Wedding Woes

Sometimes, you can't fix people

Dear Prudence,
My best friend of more than 15 years lives in a different state. She’s been struggling with mental health issues over the past six months or so and has been hospitalized several times. She says she doesn’t want to talk about what’s happening, and I’ve been completely respectful of that while also reminding her I will support her no matter what. However, I do worry when I don’t hear back from her. This week, she didn’t text back when I asked how she was doing. I told myself to just relax and give her some space, but then I found out she had been admitted to the hospital again. I had no idea. I want to be there for her, but she wants to be left alone. I feel like a bad friend because I’m not helping her through this struggle. I also feel like our friendship may not be as real or close as I thought it was since she doesn’t want my help. What should I do?

—Left in the Dark

Re: Sometimes, you can't fix people

  • I think LW should continue to try and reach out as they have. I have a friend who was like this before, and eventually she did open up. It takes a lot of patience and care.
  • Continue to reach out, but if she's in the hospital she may not be able to respond and may only contact her immediate family/in case of emergency person. It might not be that she doesn't want LW's help, but isn't in a place where she can/knows how to accept it. Give her time to get there and be as supportive as you can. 
  • I think the LW is handling it perfectly and it is too bad she is worried she is a "bad friend".  She should keep reaching out to let her know she's there for help and that she cares.  But be understanding that her friend might need some space and may not always be in a place, mentally or physically, where she can respond back with a few days.
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  • I agree with continuing to reach out. I don't know what mental health issues she's suffering from but sometimes those issues can make things as simple as calling someone back a huge undertaking. Reciprocating a friendship in a normal way can become too much to handle. If treated, sometimes people will get back to whatever was normal for them and to have long-term friends not be there anymore can really hurt. 

    I'm actually more curious what happened to this person to go from apparently having no issues over the last 15 years (at least) to suddenly being hospitalized multiple times for mental health problems. Perhaps if the friend tries to understand that, she will have greater empathy for the situation.

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