Hi again Scarleteen. I haven't been here in a while but I really need advice with something? I should give some background first. I'm sorry if this is a bit long.
Last time I was here I talked a bit about how I struggle a lot with depression/self-harm and anxiety. I've been in therapy for over 2 years now and not had an awful lot of progress, but one thing we found is part of the problem is my lack of any real social support. I went through all of 2009-2019 without any friends so I'm trying to work on that now. I've struggled to build any social relationships beyond shallow acquaintances that usually just make me feel drained and get that 'lonely in a crowd' feeling.
But now since I've changed universities I joined a club and over last year/this year have managed to connect a bit with 3 people which is really cool. It's the first time in a decade I feel like I might have actual friends (I'm an introvert so I don't need many). But it's not as simple as that.
My anxiety is really bad around people, and it gets worse the more I care about the person. I think it's because it matters more to me what they think or something? And because I'm more scared of losing them. So often around these 3 people it can be hard to connect with them because of that anxiety because it gets in the way. I've opened up to all of them about it (Somewhat) so they understand. Sometimes it gets really bad and I have a complete breakdown and end up thinking they hate me when they don't respond to my messages for a couple days. Then I ask them if they still like me, which I think makes them feel a bit awkward but they say they're still my friends so that's something. They're a fairly progressive group of people which helps.
But I think this still puts strain on our friendships. I know with depression you're supposed to reach out to friends but I think I might do that too much and push them away. One of these 3 people (I'll call her 'M') used to respond to my messages within a day but now she takes almost a week to do so. She mentioned once that it can be a bit emotionally taxing to talk about heavier stuff. I try my best to manage it but my depression is quite bad so I find it hard not to seem upset most of the time, sometimes the sadness just sort of 'leaks out' when I'm trying to talk about more fun stuff, it's hard. One of my other 3 friends, I'll call him 'A', has hinted at the same thing but was kind about it too, and both 'M' and 'A' still talk to me just... not as much as before. I think our friendship is stable but I worry about it sometimes that I might push them away. I'm trying to organize a picnic with them soon, that might be nice.
My third friend is who my question is mostly about though, I'll call her 'K'. I've only known her for a year just like the other two, and we haven't hung out an awful lot (But still hung out a couple times and talked a fair bit in person and over text). I know we *were* on good terms (She invited me to her birthday party last year) and we went out hiking just the two of us 2 months ago which was nice. But she sees more of my anxiety than the other two do. And it's gradually getting harder to talk to her. She's also less responsive to my messages now. A while ago I mentioned she was my best friend and she got distant after that and didn't want me to feel that way about her because she felt it was a lot of pressure. I talked about how I didn't expect her to feel the same way since she has people she's known for longer and I didn't mind and things got a bit better after that but she's still slightly more distant than before. Probably also because I'm so uncontrollably anxious around her.
The reason for that is because I developed feelings for her sometime last year and well... it's caused my oversensitive social anxiety to skyrocket out of control and it keeps getting worse. It's the first time I've truly had genuinely serious feelings for someone. So my question is about what to do here. I'm not sure if I should tell her how I feel.
Based on how she's a bit more distant I doubt she would have feelings for me too, but I can't be totally sure. I think if I told her how I feel then I'd feel less anxious because I wouldn't have to hide it from her or ever worry about if she has feelings for me too or not because... I would know, so maybe it would help our friendship. But on the other hand, I'm worried it will make us even more distant. She's only at uni for this year and then she graduates. 'M' thinks that if I tell 'K' I like her, that 'K' and I will probably be distant for a little while afterwards and well... I don't feel like I can afford to lose a friend with how my mental health is, and how hard it's been to make even 3 friends in like 10 years. If we drift apart now then she might not be at uni long enough for our friendship to recover. I really like 'K' a lot and don't want to lose her as a friend, but if I don't tell her about my feelings... it's really hard to be around her with all my anxiety. It's harder to be myself. And also it means I have this worry weighing me down all the time interfering with my life, which is bad now that I'm starting up uni again this month.
So I'm not sure if I should tell 'K' how I feel or not. I really love being ultra-honest and vulnerable with friends, it's a new thing I've started. I sort of hold myself to never telling a lie or hiding anything, even small stuff, or acting in a way that's not fully 'me' (If I can). Sometimes it means they know about my difficult mental health stuff but it also lets me be myself which I really struggle with and has helped me connect with these people and let them see the real me. Not telling 'K' that I like her is the only time I've ever really done the opposite with one of these friends: not being entirely open about something.
Do you have any advice? About literally anything at all. All comments/advice is welcome, I'm quite lost and scared.