One of the worst things about being in a suicidal mood was how hard it was to connect with other people. I had some great friends, friends who I could always ask for help, but I was so convinced that I was a burden that I didn’t want to burden them any further. I felt guilty asking them for any kind of help because I already felt so indebted to them that I thought it would be impossible to ever pay them back. My mind was in such a bad place that I never thought about why my friends were my friends, and I assumed it was a relationship where only I was in debt to them.
Guilt was a terrible part of being seriously depressed. I felt like asking anyone to do anything was too much of an imposition. It started out small, but it got worse as my depression got worse. At first I had trouble just asking salespeople to do things – things that, basically, were parts of their jobs. Eventually, though, it was so bad that I couldn’t even bear to ask the people closest to me for help of any kind. Because I felt like such a burden, like everyone would be disappointed if I asked for help of any kind, I felt the need to lie to everyone around me to keep them believing that I was OK. If they knew how bad I felt, I thought they would be even more disappointed, and I couldn’t stand that thought.
I had trouble remembering that friendship was a voluntary relationship. People are friends with each other because they want to be (and family members are close to other family members because they want to be, but for the purposes of this post I’ll be focusing on friends). My friends worried about me not because they were obligated to, but because they thought I was worth worrying about. It was their choice, and if they felt I was a burden, they would say so and they would probably stop being my friends. It’s part of being a friend that you help each other out, during bad times as well as good.
People who care about you can be disappointed in you, but they also care, and they worry about you because they want to, not because they have to. I can’t make my friends worry about me, much like my friends can’t make me worry about them – it’s a choice we make, We are friends voluntarily. And sometimes there are things that we can’t handle alone, and we can use the help that friends provide. Those are the times we should not only not feel afraid to ask for help, but we should actively look to do it – because that is part of what friends are for. There’s no reason to feel guilty about asking our friends for assistance when things are hard for us, because I’m sure they’d rather help us out than have us wallow in guilt and shame.