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I am not sure how to interpret this one. Is it victim bashing or depicting the laziness of depressed individuals’ friends?
Neither. It shows a dysfunctional friendship.
Robert Howard says
Of course, there is the third option. Listen. You do not need to actually provide input – in fact, sometimes just having someone listen is very helpful. If that person asks your opinion then you might consider responding… or even saying “I can’t really respond to this, as I have a different perspective than you, and each of us sees things differently.”
Michelle Fleming says
Why not just say ‘How come?’
Renee Pascale says
I think what the artist is saying is that she already listened, and the “my life is crap” line is signifying he is done speaking and is her turn. She doesn’t know what to say. At least that’s how I read it.
depression comix says
Pretty much spot on. Some people don’t know how to respond to negativity, and it doesn’t make them bad people, it makes them ill suited for situations like this.
Felis Dee says
Also, the other issue is that you can only listen so much. This is probably their 195th conversation on the topic. At some point, as good a friend as you want to be, you realize that there’s only so much you can do, or listen or say before you wonder if you’re enabling, or going to be sucked into a bad spiral with them again. Especially when you know it’s going to be the same reasons s/he’s given hundreds of times before. I’ve been on both sides of this conversation, so it’s not unfamiliar to me. Again, it doesn’t make the non-depressed person a bad friend, but it’s also true that they may not be suited to being a stand-in therapist either.
Dana Seilhan says
I am seeing nothing indicating that he said anything but “my life is crap”. You want to know what negativity is? Turning your back on people who don’t entertain you enough.
Now if he’s actually and demonstrably *being a bad friend to her*, that would be one thing, but that’s not usually what sends these people running. They have to be amused and cheered up at all costs. I have never seen anyone more needy than a goddamn Positive Thinking person. If they really meant it, someone being depressed wouldn’t faze them.
depression comix says
It should be noted that this is depression comix *221*, and these two characters have had this kind of conversation before, and she even notes this – she’s pretty sure what his reaction will be because of previous experience. Also, in a short comic format, an entire conversation is not easy to do, and the artist has to hope that the readers are familiar enough with previous strips that the context is familiar so they can get on with the point of the comic.
Huh. Broken down friendship.
I think you are looking to place blame in these comics when they are meant to show a common situation between two people. There is no need to locate blame in these comics.
Jen Riehm says
Some people are just not equipped to deal with situations like these. It’s a hard position to be in, for sure, especially if it’s been ongoing for some time. Communication is key: it’s not bad to admit you can’t deal with it. Just say it nicely: “I’m not sure how to respond to that” or “Well, what could you do to improve it?” or something.
I think a friend deserves a sincere reply. How the other party responds is on them.
Also, just thinking on paper here, but if a “friendship” is dysfunctional it is not a friendship. The person on the “listening” end that responds by running away isn’t really a friend.
I don’t quite agree. It’s quite often that certain topics can’t be approached by even the closest of friends such as religion and politics, why can’t this be one of them? I don’t agree with everything my friends say and we know not to approach certain topics. That doesn’t make us less friends, that makes us more respectful of each other’s boundaries.
I think subscribing to the notion that friendship is based on hearing what you want the other person to say is too idealistic.
I know that when I approach my depression with certain friends, that I am giving them MY negativity. Some people can’t deal with that, that doesn’t make them bad people. It’s not like non-depressed people are teflon for negativity, the things you say will stick to them and they will carry them home. And in the end, you still have your depression, and you’ve made a friend feel bad.
The lesson I’ve learned is talk to counselors. They get paid for it and they are pros. They know how to handle it. Friends make terrible therapists, and that’s because they are friends, not trained licensed therapists.
Blame? No. Not at all.
Jenny Fields says
What do you do when you *have* a therapist? When you’re doing all you know how to do but you’re stuck in the process? Try to have boundaries? Even when I can talk about other things, the very fact of my life and what I struggle to cope with as part of it makes new people uncomfortable (and there aren’t many “old” people anymore). I don’t want to pull down others into my pain so I just don’t get to know other people anymore. And the isolation makes the situation worse. But I don’t want to hurt people by being in their lives.
Dana Seilhan says
And it always seems to hurt them for some reason. I guess I can understand feeling empathetic toward someone’s pain but that’s not what it is. They’re hurt because you don’t make them happy enough. I’ve been through this over and over. “Amuse me, minion! No? Why ya gotta be such a DRAG? I’mma go party with the COOL people now.”
