We've all been there: Depression, break-ups, moving worries and general life-induced skepticism.
Friendship is a lot more than going out to bars together and sharing the same interests. It ends up being a bond that can make or break your existence. And when you've got good friends around you, you can pretty much do anything.
When your buddy is crying out for help, you need to listen. Because they trust you, and value your opinions. Sometimes people only reach out once before retreating into un-productive or just plain bad behavior, so listen in and learn how to help out your friend when they ask for it.
1. Listen first, talk later.
I hate it when I'm talking with someone about something embarrassing or sensitive and it's obvious that they're just waiting for their turn to speak. Being a good friend means leaning back and opening your ears before you open your mouth. It can be hard sometimes, because you may think you already know what's happening, but it's worth it to listen. You literally never know what people are keeping from you. The topics can range in sensitivity and severity. It's clear that this person trusts you, so prove that they can by listening openly.
After you hear EVERYTHING, you can then formulate an opinion and help accordingly.
2. No matter what the circumstance, show your friend that you take them seriously.
It's hard when someone is going through something irrational or misguided and you've known it from the start. Like when you tell your girlfriends not to date certain people, and they do it anyway and get hurt. It's not your fault, but you have to show them that their pain is still valid. It may be hard when you see the light and they're in the darkness, but put yourself in that position. You'd want respect right? This goes hand in hand with
3. Encourage normalcy, or routine.
If you and your friend normally go to the movies every Wednesday and they bail due to what they're going through, try something else. Also, if you and your friend usually have playful banter, keep that up! Treating them differently will just add to their isolation. Routine and normalcy often helps when things get out of control. Don't drag your friend around if they're really in the belly of the beast, instead just do little things that remind them of the possibility of fun. Bring the movie to them, encourage a Netflix night, whatever it is...try not to let them retreat into themself, because that's where the real destruction occurs.
4. Stay available.
It may be inconvenient or downright annoying, but you must stay available. When someone is on the edge, the worst thing to do is abandon them. I'm feeling that abandon right now, and I can tell you, it's driving me insane. When friends who claim to be there till the end disappear, it's nearly impossible to get better. If you really want to help your friend, you will make time for them. Answer their calls, send them funny texts, tag them on Facebook or Vingle...whatever. It doesn't matter. Any amount of contact will do.
5. Focus on the person, not the problem.
It's easy to blame circumstance. For instance, if your friend has a substance problem, or is drinking too much, it's easy to say, "Oh, it's okay, you're under a lot of stress...that meeting was hard, that's why you relapsed, or that's why you drink too much,"
What's much harder is to say, "I think you're using these substances because there's something else going on...let's talk."
You know? It's all about how you frame what you're saying. Likewise, calling someone an addict or a lush or whatever can have adverse effects. Approach things from a personal place and make sure that you really have their best interest at heart instead of unburdening yourself of a "problem friend" you know?