Blues Qs is an advice column covering all things clinical depression, written by Bezzy Depression community guide Sam Dylan Finch. Diagnosed with clinical depression over a decade ago, Sam has seen it all — from medication mishaps to grippy sock “staycations.” He’s here to help you navigate your own depression journey with a little humor and a lot of heart.
Years ago, when I was experiencing a mental health crisis, I watched as a number of friendships in my life deteriorated. I felt so ashamed, like I was “too much” for anyone to love. It was damaging in a way that I am still trying to untangle.
Believe me when I say that I know how painful it is to realize that the people in your life aren’t equipped to support you in your darkest moments. It’s hard not to personalize it, and hard not to believe that there’s something wrong with you when people don’t stick around.
Imagine if you fell off a boat, and no one had a life ring buoy to toss or a vest to ensure they could safely rescue you. It’s not your fault that you fell off the boat — you didn’t want to fall — just as it’s not their fault that they don’t have the tools to help you.
This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or “too much” for other people. It means that a really tragic thing has happened, and no one was prepared.
We live under a system where mental health resources are difficult to access, community support is hard to come by, and treatments for conditions like depression are still not well-understood. That’s no one’s fault, and certainly not yours.
It’s rare to learn how to support someone in a mental health crisis to begin with. It’s not a lesson we get in school (though it should be!). It requires a lot of communication, empathy, groundedness, emotional energy, and education to navigate skillfully, and this is something some people aren’t able to provide. Spoiler: That’s not your fault, either.
This says nothing of what our friends might be going through themselves — we’re all secretly fighting our own battles, and sometimes we’re only equipped to fight for ourselves and no one else.
The reality is, not everyone is prepared to deal with a mental health crisis, the same way that not everyone is prepared to put out a fire or rescue someone who’s drowning.
It can be so hard not to take it personally, or conclude that we’re just “too much” for the people around us. It’s important to resist the urge to blame ourselves, though. Flattening a complex situation to make it “our fault” may seem like the easiest explanation, but it’s not fair to anyone, especially ourselves.
Not everyone has a fire extinguisher on hand or is a strong enough swimmer. Your friends might desperately want to help you, but not be in a position to provide that, for many reasons — reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you’re worthy or lovable.
Two things can be true: We can know it isn’t our fault, but also feel betrayed and hurt that the people we trusted couldn’t meet us there.
It’s challenging not to become resentful of the people we care about, and their inability to show up when we need them most. We’d like to think that if the roles were reversed, we would be there without question. And maybe that’s true! But people can only give so much to us, and it’s up to us to respect their capacity.
Being proactive about checking in can help your loved ones feel seen and can ensure that no one is giving more than they have the capacity for. By keeping things balanced, you can protect your friendship and get a clearer picture of what you should and shouldn’t expect from someone.
The broader our support system, the stronger our safety net will be.
This can include seeking out a therapist or psychiatrist, but can also include peer support, like support groups and peer mentors. It can also include saving hotlines on your phone for quick access. I can personally recommend the Bezzy Depression App as a great resource for connecting with others who “get it.”
Having a deep support network can offer peace of mind to the people that care about us, to ensure that they don’t feel alone in the struggle. It’s also empowering for us as people who are struggling, giving us a well-rounded team of people that we can rely on, and who consent to be a part of that team.
A mental health crisis is exactly that — a crisis. And like any other kind of crisis, not everyone is perfectly prepared or equipped. The best thing we can do is be patient with ourselves and others, and continue to be communicative to ensure that no one’s boundaries are crossed.
For additional reading, I’d highly recommend this guide on supporting someone through a mental health crisis. Please feel free to share it with loved ones and use it as a conversation starter!
Whether or not someone can provide it, you are worthy of unconditional love, care, and empathy. Someone’s capacity for this is not about you, and it never was. Remember: You deserve support, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it.
Medically reviewed on November 16, 2022
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