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TW: What a month!

Hi everyone!

 

I haven't logged on in quite a while, as I have had a huge and emotionally draining month filled with a range of positives and negatives. To catch everyone up, here's what has been happening for me:

  1. I have had uni exams, which were a bit stressful, but mostly okay. I wrote my very first thesis on LGBTQIA+ issues, and I am really proud of my work!
  2. I have a new job! I am currently being trained as a Peer Support Worker at a suicide recovery unit. I am incredibly excited to work in this area, as it is something that I am deeply passionate about and is a step closer to a full-time career in mental health, which is my end goal. 
  3. I was hit by a car during my exam period. Fortunately, I wasn't injured too badly - no broken bones, just a lot of soft tissue damage. Despite being so very lucky, it is safe to say that it shook me up a bit.
  4. I reconnected with my best friend from high school! I haven't spoken to her in 4 years, as we had quite a difficult relationship towards graduation, but I finally got the courage to reach out to her and explain my version of why we weren't friends anymore and how she had hurt me in the past. This conversation, while highly emotional, was also incredibly productive! We are planning to see each other over the Christmas break, which is nerve-wracking, but exciting as well.
  5. Finally, a few days ago, a friend of mine attempted suicide. She survived and is recovering well, but I have been rocked by the experience. I have never lost anyone or had anyone close to me attempt suicide before, and it was quite difficult to process emotionally. It felt as though the joy had been sucked out of life for a few days there. I went to see my friend in hospital a few times, which was great, but I have also been cat-sitting, and seeing her apartment was quite triggering for various reasons that I won't discuss in detail. I am feeling okay now, but am keeping a close eye on my mental health just to monitor how I progress.

That's a lot of information. I guess my questions for other people would be:

  1. Have you ever supported a friend who has attempted suicide? How did you look after yourself during this time?
  2. How do you balance other people's needs with your own? 
  3. How do you overcome and process difficult experiences? 
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Re: TW: What a month!

@queenP  Hello you have indeed had a lot going on. Big thumbs up to making it through all that. As for your questions yes I have supported a number of friends and have lost a friend to suicide. It is hard but I think the only thing people really want from their friends is for them to be there and treat them the same as always. They just want to know they are loved and supported, that could be by hanging out and watching a movie together or if they are in hospital visiting them or calling them to chat about something you enjoy or listen to them if they want to express some of their feelings. 

 

As someone who has attempted suicide before I know I didn’t expect my friends to babysit me or to fix my problems I just wanted to know they were there and to spend time with them and feel normal. Just sitting with them even can be helpful no expectations just sit and chill. It of course depends on the person but also remember to take time for yourself and set boundaries if you need. 

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Re: TW: What a month!

Thanks @Eden1717, those tips were really helpful. I am sorry that you can empathise with this situation, but thank you so much for the advice xx

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Re: TW: What a month!

Hi @queenP ! From what I've read you've definitely experienced a whole lot of things this month! Smiley Surprised We're glad to read that after experiencing so much this past month, you're feeling okay and are paying close attention to your own well-being! I hope your uni exams went well, as well as your first thesis in LGBTQIA+ issues! I would love to have been able to read it! Smiley Very Happy And I hope that you have a wonderful and enriching experience at your new job! It's also great to read that you weren't injured too badly from that car accident and that you reconnected with your best friend from high school! You were very brave for reaching out to her and confronting what happened between you two back then! <3

 

And we're sorry to hear that your friend attempted suicide Smiley Sad , it must have been an emotionally draining few days for you. But I'm glad to read that she survived and is recovering, and that you went to see her in the hospital a few times to support her! Smiley Happy Are you still feeling okay right now? And do you have someone available that can support you if things aren't so good?

I'm unable to answer your first question because i haven't had such an experience before, so I'm sorry i can't help you there. Smiley Sad But I'm sure other members will be able to give you other helpful responses! As for your second question, it can be difficult to balance other people's needs with your own, especially if they're rather reliant on you. For me I try to give myself personal time and space away from others every once in a while, telling myself that it's okay to say 'no' to things when I need time for myself, unless it is very urgent. In response to your third question, when I go through a difficult experience, I try to talk it over with anyone who can give me support so I can accept and live with the difficult experience. For me this can be friends or family or a professional. Sometimes focusing my thoughts elsewhere temporarily can also help me calm down and process the experience bit by bit, in which I would do productive activities like playing the piano or playing games.

