Social Question

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

WTH should I do in this situation?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23098points) January 26th, 2013

I’ll try to make this as short as possible:

I became good friends with a person on a gaming website and connected with her on Facebook as well. She is a trans person and doesn’t seem to have many true friends, because her self-esteem issues push everyone away.

She constantly posts whiny status updates about her lover that flip flop at an annoying speed, like: I hate him, I love him, I miss him, I hate him… She also posts lots of “I’m so unloved” statuses and pictures of her bathwater after she has cut herself.

I like this girl and feel really bad for her. I wish that she’d stop both the cutting, and all her other methods of self-destruction, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to help her, and the frequency of her depressing posts are causing my own depression problems to get worse.

I want to remain friends with her, but my inability to shut off my empathy when it comes to her is turning this into an emotional burden.

I don’t know what to do here. Advice?

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35 Answers

Carinaponcho's avatar

I feel so sorry for everything she’s going through. The most you can do is to try and show her that there is someone who cares about her. Try spending some time with her and tell her she means a lot to you.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is this individual female-to-male or male-to-female?

janbb's avatar

I’m sorry but I would Hide her posts on FB. I could not let myself be exposed to that amount of pain for soomeone who is not a real life friend. If you want, send her an occasional supportive e-mail but you do nto have to take on her pain.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@janbb I considered that, but I’d hate to miss one of her “normal” posts that I could comment on. I may have to change my mind though. This sucks.

ragingloli's avatar

become her girlfriend.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Not gonna work…

bookish1's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate : It’s a good thing that you are an empathetic person, but you definitely have to take care of yourself first. I had to learn this one myself. Some people just use social media as a way to get attention and never work on their own problems. Maybe you can send her a private message or email explaining that you are concerned about her, but that her constant displays of self-harm and cries for attention are affecting your depression. Suggest that she see a therapist if possible, or find a trans or mental health related support group in her area. You can give her the phone number to The Trevor Project. (I was initially wary of them because many ostensibly “LGBT” organizations are indifferent towards or ignorant of trans issues, but I’ve called these folks twice and been treated with great respect and compassion.)

You can try to give her a good swift kick in the pants, and that might just be what she needs. But you can’t live for her or fix her, and you shouldn’t let an online acquaintance bring you down this much.

Bill1939's avatar

Why would you find being emotionally assaulted likeable? What is there about her that holds your concern for her while she is abusing you? In a situation similar to yours I think, after my friend was admitted to a private mental hospital her doctor advised me to forget her and move on with my life. It was good advice, which I didn’t take but should have. Likely you won’t either.

In your place (I have been there many, too many, times) I try to understand how my friend came to be this unhappy person. Sometimes this knowledge helps heal from the last encounter. Regardless, take frequent time out periods, for as long as necessary, in which this person with her woes is the farthest thing from your mind. When something is too heavy, put it down.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@bookish1 She is already seeing a therapist, and anyone who tries to kick her in the pants gets verbally bitchslapped, as she is extremely sensitive… It’s sort of a lose-lose situation, and I wish I could just hug her. She doesn’t live here, though.

@Bill1939 I’m trying, I just keep worrying about her, and I’m seriously worried that she’s going to kill herself.

Ela's avatar

I am an extremely empathetic person. It sounds like she is spiraling and would end up taking me down with her.
If I did not know her irl, would have to cut her off.

susanc's avatar

Get ready for her to kill herself. She probably won’t, but you should be prepared. Do not allow her to kill you as well. She and you are two different manifestations of life on earth. Something about her is resonating with you very deeply and making you feel like her survival and even her happiness are your responsibility. But it’s flowing the other direction, because her passion is greater than yours. Let her handle this. You cannot. Your job is to care and then look really hard at why this particular person’s plight feels so close to the bone for you.

zenvelo's avatar

She sounds like she takes emotional hostages. She certainly has you! Rejecting suggestions of help with anger is a form of narcissism you won’t break through.

So, time to protect yourself and break off the codependence. You can do this honestly by writing her to tell her that you can’t be held to her self centeredness anymore.

Then defriend her. Or hide her posts.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I believe that @bookish1 has given some sound ideas here. You mentioned she’s in therapy. That’s wonderful.

