Girlfriend is having issues with herself

Postby liamkane67 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:38 am

I am a high school junior and I'm looking for some sort of guidance in my situation. I have a girlfriend of four months and we both really like each other, but she shows signs of serious mental health issues and I have spoken to her about them and she has confirmed her symptoms. She always feels worthless and that she isn't special in any way and that there's nothing exciting about her and that living is pointless. She says she can't find anything that she likes to do in her free time. She seems depressed. This depression is accompanied by extreme lows, where she has nervous breakdowns. This is especially prevelant in party situations, where she will drink herself to her limit, pause, and then purposefully put herself over her limit every time, which causes her to vomit for hours on end, and presumably contract alcohol poisoning. She also glaringly attempts to "drown her sorrows" and will sometimes use drugs and other things in order to forget about life. Advice on how to help would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:10 pm

liamkane67 wrote: Advice on how to help would be greatly appreciated.

You met an unhealthy person that needs help. The problem is that your current position in life is not a role of any authority. You are not a parent, boss, guardian, etc. Your role is friend. This limits your available options.

-1- You can tell her to get help.
-2- You can be there to listen.
-3- You can avoid enabling her, e.g. don't go to parties or put yourself in situations with her that are not healthy.
-4- You can be a role model, showing her healthy behaviors.
-5- You can communicate with people that have the role/authority of taking care of her.

The one thing you cannot afford to do is place the fear of ending the relationship ahead of her health. You need to be prepared to walk or distance yourself if needed. You can care about another person, but not be in an intimate relationship with them. Note, I'm not saying you end the relationship, I'm saying you don't allow fear that the relationship might end interfere with the 5 options above.
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Postby calvinTO » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:07 am

Liam -- Most of your post is about her, and it's good to know that you are sensitive to her well-being. You appear to be very clear-minded about what's going on. What's missing here is what *you* feel about it all. You want to help her, and maybe it's moot to inquire about your own feelings since you seem to be very level-headed about it all. Perhaps you actually do know that there's little to be done other than to be there for her. So then I think: where's Liam in all this?

You're a junior. (I assume that means you're a teen.) But what I would say would be the same even if you were an adult .You can be supportive by listening to her and affirming for her your presence, and perhaps suggesting that she seek professional help. It's clear that her drinking is quite destructive. But beyond that, I'm left wondering why you are involved with her, given how hell-bent on destruction she is. I'm not saying to abandon her; but it's clear that this person has very serious issues that threaten to drag you into a morass. I'd be tempted to step aside as she seems to be a ticking time bomb. Are you interested in "saving her"? (A non-starter.) What are her qualities that draw you to her? (You don't mention a single one.) It's great that you are compassionate; but as a young person, you may wish to consider how deeply you want to be involved with a person who is clearly immature (practically speaking) and who is looking at years of therapy and/or institutionalization. I don't want to sound dire, though it all seems like a no-win situation.

Do keep us posted.

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Postby liamkane67 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:37 pm

Hi again, I really appreciate the advice and help. However, I'm not quite sure I made the situation clear enough in my first post. My girlfriend and I have known each other for a long time, are very close friends and are part of the same group of friends. It is now occurring to me that I may have misplaced this post, as it really isn't very much about a relationship and it's more about trying my best to help out a friend in need. I also didn't speak very much in my first post about non-party situations, mostly because I made my first post the day after one of said parties. We as a group have a party once every two weeks about, and for the other 13 days of that week my girlfriend is a major positive influence on me. She is caring, funny, can cheer me up and is generally just wonderful to interact with. I would probably be posting this regardless of whether or not she was my girlfriend, as she is a close person to me and I am very concerned for her well being. This being said, what I am trying to do is do my best to help her through this period of time. She hasn't always been like this,(although she can traditionally struggle to be nice to herself)and there are problems at home for her which I expect may have triggered this period of sadness in her life. I recognize that I cannot "save her", persay, but I will take your advice to strive to be a positive role model and influence on her life and do my best to help her to "save" herself. If you have any further advice, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby TheCloud » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:46 am

When there's doubt, there's a simple 4 step process you can go through to help someone.

1) What is she thinking about? What's the first thing on her mind? Is it her parents, or her future, or her health? This can change in the course of conversation, so if you're talking with the intention of helping her, always try to be talking about what she's thinking about. When in doubt, ask.

2) How does she feel about it? If she's thinking about her family troubles, is she sad, or angry, or depressed, or frustrated, or scared? Try to be specific. Anger, fear, and sadness are the basics, but try to be as nuanced as possible. Frustrated, anxious, or miserable might fit better.

3) What does she need? All feelings are connected to a need. Positive feelings are connected to a need that is met or is being met. Negative feelings are connected to an unmet need. If your gf is sad, does she need a hug? If she's anxious, does she need clarity? Sometimes, all someone needs is to be listened to. Sometimes, they need more.

4) Have her make a request. If all she needs is to be listened to, then it ends at step 3, but sometimes it goes beyond that. In that case, she'll have something specific to ask of you, and if you want to help her, help her to figure out what this is.

Often, people don't even know what they are feeling or what they need, so these things take some time and effort to figure out. It takes practice. And remember, your own feelings and needs are also part of the conversation, even if you're not talking about them. You're her friend, not her savior or her therapist or superman.

This process isn't only for sharing depression and anxiety. It's also for sharing the good times, which can be even more difficult than sharing the bad ones. If you're in a better place than her, then it's up to you to share your good times with her. Which means having your own good times, something a lot of intelligent people struggle with. Otherwise, things get dragged down when all you're talking about is various miseries. So have fun! Your girlfriend will appreciate it. Have fun, and listen well, and ask questions if you want to know more.

If you want to know more about the process described here, look up Nonviolent Communication. There's a website, and several books and Youtube videos.
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