Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In search of: a bit of advice

I've mentioned that Anna is driving me crazy. What I haven't mentioned is that I'm worried about her.

The back story is long and confusing. I will do my best to simplify.
  • Anna graduated from nursing school last April. After spending her summer backpacking in Europe, she started working in September.
  • Anna's mom is my Aunt Marie, who is diabetic and is currently in the hospital; her sister is my cousin Emma, who has long been plagued by severe behavioral problems
  • Anna has had the same boyfriend for about a year. He moved to New York late last summer. She's been to NYC to see him at least twice since I moved in (January) and he has been here once.
  • Anna works afternoons. She works 3-11, five days a week.
Anna is, to be very blunt, a mess.
  • She is forever making statements of hopelessness, saying things like "every day is worse."
  • I can't remember the last time that I was in the apartment with her when she hadn't cried, at least once.
  • She is obsessing with how awful and horrible and unbearable her job is. Sometimes it seems that she spends the entire morning leading up to her workday focusing on the one bad thing that happened at work the night before and telling herself that the night will be 100 times worse.
I feel like Anna is displacing every stress in her life and tacking it onto her job. She thinks that she sad about her job (which I do understand is very hard, especially for a nurse in her first year) but it isn't just that. It can't be just that. It is the boyfriend in New York, the sick mom, the crazy sister...she doesn't have an easy life.

But she is making it so much harder.

She is so negative. She is so angry and crabby and miserable to be around.

She spends so much on the phone with her boyfriend, bitching to him, that I cannot believe that he hasn't dumped her because of it. When he told her to stop dwelling on her Complaint of the Day a few weeks ago? She hung up on him and turned off her phone. As though it is his job to let her dump and dump and dump her litany of problems on him.

What she needs is therapy. She needs someone to spew her negativity to. She needs someone to help her figure out what she needs to do - whether it is get a new job, start on anti-depressants, or move to New York - to be happy. Because she isn't happy. And it isn't doing herself, or anyone else, any good.

How do I tell her that?

How do I convince her?

Anna is a fun, vibrant girl. She is a good nurse. She is always laughing. She is social, silly and creative. She has a wild side. She has a soft side.

She is a shell of the person I've known for 22 years.

I know that I can't force anything...but I need a plan of action.

When do I talk to her? (Do I wait until she's crying? Until she inevitably is complaining to me? For a time she is in a good mood?)

What do I say? (Do I tell her how miserable she is to be around? Is it appropriate for me to acknowledge that she has it hard? Or do I paint it as her blowing everything out of proportion? Maybe I should sell it as something that she should do for her boyfriend.)

How do I do this? Tell me, people. From A to Z. Help me help Anna.


Stace said...

Seems as though she might be slightly depressed. . . ok maybe not slightly but a lot. I honestly don't know how to handle someone else b/c I could tell it in myself and knew I had to get help. Although if you think there is a way she might have time to talk to someone it might help. And bitching at her boyfriend isn't going to help anything as I'm sure you know, but getting it off her chest to someone else that might be able to talk her through it might be beneficial to her. Maybe during one of her down times just mention seeing someone. Do you think she'd be up for that? She does have a lot on her plate, but I'm sure she could still be slightly more chipper than it appears she has been. good luck!

Anonymous said...

How about taking her aside, putting your arm around her, telling her you're worried about her, tell her why you're worried about her and asking her how she feels about it all. You'll know really quickly if she's open to your help.

Laurie said...

I agree with anonymous. And whatever you say, don't say anything that will make her get defensive. If she gets defensive about one thing you say she will be less receptive of other suggestions from you. Definitely acknowledge that she is in a difficult position and needs to makes some changes. Don't tell her what you think those changes need to be. She has to figure that out herself. Number one, be supportive.

Anonymous said...

Is she close to your mom? Maybe coming from someone older might be better? I don't really know, I just know something should be said and it won't be easy. But like anon said, you will know right away how she is taking what you are saying.

Courtney said...

Woah, that's tough, I wouldn't even know where to begin. :( Can you two go somewhere to talk? Like a park or something... I just think you'll want someplace away from everything maybe it would be good to get out of the house - home should feel like a comfy safe place and if she acts defensively then you don't want her associating home with the need to act defensive. Just a thought. Again, I have no idea. Good luck.

Mrs. Architect said...

You know, it's tough because that is something that she will probably have to come to terms with on her own to actually do something about it and change it. You can't force it.

But, you can be there to guide her, and the first step might be bringing it to her attention. I think if I was in your shoes, I would approach her when she is crying; a moment when she is in her despair and probably at her most vulnerable. And from there, between showing your support and dropping bits and pieces of your side/view of the situation, she might slowly turn herself around.

If only she knew what potential she had, and that the whole entire world is at her feet...

Carolyn said...

As a person who has suffered from depression, I know this, there is nothing you can really do. She is the only one who can help herself. Every time someone would try and talk to me about seeing a therapist I would get defensive and then proceed to put my anger toward them. All you can do is be there for her, which I can tell you already are. And maybe just once mention that talking to someone can make her feel infinitely better. But as I said, expect it to fall on deaf ears, until she herself is ready to get better.

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
s said...

you are in a tough spot, but i would recommend talking to her. i'd tell her how concerned you are. psd is right though, she is the only person that can help herself, but perhaps letting her know again that you are there for her, but maybe a therapist can help her work through some things. it might not be something she wants to do now, but you never know?

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