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How do I help my friend? She is self destructing.

(8 Posts)
BasinHaircut Sat 09-May-15 08:17:46

Thursday night I got a text from an old friend who I haven't seen in about a year, saying she was in a mess and needed somewhere to go. I didn't see it until Friday morning so I tried to call her and got no reply.

To provide some background, she has had a difficult time, starting with serious eating disorders at age 13-14. She got into a relationship with a 40yo man at 16 who had his own mental health problems, was an ex-addict and form for relationships with young girls.

It would take too long to desribe exactly what that relationship entailed and be too identifying but in brief, sexual abuse, other physical and mental abuse, being controlled with drugs. She had a child to this man and was with him for 15 years. He died 2 years ago.

Friend has since admitted she is gay (but we always knew this) and had a relationship with a woman for the past year or so which has now broken down due to her renewed drug taking. And she has just been made redundant.

I called her parents home (where she now lives) on Friday morning as I was worried about her and couldn't reach her. She wasn't there but I spoke to her mum who filled me in on what has been happening. In short, she is using cocaine heavily, has major paranoia, and has had to have the police out to restrain her a couple of times in the last couple of months. She has threatened suicide and thinks that her parents are trying to kill her.

They have told her that she isn't allowed in the house if she is on drugs. So last night her dad dropped her off here, where she stayed until she had come down and I dropped her home. Her parents didn't want her back tbh I think they wanted a break but I couldn't have her in the house all night as I have a young DS and she was making me so nervous with her paranoia that I couldn't let her stay.

Once she came down a bit and the paranoia eased she was telling me about what's been going on and it's so so bad. She needs serious help. I totally understand why she cannot cope with what has happened to her, I had no idea of the seriousness of the abuse she suffered for all of those years until last night and it is quite sickening. She is so angry that this man did all of these things to her and then got to walk away (die) without even saying sorry. She clearly still loves him too and whilst she told me factually what he did and made her do, she wouldnt 'speak ill of the dead'.

She has been visited by an early start(?) team and they are sending her for counselling but that doesn't sound like enough TBH, I think she needs to be institutionalised.

I have no experience of any of this and I know she is going to need me. She has no other friends. I can't have her here every night while the drugs wear off but I want to help where I can.

Grateful for any advice.

holeinmyheart Sat 09-May-15 09:13:40

Sorry, and I know you want to be a good friend but I think this is going to end in you walking away.
She needs saving from herself and until she decides to do it herself I am afraid that you may well become the focus of her life, but not in a good way.

She will suck you dry. You could see the state her parents are in and unfortunately I am afraid it will be you next.
You have a responsibility first to yourself and your DS.
While you are giving her your undivided attention ( because that is what it will amount to as she goes from crisis to crisis) you are not giving it to your self or your son.
Hard and horribly selfish as it seems, I think you need to distance yourself from this friend.
When it gets too much.... That is what you will do anyway.
I am sorry for her, but keep your distance is my advice. You are not responsible for her. You are responsible for yourself and your son.

BasinHaircut Sat 09-May-15 10:45:21

Thanks hole, I think you are right sadly. I have previous experience of this with her, although when things were not quite so bad. When we were at school she phoned me and said that if I didn't say I loved her she would kill herself, and a couple of similar incidents. I know it's because I kind of took her under my wing when she was in the grips if her ED as no one else would speak to her (through fear I think rather than nastiness). Although the actual ED stuff was kept very much within her family, I just got her to sit with me in class etc and tried to be normal. I don't know if it helped, probably not, but I was only 13.

I do not have the time or the headspace available to be her crutch now. All I can offer is friendship but do you think that will end badly? I am worried she will just start calling and turning up at all hours but I really don't want to just turn my back.

DS is my priority though obviously.

I'm just so sad for her and her family. She has a 3yo and this must be affecting her. Her dad looked I'll when he dropped her off last night. Her mum sounded like she had given up on the phone.

caravanstar79 Sun 10-May-15 07:12:25

''Sorry, and I know you want to be a good friend but I think this is going to end in you walking away.
She needs saving from herself and until she decides to do it herself I am afraid that you may well become the focus of her life, but not in a good way.

She will suck you dry. You could see the state her parents are in and unfortunately I am afraid it will be you next.
You have a responsibility first to yourself and your DS.
While you are giving her your undivided attention ( because that is what it will amount to as she goes from crisis to crisis) you are not giving it to your self or your son.
Hard and horribly selfish as it seems, I think you need to distance yourself from this friend.
When it gets too much.... That is what you will do anyway.
I am sorry for her, but keep your distance is my advice. You are not responsible for her. You are responsible for yourself and your son.''

I completely get this. I've been on the receiving end of this - the being dumped, not the dumping, and I have always understood why it happened. Now I don't have any close friendships through choice, as I find keeping everyone at arms length works better for me and also I feel I am doing others a favour. Sadly because of what I have (BPD) I cannot regulate my emotions, they are very intense, although I can control the degree to which my life is chaotic these days. The price for that level of control though is that I have what they call a very closely guarded core, and I am very isolated/lonely.

