Auntie SparkNotes: My Depressed Friend Annoys Me So Much
Dear Auntie SparkNotes,
Hey there, I have an issue that involves my temper and this guy that annoys the hell outta me.
When I was a freshman, I started hanging out with a sophomore guy. I began to get suspicious that he liked me, and then he asked me out. At the time I had no experience of this kind of thing (and had convinced myself that no one would ever like me), so I panicked and ended up kicking up a lot of drama. I deeply regret being that person, I hate myself for creating all that.
After a while of "thinking about it", I rejected him. It was extremely, extremely awkward (for I am an awkward penguin, and so is he) between us, but gradually, it started to settle down.
Let's get to the point: in the part where I kicked up a lot of drama, one of the things that ended up happening is I told my counselor that he acts very depressed (and I know what this looks like because I have a lot of depressed friends). She obviously called his parents about this, he felt betrayed, I told him that I don't regret telling (and I still don't), and he still had a crush on me anyways.
It's been over a year, and he is still very depressed. I don't know if he is being treated or not, and I don't want to ask. He acts very sad all the time, obviously, and does a lot of weird things. He randomly ups and runs away, when it would be perfectly okay to walk. No "Be right back" or "I have to go"—he just goes. He regularly stays after school until it's dark, and he comes to school really early every day (and yes, it's because he doesn't like to be at home). He eats nothing but junk food and drinks nothing but extremely unhealthy energy drinks (which I have told him many times will not help with his depression). And, he used to insist on hugging me all the time (he doesn't anymore because I have finally gotten through his thick skull that I'm not a hugging person).
Any good friend would be concerned and talk to him about it, right? Well, this makes me angry, like really angry. I don't usually get angry, I get annoyed a lot, but not angry. And to be angry at something like this, something that I should be concerned about, makes me sick about myself.
What should I do? Do I get angry because it's the only way I know do deal with this? Do I get angry because I'm a terrible person? My parents and a lot of family friends have told me that he is trying to manipulate me into feeling sorry for him and going out with him. Do I just need to cut him out of my life?
Well, that's one way to put it! Except that what really needs to happen, it sounds like, is that you need to disentangle yourself from his.
Because despite what you may have been led to believe, there is no requirement or expectation that you talk to your friend about his schedule, his diet, or his preferred speed of exit from a room. In fact, quite the opposite: unless the guy has actively solicited your input on said topics, this stuff is none of your business. And considering that you've already overinvolved yourself in his life once, with unpleasant results, the thing about your letter that worries me most isn't your friend's mental health; it's your sense of healthy boundaries, or lack thereof.
Which is not to say that I don't understand your irritation, because I do! It can be legitimately frustrating to hang out with an awkward person, and even more so if you suspect (correctly or not) that said awkwardness is a performance designed to elicit a certain response from you, and none of that means anything bad about your character. Not everyone wants to be friends with the human incarnation of Eeyore, and that's fine. But annoying or not, all this guy is actually doing is being himself—and if that infuriates you, then the obvious solution is to step back as far as necessary to make your continued relationship tolerable… or nonexistent, as the case may be, but hopefully you won't need to go quite that far.
The point is, it's far better to give yourself some space than it is to give yourself a hernia trying to stay close with someone whose essential nature drives you bananas. And even if the guy is depressed, and even if he could benefit from some kind of intervention, you're not the one to play that role. Let him lean on someone who doesn't have to worry that he has ulterior motives — and who he doesn't have to worry about annoying by breathing the wrong way.
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