Kris Webb says
Dana Seilhan: In my experience, people just don’t want to hear the same thing over and over again every time they see you. And they may feel like you’re depending on them to give you emotional support. But, they wouldn’t be depending on you to amuse them, necessarily. I know that my neediness distances people from me, and I know that I don’t find neediness to be attractive in others.
depression comix says
If the stuff in our heads hurts us, it’s going to hurt other people as well. When we say things it does affect other people, and saying negative things makes other people feel negative. It’s like when you hear an argument in public — even if you’re not involved you will still feel an awkward vibe in the air. This is what makes us social animals, that we do have an effect on each other.
This is why you shouldn’t tell people about your depression. It just makes them uncomfortable and they leave you.
Opus the Poet says
This is where I differ from the artist. I deal with my friends and my friends’ mental issues in a blunt and forthright way. I figure if I love them enough to want to be their friends, I love them enough to help them recover. Sometimes that’s not always what they want to hear.
What, I’m a character in the comic now? 🙂 I should say that just because i draw something in the comic doesn’t necessarily agree with what the characters say or do. I just illustrate things that happen.
Jessica de Bruin says
It’s even worse when you’re *both* struggling with depression. I get mad sometimes when my depressed friend talks endlessly about really triggering stuff without considering I might be having a hard time keeping my head above the water myself.
Maybe your friend is just not as good at telepathy as you assume. Have you tried telling them “please, stop, this is triggering to me”?
Dani Rodriguez says
lean on them, hug them, be close , physical contact helps where words dont
depression comix says
artist commentary: this comic was inspired by discussion concerning some recent comics, notably #217. I did anticipate some flack over it — the first comment I received was “I am not sure how to interpret this one. Is it victim bashing or depicting the laziness of depressed individuals’ friends?” There is a kind of recent taboo where one can’t depict depressed people in a negative light. It’s okay to show them in an Allie Brosh way, destroying themselves in their own head while the people around them remain unaffected, clueless, and cheerfully ignorant. Many depcom strips are just that, especially the early ones but part of the depression story is how the relationships fall apart as the illness takes little chunks out of the people around the sufferer.
It happens. I used to have a big circle of friends when I started doing online comics, and now I have very few friends left. I went through a series of bad relationships that made me question the whole idea of love and being loved. It didn’t strike me that my very behavior was stopping me from keeping friends and love because goddamn it we are not exactly the most fun people to be around. The negative stuff we have in our heads overflows and oozes out onto the people around us. And if they don’t sit there and take it, we blame them for being poor friends, when really, we are the negative element in their life. We know that people should get rid of the negativity in their lives but it rarely strikes us that the negativity might be us.
When we talk about these things, a lot of people respond, “Well she should say/do this” as if dealing with another’s depression is something that’s easy to do. It’s not. Some people can’t handle it. Some don’t need it, or are hanging on to their own problems by their fingertips and can’t handle the load of more negativity. We the depressed often think that our negativity has no weight, as we have been carrying it for so long and are used to it. But it does weigh down people, it burdens the people that listen to it. That’s why training is necessary, because negativity does have this kind of weight to it and if you listen to people’s problems you will feel it, and take it home, and maybe it will even affect your sleep. The training will help you keep the weight off you, but very few people have this training and we shouldn’t expect people to have it.
This commentary is kind of long and rambling but the point is, we have to accept that our negativity affects others and not everyone can handle it. The solution for us is to find outlets for the extra ooze that comes out of our skulls, by talking to a therapist, counselors, online forums and chats (a good one for mental illness is seven cups of tea, they have people there trained in listening), and if you have a friend or loved one who is capable of helping you carry the burden that’s awesome. Myself, I do this damn strip. Because the stuff in our heads is not only toxic to us, but to those around us, and many of us have lost a lot of friends without realizing this.
Dani Rodriguez says
I thought u did a great job. Please dont be discourged , We all need to remeber that even when we feel bad we shouldn’t just be self absorbed
depression comix says
Thank you for the kind words. I’m not discouraged at all, because I felt these things at one time, and I still do occasionally. It’s a part of who we are, and it’s sometimes difficult to recognize the damage we do to others when we feel so damaged ourselves.
