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How do you help someone who won't help themselves?

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Old 07-01-2003, 10:26 AM   #1
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Jennifluffer HB User
Post How do you help someone who won't help themselves?

I hope someone can give me some advice on this.

Two other friends and I have been friends with a guy, let's call him Henry, for a few years. Now, Henry has more problems than I have time to talk about now, so I won't get into all of them. Here is the issue, however. He has told us on more than one occasion that he considers himself very lucky to have us as friends, because all the friends he's ever had have "abandoned" him (his words). Now, when he first told us this, we were surprised that people could treat him so badly as to abandon him as a friend. Well, now that we know him better, we understand why his other friends haven't stayed in touch. He, in essence, drives people away with his behavior.

He is seeing a school counselor, yet Henry needs so much more help than the counselor, apparantly, can give him. Henry's seeing him really hasn't helped matters much, and my friends and I truly dread having to see him or talk to him or be around him any more because of his inappropriate behavior.

For starters, he is socially inept when it comes to interacting with people. On the one hand, he prides himself on being a gentleman, then will turn around and say something to someone that is completely inappropriate. He cries at the drop of a hat as well. Now don't think me cold-hearted for saying this gets on my nerves. Imagine if you could not have an hour-long conversation with someone without them bursting into tears. At first we were sympathetic to his emotional outbursts, but it has taken its toll.

Another thing is his reoccuring bouts with suicidal depression. He will send us e-mails, saying how he doesn't deserve to live and whatnot, then will not write for days while we frantically try to contact him to make sure he is ok. On more than one occasion he has called one of my friends, saying cryptic things about hurting himself, then hang up on her. When she tries to call back, he doesn't answer, so she, being worried, of course, will go to his house to make sure he is ok, then usually spend hours talking to him until he feels better. Now, as he has a crush on this girl, I imagine this is an attention getting ploy. He does it every couple of months, and we are all getting tired of it.

He does have mental and emotional issues for which he should be getting treatment, ideally 24 hours a day. However, though he agrees that he needs help because "he hates feeling this way all the time," he won't go get help himself. Instead, he tends to call one of us, (usually the girl he has a crush on) when he is in these suicidal moods, and none of us are qualified to handle such a situation. We have told him this on numerous occasions, and he has gone so far as to call the police when he gets really bad, and they take him to see a crisis counselor. This is repetitive behavior, though, and it is really testing our patience to the point where we do not want to be involved with him anymore.

Sorry this is so long, but I really need advice, here. Anyone have any suggestions?

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Old 07-01-2003, 10:35 AM   #2
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Forgot to add...
Ideally, we wouldn't just abandon him, we would sit him down and outline why it is that people don't want to be around him, however we are afraid that such a confrontation would send him over the edge, so to speak. Isn't it worse, though, to say nothing and let him go on about his life, making friends who will inevitably leave him because of his behavior, leaving him not knowing why it keeps happening? It's a double edged sword, really. Either we tell him how we feel and hurt him, or we go our separate ways, saying nothing, and still hurt him. Either way, things cannot continue the way they have so far.

Old 07-01-2003, 10:41 AM   #3
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Your friend has obvious signs of depression and the most you can do is stand by him and continue to encourage him to see the doc and get help for his depression and suicidal ideations. My question is has he every acted on his suicidal ideations or is pretty much just talk at this point? Be there for him but alert the school counselor about his suicide ideations so that the counselor can also try to encourage him to get help. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped trust me. Just continue to be there for him as best you can and continue to encourage him to see the doc for help. Alert your school counselor about the suicidal thoughts. One thing you can do though when he has the crying episodes is remember that with depression you often can't help these episodes but gently tell him when he is having one of these episodes that you know he can't help the crying but ask him if it wouldn't be better to see the doc and get some help so he doesn't have the crying spells anymore. Offer to go with him to an appointment for moral support.

Old 07-01-2003, 10:55 AM   #4
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Good idea, going with him to his counselor, however as I work full-time and he is in college, it isn't feasible. My friends and I have had suspicions that he isn't telling his counselor everything, and may be leaving out key things (like his bouts with suicidal feelings).

I have tried to find his counselor's email address, but haven't had any luck, since I cannot find the person's name on the list of school counselors. I would very much like to contact him to tell him some things that are going on, but if I don't have the correct name (I've looked for the name Henry had given me, and I found a similar name, but not the same one. Don't know why that is...)

In answer to your question, from what Henry has told us, his parents once, years ago (before we knew him), walked in on him when he was about to cut himself with a knife. Other than that, no, he has never gone so far as to hurt himself.

