I have a friend who is always depressed. Every time I ask her why she’s feeling so sad, she answers, “It’s nothing.” I know something’s bothering her, but she won’t tell me. I’m worried that she might hurt herself! What should I do, Nikki?
Really Worried Friend
Hi Really Worried Friend,
I can understand why you’re worried! I bet you’re worried, anxious, upset and a bunch of other things too. I would be as well!
So first of all, if you know that she’s considering hurting herself, I need you to stop reading this column right now and encourage your friend to talk to a parent, teacher or a counselor she trusts. Give her the chance to reach out to an adult herself. But if she won’t, then YOU need to find a trustworthy adult and talk to them about it. Getting an adult involved is the first, most important thing here. I’ll wait while you make sure that happens.
Okay, so she talked to an adult—or you did. I hope so. Because you don’t want to mess around with this. Even if you’re not sure, you just think she might hurt herself, you want to take it very seriously. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe she’ll be mad at you. Maybe she’ll think you betrayed her confidence. You didn’t. She’s not thinking clearly right now and the most loyal thing you can do is value her life while she doesn’t. It’s important that she gets help. And this is something you really can’t help with by yourself—and you shouldn’t have to.
Here’s what you CAN do: Be a friend. Let her know you’re there and you care about her. That’s the main thing.
And if you think she’s shutting you out when she won’t tell you what’s wrong, she’s not. She may not be able to explain what’s wrong. Depression is a brain chemistry thing. It’s not like, Someone died so now I’m depressed. I mean, it can be. But more likely, she just feels awful all the time and she really can’t explain it. That’s because her brain is telling her lies and she’s using all the energy she has to do the stuff she HAS to do. And when you’re a kid in school, no one lets you stay home for depression. So she’s forced to keep getting up and acting like the world is normal and doing homework, etc etc., all while feeling so awful.
So, I know you’re trying to show her you care by asking her what’s wrong all the time. But instead, show her through your actions that you’re there and you care. Talk to her about normal stuff. Talk to her about your problems—which might be a nice distraction. Send her little texts or slip her little notes that aren’t bugging her about WHAT’S WRONG but just say, “Hey! I’m glad you’re my friend! 🙂 ” or something thoughtful like that.
If you show her you’re there, then she’ll know where to turn when or if she decides she wants to talk. So these are the steps:
- Get an adult involved.
- Show her you’re there without pressuring her to share.
- Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t confide in you.
I really hope that helps and that your friend gets the help she needs.