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Help for a friend.

Hey everyone, how are you all?

 

Firstly, happy spring holidays! One more term left. One more twelve week term

 

Secondly, I’m not a hundred percent certain I’m posting this in the right place. Oopth.

 

Thirdly, I have this friend that I’m worried about. Actually I have three friends that I’m worried about, but I figure I should tackle them (not literally) one at a time, otherwise this will very quickly become a short novel.

 

So a few months ago I was like ‘something ain’t right,’ so I went onto the interwebs and messaged this friend who shall hereby be known as Zev because anonymity. We had this massive long intense conversation where Zev said something along the lines of, ‘well, I think I have Asperger’s and I think I’m transgender and maybe graysexual-ish and I’m depressed and stressed out and also one of our friends is even less okay than me AAAGH.’ And then my happy ignorant bubble was burst, and REAL LIFE PROBLEMS ASDFGHJKL.

 

I’m going to break this into parts.

 

Part One: Transgender and maybe graysexual-ish.

 

I feel like I’m best equipped to deal with and give dubious advice on these two things as I’m also LGBTQI+ (it’s a big club, we should get t-shirts…) and have spent many hours trawling the interwebs for information on this stuff. Zev is still working out a label for both their gender identity and sexuality, which is totally normal, these things are complicated af. They were assigned male at birth, and experience a lot of gender dysphoria, and think they’re probably MtF or trans-feminine or demigirl or something. They say that they really want to transition, like hormone blockers, name change, pronouns etc.

 

However they are terrified of being out at school. They have little faith in the kids at our school and fear that they will be bullied and life will become more hellish for them than it already is. I think that this is partly because of an experience in year seven where Zev entrusted someone with a secret and suddenly it was less of a secret and more common knowledge and it didn’t go down terribly well. I keep telling Zev that I don’t think our peers would react badly, and would in fact probably be quite supportive. I genuinely believe this – being transphobic is like the least cool thing, and I think that our generation is above that (that sounds really pretentious but you get what I mean). Maybe I have too much faith in humanity. What do you guys think I should do? Any good trans resources?

 

Part Two: Asperger’s

 

I don’t know if I should do my research on this. They’ve described a bit about what it’s like to have Asperger’s to me, and showed me a few resources that have helped me relate what they’re going through a little better. Is this all I should do?

 

Part Three: Depressed

 

They’ve identified a few contributing causes to this, including but not limited to dysphoria, school pressure, falling out with friends, worrying about other people etc. I think asking how I can fix this is insensitive because that’s not up to me, but how can I best be supportive? I ask them how they’re doing a lot, and the answers vary, and if they’re doing terrible we’ll talk about it and I think that helps. I really don’t know.

 

Part Four: Stressed out (|-/)

 

School’s really getting to them. Zev gets super stressed about homework and assignments and even VCE, which we haven’t even started yet. I think this holiday is a good break for them, although it’s already been tainted by ‘a mountain of maths homework’ and a looming twelve week term. I try to help them focus on the positives like ‘not much happens in term four anyway,’ and, ‘we’re only in year nine, it’s not the end of the world if you flunk a maths test,’ although I’m not sure if relentless positivity is the best strategy in this situation. I guess the best way forward would be to talk to a teacher about it?

 

Part Five: One of our friends is doing even less okay than me AAAGH

 

This is a messy, complicated and long story that I don’t feel entirely qualified to tell as I’ve heard most of it second hand through other people. Basically, Zev and I have another friend who’s going through a lot of stuff right now, and it got to the point where Zev was worried about this friend’s safety and asked for help. However this friend was not ready to accept help and saw this as an act of betrayal and now they’re not friends, which is tough for both of them, I think. Zev’s worried about this friend, and there’s nothing they can really do to help them at the moment. This is frustrating and scary.

 

The good thing is that me and Zev have really good open communication, and they’ll usually message me if they’re really not coping. Anyway, I’m just wondering if there’s more I can do.

 

Thanks guys,

 

Have a great day and DFTBA Smiley Happy

Re: Help for a friend.

Hey @roseisnotaplant! That's a pretty hefty post, and it must be really stressful for you right now to be coping with all of that! I'll do my best to help out though, and I'm sure other forum members will be keen on helping out too.

 

You seem like a really supportive friend to Zev, which is great!! You're even doing research on different gender identities and how to support them during their transition, which is probably for the best since transitioning can get complex. With regards to their identity going public, it is really something that Zev themselves should have control over. Ultimately, you can never quite say how people outside the LGBT+ community will react to someone they know coming out as trans, and so while it might be that Zev is being cautious, that is for their own safety.

 

I think it's also really great that you're keen on researching about Asperger's for your friend! You could do some independent research if you want to understand it better, but just know that Asperger's is different for everyone, and so you could combine the research you do with what Zev describes. It is really important when supporting someone to allow them to define their own experiences.

 

I might answer the last few parts together, since when you're supporting someone going through stress or depression or other life issues, it's best to let the person know that you will be there for them. You should also relay this to Zev, as when we see someone we know who is struggling, we do want to help them, and sometimes end up forcing it on them in the process. However, a person is more likely to seek help if they know they are free to get it, and so you and Zev both could let this other person know that you are there for them if they need help. You could also keep some resources handy on getting help, in case they do decide to go for it. 

 

As for Zev's school-related stress, you are right in saying pure positivity won't quite help. It could help to let them know that being stressed about academic performance is pretty normal, and you could definitely talk to a teacher or school counsellor about it!

 

We have a list of LGBTIQ support services here at RO! I'm not so sure about Asperger's though. Either way, let us know how things go Smiley Happy 

Re: Help for a friend.

