Ask Amy: Friend worries about best friend’s isolation
Dear Amy: My best friend suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues, and has been suicidal.
This has been a particularly tough year for her, and she pushed away several friends after they hurt her, leaving me as one of her only remaining confidants (she isn't in touch with her family, for good reason).
We would text or talk daily, and she lives close to me, so she's a huge part of my life.
A month ago, she was having a bad day and I tried to cheer her up by saying this year would be a lot better than the last. That hurt her, and she told me (via text) that she "needed space." I haven't heard from her since.
I've texted her several times since then to affirm that I understand her need for space, but that I care and am here for her.
Should I reach out beyond that?
I want to call or show up at her door, but doing so feels disrespectful of her need for space.
On the other hand, I worry that she'll feel abandoned if I don't do more to reach out.
I know she's in pain and it kills me to not be able to be there for her. I miss her terribly, but I don't want to drive her further away. What should I do?
– Forlorn Friend
Dear Forlorn: Your friend may have boxed herself into a corner by declaring that she needed space. She may still want to isolate – but she might not. Her depression may prevent her from taking what might seem like monumental steps to reach out.
I think you should call her. If she doesn’t pick up, leave a message – not of the “I’m worried about you” variety, but more general: “I’m just checking in. I was at the plant store yesterday and thought of you. I’d love to swing by and pick you up and we could go smell the lilacs or meet for coffee if you’re up for it. Let me know?”
Suggest something simple that reminds her of your friendship and affection, and let her know that you see her as more than being consumed by her illness.
You want to open the door – and keep it open – hoping that she will walk through it when she is ready.
Dear Amy: I have an 18-year-old son who is "10 feet tall and bulletproof,” especially regarding COVID.
Last December, 5 of the 6 of us contracted COVID. Guess who didn't?
We followed CDC guidelines and isolated within our house, so he had no contact with any of the rest of us for the two-week period.
He won't get his blood tested to find out if he contracted it. Now we're all getting vaccinated. Except him.
I give him all the statistics. I’ve even tried to bribe him to get his shot.
He says it's his body and that he chooses not to get this vaccine.
I have three daughters also, and have always made sure everybody knows boundaries with respect to their bodies. How can I argue with him?
How can I make an 18-year-old boy understand it's not all about him?
– Bullet-proof's Mom
Dear Mom: Your 18-year-old’s behavior is typical of an older adolescent: conveying his immaturity and poor judgment through arrogance.
This is what compels young people to drink and drive, engage in risky sex, and ignore common sense and their parents’ entreaties.
Unfortunately, the more you focus on him — talking, bribing, and begging – the more you convey that it really IS all about him.
At some point, he’ll likely try to join a university or workplace that will require proof of vaccination. And then he’ll come running to you to hold his hand while he gets his “ouchy.”
Dear Amy: I am responding to "Frustrated" who wondered why so many middle-age folks/baby boomers are resistant to mental healthcare, while millennials are open to it.
I am a baby boomer and I just lost my beautiful, kind, millennial nephew to suicide. No one, except perhaps his mother, knew of his mental illness.
I've also read statistics that show suicide rates among millennials are rising. Mental health is a crisis in this country and needs to be addressed.
– Sad Aunt
Dear Aunt: I agree with you. I let “Frustrated” express his point of view without challenging them appropriately. In fact, recent research shows that millennials—people born from roughly 1981 to 1996—are more likely to die prematurely from suicide and drug overdoses than previous generations were.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.