My best friend is in a tough spot, and I'm wondering how best to help her. She's 16, a senior, highly intelligent, questioning her sexual orientation, and mentally ill. Ordinarily, all of these characteristics except the last would make for a mostly-tolerable existance, except for the fact that she's Catholic. Or rather, her parents are.
She is doing her best to move away from the Church, where she has been told on multiple occasions that her mental illness is "her fault" because she is a "sinner". Her fellow parishoners and clergy also tell her that she is going to "Hell" because she has not converted her Pagan friends and because she is tolerant of homosexuals.
My friend tells me that she is interested in the religious path that I follow (Paganism), and I have directed her to as many resources as I can, but going to church still often leaves her depressed, as does speaking to her parents about their views on faith. Her parents are not aware of her sexuality or religious issues, and treat her mental illness as though it is contagious.
I'm doing my best to be there and support her, but is there anything else that I can do? I'm 19 myself and this is new territory for me; I've come through my own sexuality, religious and mental issues, but I'm not sure if I'm the best equipped to assist with hers. She's a wonderful person and I love her very much, but I really don't want to make this any worse. Any thoughts, new resources, or prayers would be deeply appreciated.
Are there any school resources she could contact? A guidance counselor, or a trusted teacher? While mental illness is certainly not contagious, it does need treatment (whether your friend needs therapy, medications or both) and that would go a long way in helping your friend begin to discover her spirituality, in whatever form, and to deal with intolerant people in her life in a healthy manner.
You're a good friend for wanting to help, so I would say the first step is suggesting (or bringing) your friend to someone at the school who may have resources for helping out with mental illness. Good luck!
Copyright 1998, 2013 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998
Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.