Jen Riehm says
Having been on both sides of this (both the depressed person and the person supporting the depressed person), it’s hard both ways. I’m empathetic toward both. I lost several friends myself when I was going through my worst time (some in very traumatic ways). And even having gone through the experience myself, it can still be difficult to deal with other people’s pain, especially if you’re distracted with your own. I think it’s good to show it from both sides; gives some perspective for those who may not know what the other side is going through. 🙂
Many depressed people are very negative. It is not their fault. They have no idea they are being “negative”. In addition, many clinically depressed people are isolated and alone. Many times, friends and/or family of depressed people are totally oblivious to the depressed person’s illness. They chalk it up to the person simply being negative, draining, not dun to be around, displaying a victim mentality…and walk away, turn their backs or don’t want to be around them. They are completely and totally oblivious to what depression is and the forms it may take.
That is what this particular segment depicted me to me.
“It is not their fault” … I don’t think anyone is passing blame here.
“… friends and/or family of depressed people are totally oblivious to the depressed person’s illness” … friends or family of depressed people are not usually trained to spot or treat mental illness.
“They chalk it up to the person simply being negative, draining, not dun to be around, displaying a victim mentality…and walk away, turn their backs or don’t want to be around them.” … if someone you knew was being negative and draining to you, would you want to be around them?
It is known that depression often hurts people’s ability to empathize with others and to see things from their point of view, including theory of mind (e.g. Schreiter, Pijnenborg, & aan het Rot, 2013). Because of this, It becomes difficult for the person suffering to understand the intentions of others. Trying to find reasons why people act this way without the biases of one’s own negativity is quite a challenge, but doing so will go a long way to maintaining friendships and relationships.
Trolling me is not the answer, and any messages like the one you sent (now deleted) will be sent to the trash bin. If you can’t conduct yourself in a civil manner you are not welcome here. No one here, including me, has the time to waste reading petty attempts at insults, they are more telling about the kind of person you are than of me.
Xiomara Maldonado says
Thank you for sharing. I, too, have been on both sides. This strip simply depicts reality. It’s hard to hear the same draining stories over and over again. The people who listen to our misery day in and day out need to be uplifted too, otherwise you have two depressed people draining one another.
Amy Splitt says
Rather than regarding oneself as a source of “negativity” to be removed, it is sometimes best (though hard) for both friends to pause and have a moment where no one tries to speak, just have an open heart. It may hurt at first, but sometimes words just spiral into entrenched ideas and beliefs. I learned far too recently that I cannot talk my way or think my way out of depression. And I cannot talk or think a friend out of theirs. Distract, perhaps, which can be fine and entertaining and ultimately reinforcing of feelings of happiness; but “having someting to say” is overrated. Simply being present can sometimes be the best.
I have a best friend that I share openly with… but I ALWAYS worry that I’m going to run her off with negativity. I think it’s reasonable to share with her what is really going on, and not wear the fake, plastered smile that so much of life requires… yet I also think it’s completely UNreasonable to make every conversation about me/my depression. I struggle with knowing where that balance is… sharing in a healthy way, but not oversharing.
Kitt O'Malley (@KittOMalley) says
221 http://t.co/1Y4PKhjrP8 via @depressioncomix
I recognize this couple. It’s my parents.
I don’t want my friends to ever enter into this kind of situation so I never talked about it. In truth, I have never talked about how I really felt with anyone. Unfortunate, this leads to the situation in comic strip #148.
As someone who has lived with a person suffering from major depression for over 20 years I found this comic very powerful. It captures the dilemma perfectly. Anais Nin wrote: ‘Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds onto you. You want to save him but you know he will strangle you with his panic.’ Substitute depression for anxiety and this sums up how I feel. I know how hard life is for my partner but ultimately there is nothing I can do that makes a difference and knowing that is an extremely painful thing that makes me feel guilty and ashamed. So my life is lived as best it can be within this paradigm, and I do the best I can and over time the grief of what feels like my failure becomes like white noise – always there but advancing and receding like the tides.
Please read artist commentary: depression comix on January 25, 2015 at 7:11 am and thank you Twitter friends
221 http://t.co/DE8h8BOaON via @depressioncomix
Sometimes I relate with these comics so much, other times not at all. Maybe if I had a friend I would start understanding these comics…