I’m in need of advice and you seem to be good at that, so I’m hoping you can help me get out of a proverbial pickle.
I have a very close friend, who is very dear to me. She is funny, she is clever and we both bond over similar interests. Unfortunately, however, she also has mental health problems. Due to a troubled childhood, emotionally neglectful parents, and teenage years spent in a toxic and abusive “friend” group, she is incapable of fully trusting people, has extreme self-esteem issues, depressive episodes and often acts like a scared, cornered animal.
She has been going to the psychiatrist and getting treated medically, but is still in extreme denial over her issues. Despite being diagnosed by the doctor with some serious issues, she still considers medication the only thing needed to fix everything. She, for the longest time, was opposed to the idea of therapy, claiming that it might unearth things that’ll make things worse overall. She notoriously misses appointments with her therapist, says that since the therapy isn’t working (she’s gone maybe twice over three months) then it’s pointless. Generally, she seems to be unwilling to get serious help, because that means having to admit things are wrong, facing them and she feels she might be unable to do it.
Our friendship has been taking a hit because of it. I do not fault her for having mental issues, and I do not fault her for being afraid to start treatment. However, over the past six months she has been needing more and more of my attention and energy to tell her she isn’t the worst person to exist and that there is possibility of improvement. I love her dearly, but I didn’t sign up to be her therapist or carer and that new element of our relationship she’s imposing on me saps me of energy. This means I speak to her less, I meet her less and generally interact with her less.
I have tried a few interventions. I explained the situation to her, telling her that she needs help and I am unable to provide it and that our relationship is taking a hit. She seems genuinely saddened by it, promises to do something and does a nominal, one-off action and then makes excuses. I have done this twice or three times and the effect is always short term. She will take any form of negative comments extremely seriously and as a sign of my hatred towards her, so I don’t do this too often as she is clearly very taxed by them (I do believe it’s genuine and not manipulative, but I wouldn’t know, would I?).
Now, since she’s taking way more than she’s giving, she’s forcing new roles that I did not sign up for and she’s sapping my energy, the logical thing to do (I think) would be to abandon the relationship. However, firstly, she is a very close friend of mine and I do care about her and don’t just want to ditch our long friendship. And secondly, perhaps more importantly, I feel she will abandon any hope of improvement, retreat into her shell and never get better – I am a very important part of her support network (she doesn’t trust her parents and I am one of two people who really know what’s going on with her) – and I don’t want that. I also don’t want to give her a get-help-or-lose-me ultimatum, because ultimatums seem like a real shit thing to do. But then I don’t think doing nothing will help either, our friendship will suffer, my energy levels will suffer and she won’t benefit from it, eventually leading to our friendship decaying.
I have no idea what to do. Help me doctor!