How Do I Get My Friend Help?

I’m in a rather crisis situation with a friend I have known since we were little girls. I’m not even sure where to begin. We are both in our early forties, she lives over three hours from me, I believe she is going through a severe manic episode and I’m worried about her.

When we were young I hated going to her house because her mom was such a strange person. She would comment on the oddest things in a sweet voice topped off with a smile, but the words coming out of her mouth were cruel. I distanced myself from this friend during high school because our social groups became more different and her mom disgusted me, though I kept in touch with her off and on even when she moved away. Twenty years later we have shared a lot of ups and downs with each other. I share with her that I have social anxiety, I see a therapist, I have deep fears that I can’t seem to overcome. She admits to similar feelings. Though for her it goes deeper.

I have only witnessed her in a manic situation once prior to this, but the last week has been like nothing I’ve seen before. I’m not trying to diagnose my friend when I say she is manic, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind. She calls me crying hysterically and accuses people of spying on her and taking her things. She won’t use credit cards, refuses to drive, fears all doctors, refuses therapists and psychiatric help, won’t call numbers we provide her for crisis lines, won’t go to homes or other resources we provide her. Out of nowhere, she accuses me of leaving her at a carnival, and I have no idea what she’s talking about. She’ll talk to me on the phone and tell me her pet rabbit is ill, then suddenly she is crying and telling me she used the N word a year ago and hates herself for it. She’ll send me texts begging me to come to pick her up and drive her to the ocean. Then she gets mad at me when I don’t and tells I’m not a true friend.

I couldn’t handle this alone so I brought in our other friend from grade school whom I am still very close but my ill friend is not as close anymore. We both agree she needs a serious intervention, we have contacted her family but they have done nothing.

I’m at the end. I don’t know how to help her. She mentioned that bi-polar has been diagnosed in her family and she believed her dad had it (he has passed). However, when I bring up the words mental illness she gets angry and defensive. I tell her I have a mental illness, that’s what anxiety is. I have panic attacks. But I’m in a good place and getting help. I have encouraged her to do the same for years and she refuses.

She is sucking me down and it scares me. Her rantings are sparking old habits in me, I’m having a hard time lately. Part of me wants to cut her off since she won’t listen to anything I say to help her, but turning my back on a friend or anyone who so desperately needs help goes against everything I believe in.

Advice welcome. I’m lost. I can’t keep running in these circles with her.

29 Replies to “How Do I Get My Friend Help?”

  1. I’m not expert in mental illnesses so I can’t give important advises, but from your description she definitely needs urgent help! The way I see things: when someone is having a heart attack or physically injured, we don’t think twice, we just call the emergency number or we take them to the hospital to help them…But when someone dies on daily basis, and maybe they might commit suicide and lose their lives, we always think it’s not urgent (not you of course, just in general) so in your friend case, some high level and professional assistance should be provided whether she likes it or not! Because I think that a part of being mentally ill, is refusing the help and fighting sometimes…Some professional must intervene urgently…Maybe they have a way to convince her…After that, at the very end if no one has succeeded to help because she stills stubborn and fighting, then nothing to do…(Unfortunately of course) because all people that managed to overcome their illnesses, have fought so hard and didn’t give up at all…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have considered telling the police she could hurt herself, that way they would at least go check on her. I don’t think you can forcefully commit someone without their consent though. Unless she is a threat to others. It’s more complicated then I thought it would be.

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  2. You are a true friend. To spend this much time and effort on a childhood friend is commendable. I’m sure during times of clarity, she knows this and truely appreciates you.
    I’m still in the process of getting a full diagnosis, this can take some time as so many mental illnesses have similar symptoms. I thought for a long time I had bipolar, I was wrong. Complex PTSD, Major Depressive disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and just trying to accept or rule out Borderline Personality Disorder. From what you’ve said, I’d point towards Schizophrenia/paranoia based disorders. In any case, she needs serious help. Every time she contacts you, she is screaming for help. Her words and actions may seem to contradict this but it’s true.
    I’m not sure, where you are from but in Australia, we have a crisis assessment team number that you can call. You can tell them all about your friend, her address etc, they can organise home visits or admit her to hospital if needed.
    I’ve wished so many times that someone would call them for me, anxiety stops me from calling them myself.
    Your own mental health is important, continue to look after yourself. You are a great person.

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    1. The US has almost no free support for mental illnesses. There are numbers you can call but they redirect you to counselors which all cost money. It’s a poor system here.

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      1. I’m very sorry to hear that. I’m here complaining about Australia but we at least get 10 free psych sessions a year. I found this website, you may have already looked at it.

        http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/contact-us#treatment

        HRSA Health Centers care for you, even if you have no health insurance – you pay what you can afford based on your income. Health centers provide mental health, substance abuse, oral health, and/or vision services. Contact the health center organization directly to confirm the availability of specific services and to make an appointment. Search for a health center closest to you here.

