How can I get through to him?
Hi all, this is my first post here and I am hoping that some of you could give me advice on how to deal with this situation. Apologies for the length (Iím not great at being succinct, as you'll see!) but I feel I need to explain the background to this as much as possible Ö partly for myself, to be honest, so I can try and get things straight.
Iím a 20 something female. Until recently, I was living overseas in a non English speaking country. Whilst there, I volunteered for a telephone listening service for fellow expats. Iím in no way a professional counsellor, but callers to the line knew that those of us at the other end were just ordinary people whoíd gone through a bit of training in how to listen actively. Our aim was to give some support and advice if possible. Lots of the calls were the standard thing youíd expect in this situation Ė cultural misunderstandings, issues working in a foreign environment, everyday frustrations etc. All fairly minor.
One evening I got a call that was different from the rest. The caller was a male who was incredibly on edge. He was hard work at first so I sat back quietly and let him vent for a long time. As the call went on, it became obvious that Ė although he was reluctant to tell me the exact situation Ė he was in some sort of trouble and this was having a negative impact on his wellbeing. Once he was calmer, I realised he was very scared, lonely and felt helpless. We ended up talking for nearly seven hours. By the end of the conversation, I didnít want to just let him go Ė I felt emotionally invested and I wanted to be sure he was okay. So when he rather shyly asked if I wouldnít mind him contacting me outside of the listening service, I gave him my details. Since the service was voluntary I was under no official obligation to keep myself anonymous.
So, we kept in touch. At first, I was a little wary of what I may have got myself into, so we just communicated through messaging on Facebook. After a while, he asked if we could talk on Skype. We chatted for a short time and it was fine; I suppose I was relieved that he seemed normal and not like a crazed stalker. We got into the routine of chatting every now and then, and Iíd message him to see what was going on. I wasnít sure of his exact situation, but something was causing him a lot of stress and I realised that he had very little support from anyone else.
I returned home shortly afterwards. We stayed in touch regularly despite the time difference. Things got much worse for him and he ended up unemployed, homeless and living in his car for a while. I was so worried but there was nothing I could do except listen. Then he managed to get back on his feet and found a job and apartment. I went back overseas to the same country and was very aware that we were now just a couple of hours apart. I was curious to meet him in person as by this point I considered him a friend. I wasnít just Ďthe listenerí and he Ďthe callerí anymore; we had long conversations about all manner of things and I genuinely enjoyed talking with him.
Since he seemed to be more stable, we arranged to meet up one weekend. I stayed at his new apartment and we just hung out, chatting, watching films and exploring his area. We got on very well, although at times he was a bit withdrawn. Whilst I was there, he mentioned in a somewhat offhand way that Iíd Ďsaved his lifeí. I wish Iíd asked him to explain this in more detail, but I didnít. I did begin to realise that I cared about him very deeply.
I went away again for several months. It was harder to stay in touch but I made an effort to message him whenever I got online, and we managed to Skype occasionally. Although things had been looking up, gradually he seemed to be sinking back into depression and I was worried. I found myself thinking about him a lot. My feelings towards him were becoming stronger and I realised that I loved him. It was a different sort of love to what Iíve felt in past relationships, however. It didnít matter to me if he didnít reciprocate my feelings Ė more than anything, I wanted him to be okay. That was the most important thing.
When I returned, he was worse than heíd been before. We had a conversation in which he kept describing himself as Ďfucked upí and it sounded as though he was on the verge of giving up. Heíd lost his job and was in complete despair. I was genuinely scared for him and although he tried to put me off, I drove five hours to check up on him.
It was dreadful. His apartment was untidy; the curtains were drawn, and I realised that all he was doing all day was lying in bed staring at the TV but not really watching it. Heíd stopped eating, sometimes for days on end, and had lost so much weight. He looked unhealthy and was unresponsive to my presence, despite being so happy to meet me the first time. He kept coughing, complained his body was always aching, and didnít want to talk. Heíd told me on the phone about the eating issue so Iíd made loads of food and brought it along in plastic containers to freeze, but he wasnít interested in any of it and pushed it away. I felt like my heart was breaking for him.
I guess Iíd been hoping I could Ďsaveí him again Ė naÔve, I know. It quickly became obvious that he was too far gone for me to pull him back. I felt like I was trying to hold a handful of sand together like it was something solid, but it kept slipping through my fingers in hundreds of pieces.
I ended up sleeping with him. This was something Iíd been thinking about for a while, although this was a less than ideal situation and in hindsight we probably shouldnít have done it. All I wanted was to show him that I cared about him and that he wasnít alone, but it was like he couldnít hear me. I thought that it might be a tangible way to express that I loved him. He still seemed so distant, though, even after this. There seemed to be a barrier between us that I couldnít break down.
