Author Topic: What would you do? Friends and mental health  (Read 8230 times)

Lis

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What would you do? Friends and mental health
« on: October 01, 2014, 03:58:26 PM »
This is going to get a little ranty... apologies in advance.

I have a friend who just makes bad decision after bad decision. She's in her youngish 30s currently has a BA in some art that she later decided was useless. She went on to get a masters in a field she has no interest in being in (and isn't very employable). She got a job as an admin in a financial firm, got married, got divorced, and quit her job because 'she deserved better.' She moved back in with mom and dad, decided she wanted to become a teacher, went back to school for her masters (necessary to teach in my state - I think). In her final year getting her degree (it's not your standard masters program? Don't ask, I have no idea), she got a job as a teacher in an inner city school and promptly quit in a week and a half because it was too hard. She dropped out of her program and is currently unemployed, still living with mom and dad. Meanwhile, she bought a co-op (mom and dad 'loaned' her the downpayment) and she's trying to get pregnant as a single mother.

She broke down to myself and another friend right now and admitted she has trouble staying committed to anything. She realizes she brought all this on herself, but she has no idea what to do now. She's trying to get a job as an admin again, but she hated the corporate world and doesn't think she can be happy there either. I know she's also on anti-depressants, and she's talked about how 'fucked up' she is.

Quite frankly, I'm at a loss of what to do. I've tried to offer basic advice ('have you considered such-n-such as a job?' 'would this help you feel motivated?') and financial advice ('have you looked into Mint? It was a life changer for me!'), but I've been brushed off. Last night she was freaking out and asked what to do, and I had nothing. Another friend of mine watched her while we all hung out (at a local pub's trivia), and she went from sobbing to extremely happy to pissed off all within an hour. I don't think she's been to a doctor in a while (I know she went to an OBGYN recently who specialized in helping woman who were on psychological drugs become pregnant), we wondered if her medications need to be adjusted.

She talked about how she was going to borrow money from her parents so she can go to this outing with the rest of us (it'll be ~$50). She's going to some comic-con something or other where her favorite actor will be there, and she wants to buy his autograph for $200. She moaned and groaned over the prices of beer at the bar, but still shelled out $7 because we all did.

I just don't know what to do. How do you tell someone your concerned with their mental health when you know next to nothing what's wrong? How do you help someone with a financial plan when they have no interest? The worst thing is - I'm just tired of it all. One friend has given up on her because it's just become too much. I hate the idea of just letting go, but it's becoming so frustrating that it's affecting me, my friendships with others in the group, and even my boyfriend. Our once tight group of friends is unraveling, and I'm not sure what to do.

crispy

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 04:07:43 PM »
No real advice except to please encourage her to re-think having a baby.  That sounds like a horrible disaster in the making.  I would alsoencourage her to see a mental health professional, but other than that there isn't much you can do other than be a friend.

2ndTimer

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 04:23:00 PM »
Any chance you could get her started with something innocuous like "career counseling"

MayDay

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2014, 04:40:06 PM »
I have a friend just like this.  Just.  Like. 

We don't live in the same city, so I see her once or twice a year.  It hasn't hugely affected my friendship with her since we see each other rarely.  It does make it hard it have a long conversation, though, when I have to avoid the topics of dating and jobs (she typically has neither).

Anyway, my friend is extremely eerily similar to your story, except the careers she has tried don't match, so I know they aren't the same person!  She is on depression meds and is being actively managed, but nothing seems to help her actually.get.a.job.and.keep.it.  Her parents continually bail her out, and I think at this point, ten years out from college, with basically no work experience, it will be really hard for her to get hired. 

And then add a layer of desperation around men/dating/eggs shriveling up and dying, and she is a hot mess.  I really am in no way able to help her with any if it, so I just stay out of it completely. 


Lis

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2014, 05:20:30 PM »
crispy - she tried for 2-3 months (before she had a job! I swear everything she does is backwards), but she gave up on that too (for now). She says she won't bring children (because she wants multiples) into the world until she has things figured out, but I'm honestly worried that'll never happen, and she'll do it anyway... 2ndTimer - job wise, she's doing everything she 'should' be doing (except, you know, quitting out of frustration when you have nothing else lined up). She's meeting with recruiters, trying to network, sending out her resume... I've heard 3 different career paths she'd like to eventually end up on, none of which are jobs she's currently lined up for.

MayDay - Thank you for sharing your story too, they do sound eerily similar!

