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How to help a friend who seems to be always miserable? (1 Viewer)

Tyrannohotep

Senior Member
I have an online friend who has a pattern of expressing what appears to be chronic pessimism about his lot in life. He's in his late twenties and is studying in college, which he believes has taken him longer than usual due to a combination of being on the autism spectrum and having some kind of learning disability. Careers he has shown interest in include animation, voice acting, and writing, but he doesn't think he would succeed at any of them and acts disillusioned once he finds out about the difficulties in each industry. In addition, he's also frustrated that the art and stories he posts online don't get as much attention as he wants (FWIW, I think the quality of his creative work is alright, though there's always room for improvement). Overall, my friend seems to think he's screwed for life and constantly complains about it on social media.

As someone who's also on the autism spectrum, I can relate to some of his struggles. I have a few modest successes under my belt (e.g. graduating from UCSD, earning a second degree in video game design at a now-defunct tech school, and finishing a short novel which I am trying to get published), but I know all too well that living with autism comes with its challenges which can be discouraging. Nonetheless, I must admit I am getting more than a bit tired of my friend's habitual whining and self-pitying. I want to help him in some way so that he doesn't feel so down on himself, but how?
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Sometimes people just have to find their own way through. There could be myriad reasons - many of which he is not telling you and may not be fully aware of himself (just because human rather than autism) - that feed into his feeling about himself. I guess all you can do is listen nonjudgmentally when it is suitable to do so. It's very easy to get sucked into the old vortex of despair but I'm not aware of any case where that's actually helped anyone. People need to have, and do often come to, their own realisations.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
Just hang in there and be a friend and offer encouragement when you think he or she genuinely needs it and isn't just seeking attention. Also use your judgement and make sure your friend isn't taking advantage of you -- sometimes needy people can really affect your well-being, so you've got to set your boundaries. Good luck to both of you.
 

River Rose

Senior Member
Life is hard. We experience,joy,love,loss,hardships. There is just no way around it. Just let them know u are there. No huge gestures needed. Just genuinely letting your friend know u are there to support them without judgement. Sitting with them when the need it. God speed to both of u on your path.
 

River Rose

Senior Member
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SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I have an online friend who has a pattern of expressing what appears to be chronic pessimism about his lot in life. He's in his late twenties and is studying in college, which he believes has taken him longer than usual due to a combination of being on the autism spectrum and having some kind of learning disability. Careers he has shown interest in include animation, voice acting, and writing, but he doesn't think he would succeed at any of them and acts disillusioned once he finds out about the difficulties in each industry. In addition, he's also frustrated that the art and stories he posts online don't get as much attention as he wants (FWIW, I think the quality of his creative work is alright, though there's always room for improvement). Overall, my friend seems to think he's screwed for life and constantly complains about it on social media.

As someone who's also on the autism spectrum, I can relate to some of his struggles. I have a few modest successes under my belt (e.g. graduating from UCSD, earning a second degree in video game design at a now-defunct tech school, and finishing a short novel which I am trying to get published), but I know all too well that living with autism comes with its challenges which can be discouraging. Nonetheless, I must admit I am getting more than a bit tired of my friend's habitual whining and self-pitying. I want to help him in some way so that he doesn't feel so down on himself, but how?

I have found, over my vast years :), that sometimes people who complain about their lives so consistently are really seeking attention. I don't mean this in a negative way, but as someone who has seen a friend or two go down this path, this might be helpful. They find that if they talk about their perceived failures enough, they get sympathy and compassion, unlike what they might get if they didn't complain. Its like a dance. One person says they are sad, the other tries to console. The sadder they are, the more consoling - and attention - they get. Eventually, they begin to believe their only value is as someone who has failed miserably.

My suggestion would be to try and focus on any success this person may have experienced, even if its just having a nice smile, which makes everyone feel good. Try to give less attention when he is in a funk. Of course, offer compassion, but don't allow him to wallow. Find a way to show him more success at a relationship when he is happy. Maybe ask him for his opinion on some problem you may be facing. You say you are on the spectrum as well; what issues have you had to face? How have you gone through your struggles without sinking into depression?

This is just an idea; a suggestion. You are a good friend, Tyrannohotep. :)
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I am also on the autism spectrum (Asperger to be precise late diagnosis). I try hard to overcome my limitations. Depression is a stage (not literally but figuratively speaking). Therapy is just one way out of it. Friends make for good therapy. Tell him to own a pet. Tell him to do what he enjoys doing. Some of us don't have emotional intelligence and there is no way in knowing. It's only when you deal with life crises badly, and that is when a psychologist should intervene, and he should be vocal about it (say what he feels during a crisis which often isn't the case). He's got to get a grip with life or more difficulties won't be easy to be avoided. Everyone is unique in their own way. Depression is when you have no energy to do things you enjoy. One symptom could be to stay in bed, not do your chores, not have a good attention span in my case to do things (not concentrating and doing work because of depression). Also, church is good therapy according to my doctor if he isn't an atheist. They aren't intrusive treatments (no medicine needed). He must have some other interests he is not talking about. I tried to make a friend today but wasn't successful. I also don't think it's necessarily whining. It's the cold facts. I think anime is very broad, and is another hobby. My sentence logic and especially my paragraph logic isn't very good. It's an area that needs the right attitude. How you deal with emotions is important. Had I reacted differently in my past to some misfortunes I would be a very healthy person today. Coping with ordinary circumstances such as the death of a friend, family, and so forth is important. He needs to manage his emotions. He needs to seek help when it's important. My psychiatrist said I had no emotional intelligence. I think your friend shouldn't compare himself to others. Remember social cues are lost in the autism spectrum. So is emotion. My more specific advice is if you make any new friends with similar interests to introduce him. Always try to socialize. I have a big family. Think of the positives. What about the negatives? The brain forgets them eventually so if you relent it is best the brain forget them permanently by itself (grips in life such as crises, mine looked small on the surface such as bullying but were much bigger on their impact). These are normal complaints. Let him be social outgoing or encourage this. Socializing destroys depression. Do socialize with hobbies. Video games are ways to make friends. Don't let him close off to people. That's when things get worse. If someone is abusive to him, that's when you should have someone intervene. Any life crisis merits it.