Hey, thanks for the reply and words of wisdom @safari93 Smiley Happy Woah that's a lot of links on the LGBTIQ resources page, I'm sure I'll find something useful there. It definitely can be stressful looking out for someone at times. I'll keep these things in mind!

Re: Help for a friend.

Hi @roseisnotaplant I agree with @safari93 that this is a pretty hefty post, but I want to congratulate you on posting this. Sarafi has given you a lot of great advice. I’m not familiar with the LGBTIQ sector and don’t have much knowledge so I won’t try to give any advice. Smiley Happy It seems there is a lot going on for your friend and you're totally right that you are not responsible to fix this for Zev. My question is Zev open to getting some counseling? I now personally it can really help with these sorts of issues. My biggest piece of advice for school is just to do your best, not everyone is a brainiac and that's okay. My favourite bit of advice comes from my year 8 German Teacher "did you do your best?" 'yes' "than no you haven't failed."

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

Re: Help for a friend.

@Bee Yeah lol, I didn't mean to ramble for quite that long Smiley Happy

 

We have gone to see a school counselor together once, so I might talk to them about that. I like your German teacher's philosophy on success and failure!

 

 

Re: Help for a friend.

Hey @roseisnotaplant


I want to echo that it is very nice to see you trying your best for Zev! Smiley Happy

With coming out, I totally get what you're saying about our generation being more open and accepting of this stuff, but there is still a ton of prejudice out there and in high school especially it's really such a mixed bag and surprising bag. Absolutely reassure Zev that you'll support them regardless of what their choice is, and if there's anyone you've come to you may be able to suggest them as people of safety that they could test if they wanted to. But it's 100% Zev's choice and they may have very good reason to not want to come out or even be right to not be doing so for a while due to their safety.
That they can be themselves with you is already a major accomplishment on their part.

With Aspergers, as Safari93 said, it's a spectrum disorder. But when I say spectrum, I don't mean that there are those that are greatly autistic and those that aren't (although some people are able to function better in our world than others). It's a spectrum more in the way that it affects everyone very differently. Things one person struggles with won't be a problem at all for another person. So really, I'd say that on this any questions or research you'd want to do is best to do through or with Zev. You don't want to be going down the wrong track.

You're completely right that asking how to fix the depression it isn't going to be helpful. Very simply because, depression is not some simple fix. BUT you can absolutely ask them what you can do to help them. Or what you can do to be supportive.


There's just one other really big thing that I want to say, and that is that it's probably not very helpful for Zev (and yourself) to self-diagnose themselves with Aspergers and Depression. They could absolutely be right that they do have both, but if this stuff is so much at the forefront of their minds then they're probably struggling quite a bit and I'd really urge to support them in seeing someone who can give them a proper diagnosis and properly help them through.

Re: Help for a friend.

Hi @Birdeye, thanks for the reply!

 

I understand that it's they're choice as to whether they come out or not, I've been through that, it's scary as hell. They just really struggle with dysphoria, so is they a way they can transition or like partially transition without being out? For example they're growing out their hair a bit, and going by a different name online. But I'll absolutely let them do it in their own time because if I didn't I'd be kind of a jerk lol.

 

It's interesting what you said about self-diagnosis, and I have thought about it a bit previously. They seem pretty certain, although I'll definitely encourage them to see a professional and maybe offer to go with them if it makes it easier as we have done once before and both found it helpful.

 

Thanks Smiley Happy

Re: Help for a friend.

I know that people do take steps in transitioning and that some things are a lot easier to do and be acceptable, I feel like some of those might be a bit more on the ftm than mtf side, but honestly I'm not greatly aware of information on transitioning. I think that would be something that would be good to look into or ask about from the list of LGBTIQ services list posted earlier. Tons of people you could connect to from them would have gone through it and have some ideas/suggestions/resources.


Not only is an actual diagnosis really good to ensure that we and others aren't inflating/confusing what's going on with them, but it's also really important for help moving forward.
With autism in particular it's not something that's best to handle alone. Even if they feel that they're high-functioning or that it hasn't been too detrimental, the moment that someone is there to really support them through it the world opens up so much more.
Also in things like school and work and uni, there are so many supports in place for people who have a diagnosis/proof that they require these supports.
Highlighted

Re: Help for a friend.

@roseisnotaplant appaulding you for being such a supportive friend and wish I had a friend around when I needed someone when I was struggling! 

 

I am only going to address the things I feel I can comment on as I don't want to give advice that isn't the best but a great piece I think for all of these topics in one sentence would to just be there for your friend.

 

A lot of people don't realise it but having someone there which you can come to and count on anytime, can mean more to someone than someone trying to fix everything that is wrong, as it is also alot of pressure for you! I had a teacher who supported me through my stuggles and all she did was listen and give me a shoulder to cry on (literally!). It is someone so simple but these days can be easily be forgotten about. 

 

Part Three: Depressed: 

 

I think just being the supportive friend is the best thing for them right now. Especially over the school holidays as this is when many people become quite lonely and this is were depression thrives. Maybe if you feel it is appopriate and feel comfortable suggest talking to the school counsellor or even why not tell him about the forums if he is looking for a place to talk. Smiley Happy 

 

Part Four: Stressed Out: 

 

Some of the best ways to calm the stress of school is to work through homework and things together. Even if you are working on different progects but helping each other when either of you need it can make the load feel lighter. As he is worried about his VCE maybe if he feels up to it he could talk to the apporpirate person at school, is he worried about not getting into a certain course or just about taking it in general? 

Either way there is lots of options to get into uni and tafe courses that you want even if it isn't direct entry. Teachers at school are so supportive as they know how stressed students get you just have to have the courage to ask. Maybe ask him if he would like to talk to someone about his options and you could go with him, if of course you feel comfortable! 

 

How does this sound? I hope it helps in some way!