A tough diagnosis brings on unexpected generosity
Dear Ask Amy: We have a 50-year-old friend who suffers from depression and anxiety. He has managed it very well but went through an emotional divorce two years ago that made things worse.
Through church group counseling and some professional therapy, he is getting back out there. However, he seems to be using the divorce and the difficulties of the modern dating scene as an excuse to be bitter, miserable, and self-deprecating, making it difficult for his friends to want to be around him.
He also seems to place barriers in his way as he navigates his post-divorce life. He exhibits passive-aggressive behavior on his social media accounts as a way to get attention, which further alienates his friends who have grown weary with it.
Bottom line, I think he's more comfortable with his misery and is unwilling to resolve the issues that are the source of it. Maybe he thinks it makes him seem more novel or interesting to people? He needs supportive friends in his life but I think he only wants someone to validate his negative perspective.
We want to be good friends to him and understand that depression is a complex thing, but we also don't want to play a role in perpetuating his approach to the next phases of his life. What should we do?
-- Worried Friends
Dear Worried Friends: Your friend's behavior might not be related to his depression. It's hard to know, sometimes, if a friend needs a shoulder to cry on -- or a light kick in the keister.
Years ago, I was going through a tough time, post-divorce, and had started referring to myself as "a loser." A friend said to me, "You know, this self-deprecating thing you're doing is getting old." Message received.
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You could ask him: "You seem very negative about things lately, even though you seem to be doing so much better. Some of your statements concern me. I want to be supportive but don't really know how."
You could also inspire him, perhaps, to be a better friend to you by asking him to help you -- either physically or emotionally -- through a challenge in your own life.
Dear Amy: Recently I created a problem through spreading a falsehood on social media. How do I make thing right again?
Dear Worried: Delete the offending post and reach out to this person, acknowledging your action and ask for forgiveness. If the person wants you to correct this publicly, then you should do so.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)