Live Through This

Saving Yourself

How to not let other people’s drama bring you down.

Collage by Sonja

For as long as I can remember, my family, my super-close friends, my kinda close friends, my not-so-close friends, and sometimes total strangers have come to me with their problems. I’m the one my friends go to when they are having relationship problems. They constantly tell me that I’m like a “big sister” to them. One of them said, “You just have a listener’s face; it makes people want to vomit their feelings at you.” If I go to a drugstore and stand in the shampoo aisle long enough, it’s all but inevitable that some elderly lady will come up to me and ask me for assistance and then end up telling me about her life. When I took a 50-hour Greyhound from Iowa City to San Francisco, I sat next to a woman who was fleeing her abusive husband; I listened fitfully and tearfully to her story of how she sold her possessions and bought a bus ticket to Sacramento. Sometimes when I sign on to Gchat I get this fearful feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see which of my friends are online, and the horrible, heartless, calculating troll heart inside my regular heart takes over and starts thumping real fast, telling my brain, “Sign off before he/she starts talking about how depressed he/she is and how everything is awful and there is only despair to be felt!”

In the past several months, I’ve spent hours on the phone and on chat and in person talking to my friends who are depressed. I’ve spent nights talking people out of suicide. I recently went on the National Suicide Hotline website, not because I was feeling suicidal, but I had been the confidant to so many people’s suicidal thoughts that I started to feel like I needed some support in order to support others. At first, it seemed indulgent to feel this way, like I was trivializing other people’s real problems and somehow making it all about ME—how exhausting it was for ME to be everyone’s confidant, how awful it was for ME to always have to be around people who were deeply, deeply depressed—but after the fifth night of sleeping three hours because I had stayed up until two in the morning persuading someone not to hurt themselves and to see that they had a lot to live for, and then getting off the phone, crying into my pillow until I was dry heaving, and turning on my computer and finishing an essay that I had neglected all day to work on, I realized that I wasn’t making it about me enough, that I needed to make things more about ME, because the ME that my friends relied on when they were feeling desperate, the ME that my friends believed to be strong or cheerful or resilient, was getting weaker and darker and more fragile with each passing second that I was neglecting to look out for myself.

How do we take care of ourselves when other people need us to take care of them? How do we create space and time to nurture and love ourselves without feeling like we are abandoning the ones we love, people who rely on us and need our support? I haven’t totally figured it out yet, but perhaps these next few tips can at least get us all on the right track.

It’s OK to not be OK.

When I was a teenager, I felt like the adults in my life were constantly telling me that I was really lucky and that my problems were trivial and in like 20 years I would see how good I had it. I hated hearing that, because who wants to wait 20 years to be able to say MY PROBLEMS WERE AND ARE STILL REAL. Let’s just get this over with now: YOUR PROBLEMS ARE REAL. It doesn’t matter if someone says to you, “You don’t seem like the kind of person who gets depressed,” because there is no “kind of person” who gets depressed. There isn’t a category of people who have sole proprietary rights to depression.

Not being OK can look a million different ways. There are some very visible warning signs of not being OK, but there are also lots of ways in which a person’s pain can seem invisible. My friends who are cutters, my friends who are public criers, my friends who write poetry about their blood and guts, my friends who abuse alcohol and drugs on a regular basis—their pain has always been so, so visible. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that your pain isn’t legit if you’re the one who is listening to your friend’s sad poetry, or the one who holds your friend’s hair back when she pukes. Pain can be dramatic and sharp and obvious, but it can also be muted and nuanced and inconspicuous.

In college, I had a “spot” that I would go to every single night to cry. No one knew about it. One night, when I was feeling particularly sad, my good friend told me, “This is really weird. You’re normally so cheerful. I never thought I would see you in a bad mood.” I realized that I hadn’t been honest with her. I had been tightly controlling how much of me I allowed her to see, and as a result, my problems were invisible to her.

Make your own needs visible to others. Tell someone you’re not OK.

My little brother has really severe OCD, and two years ago, when his illness was really spiraling out of control, we would talk every night before bed. One time, I had my door open and I was crying on my bed when my brother came in to talk to me about his OCD stuff. I wanted to pull myself together so I could help him, but I was too sad and too weak. I thought maybe he would be freaked out by my crying, but to my total surprise he came up and asked if I was all right. Instead of saying “I’m fine” like I usually did, I said, “I’m not OK. My boyfriend broke up with me and my heart is broken and I feel like I can’t live.”

