Drawing boundaries with depressed friend
my best friend suffers from depression and anxiety. Over the past 8 months I’ve noticed she’s started to withdraw in ways that are different to what she often does. She seems to now get anxious with one on ones, and can’t seem to talk honestly about emotions. She seems quite absent really.
I have been putting her needs before mine because I know she needs me. But I’m now feeling quite fatigued. I always check up on her, give her time and space, and always initiate all our plans and phone conversations, and am patient when she cancels etc. I never take it personally.
in the past she’s always been able to address her issues, eg go to therapy, enact self care, but over the last 8 months or more, she’s kind of given up.
her partner always enforces their needs over hers. When I say she’s given up it’s like she’s succumb to living the life the partner wants even if it’s not quite what she wants, and that’s resulted in my friend being absent, anxious, sleep deprived etc
i recently drew a boundary by basically not being 100% available as I find it difficult to be there for her when she’s not there herself.
I know this isn’t really a question - but any advice is welcome !
Welcome here to the forum, a good move as others may well have had similar experiences, plus in your position having support makes a difference.
I think you are very wist to start drawing boundaries and trying to limit your help. Yes, this person is your friend, however I suspect you are not dealing with one person who has depression, but two people, one of whom is making life less tolerable for the other.
Reading you post the bit that jumps out at me is as follows:
"her partner always enforces their needs over hers. When I say she’s
given up it’s like she’s succumb to living the life the partner wants
even if it’s not quite what she wants, and that’s resulted in my friend
being absent, anxious, sleep deprived etc"
Now without knowing all the facts maybe I'm giving this too much significance however there are people that live in an abusive relationship. One partner tries to control and dominate the other. Insisting what they want is the important thing and the other person's wants ignored. It goes further than this in lots of ways including isolating the person by discouraging friendships and family contact.
Should that be the case it has a very marked effect on the mental health of the person being abused and they can indeed decline and simply do 'as told'.
So I guess I'm asking you, in view of what I've said, is this likely to be the case -after all you are the one with a closer knowledge of the circumstances.
Should you feel there is a chance that the sort of behavior I have described is possible may I suggest you give the experts in such matters, 1800Respect - 1800 737 732 a ring and seek their advice. It's free and they are sensible and knowledgeable.
Please let us know how you are gettng on
Hi Croix, thanks for your response. Yes what you say sounds right. I’ve never thought of it as 2 people with depression, but that is certainly true.
my friend’s partner does isolate them. Eg, when my friend is depressed the partner makes no effort to connect her with friends, even though she often feels better after connecting. My friend’s partner has also created a narrative that all they have is each other.
it has crossed my mind it’s an emotionally abusive relationship before. The partner presents to most people as an inoffensive, sensitive person but I guess that’s not uncommon. As you say, I think the partner is depressed - and perhaps enforcing their desires is a way to control their world.
I guess my question is how do I remain a friend while drawing boundaries so I don’t feel helpless and so sad for my friend.
I would say something to her, Eg ask if she’s ok etc - but she now avoids every kind of context to do this, or is always so anxious that I never want to probe.