• Quote of the Day
    "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
    John Wooden, posted by David Baxter

FriendinNeed

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My friend has several problems she's probably depressed, but doesn't show it if she is, she's an anorexic, she starves herself and weighs a low 82lb at age thirteen, I know 9yr olds that weigh more than that. She cuts herself, and injures herself when she's angry, she almost broke her arm in what she says were 'a series of unfortunate accidents' even to her parents, but she really was smashing her arm down hard on counters and tables. She lies so much about even minor things, when she injures herself she makes up excuses, and her parents don't even suspect anthing. And soon, she is going to jump off of a cliff, but I don't think she is trying to kill herself with this, I think it's just a zany stunt, considering she's bringing a cellphone and a friend incase she gets hurt but her friend doesn't know what she plans to do, and she won't tell me who she's taking, but she is looking forward to getting hurt, she wants to ride in an ambulance. I promised I wouldn't tell, which was probably a mistake, but what should I do?
 

David Baxter

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FriendinNeed said:
she is going to jump off of a cliff, but I don't think she is trying to kill herself with this, I think it's just a zany stunt, considering she's bringing a cellphone and a friend in case she gets hurt but her friend doesn't know what she plans to do, and she won't tell me who she's taking, but she is looking forward to getting hurt, she wants to ride in an ambulance. I promised I wouldn't tell, which was probably a mistake, but what should I do?
First, it may only be a zany stunt but it is a dangerous one and from what you describe she has a history of dangerous self-destructive behaviors. There are times when there is something more important than keeping a promise - this is one of them. Ask yourself this: you know what she is planning to do -- if this stunt should end up killing her, or paralyzing her, or injuring her and causing permanent brain damage, how are you going to feel, knowing you could have intervened and prevented it?

As a psychologist, I am sworn to protect the privacy and confidentiality of my clients. However, there are three limits to this, on of which is "imminent risk of harm to self or others", meaning that if I receive any information suggesting that in the immediate future one of my clients intends to harm herself/himself or another person, I am obligated to take whatever steps I can to prevent that happening. I think you are now in a similar situation.

The other things you mention - anorexia, cutting, self-injury - are also dangerous. Is your friend receiving any counseling or psychotherapy for this? She should be...
 

FriendinNeed

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No, she's not, few other people know about her problems, and of that few I'm probably the only one that cares. She hides her anorexia simply by wearing loose shirts, she disguises her cuts by putting them on her feet/legs and hands/arms which is where her puppy nips her and cat attacks her. We are going back to school soon, and I think it's school that causes some of the problems, because for a while in the summer, she gave up everything but the anorexia, which I don't think she could get over without help, even if she tried. I know where she is going to go to jump from a cliff, we often go there together, it's a dry creek bed, there are several things there that could cause harm, such as cactus's or rattlesnakes. Far down the creek is where she is probably going to jump from, it's where it'd be highest, I have a picture scanned of the place I'm thinking of. But who should I talk to, the three most obvious for me would be her parents, my parents, or the police.
 

David Baxter

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FriendinNeed said:
But who should I talk to, the three most obvious for me would be her parents, my parents, or the police.
1. If you have a good relationship with your own parents, start with them - they can help you with what needs to be done or give you advice on what to do and how.

2. If you are uncomfortable talking to your own parents, the next best choice would be her parents.

3. The last choice would be the police - it's not a nice thing to have the police show up at your door and may cause other problems for her and her family - and there's not much they can do except say, "are you going to jump off a cliff?', and if she says no, it basically stops there, unless they arrive at the cliff just as she's about to do it

4. another option (better than the police) might be Children's Aid or whatever they call it in your area (Child Protection Services, similar names)

5. still another option might be a teacher or guidance counsellor in your area, if they are back yet (I know school starts at different times in some US states and some of the teachers or principals are in the school 2-3 weeks before term starts.
 

FriendinNeed

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I talked to my parents and hers this afternoon, but I wish I would have done it sooner, she went down to the creek with her two dogs today, no one else as far as I know, and she would have jumped but she said she couldn't get down there because of mud, it's been raining alot lately. I first showed my parents the letter she wrote, it was more of a contract saying that she promised to jump, she had her signature at the bottom, my parents later called her parents and I talked to them over the phone and in person. She is totally mad at me and won't talk to me at all, but I guess I probably did the right thing, but I do hope she'll get over it and we can be good friends again 'cause I feel bad.
 