What seems to be lacking in this situation are boundaries, and that is up to you. Only you can set the boundaries that will enable you to interact with her and still keep your well-being intact.

I know for me personally, I could not stand to see pictures of bloody bath water on Facebook knowing that a person was on the other end of the computer hurting enough to inflict that on themselves. It would rip at my heart.

I would have to end the virtual relationship. I would do so by sending a private message stating firmly that I do not wish to be a party to self-abuse.

Hugs, @WillWorkForChocolate, and best of luck.

tinyfaery's avatar

This has to be one of the most difficult type of relationships that one can encounter in life. I worked as a counselor for years with girls who exhibited those behaviors; I imagine they have the same psychological disorders.

If you feel empathizing with this woman is not positive for your own well being then you either have to reestablish boundaries or cut off the relationship.

Let her know that you want to support her, but that it’s too hard for you to be a constant shoulder for her tears.

Frankly, I’m surprised this is a hard decision for you. You seem so straight forward when it comes to things like this.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@zenvelo I’m sure you mean well with that advice, but she is so fragile that I think doing something like that would push her right over the edge.

@tinyfaery It’s not possible for me to be my usual blunt self with her, because she’s incredibly unbalanced. She has a lot of emotional baggage, a lot of which has to do with abandonment issues. That’s one of the reasons I hesitate to cut her off. She’s been abandoned by so many people in her life and I don’t want to add to it.

augustlan's avatar

Oh, man. I can totally relate. Sometimes it’s really hard to walk the fine line between being supportive and not letting someone take you down with them. You’ve got to put your own mental well-being first. If I were you, I’d probably hide her statuses and just send her occasional messages of support. Something as simple as “Thinking of you today, hoping you’re feeling better” might lift her spirits.

Fyrius's avatar

If she is already seeing a shrink, then I would consider said shrink in a better position to help this person than you are… Besides being a professional who studied for it, they willingly chose that position and are being paid for it. You sound more like you sort of accidentally stumbled into it and it’s making you unhappy.

I’d be wary of encouraging this behaviour of posting depressing status updates by replying to them with sympathy. I’d suggest a new policy: if she wants your sympathy, she can ask you for help privately, but none of that in a public space like this with lots of onlookers. That way you’ll know she isn’t just being an attention addict.
I concur with hiding her updates. You won’t do her a favour by reading them.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Fyrius I already refuse to comment on the depressing/needy posts, but I do comment on her “normal” ones. I keep trying to encourage her positive behavior. It’s just seeing the posts that hurts so much.

Fyrius's avatar

I see. The posts aren’t all depressing/needy?
You can hide individual posts. Methinks it would limit the harm if, the moment you recognise a post as being one of the bad ones, you do that. Without reading on.
(It’s still no solution, but maybe it’s a bit of an improvement for now.)

bookish1's avatar

Well, that’s good to hear that she’s already seeing a therapist.
Yet one more reason why she is not, and should not be, your responsibility.
With someone so negative, positive feedback on her ‘normal’ posts might not work. Maybe you can hide her posts and just stick to sending her occasional positive private messages, as others above have suggested.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Fyrius Yes, she does have a few normal posts here and there, like funny pictures she’s found or links about gay rights and such.

@bookish1 Yes, I’m starting to think that might be the best option for me, currently, whether I like it or not.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ask yourself if she’s worth the pain and frustration. Maybe she is; especially, if you find it hard to be honest and frank with her.

Maybe you are working out some of your own issues with this woman. Pain isn’t necessarily bad. You have to decide.

I agree with those who say be prepared for her to attempt or threaten suicide.

ucme's avatar

Cut loose, not entirely but as has been suggested, minimal exposure would be wise, these folks can bleed the life out of you, especially if you’re feeling delicate yourself.