And you know what? My baby brother, who was born on Christmas nine years after I was born on Christmas, who used to snuggle with me in my little twin bed when I was in high school and he was in elementary school, whom I taught to say “Can I have a drink, please?” instead of “Thirsty, please,” who used to pee into jars that I had to hold between my legs in the car on long road trips, whom I have taken care of since he was born, whom, prior to that moment, I had never even once considered confiding in, helped me. He talked to me about my relationship and gave me advice and listened to me and told me, “I wouldn’t grovel and beg someone to take me back, because, uh, I have too much self-respect, and no one is really worth that,” which turned out to be the most calming thing anyone could have said to me at that exact moment in my life.

Don’t underestimate the people in your life—sometimes that younger sibling, that friend who always seems so needy, may very well surprise you and be there for you in all the ways that you have been there for them. Which brings me to…

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50 Comments

  • missblack September 19th, 2012 3:15 PM

    Oh, this is totally me. People are constantly telling me their problems (I like to think it’s because I give excellent advice but actually it’s probably just that I’m a really good listener).

    (In fact, my siblings like to call my bedroom the ‘Therapist’s Office’ because they’re always coming in to talk to me, haha.)

    A couple of months ago we were all kind of having some serious problems and I would spend three or four hours talking with my brother or my sister and sometimes it got really hard, trying to help them. This article is lovely and so helpful and thank you soso much for this.

    Little&Trivial

  • Lucy23 September 19th, 2012 3:21 PM

    I get the whole “your problems aren’t real” thing all the time. It’s so upsetting!
    Thank you for this article! Hopefully I can use it’s advice next time I’m in a situation like this

    http://safeanarchy.blogspot.com

  • christinachristina September 19th, 2012 3:22 PM

    great article. the paragraph about your brother made me cry, and i’m not ashamed to admit it. it made me cry at work.

  • Tara September 19th, 2012 3:28 PM

    this is such a beautifully written article. you have such a good heart but this is really so real. I love how you talked about both sides, how it can be great but also hard to be the listener for example.

    the sibling bit got to me (just as that piece on your brother from a little while ago had). my brother is ten but he still cares so much about me despite being so much younger. once in a while if I’d get upset and he’d hear me or be around and would say ‘what’s wrong tara?’ he would reassure me, despite again, being little. and I always found that so beautiful. sibling relationships can be very moving.

    oh Jenny, you are an amazing person, you really are. thank you for sharing your words of wisdom.

  • Rhiannon September 19th, 2012 3:28 PM

    a lot of my friends trust me because i keep secrets and give advice – i always try to be compassionate whatever their issues and problems
    e.g. at home, boyfriends blablablabla

    but yeah, i do love giving advice! :) but sometimes i feel weighed down and other times…..well i just feel empty. single for-prettymuch-ever & so when my best friend didn’t talk about anything other than the guy she was supposed to be seeing (but he wasn’t replying to her texts/avoiding her which lead to upset, etc)..it sounds weird, but i couldn’t help feeling like i would like to have that, just for a bit – to want someone back. i tend to feel like my life is wrong, but i don’t share this with anyone because they don’t really understand. it’s pretty hard-going when all your best friends are in relationships

  • msishbel September 19th, 2012 3:29 PM

    This is so accurate and so perfect. You have no idea. I am often miserable because I feel like I have to fix everyone’s problems. (I know intellectually that I don’t, of course, but it’s rough.)
    Thanks for this article. It seems like you know exactly what I’m going through. :)

  • radiofireworks September 19th, 2012 3:37 PM

    God, I needed to read this. I have a particular friendship – with a girl who used to be my best friend – that is definitely toxic. All she ever does is rant and moan at me and I’m expected to just take it all. It’s ridiculously one-sided. I want to end the friendship but she doesn’t really have anyone else and I feel like I can’t just abandon her – but I’ve only just managed to overcome my own mental health issues and now I’m expected to be her unpaid therapist 24/7, it’s dragging me down so much.

  • cherrycola27 September 19th, 2012 3:45 PM

    I have problems with this all the time. When you were talking about your friend who always tells you her problem and doesn’t ask about you, it made me realize that my friend is just like that. I just broke up with my boyfriend and she only called once. That kind of hurts.
    On the other side, I’ve kind of been “out of service” lately and needing more than I’ve been giving. I think. It’s a hard balance.

