No One Would Miss Me If I Disappeared
Lately, I have been trying to support a loved one through a really difficult wave of depression. Nothing seems to be lifting them up and they refuse to seek professional help, so their options are limited.
It can be hard to watch someone drown when they refuse to grab a single raft within arm’s reach.
They do not believe in depression, even though they are exhibiting many of the telltale signs, so they are not willing to utilize the resources to aid with depression. I try to weave the techniques, tools, resources and tactics which have worked for me in the past into our regular conversations, but it can be hard to watch someone drown when they refuse to grab a single raft within arm’s reach.
I love them but cannot live for them.
It can be tiring and some days, I simply cannot be leaned on because I too am in need of my own support.
Those are the days where I do miss their phone call, am not as quick to text back or invite them over for a cup of coffee and a chat. I have established healthy boundaries and do not feel bad saying ‘no.’I love this person, but I cannot live for them.
The other day, after a few days without much communication, we met up for a coffee chat. They were not in the best of moods and were clearly struggling. After we ordered some coffees and snacks, we settled in and I asked, ‘How are you doing?’
‘I do not think a single person would miss me if I ceased to exist,’ was the matter-of-fact response from them.
I immediately pulled out my mental Rolodex for suicide ideation conversations and the appropriate questions to ask. Before I could ask anything they waved their hand in front of me and said, ‘Stop it. I’m not suicidal, I just know that I do not have a lot to offer and most people would not miss me if I was gone. I am not going to hurt myself, so quit stressing.’
When we feel that others do not love us enough, we should always stop and see if we are loving ourselves enough. Your sieve is clogged from accepting love from others and unless you clear it, with love from yourself first, you will never feel adequate with the love of others.
‘I have no idea why you would feel that way,’ I said back, ‘I know a lot of people who truly value you, and I think these feelings are coming more from how you are feeling about yourself versus how we are feeling about you.’
When we feel that others do not love us enough, we should always stop and see if we are loving ourselves enough.
‘You have been MIA for almost a week,’ they retorted back hotly. ‘Yes,’ I responded back slowly, ‘I had other priorities I had to focus on for the past few days, but that does not dimish how much I value you. Just because I have not spent time with you for a few days does not mean my love for you has weaned away…that’s not how relationships work.’
I am not strong enough to carry us both, but I am happy to lead the way.
‘As I have told you before,’ I continued slowly and patiently, ‘I feel you are really struggling with matters much bigger than what my capabilities as a friend encompass. I do think speaking to a professional would help you greatly. Even talking to your family doctor would be a great first step. I am not strong enough to carry us both, but I am happy to lead the way.’
When you are hurting, you will try to hurt others, hoping that they will somehow better understand the pain you are going through. More often than not, this tactic will only work to push your loved ones further away from you, not closer.
‘I know, I know,’ they muttered back, blowing on their coffee before taking a sip, ‘you think talking will help. Sure, talking to someone who is paid to talk to me will help,’ they continued sarcastically, ‘but do you want to know something? Not one person has called me or texted me in three days. Three days Aman, do you know what that feels like?’
‘Of course I do,’ I said back, ‘but that does not discount the relationships you have. No one owes you a text a day. You have to stop expecting these unsaid things from your relationships because you are letting yourself down, not us.’
Our expectations of others let us down, not the lack of actions from others.
Eventually, my friend either saw my point of view or decided to appease me to move away from the conversation.
I have noticed loved ones doing this often, especially when their depression has dug them into a very deep hole. They start making self-deprecating comments about how no one loves them, cares about them or values them enough and it can be really uncomfortable.
It always makes me pull away from them because it makes me feel uncomfortable, like if I do not answer every single phone call or am available every time they ask, that I am letting them down, which can be a lot to take on.
I have also been exactly where they are at.
When you are so low that you become obsessively needy of other people’s time and attention, it never does anything beneficial for your relationship. It adds a lot of responsibility and expectation onto a relationship in which such levels should not be expected. Of course, we can expect things from our loved ones, but with realistic boundaries attached to them, of course.
We can expect our friends to be on time for scheduled meetups, give us their undivided attention when we are talking and be there for us, during the good times and the bad, but we cannot expect them to pull us out of a mental health illness.
You have to take the lead in your own health.
It is not even your partner’s job to single-handedly pull you out of a depressive state.
You have to take the lead in your own health. You have to seek out professional help and guidance in order to ensure a successful transition out of your current mental state. You need to educate yourself so that you can build a toolbox of resources that will assist you when the next depressive episode walks through the door.
The next time you are thinking that no one loves you enough, that you do not have enough friends or are lonely a lot of time, ask yourself if you love yourself first. Ask yourself if you would miss you. Ask yourself if you are willing to do whatever it takes to help yourself not feel this way for a moment longer than you have to.
The next time you start dumping larger and larger expectations on those around you, realize that you might be inadvertently self-sabotaging.
You might be deliberately trying to push people away by making yourself unbearable to be around. You might be trying to fulfill your own prophecy that no one is ever there for you by making it almost impossible to live up to all of your expectations. Even though it may be scary and unknown, professional support is available for a reason and undiagnosed mental health illnesses are not meant to be ignored.