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I'm optimistic, he's pessimistic - 6 yrs, it's over?


Friendship Having issues with a friend? Get it off your chest!

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Old 22nd July 2017, 9:50 PM   #1
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I'm optimistic, he's pessimistic - 6 yrs, it's over?

I don't know why this is bothering me but it is. I guess I miss the good times we used to have before his recent breakdown or whatever is going on.

So, for the first 5 and a half years, we got along pretty well. Had a good sense of humor with each other. Looked forward to hearing from each other. Then, a few months ago he changed drastically.

He started saying things like "why is humanity so horrible?" and "people are destroying everything". He was referring to terrorism and the environment.

...this was new.

At first I talked to him about it and I have a habit of having an optimistic attitude about things (not until after my morning coffee), even in the face of sometimes large and/or multiple obstacles. I just said what was on my mind, said my peace. I didn't push my opinion on him. Just told him how I see things.

When I first had a long conversation with him about how watching the news too much can get people down and the speed of information flying around thanks to social media and the internet can really bombard people with bad news, he got quiet. Really quiet. I think he didn't want to argue with me or something.

It was the first time since I knew him that he got quiet like that.

I noticed it. I thought it was strange. But...I ignored it thinking he had a bad week at work or whatever and it would blow over. It didn't.

Over the next few months, he'd only talk about the horror of humanity anymore. It was getting scary. The only thing he wanted to talk about were dead Rock stars and how upsetting it is, acts of terrorism and how horrible people are and how the environment is such a disaster. He made it sound like we all should've died months ago from an environmental catastrophe. I mentioned the people who were talking about colonizing Mars and said that would be great because the population got too high and spreading out is needed now, unlike a thousand years ago when the population was low. He said humans would destroy Mars and I asked him how since there's no oceans, no plants, no forests...not much to destroy besides rocks?

He stopped talking to me again.

It's as if I have to see his way or he can't even speak to me and his way sounds like a horror show!

He wasn't like this ever since I've known him. The first thing I noticed was he started calling himself ugly and old shortly before this all started.

It sounds like some kind of severe depression to me.

I miss the guy I used to know who was happy and I'm all for sticking with people through thick and thin but he has just shut down and shut me out multiple times when I don't agree that the whole world is chaos and a mess, miserable, scary and a disaster.

I'm not naïve. I don't see the glass as half full. Rather, I see solutions to problems. There's very few problems that can't be solved.

What has got me is him shutting down, going quiet and shutting me out. I give people their space. I don't chase people down. I've always felt that when someone is angry or frustrated, back off. I feel it's the respectful thing to do and chasing them down is pestering and wrong.

I have 2 things going through my mind. The recent suicides in the Rock scene and about 25 years ago, a close friend of mine was going through a hard time but did not tell me he was suicidal. Didn't mention it in any way. He walked out of the house when I was there, angry and fighting with his brother, left me there with his brother and committed suicide. I was in complete shock. I feel like I should've walked out the door with him when he was upset. My therapist told me I'm the most non-intrusive person she's ever met. While this sounds like a good thing, I think a few times in my life it was the worst trait I have.

Am I wrong for giving him space? Doesn't he sound suicidal or at least in a real bad way?

What would you do in this situation?
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Old 23rd July 2017, 11:15 AM   #2
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Hi,

It seems like you are having a reaction because of your past experience with your friend. That must have been very traumatizing!

I think your guy is going through a dark phase and there is not much you can do about it but listen to him about how terrible things are. Hopefully you can put up with it for a while until he gets over it.

If the past 5 and a half years were good, it seems he deserves a chance to wait till he starts seeing the world through rose colored glasses. It takes time.

Be patient and donīt let his grim views affect you, just be compassionate.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 2:53 PM   #3
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anytime a shrink tell you you're the most anything they've ever met, it means you're extreme in that direction. Traits are on a sliding scale, low to high and being at either end is usually not good of any given thing.

Your bf is going through something, although I have to say Trump being president with all the impending disasters that is creating has everyone worried. On the other hand, you seem to be unrealistic and stick your head in the sand rather than deal with reality.

So he's having to do the worrying for both of you.

Everything he has said sounds true. But how he's dealing with it is what's worrisome. Give him a month or so to see if he lightens up any. I have been depressed by the news before and it lasted a couple of months, and I was really disgusted with humanity during that time. It was all valid, but it just got to where it was one thing after another of things that were unjust and it got to me. I felt powerless.

