• Quote of the Day
    "It’s not the size of the step that gets you there. It’s the fact that you’re taking the step."
    Mark Victor Hansen, posted by Daniel

SS8282

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A good friend of mine is in a bad place. Within a span of 2 weeks, someone he knows at work committed suicide, and another friend attempted suicide. My friend, who already has depression, is trying to cope. He feels a bit responsible, only because the person who attempted was his friend.

I've told him that he wasn't responsible, and he's doing everything he can to help his friend. He, my friend, has been telling me how he's been feeling and is now feeling guilty for being so 'down', and dragging me with him. I told him he can talk to me any time, and say anything he wants to say. He knows I'm there for him, and that it's ok for him to tell me how bad he feels, but no matter what I tell him, he can't seem to stop feeling guilty.

Now it's at the point where I don't know what to say any more. Seems like I can't help him feel better, about anything. I'm the only one he feels 'safe' enough to talk to. He's asking me to help him, but I don't know how. :eek:(
 

David Baxter

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I've told him that he wasn't responsible, and he's doing everything he can to help his friend. He, my friend, has been telling me how he's been feeling and is now feeling guilty for being so 'down', and dragging me with him. I told him he can talk to me any time, and say anything he wants to say. He knows I'm there for him, and that it's ok for him to tell me how bad he feels, but no matter what I tell him, he can't seem to stop feeling guilty.
This is sometimes the primary benefit of going to talk to a therapist, not matter how supportive your friends and family are.

The difference is that with a professional therapist, the individual doesn't have to worry at all about "dragging him or her down", "burdening him/her", "worrying him/her", etc. He also wouldn't have to worry about whether you or other people would think negatively about him for grieving or feeling depressed. The freedom one feels when being able to be completely open and honest, whether you're undburdening yourself or just venting, is quite amazing.
 

Eunoia

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I think you've pretty much done most of what you can do. You've listened and you're willing to continue to do so. That's what counts the most in a friendship if someone else is just willing to sit there and listen. So it's ok if you don't know what to say anymore. You can't change the way your friend feels about everything that happened so you're right in that no matter what you tell him it won't change his feelings. This is something he needs to work on himself, hence, David's suggestions makes a lot of sense. You can be a supportive friend and be empathetic, but you can't take on his burden as he can't take on his friend's burden.

It's good that he feels safe talking to you. Maybe you can go with him when he goes to talk to someone about this for the first time?
 

SS8282

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Thank you both for your suggestion. I have told him to talk to a professional, so I'll have to wait and see what happens. If I can figure out what he can do at night when the bad feelings are the most intense, that would be real good.
 

Eunoia

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hey. I had this huge response typed out and then the internet crashed. argh. anyways, basically I was saying that maybe you could provide him w/ specific resources, such as #'s for clinics, psychologists, other mental health workers etc. This will show him you care (which you obviously do) and give him that extra push and bring him that much closer to reaching out for professional help. Often, people have a difficult time actually going out there and finding the information that they need. He could also chose to contact one of the above without you knowing, thus if he wants your help he can tell you and if he'd rather do so by himself he knows you're ok w/ it and he has #'s to call.

Also, keep in mind what your job is as a friend and what the boundaries are. ie. you can be there for him by listening to him and trying to keep him distracted (ie. going to movies, dinner, out to watch a game) but you can only do so much, right? You can't be there for him 24/7, you can't make him be happy and that's not your job. If he is at a place where you are worried about his safety or he is acting really lethargic etc. make use of the resources that are available out there yourself to get him in the care of someone who is trained to deal w/ this. David has a post about suicide resources/hotlines which may give you some websites that also contain info about depression and how to deal w/ it, symptoms etc. Just make sure that you stay healthy through all of this too, b/c in the end it will be of no help to your friend if you end up feeling guilty about your friend being depressed and you not being able to help (this will just be a cycle of people feeling guilty about other people which will be of no use).

It sounds like you are doing a good job of being there for your friend (you said he trusts you and tells you things and you know he's "bad" at night). Keep on doing what you're doing, that's the best you can do. Don't give up. If you're consistant w/ your help, and non judgmental and willing to listen he will appreciate it more than you might even know. Good luck.
 

SS8282

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Great ideas Eunoia. Sorry about your computer crashing on you. That sux.