  • Narita September 19th, 2012 3:59 PM

    I too am always the person people come up to with problems. I once sat to a girl in history class and she informed the teacher, who happened to be her form teacher as well, of her sisters situation. She was in the hospital after drug abuse and an eating disorder and she wasn’t sure if she’d make it. I did not know her or her sister but felt like I had to say something sk I said ‘Wow, that really sucks… I hope she’ll be okay’ and we end up talking about my anxiety disorder and depression and her eating disorder and she didn’t complain to me and I didn’t complain to her, we just talked about how such disorders never seemed to leave, sometimes go to the background but that in some way, they’d always be parts of ourselves. It was really really nice.

  • cosmicgr00ve September 19th, 2012 4:40 PM

    This is seriously so beautiful and so relevant. I definitely needed this right now. I’m also so in awe of how big of a trooper you are. You had firsts and went back for seconds of your own dinner of problems, but you still found time to help everyone else out. Your heart is golden! x

    http://cheapsentiment.blogspot.com/

  • Nina_8 September 19th, 2012 4:41 PM

    Oh my god thank you so much for this. An extremely close friend of mine has always dealt with severe depression, and this summer her boyfriend died in a car accident, which she and another one of my best friends witnessed. Needless to say, this summer has been a rough one for me in terms of desperately trying to support everyone and at the same time keep myself afloat. Both of my friends are doing better now, but I have to admit along the way I had to take some time for myself to regenerate. This article is so beautiful and helpful to me, thank you.

  • Impybat September 19th, 2012 4:44 PM

    “and what happens when you are everyone’s confidant and no one is your confidant is that eventually you explode.” YUP. I also have the one-sided friendship. We’ve been friends forever, but this person is constantly in crisis mode. Meanwhile, I’m fielding my own set of problems in private. I’ve also experienced a lifetime being on the receiving end of the trivializing and demoralizing diatribe of “your problems aren’t THAT bad…it could be worse…imagine being such-and-such person who has it SO MUCH WORSE…stop being dramatic…those aren’t ‘real’ problems” and so on from my “life sucks, get a helmet” family. Anyways, wonderfully written and timely as always!

  • n_wat_3 September 19th, 2012 5:06 PM

    This is an incredibly good article. I really relate to it, as there were many people in my early teenage years who asked and expected me to deal with their problems for them and I wasn’t ready for it and it put me in a really bad place personally.
    Recently, something similar happened with someone I love. Please remember that to help yourself (and to make sure that you are okay) is helping others. Truly. The biggest thing I learnt from these experiences is to care for yourself and learn about your own feelings.
    There is help out there for people who have a lot of pressure put upon them. I don’t know exact phone numbers of the U.S.A (unfortunately) but get in touch with the Samaritans or Childline or your GP if you’re in the U.K. I’m sure the same helplines (& lots more) would be available in the rest of the world. Be aware of the help available & don’t feel guilty about taking it.
    Remember that as well as looking after others, to look after yourself is worthy of respect from others and yourself. I’m not being soppy, it is completely true.

  • Val September 19th, 2012 5:25 PM

    It’s good to know you’re not the only one with the ”I can’t take it anymore!” moments.
    It has been really helpful, I loved the tips!
    I feel much more relieved. :) Thanks Jenny!

  • starsinyourheart September 19th, 2012 5:56 PM

    ‘don’t underestimate the people around you’ SO TRUE. for so long i only ever hear peoples ‘weaknesses’ and forget that they can be strong and supportive too … ahh this is perfect :)

  • Abby September 19th, 2012 6:04 PM

    Thank you. Just… thank you. This made me cry. So much. Because I am that person. I am the strong friend, the strong sister, the strong daughter, the strong person. That’s how people describe me. The good listener. The strong one. The nice one. The she’ll-stay-up-all-night-listening-to-your-problems one. That was always me. When my sister tried to commit suicide, I was the one who kept it together for my family because my dad was angry and my mom was a mess and my little sister was too little. I kept it together, even though I thought for years that somehow it was my fault. I had every reason to fall apart, but I couldn’t. When my friend was in an abusive relationship, I was the one who kept her life together and convinced her to get out of it. When I went to college for the first time a few weeks ago, I never cried in front of anyone. I was a wreck in private. But when my mom asked me if I was okay, I said yes, with a smile. A plastered on smile. I’ve always been the one who has kept her shit together when her whole world was falling apart, because the few times that I haven’t, everyone tells me that my problems aren’t that bad. That they have it worse, or someone they know does, or I should just be happy that I’m not a starving kid in Africa. So I don’t fall apart. I hold myself together because everyone tells me I have to. And it’s so hard.

