TxCamilla

Helping a friend find Coping Skills

55 posts in this topic

I recently found out that my friend is battling depression after a break up. She has told me she's had more bad days than good days since she and her ex split up a month ago. She also shared that during these bad days she has some very dark urges. Until a few days ago she has been able to fight the urge to cut, but she has lost that battle. This past weekend she cut herself for the first time. The marks are superficials and drew no blood. So they won't leave any scars.  I am worried about her.

She has never had to handle anything like this before. This is her first break up and she is a few years shy of 40. This is the second person she has ever fallen in love with. She had very strong feelings for her ex. The break up for the most part was clean. The ex chose her family (husband/son) over my friend and my friend understands why. It just doesn't make some of her feelings instantly go away or lessen the pain she is experiencing. She told that going through this was tougher than her dealing with the emotional roller coaster of accepting herself and coming out. 

Part of my friend's problem is that never she learned any coping skills when she was younger to handle a situation like this.

The last time she had these urges she was at work. She doesn't really get any breaks or lunch. She works at an office so she it at her desk all day long and gets interrupted constantly. She tried doing what her therapist suggested (writing down the lyrics to a song) to distract herself. She attempted several time but failed. Until she can get back in with her therapist is there any other coping skills she could try. Are there coping skills she could do especially some she can do at her desk? I'm concerned that my friend may cut again and this time much worse.

Any suggestions to help my friend?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 One thing is to put reminders around her that she's okay,  she's enough,  etc.  Maybe make her computer wallpaper something inspiring,  repeating a mantra or positive I am statements out loud or on paper.  I wasn't taught coping skills,  so you really do have to retrain your inner narrative.  

Also,  just like I have to do when I'm feeling suicidal or bulimic,  I have to tell someone even though it bugs the crap out of me and even if it isn't that bad.  I say to my husband,  *big sigh* "So,  it's not really that serious but i thought i should tell you that I've been thinking about hurting myself." Or "I know i shouldn't,  but i want to throw up blah blah blah."

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, N00Bi said:

 One thing is to put reminders around her that she's okay,  she's enough,  etc.  Maybe make her computer wallpaper something inspiring,  repeating a mantra or positive I am statements out loud or on paper.  I wasn't taught coping skills,  so you really do have to retrain your inner narrative.  

Also,  just like I have to do when I'm feeling suicidal or bulimic,  I have to tell someone even though it bugs the crap out of me and even if it isn't that bad.  I say to my husband,  *big sigh* "So,  it's not really that serious but i thought i should tell you that I've been thinking about hurting myself." Or "I know i shouldn't,  but i want to throw up blah blah blah."

Telling people is important. It sounds like so far you have been that person for her @TxCamilla. Breathing exercises may also help. It sounds so cliche but you can truly do them anywhere and they are generally calming. I have brought myself down from the edge of full-blown panic attacks with mindfulness practices when other things have not worked. In fact I was just thinking I need to start doing that more regularly as I have slacked off and now my anxiety is back up.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, N00Bi said:

 One thing is to put reminders around her that she's okay,  she's enough,  etc.  Maybe make her computer wallpaper something inspiring,  repeating a mantra or positive I am statements out loud or on paper.  I wasn't taught coping skills,  so you really do have to retrain your inner narrative.  

Also,  just like I have to do when I'm feeling suicidal or bulimic,  I have to tell someone even though it bugs the crap out of me and even if it isn't that bad.  I say to my husband,  *big sigh* "So,  it's not really that serious but i thought i should tell you that I've been thinking about hurting myself." Or "I know i shouldn't,  but i want to throw up blah blah blah."

If you don't mind me asking what kimd of mantras or positive thoughts?

She does reach out to me or another friend when she starts hitting rock bottom. She knows that someone can't always be on the other end to respond right away. This last time she tried contacting her therapist since it was during office hours but no one called her back. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In general, some of the pictures with pretty words that you're going to find on Pinterest or Facebook and stuff like that. That you were going to make it through this.

My therapist has had me writing positive statements about myself that I actually believe on Post-it notes and putting them somewhere where I can see them.

