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marmoset's avatar

How can I help convince my friend to think about professional counseling?

Asked by marmoset (1311points) May 11th, 2010 from iPhone

I’ve deeply hurt my boyfriend by breaking up with him. I still really care about his happiness and want to see him do well in the world. He is calling and texting me constantly, telling me he is so sad that he’s non-functional. I just can’t give him the support he needs because I’m dealing with an illness (bad flareup of a chronic condition) as well as sudden large-scale family commitments. When I tell him I can’t talk to him, he gets even sadder, telling me he can’t sleep, function or do anything but be sad. I really want to help him get the help I can’t give him. He says he is too embarrassed to ask for professional help, but his life is completely overtaken by this sadness and it has been for more than a month. Is there anything I can do? I want to be gentle with him but I am starting to fray a lot myself becuase I just can’t deal with the level of conact he’s trying to have with me.

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11 Answers

Pandora's avatar

If you know any of his family, tell them what he said and ask them to help him find some care. If they cannot afford professional care they can try this site.
It gives information for finding counseling and how to help identify depression. They have phone numbers he can call and it may help him not feel embarressed speaking on the phone. I’m sure any of the counselors can help him find the help he needs in his area and maybe put his mind at ease about being embarrassed. If you know some of his friends who you feel are really understanding and loving, try to get them to help him as well.
I wish you luck.
And please tell him that depression is nothing to be embarrassed about. Its all a part of the human condition only sometimes people need help because it becomes overwhelming at times. Tell him if he caught a venereal disease he would go see a doctor, so why would he avoid seeing one when he needs one the most.

lilikoi's avatar

I think @Pandora gave great advice, particularly about alerting his family.

Maybe you could explain that he could deal with this himself just fine, but seeking professional help would expedite the process just like hiring a professional fitness coach can help you expedite your fitness level if you have no experience with exercising. Maybe an analogy that he can personally relate to would be more helpful. Does he hire an accountant to do his taxes? A lawyer to represent him in court? An architect to design his house? He could probably figure out how to do all of these things himself, but it is much more convenient and efficient to get an expert to help him out. When you have a sewer problem you hire a plumber, a building collapse a structural engineer, a broken bone a doctor, depression a shrink. Nothing embarrassing about that. It’s just practical.

marmoset's avatar

Thank you. I think he would be beyond mortified if I told this to the family member he has (his mom). He said he hasn’t told her. I think your logic is excellent in both cases but I think he is very fixated on how embarrassing it is that he thought/wanted wrongly (this is a complicated situation that I’m summarizing or simplifying as a “breakup” vecause that’s what it is from his perspective). He doesn’t have a strong network of friends other than me either.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You’re going to have to hang tough and tell him that you cannot help him, any more than he can help you with your illness or family situation. If he really cares about you, he will get over his embarrassment about getting help, because stressing out over him is making your illness worse. If he won’t do that, then it should be pointed out that he must not care as much about you as he thinks he does, because he’s okay with making your illness worse.

Cruiser's avatar

Just cut off all contact. Tell him you need time and space away from him and just do it. That will be the best thing you can do for him. The sooner he has no opportunity to feed off of your emotions the sooner he will find a new outlet for his.

Theby's avatar

Tell him to look at the answers you have here on Fluther. I know how he feels as I have felt the same way. It happens to a lot of people. The best thing you can do for you and him is as Cruiser says; Cut off all contact. There is no other way. You can only give him so much advice. He knows you think he should seek professional help. He can accept this advice or not. Do you think he is suicidal?

marinelife's avatar

You can’t be everything to this person. And if you have broken up, you should not be anything to him. He is wrongly burdening you.

Your availability is making it easy for him not to seek help when he can pile on you with more of his stuff.

You need to strongly suggest he see a therapist (give him a referral number), and then tell him you cannot reply to his texts and calls any more.

legenwaitforitdairy's avatar

I have a feeling I know what flare-up you’re talking about, but I digress.

I think the best way to go about this is to tell your ex-boyfriend that all of this is difficult for your given your chronic condition (that when under stress, gets worse). I would suggest that you say that you’re concerned and you want him to get better (and that he will get better). Sometimes, people just need support to see the bigger picture and that seeing a therapist might help with that. In terms of advising him to seek help, there are a couple of reasons (I think) why people don’t want to do this:

1. Financial
2. It’s taboo (like you’re incapable of managing your own life) so therefore are admitting defeat by seeing one
3. Because they think guilt is the best way to make this all work (although, this one is a bit of a stretch).

If you’re able to attack these points, I don’t see why he wouldn’t seek out help. Perhaps find out therapists who take his insurance (I know this is time consuming, but if you care, and don’t want to be hassled…this may be your best bet). Secondly, if you tell him something along the lines of what i’ve said before…it might be even harder for him to refuse.

I can understand why he feels so sad. I’ve been there. Sometimes, it’s pretty scary to be in that state and it’s equally as scary for friends/loved ones to see you there. But you get through it. You need to be strong though and legitimately tell him that what’s going on between you two, within him, and within you is pretty damaging and that you can’t offer him anymore. AND that the best thing that you can do is let him be to find his way (make sure that if you do this, he has friends supporting him…NEVER let the person do this completely alone).

Silhouette's avatar

Make the suggestion and stop taking all his calls. If you don’t have time to be his girlfriend, you really don’t have time to be his emotional crutch. The sooner he gets used to the idea that he has to stand on his own two feet the sooner he’ll feel better.

evandad's avatar

He’s being a big baby. If you coddle him he’ll just continue the same behavior. He’s hoping that continued contact will change your mind. You’re not doing him any favors by patronizing him. Everybody gets their heart broken. It’s just something he has to deal with.

perspicacious's avatar

Stop communicating with him. You have broken up with him. He has to take care of himself. He will not do that as long as he can whine to you and draw you in. You will not be mean to do this; you will be forcing him to take care of himself.

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