Helpless

So there are times when we all feel helpless. Whether it is because of something happening in our lives, something happening to us, or happening to someone we know, there are always things in our lives we don’t know what do do about. We don’t know if there is anything we can do to fix them. We might not even understand them. And that feeling of helplessness is frustrating, because we feel like there is something we should be doing, someone we should be talking to, some way we should be trying to make things better – even if there really isn’t anything we can do.

Today is one of those times.

I have a friend who has been going through some rough times recently. I’m not really going to go into details, except to say that she has been suicidal, and it scares me. She has told me that she doesn’t feel like she is worth anything, that her life is nothing but misery and suffering, and that her parents and her pet are the only reasons she is currently willing to endure the horrors of life. It’s hard to hear these things from her, especially considering all that we’ve gone through.

I know she’s gone through most of the same treatment I have – more, even. But it seems like it just hasn’t had the same effect on her that it had on me. I don’t know why, and I wish it had, but when I hear this from her I just don’t know what can be done to help. I’ve mentioned before that it seems like acceptance of one’s issues is a pretty key part of treatment working, and I don’t know if that is part of the problem here. To be honest, I don’t know what is. All I know is that I feel helpless.

I wish I could help, but it seems like this is one of those times where she has to work out how to deal with her issues – probably with the help of a therapist, medical staff, or other mental health professionals – without me. I think that I have done about as much as I can in this scenario, and while she is still a dear friend, I don’t know that I have anything more than my support to offer.

If you’re reading this, I hope things get better for you, and you figure out how to deal with your problems. 

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3 comments on “Helpless

  1. mewhoami says:

    This post shows your care and concern for her, something that cannot be denied. As you said though, there are some people that we ourselves can’t help and it requires the help of another. Sometimes our relationship with them, be it friend or family, hinders our ability to help. They need a professional – a stranger. I hope that your friend finds the help she needs.

  2. waclements says:

    This is such a hard issue to deal with. I was a mandatory reporter for years. I’m not now but I still feel some of the obligations. You have gone above and beyond, which is sometimes impossible or at least really difficult not to do if you really care about someone. And it is an extremely frustrating moment when you realize, in a moment of clarity, that there isn’t anything you can do. They have to do it. The exception here is that if she’s actively suicidal, it seems like there’s something someone could do about that, for her own protection. Have you looked into that possibility? That may seem like “too managing” an approach, but sometimes the best thing you can do is find the resources for your friend to enable her to help herself. It sounds like she’s been through a lot of therapy–it won’t help if she doesn’t believe it, and it doesn’t help that those of us with depression tend not to believe anything nice people say about us, have low self-esteem, and a generally crummy sense of self worth. Or, if you’re a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, of Self Worf. I know that’s bad, I made a typo and thought of that the first time I mentioned it. And I’d done such a good job of appearing fairly normal, too. 🙂 I honestly don’t know what I’d do in this situation. I think you’re smart for realizing this and taking a step back, because self-care is extremely important, as is knowing when you can and can’t do anything about a situation. I’m stubborn and I don’t like the “can’t do anything about the situation.” So I start thinking of who can do something. You can send the police by for a health and safety check. They don’t want people killing themselves either. You probably know all the local resources. Is there one for women that has peer counselors? Pets? Small dragons that breathe fire?

    Do you read “Hyperbole and a Half?” It’s a cartoon story blog by Allie Brosh. I just found out about it from another blog, and it has one of the best descriptions of depression in it that I’ve ever seen. I sent it to my best friend, who is struggling with a severe episode of it right now, though he isn’t suicidal, after a little hesitation, and he thought it was possibly brilliant. I felt so strongly about supporting her I bought her book, which is a lot of her blogs so far. But her web address is:
    HyperboleandaHalf.blogspot.com That’s for people who need something funny for themselves.

    Sorry this is so long, I really tend to ramble. There generally is a point in the middle somewhere. When I was feeling actively suicidal, is was also my pet and my baby sister that kept me from going forward with anything. I can relate to that. Is she seeing a therapist? If she tells her therapist she is feeling actively suicidal, her therapist has to report her, which takes everything out of your hands, so if you could nudge her toward seeing a therapist… I know it’s sneaky. I have a hard time just letting things go, even when I realize there really isn’t anything more I can do. But in a situation like this I would call other agencies and find out what _they_ can do. It takes you out of the position of being helpless and puts you into a position of having some power again, if you look for other resources that can help her now that you know you can’t. I hope that makes sense.

