Best way to help a depressed houseguest
August 16, 2012 1:37 PM Subscribe
How can we help our houseguest who is severely depressed? Is it okay for us to require our friend and daughter move out, even if she hasn't been able to find somewhere else to live?
posted by anonymous to human relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In May, a long-time friend and her six year old daughter came to our house to stay as guests for the summer. Two years ago, after 20 years of steady employment, she lost her job and hasn't worked since. She is totally broke and gets some public assistance. From her public health plan, she receives medicines for her depression/anxiety but very little therapy. Her six-year old daughter is a delight. Our friend is a very good mother, fyi, and the two of them are really great people. She is extremely upset with herself for the mess she's in right now, and we know that she has had extremely dark thoughts, including suicidal thoughts.
That said, she has some good days (getting medical care, applying for some jobs) and some bad days (sleeping long hours, unable to concentrate). She has lost much of her willpower. She doesn't even have enough willpower to stop smoking pot in our house. After the first time she smoked pot in our house, we asked her to stop and she completely apologized, agreeing to not use it in our house again. [We're pro-legalization of marijuana, but have several valid reasons for not allowing it in our house.] Well, our friend broke her promise in less than a week, and has used pot in our house 2-3 times a week since. A few weeks ago, when I caught her using pot again, I asked her about it, and she said she felt incredibly guilty about breaking her promise; she also said she didn't want to give it up until she's working & has an apartment again. I responded with a choice: she could either stop using pot in our house, or else she would have to move out. She made her choice by saying that they would move out by September 1st.
We are highly skeptical that she will have another place to live on September 1st (she just started applying for public housing). If she asks to stay longer, what do we do? Do we still insist that she moves out on schedule? Is that kind of "tough love" what she needs? Or is that counterproductive in someone who is this depressed? Are there any actions you have found that work to help someone in this situation? We don't want to be enablers, but there is that a great kid to think of too. Any advice from your experiences would be greatly appreciated.