Recommend he do something active on one of his causes so he doesn't feel anemic and helpless. Volunteer for veterans or police or community.

But don't act like he's inconveniencing you or bringing you down with these inconvenient truths. Anyone in their right mind is worried right now.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 6:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
It seems like you are having a reaction because of your past experience with your friend. That must have been very traumatizing!
I had no idea my friend walked out the door with a suicide note in his pocket and didn't find that out until the police told us. We thought he was murdered or there was some kind of accident but the cops said "no, we found this note in his jacket". We were all in a state of complete shock, including his girlfriend. The signs that were there? He was saying he didn't think his girlfriend loved him because he's not attractive like other guys and it was really getting him down. He was convinced of things like this before they started dating and she adored him but he couldn't see it. I knew he was in a bad place mentally but none of us knew how bad.

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Be patient and donīt let his grim views affect you, just be compassionate.
This is what was going through my mind after my original post. Having such a hands-off mentality with people and trying not to intrude or annoy anyone when they appear to want to be left alone is...I think making me appear as if I have no compassion. I never want anyone to feel as if I'm pushing my opinion on them because it's not my place to do so. I do wonder how this appears to the other person? Does it appear as if I don't care?
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Old 23rd July 2017, 7:36 PM   #5
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anytime a shrink tell you you're the most anything they've ever met, it means you're extreme in that direction. Traits are on a sliding scale, low to high and being at either end is usually not good of any given thing.
I thought this is a pretty fair assessment and I thought to myself, well...how many patients does she have? Oh. A lot. This actually is extreme.


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Everything he has said sounds true. But how he's dealing with it is what's worrisome. Give him a month or so to see if he lightens up any.
Ariadne said to give him time too.

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I have been depressed by the news before and it lasted a couple of months, and I was really disgusted with humanity during that time. It was all valid, but it just got to where it was one thing after another of things that were unjust and it got to me. I felt powerless.
You felt powerless? That's how he's been feeling. He says things like "why won't people stop doing such cruel things?" and he feels as if he can't stop all this cruelty going on in the world but wishes he could. Like this is so much bigger than he is. He hasn't said much about Trump or anything related to him other than he doesn't like him but when someone drives a van into a crowd, there's a bombing somewhere or he finds out about people slaughtering people somewhere, he falls apart. Lately this is just our every day anymore so there's plenty of fuel to constantly stoke his fire of anger, upset and powerlessness.

I wonder if part of why this is really getting to him is the fact that he's 6 and a half feet tall, in great physical condition and (not intentionally) looks kind of scary to people who don't know him because of the way he dresses and has a goatee down to his chest. He's not your average Joe looking guy and he's a gentle giant but at first glance, he appears larger than life and is a presence in a room. I think he's used to having power over people just by walking into a room and also being one of the strongest guys around, used to handling situations and taking care of others. He's usually the big rescuer. He has no real power over terrorism or the recent deaths and suicides going on. I think this stuff makes him feel way out of his wheelhouse.

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Recommend he do something active on one of his causes so he doesn't feel anemic and helpless. Volunteer for veterans or police or community.
I wasn't sure if I'd be overstepping a boundary recommending anything. Normally this doesn't cause any problems for anyone but on a rare occasion I think it is. Most times people like how I won't push an opinion on them or any ideas of mine but once in a blue moon, I think it's something they wish I would actually do.

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But don't act like he's inconveniencing you or bringing you down with these inconvenient truths. Anyone in their right mind is worried right now.
So far I haven't acted like he's inconveniencing me in any way. I've shown some compassion, I think. I do think, in America we've got a long list of suicides and overdoses in celebrity circles going back to Hendrix, Joplin and Jim Morrison and for me, this is just a continuation of that. I take it in stride. I don't like it. I think we should change our mentality here about it. But, I appear so aloof. Like I don't really care. When I hear about another one, it probably appears as if I just heard an ice-cream flavor got cancelled by Ben & Jerry's. "Wow. That sucks. Drugs suck. I'm going to take the dog for a walk. Want anything from 7-11?"

