What To Do When Someone You Know Is Suicidal

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

My question is two-part. My fiancée recently told me that she's battled suicidal thoughts for years. I knew she had bouts of depression, but she's very good at hiding it. How do I let her know that I support her and that she isn't a burden (something she mentioned being afraid of)? I know her depression is not a reflection of me and that there isn't anything I can do to "fix" it, but I still want to be able to help. There are a few things in her life that she isn't happy with and they are all fixable, but I don't want to take over her life and become her mother. I want a partner, not a dependent. I admit I get frustrated when she complains about things that she isn't being responsible and proactive about, but I don't know if it is caused by the depression or if the situations themselves are worsening the depression by making her feel worse about herself. So question two: How can I encourage her to fix what is making her unhappy without being a nag or a mommy?

ANSWER 

Years ago, one of my closest friends told me that she’d been battling suicidal thoughts for most of her life. I was astounded that I hadn’t picked up on it, particularly since I’m a shrink, but also because I spent more time with her than with anyone else. 

After I got past my shock, I thanked her for trusting me – then I looked her in the eyes and told her that if she didn’t immediately go for a psychiatric evaluation, I couldn’t have her in my life. I believe my exact words were, “I wouldn’t survive a close friend’s suicide. And I can’t have someone in my life who could act on suicidal feelings. My fear over losing you would cause me to turn into your unofficial therapist and it will ruin our relationship.”

My friend got the help she needed and hasn’t had those thoughts in years.  

You can’t marry someone expecting her to change. Who she is today is who you need to be prepared to marry. So you have a question to answer: Are you prepared to live with a suicidal spouse for the rest of your life? If not, are you able to set a boundary like I did so that your fiancé gets the help she needs? As far as I’m concerned, it’s one or the other.

Gender & Orientation: Female, Lesbian. 

7 Reasons You Don’t Have Time

Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips at Ask Dr. Darcy. Here are the 9 most common reasons why you don’t have time. Change these habits and you’ll change your life. Because that’s what the quality of our life comes down to: Do your daily habits serve you? If they do, you’re successful. If they don’t, you’re not. Success is nothing more than good habits repeated daily. Failure is nothing more than poor habits repeated daily. 

1. You say, "I don't have time," and because of that, you don't make time. Time is the universal equalizer-we all have the exact same amount. You're certainly not the busiest person on the planet. Stop bullshitting yourself (and others) and commit to removing the phrase from your vocabulary. I haven't used that sentence since 09. Since then, my productivity has been off the charts.

2. You're a communication whore. You keep your phone ON, jumping every time you receive a text, call, email or Twitter update. And you wonder why you can't get things done? Productive people turn their phones off except during specific times of their choosing. YOU need to decide when you'll be on the phone. Stop being other people's bitch.

3. You haven't created a system for being held accountable. You need an Action Partner - someone who you'll commit to completing a certain action, and to whom you'll report back at a specific time and give an update. My clients use Action Partners daily. And they get shit done.

4. You tell yourself great stories that minimize the importance of completing a task - and you buy it. You look at the mail and tell yourself that there isn't enough time to open it all and that you'll do it later, tomorrow, after, etc. Stop having monologues and start having dialogues. Talk back. A part of you knows you're making excuses. Give that part a voice and let her chime in!

5. You overcommit. You're an accommodator and you don't know how to say NO. Look at this month's calendar, identify those activities that don't serve you, and get out of them for next month.

6. You don't use a calendar. Not the right way. If you use one, you probably have more than one so no single calendar has all of your commitments. Or you use a silly old-school one (paper and pen) and you forget it at home or in the car. Or you have a perfectly organized Google Calendar that you don’t look at throughout day, which is the functional equivalent of sailing with a compass that you don't look at. Get on Google Calendar, enter everything you need to do (and specific times), look at it at least three times a day, most importantly when you wake up and before you go to bed.

7. You blow yourself off. You keep the commitments that you make with other people, but when it comes to you, everything’s optional. Start treating yourself the way you’d expect others to. When you look at your calendar and see “Find a Therapist” at 4:00 today, stop whatever you’re doing at 3:58, and Google “find a therapist.” The appointments you have with yourself are no different from the ones you have with others. Don’t be a flake!

 

 

Mommie Fearest

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

My 16-year old daughter is not doing well in school and currently has a solid B average. She is constantly studying hours every day but she is doing so badly! We have tried everything from tutoring to grounding her. She knows our expectations are to do engineering, pre-med, or business but her math marks are not good and I am afraid she will have no future. What can I do to help her?

ANSWER: 

The toughest part of this question is my choice of tone in the answer. I can lean in, give it to you straight and hard, which will entertain my followers but which will likely result in you shutting down and failing to learn anything…or I can spoon feed you an answer that will be more likely to resonate with you but which will surely result in viewers falling asleep before they hit the end. This is my dilemma. And I’m not sure which way to go.

As a parent, it behooves you to view your daughter through a lens of curiosity – which is the exact opposite of having expectations that you impose upon her. Ideally you’d be curious about what she likes, what she exceeds at, where her strengths lie. Instead, you’ve chosen to ignore the very obvious data - which I find odd given your affinity for math (or is it just your daughter who needs to excel at math?) - and you’re pushing her into a narrow choice of fields which require a skillset that doesn't appear to come easily to her. Do you know how it feels to spend your life trying to master an aptitude that doesn’t come naturally? It would be like me expecting you to work in my field, to utilize emotional intelligence on a daily basis.

If you choose to stay on this course, your child will continue to attempt to meet your highly unreasonable expectations, which will destroy her self-esteem and undermine her sense of self, the combination of which is the strongest indicator of life happiness or misery. THIS, not her choice of career, will result in a lifetime handicap, impacting every aspect of her world.  So you see, you have a decision to make: Let her live her life or force her to fail at yours.

Your daughter is doing very well, despite your parenting. The people who run this world and who make 7-figures tend to be the B and C students. Those are the people who become entrepreneurs, who create products, cures, and mathematical equations that change the world. Stop trying to bang a square peg into a round hole, and be grateful that you haven’t provoked an adolescent rebellion to rival our definition thereof.

In the final analysis, I’m not sure which tone I chose. Hopefully one that resonates with you – for your daughter’s sake.