Post # 1
I’m posting this under a different name than usual to ensure privacy.
I have a good friend who is very depressed and I am concerned she will hurt herself. Over the last few years it has gotten worse and worse, she went from just being down and anxious to in my opinion being depressed and irrational. She has not admitted being depressed to me but I know it when I see it. She doesn’t do any of the activities she used to, she isolates herself, and she doesn’t eat.
We live in different states but I usually talk to her once a month and we used to visit a few times a year. She stopped returning my phone calls a couple of months ago and when I leave her a message she emails me back and says she’ll call later but never does. She quit her job a few months ago (she hated it) but she doesn’t have a new one. She’s not rich, but I don’t know how long she can live on savings. She seems to not care and has commented that “it doesn’t matter”. This is a person who has two graduate degrees and was doing very well in her career.
She doesn’t have many friends that I know of, no partner, and her parents live far away too. I’m very scared and I don’t know what to do. I could call her family but I know that will be the end of our friendship. She won’t let me visit. When I have asked she has said that she will not let me in and I know she is serious. She has told me not to worry about her, and told me I dont need to waste my time checking on her. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do. I love her and I don’t want her to hurt herself.
Post # 3
I’m sorry you are going through this and are worried about your friend. She sounds like she is really isolating herself.
Do you know any members of her family well? If you really are worried about her I would suggest talking to her family and see if they have any insight. They might also be very concerned about your friend too. I know you say that you are worried she wouldn’t be your friend anymore but at least she would get the help that she needs.
I wish I had more thoughts on how to help, maybe there are some online support groups that could give you a better ideas.
Post # 4
I agree with FallBzz. I also agree that you have to ask yourself, is her friendship or her safety more important to you. I know she said it would end your friendship, but she needs help. If she did end up hurting herself, and you knew you could of helped her and didn’t because you didn’t want to loose her as a friend, that would probably make you feel horrible.
And who knows if she does get help because you intervened, maybe when she is feeling better about herself she will be your friend again, and be happy you helped her. Of course a depressed person is not going to see that or be happy about it.
Just giving you my 2 cents on the situation, because I use to be depressed too, and got help, and am doing 100% better now. I am not on medication, but I went to counseling for a vry long time, it really does help.
Post # 5
Call her parents.
Yes, it will probably end what “friendship” you have with her right now, but someday she will see that you were acting as a true friend. The right decisions aren’t always the easiest unfortunately. She is lucky to have someone like you in her life, who cares.
Post # 6
You should definitely talk to her family! It is a tough situation, but if she can get the help she deserves it will be more than worth it in the long run. I lost a cousin to depression two years ago. He didn’t seem outwardly depressed all the time, but he eventually determined that his life wasn’t worth it. I constantly asked myself if there was anything I could have done to change the outcome…
Post # 7
Call her parents. She doesn’t seem too interested in maintaining friendships at this point anyways, due to her isolation. Also, how will you feel if she hurts herself and you didn’t reach our on her behalf.
Post # 8
Depression is a fatal disease. If she had cancer and she wasn’t getting treatment, would you not contact her family to let them know about it? Call her family, call any of her friends (even if she isn’t in touch with them anymore) and find out what the local mental health services in her area are. And if you are really worried about her immediate safety, you can have her put in the hospital on a 72 hour hold. She may not be happy with you, but she would be alive.
The other thing you can do is call and keep calling. Call even when she doesn’t answer, just leave a message. Call and just tell her about your day or life or something you saw in TV even if she isn’t that responsive.
I went through several years where I was so depressed I couldn’t work (eat or even bathe). I luckily had my parents around who made sure I didn’t starve to death. I lost touch with all my friends who figured I didn’t want to be friends anymore since I stopped returning phone calls. I had one friend who didn’t give up on me. She called and kept calling. Most of the time she prattled on about her life or TV or… I’m not sure if I really responded back. But she kept calling.
BTW- when you do talk to her, mention depression to her in gentle ways. “You sound like you are unhappy, do you think it might be depression?” ; “I had a friend that felt similar to you. Then she (talked to someone, took meds, etc) and she felt 1000 times better.” It make awhile but eventually she *may* come to see that she doesn’t have to feel so bad all the time.
