Giving Advice

I can’t help but be afraid that I may be giving a good friend of mine the wrong advice. My friend has been considering going to Menninger because problems with depression and anxiety have become too much to deal with outside. My friend has been to treatment centers before, but they were focused on addiction treatment, and they didn’t really help with the depression or anxiety.

Now, I have been dealing with severe depression for 14 years. I’ve tried to commit suicide twice; been in three acute care facilities; been on over a dozen anti-depressants; had plenty of ECT treatments; even had surgery to implant a Vagal Nerve Stimulation device. When I initially went to Menninger, I was a little cynical that they would be able to help me; almost 14 years of not-terribly-successful treatment. But after 8 weeks there, I felt so much better than I had a few months earlier that it was hard to express.

That’s what Menninger did for me. But like I’ve said before, it has to be one of the great problems of being in the psychiatry/psychology field that patients with similar, or even identical, symptoms might have nothing in common for treatment. What worked for me might not work for my friend; where I found group psychotherapy extremely helpful, it might not be the same for my friend.

I don’t want my friend to have to go through another stay at a residential treatment facility and be disappointed. Two unhelpful treatment centers is more than enough for anyone, and a third would be, if I were in the same situation, pretty disheartening. Depression is such a hard illness to treat – not that there are easy mental illnesses to treat. I don’t want to be a part of that disappointment because I gave my friend advice that went badly.

It may not be a huge thing to be afraid of, but I really hate letting my friends down.


4 comments on “Giving Advice

  1. Jen says:

    Jamie, I have some questions but they don’t need a typed response – just something to think about. Have you ever disappointed a friend in a way that really effected you/them? Do you think that that is what you do, “disappoint friends”?
    I ask because this theme has become very prevalent throughout your blog and I wonder if you have a belief about yourself that “you disappoint friends”. I would suggesting thinking about it and evaluating. If you do, I encourage you to work to try to let that go….I am not saying start disappointing friends and be OK with it. 🙂 That is defiantly not what I mean.
    It is very sweet and kind to not want to disappoint your friends and a normal response between friends…. but I feel like the repetition is starting to become or is already a ruminating inaccurate thought in your head and I challenge you because I do not think it is true. I think it is possible that you have an irrational fear that you disappoint friends – and while I don’t want you to start disappointing them, I do want you to get rid of the irrational fear of disappointing. – just a thought.

  2. Part of what I was going to say is what Jen already said, so I’ll skip that part. The other part was about this specific situation: like you said, different treatments work for different people, and there’s no good way to predict which ones will and won’t other than trying them and seeing what happens. Maybe Menninger won’t help your friend as much as they helped you. But that doesn’t mean your advice was bad. In unpredictable situations, the measure of good and bad advice or decisions aren’t the actual outcomes, but the odds. The odds are all you have to go on when you give the advice. Spending your whole life savings on lottery tickets is a bad decision, even if you get lucky and win. Trying a new treatment that might help is good advice, even if it doesn’t end up helping.

  3. Janet Bruser says:

    I’m happy for you and your experience with them. I was there, did not get the help for my depression I so desperately needed. Worse, I felt I had no input as to how my depression was(or not) being handled. I, my feelings, asking for alternate/ effective treatment was dismissed and my Doctor. She knew best and I was just one in a long line of patients to “treat”. Tell your friend your experience, but not all of is were so successful …

  4. Alicia says:

    Some advice you give is going to help and some of it is not, just a way of life that some things that work for you will not necessarily work for someone else,but as long as you meant well by your intentions try not to feel too badly, because either way it is still up to the other person to decide if they want to take your advice or not. If they do they must have thought it was worth trying too, try not to second guess everything you say or do, you have a good heart and would not steer someone wrong on purpose any advice you give was meant well and really that is what matters in the end. That you care and are trying to help. 🙂

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