25 Jul How I Convinced My Best Friend to Get Help for Her Depression
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
I will never forget the night I held my best friend’s quivering body in my apartment entryway. Tears gushed from her eyes as she confessed that, the year prior, she had considered taking her own life. I was shocked, upset, and a little bit angry.
Why had my friend kept this from me for so long? Why hadn’t she asked me for help?
When I comforted her and asked her to consider therapy, she told me that she didn’t want her family or friends to think that she was weak. For so long, I had witnessed this stigmatizing mindset become a roadblock for my friends and family members who were struggling with their mental health.
Ultimately, I knew that my friend had to make the decision to get help on her own accord, but there were some things I did to make that decision easier.
The first step to making my friend feel comfortable accepting help was just to listen. I sat with her as she explained to me the hardships she had endured in the past year and encouraged her to share her story with me. While I didn’t understand everything she was going through, the simple act of listening showed my friend that I was invested in her troubles.
Listening provided the platform for my friend to open up about her experiences and do some self-reflection. While it didn’t directly result in my friend seeking help, it created a solid foundation of trust.
I let her know that I care.
My friend admitted that she often didn’t share her feelings with me because she experienced a paranoia causing her to believe that everyone hated her or was plotting against her. Reassuring her that this was not the case and I would be there for her throughout this process allowed her to feel more at ease.
I knew that my best friend was experiencing a general dissatisfaction with herself so I made sure to stress how much I needed her in my life. Hearing this let my friend know that, even if she didn’t particularly care about the outcome of her life at that moment, I cared.
I Informed her of her resources.
The last thing I wanted to do was make my friend feel cornered or attacked. In order for her to positively receive my recommendations, I knew I had to do my research. I found out where the nearest mental health facilities were located, asked if my friend’s insurance plan covered therapy or had the means to pay out of pocket, and, most importantly, offered to be as much or as little involved in the process as she wanted me to be.
When she didn’t accept my help immediately, I became slightly offended. However, I had to check myself and remember that everyone handles their mental health differently. All I could do was provide them with the resources and offer my support. As much as I wanted to intervene, I knew that pushing a friend who wasn’t ready would only make her resent me.
I emphasized that there is no shame in getting help.
This is important. A lot of people who deal with mental health disorders refuse help out of shame. The stigma around mental health has contributed to the illusion that seeking treatment is weakness and that strong people can just suck it up and move on.
In order to normalize the idea of getting help, I told my friend about my own experience in therapy and how much I gained from the treatment. Letting my friend know about my personal battles with mental health opened her up to the possibility that therapy can be a source of strength rather than fragility.
I was patient.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, a watched pot never boils, and all of those other cliches. At the end of the day, my friend was only going to get help when she felt ready. It wasn’t a day or even a month, but when my friend eventually sought treatment, she thanked me for my enduring support. While I wanted my best friend to get help as soon as possible, I recognized that this was not always realistic due to financial, emotional, or other constraints.
Mental health treatments are not a quick fix, so even when my friend did decide to get help, the positive effects were not immediately apparent. I had to give my friend the time to sort out her feelings, find a treatment plan that worked for her, and get back to a healthy state. I had to resist holding my friend’s healing to a rigid timeline and allow her the flexibility to grow and mend. Mental wellness takes time.