So it came to my attention that my cousin is struggling with depressive symptoms and used to self harm (via a blog post by said cousin).
I really want to help her because it seems like she's got noone to talk to, but the problem is this: I'm also struggling emotionally with similar problems. She also lives on the other side of the country to me so we rarely see each other and haven't really talked properly for years until very recently - we don't seem to have a lot in common anymore.
I've offered to be a shoulder for her to lean on but I want to know how I can best help her without getting bogged down with my own issues (either by making it all about me, or by making myself worse).
Posts: 20 | From: Australia | Registered: Aug 2010
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Sorry to hear about the difficult time that both you and your cousin are having.
This is one of those tough spots where we'd like to do a lot to be a help to someone, but we come up against our own needs when doing that.
I think often that's something we have had to do as scarleteen volunteers so I totally feel what you're saying.
I think an important thought here is that to help yourself is to some extent, to help your cousin.
For a start it's very difficult to be helpful to someone when you're burning out, but as well as that, many people with mental health difficulties will feel a good amount of guilt about 'brining down' people around them. This may not always be the case but being able to show that it is possible for you to look after yourself, to be in a good place when you're with her and able to step away can really encourage a person to feel safe.
So I think that drawing that sort of boundary really is the best bet. Only doing what you feel you can do comfortably, and knowing when to say no, due to your own mental health needs, would be the best way to ensure this goes as well as it can for the both of you.
I would also bear in mind that, this blog-post was perhaps not intended to be found by you (or maybe it was, who knows) but asking your cousin about what sort of privacy she'd like around this and honouring that would be a very good move if you haven't already.
Edit: I'm also thinking a good way to be of service but avoiding the more emotionally intensive side of it, would be simply to offer practical support, perhaps offering to help find other people she can speak to, helping with emailing and calling support services and so on, rather than trying to be that yourself while you're clearly not in a place for that.
[ 11-02-2013, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]
Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011
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