David Baxter

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I know it must be difficult for you to have her mad at you but you did do the right thing... even if she doesn't think so at the moment. The important thing is that you did what you could to make sure she's safe. Maybe now that her parents realize what she was planning they may get help for her - it doesn't sound like she isn't very happy with herself or her life right now.

For now, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that you did what a true friend would do. One day, she'll realize that too.
 

FriendinNeed

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Her parents called today because they promised to keep me updated since they are 'happy' that I told them, though happy may not be the right word since they were devastated to learn this information. Apparently she had a knife or other type of sharp object hidden in her room, because her parents said she needed several stiches after slicing her leg open about a quarter-inch deep from ankle to knee. They also said she was acting weird, that she would go into their basement for hours and bring up a few random items, including a slate of glass which they say she has been treating like a child. They said that she had stopped eating and drinking completely other than ice cubes and some water, and she had been exercising on their in-home gym for hours at a time. I went over there, which was probably a mistake on my part, she answered the door, looked at me in shock for about 2 seconds then slammed the door in my face, I did see the very large bandage covering most of her right leg. Is this stuff normal, or is she probably up to something, should I, or her parents, be concerned?
 

David Baxter

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FriendinNeed said:
Is this stuff normal, or is she probably up to something, should I, or her parents, be concerned?
It doesn't sound "normal" to me. However, it seems that her parents are already concerned and I assume that, now that they know, they will take whatever steps are necessary to get help for their daughter.

I would guess that there isn't very much else you can do right now - at least until she stops being angry with you.

Again, you'll need to remind yourself that you have been a real friend to her - she just doesn't realize it yet but she will in time.
 

sammy

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Well done FriendinNeed... you have done the right thing... she may not be talking to you now... but if she had jumped, she may not have been able to talk to you ever again.

Yes, her parents will now have to decide what to do... it's not your responsibility now... try to let it go...
 

FriendinNeed

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From what I've heard things are just getting worse, they had her see somebody, but all she would say, and has been saying since is, 'It's none of your business'; 'Just leave me alone'; and other things along that line. They said she's still living off ice and water, and they had to remove the lock from her door because she kept locking them out.
And because of what's going on with my friend now, my mom's accusing me of the same things due to my 'bad behavior' which is when I went biking at the creek, got stuck in mud up to my knees and had to be pulled out by two guys, who gave me a ride home, though she doesn't know that. And because the day after that I got caught in a tornado-producing storm with my dogs without the cellphone, but I was welcomed into a kid from my school's house who's dad, an off-duty fireman, gave me a ride home. She thinks I'm anorexic like my friend because I passed up a chocolate bar which I've always done because I'm an athelete and it only slows me down. And that night she gave me some sort of warning of "You better quit what you are doing" but I have no clue what she ment by that. Now I feel even worse about telling the stuff about my friend. If this is what my friend was going through before then I understand why she wanted to jump off a cliff and cut herself.
 

David Baxter

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First, regarding your friend, the important thing is that her parents and others are now aware of the problem and they will keep an eye on her. She may not want the help she is being offered yet but the problem is out in the open. Again, you did the right thing, even if it doesn't feel that way yet. You are a FriendinDeed...

Second, regarding your parents/mom, try to understand that when parents learn about something like this they often get frightened - you may know that they don't need to worry about you but they are frightened and they don't know that for sure yet. What is happening is an indication that they love you and are worried about you - it may be annoying but try to see it in that way - in time, your parents will realize that they don't need to worry that you are going to do what your friend did...
 

sammy

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Yeh, your mom just loves you and sounds normal...
you'll never be a mom,:) but I am, I have a 14 yr old son, and that sounds normal... she cares- that's good, ...
 