Post # 9
I agree with all the previous posters, but also want to add maybe bringing up good times from the past while talking to her. Maybe that will help pull her out, and realize she does have a reason to live.
Post # 10
You can’t pull someone out of depression, especially if it’s as bad as OP hinted at. You can remind her that you care and that she doesn’t have to feel this way. But remember when you are depressed, you mind changes they way you perceive things. For instance, when they say the world becomes ‘gray’ when you are depressed, it actually does become gray. The visual region in your brain process colors differently.
Post # 11
Thank you all for your thoughts. I am just overwhelmed. I was so shocked when she quit her job, its not like her to not have all her plans in place. I knew she wanted to find a new job but couldn’t believe she’d leave without another one. And it doesn’t seem like she is overly concerned about finding a new one. She said she chose to quit because she couldn’t take the stress anymore. I know someone she used to work with and she told me that they were devestated that she left. Its like she has given up on her career which used to be very important to her. We went to grad school together and she used to be really dynamic.
I have met her mother and father before and know how to reach them. I know that she did not go home for the holidays this year (which is odd) but said she will go home soon to see them and her grandfather. I hate to say that I don’t believe her. She says she talks to her mother a lot. I know they are close, I just don’t know how honest she is with her mother about everything. I don’t even know how honest she is with me. The last time I saw her was last April. She looked to me like she had lost twenty pounds and she is thin to begin with. She seemed numb.
Ive had my ups and downs so I know how it feels to be down, but she seems to be in a different place, I can’t quite explain it. Its like she is a ghost of who I know. Her voice, everything is just off. She used to send me tons of news articles, now weeks go by and I dont get any emails. She never responds to the articles I send her.
Sorry, I just needed to get this off of my chest. Im going to keep calling, and I’m debating flying out there.
Post # 12
See if there are any local services in her area that might be able to check in on her or help. Some places to try would be adult protective services. They would be able to give you a place to start of some of the services and options you have legally. Would she be willing to see a counselor or other help? This will not be a short process. In any case, you may loose a friend but save a life.
Post # 13
I don’t know where you’re from, but a lot of places have a mental health law that allows the police to bring people in to be admitted to a psychiatric ward if they’re a danger to themselves. Her parents might also be able to bring her in to the hospital. It’s not the best solution, but it’s better than her committing suicide.
Post # 14
I just wanted to post a quick update and thank you all for the advice again. I was able to talk with her briefly last night after bombarding her with messages. She begged me not to come out and said she is planning to go home next month and is “getting help”. I asked her to be more specific and she said she is getting help “so she can stay alive”. I tried to get more info about therapy etc. but she was evasive. She said she promised she would not die on me or her family. I told her frankly that I was worried she was going to hurt herself and she said “Im worried too thats why Im getting help”. She would not tell me anymoe and asked me to give her some space. I don’t know what else to do. I pray she really is going home so her family can help her too. I cried for a while last night, Im still scared.
Post # 15
Hi – it certainly seems scary, the place your friend is in. I’ve had friends that depressed, who also refused to allow me in. I had to learn to trust that they would get through, and get the help they needed, however they found it. It’s really hard! It does sound hopeful to me, if dire; your friend has said she’s getting help, and one can hope that she’s speaking with a competent, ethical therapist who would know what to do if your friend cannot stay safe.
I wish you and your friend the best.
Post # 16
@achol: Thanks for following up with us.
I’m glad she is getting help. And you have to trust that she is indeed getting help. On that front there is nothing more you can do. I would, however, keep letting her know you still care. That might be a VM just to say hi, or an email link to an article that she might be interested in. Just make sure she doesn’t feel like the only reason you are contacting her is “Checking in to see if you are okay”. Also, let her know in your message, it’s okay if she doesn’t contact you back. Sometimes it’s just exhausting checking your VM or checking email that actually calling or emailing people back is just overwhelming.
I just liked it when my friend called and told me about what was going on in her life or we talked about a TV show we both watched.