        https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/index.html

        Maybe you could talk to them about your friend? If you haven’t already. If they can’t help, at the bottom of the first link is a contact section. They say they will try to help.
        Hopefully this is new information and the links work for you (if not copy and paste).
        Good luck. It’s not an easy path.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, i think in both cases i still need my friend to initiate it, but I’ll look at them for sure. Any resources are helpful!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a difficult situation to find yourself in. I’m not qualified to comment on her symptoms or mental health, but based on the episodes she is sharing with you she definitely needs professional help and soon! You’re being the best friend you can be from a distance, offering your ear to listen and to be there. From a distance it’s difficult to do more than that, but it’s important to remember your own mental health and not to jeopardise it on her behalf. I learned this lesson the hard way. My best friend’s Dad attempted to take his own life (and failed) to escape being arrested. I wanted to be there for her but at the same time it was extremely draining on me to listen to everything that needed talking about. Seeing her happy now is amazing but it set me off on a massive depressive episode which I needed to take time off work to get over. Take care of yourself primarily. If you are able to help then brilliant. If you have tried and failed, then at least you have done EVERYTHING in your power to help. Being so far away you can’t arrange to see her or to arrange medical help on her behalf. Don’t lay blame at your own door if you’re unable to do as much as you would like. You’re an amazingly brave friend to be there for her. You are showing her love when she isn’t the most lovable. Stay strong, I hope a solution becomes apparent soon and that she gets the help she needs. Luna x

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is helpful to know how others mental health effects others, especially when I have my own concerns. I see my therapist on Thursday and hope she can navigate me through this.

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  4. Sad as it is there are some things we can’t fix. It sounds as if you have done all the things a good friend would do and then some. My years or working as a Parish Nurse taught me that sometimes you have to wait for the tragedy to occur before you can intervene in any way. REMEMBER there are some things we CANNOT FIX!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading your words made me cry, I think because I needed them so badly. I want to help her. I’m giving it one more push and giving her resources one more time, then I’m taking a giant step back. I have to for me and my family.

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  5. It is terrible when people we know are suffering and we can do nothing to help them. My thought is similar to that of the commenter above. You can’t fix people who don’t want to be fixed. Your friend is seriously mentally ill, but she cannot admit her illness and accept help for it as you have. In the meantime, she uses you and wears you out. Unfortunately, this is a common manifestation of mental illness. Legally, I don’t know if she can be forced into treatment, and of course that is not your call to make. Does she have family, and have you tried contacting them to pass on the behavior you’ve experienced from her? Or can you locate a mental health agency in the city where she lives and explain her situation? Other than those two things, it seems to me you are at a place where you have done all you can. Spending more time being her sounding board is enabling her and endangering you. I think you may have to be cruel now to be kind: Don’t accept her calls. Stop trying to help. Do what you can to let family and mental health professionals know she is at risk, and then step away. I’m sorry you are going through this.

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    1. I have contacted her family and they say they will intervene but then they don’t! It’s so frustrating. I called a crisis hotline and texted another, both have the same answer, she needs to reach out to them. I’m making one more push, then stepping back. Way back. I hope she’ll be ok. My heart is breaking for her and her kids.

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  6. Sometimes you have to cut ties for your own sanity. If she will not get help you can’t make her or fix her. You will only be contributing to the demise of your own mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is soooooooooooo hard to do. But you gotta do what is best for your mental health.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You can look up NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness number and see if they have a suggestion. She cannot be admitted to a hospital unless there is a danger to self or others. However, the cops can do a welfare check if you suspect she may be a danger. You can call the the no emergency line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found a way she can text NAMI and get free immediate counseling over text and resources. I provided that number (741741) again today only after reaching out myself to see how it workes. I had a good experience. Hope she follows through. We may habe to involve the law but I hope that truly the last resort.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. First off, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I know how hard it can be to want to help someone, and know how to help them but they wont listen to your advice. My ex is like that he’s ruining his life and blaming me because I didn’t stay with him. I know how he could fix his life but he refuses to listen to me. In your case however, I believe you should try a little harder and perhaps call the crisis center for your friend that way she gets help. If you dont want to do that, then I think it’s best you let her go… I know it’s hard to watch a person you care about ruin themselves and their lives but the extra stress it will cause you in the long run isn’t worth it. Yes she needs to get better but if she cant see that herself then she wont.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have called a center and texted a different one so. Sadly, they both told me she needs to reach out on her own. I sent my friend a message today telling her I checked the contacts for her and they are good. I gave her the info again. She didn’t respond. I think you’re right, she doesn’t see that she needs help.

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      1. It’s sad that she can’t see that she’s I’ll but until she does… you can’t help her. I wish you could but you can’t. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I would try to talk to her it might not be easy but I’d keep trying to reach her anyway. She’s probably really scared. Scared and wanting to hide, fearful of what might come if she goes and seeks help. Your being a great friend, I know it isnt easy xox

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  10. There are many great ideas expressed here. I want to share a couple of things….The Serenity Prayer… God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.
    Know your boundaries…know what is healthy for yourself and stick to it. What is really in your control? Take care of that.
    It sounds like you are a great friend who loves and cares deeply. She is fortunate to have you for a friend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Since she refuses to take advice from you, and pretty well everyone else it seems, I’d ask what she thinks she should do. She seems very determined to live the way she wants to. Until she realizes she needs some sort of help you’re beating your head against a brick wall.

    Distance yourself but still, keep an eye on her. Let her know ***her*** behavior is having a negative effect on you. But be prepared for a really frantic phone call in the middle of the night when she realizes what she’s doing (or not doing) isn’t working. Let her discover she needs help. It’ll be one of the hardest things you’ve done but she will benefit when realizes she needs help. But she has to realize she needs help. You can tell her till you’re blue in the face. She must come to the realization she needs help or she’ll fight you tooth and nail.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. From experience I would go the route of having her sectioned under the mental health act. That is what can happen here if somebody feels that a person needs urgent help and they won’t help themselves. Do they have such a facility where you’re from?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She would need to show she is a risk to herself or others. We can ask for a welfare check, but her family is finally involved and are trying to get her in a program.

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