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How to help a friend

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by SomeoneInCA, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. SomeoneInCA

    SomeoneInCA New Member

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    Posting here because I don’t know what else to do.

    A close friend of mine has Aspergers (I’m NT) and I believe he is also depressed. He is very open with me about the fact that his situation makes him miserable. He has expressed to me many times that he doesn’t know how to form relationships, that he lacks a community and that no one understands him. He often says that he’s a freak and feels inept in social situations.

    One of the topics that comes up over and over again is that he communicates his needs but no one hears him/no one cares. What makes this difficult for me is that this particular point is often made personal and directed at me in a “you always do XYZ that I have asked you not to do” sort of way. The XYZ in that sentence is different situation to situation and is often subjective or nuanced and difficult for me to pick up on in the moment it is happening. It inevitably leads to an extremely prolonged and emotionally draining (for me) string of accusations that make me feel like a terrible friend and inconsiderate human being. Over the past year or so, these conversations have been getting more frequent and more escalated. What used to be just emotional conversations have turned into yelling fights. The last one ended in a loss of control and somewhat violent expression of frustration on his part (not against me personally, but an object near me). These conflicts have become impossible to deescalate and will go on for hours. The last one happened in a social situation and was bad enough that a few people asked me if there are safety concerns.

    I feel strongly that he would benefit from seeing a mental health professional and I suggested this to him once. It wasn’t well received.

    I care about this person and want to help him, but I don’t know how.

    I would really appreciate any perspective on what he might be experiencing, how an NT can be more helpful in a situation like his (without running him/herself into the ground emotionally) and whether seeing a counselor might help him.
     
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  2. SunnyDay16

    SunnyDay16 Well-Known Member

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    As a friend, you can try to point him in the right direction and be there for him, but ultimately he is responsible for his wellbeing. I think he definitely would benefit seeing a therapist and some form of treatment, so it is good that you suggested that, because there's only so much you can do for him. At the end of the day, he has to choose to make changes to get out of his rut and help himself.

    From reading your post, it seems to me that you are being a very caring and considerate friend. Just because you are not telling him exactly what he wants to hear doesn't mean you are a "bad" friend. In fact, he sounds like he is the one being inconsiderate by dumping all his emotions onto you without considering how it's making you feel and expecting you to just make it all better for him. You're clearly worried about him and want him to feel better, but you're worrying at the expense of your own mental wellbeing and health.

    If it's getting to the point where being around him tires you out, then it's maybe best for you to distance yourself from him. That doesn't mean you have to stop being friends with him or stop comforting him when he needs it, but giving yourself space to let him sort his issues out.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  3. Bella Pines

    Bella Pines Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This is normal. These are normal aspie traits, most people on this forum have the same problems. He could post here for advice around this.

    This is not normal. Yes we struggle and have meltdowns, yes we struggle in social situations, but breaking objects and escalating violence is a sign of something more serious. I can't give a perspective on this because it's not a normal, healthy aspie thing to do. The fact that these incidents are more frequent and escalating is a further warning sign.

    It's difficult to help people who don't want to be helped, but others on the forum may have some ideas. If I was in your situation I would distance myself from him until such time that he gets himself some professional help.
     
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  4. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This is unfortunately very common. The adult acting like a 6 year old. And unfortunately it means the work needed to straighten out the behaviors and thought patterns was never done or was unsuccessful/resisted by him.

    Its not an easy process but is on him not you. Number 1 he has to realize there is a problem, many aspects of it are his problems and he needs help. You might support but can't lead the effort. He needs to get experienced medical professional help. His choice. He could do nothing and remain miserable. But in that case you should remove his option of using you as a venting bag.
     
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  5. MrSpock

    MrSpock Live long and prosper

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    Many of us on this site find support here, perhaps he'd feel less alone if he joined.

    It's possible (don't know how likely) that he's not so much being inconsiderate in the face of something obvious to him, but is being inconsiderate due to a sort of blindness - many of us are simply less able to understand how interactions affect feelings in others - interactions affect our feelings too, but the rules can be significantly different.

    It's also possible (again not making any sort of guess) that he's not pointing out what you do that he doesn't like so much as a criticism of you but rather as a means of pointing out to you the ways in which he's different. He may be upset when he points them out, and the upset may or may not be directed at you even though the conversation is directed at you.

    From my own experience I might say that in some ways I'm blind, and this makes for miscommunication since others do not consider that I'm unable to read people in ways that everyone (NT) seems to take for granted. I cannot tell you what it is that I don't see, since I don't see it. I only know that it happens sometimes, and sometimes after the fact I can deduce that it must have happened. Somehow, things go wrong, and it is due to differences in outlook. We can be offended by different things, and this too is difference in outlook. He may be trying to give you clues to how his outlook is different. This may be way off, you're in a better position to judge than I am, however it's an idea that might help if true I guess.

    I'll gladly discuss this further if you like, probably others will have more suggestions too.
     
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  6. SunnyDay16

    SunnyDay16 Well-Known Member

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    I feel he is being inconsiderate, even though it's probably not intentional. From what OP has said, the friend seems to be taking his personal feelings out on OP and not seeming to bother about how this affects her. We all get caught up in how we feel and forget how we making others feel when we take it out on them so I'm not saying that it makes him a bad person, but it is hurting the friendship.
     
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  7. SomeoneInCA

    SomeoneInCA New Member

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    Thank you all. The responses so far have been super helpful.

    So here is another question - how can I bring up the subject of professional help for the second time in a way that he's receptive to it? Last time I tried, he took it as a sign of me not wanting to lend an ear (whereas, in reality I was trying to say that I don't have the tools or skills to make life easier for him). My cultural background is such that I tend to be very direct and to the point... That may or may not be the right approach here.
     
  8. SunnyDay16

    SunnyDay16 Well-Known Member

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    I would just firmly but gently tell him, "Look I care about you as your friend and I want nothing but for you to feel better, but I cannot help you on my own. It's too much stress for one person to handle. You will need a trained professonal to help you sort out your issues. I will continue to support you, but I cannot be held responsible for you."