I’ve befriended this girl – probably INFP, almost 18 – who also attends my place of worship and am feeling rather overwhelmed.
She is probably suffering from depression and I’ve discussed this with her – I raised it as tactfully as I could and she took it quite well and said I wasn’t the first person to raise it with her. She has gone to see a school counsellor a couple of times and I’m going to talk to her dad soon. I know her parents slightly, but it is a bit awkward as I don’t know them well and I am pretty sure her mom is suffering from depression too – well, she certainly comes across that way and a couple of people who also know her have told me that they are pretty sure she is depressed and probably has been for years. But I do need to talk to her parents as (among other things) she’s made a few semi-suicidal comments to me recently. (along the lines of “I’m going to do something very stupid if you don’t pay attention to me.”) I’ve discussed this with her as well and she seems ok with me talking to her parents. Not overjoyed, obviously, but ok. She knows that saying things like the above isn’t ok, but has told me that sometimes she just feels totally out of control and does/says things she later realises aren’t ok.
I think she is going to need some form of treatment for depression. Part of the problem at the moment is that I think her parents are overwhelmed with other stuff and aren’t paying attention to her at all or are dismissing the fact that she’s feeling bad. Honestly, I am rather apprehensive about talking to them because I wonder if they’re going to think I’m interfering in her life/their family, but I think it has to be done regardless – I certainly can’t dismiss the kind of comments she’s made.
But beyond the whole depression thing – though obviously it is all related – I wish I could do something to a) change her negative and bitter perspective and b) stop her leaning on me so very hard! Her whole perspective is “everyone’s life is fantastic compared to mine, I have no friends and never will, every time someone else gets something good in their life it makes me feel bad because my life sucks” – etc. I am seriously at a loss sometimes as to why she wants me as a friend because whenever I tell her about something in my life, about friends, or something I’m planning, or whatever, she gives me this bitter thing like “oh, your life is so fantastic, you have millions of friends and I have none, you’re so lucky, you have so much money to spend on whatever you want, you can do whatever you like whenever you want…” etc etc etc. I moved to a new apartment recently, a small studio flat, but it’s quite nice and I’m happy with it. She saw it and said “oh, I feel depressed now.” I bought a new leather jacket and she asked me how much it cost. Which of course was rude, and I should have just told her so and not told her the cost, but I did tell her how much it cost and she was like “oh it’s fine for you, you have as much money as you want to spend on stuff like that…”
I haven’t even told her yet that I’ve booked a trip home to Canada to visit my folks next year, because she’s a Canadaphile (oddly enough) and I’m going to get a whole “oh, you just have all the money you want to spend on this stuff, you’re so lucky, you can go whenever you want and I can’t” speech. Yes, I realise that compared to many people I come from a well-off background and I’ve had many advantages, but in my adult life I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I’m hardly a trust fund child or rolling in it at this point. Not to speak of the fact that I’m single and would prefer not to be, etc etc. I’ve tried to gently give her a realistic perspective on my life (ie. there are a lot of things I enjoy and am grateful for, but I have had to put in some effort for those things, and there are other things I’d like to have but don’t), but it seriously seems like she thinks I (and others) just have every advantage in the world, unlimited resources, a perfect life, tons of friends without having had to put in any effort, etc. I also try to encourage her from the spiritual perspective that we both share but at the moment I think that only goes so far for her. She does in fact have at least a few people who are trying to be her friends but she just treats them like chopped liver half the time – I can’t believe some of them have hung in there at all, they certainly get credit for that. EDIT: of course I have also pointed out many, many times that I'm almost 15 years older than her and have had more time to build up a network of friends, resources, etc. It seems like that just completely goes over her head and she thinks that her life is a total misery because she doesn't have everything that I have.
If she was an adult, and not just a troubled kid, there is no way I would be putting up with all this (it’s been about six months I’ve been mentoring her or whatever you want to call it.) It is negative and draining. Fortunately I am feeling fairly strong these days or it would have all utterly wiped me out long ago. I tried not to jump to the conclusion quickly that she was depressed, but am now almost wishing for everyone’s sake that I’d jumped to it sooner. But this almost seems like it goes beyond the probable fact that she’s depressed. I’ve known adults who are bitter and nasty about everything that others have that they don’t, and guess what it does? It alienates others, of course, because who wants to be around that? And I guess she’s old enough that I’m worried she is going to become one of these adults. I am really trying with her because despite all I think she’s a nice kid and I would like to see her turn out ok and reasonably happy. But she is leaning on me really hard and some days I just feel like it’s making both of us miserable.
Comments and suggestions welcome…!