Yeahright's avatar

I agree with @tinyfaery in that perhaps some of your own issues may be surfacing. Maybe the real problem here is your inability to disengage and distance yourself from other people’s problems. That is not to say that you mustn’t be empathetic, but rather that you have to keep a balance in your approach of the situation if you really want to be of help to her and keep your own sanity in the process. Any good action taken to the extreme stops being good and turns into something bad and works against what you really want to accomplish here which is to help her. Keeping a balance between what you feel for her and an objective assessment of her situation will better equip you to help her by providing the support and understanding that she so desperately needs while maintaining a dose of strength for your own sake.
Hiding her posts/pix in fb will not do the trick. The real root of the problem is how you are approaching her situation. You don’t have to cut her entirely off, but you need to distance yourself emotionally from her (at least for a while), so that you can regain your strength and in turn pass some positive energy onto her.

gailcalled's avatar

It is called the Messianic Complex and assumes that you have the power to change other people. It is always doomed to failure.

Look after yourself.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, you must take care of yourself. Part of that is learning when to let go.
I agree with the swift kick in the pants. Not to try and change her, but, as a warning that you are getting fed up and may have to take some serious space from the friendship.
I chose to let go of a friend of 7–8 years, 2 years ago, as her issues were toxic to me.

It happens.
All you can do is be forthright and tell her ” Ya know, I care for you but I can’t take much more of this, I hope you understand.”

Pachy's avatar

Run! Trust me.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I agree with @Bill1939.

I think if you have no other ties other than online and gaming to this person then I think it would be better for you not to put up with the emotional abuse.

I believe as human beings we are very sympathetic. If you channel these feelings into something else that is actually in your life rather than what could really constitute as a fictional character who you will never meet unless you really want to take it offline and become a real friend then what is the point in letting yourself get all worked up because you could channel that sympathy into an abused unwanted puppy or something that you could actually help, because I’m sorry but I don’t think you can help this person, they need other help.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m going to recommend a book to you which may help to clarify things in your own mind and hopefully prevent you from getting sucked into her ultimate game of “See What You Made Me Do”, in which the responsibility for her decision to finally suicide is successfully passed off onto you and anyone else interacting with her (and even society as a whole)

It’s an oldie but goodie which has withstood the test of time (40 yrs.) and is still helpful to many today. The author is Eric Berne and he was way ahead of his time.

Nowadays most people are aware of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but back then not really. This book is one of the best examples of CBT even nowadays

The title is “Games People Play” and you can pick it up on Amazon for cheap. It may well be the best $5–6 you spend.

The games referenced are primarily of the subconscious variety and not of the fun variety. They represent various choreographed neurotic scripts into which we can get sucked in as participants, to our detriment, unless we become aware.

I happened upon this book the summer after my Mother’s suicide and it helped greatly in the years to follow.

Heck, it’s helped me all through the years and presently as I come across some of the same patterns over and over because, like you, I often find it difficult to disengage from someone in distress when it would be much healthier to do so.

But sometimes that’s the best option when the person is not ready for change to a healthier outlook.

You can also read about him and there’s also a link to the book specifically on the site if you want to get a better sense of what it’s all about at the link below.

harple's avatar

What advice would you give if you were answering rather than asking this question @wwfc?

I second what has been written above, and notice that not a single answer has advised that this is a healthy normal interaction you are having. I most strongly must also say that you are not the only person this lass is interacting with. Please stop feeling like this is all on your shoulders and yours alone. (It doesn’t have to be on your shoulders at all if you don’t choose to allow it, but I appreciate you are feeling attached and at a loss with this.)

And although it sounds harsh to say it, there is another thought here that reminds me of, say, a stranger in a strange land – you don’t know how much is real, how much is exaggerated, how many photos are her own, how much any of it may be true.

So I come back to my initial response – if you were advising a fellow jelly in this situation, what advice would you give?

(I also second the Games People Play book; very insightful and helpful read.)

HolographicUniverse's avatar

You must be concerned with your own mental health as it is obvious she requires more than your friendship to get better. Advise her to seek help as I am more than willing to assist her if you trust me, and let her know that you are there for her.
Try to keep your distance though because, as you alluded to, you dont want her condition to offset your own depression… That’s about all you can do in this situation

gailcalled's avatar

@HolographicUniverse: Not offset but exacerbate, which is the exact opposite. (This is not an issue of grammar, but, as usual, usage. Now you get to tell me that they are synonymous.)

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Offset- to serve as a counterbalance.

:-) find someone else to follow

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