    Good luck. I hope something gets figured out. I just hate the thought of someone being in that mental state. It sounds like you’re there as a support, which is invaluable. A friend had a meltdown a while ago, less than a month, and hadn’t been very communicative, which leads to all sorts of misread signals and confusion on all sides. He generally frustrated everyone close to him, said he wasn’t trying to push anyone away and he needed our support and knowing we were there, even if he wasn’t being communicative, he just needed to know we were there. That was an important lesson for me (rejection is another of my issues). I thought about my meltdowns. I’m not able to fully articulate what I need, yet expecting those around me to know what I need is to expect everyone to become psychic. In a frustrating evening with him talking to his spouse with one hand and typing to me on the other, he managed to get the above things out. For me, who hadn’t really been through many of these before, it brought a great sense of relief and understanding, and my feelings flipped entirely because now I _understood_ what he needed. It’s amazing what a difference that can make. All of the anger and frustration I had been feeling disappeared. I don’t think it was that easy for his husband, who has been dealing with this for 16 years (for any of you who despair of ever meeting someone who will love you even though you have mental issues, don’t. There are good people out there. They may not always understand. My boyfriend of 7 years doesn’t always understand, and yes, he gets frustrated sometimes, but he’s still here. My friend’s husband wanted to make sure I knew that my friend wasn’t pushing me away, it’s just part of what he does every time. But I felt amazingly better, knowing the actual situation and that it wasn’t personal. And, the important thing, the most important thing, was that he wanted me there even though he wasn’t expressing it directly. I think that’s probably how your friend feels as well. So you may feel helpless, but I think she still needs you as a support, probably a pretty important one; just knowing that you’re there.

    I hope any of this helps, now that I’ve written a comment longer than your post. My dad said I was born talking. I find that highly unlikely. Most likely I was born screaming because I was having visions of my future. LOL

    I also wanted to say I really like your blog. I was a gamer–I quit because I was trying to write and work and something needed to go, and the perspectives in the new Zelda game just confused the heck out of me. Zelda is my forever favorite, though. I’ve decided I need a way to relax other than reading, and just played “Monument Valley” on my iPad. We’ll see how it goes from there. 🙂

    • I am, in fact,a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. Also Deep Space 9, which also includes Worf. I don’t know that my friend has seen the value of all her treatment, and I don’t particularly like not being able to do anything about a situation either, especially involving a friend – but I’ve been where she’s been, and I know that the only person who can get her out of that hole is her. I can offer a hand, but I can’t pull her out.

      I’m a fan of Hyperbole and a Half; I have been for a while. I was a fan when she posted the first half of her Depression blog online, and then went silent for a year. I do think her blog about depression is one of the best descriptions I’ve read about it, and I’ve suffered from it for 14 years – and been through treatment with a lot of very smart professionals. I recommend her depression blog to basically anyone who will listen and take the time to read it.

      I know the frustration of dealing with friends who both have mental issues and who are trying to help me deal with mine. It’s frustrating trying to describe what is going on in your head to the people without mental issues, and it’s just as frustrating at times dealing with friends who have their own problems – we share some common ground in that we have mental issues, but being bipolar isn’t the same as having depression, or having BPD, or being schizophrenic. But there always does seem to be a moment of understanding, where things click. And that is amazing. I’d like to be involved with a woman who has her own issues, and so we have at least some common ground there to understand what is going on in each other’s heads. It’s kind of comforting, having that in common, even if it may bode ill for any future we might have.

      I think your comment definitely helps; I can understand putting things aside to write, because I very nearly decided to do the same, at one point. Nowadays, my blog is all the writing I do, but it is a great weight off my chest; being able to share my thoughts and try to work things all out on the virtual page. I’m still a gamer, though more video gaming than tabletop these days – though I still keep up on my D&D and other games. Right now I’m playing through Diablo 3. It’s always nice to find other gamers, even if it is through a blog on mental health. Especially my blog on mental health, because I’m quite mad.

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