FriendinNeed

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I'm finally semi-happy about telling.
She called me today, which was a huge surprise for me, it wasn't an apology for how rude she has been to me since, it was better, she told me a dream she had, relating to what has been going on lately, but I have to admit it was incredibly weird, but not laugh-weird, just plain funky-weird. It was about her getting help in a police station/petstore, and me helping her out. She sounded strange though, like she was sad, very quiet. And her parents said that ate a slice of bread along with ice and water, which isn't that great, but it's probably a ok start if she's going to turn her life around for the better. Even with this sudden change my mom's accusing me of the same things and many more, and I feel it will only get worse if she sees the damage on my left hand and left leg, which wasn't my fault. On my hand I sat down to give my dogs a break from walking since it was very hot outside and I scraped the back of my hand on the concrete, leaving a bloody wound about an inch and a half around in every direction. And my dog which only weighs 10lbs less than me starting chasing a rabbit while I had the leash wrapped tightly around my wrist(was too painful to wrap around my hand) and the rabbit ran under some barb wire, my dog running behind it dragged me around next to the wire, the wire cutting three long wounds across the side of my leg, each about a quarter inch deep. Though she hasn't noticed any of these cuts and scrapes and it's been hours, I think if she does she'll take me to the hospital and won't think I'm telling the truth.
 

David Baxter

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As a parent and a psychologist who works with parents and teens, I want you to know there is a huge difference between a parent worrying that you're not telling the truth and a parent really believing that you're not telling the truth - if it is the truth, I think most parents can see that in their hearts... sometimes, that doesn't stop them worrying though.
 

FriendinNeed

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We've gone back to school, and I see her in the halls occassionally, she talks to me sometimes, though more often then not she just ignores me and everyone else, including the teachers she already has two weeks of after-school detentions lined up. I've never seen her in the cafeteria which is really no surprise since from the third grade to the now 8th grade she's never eaten lunch, and has rarely eaten breakfast. One thing that scares is that she has a absolutely huge black purple and sort of a yellowish-orange colored bruise right square on the side of her jaw. She won't tell me or anyone else what happened, even when the principal asked while being nosey, that's where some of the detentions probably came from. It makes me want to cry seeing her this way, last year she'd talk to absolutely anybody, and she had straight A's in every class, now she's almost down to all C's if I could guess. According to her parents things are just getting worse, and like I said, she won't talk to hardly anybody. She seems to be completely changing but the only thing I notice changing is her behavior, and that's completely obvious. I've been lying or just walking away from people that ask me what is wrong with her, I"d feel bad telling them the truth and it would probably make things worse.
My mom did notice the cuts, she overreacted and took me to the emergency room, she didn't know what had happened until the doctor asked after I got some stitches, ever since she's just kind of been looking at me then looking down and sighing just loud enough for me to hear, she won't even look me directly in the eye and has been suspicious of what I'm doing. By reflex I have a tendancy to close the window on the computer I'm looking at the second someone opens my door or knocks, and this always gets her angry since I often can't get back to the page I was on. When she won't look directly at me it makes me feel guilty, like I did something I wasn't supposed to and don't know about it.
 

David Baxter

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FriendinNeed said:
We've gone back to school, and I see her in the halls occassionally, she talks to me sometimes, though more often then not she just ignores me and everyone else, including the teachers
She knows you are there to talk when she wants/needs to -- that's about all you can do for now...

It makes me want to cry seeing her this way, last year she'd talk to absolutely anybody, and she had straight A's in every class, now she's almost down to all C's if I could guess. According to her parents things are just getting worse, and like I said, she won't talk to hardly anybody. She seems to be completely changing but the only thing I notice changing is her behavior, and that's completely obvious.
It's sad but sometimes you have to let people bottom out before they will accept help or even admit to themselves that they need it.

I've been lying or just walking away from people that ask me what is wrong with her, I"d feel bad telling them the truth and it would probably make things worse.
It's best to make a general comment something like, "I'm not really sure - she's having some problems but I don't know all the details", and leave it at that. It really isn't their business anyway and it's not up to anyone else but your friend to decide who gets to know what's going on. Telling your parents and hers was necessary to stop her hurting herself. Anything else would be really invading and betraying her privacy.

As for your mom, my guess is she's just worrying about you and worrying that you are hiding things from her and she just doesn't know how to talk to you about her worries. This isn't really a bad thing - just try to find ways to reassure her she doesn't need to worry about you.
 

