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My Best Friend’s Self-Harming

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My best friend is turning 21 and she’s got a pretty scarred childhood what with being raped by her adopted, iron fist, controlling, Christian father and her father’s priest friend as a child, then again later by someone else. Her family by the way has legally disowned her because she’s not Christian. Like wtf!? Overkill much? Then not to mention being beaten senseless by a group of guys she knows not long ago, but won’t tell me their names because she knows I’d make them eat out of straws. She loves to have fun and drinks quite a lot, but she’s extremely hard on herself, and struggles with accepting failure. She’s also a bit of a bad luck magnet too. And she almost seems to like having her boyfriend never say a single nice thing to her or ever complement her. So she effects this seemingly tough/strong persona on a daily basis. But she, at an increasingly number amount of times, likes to harm herself with thumbtacks. Legs, arms, face, she doesn’t care. And she tells me, “It’s fine I do it all the time, don’t worry about it, I’m fine”. And it’s because she wants to, “feel something”. When drunk, she often cries and then constantly pleads “don’t hit me”, even to me! As well as just today I found out she’s into BDSM and has a couple of whips, a gag ball, and I think some leather cuffs or something?
Also, she continuously claims that no one cares about her and that her funeral would be empty. And so my main concern is that she has now been thinking about suicide because she feels as though she is unstable, or “fucked” as she put it.
She may be right. And I feel as though she simply can’t grasp the fact that, I at least care about her.
But aside from that, I’m really just wanting to know what to do, because I am honestly the only person in her life that truly loves and cares about her.
And also because she refuses to see or talk to anyone about how she’s been feeling except for me.
So pretty much how do I keep my best and only friend, alive and happy?
Anything would be much appreciated.
Thank you.

My Best Friend’s Self-Harming

Answered by on -

A.

It’s important to temper your expectations about your ability to help your friend. You can only do so much. You do not have much power in the situation. You can be a supportive friend and suggest counseling and that’s about it. You shouldn’t try to do any more than that. Her issues should be treated by mental health professionals. You’re not a therapist and you should not try to be.

If your friend chooses not to seek help, then you’ll have to decide if you want to continue befriending someone who is not making good choices. She obviously had a very difficult life during childhood but at this point in time, she’s an adult. She can choose to seek help. If she chooses not to, then she is choosing to remain in a state of unhappiness and distress.

You mentioned that she is a bit of a “bad luck magnet.” It may be less bad luck and more bad choices. For instance, you mentioned that she has a boyfriend who seems uncaring. She has the power to end the relationship but she seems to be choosing not to do so.

You also mentioned that she drinks. Drinking is associated with depression and other negative outcomes. She makes the choice to drink but she could also choose not to drink.

You asked the specific question: “how can you keep your best and only friend alive and happy?” You can’t. Suggest that she seek counseling and support her in doing so. That would be the best way to help her. Anything beyond that is not recommended. Thank you for your question. Good luck with your efforts.

Dr. Kristina Randle

My Best Friend’s Self-Harming

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). My Best Friend’s Self-Harming. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/05/25/my-best-friends-self-harming/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 May 2019 (Originally: 25 May 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 22 May 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.