One of the hardest things a friend can do is to try and help a self-destructive friend.
This is her story:
I know that none of this is your fault.
I know that it wasn’t your fault for being depressed. I know that it wasn’t your fault that your parents emotionally and verbally abused you, or for having a severe anxiety disorder. I know that you were in blinding amounts of pain, and you were just trying to survive in any which way you could.
I know that you honestly never meant to hurt me.
And yet still, I still can’t help but be angry with you.
For a good seven months of my life, I was stricken with terror every single day. I spent countless hours talking you down from suicide; comforting you after you’d have a panic attack, and listening to you describe in detail how you’d hurt yourself that day.
I tried my best to be there for you, even as I was simultaneously dealing with my own self-harm, anxiety, and a crippling depressive episode – so crippling, in fact, that eventually, I had to be hospitalized.
I couldn’t walk away even if I’d wanted. Many times, you’d said I was the most important person in your life – if I left, you’d kill yourself. However, you also told me even if I stayed, you would eventually kill yourself.
I was trapped.
I pleaded with you to get help. Each time, you refused.
Once, I had to call the police to keep you from swallowing your prescription medications. Fortunately, they got there in time; unfortunately, it did nothing to deter you from attempting again. Over the course of six months, you went on to attempt suicide nearly two dozen times.
I was there for it all.
I can still remember the day my younger sister broke up with you. Like me, she’d been backed into a corner and didn’t know what to do. You called her names, accused her of lying to you, and threatened suicide. I spent two hours behind a computer screen trying to talk you down while my sister sobbed helplessly in the background. My mom called your parents. They did nothing to help the situation.
All in all, it was useless.
Later that week, I broke down. I climbed into the shower, bit down on a washcloth, and screamed at the top of my lungs. I screamed until my throat was hoarse and cried harder than I’ve ever cried.
Finally, months later, I attempted to walk away. You responded with aggression and hatred, and later made it known to me in a very marked way that you’d tried to kill yourself that day.
Even then, I recognized this obvious act of emotional manipulation, but that still didn’t change that you’d attempted to end your life… because of me.
When I did eventually manage to extract myself from your grasp, it wasn’t pretty. All my anger and hurt poured out all at once. I said things I shouldn’t have, no matter how sincere; I hurt you needlessly.
The guilt will never fade.
It’s been over two months since that day, and I’m still struggling with this insurmountable level of anger, hurt, and guilt I feel.
I remember the day you told me, to paraphrase, I was the worst thing that had ever happened to you. Ever since, I’ve questioned everything about myself. I’ve never believed I was a good person, but I’ve tried my hardest to do the right thing. It makes me wonder if all my efforts have been in vain, because when it came to you, I tipped the scales.
I blame myself for a lot of things: your descent into self-harm, several of your suicide attempts, and various slights I made along the way.
As I’ve been almost completely socially-isolated for the past five months as part of the aftermath my hospitalization, there isn’t much I can think about besides self-hatred. The same chorus of thoughts play throughout my head: an endless loop of guilt and self-loathing.
I keep trying to remind myself that you were just a sixteen-year-old boy in pain. You felt alone. To some degree, you weren’t entirely responsible for your actions. That does little to quell my anger. I’m not even certain that I have a right to be angry at you. After all, weren’t you the true victim here?
I guess I’m just not sure who I hate more these days: You, or myself.
I’m trying to forgive you for it all.
I’m desperately trying to forgive myself.
I just don’t know if I can.