I didn't think of all that (resources, boundaries, etc.). You've given some things to think about. A problem, though, is that my friend lives very far away. 3 hours behind me. So there's no way I can be there for him physically. When he needs me the most (at night), I'm asleep. We talk on the phone, IM or email. I guess the boundaries can apply while we talk. I'll certainly talk to him about getting some numbers in case of a crisis.

Thanks for letting me know that I'm on the right track, even if I can't get him out of his depression.
 

Eunoia

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hey I just saw your reply. funny thing is one of my best friends lives 3 hours ahead of me. lol. we just try to be there for each other by email, IM, and phone. There's only so much you can do as you said if you're not physically there w/ the person, but it doesn't mean there's nothing that can be done. There's plenty you can do in terms of just making an effort to stay in touch via the above. I think as weird as it is sometimes, it's almost easier for me to tell my friend things b/c I know she cares but she's 3 hrs away, so it's "safer" in a weird way. I know I can trust her from previous history when she was here, but I don't have to worry about her worring about me 24/7 when she's around me b/c she's not. or how she or I will react when we see each other the next day etc. does that make any sense?

the internet is a wonderful thing (or can be) so you can probably still try to find contact info for places for him to go to/people to see even long distance. also, think of some nation wide, country-wide organizations that provide mental health help and information, they may have an office where he lives (assuming he lives in a bigger city)... if not I'm sure David could help you out w/ some contact info... he's good at finding those. I think your friend should look into some resources for a crisis but also just for now, to get things started so that it doesn't lead to a crisis. ie. why wait to fix a problem when it's really bad if you can start working on it now if you have the resources to do so??

I think it's his struggle to deal w/ his depression and feelings and I just wanted to make sure that you know you're not responsible for his well being in the sense that it's up to you to fix it (and you can't) but you are a great support while he's going through all of that....
 

SS8282

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Thanks Eunoia. Intellectually, I know I'm not responsible for my friend's depression. I can't seem to separate that fact from feeling that I need to be there for him when he's asking me for help.

I'm sure there's lots of resources where he is. It's a matter of whether he'll use them or not. He's very self-conscious, so I dunno.

You've been very helpful. Thank you.
 

SS8282

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Just heard today that my friend's friend tried to kill herself - again. My friend is frustrated because he doesn't know how to help her. Said it looks like she really doesn't want to live. Is it ever ok to 'give' up on someone to keep yourself from getting to be so down and safe?
 

Eunoia

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hey. sorry to hear about your friend's friend again and you having to worry about your friend as a consequence. It's really really difficult to deal w/ someone who genuinely does not want to live or is consistantly depressed/sucicidal... but in a way, even though it's exhausting and draining on you and your friend, think of what you would want people to do if that were you... somewhere deep down your friend's friend probably does want to live, but the point is you want people to care about you, right? wouldn't you want people to do everything in their power to help you? even if you didn't want that help? but isn't that what friends are for? I'm not saying it's your responsibility or your friend's responsibility to save everyone out there... but I do think as a friend you just have to try whatever is in your power to help someone especially if they are suicidal. Your friend should take her to a hospital if she is very suicidal which it sounds like she is b/c she tried to comitt suicide again or get her to at least go talk to someone about this. is she seeing anyone? does she have a therapist? does her family know and other close friends? who has tried to help her so far and how???

I think that it's not really that it's ok to "give up" on someone, but it's more figuring out your responsibility as a friend and figuring out what it is that you have to do to keep yourself safe and sane and with that comes being emotionally and mentally stable. If you mean safe as in that your friend feels suicidal as a result of this then no, he is in no position to help his friend. Your friend can bring his friend to a counselor but he can't fix her or her problems. Neither can you.

I was in this situation once w/ an anorexic friend who I tried to help for years...literally, and I talked to everyone that I could think of, people who were trained to help and just other people... friends, counselors, teachers... and no matter what I did it didn't help, which made me feel useless and it was VERY very hard to see her waste away. But I didn't understand that no matter what I did it was HER that had to take that step and say, ok, I am going to get help and I am going to make a change. She wouldn't even admit to me that she had a problem! All of that definitey did not put me in a state of mind where I was ok, and I saw others who knew and did nothing...which made no sense to me. So I guess what I'm saying is I think part of being a friend is to be there for friends but you can't do that completely at your own expense.
 

Daniel

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I know I'm not responsible for my friend's depression. I can't seem to separate that fact from feeling that I need to be there for him when he's asking me for help.