Positive post-its

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or look at this simple and sweet encouragement from Big Hero 6: People need you

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that meditation can help. There's this wonderful site with audios on various topics like self-compassion or just breathing that helps you to relax.

For me being around people helps,for example,walking in a busy street,observing people or sitting in a coffee shop.

Another thing although you can't do it in the office (others gave you good ideas) is volunteering and helping those in need. When you see how hard some people have it,how lonely some of them are they are happy for a minute of your time but still live and try to enjoy life despite their handicaps,it makes you re-evaluate things. It made to me. 

I hope you'll find things to let your friend gently know what she can do in and out of office

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's very hard to say,  as every case is so unique. Personally, therapy didn't work for me. But I found CBT really helpful, and also EFT for relaxation and distraction and the best route without medication.

But I agree with a lot of what @bluebell has said. The best thing is to find a distraction so she has something to focus on other than the negative thoughts. 

I have a close family member with bipolar and distraction works for her. Last time she called me at a low point I asked her to tell me something that made her happy. She said she enjoyed making music so I asked her to make a new track and share it with me later. It worked, she became obsessed with it, had a purpose to her day, and it's opened some doors for her too. 

My point is, it has to be something she really enjoys or wants to do. A hobby, club, activity, anything to channel her thoughts and hopefully meet new friends, which is always exciting. I'm sure writing lyrics helps but it can also be very emotional and might have a negative effect too. She's fully aware of what's causing her illness to manifest, but she needs help to learn how to manage it and find herself again. 

I wish you and your friend all the best and hope things improve soon. 

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, bluebell said:

I find that meditation can help. There's this wonderful site with audios on various topics like self-compassion or just breathing that helps you to relax.

For me being around people helps,for example,walking in a busy street,observing people or sitting in a coffee shop.

Another thing although you can't do it in the office (others gave you good ideas) is volunteering and helping those in need. When you see how hard some people have it,how lonely some of them are they are happy for a minute of your time but still live and try to enjoy life despite their handicaps,it makes you re-evaluate things. It made to me. 

I hope you'll find things to let your friend gently know what she can do in and out of office

I too find it soothing to be around people, although that is a more temperament specific thing than some of the other suggestions on here. Taking a walk on a busy street is nice because it provides some contact with others, without expending the level of energy that would be expected in a regular social gathering such as a party.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you ladies for all your support. I will let my friend read your suggestions. I will look up some positive thoughts that may help her out and give them to her. 

The question I know she is going to ask is: Does repeating (writing/ saying out loud) the mantras and positive thoughts help? 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, TxCamilla said:

Thank you ladies for all your support. I will let my friend read your suggestions. I will look up some positive thoughts that may help her out and give them to her. 

The question I know she is going to ask is: Does repeating (writing/ saying out loud) the mantras and positive thoughts help? 

I believe it really does. It's about calming yourself down and creating new self - talk tapes in your head.  So i don't think it necessarily works to frantically repeat them,  but to breathe and speak to yourself as you would to a friend.  You're lovingly persuading yourself. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She goes to her sports practice once a week and it's something she really does look forward to. Her teammates have helped her out a little due to fact they are very encouraging and won't let her quit. They also accept her for who she is gay. 

My friend gave me her knife last night. The one she used on herself this past weekend. I told her I'll keep it safe for her. She said that she'd appreciate that. She knew that if she kept it then she would use it again. She also said that it felt good knowing she didn't have direct access to it. Her next therapy appointment is Friday. I'm checking on her daily to see where she is at. 

She has just completed journaling for a month. She said it has helped some but her schedule is so crazy that she doesn't get to write everything down on most days. When she does have time she starts over thinking and this can cause her to start thinking negatively.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, TxCamilla said:

She goes to her sports practice once a week and it's something she really does look forward to. Her teammates have helped her out a little due to fact they are very encouraging and won't let her quit. They also accept her for who she is gay. 

