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Ask Anna #2: Helping Someone Who Won't Be Helped

Ask Anna

Anonymous asked: How do you help a friend who doesn’t help him/herself?

It’s easy, when you’re hanging out with friends, to indulge in self-pity. Friends are the people you complain to. You tell them why you’re laying in bed all day instead of getting that project done, or why you haven’t done laundry in a month, or why you had to skip class because you couldn’t stop crying about an ASPCA ad that popped up on your Instagram. We’ve all had these moments, and it’s alright to have an off day when, for the most part, you get yourself together and get your work done. However, sometimes your friends have off days every day, and hearing about them brings you incredible worry; they don’t go to class, they don’t do their work, they don’t take care of their bodies. You start to wonder: Is there anything I should be doing for them?

Let’s say you sit your friend down for a serious conversation about their destructive behavior. You tell them you’re worried. They really need to start helping themselves. They should go to Health & Counselling or the Learning/Access Center for extra support. They tell you they know, and they should. After this conversation, however, they make no active changes. What, now, is the extent of your responsibility to them? How can you help someone who won’t take steps to improve their life?

The hard truth is there’s nothing more you can really do. Your continued support and love is vital, but you can’t change a person who refuses to change. You can’t go to therapy or tutoring for them. Watching your friends self destruct is a nightmare, but as adults, we are the only people responsible for our behavior. Keep in mind that we are at college to build futures for ourselves. Socialization and relaxation are necessary to maintain a healthy mind and body, but too much of a good thing always turns negative. Your friends are there to support you and love you, but they are not your therapists or your parents. We have to take care of ourselves first.

That said, if you think your friend is in danger of harming themself or others, please call security, the police, or a prevention helpline.

* Pratt Safety Department: (718) 636-3540

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Image by Whitney K. Davis

written by
Anna Bronson
March 1, 2019