Yes, it almost seems like a paradox. It certainly feels like one. However, like Billy Joel says: "We didn't start the fire."

For many human problems, one can only guess what course of action is best for both oneself and others. Also, we all have our own limits and our ability to respond to others varies at different times. Even esteemed doctors have said on camera that after working so many hours on long shift, they may care more about going to sleep than helping patients. (Similarly, the worse time to have surgery is on a Friday afternoon.)


My friend is frustrated because he doesn't know how to help her.
Certainly, as others have said, the most important thing for the person who attempted suicide is getting professional help on a very frequent basis, including therapy. For example, some people with severe depression may have to see a therapist twice a week. If she refuses to go regularly to professional help, some sort of non-threatening intervention by family members or other friends may be a good idea, if possible. Also, she may need to be legally forced into hospitalization if she becomes openly suicidal in the future.

Eunoia said:
I saw others who knew and did nothing...which made no sense to me.
I was initially shocked when I saw this myself. When some "friends" feel that a relationship is no longer one of reciprocal altruism, they start to slowy back away even if their friend is sick or depressed. After all, even animals have "friends."
 

SS8282

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One of the saddest thing about the US is that you don't get the 'best' care if you don't have the 'right' insurance. The person who tried to kill herself have been on welfare, or the equivalent of. She had therapy in the hospital (first time around), but it didn't help. She tried the outpatient therapy - unfortunately, other people in the group teased her about her weight (although she' not *that* overweight). Her mother tried to help her, but there seems to be some kind of conflict between them. The friend is suppose to be evaluation in the next couple of days, so we'll see.

My friend went to visit her last night, but she was sleeping - heavily doped up, so he just left her a note and left.

I usually do agree in sticking with someone who is really 'stubborn' (for lack of better words) about not trying. I wish there was something that we can do to convince her to see that she needs to try.

Daniel, my mom has to have thyroid surgery by a surgeon who only operates on Fridays. However, my shrink said the surgeon is the 'best' they have at the hospital.
 

Daniel

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She tried the outpatient therapy - unfortunately, other people in the group teased her about her weight.

Hopefully, she will have more luck in the future with individual therapy. There are many good therapists that accept Medicaid, for example.
 

Eunoia

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I can't believe that people in the group made those remarks... didn't the person leading the outpatient group notice??? what kind of therapy environment is that!?!? anyways, I truly wish her the best and she just has to keep on trying and her friends have to keep on pushing her to try, b/c as difficult as things sound she does have things to live for even if it is to prove those people wrong and get better inspite of how stupid the medical system can be... but even w/ bad insurance, there are places that offer therapy and other kind of help....maybe the hospital has another outpatient group?
 

SS8282

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Maybe the 'authorities' did do something, but the damage was already done. I don't know. Also, all those negative comments might have been made outside of 'classes'. I too hope there is another outpatient group that would be nicer. She does have a lot of problems, but she is a nice person. Feel bad for her.
 

Eunoia

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true, the damage was done. but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to do this again, or that it was ok, or that if someone did notice and did nothing that this was ok. the amount of problems or the kind of problem someone has has nothing to do w/ how nice they are as a person. so as you said, she might have a lot of problems but she still deserves to be treated w/ dignity and get the help she needs. how is your friend doing? and you worrying about this and your friend?
 

SS8282

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Yeah, EVERYONE deserves to be teated nicely and with respect. I might hear something this week about her evaluation.

My friend is not doing well. He is feeling very down. He said he's always tired and doesn't have much energy. He used to have lots. He also has Seasonal Affective Disorder, which we think is compunding his feelings. I spent a long time, over an hour, trying to help him feel better. He said the only things that keep him going are his cat and me.

He does see a therapist, but not sure how helpful she is right now.

I love my friend and it's frustrating not being able to help.
 

Eunoia

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sorry to hear things are still frustrating. I guess again, you're doing all that you can do by being there for your friend. that's a huge load on you if he says you and his cat are the only things keeping him going, but it's also a huge compliment. in a way, that's what you want people to do, to find some reason worth living to to keep on fighting. and he's found those reasons. don't doubt yourself. just take care of yourself too.
 

SS8282

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Thanks, Eunoia. You're right - it is a big compliment, and I hope I can come through for him. In the meantime, I'm also trying to take care of myself too, like doing lots of window shopping. :eek:)
 

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