Recently I met up with a friend who I only see occasionally. She’s been struggling with a period of depression and is seeing a therapist and on medication.
During our visit together, she revealed to me that a year ago she tried to take her own life, using pills. She luckily was stopped before she consumed too many.
Then, during lockdown, she tried again, this time by suffocating herself and was fortunate enough to have been discovered in time.
It breaks my heart to think that she’s gone to such lengths and how traumatic it must be for her partner.
I want to be able to support her, especially as I’m one of a few people to whom she’s opened up to about this.
But I don’t feel I’m capable to give her what she really needs.
She seems to be in a good place right now, but she was like this last time I saw her at the beginning of the year. What do you advise I do?
Few people without professional training are skilled at discussing suicidal ideation with a friend or relative.
These thoughts of suicide usually happen when the person’s under stress and/or experiencing depression… they may be temporary and can be treated, but in some cases, the person is truly at risk for attempting or completing suicide.
Because of that risk, it’s important that the person be gently urged by a friend, like yourself, to maintain an ongoing relationship with a specialist who deals with suicidal patients.
Since this person’s already seeing a therapist, you can occasionally ask her how she’s doing. If she reflects being in a more troubled state of mind again, you should alert her partner in case she tries to hide her feelings at home.
During the pandemic, it’d be wise for the couple to contact a mental health hotline where they live, to learn how to access other professional support, if needed.
Since March, our brother was collecting CERB - the Canada Emergency Response Benefit of $2000 for a four-week period to eligible employed and self-employed Canadians directly affected by COVID-19.
As a precarious worker in the hospitality trade with few hours coming in the next year, he feels like a pandemic worker-victim and that government should continue subsidizing him into his future.
During this time, he ate a lot and watched television 24/7 lying on the basement living-room sofa. He’s calling this his new bedroom.
He does once-weekly grocery shopping for my Mom and retired sister, all living together. He gained over 20lbs. and is well over 350lbs. We’re worried about his health as he’s nearly 60.
He doesn’t want to exercise at all.
He’s become a depressed hoarder, collecting everything, with clothes and other stuff piled high in several rooms. He keeps all old clothes and personal items from his early life to today.
My Mom has no more strength to argue.
How can we support him and what can we advise?
Hoarding is one of the most difficult behaviour disorders for family members and others involved, to understand/tolerate.
Hoarders have enormous difficulty parting with possessions, even those of no discernible value, according to www.anxietycanada.com.
The behaviour usually has deleterious effects - emotional, physical, social, financial and even legal - for a hoarder and family members.
Cognitive therapy may be able to help, if your brother’s willing to attend. Mental wellness centres, clinical psychologists, and treatment centres are also starting points for seeking help.
Recently, at a local golf course, my friends had brought another player who started telling me about his family.
He said that he’d wanted a large family, but his wife had insisted they stop at four children.
He explained that she’d had several more pregnancies which ended in miscarriages.
Later, two of the wives were present at the club. He introduced his wife to me, again mentioning her miscarriages. She visibly frowned.
I said I was sorry for her loss and changed the subject.
I can’t understand why he’d reveal such personal details to a practical stranger, when it disturbs his wife.
Yes, it’s especially sad since this couple’s obviously divided by his need to reveal their pain. Your response was appropriately empathetic.
However, he may be seeking sympathy as a full partner in the lost dreams of raising a sprawling family. They need to talk this out with a couples’ therapist.
Tip of the day:
Suicidal thoughts/attempts are urgent cries for help. Call a suicide hotline immediately.