    • bewarethejabberwock September 19th, 2012 7:17 PM

      Hi Abby,

      I don’t know why exactly, but your comment in particular struck a chord with me. (I was going to say ‘I know how you feel’ but I was worried that might seem patronising/annoying? But basically I often feel pretty similar). I certainly understand about the never crying in front of anyone part.
      In my case, I sort of feel like it’s behaviour learnt from my mother, who always appears to take on the martyr-role. I don’t want to add to her problems, so I do the exact same thing she does. Which I then get frustrated about because I don’t want to end up like her!

      I’m trying to take the whole ‘it’s ok to feel bad’ thing to heart, because often I tell myself that my problems aren’t that bad, and so never confide in anyone in case they don’t take me seriously. For an aspiring writer, also, I find it strangely hard to articulate.

      Anyway, I wish I could give you some kind of extra advice (beyond the very good advice in this article, love you Rookie by the way) but I don’t really have anything to offer other than solidarity, and the knowledge that at least we’re not the only ones.

      Hugs across the internet,
      M
      xxx

      • Abby September 19th, 2012 10:07 PM

        Even bigger hugs to you, for the solidarity, M!! It’s at least nice to know there’s someone out there just like me. <3 Abby

  • RockHatesMiriam September 19th, 2012 6:31 PM

    Such a great article, it came at just the right time. Thank you <3

    http://www.pompandceremony.blogspot.com

  • bookworm123 September 19th, 2012 6:38 PM

    This is so good. My friend (let’s call her Amanda) isn’t a huge social butterfly and is pretty quiet, like myself. But for a period, at least, our relationship was entirely one sided. A sleepover would turn into “Amanda bitches about her friend problems while Norah nods occasionally and get cut off when she tries to reply”. No exaggeration, we once “talked” (meaning Amanda talked) for about six hours, and I probably said 20 sentences tops, the whole night. I wanted to help her, and would have, but I would get on a tangent, and she would cut right in. I get cut off enough regularly, do I really need this with a close friend? It was the most emotionally draining sleepover I’ve ever had.

    I haven’t seen her recently, but I am predisposed to being a “listener”, and I will definitely definitely remember this article the next time (pardon the metaphor) someone is pouring all their problems into me, and I am about to overflow.

    And also, Jenny, you are an incredible trooper, and thanks for helping us with your experiences.

  • Caden September 19th, 2012 7:34 PM

    I had a ‘best friend’ like that – only ever contacts me when she wants to complain about something. Her boyfriends, breakups, family, school, job. In the last 6 years she’s never once asked to spend time with me without it turning out that she had something to whine about. It’s very exhausting and annoying. Then I was assaulted by an ex-boyfriend and told her about it she said it was nothing and that I shouldn’t dump my emotional problems on her knowing how much she terrible stuff has going on. Sometimes people like that are just incredibly selfish..

  • Runaway September 19th, 2012 8:17 PM

    This is me, too. I’ve always been the listener in every relationship I’ve had. My mum has a tendency to tell me about the problems she’s had with my father or my father’s family. Once I told her that that wasn’t quite healthy for me. She answered she thinks it’s alright to talk to me about that stuff because I’m an adult now…but I think she’s been doing that since I was a teen or even earlier.
    In high school I had a friend who used to call me her “therapist”. It was alright in that case, ’cause, even if we spent most of the afternoon talking about her problems with boys, the truth is that she was also a very cheerful person. I didn’t feel drained after being with her. I was proud of being a good listener back then, but in the last 3-4 years it’s been a burden, ’cause I’ve been suffering from depression and I’ve still had to listen to many people’s problems…Sometimes they’ve tried to hear mine, too, but most of the time they just cut me off. It’s so unfair.
    I had a phone conversation with my mom an hour ago. She’s mad at me because due to my depression it’s taken me longer than it’s normal to graduate from college (I’m from Spain and degrees here take 5 years, though that’s about to change). Honestly, I’ve spent two years doing almost nothing, and I’m not proud of it, but it’s mighty difficult to concentrate on your studies when you had absolutely no interest in life. She makes me feel like shit, because she makes it look as if I’m just lazy. I’ve been an A+ student all my life and I love learning. Why some people just can’t understand you can be perfect all the time?

