. It does feel that way at times though. Thanks for your input.

@janbb I lurve Allie Brosh! That comic did make me feel a little guilty when I read it, because I know I haven’t been seeing things from his point of view very well. I do feel I have made some responsible decisions even though they weren’t always ones he has liked. It’s just frustrating because it hasn’t accomplished anything. Thank you.

@Coloma Thank you. I have slowly, over the course of several months, distanced myself from him a bit, which I feel a little bad about but he was bringing me down too. But I haven’t let go completely because I still want to see him feeling better and I feel some responsibility as his friend to do what I can to make that happen. I don’t know if that’s a mistake. I wonder about your comment, though, “otherwise, you should give what they ask for with no strings attached.” Do you think what they ask for is necessarily always going to be what actually helps? The main reason I keep helping in the “wrong” ways is that I think he’s looking for “help” that would actually be detrimental. For example, he keeps saying that he just wants validation from me, which I refuse to provide. I do so because he has a lot of self-destructive thought patterns that I just can’t stamp my seal of approval on. Does that make sense?

@bookish1 Thank you, I need to hear that now and then. Yeah I’ve bitched about this same guy plenty on here before! I know my desire to “fix him” is wrongheaded but jeez, I just want to see my friends happy. It’s hard to accept that it’s probably going to be a long road for him that I can’t really do anything about.

@zenvelo Yes, most recently I have been setting some boundaries because he was really leaning hard a couple of months ago and I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s not so bad anymore but we still have these conversations now and then that just leave me so bothered. Thank you.

@this_velvet_glove We met when I first came to college, about a year and a half ago. We were pretty close before all this tension started getting in the way of what was originally a fun friendship. I don’t think I have it in me to take him on too much anymore, even though I do care. My efforts are largely futile anyway, so that doesn’t exactly make me feel motivated to continue. Thanks.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mariah I get it, I’ve listened as friends talked about all kinds of things, and they rarely ask for advice, it’s like they just want to tell someone, anyone, to get it out. :( Sorry.

Judi's avatar

@Mariah , You should know that I recently reconnected with a friend from when I was 18. She was always a little Debbie downer. We are 52 now and she hasn’t changed a bit. Nothing will be right.

Inspired_2write's avatar

“Is it fair…”
This person was going to you for help and it probably took all his efforts to do
so to muster up that courage to connect.
Not all of us are capable in dechipering anothers needs, however I believe that
all that he may have wanted in the end was a ‘hug” , a connection to his pain that
supplied a little relief and knowing that another shared his pain.
Pain shared is pain halved.
I hope that he heals and gets better .

LornaLove's avatar

This may sound odd, but I suspect he is just venting. To a person he feels safe with. How you feel about that is up to you. But venting of this sort is normally when a person feels safe, and an let off steam. I think don’t do anything about it. Or you could tell him straight out that you are not his chalk board to write all over. But I know for me, having good vent does help! I choose my victims carefully tho!

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