Is my friend actually depressed or does she just want sympathy?

Posted , 5 users are following.

My friend and I have known each other for over ten years but since about last year she has changed very dramatically from her old ways. She started to lose interest in a lot of things and got really grumpy all the time. At first no one knew what her problem was but she eventually told me she was depressed. I took it really seriously as I knew that it is a big deal and can lead to self harm or suicide but then she started telling everybody and began to use it as a way to get away with things. For example she would say horrible things to me and our other friends but if we said anything back she would blame us for her depression. I started to feel like I was walking on egg shells with her like I couldn't say anything in case she got offended and it made her worse and I had gotten used to it but now she has told myself and others she has anxiety and is using it as an excuse to get us to order food for her! She also continually says no one likes her when I have been there for her since day one and I find myself constantly having to re assure her. I know that mental illnesses are very real and it's hard to understand what it's like from her point of view but I'm finding it really hard to be near her. I feel like after being with her I'm drained of all energy and like she doesn't want me to be there, that she'd rather have no friends so she could tell everyone we abandoned her. It seems like she just turns her mental illnesses on and off whenever she wants something or to get away with something. Do you think that this is normal behaviour for a 'depressed person' or is she just using it to her own advantage? 

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi there, it sounds like quite a complicated situation you're in. I just thought I'd offer my two cents and see if it's any help.

    I think despite whether or not someone has depression I've always sort of believed in the idea that if someone is even potentially just "doing it for attention" sometimes you should give it to them? I mean there's something clearly wrong with the person if they feel like they need the attention to begin with. If you know what I mean?Having said this it absolutely shouldn't come at the cost of you feeling "drained of all energy" because that's not healthy.

    It also sounds as if your friend is being a bit emotionally manipulative which is wrong. Obviously I can't speak for everyone with depression so I really hope you don't take this as gospel (again I'm just giving my personal opinion) but I definitely recognise that I have used my depression as...almost a crutch if that makes sense? Just because it's easier than having to deal with/apologise for my own awful behaviour. As I say though, this is wrong and unhealthy and if you genuinely feel as if you've gotten to the point where you can't handle her behaviour it might be a good idea to call her out on it. Some people need to be told that what they're doing and how they are treating others is unacceptable because it sounds as though it's effecting your own happiness. Do you know if she's getting any help currently?

    I know it's hard because depression is a sensitive subject but there comes a point when you have to put your foot down otherwise you could end up doing more harm than good for your friend.

    Hope this helps, and I hope I haven't crossed a line or anything.

    Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Her mum took her to the doctors when she suspected depression and she was referred to a psychiatrist but after one session she stopped going and I'm still not sure why. Thanks again for the reply, your information has helped me a lot!
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  • Posted

    Depression is a very difficult thing for the person and the loved one. I have been depressed lately and not being around people suits me fine. I mean, I really don't have anyone and the way I have felt lately, I'd make people miserable. I wonder if I've ever done that and if so, did I realize it. I have thought about my depression but it just feels like I'm out of control. My husband and I are separated but we talk everyday and I feel like...when is he going to shut up about problems and don't want to hear him complaining all the time...It's more depressing! I hind it difficult with my own issues and not know how to find my way back to my happy place. I am so far from that happy go lucky woman I knew to be me. I just went off on a tangent! My point is, maybe she does not even realize she is doing this. You'll know after you've made her aware if she continues to do it. Either way, she needs help as it's clear she is struggling through something. Sometimes people assume we do things on purpose or maybe we are screaming for help. Hopefully I've made sense since I've been going through some depression lately and my concentration is off. Good luck
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    • Posted

      Thank you for sending this, it's a real help to see it through another persons point of view. I'm thinking about bringing up the subject with her because maybe she doesn't know she's doing it and just needs some support. Thanks again and I hope you start to feel better!
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  • Posted

    I think maybe its a bit of both?

    I've got depression, but I've also dealt with my mother's depression, so I can kind of see it from both sides.

    I think it's hard to really explain depression to those who haven't experienced it. It's a complex illness with so many different manifestations...

