I have a friend named Tristin, and I’m not allowed to hang out with him because his mom thinks I have problems, and I do. She doesn’t like me because I’m bi. I’m not that bad of a kid. I have a drug, drinking problem. But I’m 5 days and still clean. Without him around I’ve been really depressed and not thinking. But he’s back to cutting and I’m scared because I can’t be there to help him through it. Started off small but I don’t go to the same school. He goes to Marion and I have friends watching him but I don’t feel like that’s helping. If we get caught talking, then his parents are going to kick him out. I can’t do that to him because he’s only 16. I know he’s attempted a few times before and well so have I. Scared and worried about a friend and not sure what to do?!? Help?!?
Letter submitted by:
You are such and awesome friend. It takes a lot of courage to reach out to help other people, especially when you have circumstances that make it difficult, like your friend’s mom attitude both to you and to your friend. I also congratulate you on your being clean and understand that along with that, you have taken on so much more onto yourself by trying to also help out your friend.
Right off the bat, I’d like to encourage you or your friend to contact us by phone if you feel like he is in immediate danger. Our number is 1-866-4-U-Trevor (1-866-488-7386). You did not mention the sexual orientation of your friend, but we are here for everyone and want to help you get through these troubling times. If you feel like the situation is immediate and severe, I encourage you to consider calling 911 or a trip to the local emergency room. It may be difficult if you think that someone is standing in your way, but our friends’ lives are important to us and we all want to be treated fairly, with love and understanding. We cannot control how other people think, but it may be that your friend’s mother does not think that her son’s friends are a good influence; but at the same time, it is friends like you who have enough concern to get involved. Also keep in mind the consequences that may happen, as you mentioned that his parents may throw him out. If there is any way to do it, if you are able somehow to let your fiend know how much you care and that there is help out there.
By taking this step of write to us about your friend and the cutting problem, you might be able to encourage him to find the courage to speak with others about your concerns and his safety. In situations of depression it is very helpful to speak to others, especially people in authority or people you trust and you’d be surprised as to what kinds of assistance are available to you. If his parents do not seem to be sympathetic, he or you could start by speaking with your principal, or a school counselor or school administrator. It is their job to make sure that students are safe, including the teachers and any school staff. Their responsibility is to provide a safe learning environment for all students. If you are not able to get to your friend, perhaps you can engage some of your mutual friends or someone you trust to intervene for you. A good way to steer away from bad thoughts or actions is to find allies who stand behind you and shield you from feeling the way he does. Allies, like you, can be a friend or trusted relative or adult or anyone really you feel you could rely on. Sometimes people are not aware it is happening unless you say something about it. It may be hard to do so, but taking it on alone can be a challenge and difficult. But there is hope and help available.
I would like to take a moment to address your comments about cutting. If it is the case that he has experienced this, then I would like you to know that this is known to happen when someone is under a great deal of stress. Instead of any self-injury, there are methods of diverting these moments but doing things like stomping around in heavy shoes, or hitting your fist in a pillow or by ripping up old newspapers. These actions can diffuse the angry, stressful feelings. A resource that may be helpful is http://www.safe-alternatives.com or http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm. Please consider using these resources to help you understand these feelings and know how to deal with them. If he ever feels the need for any kind of self- injury like cutting, please call us at the Trevor Lifeline and we can talk you through it (1-866-488-7386).
In Iowa, there are also some local resources that may be helpful, such as Equality Iowa http://www.equalityiowa.org/wp/resources/. You may also find some inspiring stories and support from people of all walk of life at http://itgetsbetter.org.
Please remember that we are here for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions using this Ask Trevor, or go to Trevor Chat or call us on the Trevor Lifeline.
Your friends at The Trevor Project