    • VivaViviana September 20th, 2012 9:15 AM

      Omg, Runaway, I’m so sorry to hear that. I know exactly how it is to have depression mess with your academic career, AND have a nagging parent overshadowing it all. I mean, I’ve never been incapable of doing well, but you hit the nail on the head with “..It’s mighty difficult to concentrate on your studies when you had absolutely no interest in life.”

      That’s exactly what I wish my mother could have understood when I was like that. Nope, she only made it worse and made me feel as if I owed it to her to be a completely sane, punctual, happy, A-student, by comparing me to other girls my age. On top of that, she dump trucks all her problems on me, and I was not allowed to have problems or talk too much about myself. To this day, she doesn’t really know what that did to me, and while I love my mother, what she did (and still does) is completely selfish. Because of that, I barely talk to or open up to her.

      Anyway, Best of luck in school and stay strong!

      Vivi

      • Runaway September 21st, 2012 5:43 PM

        Thank you so much for your words, Vivi. You actually made me feel a bit better (though I’m really sorry you had to go through a similar situation).
        I’ve also reached that point in which I’m considering not to talk that much to my mother (at least till I’m healthier). I’ve tried to explain everything to her, but she just doesn’t get it. In her mind, she’s just being a caring parent. I know she does love me, but I just can’t live up to her expectations.

        Best of luck for you, too. :)

  • oleander September 19th, 2012 8:29 PM

    This is such a great article! <3 rookie always. I've also found that when I have leaned on people who I would usually feel stronger than, they have been so wise and helpful! I think it's just easier for us to be strong and smart about others lives than our own.

  • acatfollowedmehome September 19th, 2012 9:17 PM

    i have had problems with this for a long time, and coupled with a pretty bad anxiety disorder, it was detrimental. I think this is a really important message to have out there, because people (young girls especially) never get the message that taking care of yourself should be your first priority. My therapist likes to say that everyone has a pack of shit-flavored gum that they can’t wait to give you a piece of, and if you accept everyone’s, then eventually you just have a face full of shit.

  • Yellie September 19th, 2012 9:47 PM

    This is why i feel like shit every time i go to my friend with my problems, all i can think about is he doesn’t need MY stress, MY crap, but there is no one else to got to.

  • Magdalen September 19th, 2012 11:28 PM

    I do this all the time. Recently I even let myself get dragged into refereeing an argument between my mom and my stepdad. (Full disclosure: I’m a grownup, so this wasn’t as weird as it might have been, but it was still Totally Inappropriate.)

    This is such a terrific article. There are so many good reminders here that I think I need to print it out for the heavy rotation reading list….

    Thanks, Rookie. You’re the mag I’ve always dreamed of, even still.

  • teachilde September 19th, 2012 11:35 PM

    This is just what I needed to hear right now. One of my friends is having problems with cutting and possibly depression, and hearing this was a powerful reminder to take care of myself. Thank you, Rookie, for being fantastic as always :)

  • allydoubleyou September 19th, 2012 11:56 PM

    Hey! This is a great article.

    As a social worker, I can say with some authority that you’re pretty much describing all of the symptoms of compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress (and a bunch of other fancy terms because lots of social service people invented them without knowing other people invented terms for the same thing and then nobody could agree on them). Here’s a wikipedia article on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion_fatigue

    Compassion fatigue is a BIG FLIPPING DEAL and it’s what causes social service workers to pretty much explode after hearing so much sad stuff. But here are some differences between social service workers and friends: social workers often have other social workers talking to them as consultants, so they can let off some steam. Oh and also, social workers get PAID for this. (well. most of the time. blurf.) But even when social service folks get paid and have people to talk to, it can be hard for them to handle all of the stress. And they’re the professionals. Lots of time, that stress leads to burn-out, and they can’t do their jobs anymore, and they quit or get sloppy or end up horribly depressed.

