Thank you so much for being here. AND for being such a supportive friend. It sounds like there’s a lot of trust between you two, which is definitely precious and needed while battling with suicidal ideation and struggles such as traumas and depression.
Like I said, I want her to be okay and so I’m very tempted to steer her towards following the rules and living, but I don’t know if that would be the right thing for her. Can I justify convincing her to hold on? And if so, does anyone have suggestions for things that I can do that may help her?
First off, I think you’re already doing a lot by listening to her, discussing about those things and caring about her. The things she’s struggling with can be very isolating. From a personal perspective, I can tell that when I’m at my worst and feel very hopeless, I don’t really need advices or practical tips. I just need someone I trust to hear what I have to say, to acknowledge it so I could feel less alone with the pain I’m feeling. It sounds that, as a trusted friend, you’ve been doing this for a long time, and that’s truly awesome.
With that being said, I also can’t help but finding quite harsh the methods that her therapist is using. I’m not a mental health professional, and I can “understand” the point of making someone face their responsability and the choices they are facing, but this approach can also create a lot of guilt that’s not needed and make someone feel worse. In my opinion, this kind of approach need a lot of trust, and a professional is not always that person (even though I don’t know the circumstances around your friend’s therapy - if it was their choice at first, etc.). If i’m fully honest about it, I even find her therapists words quite judgmental - which shouldn’t happen in a therapist office. They may have a psychological degree or whatever, but they’re not Nostradamus. They don’t know how long it’s going to take for your friend to be better (“or if it happens at all”: did they say that? - if yes I wonder why she’s even a therapist, and can only recommend you to encourage your friend to see someone else). No one recovers the same way, regardless of what this person learned in some books. Same with the “rules”. On the paper, it sounds good (?), but it depends on how it’s been approached, and who decided of it. If it’s only to point out what she can’t stop yet - things that objectively take TIME - and say things that are obvious but also without any subtelty… well, maybe it might be good to see another therapist. [rant:off, sorry! Can’t help feeling a bit concerned when I read this, and it hits home in some way]
If I was in your situation, and again it’s a personal opinion, I would actually ask my friend how they’re feeling about this therapy, and about what has been said to her. I would ask if it helps. If it does I’d keep encouraging her as I did before, and if doesn’t I’d encourage and support her to find another therapist.
Maybe you can also ask her: how can I help/encourage you? It might sound very basic, but really, we can easily forget about those simple yet important questions. It gives power to your friend, a possibility to reflect on herself, to decide, to make you part of her own journey and collaborate towards the same goal. Depression, cptsd, and more generally mental health struggles due to difficult events tend to make someone feel like they lost their voice, or like it’s not heard. Yet it sounds like you already have this trust and safety that is needed for this kind of interaction. Again, it’s a precious thing that you have together, and as much as I hear your desire to do more or maybe differently, I really want to acknowledge the importance of the trust between you too, hoping that you don’t underestimate it. Because you’ve been actively contributing on building it with your friend.
I’m not sure anymore whether I’m doing it for her or for me.
There’s truly nothing wrong with doing both at the same time. You want the best for her because you care about her. But you also want her to keep being alive and part of your life… because you care about her. It makes sense, really. It’s just the beauty of any loving relationship. Of true love and care. It’s both about giving and receiving.
Through all of this, I hope you take care of yourself as well. Those kind of discussions can be heavy sometimes. You’re a good friend, Walther. You really are.