helping others while maintaining my own sanity
July 11, 2014 10:33 PM Subscribe
I have a friend who is having a horrible life right now and I want to be supportive but I am also having a horrible life right now. How can I help but not put my own mental health at risk?
posted by kanata to Human Relations (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My friend got out of foreign prison (drug/mental heath thing) and is back in my home town. He is trying to navigate the broken system of mental health and social services. A lot of hoops to jump through and being told different things. He is suffering PTSD and depression and feeling suicidal. There is a wait list to see a counselor and a wait list to be on disability. His life is pretty much hell right now for him.
His roommate situation has gotten physically and emotionally abusive and he is looking at being homeless pretty soon. He phoned me to see if I would store the few valuables he has while he sees if he can get into the shelter. I said yes but then realised that it involved picking him up while his abusive roommate is there. I also figured out that the shelter is full of drugs and I feel afraid for his sobriety while there but I don't have a place for him to crash.
I am in a highly stressful spot myself. Dealing with child abuse. Chronic body pain. Living on the edge financially. An abusive family. Withdrawing from nicotine due to lack of money. Constantly dissociating. Breathing is hard most days.
But I have a therapist and a girlfriend and at least a place to sleep at night. A fabulous dog to keep me going. I feel really lucky but it is a precarious lucky as I still feel suicidal a lot of the time. Attempted in April in fact. But have a handle on when things get bad and people I can reach out to.
I really feel the need to help him. I am all he has. His family had abandoned him. I know the system a bit better and can at least point out potential resources.
I feel bad saying this but he really drains me. My girlfriend has noted that I have a hard time recovering from my visits with him. It doesn't feel fair to say no as he is very thankful and apologised when dumping on me. But I am not sure if I can keep doing it. I feel like I have no choice though because if I don't he has no one.
Boundaries aren't something I know so I am not sure what the correct thing to do here is? Picking him and his stuff up will be triggering for me and probably set me back in my recovery. Am I taking on his stuff? Navigating human relationships is foreign to me due to my childhood.
Are there things I can do to mitigate the stress he puts me under that won't hurt him in return? How do I take care of myself while taking care of another?
I would bring this up in therapy but mine is away on vacation while this latest crisis is going on.