    One neat tool you learn to deal with this stuff in social work school is self care. That means different stuff for different people, but it always means taking care of yourself in the basic ways. Getting enough sleep. Eating right. And then also doing something nice for yourself. Don’t get burned out on your friends!!! That’s no fun. Ever. <3 <3

    • VivaViviana September 20th, 2012 9:01 AM

      Thanks so much for this, Ally! See, everyone? This is legit stuff right here. Now I know what to call it. And yes, doing something nice for myself, like pampering, shopping, and especially writing or drawing in my visual journal helps so, so much. I just started making pictures/collages/doodles to describe my feelings, and it’s therapeutic, really.

      In fact Rookie wrote an amazing post on the visual journals..

      http://rookiemag.com/2012/08/emmas-with-a-few-edits/

  • Miss Erin September 20th, 2012 1:06 AM

    This is so relatable.

  • Chloe Elizabeth September 20th, 2012 1:21 AM

    I have to say use discretion when saying you “just can’t”. My best friend used to tell me that all the time. “I just can’t.” Because she was shallow and could not handle actual feelings. I had no one to talk to, she always came off as a selfish bitch, and needless to say we are no longer friends. If you call that person your best friend, spend every weekend with them, and expect them to always be there for YOU; you damn well better be there for them.

  • unicornconnect September 20th, 2012 2:58 AM

    I know everyone says this, but I seriously feel like this was written about me!!! I am always the quiet one who listens and listens and listens and listens. I have friends how make a massive show if they are feeling “depressed.” and then, somehow, I feel responsible if they feel upset.

    I am the one sitting next to them, silently falling apart. I never want to cause a big deal about it because I feel like my problems are dwarfed compared to their “life crisis.” so I don’t tell anyone, act completely happy, go write some crappy poem or in my diary. I won’t even cry because I’ll feel like I am just being a drama queen.

    Thank you so so so so much for this, I am really happy to know that there are loads of “good listeners” just like me. Thankyou rookie, you rock so much and always make things a little bit okay:)

  • julalondon September 20th, 2012 4:46 AM

    It’s almost scary how relatable this article is to me…

  • dianeisnotmyname September 20th, 2012 5:56 AM

    I really liked this article, and I thought it was incredibly well written, but at the same time it made me feel kind of guilty.
    As someone who has struggled with depression, I never know when to go to my friends anymore. Last year, one of my friends who was tired of me talking about my depression (it got pretty bad at that time) yelled at me, and I ended up even more depressed.
    Sometimes I just want to talk about it, but whenever I do I feel like I am burderning the person that I am confiding in. My friends will tell me all the time, “Please tell me if something is wrong,” but I don’t want to bother them, or make them feel depressed themselves.

    That being said, I have been “that girl” who people go to to talk about their more trivial problems (I mean they don’t seem that trivial to them, but things like boys rather than depression) and I have sometimes felt like a wall.

  • Gypsy September 20th, 2012 8:47 AM

    Jenny- So well written. Also you would make a great nurse… not just for the fact you’re a great listener but you seem to have an in depth understanding of.. human relation? x

  • VivaViviana September 20th, 2012 8:52 AM

    Oh gawd, I love you Rookie, I love everything that was said in this article. I just realized I have a pretty toxic relationship with my MOTHER. I actually always kind of knew this,and I wish I could afford to hire a marriage and financial counselor and maybe then she’ll give me a moment of peace.

    Great great great post!

    Viviana

  • coralbeach September 20th, 2012 10:40 AM

    This article is exactly my feelings right now. I wish I wrote for Rookie so I knew all you amazing guys personally xx

    http://avantmode.blogspot.com

  • sully-bean September 20th, 2012 11:31 AM

    thank you so much for this article, truly. I really needed it. omg. you’re the best, i want to hug you forever because you sound like the best person ever and just aaah. thank you! i really needed it, omg, there is this boy from school that i think had a crush on my sister or something, he has mental issues (i think he is depressed) he’d talk to her on facebook every single day for months and months, hardly ever in real life, just about his problems and i could just see how much it was draining and upsetting her. it was really horrible and scary because i didn’t know how to help him, or my sister, and then a few nights ago he made a really sad post saying he was going to take his life. it was so scary, my mom phoned a friend with contacts to the school who called his mom and made it okay. he’s getting professional help, he’s okay… i made facebook chat go offline for now, i feel so guilty but i just cannot handle his problems on top of all mine, and i know that’s okay now. i did what i need to do for me. thank you, you made me see that i’m not just being a bitch and it’s okay to not be okay. thank you thank you thank you thank you! <3

  • Serena.K September 20th, 2012 11:55 AM

    This is so relevant to my ENTIRE LIFE. I’m also ~that~ person, I’ve always been, but recently I began holding back a bit and making time for myself and I’m just a lot healthier now, mentally. This was an awesome post!

