I have an ENFJ friend I met in first grade. We've known each other for over twelve years now, and every year she, I, and another grade school friend of ours invite each other to our birthday parties, which usually include sleepovers. The third in our group (an INTJ) just had her nineteenth birthday party, and the ENFJ friend (we'll call her S) seemed so distant and removed from the whole thing, even though she did attend.
Let me list a few of her recent behaviors that have started to perplex me:
She seems promiscuous. By that I mean she seems to be dating a new guy every time I see her, and she's had a few pregnancy scares. All her relationships with guys seem remarkably shallow and brief, and she recently had a pregnancy scare with a male friend of hers whom she said took advantage of her while she was drunk.
She recently (over the summer) received forced treatment for an eating disorder. She said her parents and high school counselor put her under a sort of "house arrest," but I don't know if you'd call that treatment, per se.
She has body image problems and doesn't pass up the opportunity to lament something about her body. She definitely feels bad about it.
She admits to taking tranquilizer pills, i.e., pills that will make her tired. I heard this through our mutual grade school friend. This worries me the most.
She admits to drinking regularly. I see this, as well as the pills, as an attempt to self-medicate herself and relieve herself of a negative effective state. I would not be surprised if she became addicted in this way.
She says she has a social anxiety disorder, which I don't doubt.
She admits to having cut/mutilated herself in the past.
I do think she's depressed. It seems as though she thinks she has no control over her life, and it seems possible that she also sees no end in sight for her pain, and no hope for a brighter future. She seems to minimize the good things that happen to her, and maximize the bad things.
Last semester, when she and I had a few classes together, she would bring up her problems out of the blue, in normal, pleasant conversation, without any warning. I'm talking heavy stuff, like pregnancy scares, being taken advantage of sexually, her social anxiety issues, her body image issues, her worrisome monetary issues, etc, etc. I was usually so startled by the sudden change to a dark topic, and by her casual, light way of talking about it, that I really didn't know how to respond, how to make her feel better. It seemed to me that any advice I gave her was not really the purpose of bringing the topic up; she seemed to discard my advice as having no merit, and never used any of it. It seemed like she wanted to get all her hurt and anger and fear out, and I respected that, but I didn't know how to respond, especially considering we haven't been close since grade school (but we have remained old friends).
Tonight I realized that I would not be surprised AT ALL to get a call from someone saying she had committed suicide. And I realize that if I would not be surprised AT ALL, she has to be going through a pretty horrible, horrible time. That, coupled with how tenuous life can be, is worrisome.
Reading about the recently-publicized death of Heath Ledger made me tonight realize how quickly someone can die, because they think suicide or heavy self-medication is the only way to get relief. I do worry that she will take her own life, sooner or later, by accident or by choice, and I want to help her steer clear of that showdown.
I'm looking for advice. I'm looking for responses from people who have been depressed and maybe even suicidal before. If there were something I could do to reach out, to make her feel like I care, to give her hope or comfort, could I? What could I do? What would you recommend? It's a serious topic, I know.
p.s. I gave her the MBTI in the past year or so, and she tested ENFJ. I agree with that assessment. She also tested as a six on the enneagram at V's birthday party, but I don't know about that assessment. My first and best guesses were that she was either a one or a three (or, less likely, a two), but given that sixes actually behave like threes when they're unhealthy, she could very well be a six, for all I know.
This is just to give you more background. She's eighteen and a freshman in college, and she was raised Catholic. She's working long hours as a waitress. And by long I mean, /long/. We're talking 40 hours a week as well as being a full-time student. At the same time, those things have to be staggering. I'd wager calling her "overworked" is an understatement, but she refuses to work less and focus on school, and it makes me passionate that she puts herself through that kind of stress. Last semester, her grades severely suffered, and I bet that was a low blow, especially because she's always received good grades, and I know how much my grades matter to me (and how much they matter to others).
She's going through such a rotten time. Give me some advice. Can I help her? How?