FriendinNeed

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Things are sort of getting better; at school she slammed me against the lockers and demanded that we talked, and after school we sat and talked for about an hour at the park. She told me about what was going on with her and she showed me where she had sliced her leg which really looked disgusting. By the end she was almost in tears and was 'hugging' her knees. But she said she felt like she wanted to just cut her throat and end all the pain, but she also added that she wouldn't, and she said her parents were treating her differently, sounded like the same way my mom is treating me. After she stopped talking she grabbed her stuff and just left, acting like she hated me again.
I dug myself deeper in a hole as far as it goes with my mom. I was walking out on a street where I knew a police officer lived because there was usually a cruiser or police SUV in the driveway, I had also stopped and talking to the kids around my age there. Well I had walked much further than I could handle and was sitting on the curb a few houses down and was eating Lucas Limon Salt-Seasoning, and didn't have the wrapper on the tube it came in. It was crushed and powdery so I could eat it in smaller amounts because it was so sour. Well the police officer down the street came over because it was sprinkling slightly and I was eating the salt, he thought it was drugs and took me home in the police car, and talked to my mom about the 'illegal substance', now, not only is my mom extremely suspicious of everything I do, but she searched my room and grounded me for life, atleast that's what she said, without hearing my side of the story.
 

sammy

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It sounds like your friend at least, wants to, needs to, talk to someone... but perhaps it needs to be someone other than yourself, as you have had enough to deal with...
Why didn't the police officer just taste the stuff you were eating, sounds the sensible way to me- just to check rather than accuse...
maybe he was just concerned that you looked very weary or something?
 

David Baxter

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sammy said:
It sounds like your friend at least, wants to, needs to, talk to someone... but perhaps it needs to be someone other than yourself, as you have had enough to deal with...
or maybe she just needs to communicate on her own terms - some years ago when one of my sons was troubled, I found it worked best if I just let him know I would listen whenever he felt like talking but didn't try to pressure him at all -- it worked...

Why didn't the police officer just taste the stuff you were eating, sounds the sensible way to me- just to check rather than accuse...
maybe he was just concerned that you looked very weary or something?
The fact that he took FriendInNeed home suggests it wasn't really an accusation - it doesn't sound like s/he had any intention of laying charges - so I suspect you're right, sammy, in that it may have been more a concern than anything else.

If I put myself in your mom's shoes, though, FriendInNeed, I'd have to say that without knowing anything about what you are thinking and feeling in your own head, I'd be worried too -- even with your explanations, your mom must have an impression of you wandering around in unusual places by yourself and getting unusual cuts and scrapes al of a sudden, which coming on the heels of what she now knows about your friend must be quite alarming to her... she is probably wondering what the heck is happening to you, and usually once that starts (once a parent starts thinking, "I don't know if I know my child at all any more -- what if I am missing some critical information?"), the usual thought is "s/he could be doing anything and I wouldn't have a clue". That's probably why she is suddenly suspicious of everything you do.
 

FriendinNeed

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I have returned with bad news, my friend broke her leg two days ago and was almost killed, I don't know the full story but I was told that she was in a crash of two four-wheelers down in the creek, she's not back in school, infact I've heard she is still in the hospital, possibly in intensive care. From what I have heard from her parents she is begging for forgiveness for all she's done, which really gives me a shakey feeling, it makes me feel strange just thinking about it, expecially since I had been planning to go down there with her and a few other friends before I was grounded.

The officer never pressed charges, I probably did look suspicious considering I was over 3 miles from my house, I was wearing baggy dark colored clothes, a baseball cap, no shoes, and had headphones on. And my mom, aswell as teachers patroling the cafeteria at school, is now even more concerned because I am refusing to eat completely, it's not my fault though, I went to the orthadontist and they put spacers in and I have to get 6 teeth pulled, it's too painful to chew. I agreed to eat apple-sauce but I don't think that helped at all. And I'd figure she'd be used to me being injured by now, it's not that I do it on purpose, I'm just not careful, I already have a problem with my left arm due to injury, so I can't really move it alot, I hold it like you would a arm in a sling by habut, and coordination with it is completely off, so I don't see why she makes such a big deal about a few scratches.
 

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