I do feel bad, because I don't like to give up on people, but I have no idea how she'll figure it out. I'm also worried that she's not getting the help she needs, but I have no idea how to approach that topic. I'm also worried she might try to hit us up for money... she already has her parents paying for non-necessities, and she never had a problem asking people to spot her money (granted, she has always paid them back, but that was when she was semi-employed). The answer will most certainly be an absolute no, but I like to avoid drama when I can, and that would just be drama-filled...

MandalayVA

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2014, 05:49:56 PM »
Because of my experience being a paragon of egotism and stupidity followed by teaching and guidance (hi, I'm a reformed egotistical idiot) this is what you need to ask her:

"Do you seriously want help, or do you just want someone to bitch to?"

(asked by a longtime friend of mine, thanks, Chris)

If it's the latter, the answer will be along the lines of "B-but I thought you'd understand!"  "You just don't understand my problems!"  "I can't catch a break!"  "I have so many people standing in my way!"  (etc., etc., etc.) 

It takes guts to say "I fucked up and I have no one to blame but myself." And not brush off the often brutal answers that follow.  But if she is genuine, if she says "I fucked up and I have no one to blame but myself, please help me out of this hole"?  HELP HER.  Tell her it won't be easy, tell her that in all likelihood she'll have to swallow her pride, but let her know it can be done.

Seventeen years ago I was living in a welfare motel and working at Walmart.  I asked the above questions, and people were willing to help.  I saw many who blamed others.  Most of them are dead.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 05:57:40 PM by MandalayVA »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 06:38:20 PM »
I don't know what else you can do.

Paul der Krake

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 07:07:55 PM »
She's been an adult in a self-imposed precarious situation for over a decade. The odds of her suddenly seeing the light are not in your favor.

Carolina on My Mind

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 07:11:29 PM »
Lis, you're in a tough spot because you want to help your friend, and you feel guilty for not doing enough.  I know how that feels because I have a friend just like yours (she and I are in our mid-40s, have been friends since college).  We live in different cities, but I saw her recently.  She's as much of a mess as ever, $100K in debt and completely delusional about her financial situation and her life in general.  As much as I'd like to help her, I've concluded not only that there's nothing I can do to help, but also that she's a needy, envious, passive-aggressive, toxic person.  It took me years to figure that out, and once I did I quickly got over feeling guilty about limiting my exposure to her going forward. 

I don't have any particular advice, except to say that in your case, I don't think it would be selfish of you to think about what, if anything, you get out of that relationship, and proceed accordingly. 

Lis

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 07:17:47 AM »
Thank you all for your help. Mandalay, good for you for getting yourself out of that position! But as much as she says she put herself in the position she's in, I think she's still looking for an easy way out - she constantly makes jokes about finding a rich second husband, but now her parents are 'helping out' with her student loans (from a BA, completed masters, and an almost completed masters). She's not moving into her new co-op until she has a job and is 'back on her feet' (I'm assuming her parents are picking up the tab on the mortgage too).

Carolina - thank you. You pretty much said exactly how I was feeling, and I needed to hear someone say that. Our friendship has always been about her, her, her, and I'm just about at my breaking point. I shouldn't feel guilty, and eventually I won't.

crispy

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2014, 07:32:06 AM »
Thank you all for your help. Mandalay, good for you for getting yourself out of that position! But as much as she says she put herself in the position she's in, I think she's still looking for an easy way out - she constantly makes jokes about finding a rich second husband, but now her parents are 'helping out' with her student loans (from a BA, completed masters, and an almost completed masters). She's not moving into her new co-op until she has a job and is 'back on her feet' (I'm assuming her parents are picking up the tab on the mortgage too).

Carolina - thank you. You pretty much said exactly how I was feeling, and I needed to hear someone say that. Our friendship has always been about her, her, her, and I'm just about at my breaking point. I shouldn't feel guilty, and eventually I won't.

It's easy to feel guilty about dumping a friend who you feel needs you, but you also have to take care of your mental health.  It's emotionally draining to be around people who suck the life out of you (they aren't called emotional vampires for no reason).  I had a long-term friend who was very similar.  I stayed friends with her much longer than necessary because I felt bad about abandoning someone with so many issues.  I had an eye-opening experience where I realized that not only was most of her issues self-imposed, but that she was also lying about a lot of things.  I haven't spoken to her since, and all I feel is relief.

