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roommate/close friend with severe depression

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Hi! I haven't been on here in a really long time.

I come for advice on how to navigate being roommates/close friends with someone who is severely depressed. 

We have been roommates for a year and a half now, and I did not know her prior to our living situation (I am 23, she is 22). We formed a friendship pretty quickly, initially bonding over our history of mental illness. I struggled with depression pretty badly when I was a pre-teen/teen and still battle anxiety, while she has struggled with both for the past 15+ years. There have been times when she has been better in the last 1.5 years, but mostly, it has consumed her. Currently, she is doing very, very poorly. I just heard her on the phone screaming through tears: "Do you know how hard it is not to crash my car when I'm driving and suicidal?"

It makes me sad. I have struggled with it a lot. At times, it really impacts my mental health. It was especially hard at the start of COVID when it was just us two quarantined in our apartment for months. I think she is a wonderful friend: very supportive, mindful, and gracious. But I don't feel that she has helped me grow as a person at all. Instead, I really feel like our friendship has caused me to regress. Her negativity towards every aspect of life is very demotivating, and her habit of complaining has made me comfortable doing the same. I try to keep our dynamic positive by offering encouragement and hopefulness, but I know it ultimately makes her feel worse, and I become frustrated.

She is currently not seeing a therapist or on any medication. She did have a short stint with both since I've known her, and I know she's tried both a handful of times in the past. She says they just don't work. "Nothing helps," "nothing makes me happy," "I just want to die." Tonight she told she that when she can't fall asleep at night she pretends she's dead and that's more enjoyable than anything else. I offer up activities for us to do in the evenings and on the weekends, and she doesn't want to do any of them. Even when she agrees, I can tell she isn't enjoying. She says she doesn't want to do anything, but she also doesn't want to do nothing. She truly rather just not be alive. 

Last night, she asked me, "Why work to get better when there's no guarantee that I ever will?" That is the epitome of her mentality. But, I also don't have an answer for her.

I am honestly at a loss. I don't know what do. I know she's in a really bad place, and it scares me. I care for her a lot, but it's exhausting. I know she is even more exhausted, but still, I am too. Our lease is up in July and we won't be living together after that. 

I also want to note that her parents are very aware of her mental state. She is open to them about it all. I'm fairly certain it was either her dad or sister she was on the phone with tonight. 

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First of all I want to say that you are really a good friend.🙂

All is to your friend. Your friend has to change her aspects towards life. You can give her glass of water but can't make her drink it until she wants. Clear it with her parents what you described as you can't be with her every time.


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It's good you won't be living together when the lease is up. What are your plans? Are you both leaving to other places or is only one of you moving out? 

Your health comes first so distance yourself from the friendship if you're realizing it's not helping you. You mentioned she is "supportive, mindful and gracious". In what ways? Acknowledge your feelings of disappointment and then let go. Don't stay disappointed at someone who can't be that person you want them to be. This is not realistic and hurtful to you. If she's supportive, mindful and gracious, accept her limitations and enjoy the parts that are good. 

Weigh your expectations carefully against the situation especially if she's not seeing a doctor or has treatment. 

You can be there for her but make sure you're keeping track of your own emotions and anxious thoughts and recognize when reactions or words are not directed towards you but to the situation and what that person is going through. 

Edited by Rose Mosse
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I commend you because your heart's in the right place.  However, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost and your roommate is NOT your responsibility.  Whatever happens to her is due to her own accord and free will. 

I was once you in so many countless times years ago.  It is wrong to be in "hero mode" because you can't save everybody.  It's their life and they will do with it what they will.  You have no control over other people's lives.  Let them live it; good, bad or indifferent. 

Enforce healthy boundaries.  Remain civil yet know your place.  Don't get involved in other people's lives.  Whatever they do is their choice. 

It's good that once July is here, your lease expires and you're free of her. 

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I'd take some distance from her negativity. When she starts complaining at a time that I can't exit the room, I'd flip the tables and ask her a favor. "I'm feeling really down right now myself. Would you mind saying some nice things to me?"

You cannot position yourself to be her captive caretaker. Nobody is cut out for that. I'd ask her if she would please help me out by speaking with a therapist, and if she won't do it for herself, maybe she'll consider doing it for me?

Edited by catfeeder
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