He is on medication for his depression (can't remember what), and it seems to help a little. I can't help thinking that his has more undiagnosed conditions that seriously need dealing with. One doctor he went to said he had symptoms of schitzophrenia, but Henry got mad about it and never went back.

Old 07-01-2003, 06:33 PM   #5
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I agree with Migible.....and you are indeed in a precarious situation here.

Where are his parents in all this? Have you spoken with them?

Old 07-02-2003, 07:49 AM   #6
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His parents live about an hour away. They're aware of most of his issues, but his mother is apparantly wary of doctors. Instead of going to physicians, she tends to go to herbalists and reflexologists.

I happen to think that Henry's relationship with his mother is a bit seems he's unnaturally attached to her for his age (he's 21). In fact, that's one of his problems is that he has a very domineering mother. Sometimes it seems he can't make any decision whatsoever without first checking with her. Plus, it just kills him to keep any sort of information from her. He's told her some things about us, for example, that, taken out of the context of the situation, might seem a little strange. Does that make sense?

Anyway, yes, they are aware of his issues. A couple of months ago, Henry's mother called me at work to ask if I had heard from him. An hour or so previously, I had gotten one of his "I don't deserve to live" emails, but I had blown it off, excpet to email back and ask what was wrong. Anyway, his mom called all frantic, saying that he had sent her an email basically saying that he didn't see any other choice but to die. When she tried to call he didn't answer. So I tried to call, to no avail, I called our mutual friend who lives near him, but I wasn't about to ask her to go to his place, since who knows what he could do when in that mindset. (I do not fully trust him, especially with her, since he has a thing for her). So I called his mom back and told her she should call the police in his town and send them to his place. I heard back a few hours later that either she or Henry (don't remember which) had called the police and that he was with a counselor. Now, why she didn't put her son into some kind of serious therapy after that episode is beyond me, but she didn't. Henry's excuse the next day for his actions was that he hadn't eaten that day and that his blood sugar was low. Sure. Great. So every time his blood sugar drops, he's going to contact his mom about killing himself. Nice thing to do.

Long, round-about way to answer your question, I know. But, like I said, the lad has many issues.

Old 07-02-2003, 08:20 PM   #7
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I have heard of interventions toughh love ect.
Where maybe all of his friends,councelor,family can possibly all get together at same time and confront him all at once sort all gang up up on him ive seen this done with drug abusers with good results.Maybe with everybody hes close to telling him his problems all in the same room hell realize he has a serious problem and deal with it.

Remember this is only an opinion. But I think something to look into. Im sure theres research out there how to do this.

Good luck

Old 07-02-2003, 08:38 PM   #8
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Hi Jenn-
You sound like an amazing friend but you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'm astounded, as you are, that his mother hasn't acted seriously yet. Maybe you should give it one more shot by contacting her directly again and tell her her son is in deep trouble and she and family need to INTERVENE. Continued threats of suicide more often than not, end with the act itself. Either by accident or design. Either way, someone needs to shake her up. If she resists you and continues to be in denial, I don't think there's much more you can do, unless you can think of another family member who can help.

There is only so much you can do as a friend and you are above and beyond a good one, that's for sure!


Old 07-02-2003, 08:51 PM   #9
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I was just about to suggest an intervention too. A friend of mine who is often very unstable was really going off the deep end again. We (6 of us) "intervened" and it wasn't pretty, but it worked. She went into therapy and though it took 3 yrs she came out of it OK.

FYI I talked to her sis the other pm and she's unstable again! Sis and I think she's perimenopausal and possibly clinically depressed. Don't know whether I want to go through it all again. An "intervention" is very draining on everyone concerned. You basically have to "let it all hang out". No holding back. Let him know why he has been dropped by friends in the past and that he's travelling the same route again unless he gets serious help. Sounds like a classic Oedipal (sp?) complex to me....Tagger
Life is a journey, not a destination.

Old 07-02-2003, 09:04 PM   #10
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Just had an afterthought.......
What if "Henry" really has TRUE hypoglycemia? I know it was once a "popular" diagnosis and often over-diagnosed, but it does exist.

