Help them help you

You try to be a good friend but your friends don’t return the favor.

Our elder says in times of distress, you may have to ask for the support you need.

Dear EWC:

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read my complaint. I’m 16 years old and am in the 11th grade. I go to a boarding school and so I never see any new kids. I’ve been attending this place since the 6th grade and so everyone is already with their cliques.

I have a hard time making friends; I always feel like I’m an alien because I never find the things they do interesting and vice versa. However, I’ve always believed that despite my weirdness, my group of friends loved me for me. My problem is that when I am going through something sometimes way too overwhelming for me to handle alone, I feel as if everyone disappears.

Recently, my little brother, who I adore so much, tried to kill himself and reported himself to his doctor (which I am so proud of BTW. That takes a lot of self awareness and bravery). He’s been admitted into a hospital but my heart broke when I found out about this. I felt as if I’d failed him as a sister.
Anyway, it has taken a toll on me and all I want to do is tell one of my friends about it. Just someone to vent to at least. They all avoid me like I have the PLAGUE or something! It hurts me because I sit there out of the kindness of my heart to listen to their problems, no matter how big or small it may seem. The only time my friends talked to me today was to ask me to bring them some freaking food. Food! Never mind that I had tears coming out my eyes. All they cared about was a measly bag of chips.

As an over-thinker, sometimes I think that I’m being dramatic about their intentions and so I close myself off from them unintentionally. However, I’m so tired of having to reach out to them to help. I just wish that they picked up the signs when I’m not OK, just like I do when I see that they aren’t being themselves. But then again, I feel like that’s such a selfish thing to ask for. What should I do?

Dot replies:

I am so sorry to hear about your brother. I can’t imagine how worried you must be about him. It is wonderful that he is seeking help. Reaching out for help, even though it was after the fact, seems like a good sign. There are so many things that the doctors can do to help him now that he has admitted feeling the way he feels. I hope you can hang on to that positive thought.

I imagine being in a boarding school, away from home makes the situation even worse. Please don’t feel like you have failed your brother. The guilt you feel will not help either of you. I think it is common for those closest to someone who tries to commit suicide to feel like they should have seen something or should have known something was wrong. In reality, we are only able to control how we feel and what we do. Can you have a conversation with him to let him know that you are there for him? Absolutely! Giving him support right now will be important.

You sound like an empathic young lady. You feel what others feel; therefore, you are able to listen to problems and at times offer advice. I’m sorry you feel as though your friends have let you down. That must really hurt. I wonder if they feel uncomfortable talking about the situation. Sometimes people will change the subject if they just don’t know what to say. Suicide can be a hard subject to talk about. I’m betting you just wanted someone to listen to your feelings, but not everyone is as sensitive to others’ needs as you are. That’s not an excuse for their behavior. I wish they could have supported you better. I wonder if you could just tell them that you need to talk about it. Ask them if they could listen. Sometimes you will find that to get your needs met, this may be required with some people.

Or, you may need to talk to a trusted teacher/counselor. It can be so helpful just to sort through feelings to be able to verbalize them. Could you possibly go home for a short time to support your brother and your family through this tough time? Those are just a couple things that come to my mind. Please find someone to talk with. I will be thinking of you and wishing you the best. Please feel free to write back to Elder Wisdom Circle anytime. We are always here to listen.


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