  • saramarit September 20th, 2012 2:53 PM

    Great article, good advice. You need to take care of your own mental and physical health first so that you’ll be able to help others.

    Suggesting someone gets counselling and pointing them in the direction of a helpline or website where they can find advice is a really good and helpful thing to do.

  • pauladeen September 20th, 2012 5:19 PM

    This is so lovely. I definitely have a couple “one sided” friendships and I hope I have the courage to nip those who don’t really care about my well being in the bud. Don’t get me wrong, I love being there for my friends and listening to their problems, but it becomes irritating when that’s all I ever do with them. So well written, I love article!

  • TessaTheTeenageWitch September 20th, 2012 9:05 PM

    thank you thank you thank you thank you. You don’t know how wonderful this is.

    I have spent so much of my time convincing friends not to harm themselves, end their lives and just trying to build their self-esteem. A father with severe depression, a sister with anorexia, depressed online friends, depressed real-life friends…

  • Arabelle September 20th, 2012 11:43 PM

    this is exactly what i needed to read right now. thank you jenny i love you jenny.

  • illonablyton September 21st, 2012 1:19 PM

    Thank you so much for this. xx

  • Maybe September 21st, 2012 11:32 PM

    THIS! Exactly this. Nearly all my close friends (most of them in a loose “clique”) are going through some stuff & various mental health problems right now. While I pride myself on being a good friend and taking time to listen to their problems, despite being a huge mess myself, I always thought they’d be there for me and my serious, ongoing issues too. But in the last two months, all I’m hearing is “I’m sorry, but right now I can’t help you at all, and I can’t even spend time with you, I’m not feeling well”, and somehow this is happening with all of my friends at the same time, which sucks big time.

    So now I think I will have to stop giving so much time and energy to my friends as well, because dealing with their problems really drains me, and the whole situation is just too much to take.

    Still, reading this article has made me realize that while it’s tough for me right now, at least no one I know wants to commit suicide.

    So thank you very much. Kinda helps, writing this stuuf down… xxx

  • Mary the freak September 23rd, 2012 2:58 PM

    Thank you, rookie. You became such a big part of my life. I had a friend about two years ago. He was depressive. He told me all of his problems and I tried to give advice. I talked with him on the phone everyday and for hours, listening to his problems. He cut himself and spoke of suicide and stuff. It was a hard time, but not only for him. I was always trying to save him and help him and never said “well, please, can we talk about this later.” He would never understand that. I was really trying to be a good friend. It was especially hard when he collapsed one day and we went to our teacher and told her everything. There was a huge chaos and many people came and apologized.
    That was basically the end. He did never stopped telling me his problems, even though I don’t think he is really “sick”, you know, depressions and stuff. It was awful to listen to all of his problems. His real problems turned into complaining about everything. Whatever I tried to tell him, he always had the worse problems. His problems were always bigger and worse. He got really egoistic and self-focused. It really brought me down. It got so bad that we had a bad fight and finally stopped being friends anymore.
    Last year he started talking bad about me and told rumors and stuff. It got better now, we can talk normally again. It was a hard time. It took me quite long to figure out how to live happily without being brought down by other’s problems. But you really got the point. Thank you for helping other people by this article.

    birdiewearsatie.blogspot.com

    Mary

  • mery September 25th, 2012 12:14 PM

    I identify with this text so much. I have this sort of werid relationships with some of my family members – they’ve been telling me their problems eversince I was a little girl. I felt terrible and there was nothing I could do, so I was miserable. It’s impossible for me to detatch myself from it – at least for now when I still live with my parents, but I have to try to “save myself”. Because I’ve my own life and my own problems to deal with, too. Thank you, Rookie, for putting articles like this one. (and sorry for my poor English).

  • fabiola_meza November 14th, 2012 10:39 PM

    Thank you for this, right now I’m dealing with my best friend going through depression and every time she lose it, someone (other friends, her girlfriend, her mom) always call me so I can talk her out of hurting herself (because I’m the great listener, and apparently the only one who can talk to her in those situations), I love her but it’s so tiresome.
    This really helped me, you’re totally right you can’t help other people if you’re falling apart.