It's not that I don't care. If I felt a lot about every suicide, every overdose, every death, every starving child in a third world country and every act of terrorism, I know for sure I'd be so deep in a pit of despair I would be overwhelmed and jump in front of a train or something. I can't do any good in this world dead. So, I have to protect myself from this stuff emotionally so that I'm capable of doing good things.

He seems like he's in a scary place mentally and emotionally and doesn't know what to do with me.

I think I need to show more compassion. Feeling it and showing it are 2 different things.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 8:56 PM   #6
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I'm of the Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison generation and I can tell you that I was VERY depressed when Joplin died and also Hendrix. For some reason, I barely remember when Morrison died. Maybe I didn't know it until later. I mean, you'd have thought Joplin was my best friend I took it so personally. On the other hand, with Sid and Kurt, I was like, I'm surprised they lasted this long. Marc Bolan killed me. They all just had so much more to do.

As far as broaching the subject of volunteering to try to help with something, why don't you ask him to do it WITH you and pick something that would be his cause. It will make him feel he has your support and might be good for him. Now, if he says no, he is kind of stuck in place and may get more mired if he's not willing to get out of the mud and at least try things.

When the news gets to the point I'm obsessing and making myself unhappy, I have been known to stop watching it for LONG periods of time, like entire Republican presidencies once or twice. And not saying it's the responsible thing to do but it was ruining my day every day. It kind of is now too but who can not watch this three-ring circus?

See if you can at least get him away from news a little. I guess he's also feeding it on the internet. I do that, too. I imagine my twitter friends hate me because all I tweet are retweets of wanted criminals and crime stories and then dogs and cats.

Can you possibly take off on a vacation to clear his head, whatever gives him serenity. For me, it's being on or in the water. But whatever works to bring him back to his primal self. Good luck.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 10:16 PM   #7
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I love what Preraph has written and I agree with so much of it. I've got just a couple of other thoughts:

Have you ever read or watched Alain de Botton regarind the news cycle? It's worth looking up and watching together. Here's one clip where he's talking about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4aAJrJB6h0 or if you want a podcast interview, go here Philosopher Alain de Botton challenges our need for news - Conversations - ABC Radio or to your favourite podcast app. Don't suggest it to your guy in order to help him cope, but rather, introduce it as something someone online told you to watch. I will be that person - it's fascinating stuff! And as an aside, it really helps to bring everything back in context. Most importantly, my own over indulgence in news dropped off after listening to him. This included not turning on the evening news and changing my social media feeds so that I wasn't receiving so much politics.

I agree that he might feel like he's shouldering all the worries for both of you. I know you like to think of yourself as being an optimist who looks for solutions, but let's face it, Mars really isn't a solution at this point in time. TBH, I'd also get pissed if Mars was someone's response to the climate change crisis. A better solution would be to do what you can for the environment at home and get involved in environmental groups.

I really think you need to listen to his concerns. Listen without offering what sound like glib responses. Perhaps talk together about what can be *realistically* done and how he or both of you can contribute to the solution.

In the case of dying rock stars, nothing can really be done. But he's grieving and it's not unreasonable to be able to have an outpouring of emotion over the event. I haven't been so much affected by the deaths of rock stars, but I remember the death of Princess Diana sending me reeling. In that case, reading the news articles helped me through the grief process because I didn't feel so alone in my sadness.
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Old 31st July 2017, 7:23 PM   #8
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I was very sad about Di, too. I felt like one of our greatest forces for good had been snuffed out.

I would just add about "positivity" that I have a friend who considers herself very positive, but the truth is she contradicts people every time they broach a topic from the real world, and contradicting everyone in the name of positivity is really one of the most negative things a person can do. I had to finally climb up her butt about it. It can really be annoying, so it's anything but positive.

I have a friend whose husband is a crazy ranter, and I advised her to just repeat back paraphrased a bit of what he said to show she's listening in the hope he won't feel he has to continue to repeat it over and over at least. Doesn't mean you agree. But you don't have to contradict and challenge everything.

The world simply isn't all unicorns and rainbows, and pretending won't make it so. Expression is healthy, but as I said before, if it gets extreme or lasts too long, it can be a red flag. Also, if it's a radical change from how a person was before and this is the first time they've been like this, you have to look at the timing of it and see if anything personal happened right before it started that might have triggered it. Also, you have to look at physical things, like a head injury, which can totally change a person's personality, and look at prescription drugs and of course other substances.
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