Grab The Meic: I Can’t Cope With My Friends Mental Health
Holly’s* mental health is suffering as she tries to support her friend who has her own issues with depression. She’s reached out to Grab the Meic to ask for advice.
Grab the Meic is your opportunity to ask us about anything that’s worrying you. We’re here to listen and give advice. If you want to #grabthemeic then check out this page, but remember this advice is not instant. If you need advice quickly then please contact the helpline.
(This article is also available in Welsh – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg, clicia yma
My friend has been having a hard time with her depression lately and I have been trying my best to be there for her but I’m exhausted. Every time she’s gone I feel more and more empty and I’m scared of feeling this again. I don’t want to slip up into my old habits and hurt myself again. I don’t want to feel broken and useless anymore. Why do I feel like trash every time I breathe? Why can’t I just belong somewhere, to someone, to anything?
Thanks for coming through to us here at Grab the Meic. First of all it sounds like you’re being a really good friend. It’s great that you’ve been there for her when she needs you, so well done on your compassion and empathy.
However, supporting someone with depression can be draining. It sounds like it is having a real effect on you and your own mood. Although it is admirable to be there for a friend, it’s equally as important to make sure you’re caring for yourself and your own mental wellbeing and not leaving yourself feeling empty. Like you say, if you keep going this way, you will get ill yourself and won’t be in a position to provide any sort of support – leaving you both worse off.
Different ways to give support
This doesn’t mean that you need to stop supporting your friend completely, but maybe you need to think about what your limits might be. Is there a way you can support her without hurting yourself? It could be that you limit the emotional support you provide to once every two weeks, instead of every week. Maybe you could offer support in other ways that are different to just being a listening ear. What about thinking of things that don’t involve talking, things that will give you both a boost in mood? You could go to a class, group or activity with her for the first time, like swimming or meditation, or a trip to the cinema even.
The fact that you decide to have a bit more distance doesn’t mean that you can’t let your friend know that you’re there for them. Send them a text with an inspirational quote or a positive message every now and then. This will let them know that you haven’t abandoned them and that you’re still there for them, but that you need to take a little bit of time for yourself.
Seek help from services
Try being honest with your friend about the impact it’s having on you. You can still tell them that you’re always there for them, but sometimes you may need to take time out to keep on top of your own mental health. You could encourage her to visit her local GP who can offer support. Remind her that there are other services she can turn to when you aren’t available, like Elefriends on the Mind website, that has a peer support forum for people experiencing all sorts of mental health issues.
There are also a number of services that will provide emotional/listening support for when she needs it, and when you’re not in the right place to give it. Check out Childline (if under 18) or CALL (if you’re over 18).
Look after yourself
Finally, make sure you’re doing all that you can to look after yourself and your own mental health. Don’t forget that talking can be very helpful so find someone you can trust to vent to every so often. Speak to your GP if you need to, or find out if there’s counselling available in school, college, uni or work. You mention feeling worried about this, so maybe it’s time to take some action to stay on top of your wellbeing. Check out the Mind website that has loads of tips to keep on top of this.
If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense above, or if you want more advice on any of the information we’ve provided, then come through to us on the helpline – we’re here everyday. The same goes for your friend 🙂 We provide information, advice and advocacy, 7 days a week, between 8am and midnight.
The Meic team.
*Names changed to protect identity
If you need to talk to someone about anything that’s bothering you, then call Meic to talk to a friendly advisor.
Meic is an information and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales. We are open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. You can contact us free on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.