Joyess
A:

Hey Joyess,

First, please let me just say that your friend is very fortunate to have you as a friend. One of the things she needs the most is support, and it sounds like she is getting a lot of that from you.

I have talked to so many aduts who were seriously bullied and abused as a child, and who did get the support from the adults who should have taken responsibility to step in and advocate for them. It leaves some really big wounds. Adults who were bullied or abused as children carry these wounds into adulthood, and it is not uncommon for them to experience depression.

As a friend, there are a few ways that you can help her.

The best thing you can do for her is to encourage her to talk about how she is feeling and to be a good listener. She may want to tell stories from childhood, she may just want to talk about what's going on in her life now. You can help her a lot by listening, without judgment, and without trying to tell her what to do or to "fix" her.

I would also encourage you to ask your friend what you can do to support her. Let her tell you what she needs, and then respect her wishes. Here are a couple of examples of how you can help. If your friend is on medication, you might encourage her to make sure that she stays compliant. If she is not in therapy, you might encourage her to find a therapist, even offer to help her. If she is in therapy, and issues come up in your conversations, you might encourage her to bring them up with her therapist. If she doesn't have support from her family, you can even offer to attend a therapy session with her, so that the three of you could talk about how to best help her. You can't fix her problems for her or take the pain away, as much as you would like to.

What your friend is experiencing is treatable. Therapy is not going to erase the past or make all of the pain go away, but it can help your friend to come to terms with her past, to learn how to live with the painful memories, to cope in the present, to have peace and happiness in her life, to build a future. This might be something that you can gently remind her of when she is feeling sad, angry, discouraged.

Be a caring, concerned friend. A good listener. Actions speak louder than words. If you can do that, you will be a blessing to her!

Thanks for the great question!

Gary

Answered By Answered by Dr GaryCA
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