I don't know if this is going to sound disgustingly selfish, and that certainly isn't my intention at all, but I need some help. I thought I could cope with this but it's been playing on my mind too much and I just need to say something, get 'it' out of my system and see if I can seek some advice.
I need to know how to help my friends in a more realistic and functional way. Not all of my friends, just some. The friends who have anxiety and depression.
I just don't know how to help them.
I often find myself in conversations that start at about 11pm, and my friends will be feeling particularly down, and they need someone to talk to. I obviously am honoured (and slightly amazed) that I am that person.
They will start with a simple 'Hello', maybe a quick 'how are you?' and then launch into whatever is getting them down. I try to be positive, in all of my replies, and honestly - being brutally honest - it's really bloody hard work.
I like to think of myself as a positive person. I always look for the best in every situation, and in my head, I think that with these friends, making them see a 'best situation', will help them feel better. But it doesn't seem to work. Ever.
Instead, I get, 'oh I know but...' or, 'I just wish...'; so I try to jee them up again, maybe crack a joke to attempt to raise even half a smile, but it can sometimes feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.
Any suggestion I make on how I feel the situation could be made better is batted away almost instantly by a reason why it wouldn't work. And it makes me feel incredibly ignorant - and I suppose in a way, I am. I don't know anything about what it's like living with anxiety or depression, other than it's really bloody awful (Understatement Of The Millennium).
So I guess my 'bright side of life' tactic is completely wrong. But what should I be doing instead? Because, even when I'm asked 'how are you?', I feel like they're only really asking that as a way in to then let off steam. And I feel like there's just this assumption that I'm able to talk to / help them.
(...just so you're aware, I'm really conscious of how mean I sound. I really, really hope it's clear that I don't want to sound horrible or bitter towards these friends, I just needed to say this. I'm so sorry if it seems like an attack. It isn't. It really isn't...)
I get this automatic internal trigger of "why does so and so think I'll be able to help?" or sometimes (and I hate myself for this), sometimes it's "it is 11 at night. I'm really tired. I just want to go to sleep." But that internal trigger goes off and my conscience (the bad shoulder devil) justifies it with "they haven't asked if you're able to talk, they've just assumed that you'll listen." And this bad shoulder-devil crops BACK up with every rejection of any of the ways I try to help ("well, why do I bother?"), and from there I go into "...well, why do THEY bother? What good is it doing them if speaking to me isn't actually going to help...because nothing I'm saying seems to be helping at all, so what is the point? No one is gaining anything from this."
It's a really confusing situation to be in, and as I write this now, the familiar heavy-heart, close-to-tears frustration is building up because I'm completely at a loss. I have no idea what to do. I want to help, I so desperately want to help. As I said before, I genuinely feel honoured that these friends see in me someone they can offload to, and obviously I am more than willing to listen. But it just feels like a one way street. But then, I don't suffer from anything other than weirdly shaky hands and occasional clumsiness (stemming from the weirdly shaky hands, I imagine). So am I being insensitive for saying all this? I feel completely torn.
I just don't know what is right and what is wrong in this situation. Do I just reply with, 'oh I see' or, 'that really sucks' or should I stick to my current way of trying to bring - for lack of a better phrase - an element of perspective? Positivity, perhaps? I don't know. I honestly have no idea what to say, when to say it, how to say it... I am lost. And I really want to help my friends, of course I do. But I know that currently, I'm not helping them. And when these late night conversations happen, I don't think I make them feel any better, I certainly don't feel better by the end of it. Instead I feel a hundred times more tired, and much more sad, and ultimately, useless. But then, is that selfish of me to think that? I guess it is. But I can't help it.
So basically, what do I do? How do I stop the horrible, initial feeling of resentment when I see which avenue a conversation is going to go down, and then also stop the immediate feeling which follows: shame. Shame that I could be frustrated with my friends who are in a bad place and need someone to talk to. Shame that I'm a terrible friend for thinking those things. Shame for them - that they saw in me someone to share their troubles with, and I failed.
Who knows if there are any answers to this. I'm sorry if this has exposed me as a really horrible and heartless person. I just really need some help. I just don't know.