This brings me up to the present day. Since then, Iíve tried to stay in touch regularly and whenever I speak to him I tell him how much I care and how important he is. However, Iíve moved back to my home country, this time permanently, and Iím hugely aware of the miles between us now. Itís stupid because I know I couldnít do anything for him even when I was right there with him, but I still feel like Iíve abandoned him and if only I could see him again in person I could change things.
Trying to engage him in conversation has become more and more difficult, and a lot of the time our calls involve us both sitting in silence. I donít mind this, though Ė as long as I have him there on the other end of the line, I know that heís safe. But the last time we spoke, he was angry and frustrated. He told me that me calling and asking how he is makes him feel bad because his situation isnít improving and he never has anything good to say. He said that next time I call, if heís not in the right mood he might not pick up. He thinks this is better for both of us.
I can understand why heís saying this, and I accept it Ė I canít force him to talk. Iím not prepared to just give up on him, though. I made the decision to get involved in his life and thereís no way Iím turning my back on him. I know he isnít talking to anyone else. He is not in contact with his family. He has friends in his home country but has gradually isolated himself from them. He isnít getting any sort of professional help and refuses to give it a go. It seems heís in such a dark place right now he canít see any way out, and Iím so worried for him. I asked him about suicide and although he didnít give a definite answer, he made it clear that he canít find anything good in his life.
Iíve only ever known him when heís been going through tough times. He says he doesnít like who he is. I donít like the situation heís in but I can see so much potential in him. Every now and then (more rarely now, though), Iíll catch glimpses of how he must have been before the depression. Iíd love to meet that person in the future.
Iíll reiterate Ė I am not giving up on him, awkward, difficult or frustrating as he may be. Iíll keep calling and messaging him even if he doesnít respond. Iíll still be there for him, if and when he needs me. I will do my best to see this through, whatever the outcome may be. But like I said, Iím so conscious of the distance between us and very aware that all I have to offer him are words. I feel like Iím running out of words.
Iím sorry this is so long. Thank you if youíve got this far. The advice Iím really looking for is Ė do you think thereís any way that I can get through to him that Iíve not already tried? What can I say that might cause this barrier between us to crack and help him see a way out? How should I speak to him? Iíve never suffered from depression myself and so I donít know what heís going through, although Iím trying my best to understand and not judge him or force advice on him. If anyone whoís been in his situation can shed some light on his mindset, Iíd be so grateful. Again, thank you.
Thank You for just being there for him & looking out for yourself in the process. :hug:
Did you give him the link to this forum?
iNdulge, thank you for your kind words. I hope that by being there for him I'm making a slight difference, but it doesn't always feel that way and I really wish there was something more tangible I could do to help.
nobodyhelpsme, no, I haven't linked him to this forum. I only found it myself yesterday when I got the idea that maybe I could share this situation and see if anyone out there on the internet had some advice. This isn't something I've told my friends or family about, for various reasons.
Do you think suggesting a forum like this to him would be a good idea? I couldn't share this one with him now that I've posted about him - although it's anonymous, I can't imagine he'd be overjoyed that I've written this. However, in my Googling yesterday I discovered that there are lots of depression support forums (I chose this one as I liked the name!). So, perhaps they could offer him something that I can't.
I'm always a bit wary of attempting to give direct advice, though ... it doesn't often go down well, not just with him but with lots of people, I find. I'd rather not come across as interfering or like I think I know best. We've also never directly talked about him 'having depression', although the word has cropped up and it's very clear that he does. But I don't know if he'd be offended if I pointed him to a forum like this. It's hard to know.
To anyone reading this who suffers (or has suffered) from depression - how did you discover this forum? And how would you feel if a friend suggested that you should use one - would you be grateful they cared, or put out that they were telling you what to do and making assumptions?
I think it's a good idea to link to the forum even if he gets angry at first, he will realize it's anonymous and interesting. People here are nice.
You can't help him by yourself. Let the people here help him too.
I found this forum by goggling "depression forum" I think. I loved the title.
This forum is one of the best of this type I have tried so far because of the no PM rule. It becomes a place where you always find someone to talk to, comfort you, offer advice, but nobody in particular to get attached to. This is great for those having a hard time with abandonment. Also because nobody in particular takes on the huge responsibility of attempting to help someone else on their own like you did.
I think it is difficult as well, because most of the time, a lot of people know their own inner sorrows. There have been times in my life, where people said HELLLO! & I was quite taken aback by it, but it was helpful to a degree. It was also painful to receive in the way it was given. If you do decide to, easy does it, which I have no doubt that you wouldn't. I received mine from people that were family, but didn't know me, & at the time I wanted to connect with them so badly, & it was through online, & they shut me out & said all the ways in why I was being shut down. I still have anxiety in those certain area's because of it, but in other ways I am better for it too.