Neustache

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2014, 07:38:39 AM »
I had a similar friend, except she'd self-sabotage in other ways.  Steady job, but the men (some of them really bad men) are revolving doors.  Anyways, I've stopped reaching out to her when she posts dark FB posts to make sure she's okay.  I realized that the relationship was extremely one-sided when a very hard event happened in my life and the most reaching out to me she did was a wall post on FB.  Also, I'd invite her to hang out when she was lonely, she wouldn't follow through.  My life is better now that she's not weighing on me, and I don't think her quality of life has decreased at all since I'm out of her life. 

YMMV....but if she's not ready for help, well...then no amount of being there for her is going to help her. 

CU Tiger

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2014, 05:34:22 PM »
When you study water lifesaving one of the things they tell you is that you have to be careful not to let the drowning person drag you under.

If you feel that she's wearing you down, breaking up your friendships with others...you may have to let her go to save yourself.

My own personal opinion is that she sounds like madness,  I could not stand that constant drama and disaster after disaster.

DarinC

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2014, 06:23:20 PM »
I think a mental health professional would be great, as would setting up boundaries in terms of what you're willing to help with.

mozar

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2014, 07:05:47 PM »
I strongly recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. For you, not for her (well her too but I doubt she would get help). It will help you understand why you are letting toxic people into your life. It will also help you figure out boundaries etc. Start with the book Feeling Good and follow up with the Millionaire Next door for good measure. The latter talks about how when parents give their kids money it takes away their desire to engage in life.

Greg

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2014, 07:07:20 PM »
we wondered if her medications need to be adjusted.

This stuck out to me... probably is how I would answer.  Manic depressive maybe?

She probably needs more or less or different meds.  Some hand holding maybe, but my personal experience is this is best done at arm's length.

mikefixac

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2014, 07:34:04 PM »
To be honest, I saw myself in your friend. Not on meds, or depressed, but tried different things that just wasn't for me.

Started my own business around 25 years ago and that's where I found my niche. I'm pretty much a loner and I've got to do it my way.

I'm pretty hard core. I'd just say try actually taking personal responsibility and quit mooching off of others. Be much happier in the long run.

Pants

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 04:35:14 AM »
You can't help someone who is not genuinely ready to help themselves.

I also have a self sabotaging friend who is always looking for an easy solution to her problems.  Generally it involves terrible men, bailouts by parents and questionable earning activities.  I have realised that the easy way is her preferred way of dealing with life, even though the results are suboptimal and she is frequently unhappy about her relationships and finances. I have decided to step away because short of bailing her out every time, I cannot change her and I cannot force common sense on her.

P.s. from my experience,  these people tend to get worse with age - they self sabotage in bigger ways,  take greater risks and make poorer and poorer choices.

kite

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 05:01:24 PM »
Here's what you can do:
Say the serenity prayer. A few thousand times.  Then get yourself a puppy. You can't change her.  You need the wisdom to know this and the serenity to accept it. 
Don't borrow someone else's trouble.   It helps neither of you.  Okay, a puppy may not be mustachian,  but you need a pet that doesn't have a master's degree. Go instead for fur or feathers.  Heck, it could be bird watching instead of bird owning.
I've had my share of this kind of crazy loved one in my life.  They are related,  so it's not like I can just cut them out of my life.  NAMI is a fabulous resource for her parents.  But neither you, nor them will cure her. 

Lis

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2014, 08:54:48 AM »
Thanks guys. I had a long talk with another friend (the other one the friend in question broke down to), and we both decided that it's time for us to take a step back. I turned off notifications from the messenger app we all use to chat yesterday, which was surprisingly a huge relief. I don't feel like I'm 'on call' anymore and I no longer dread when my phone lights up saying I have a message. If she needs to bitch, I'll just smile and nod sympathetically and try to remove myself from the situation. I can't see her changing anytime soon, with or without my help. It's not worth my frustration anymore.

And kite, I would love a puppy, but my two fur baby cats would not be too pleased. They are, however, more than happy to lend a cuddle or two when I need it. Or when I don't... one's desperately trying to sit on my hands as I type this!

Goldielocks

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2014, 09:18:36 AM »
Have you thought about reaching out to her parents? 

