This question was submitted to Kids Help Phone by a young person and answered by one of our professional counsellors. Before you start reading, we want to let you know the following question mentions thoughts of suicide and feelings of depression and anxiety that may be upsetting.
My friend is suicidal, depressed and has anxiety. She constantly needs me with her when she gets panic attacks so I can anchor her and I’m okay with that. But she always texts me late at night for advice and when she has an episode she says really hurtful things. I tell her I don’t care because she doesn’t ned more worries but I’m so tired. ..do you have to stay friends with someone if they guilt trip you into it? The last time I couldn’t hang out with her was on a Sunday and she attempted to kill herself. Maybe If I was there she wouldn’t have. I feel like I need to do everything right or else she’ll let go of herself and I know that’s wrong She keeps telling me not to leave her like her other friends did, but then that it’s okay for me not to want to be seen in public with her And Im so confused. The friendship exhausts me I’m always watching out for her. Sometimes I don’t sleep, have to only socialize with her because she doesn’t feel comfortable around anyone else. The things she says when she’s angry hurt me and make me think terrible things about myself. It never really goes away. It’s so selfish to think that she needs to just get better already, but the only thing I think is the sooner she gets better, maybe I can too. I don’t know if that’s wrong to think Don’t really know anything right now though
I am hearing just how worried and hurt you have been feeling lately-both about your friend’s mental health and how her actions have been affecting you. I’m so sorry you are going through this right now. It can feel really confusing and hard to know what to do in this kind of situation. I’m so glad you chose to connect here about this. I can hear just how much this has impacted you as well. It’s not wrong at all for you to “want her to get better so that you can too.” It’s hard when someone is acting in a hurtful way because only they can choose to change it. Would it help at all though to consider how you can respond so that you are taking best care of yourself? I wonder what might help you while she is struggling with this? It sounds like she is having a very tough time finding ways to cope with the difficulties she has been facing and sometimes says things to you that leave you feeling like somehow you did something wrong. Please know that what she is going through is not your fault. In fact, it’s clear to me how much you are trying to support her at this time. I wonder if it might be worth looking at her reactions (i.e. saying hurtful things, attempting suicide) as signals that she needs more support than any friend could offer. (*supportive) When you ask do you have to stay friends with someone if they guilt trip you into it? I’m hearing just how worn out you are feeling from this and, understandably, you are trying to make sense of what the friendship needs to look like moving forward. I’m also hearing just how heavy the hurt is for her right now-this is too much for either of you to carry alone. (*supportive) I’m wondering if anyone else might know about this. Sometimes the best thing to do as a friend is to encourage them to connect to outside supports. Is there an adult she trusts that you could offer to help her talk to? (i.e. a school counsellor, a teacher, a parent.) If she refuses, perhaps she would be open to calling us sometime? (1.800.668.6868) If it helps, you are more than welcome to call together just so that she can get a feel for the service and get some of the fears out of the way (we can reassure her that no one needs to know she called and we only know who or where she is if she tells us so we can only call help for her if she chooses.) The bottom line is that some secrets are too big to keep and it’s important that you do not feel responsible for her safety. (*supportive) If ever you feel her safety is at risk and she is in need of immediate help, please contact 911. Know that this is something we can do with you if you’d prefer, ok? I hope it has helped to talk about this here. Please know that we are here for you through chat and phone moving forward, ok? It’s important that you, too, have support on this. Take good Care.