My best friend just contacted me at first to tell me she was dying her hair. Then she told me she was getting a divorce from her husband and was starting the transition to become a man. Her family is verbally refuting everything and otherwise ignoring what she has told them. She claims to be diagnosed with bipolar mania. However, she diagnosed herself. She has a Mensa level IQ and just completed her Masters degree. She claims to have more psychology courses completed and a better knowledge if psychological disorders than any doctor. She has only been to a doctor to prove her diagnoses right and to get anti- depressants and sleeping pills. She refuses to take anti-psychotics. She told me as if she was saying the weather, that she tried killing herself but her blood clotted to fast. She has also been cutting and she happens to be so good at it that usually it doesn’t leave scars. Only a few have become infected and they are not in any vital location. I am very afraid. I love her very much and I told her such. I do not know how to help her. Her family is ignoring her. She is going through an identity change. She is going through a divorce. She has yet to find a job in her field. I live 10 hrs away. With her instability and all these negative events I am afraid. I don’t want to lose her to her own mind.
Your concerns are valid. The recent changes in her life are likely contributing to her instability. Not being a mental health professional limits your ability to help her. Not being physically close to her also limits how you can help, but there are several things to try.
First, contact her family about your concerns. She believes that her family is “verbally refuting” her but that might not be true. Her mental instability is likely impacting her judgment. Her family needs to know about her suicidal behavior. Given their proximity, they are in the best position to help her. They can call for emergency assistance, if necessary.
Secondly, encourage her to seek professional help. Both a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist could assist her in treating her symptoms. The psychotherapist can provide counseling and the psychiatrist can prescribe medication.
Finally, if she threatens suicide or even alludes to the possibility, suggest emergency assistance. She can go to the hospital or call 911. If she refuses, then call for emergency help or alert her family immediately. Threats of suicide need to be taken seriously and treated as an emergency.
Remain supportive, keep alert, share your concerns with her family, encourage her to seek help and call emergency services if she threatens suicide. Those are five concrete ways to help your friend. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle