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What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend

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Old 08-03-2007, 03:05 PM   #1
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boozle HB User
Unhappy What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend

Hello all,
Sorry for the essay, but I am in need of some reassurance. I would really like some advice from those of you who are suffering through depression or caring for someone who is. Here is my story:

Me and Sarah grew up together, best friends from age 3(!) through pre-school/high-school. We took holidays together, learned to walk, cycle, dance, and surf together. Rarely a day went by when we weren't together.

Then we hit 17. I was full of adventure, I couldn't wait to pick the farthest college from home and be free to be a 'grown-up'. Sarah, who had always been slightly more introverted, was nervous. She didn't really like change and the thought of leaving the security of high-school and home was very scary to her. Eventually her negativity seemed to become something else, she was always down, rarely ate, seemed moody and agitated all the time.. I had no idea what was happening, and it wasn't until her first hospitalisation in 2003 that I finally looked-up depression, and learned about this terrible disease.

Now, five years later, we are almost 25. Sarah has suffered so badly over the years, she has been on too many anti-depressants to list here, she has also had lots of ECT. Phenylzine (Nardil), an MAOI seemed to be the most successful, we managed a decent holiday, and she even went back to college. However, its effects seemed to wear off, and now it feels as though we are back to square one (though she wasnít even at 80% health on it!).

She has had numerous suicide attempts, and I feel the next one is just around the corner. When things get desperate like this, I begin to lose hope and get very upset myself, I struggle at work and my mind is on the worst-case scenario. She is an in-patient now, and some days we can have some small conversation, other days she can hardly bare to talk/listen/concentrate for the pain it causes her.

It is a 2 hour drive, but I try and visit everyday. Sometimes she just tells me not to come to the hospital, or motions for me to leave when I arrive. I know the disease is not her, it is not who she is, so I try not to get upset or offended, but it is so hard. Are my visits in vain? Is it making her worse having to concentrate when I visit? I am more than happy to sit and read a paper next to her, but I feel just being there lets her know that someone cares(?)

Thank god I have never been through this horror myself, but if anyone on here has, can you tell me what comforted you when at your worst?

I find it hard to be understanding/caring without irritating her. Sometimes Iíll ask a question about how she is feeling/what meds she has taken, and Iíll just get an angry response. Should I just shut up, how else can I show that I understand if I donít know how she is feeling that day, or what drugs they have altered?

It is so hard sometimes to separate the disease from her, I canít help but get angry when she shouts at her parents to Ďfu** offí or runs away & cuts herself time and again after we have begged her not to.

I have done so much reading on the topic, and there are so many great books about those who have pulled through the nightmare, and made a recovery. But at this point it is so hard to convince myself (let alone Sarah) that she will too. Who am I to lie to her, when she is the one having to hang on through the pain?
If I tell her hang-on, to stay with us, then she just moans about how no drugs will ever work and that her life is never going to be worth living. Every argument I make against this is just fended back with a reasonable response. Sometimes I feel like agreeing, it is such hard work.
I just get so terrified when I think of being at her funeral, comforting her distraught family.

She is starting Cymbalta in a week, and I am praying that this drug makes a difference!

So, if youíve read this far then thanks for just listening. I donít tell many people about Sarah, all our school friends are scattered and I donít know many people at work well enough to pour my heart out.

I just need some words of wisdom from carers/sufferers really. Help!

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Old 08-03-2007, 04:17 PM   #2
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melly3407 HB User
Re: What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend

I first would like to say... you are an amazing friend to Sarah. Believe me, she knows you are! I am in the reverse situation. I am in Sarah's shoes and have a best friend just like you, so i hope I can help you from Sarah's point of view!

Sarah's is feeling angry because she is in so so much pain and anger is usually the first emotion that comes out. I have been so angry at my friend at times because i am so tired of fighting this horriable disease. It takes every ounce of energy and eats at my core self. Sarah is in the best place now where she can hopefully get the treatment she needs.

you are right, it is the depression talking, not Sarah.

What helps me, is just having someone around. I may not want to talk or have who ever is with me talk, because I am just to tired. I know that just having my friend with me helps more than they can imagine. you are doing everything right. Tell Sarah you are there and that you will NEVER give up on her and that you LOVE her and she is WORTH fighting for.

I hope that helps.

My prayers are with the both of you.

Old 08-03-2007, 06:35 PM   #3
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trg247 HB Usertrg247 HB Usertrg247 HB User
Re: What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend


Its nice to hear you are being so supportive of your friend a lot of us are abandoned when we are at our lowest.

During one of my lowest periods I made my exwife angry enough to where she left. I did this on purpose to protect her from this disorder. There are days when depression feels very real and you can almost feel it in your body so I was worried my wife or child would get infected.

When depression is going at full speed your brain is going nuts. There is way too much information to comprehend and trying to keep some sort of order is near impossible. The problem when visiting someone in this state is that they are trying to keep their head right while conversating with their visitor. I am 33 and when my exwife tried to talk with me when I was in this state I pretty much ran and hid there was no way I would have been able to talk with her. For me the only thing that would slow down my brain is self injury. As odd as it may sound self injury has saved me on more then one occasion.

The person you know is still there its just she is so caught up in the battle with depression to the point where all of her energy and focus is somewhere else. Think studying all night then someone the next day asks you a question chances are the answer is not going to be too polite

I am wondering instead of frequent visits that you mailed her letters. This would give her the chance to read it at a good time for her and would not be so overwhelming to her. Also with letters if she needs a quick pick me up she can always reread a letter. I don't know if she would write back though but I don't think thats the main point..

Sorry for the book
take care
Major Depressive Disorder With Psychotic Features
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Current Meds

Old 08-04-2007, 06:01 AM   #4
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thaliak HB Userthaliak HB Userthaliak HB Userthaliak HB Userthaliak HB Userthaliak HB User
Re: What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend

hELLO Boozle,
I would love to have a friend like you..
Thank God, I never was so bad as to actually harm myself, but came pretty close thinking about it.... My son and my family were my only hope of hanging on...
Anyway, during those horrible times when I didn't even want to live what helped me was the presence of my antie,( my mum died 12 years ago) who was there, understanding, not pushing and always had arms ready to open up to the most wonderful hug imaginable. She would not ask me how I was feeling, because she would know just by looking at me, but would always encourage me that I was truly getting better, even when I wasn't.. She was a soothing presence. Talking always about things that would not upset me but not actually demanding my attention or wanting to hear a reply.
What can I say? She nursed me back to life... Please be realistic. Your friend just needs love but she cannot really accept it! I know it sounds crazy, but too much loving attention increases the pressure on her to get better while she acutally cannot.
But, take heart. Her medicine will eventually work and she will find the strength to be as near to normal as possible again. But she needs time. She also needs therapy and I hope she has the option at the hospital.
PLEASE DO NOT DISPAIR. She knows you LOVE HER. Just be loving and do not lose faith in her. She will pull through eventually.
We all have. We are here aren't we?

Old 08-05-2007, 02:19 PM   #5
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boozle HB User
Re: What can I do to help her? Caring for my severely depressed best friend

I cannot thank you all enough for your wise and kind words.

The advice from a sufferers point of view is really important to me, and is definately helping me accept my friends anger. I am writing her a short letter now, so I hope she can keep that and re-read it when alone.

Thanks so much for your time, you don't know how much it has helped me

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