 

I hope you're still feeling okay now, and I hope you have a more positive month this December! <3 And happy holidays to you too!

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Re: TW: What a month!

Hey @queenP, thank you for sharing these parts of your journey with us. This past month must have been so stressful and exhausting. You have been through so much in a month and there has been a lot of change in so many areas of your life! It can be challenging to support yourself and another person through such a difficult experience Heart From what you have mentioned, you sound like a very caring and amazing friend.

 

Looking after yourself can involve being conscious of where your limits are both physically and emotionally. We all have our own complex lives and issues which means there can be limits to how much help we can offer - it is only normal. For example, are there topics you feel might hit too close to home? Is there only so much time you can spend with your friend due to other commitments? Can you support them at the level and frequency they need? How is supporting them influencing you? How is your supporting influencing them? Reflecting on these things can help put you in a better place to recognise when you need to put yourself first. Early recognition of this can require you to be quite honest with yourself as it can be difficult to put ourselves first when we know our friends are in need. I think you are doing a great job so far, as you mention wanting to keep an eye on your mental health which is very proactive Smiley Happy

 

To balance your needs with theirs, it is important to communicate your boundaries to your friend in a respectful and loving manner. You want them to know that you still care about them although you are unable to help them in a particular way. It can involve having some uncomfortable conversations at first but it is best to be as open as possible. You could even write your boundaries down to more easily consider whether they are being crossed. Keep in mind that boundary setting can be tricky and can take some getting used to for anyone, especially if you are not familiar with it. It is definitely a learning journey within ourselves and within relationships too. It is also important to remember that your friend should be able to rely on a wide support network, so it is not something you have to do by yourself. It might help to have a list of their supports that they can contact, in case they ever get stuck and need reminding of them.

 

In order to overcome and process difficult experiences, seeking your own professional support can be highly beneficial. Sometimes we may feel guilty, bad or overwhelmed when supporting another person which we can be hesitant to share with people we know. Talking to a professional can allow you to speak in a objective, judgement-free and safe place. Your professional supports will also be able to provide suggestions and tools for supporting your friend whilst looking after yourself, as well as boundary setting. Services such as Suicide Line (if you are in Victoria) and Suicide Call Back Service also provide support to those who are impacted by suicide. This could be a great resource for your friend and yourself. Also engaging with your own support network of family and friends also helps to allow you to share how this has been impacting you but also to continue living your life Heart It is important to still do the things that you enjoy as well.

 

We are always here to listen, so please keep us updated! 

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Re: TW: What a month!

Hey @queenP I hope you’re doing ok Heart
I am so sorry I missed your post.. I am thinking of you and I really hope you and your friend are alright!
I’m gonna start off by saying my brother attempted suicide this year on 3 occasions and thankfully he survived each time. The best support you can offer to someone contemplating suicide in my opinion would be to let them know you are there for them, comfort them, remind them of their worth and that they can talk to you. For my brother’s experience with suicide he was very alone at the time and needed people around him; he had been living in his newly built house on his own for a few months. After the attempt we offered him to stay at our house for a while and he took that offer in a heartbeat. We never actually brought up the topic of his suicidal thoughts, us being here helped him and now he’s happier and knows he has people around him. At the time it was a very extreme experience for me to get my head around and for that reason, I was not able to offer my best support. I would recommend that you put yourself first for a while until you are capable of handling the weight from someone else. You are not responsible for your friends mental health but you can certainly help get her on the right path by letting her know you are there to listen (you may not always be able to help but you can be there to hear her out). You NEED to look after yourself to be able to support others. Regular Daily check ins with yourself may help you decide what state you are in and if you need to spend time working on yourself before you think about putting someone else first. Making a list of questions to ask yourself like @Taylor-RO has mentioned is a great start Smiley Happy
As for overcoming difficult experiences in life, this is different for everyone and every experience really.. I guess you need to start by acknowledging what has happened so that it is clear, making a plan by listing possible ways to deal with your situation (you can get help from others who have been in the same place to find what has helped them), knowing YOUR supports and who you have around you to seek help, if there is something you can change positively then do it, identify what you can’t change and accept that, develop coping strategies that Help you and match your needs And lastly you will find things you gain from your experience and your journey along the way.
We are all here for you and wish you the very best xx always remember we’ll be right here by yourself if you need a little more support <3