Thank you for writing. I’m sure this is very difficult. You are a sensitive person who is trying to be supportive but, as a housemate, you didn’t agree to be an in-house counselor. It’s difficult to know how much is too much.
You weren’t specific about the nature of your relationship. If you are simply a housemate, then it would make sense to draw some clear boundaries on the woman’s behavior. It’s wonderful that you are supportive but you also do need to take care of yourself and not let the mental illness be a “third housemate”. Her needs for attention may be legitimate but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be the one to provide it.
If she is a partner or dear friend, the boundary is less clear. Her illness has an impact on you and on your relationship. It’s appropriate for you to work with her to find ways to take care of both of you while she recovers.
The place to start is probably a clear conversation with the person. Share the same compassionate concern you showed in your letter. Then ask what she thinks is reasonable for support. See if the two of you can decide on some ground rules for when and how long you can give her attention. Another alternative is to ask her if you can attend her next counseling session to talk over what is and isn’t helpful support at home.
Meanwhile, if your friend isn’t yet in group therapy or a support group, I advise that she talk to her counselor about whether participating in such a group would help her. You might also suggest that she join one of the forums here at PsychCentral so she can get the good support of members of our community when she is feeling upset or needy. That could also take some of the pressure off of you.
I wish you well.