Everything we do, has an effect on people. It may take years, but it may plant an idea in their mind to see things a little differently later down the line.
There may come a time for you however, that you need to decide that the only way change will come for him, for the better, is when he wants it. He may not want it. That doesn't mean you're giving up on him, as I pointed out, you come first. Your Health matters too.
I would suggest just keep showing him signs that no one has given up on him even at his worst but that you cannot be there to care for him. He has to do that.
Unless you're the type of friend, that will tell him, you're not taking no for an answer, & you will roll him out of his bed, into a wheelchair, so the two of you can go out & enjoy the lovely weather.... if you ever headed back to his neck of the woods.
Gosh that is tough. & believe me I KNOW. I had & still have an enabler in my life, our parent's they always want the best for us. Will even try to take over, I had to tell them to back down even in my worst state no matter how much I begged to be "saved", because I needed to be better for me. Every time they tried to put the pieces back together, they'd fall apart faster & worse than before. I am not saying this is your predicament, I am just sharing my experience.
I chose this forum out of a reach out to talk to people as I was feeling suicidal. I needed a connection again. Which I don't find in real life. 3D form. I also thought the title was sickly twisted, & made me ....:rofl:..... I am also used to the format.
So since our last conversation, when he told me that he might not answer the phone next time if he doesn't feel like talking, I've messaged him on Facebook a couple of times just to say hello and that I hope he's doing okay, and I know he's read the messages but I've had no response. I can see that he's online so I just tried to call his mobile and he didn't answer. I called using Skype credit, which would show up on his phone as an unknown number, so he wouldn't necessarily know it was me ... but still, I get the impression he's not interested in being contacted right now.
I'm not sure if I should be concerned, and whether I should try again or just leave it. It's pretty late here so I was thinking of going to sleep and then trying again in the morning, when it'll be early evening where he is. I'd like to chat with him; it doesn't have to be about his current situation if it doesn't make him feel good discussing it. I just want to be his friend.
But anyway, is that too much? Should I maybe not contact him for a while? I don't want him to think I've forgotten him, but equally I don't want to annoy him by bombarding him with messages and missed calls if he feels like being alone. What's the appropriate thing to do? How would anyone reading this feel if a friend kept trying to contact you to see how you were doing, when you were really down and maybe not in the mood? I'd love to hear your perspective!
nobodyhelpsme and iNdulge - thanks again for your responses. I may well end up linking him to this forum (or similar), and I do agree that I can't give him all the support he needs on my own. Since he doesn't seem to want to talk at the moment, though, I think I'll hold off til he's in a more receptive mood before I bring up the suggestion.
And iNdulge, I'm sorry that you've felt so bad but I'm glad it sounds like you have people who care for you. I hope that things get better.
I signed up just to answer your question, because it touched my heart. As a person who suffered from deep depression, and attempted a suicide to end my life, I'll answer you. I can see that your feelings toward him are strong, but I think (some) space should be given. Don't pressure him too much, and don't express your anxiety a lot, because that's just another type of pressure. Be calm and smily all the time, when he's ready he will get to you. Let him miss you and feel the need of your existence. Being pushy will just push him away more further. So, for now, don't call or do anything, let him have some time to gather himself and stand up. Loneliness sometimes could be useful. Don't worry, he's a man, not a child, and as long as he didn't express suicidal thoughts then he's fine. Please let me if you need more help.
QueenMeemz, thank you so much for your response - it was so kind of you to sign up just to reply. I'm really touched! And I think I needed to read your post to give me a different viewpoint. What you said makes sense, and I realise that maybe I'm being too intense and putting pressure on him when he'd rather be left alone. It's hard because I'm on the other side of the world to him now, so the only way I can communicate is by calling or messaging ... but obviously, when he doesn't reply it's all very one-sided and seeing four missed calls on his phone might be off-putting from his perspective, even though I just want to show that I care. You're right, he's an adult and he knows I'm here so if he decides he needs me, he can make that choice himself. I'm going to try and take a step back for a while (which will be hard as it's very tempting to say hi whenever I see him online, and I really hate the thought of him alone in his apartment not talking to anyone all day). It doesn't mean I care any less, though, and I hope he'll get that. It's good to know this forum is here and I can come and vent / ask for advice etc. when I need to. :)
On another note, QueenMeemz, obviously I have no idea who you are but just from your response to me, a random stranger online, it's clear that you're a kind and thoughtful person, and I truly hope you're feeling better now. Thank you again!
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