A while ago I found out that a friend was raped and cuts because of it. It got to the point where I had to talk her out of suicide with the help of our coach. That same night I find out my coach has been gang raped, hazed, stabbed, etc. Since that night I’ve helped my friend through everything but I’ve not been able to get any of it out of my mind. That she almost died. What if i wasn’t there? She wouldn’t be here. Ever since then she tells me everything with every detail. I worry about her so much and I find myself just feeling numb, and breathing harder. I’ve talked to my coach about everything and she thought it was best if I stopped talking to my friend. I know our friendship was very unhealthy. I ended up cutting once but realized it was a mistake immediately after. After I stopped talking to her, things were decent for a few hours until another one of friend’s told me that they almost killed themselves a few days before. It feels like no matter what I do to get better, I can’t get away from people telling me they cut or are suicidal. After I heard this I was very close to cutting again but I thought about the disappointment in my coaches faces when they found out. I texted my friend to get my mind off things. I know I need to get better and I’m trying but I don’t know how. I take on their problems like its my own. Any advice will help. Thank you. (age 15, from US)
You are a good friend and have offered a lot of support to those you care about, but it is obviously starting to take a toll on you. If taken too far, there is a point when helping someone can ultimately hurt them because they don’t learn how to help themselves or seek help from who they should, such as their parents or a therapist. I’m glad that you have realized that you need to pull back from those who ask too much of you and I’m also glad that you are trying to resist using unhealthy coping skills yourself, such as cutting.
Hearing about traumatic experiences happening to people you care about can be traumatic too. It can be difficult to get images out of your head once they are there or to feel safe in a world where bad things happen. It is important for you to get support yourself and to practice self-care. It’s also important to have healthy boundaries with others. Listening and offering support is ok, but you shouldn’t feel responsible for someone else’s problems. If you do, it is a sign that you are getting too involved. You don’t always have to cut these people out of your life but you may need to limit your contact and be clear about what you can offer and what you can’t.
Learning about these rapes and your friend’s suicidal thoughts has been a painful life lesson for you and I hope that you never have to go through anything like this yourself. Your friends need to talk to a mental health professional about their experiences and you need to go back to being just a friend, not a counselor, and enjoying your teen years.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Can’t Get One Thought Out of My Head or Life
Holly Counts, Psy.D.
Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.
APA Reference Counts, H. (2018). Can’t Get One Thought Out of My Head or Life. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/01/30/cant-get-one-thought-out-of-my-head-or-life/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.