What I Learned From My Best Friend's Depression

I met my best friend two years ago in my junior year of high school. Though we weren’t that close in the beginning of our friendship, we eventually became inseparable. But towards the end of summer, I felt our friendship start to fall apart, but I had no idea why and constantly wondered if it was my fault. 

So I confronted them. I told them how I was feeling about this drift, and it was then that I learned that they were suffering from severe relapses of depression. I knew they had depressive episodes in the past, and for some reason it didn’t occur to me that they could feel those emotions again. I admit, it was dumb of me look past their emotions instead of taking the time to educate myself about it. The idea of depressive relapses never even crossed my mind, and after listening to what they had to say, I can definitely say I have learned more about mental health, and continue to learn more. 

But watching my best friend suffer everyday and letting their thoughts consume them every night was painful. Especially when I couldn’t be there in person for them most of the time, only through a phone screen. There were definitely good days in our friendship, but with those good days came an equal, if not more, amount of bad days. (Thinking back, those good days could have just been a facade so I wouldn’t worry about them. My best friend hated when I worried about them.)

I used to do everything I could to help. I'd offer suggestions on how to feel better “go outside and take a deep breath,” “sleep early tonight, maybe some rest will help," or even ask them how they were feeling every day. I used to feel bad that I couldn’t help them “fix” their problems. I used to cry after every “goodnight” message just because I couldn’t understand what they were going through.

And then my friend suggested for a break in our friendship. So we did.

It was for the benefit of the both of us. My friend would have more time to focus on healing and getting into a better headspace, and I would have time to adjust into a new college environment (and a ton of homework), rather than worrying about them all the time. But still, the break was really hard on me, even until this day. They cross my mind most nights, and I have to keep reminding myself that we are both focusing on our own things at this period of time. 

Through this experience, I learned to acknowledge that it wasn’t my job to “fix” them. I learned that the only way they would feel better is if they put in the effort to heal themselves. Looking back, the way I approached this situation probably made them feel even more suffocated. I learned that they only thing I could really do was listen, and if they didn’t feel like talking, then I had to respect that. All I could offer was an open ear and that was about it. 

It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t happy in our friendship. Instead of acting like a friend, I was acting like a worried mom, and that wasn’t helping either of us.

I learned that my mental health was important too. There was a night where I actually thought that it would be the last time I would ever talk to them. I had my first panic attack, and it was absolutely terrifying. 

At the beginning of the break, I felt like I had abandoned them in this period of their life, but it took me some time to fully understand that this break is for the best. We could both take our time to heal, and one day we’ll be ready to continue being friends again. I couldn’t be more excited for that day to come. 

So if you, the reader, are going through a similar situation, stay strong! Everything will be okay! Take this time to focus on yourselves, no matter how hard it seems. It’ll all be worth it in the long run. Trust me.

If my friend is reading this, then hello! I hope you’re doing well. I’m doing fine. I hope you’re feeling better. I miss you a lot, and I hope that at the end of all this, our friendship will be even stronger than it was before! 

Image via jsteelelaw