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My friend won’t talk to me

I get that she’s struggling. But I was there for her; why can’t she be there for me?

Just let her know you are there for her when she’s ready, says our elder. Being there unobtrusively is the best support.

Dear EWC

Hello, I have a friend and we have been friends since high school. But a few weeks ago she stopped talking to me. I’m not sure why. We haven’t had a fight or disagreement. It’s not like her to do this. She’s a really nice person. I don’t know what happened. She told me she was in a slump because of her mental health. I always tell her it’s not her fault. I texted her yesterday to see if she wanted to hang out but she didn’t reply — she usually does reply fast. To be honest, I’m hurt that she’s doing this since I’m always trying to cheer her up. I expect a lot of my friends to do this but not her. So I’m not sure what to do and I don’t want to bother her. When I was in a dark place, everyone left me but she stayed. So this is really impacting me.

Maryanne replies

Your friend is lucky to have you concerned about her. Sometimes when people become depressed they do just want to be alone. No matter how much we care, there is only so much we can do. You are correct — mental health problems are not her fault. Mental health, though, is difficult. It is possible for someone to know intellectually that their life is good and they have nothing to be depressed about but still they are depressed and cannot move past it. During a bout of depression even talking to someone who cares about you can be too much.

My suggestion to you would be to keep letting her know that you are there for her when she is ready. Let her know that there is no pressure, at all, from you. Let her know that you just want to be there for her as she was for you. But let her know that you understand that she might not be ready to see you and that is fine. Tell her that you do not want to put pressure on her or give her anything else to deal with. I would text her (because I think that is less invasive than a phone call) periodically (maybe once or twice a week) — just a really short text, e.g. “Just keeping in touch and hoping you are having a nice day”. Try to stress the day rather than saying “I hope you are getting better”. It is easier to have a good day than to actually be better. In a few weeks you might suggest a movie — stress that there will be no conversation, just the watching of the movie together. It might be a way for her to get out and socialize with you, just you, no one else, without having to worry about questions and talking.
For someone in this state, the best that you can offer them is the availability of support when they are ready. It is difficult when that is all you can do. It seems as though that is not enough, but actually it is just what they need.

Hopefully, your friend is getting some professional help as that is also very important. Depression is not something we can deal with alone. A professional is needed.
We hope that for your friend this is just a short blip and she will come out of it soon.
Again, sometimes the best support we can offer is just to be there unobtrusively. It is difficult, I know.
Take care.

Letter #: 445937
Category: Friendship

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