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Feeling like an emotional dumping ground

Community Member

I have somehow become a go to person for people to dump their personal problems and i'm not sure how to deal with it.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety on and off since my teens. Most people don't realise because outwardly I am a high achiever and I try to be kind and empathetic.

I lost a close friend to suicide a few years ago and since then I have really struggled to put boundaries in place with other people because I am conscious that I may be the one person they have to talk to. I have several close friends with anxiety or depression and I'm happy to support them, our friendships are balanced, they have a history of supporting me, and we have fun together.

But in the past year there are a few people who have gravitated toward me seemingly as a dumping ground for their problems. They are people from work who always want to catch up for a coffee or lunch and then spend 45 minutes telling me how down they are etc. While I am happy to support friends through rough patches, these are people that I don't have established relationships with and I always walk away feeling drained. I feel like i've been giving so much time and energy to them that I have spiraled back into depression myself as a result.

On top of that I have been going through some tough times with my family and when I reached out to one of these people for support she told me that she couldn't be there for me as she needed to look after herself. So after dumping on me nearly daily for months on end she can't be there for me when I need it. Looking over our "friendship" I can't point to a single time when I have felt valued or supported for who I am (other than as a shoulder to cry on).

I also recently had someone that I barely know sit down next to me at lunch and spend a solid hour telling me about her depression. I walked away from that conversation feeling really down myself. As far as I know I didn't do anything to invite that topic of conversation and I really wasn't comfortable with it.

I don't know how to get myself out of these situations without seeming like i'm mean or selfish, but I know that I need to otherwise i'm going to burn out.

Any advice?

3 Replies 3

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Zizzy

Welcome to the forums and good on you for having the courage to post too!

I understand you so well when you mentioned "I have struggled with depression and anxiety on and off since my teens. Most people don't realise because outwardly I am a high achiever and I try to be kind and empathetic"

This is exactly what I used to do for a long time and it is major drain on our own depression/anxiety issues. You have a kind heart and are trying so hard to be there for everyone.

Even though I think you are amazing (yes..you are!) we deserve to treat ourselves the way we treat others....and in our situation we often forget that our health comes first. Finding that balance can be hard Zizzy. Its not a matter of feeling selfish at all......It took me a long time to understand that I could never please all the people all of the time

I have also had anxiety/depression for a long time and I was always helping others at the expense of my own well being.

Your health is paramount.. all other considerations are secondary...For us to help others as well as we do our own health must come first and then we will have the strength to help others that are doing it hard

My sincere condolences for your friend that passed away. It would be difficult to have the boundaries in place after what you have been through

I am volunteer on the forums and when I receive a long post (like the person that spent an hour with you about her depression) I sometimes have to redirect the discussion to a positive in the persons life which isn't selfish

I really hope you can stick around the forums Zizzy and I hope you can post back with any questions you have

please be 'gentle' to yourself

my kind thoughts


Community Member

Hi Zizzy,

Welcome to the Beyond Blue team,

Anxiety and depression is very tough. So sorry about the lost of your friend and can see how you want to make shore that no else you know goes thru that same pain.

I think most people with Anxiety are very caring people. Gentle souls, sensitive. You are one of those people which is a gift, but it is hard to handle at times.

Sensitive people tend to get a lot of drama and stress from society as they know you will listen. Some days we have more emotional resources and some days it near empty.

The days that it near empty try to find some you time. Time for you like a hobby or interest that helps builds the resources back up. It a balance act I know.

You doing great, people not always loyal. Sometimes people will walk away when we need them. But there great support in general and I think in helping people you find amazing people that help you along the way.

Family issues are so hard. It never easy. For me I try to distance the drama by not seeing them as much. For me they don’t take me for granted so much.

Hope that helps


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Zizzy and welcome to the forums,

Paul and Hang10 have given solid advice. My few cents worth is simply a question...

What's wrong with being mean/selfish/rude sometimes?

I'm learning there is a balance between establishing boundaries and being unkind but these boundaries are vital to your own wellbeing.

You said that the people using you don't offer the same care in return. That they are colleagues more than friends. Do you think it is reasonable for someone to vent and rely on you and then to refuse to help you? I don't.

If you were to write a list of boundaries for you to deal with these individuals what would you write?

If refusing to listen triggers your anxiety about suicide then how about telling them you can only talk for 10 minutes and sticking to this.

Or if they begin to dump on you this could be time for you to get your phone and screenshot and forward them the numbers of helplines and have a conversation about how important seeking professional support is.

It takes time to learn how to say no to others and even to put boundaries and limits into place. But it is worth it.

You need to protect and care for yourself first.