Girl without friends By fizkes | www.shutterstock.com
As the quote says, ‘The only constant fact in life is change.’ While friends and acquaintances are an integral part of our lives, in life we continue to gain and lose friends and relationships. However, the pain almost feels much more intense when you lose friends while battling mental health issues. And so we talked to Gowri Agarwal, Clinical Psychologist and Extension Associate, MPower for tips on how to deal with losing friends when you are depressed. He began by talking about one of his case studies, which is the following:
Gowri Agarwal, Clinical Psychologist and Extension Associate, Mpower – The Foundation
23 years old Sameera (name changed) still remembers the time when he was 15 years old and suffered from an eating disorder called Bulimia and also depression. She quotes’ Depression can make you feel lonely or want to be socially lonely. Add in a painful separation from a friend and you find yourself drifting away from your social group altogether. ‘ She also mentions that the pain of breaking up a friendship stayed with her for a long time.
Sameera describes the first loss she faced while struggling with mental health issues were her two friends. They had all been friends since kindergarten. However, when she confided in them the mental illness she is going through, they instantly distanced themselves from her. Sameer described this feeling as “devastating”; as if being a victim of mental health was her fault. The fight only got harder when he would have to watch them walk down the school hallway and they would ignore his presence.
The loss of friendship was like a joy in addition to his depression and suicidal thoughts. Sameera mentioned that she had missed most of the plans and the pain was only amplified when she saw her two best friends bond over after they broke up. Sameera describes loneliness as magnified by it. Sameera to date recalls being bullied when she confided in a friend about her mental health issues, especially her self-injurious behavior, only to find that her friend was responsible for spreading confidential information like a wildfire at school.
Sameera quotes: “The betrayal of trust still haunts me.” She not only regrets not having spoken for herself, but also the feeling of not having closed her 15-year-old self; that to date makes her cry.
Here are five techniques from Gowri to help you cope with the breakup of friendships while battling depression:
Girl covering her face with her hands after reaching the peak of her depression By Photographee.eu | www.shutterstock.com
1. Find your voice
To find your voice in a relationship, you must be honest and determined about what your needs are, as well as what you feel and think. It can also include mentioning something that makes you feel uncomfortable or angry, and / or may hurt, annoy, or irritate you. And when faced with unacceptable problems or actions, stay where you are. In addition, it requires that you stick to the limits that you have set. For example, “This action is unacceptable”, “Keep your distance” or “Stay out of my personal space”.
2. Look for the closure
It is not only important to express your needs, but also to understand that leaving someone behind does not mean that you hate them or do not want to improve. You really love your friends. But sometimes, the relationship loosens and certain dynamics change. Therefore, it is important to focus on appreciating your efforts and appreciating 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 end, it is important to achieve closure. Letting go of the emotions that hold you back and cause you more pain. Ultimately, this gives you one more strength to move forward with optimism.
Depressed Woman By Rawpixel.com | www.shutterstock.com
3. Elegant acceptance
Sometimes accepting people and their actions as they are makes the individual feel more at peace. This not only provides space, but also a better understanding of the mental boundaries that need to be created in order not to allow distance or break-up to negatively affect you.
4. Shift your attention and focus to your loved ones
In life, difficult times teach us or make us realize the value of certain loved ones in our lives. When you turned around, you would realize that you have close family and friends who support and encourage you. Focusing on loved ones and letting go of toxic friends helps you cope with the friendship breakdown.
5. Have empathy
It is important to realize that when your close friends disconnect from you due to mental difficulties, it is not entirely your fault. Being with a friend who suffers from any type of mental health problem can make some feel uncomfortable and it is important to understand, empathize and letting go can make one feel uncomfortable as well. Also, if we try to see the bright side of how we can lose friends due to depression, we can form new friendships and relationships while finding our voices.
Enjoy the Girls Tribe by MissMalini Application to be part of the conversation.