Wedding Woes

Don't center yourself in their mental health issues/crisis.

Dear Prudence,

A very dear childhood friend and I stayed close into our adult years, despite living across the country from one another. Growing up, she was always somewhat unpredictable and hard to depend on—we were kids/teens, so the stakes weren’t that high—but I noticed in the decade following college that she seemed to be gradually becoming more manic and unreliable. A few years ago, she stopped returning my text messages and calls. After several months of trying to get in touch, I came to terms with the fact that I must have done something to hurt her, and I sent her one last text telling her I would give her some space but would always be here. I’ve spent the months since that text trying to think of what I could have done and how I might fix it. The abrupt end to our relationship hurt me more than I thought it would—I lost a close friend of many years (albeit someone who hadn’t been a great friend to me in some time), but I also couldn’t get over the confusion of how it had happened.

I have recently heard through a reliable source that this friend isn’t doing well. I wasn’t provided any details, but it sounds like I’m not the only one who hasn’t been able to reach her, including close family, and this behavior may be more indicative of a mental breakdown or diagnosis of some sort. While I couldn’t help feeling somewhat relieved to know that I may not have done anything to hurt her, I’m also kicking myself for giving up on her. I’m so far away, and if she doesn’t want my help or my support, I can’t force it on her. But is there anything I should have done? Anything I should be doing now?

— Helpless Friend

Re: Don't center yourself in their mental health issues/crisis.

  • If you're close to this person's family then reach out.  

    It is really hard to get people help if they don't want it and won't accept it. 
  • This isn’t about you. But if you really think you can help, reach out to their family and say you’re concerned because you haven’t heard back from them in a while and you’re here for them if they need anything. Then be there for them if they come to you. 
  • I might consider reaching out to the family and letting them know that you're there for support and reaching out to friend one more time.  But LW might not be able to do much else and they'll need to seek their own peace about that.
  • You lost contact several years ago, it's fine to send a FB message or email saying just Thinking of you, hope all is well and seeing what happens. I wouldn't reach out to the family unless I was close with them before.
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