How To Deal With Losing Friends When You Have Depression

How To Deal With Losing Friends When You Have Depression

Suruchi Patwary
Girl With No Friends By fizkes | www.shutterstock.com
Girl With No Friends By fizkes | www.shutterstock.com

As the quote goes, ‘The only constant fact in life is change’. While friends, acquaintances are a strong integral part of our lives, in life, we keep gaining and losing friends and relationships. However, the pain almost feels a lot more intense when you lose friends while battling mental health issues. And so, we spoke to Gowri Agarwal, Clinical Psychologist & Outreach Associate, MPower – The Foundation for tips on how to deal with losing friends when you have depression. She started off by talking about one of her case studies, which is as follows,

Gowri Agarwal, Clinical Psychologist & Outreach Associate, Mpower - The Foundation
Gowri Agarwal, Clinical Psychologist & Outreach Associate, Mpower – The Foundation
23-year-old Sameera (name changed) still recalls the time when she was 15 and was suffering from an eating disorder called Bulimia and also depression. She quotes ‘Depression can make you feel lonely or want to be socially reclusive. Add in a painful split from a friend and you’ll find yourself completely moving away from your social group’. She also mentions that the pain of a friendship break-up stayed with her for a long time.
Sameera describes the first loss she faced while struggling with mental health concerns were her two female friends. They all had been friends since playschool. However, when she confided in them about the mental illness that she is going through, they instantly distanced themselves from her. Sameer described this feeling as ‘devastating’; as if being a mental health sufferer was her fault. The struggle only got harder when she would have to see them walk down the school hallway and they would ignore her presence.
Loss of friendship was like a cheery on top of her depression and suicidal thoughts. Sameera mentioned missing most of the plans and the pain only got amplified when she saw her two best friends bond after they drifted apart. Sameera describes loneliness as being magnified because of the same. Sameera to date recalls being bullied as she confided a friend with her mental health issues, especially her self-harming behaviour only to realise that her friend was responsible for spreading the sensitive information like a wildfire in the school.
Sameera quotes, ‘The betrayal of trust still haunts me’. She not only has regret for not speaking up for herself but also the feeling of not giving her 15-year-old self closure; which to date makes her cry.

Here are five techniques by Gowri to help you cope with friendship break-ups while battling depression:

Young girl covering her face with her hands after reaching a peak of her depression By Photographee.eu | www.shutterstock.com
Young girl covering her face with her hands after reaching a peak of her depression By Photographee.eu | www.shutterstock.com

1. Find Your Voice

To find your voice in a relationship, you need to be honest and determined about what your needs are, as well as what you feel and think about. It may also include mentioning something that makes you uncomfortable or angry, and/or it may hurt, upset or irritate you. And when faced with unacceptable problems or actions, stick to your position. In addition, it requires you to stick to the boundaries you have established for yourself. For example, ‘This action is unacceptable’, ‘Please maintain your distance’ or ‘Keep out of my personal space’.

2. Look For Closure

Not only voicing your needs is important but also understanding that leaving someone behind doesn’t mean that you hate them or they don’t want to get better. One does really love one’s friends. But sometimes, the relationship loosens and certain dynamics change. Therefore, it is important to focus on appreciating your efforts and cherishing the great memories shared together.

Experts also highlight the fact that even though certain friendships or relationships caused pain and had a bad or abrupt ending, it is important to get closure. Letting go of the emotions that hold you back and cause more pain. Ultimately, this gives one more strength to move forward optimistically.

Depressed Woman By Rawpixel.com | www.shutterstock.com
Depressed Woman By Rawpixel.com | www.shutterstock.com

3. Graceful Acceptance

Sometimes accepting people and their actions the way they are, makes the individual feel more at peace. This not only gives space but also a better understanding of mental boundaries that need to be created to not let the distance or breakup impact you negatively.

4. Shift Your Attention & Focus Towards Your Loved Ones

In life, difficult times teach us or make us realise the value of certain loved ones in our lives. When you would turn around, you would realise that you have some close family members and friends to support you and uplift you. Focusing on your loved ones and letting go of toxic friendships helps in coping with friendship breakups.

5. Having Empathy

It is important to realise that when your close friends disconnect from you due to you having mental difficulties, it is not completely their fault. Being with a friend suffering from any kind of mental health concerns can make some uncomfortable and it is important to understand, empathise and letting go might make one uncomfortable too. Plus, if we try to look at the brighter side just the way we can lose friends because of depression, we can form new friendships and relationships while finding our voices.

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