Let them know that you care for her, but are stepping back. If they see changes or need help in a specific way, they can contact you in future?
There may come a time when she is ready for help or just a friend to have coffee with, as she pulls it together.


lizzzi

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2014, 09:19:10 AM »
It sounds like she needs a mental health assessment, and then some kind of plan put in place, probably involving some medications and some cognitive therapy. I'm not sure whether her parents are genuinely helping her, or just being manipulated into enabling her behaviors. You don't have any control over that, of course. I would decide what your boundaries are going to be, and then stick to them. (Sounds like you already did that.) But I wouldn't abandon a friend completely just because she's (I'm guessing) mentally ill. The mentally ill become very isolated over the years for this very reason. Friends and often family bail out on them because they just can't handle all the chaos any more.This is just an example of the kind of thing you might do--I don't know if this would be appropriate for you or not, but I'm just brainstorming.  Maybe you could decide that your involvement will be telephone contact every two weeks or so, either her calling you or you calling her, just having a friendly chat, and getting off the phone if it gets too dramatic or if it is just all about her and never about you. If you're not available for any more than this kind of telephone socialization, well fine, at least you have not abandoned her. Boundaries are so important--she sounds like a whirling vortex of dependency needs, and you can't let yourself get sucked in to that.

soccerluvof4

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2014, 09:32:11 AM »
Be careful she is just not being manipulative and doing the ole " poor me" . Some people like misery and like to get the "feel sorry for me".  Not saying that's the case but until she REALLY does something for herself i would just listen and that's about it. I don't see much more you can do.

mozar

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2014, 05:00:51 PM »
Have you tried getting a box? Cats love warm keyboards, but they love boxes more.
http://www.today.com/money/how-keep-your-cat-your-computer-keyboard-856861

WhoopWhoop

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2014, 06:29:01 PM »
I was never as extreme as this girl sounds, but there are some similarities. When I was unemployed for 2 years, I was depressed and had trouble following other people's suggestions. Then I got a job and was promptly fired. Then I got another job and the boss was literally a monster. I somehow lasted 7 months. Then I got another job and the first day of work had me worried--it was so boring that I was absolutely 100% pissed that I had such bad luck with jobs. I told my mom that I'd give the job 3 days to improve, but I wouldn't stay around if it continued to be terrible.

My mom got really emotional and told me that she thinks I should go see a therapist because something is wrong with me.

It really hurt my feelings that she'd suggest that because it's not like I chronically refused to do work. I was excellent in school and worked really hard. But I had just quit a job that was literal torture and I was not going to stick around at the new job if it was also torture.

People are not mentally ill just because they jump from thing to thing without getting a foothold anywhere. Sometimes jobs really are terrible and you really are in the wrong place. The people on this forum should consider the fact that tolerating hard situations is something people learn over time. I'm much better now than when I first started working. People build the ability to have patience -- to ignore their emotions when it's logical to do so...to swallow their pride.

It's really easy to get accusatory of people like this, but sometimes hard luck is real. I graduated into the recession. My mom, dad, and stepdad were all handed jobs easily in their early years, so they had no real empathy for my situation. I'm STILL offended that my mom suggested I was mentally ill.

The job I decided to give a chance for 3 days got better quickly, the boss is lovely, and it gave me the opportunity to grow in a way I never had before. I was unlucky until I got lucky.

OP, this comment is not directed at you. I am glad you came to a conclusion and are relieved. I am speaking to the people who are writing here and expressing no empathy for someone who is deeply depressed (your friend).

Even if she is mentally ill, that should give you more empathy for her situation, not less. I learned to feel empathy for manic depressive people when it was explained to me this way: When you get angry, you might be angry for a minute or 5 minutes and then the feeling sort of starts fading away. A manic depressive can't stop being angry FOR DAYS. Often, they will resort to desperate and seemingly insane coping tactics just to get themselves back to baseline.

I was just irked by the lack of empathy for this girl. Yes, she is to blame for a lot of things, and she seems really bratty...but...she also sounds really sad.

CestMoi

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Re: What would you do? Friends and mental health
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2014, 01:34:31 PM »
I'm going to answer your original question, just to put it out there. I know you've already come to a conclusion.

I would encourage her to get her medication corrected if it's not working as it should, and to use it exactly as prescribed. It sounds like she needs to be on medication that helps her moods. I'd then talk to her encouragingly when I could handle it.

Whether you want to remain an active friend or not, I think encouraging her, without judgment, to seek more professional help is the best advice you can give. If you want to remain her friend, tell her you try to encourage her, but you donít have the same tools to help that a professional has. Let her know you donít judge her or her situation, but you can really only offer emotional support.

Being upfront about your boundaries is more helpful than disappearing from her life or just tolerating her (she'll feel your frustration and that doesn't help anyone).