    Some people shut themselves off from the world, some get angry, some cry all the time, some are emotionally numb, some can't sleep, others sleep too much, some use things obsessively to distract themselves (be it alcohol or drugs or work or whatever else), some are medicated and dealing with side effects, some are inadequately medicated/treated and are despondent).

    It's just so complicated. And so completely awful.

    I think it's regretful that your friend hasn't been too nice to you, but try and say think of your worst hangover/pmt/tummy bug/flu/migraine and think if maybe you felt compelled to have to be in social situations during those times, how your reactions/actions may be not how you intend or want, it's just the best you can do on that day.

    I think perhaps you need to have an open and frank talk with your friend. If you really want to support her tell her you can deal with her crying, venting, having to cancel plans etc, but what you can't deal with is aggression towards you when you are trying your best.

    I know I have said the "I have depression" thing when I haven't been able to fully or adequately express how I'm actually feeling. I've also had it said to me.

    I think maybe if you let her know that it is ok if she tells you she can't face going out on a certain day, even if its something casual or something that you normally do, or that it's alright if she's crying over something seemingly small, or that she's angry at how she feels; maybe she can feel more relaxed and able to share her real emotions more, and less inclined to take them out on you.

    Obviously don't lose sight of your needs within all of this, and if she pushes you too far you have every right to say so, but if it can be done in a none confrontational way that would be best for both of you.

    You've been friends a long time, and she's obviously in need in some way right now. I'd try and deal with it in an open way, and hope that with your support she can get through this and you can both emerge with an even stronger friendship.

    I hope this helps in some way.

    Take care, and all the best to you and your friend.


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    • Posted

      I think it's very difficult for me to understand what she's going through, though I am trying to. I think the best thing for me to do at the moment is to support her and let her know I'm here for her if she needs me but I think I should also let her know her aggression towards me is not okay. Your reply really has helped me so thank you xx
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    • Posted

      You're right it is difficult to understand, before I got depression I was kind of dismissive towards it (not saying that's what you're doing btw!).

      I think a lot of people equate depression with "everyday" sadness, but it's not quite like that... Like I said its hard to explain!

      The thing is, the fact that you're on here trying to find a solution to you're friendship shows how much you care, and believe me that is brilliant. If I had a friend who cared about me enough to research my illness, I'd count myself very lucky.

      You don't need to become an expert on depression, just keep being a friend.

      Some of the best things you can do for a friend with a depression are the things you'd do in other instances when your friend was going through a tough time. Just normal, everyday acts of kindness go such a long way.

      Bringing round a DVD to watch, talking, having a glass of wine, making some food together, going for a walk... Whatever it is that you know you and your friend like. You can always offer and if she doesn't want to do it, fair enough, but at least she knows you are there and that you care.

      You do need to protect yourself though huni, you can't become your friend's emotional punchbag/crutch. You're her friend, not her health care professional.

      She really should be encouraged to engage with any services her GP may prescribe, be it medication or counselling or whatever else.

      For the record, I think you should be applauded for looking out for her and your concern for her well being.

      I think you are already a better friend than you know.

      You take care and continue to try your best with your friend, I know how difficult it is to be the one giving support (as well as the one who needs it!).

      Best wishes, and thank you on behalf of all of us out there suffering with mental health issues for making such an effort to be supportive and kind.

      Take care xx

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  • Posted

    Hello Ashley, You have had some good replys so there is not much more i can add. Audrey has been spot on. I will add that you need to look after your own health and make it clear to your friend that you cannot be there 24 / 7. Encourage her to get proffessional help and to see a mental health team that can be there on the phone. Samaratians are there 24 / 7. Sometimes if your emotionally involved it can be hard to offer support all the time. By all means be there but don't take all the burden. She may be emotionally being manipulative as a way of keeping you close. I have depression thou not severe at the moment, and i have no support from family or friends, i am much alone with it, she is lucky to have you there.


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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply Elizabeth, I'm taking in all the advise and I think I will also speak to her about going back to her psychiatrist (she only went for one session then left for an unknown reason) or speaking to a professional because although I can support her I don't have enough knowledge to really help her. I hope you find some support and good luck! Thanks again, Ashley 
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