Eventually writing is a complex hobby. You only get as much out of it as much of an effort as you put in it. For example, I wrote lots of planning notes today. The creative process of every person is different. Some are outliners and some planners so him criticizing his writing is without merit in a good way.

The more sports you practice the less depression you will get. Exposure to sunlight is key. I bought an ipod for Christmas to manage my depression even more than now. So that I could walk in the sunlight around my house which can ease depression.

Always get medical advice when things get out of hand. Even with all this advice followed to the letter. With the pandemic life can be a bit unpredictable.

Your friend being frustrated at those hobbies is normal. These are complex hobbies. He has some same goals in life I had when younger. For a teacher's portfolio I was once asked to write what my future aspirations were and his interests are not uncommon.

We don't seek attention. Rather I think suec nailed down why I sometimes say things and people think I complain. We all go through stages. I think of it as a pyramid.

The brain when depressed gets stressed. Avoid stress. It's a ticket to other diseases. Be optimistic with how you tackle goals. Be an example. Avoid cynicism. The more pessimistic you are, the more negative your reaction could be in the future. I when to a psychotherapist which I translated from my mother tongue. I think that profession can give help and should if things get out of hand. Above all he needs to protect himself, but knowing managing emotions is the best way to stay healthy and is the main point I want to make. Avoid stress and embrace life's positives.

In the event if the doctors say he needs medicine he has to take it and cannot drop it. Because many lives have ended by not taking medicine. Some friend of my mother's had killed himself since he didn't want to take medicine. I never knew him. He suffered from a fear of crowds.

For every mistake you could have made I hope this all makes sense. Autism is about coping with emotions, stress, and more. Psychotherapy deals with this. Always check with the law if he is disabled. You would need a lawyer for that in the USA.
 
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aj47

(he/him)
WF Veterans
Adulting is hard. Different parts are harder or easier depending on the individual.

A couple of things to note here. First, the kinds of things that your friend wants to do require skills. Skills need to be practiced. This process is iterative -- mistakes are made, the reasons are reflected upon, and the approach is updated based upon the reflection. And then there's a different kind of mistake and the process repeats.

Second, make sure the mundane needs are met. Ask your friend when they last had a glass of water, a full meal, moved around, did something they enjoyed. I realize we live under capitalism, but our worth and worthiness is not about our occupation.

Good luck.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Expressing feelings is always important to get a signal as or clue as to what is going on in the person's mind (especially in times they experience trouble). To know their emotional health. I think that is the point of therapy such as the psychotherapist or therapy at all. I know I briefly visited one that wanted a lot of money for her services. She was teaching me one of her lectures on depression for coping skills. In previous therapy sessions they also gave me advice.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Can you explain this to me? How does one's worth or worthiness change by geography?

Worth or worthiness doesn't. But some areas may more involved in class distinction than others. It's not just California, though. There are snobs all over. His reply was a bit of accuracy mixed with a dollop of tongue in cheek.
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
There was a time when I looked for help, people, I complained, I told them I was sick and I was depressed.
The result?
just a hug. I needed help, not a hug.
But maybe even having toxic friendships is wrong, they don't help.
Life has taught me, that people who complain, do not like and nobody.
I see my dreams walking in the lives of others, while I sink, and often I don't want to fight.
Often, we live in a toxic environment.
Change, the city, can help.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
So you get up tired in the morning.
To face the day, take some Valerian, sighs, reminding yourself that alcohol is no help.
Fight with anger, because you hate yourself, reminding yourself that it is useless to hurt yourself.
Now I have learned, I shut up, I smile, I pretend that everything is fine, and I don't say anything to anyone.
I have eliminated all social media, limited contacts with people.
There are few people in my life now, but wonderful.
I removed, toxic people. It is always a small step.


There is no exact answer.
All pain is personal, Stay close to your friend. Don't leave your friend alone. But Leave them their spaces. Look for something that makes him feel good, even if it may seem silly. Even 10 minutes of relaxation and relief make the difference.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Like LadySilence said, what everyone needs is going to be different. How long one has suffered plays into it, too. I have ... issues of my own that I've been battling since my late teens and what I hear most commonly are the usual cliche sayings like "it gets better" or "everything will be okay." I don't doubt that people truly mean well when saying them, but the problem is that when you hear them so many times and nothing seems to get any better, those sayings pretty much become meaningless. What helped calm me down the most during one of my worst spells was striking up a conversation with the deputy called to my house about the gun he carried, whether he preferred using flashlight handheld or mounted to the gun, what shooting stance worked best for him, etc. So my advice would be avoid the cliches I mentioned above and turn the conversation to the positive aspects of his interests.
 
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