My friend gave me her knife last night. The one she used on herself this past weekend. I told her I'll keep it safe for her. She said that she'd appreciate that. She knew that if she kept it then she would use it again. She also said that it felt good knowing she didn't have direct access to it. Her next therapy appointment is Friday. I'm checking on her daily to see where she is at. 

She has just completed journaling for a month. She said it has helped some but her schedule is so crazy that she doesn't get to write everything down on most days. When she does have time she starts over thinking and this can cause her to start thinking negatively.

That's good that she gave you her knife. Hopefully that will help her not act on self-harming thoughts. What sport does she play? It sounds like the teammates are a good source of support.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, ChemFem said:

That's good that she gave you her knife. Hopefully that will help her not act on self-harming thoughts. What sport does she play? It sounds like the teammates are a good source of support.

She plays roller derby and kayak racing. It's getting too cold to get on the water for her to get any water therapy. With no local skating rink she only gets her skates on once a week. I wish there were more things for to do but we live in a very small town. Her work schedule is crazy then she has to go home and spend time with her husband. Most days she dreads this.  

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, TxCamilla said:

She plays roller derby and kayak racing. It's getting too cold to get on the water for her to get any water therapy. With no local skating rink she only gets her skates on once a week. I wish there were more things for to do but we live in a very small town. Her work schedule is crazy then she has to go home and spend time with her husband. Most days she dreads this.  

Whoa whoa she's married? How does her husband fit into all this? Even if he didn't know about the breakup surely he's noticed by now that something's seriously off with her mood.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He know she is having a tough time with the break up and that's it. Not about the other things she is struggling with.  She has not told her husband anything about the cutting.

They have been having some communication issues lately. From what she has told me he is just waiting for the I'm leaving speech. Tbh that is a possibility in the future. Her husband gets defensive and sets up a wall before she can even start talking to him. This causes her top shut down and not want to talk. He knows about the therapy appointment and is ok with her going. 

Edited by TxCamilla
Grammar
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TxCamilla said:

He know she is having a tough time with the break up and that's it. Not about the other things she is struggling with.  She has not told her husband anything about the cutting.

They have been having some communication issues lately. From what she has told me he is just waiting for the I'm leaving speech. Tbh that is a possibility in the future. Her husband gets defensive and sets up a wall before she can even start talking to him. This causes her top shut down and not want to talk. He knows about the therapy appointment and is ok with her going. 

It is probably good if he is aware of the cutting from a health standpoint, as I presume he lives with her and you do not. If God forbid she does it again and accidentally (or intentionally) cuts deep enough to need urgent medical attention, he will be best positioned to take her to the hospital. FWIW this would be my opinion even if he were a platonic roommate rather than a husband, which from the rest of your description may be close to the truth.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On top of the cutting she has stsrted smoking again. This the first time in 15 years that she has smoked. She can feel herself craving it more and more often. She has smoked a pack in 3 days. She would smoke more if she wasn't at work or around her husband. 

I have gotten her to promise not to cut until she talks to her therapist on Fri. Since I have her knife she is less likely to cut. The knife was just too convenient and she got it in her head she was going to do it no matter what she was going to cut. 

She has told me the lady two days have been good. I hope she keeps her word and stays safe.

I'm still worried about her.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, she has anxiety and possibly depression issues right? And you are worried and want to help, right?

Read this. 

https://inkandfeet.com/how-to-help-someone-with-depression

Point is... She probably knows what she needs to do to cope better. She is in therapy, right? She knows what to do, but SHE.JUST.CAN'T. She knows she shouldn't cut. But she just can't stop herself.

You are her friend. Under no circumstances should you tell her what to do. Because you might just add to her feelings of hopelessness and guilt, and plenty of people are probably telling her stuff she already knows she needs to do. You will just be another person that she disappoints, who she will feel judged by.

 Your job is to sit... Like a bump on a log. Ask her what she wants. And listen. But mostly sit. It sounds like this is doing nothing, but it really is the biggest gift you can give her. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, treelover123 said:

Ok, she has anxiety and possibly depression issues right? And you are worried and want to help, right?

