Your friends just don’t understand

As a result, you feel dismissed, ignored, unsupported. How could they do this to you when you need them the most?

Let’s say your child is struggling with substance use disorder and every time you bring up the subject it dies like embers in a fire in a thunderstorm. It could be after you’ve lost someone to suicide or lost a child to any cause of death, everyone seems to disappear. It could be you are simply having a very difficult time and no one has noticed or reached out despite your current state of mind which is very uncharacteristic of you.

When you are in this state of mind, you are more sensitive to the reactions or the lack of reaction from those you love.

Typically, a reaction like any of the above is tied to fear, confusion, or simply not knowing.

Sometimes when things get tough and challenging, friends disappear or refuse to talk about the subject you need to discuss. And in this case, they are missing an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with another human being.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are really struggling, you may not realize how much you are leaning on a loved one and if it persists for a long time, that friend might perceive that the relationship is lopsided and the helplessness they feel after being with you is more than they can manage. Are you engaging them in other conversation over time? Or is it all about your issue?

When we feel unsupported, we sometimes get angry or sad, or both. What are you expecting from them? Do they know how you feel? Are you leaning on them too much out of your own fear or stubbornness of getting more support?

Your friends might not understand if they’ve not been through whatever it is you are going through. No one who hasn’t been there can. So where can you find others who are going through this, too? Are you finding support with a therapist or group?

Step back, take a deep breath and understand that you have different sets of friends who fit different roles in your life. And if you don’t have the kind of support you need, seek it out for your own mental health and well-being. Holding grudges won’t help you move forward but will keep your heart riveted in bitterness. And is that where you want to be?

It’s OK to feel angry but if you look at, or list just the facts, and subtract all the emotion, you are less likely to fill in the gaps of information you don’t really know with your own assumed scenarios. Only when you can do that is it easier to see that most aren’t acting as they are to be intentionally dismissive of you. They are simply at a loss regarding what to do or not at a place when they can process your struggles as well as their own.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

11 thoughts on “Your friends just don’t understand”

  1. I am reminded of the sunday school song, “this little light of mind, I’am gonea let it shine..let shine..let shine…!” As a minister, a father who experienced firsthand the stiga of “Death by Suicide,” when we lost our son Adam in 1993, we became that pastor, that family, that home, there must be something wrong there? So sad that so many cristians and church goers cannot help but judge when it clearly teaches in scripture to “judge not, less you be judge…” I am reminded there is one that stays closer than a brother…? He is the author and finisher of our faith and eturnity. Thank you again AnneMoss for this most timely blog and reminder of how we are to respond to the broken and hurting individuals and their families.

    1. “So sad that so many Christians and church goers cannot help but judge when it clearly teaches in scripture to “judge not, less you be judge…”

      I so wish anyone who considers themselves religious or spiritual would read that quote! Thank you Andy.

  2. Hello Anne,
    I lost my son to suicide just over a year ago. August 18th 2022. Since then only 2 friends really showed up for me. Others disappeared into the woodwork. I spent a great deal of time alone in the house where Matthew died. As a result now have social anxiety. I also sold and moved during this year. It’s been a daunting experience. I’ve enjoyed your posts and have found good advice in them. Thank youfor what you do.

    1. I felt abandoned, too. It was like my friends melted away. That fear of sitting with you in your tragedy when they can’t fix it is so real. And I’m so sorry. My first moved to let my friends know I wanted to still be included and in their lives was to have a party at my house. They and to bring the food and drink because I couldn’t manage all that at the time. We also moved as you probably know. Two weeks after he died because we’d sold the house already. And THAT was hugely stressful.

      Spending all that time in the place where Matthew died….so traumatizing. I’m sorry you had this experience, Sally. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Hi I’m so sorry to hear about the traumatic loss of your son. I can’t fathom that pain. I lost my spouse just as our home nest was emptying and it was very depressing so after spending over 30 years together not only did my spouse choose to die I’m left behind alone our two young adults just starting their life out and we’re so mentally messed up bc he was also abusive emotionally to the kids but both to me and so now none of us are healthy after over 4 years. I cannot imagine losing a child. It’s my biggest fear. I wish you all the strength to get through tomorrow and then we’ll regroup for wishes to get through the following day. Hugs

      1. I don’t think you can say your pain or grief doesn’t measure up to mine because I lost a son and you lost a husband. It just hurts. And in your case the emotional abuse makes everything more complicated. I am so sorry. Suicide, which I assume is what you are talking about, is just hard. Because of that intention part. It feels like they chose to leave us. It’s not really that since most of them think the world would be better off without them. Let me know what kind of support you have tried or are thinking about. Thank you for being part of our tribe and commenting here.

    3. Hi Sally, my name is Anna Taff and our son died by suicide almost 2 years ago. I feel your pain. I remember how much support I had in the beginning , which I totally needed. Now I notice it’s so much less , it’s hard but I’m grateful for my family and close friends who still talk about and remember Jordan. It helps so much for sure. I think it’s part of the process. Take care and god bless you and your family ♥️

  3. This is spot on. After having discovered the magic of 12 Step recovery, it became clear to me that not only was it useless but also undesirable to attempt to seek support from anyone not grounded in a recovery program or a similar experience.

    Also, recovery/spirtual wisdom has definitely weeded some prople out. It clarified my innate need for deeper connection. I get that people don’t naturally know how to handle what frightens and confuses them, And also…I do not want to be in non-optional relations with those who throw up the wall. I refuse to shave off or hide big parts of my story and who I am to maintain(feign) “connection”. The irony of what I just said is not lost on me. Thanks for sharing. There really is nothing so comforting as a me too, OR even a I don’t get it but I am here and will do my best, even when it feels dark and scary. It takes courage to be emotioanlly naked. I am deeply into the courage and humility it takes to just show up and hold space.


    1. Maggie, thank you for speaking what’s been muffling at the edges of my brain for a few weeks now. It’s coming up on 2 years without Noah, and I’m more alone than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s not a good thing. The Rooms and circles I’ve been in, and past sponsors, have started popping up in my thoughts. They help, and have helped me understand what’s missing—deep connection after huge loss. We’re not supposed to ne so alone. Yet it’s daunting thinking about the action potential required to get up and out the door to help myself. To find a new circle and forge those connections. I just don’t know if I have it in me again, to start over again. This is languishing after tragedy, I think. Waiting for the energy to come. Anyway, thank you for bringing recovery into the conversation. It struck a cord. Annie

      1. That resonates with me, too. Sometimes I don’t know that I have the energy to push myself forward through all the rejection and push back that is so constant in the world of mental health, SUD, and suicide prevention.

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