I just found the following in a medical journal...symptoms and the percentage of hypoglycemic patients who reported them:

Nervousness 94%
Irritability 89%
Exhaustion 87%
Faintness, Dizziness, Tremors, Cold Sweats †86%
†Depression. †86%
†Vertigo, Dizziness †77%
†Drowsiness †73%
†Headaches †72%
†Digestive Disturbances †71%
†Forgetfulness †69%
†Insomnia †67%
†Constant Worrying, Unprovoked Anxieties †62%
†Confusion †57%
†Internal Trembling †57%
Heart Palpitations, Rapid Pulse †54%
†Muscle Pains †53%
†Numbness †51%
†Indecisiveness †50%
†Asocial/Antisocial Behavior †47%
†Crying Spells †46%
†Lack of Sex Drive (Women) †44%
†Allergies †43%
†Incoordination †43%
†Leg Cramps †43%
†Lack of Concentration †42%
†Blurred Vision †40%
†Muscle Twitching and Jerking †40%
†Itching and Crawling Skin Sensations †39%
†Gasping for Breath †37%
†Smothering Spells †34%
Staggering †34%
†Sighing and Yawning †30%
†Impotence (Men) †29%
†Unconsciousness †27%
†Nightmares, Night Terrors †27%
†Rheumatoid Arthritis †24%
†Phobias, Fears †23%
†Neurodermatitus †21%
†Suicidal Intent †20%
†Nervous Breakdown †17%
†Convulsions †2%

Okay. Obviously the above symptoms also can be found in a million other disorders. BUT what I was thinking is, if his mother is resistant to mainstream physicians and tends to lean toward things holistic I'm wondering if you mentioned to her that Henry MIGHT have a problem with glucose metabolism, would she be more inclined to listen?

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Old 07-03-2003, 01:12 AM   #11
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Why not copy and print or mention this hypoglycemic list to Henry, and see if he will get himself checked out?

Explain that you care about him, but that you need for him to call his counselor or doctor when he feels that bad, because you don't have any way to help him.
Explain that when he calls that he is going to hurt himself that you are going to send an ambulence or the paramedics over to check on him.

Tell him you have to take these self-harm threats seriously.

Then act on them. Don't go running after him yourself, but call an ambulence. They will make him pay for it and will force him into treatment, if needed. This will help him see the seriousnes of what he is doing.

Tell him you can't ignore his calls for help.

He is manipulating you, but that doesn't mean it is not serious. I am sure his mother is half the reason for his inability to cope, as she seems over protective, but neglectful of his true needs.

[This message has been edited by friend (edited 07-03-2003).]

Old 07-03-2003, 11:16 AM   #12
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Thanks for all of the advice, guys and gals. Hypoglycemia, huh? It never would have crossed my mind. I will definitely ask him to look into that. My friends and I have suggested that he keep a journal of his feelings, and see if there's any correlation between his episodes and other things going on (ie school stress, not getting enough sleep), but I didn't consider the blood-sugar thing. Good idea.

As for an intervention, I really don't know if he could handle it. He gets offended very easily, at the slightest little thing. I've often considered sitting him down with all of us and telling him precisely what it is that bothers us, but I have a feeling that it would end badly.

As for the ambulance thing, I couldn't do that, simply for the very reason that you mentioned, Friend. He doesn't have much money (his family is borderline destitute) and he doesn't have insurance. I couldn't knowingly cause him more financial hardship. Sending the police to his place would work, though. At least he's smart enough to do the right thing, himself, when he gets suicidal. He's called the suicide hotline before, and he's called the police on himself on more than on occasion.

Another of his big problems is that, as I mentioned, he has feelings for one of our friends, let's say her name is Lisa. Lisa has a boyfriend, and has never had any interest in Henry. However, he does not seem to have the mental capacity to handle his feelings for her. He shows up unannounced on her doorstep, sometimes late at night, when he talks to her, he ususally ends up sobbing because he doesn't want to have these feelings and doesn't want her to be uncomfortable, and all this kind of stuff. But he doesn't seem to realize that pulling these stunts makes her even MORE uncomfortable. I spoke to Henry on the phone the other day and talked to him about some of this stuff, and he seemed to get it, so we'll see what happens.

Another thing about him I don't get is that, for someone who has so very little self-esteem, he seems to think that everything (notably everything Lisa does) somehow involves him. Lisa and Henry go to the same college. Lisa is moving back to her parents' place for her last year of grad school. Her lease is up next month, and then she'll be moving. Well, Lisa was telling me that Henry told her he can't help feeling that she's moving because of him. It has absolutely nothing to do with him. For her last bit of grad school, she's not even going to be on campus. She has an assigned place in her hometown where she'll basically doing an internship. Yet somehow, Henry has it in his mind that everything she does and every decision she makes has something to do with him. It baffles me that he can be so self-centered.

Sorry, I know I'm dumping a lot on you guys, and I thank you all for reading and responding. I must say that Henry is one of the most screwed up people I have ever met, yet he also has a lot of potentential, so I still feel the need to try to help him. Yet with his issues, I think that only a team of psychologists and psychiatrists working together with him 24/7 would do him any good.

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