I can identify with the chaos inherent in your friends story/life. She needs help that isn't forthcoming (professional help) and you can't provide that. The distancing thing makes sense, it also breaks my heart to read it, perhaps because I understand it. Maybe your friend will get some help, get a bit better, and learn to manage her own chaos/symptoms as best she can in time. It's true that she can only save herself. It may be that she is too self-destructive/low in self esteem to do that. It is criminal that mental illness does this t people, and to friendships. I feel for both of you. You are obviously a caring person but you do have to look out for yourself. Likewise your friend has to want to help herself. She sounds like she desperately needs friends, love and support, but sometimes that creates a crutch situation and yes you'll end up resenting her and dumping her and that's just as damaging. I've had people walk away from me, in just that way, one very recently, and it devastated me, but I understand why that person did it, and rationally I agree that they did what was right for them. Perhaps your friend will reach that point of realising she is better off without close friendships too, who knows.

It is heartbreaking about her 3 year old daughter. At least she has her parents there (your friend) although they sound under intense stress. Is it possible for anyone to advocate for your friend, to try and get her some further support. That's assuming there is anything on offer, which there often isn't. That's criminal in itself.

caravanstar79 Sun 10-May-15 07:17:28

- I don't know if any of that helps, I just thought may be helpful to hear it from other angle, if not please feel free to disregard.

Also , this may well be one of those situations where there is just no painless solution, either way is painful. Life can be harsh, unfair, and there is a lot of suffering out there.

Do what's right for you, and your son, it's all you can do.

BasinHaircut Sun 10-May-15 07:40:42

Thank you for replying.

I spoke to her by text yesterday and she seemed in good spirits. She had slept and washed for the first time in 3 days she said.

I've agreed to meet up and have a play date with the kids next weekend, I have a feeling her mum will escort her which is probably best.

I am going to try not to become a crutch, I'll nip that in the bud before it happens. I might try and speak to her parents this week and just say she can't come here if they tell her to leave when on drugs. Now I think about it I'm a bit annoyed that they thought that was appropriate, knowing I have DS but I understand that they are at the end of thier rope and probably quite desperate.

flowers for you too caravan

caravanstar79 Sun 10-May-15 08:39:53

I'm glad she was in good spirits yesterday when you spoke with her, doing the most simple things like washing and sleeping are really positive signs, basic self-care, that's a ray of light that is.

I think you sound wonderful, you are clearly aiming for the middle ground. It takes a strong soul to be around for a friend with mental health issues. I do think it's possible to be there, but detach so that you are not compromising your own well being or your son's. Most people do just walk away, which I understand. Travelling that road less travelled, not walking away is a big thing to do, a loving thing. You sound strong in yourself, clear in your boundaries, which is essential if you are standing by your friend for the long haul.

Yes, completely unfair of her parents to expect you to be ok with her being around your son (and you) whilst on drugs. That really isn't ok. I'd be putting my foot down on that one too, and sharpish. Telling them directly it isn't ok, and why. Caring doesn't mean not having boundaries, or being a doormat after all. I think it's possible to care, but to detach, and set your boundaries, and assert them.

It sounds as if her parents need help too. Have they seen anyone, or tried to access support for themselves?

One other thought, re: the drugs, substance abuse is sadly only too common amongst those of us with mental health issues. I come from a family riddled with it, and the first thing I had to do when I decided to try and get better was address that. I think sorting that has to be a priority. I no longer drink alcohol because I knew that I did not have a hope in hell of addressing anything else while I was still self-medicating. It was like (is like) peeling back the layers of an onion, and in my experience substance abuse is usually the first layer.

Has she accessed any help for coming off drugs? Possibly rehab/detox would be good first port of call, can she make an appointment to see her GP to ask for referral for this? There are usually also drug/alcohol abuse helplines/local organisations, these may be good places to start for her but she has to want to come off drugs herself, that's essential.
Just struck me, reading back over your first post, that the counselling won't be enough, no, if she is still using. Did the 'early start' team suggest anything along these lines? Are they aware of her drug taking?

I don't know if any of this helps but this is just what occurred to me reading back.

BasinHaircut Sun 10-May-15 09:06:23

Thank you so much for responding again.

Re the drugs- no I don't think she has asked for any professional help, but I assume the early start people know as I believe (although I may be getting this wrong) that she was referred to this through being taken to hospital twice recently because she was out of it on drugs, one time having had a seizure. She has antidepressants from the Dr but I don't know how much she told them about what she has been through, although they will at least be aware of the ED.

I'm not sure her parents would be getting any help as they aren't the type to ask. I think they would rather keep it to themselves to deal although they probably aren't equipped to do this.

I think that I will suggest the things you have said to her mum (detox/rehab) and see what she says. But like you say, she needs to want to help herself first and foremost and having only seen her for a couple of hours I'm not sure whether she is there yet.

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