Read this. 

https://inkandfeet.com/how-to-help-someone-with-depression

Point is... She probably knows what she needs to do to cope better. She is in therapy, right? She knows what to do, but SHE.JUST.CAN'T. She knows she shouldn't cut. But she just can't stop herself.

You are her friend. Under no circumstances should you tell her what to do. Because you might just add to her feelings of hopelessness and guilt, and plenty of people are probably telling her stuff she already knows she needs to do. You will just be another person that she disappoints, who she will feel judged by.

 Your job is to sit... Like a bump on a log. Ask her what she wants. And listen. But mostly sit. It sounds like this is doing nothing, but it really is the biggest gift you can give her. 

That last point about depression nnot sucking as much without the social side effects is super true.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you ladies for all the kind advice. I am sorry for originally misleading you. I know some of the advice given would have probably been a little bit different if you guys had know the truth from the start. I was ashamed to come completely out. To say that I am the one with the problem.

The post is all about me. I am the one that cuts. I'm the one dealing with the depression. I have so many things to sort through that it has become so overwhelming. To the point I can't take it anymore. I'd rather be in pain than hurt my husband or my family. 

I was honest when I did say that I gave my knife to my friend. She has it and in glad. If had it last night I more than likely would have cut again. I made myself the promise not to cut again until Fri. That's the best I can so right now. 

Thank you for all the support you ladies have given me. It has not gone unnoticed. I appreciate every response.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Big huge hugs. You are loved.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That took a lot of courage @TxCamillaand you don't need to apologise. You're not alone and you'll always have our support when you need it. It seems you're heading in the right direction and getting help which is already a huge step. Big hugs from me too. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Firstly, I'm sorry you're going through this as cliche as that sounds. But kudos for admitting it, after all this a place of support regardless of the major themes. 

On the cutting front, have you done the elastic band or bead bracelet method? You'll still get some sensation, it's not the same but do it enough and you'll feel it. It's a mild release anyway. As for the journaling. Instead of waiting til the end of the day/when you have time - would it not be better to notepad on your phone? It'll give you a immediate release that you're constructively getting out nearer to the time something happens/feelings arise. At work isn't ideal, but it's worth a try. If I were you and going through a rough time and feeling stressed out, I wouldn't feel better cataloging it later on. 

Other people have already covered that you know what to do and you have control. But the point is. Your family love you. Your friends care for you. Life's stressful and your head's a mess, but you're no longer in that relationship. You're not hurting anyone but yourself at this point.

Don't make promises to yourself, until you really trust yourself. It's gonna take time - instead I'd recommend trying to focus on the things about yourself and your life that are good and then flip it around and look at your emotional pain and then look at the good or goals you have for change. It's basically getting comfortable with that. It's all part of you, doesn't mean it's all negative. Also doing this before you go to therapy will make it easier to talk about the things you think  are most important. As well as the areas that you might not be ready to talk about yet. 

You can help yourself, even if you break your promise. You might have a rough ride getting through the next few days, but you can control your thoughts and you can ease your suffering, if you're willing to be honest and take the time. You're trying and for now that's more than enough. 

This is site is always here and even from afar lots of us care!

Edited by Hungry
Forgot to add question marks, so looks like I'm talking to myself, again!
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Hungry said:

instead I'd recommend trying to focus on the things about yourself and your life that are good and then flip it around and look at your emotional pain and then look at the good or goals you have for change. It's basically getting comfortable with that. It's all part of you, doesn't mean it's all negative. Also doing this before you go to therapy will make it easier to talk about the things you think  are most important. As well as the areas that you might not be ready to talk about yet. 

I know I am probably over analyzing everything. What do you mean by this quote above?

As far as the journal I have it on my phone and I carry it  with me everywhere. I work anywhere from 9 to 11.5 hours depending on the shift. What makes the job stressful is I don't get any breaks. I don't get even a lunch break. I have to eat lunch at my desk. I am constantly interrupted. So when I am crashing at work I have no escape.  I try and write when I am crashing but it's hard when you have no peace. I am constantly surrounded by someone. Most of the time its a good thing depending on the people, like my friends that comfort me. I feel no true comfort from home anymore.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now