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Help, please?

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Okay, I'm not exactly sure how this whole thing works, but I'm really hoping for some advice, so I'll give it a go. 

Also, this is pretty complicated so bear with me. I met a girl online about 8 or 9 months ago (I'm also a girl just FYI), we ended up really good friends almost immediately, and we became kinda romantically interested in each other. She didn't want to Skype with me at first and I was wondering if she had just been a stalker the whole time, but eventually we did end up talking on Skype and she is very much a real person. She's a really, really wonderful person but recently she opened up to me about something which explains a lot about her.

She told me that she has a Social Anxiety Disorder. Like a really bad one. So over a year ago when she realized what it was and what was causing her depression she went to her mother for help (she was fourteen at the time). Her mother told her she was "just a little shy". So my friend/girlfriend was completely miserable and suicidal at that point but decided to push the point and keep asking for help. She stopped asking when, at a family dinner, her mother (along with the rest of the family) made fun of her for it. She tried to **** herself but told me that in the end she couldn't do it, and so she kept pushing through.

She had one good friend at her school and so that was kinda what was keeping her going. Unfortunately, they also went to a Christian Middle School and as you can probably tell she isn't straight. Her school was very homophobic and the other kids there weren't a very free-thinking group. This ended in her drifting apart from her friend, who was also very homophobic.  Anyways, long story short that was her last year in middle school, so she left everyone she knew and went on to high school.

She only ever ate lunch with her sister and if that wasn't an option she would throw out her food so it looked like she ate and spend lunch in a bathroom stall. She also started self-harming but she thought it didn't count because she didn't cut her wrists and she didn't cut as deep as they do in media and stuff (it was enough to leave some faint scars though). Anyways, that's about the time she finally said she would Skype with me,and looking back I can see exactly how nervous she was. After a couple months she started getting better, she told me it was me who helped her through it even though I didn't even know, and she stopped cutting and tried really hard to be happy again. And now she says she is happier than she used to be, but although she didn't directly state it I gathered that I'm the only one she can really talk to.

I told her to text me and just completely vent whenever she feels alone, anxious, or depressed and she has been. And that's when I started to get just how bad her anxiety is. For example, she had to work in a group and what she texted me was mildly suicidal, but also really scared sounding, she said her stomach started cramping up and she couldn't breathe and she couldn't reason with her brain and it just sounded like absolute hell. I'm head over heels in love with her and I really can't bear hearing about how bad this sounds. I asked her if she tried self-help and she said she did, but she's only fifteen and couldn't find anything of real use for free online. Although I didn't ask her I'm pretty sure she didn't look into a blog like this because she is so scared of her family finding out and making fun of her again. I've tried giving her tips like chewing gum, listening to music anything I can find but most of it she's already tried and it doesn't help enough. I feel really guilty about this, because I feel like I am not doing a much better job of helping her then her family did, but my hands are tied and I need to know if there is someway I can help her get over her depression, but especially her anxiety because that seems like the root of her problems. So, if anyone knows anything, please, please, please tell me. 

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I'm sorry your friend is strugglling.  It sounds like she was having an anxiety attack. It is hard when those we hope will help us do not understand what we are going through. I've been there and I can relate to the hurt of others ignorance. Allow me to share some coping methods I've learned over the years to share with your friend. First is breathe, eyes closed sitting comfortably in a quiet setting and deep breathing in, then slowly releasing through the nose. This calms the body and mind. Second, handle life the same way one would eat an elephant - one bite at a time. Focus on the now and let tomorrow deal with itself until it gets here. Both are hard to do, but with practice can be done. I do not live anxiety free, but I do cope better with it and don't feel it controls me.  Please be aware that cutting, regardless of where or how deep, is a sign of potential suicide.  Lastly, counseling and possibly medication can help. This *link removed* may help you find a support group.  Here is the suicide hotline to share with her as well:

1 800 273 TALK.  

You are being a good friend.  Hang in there and good luck.

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On 5/20/2017 at 5:58 AM, Diego_Sebastian said:

Tell to her that she doesnt have to care about other people says, she just have to take care about her, but what other say or think isnt important, what is important is what she thinks, she have to be independent about her stuffs, and if other person think something about her its just that, other person thinking something about other person, those things doesnt have to affect her, there are important things that she have to be focused.

I know you mean well, @Diego_Sebastian, but telling a person with social anxiety to not care about what other people think is the same as telling a depressed person "to just think positive". It isn't helpful. I'm sure this girl herself realizes how irrational her fears are, but unfortunately it's not so easy to overcome them. It takes a lot of work and a lot of courage to do that. 

To @W Eldridge: as someone already wrote, mindful breathing can be a powerful calming tool. Another good one is called progressive muscle relaxition. Just google it, there is plenty of information online. For social anxiety exposure therapy is effective, but it's best to do it with a trained professional, therapist or counselor, who knows this stuff. If therapy is not possible due to lack of understanding from the family, perhaps you could be her guide in this, if you learn about it and find good materials with some kind of a step by step program. There is stuff online available, but it might be not enough, so you might wanna look into books. You sound like you really care about her and it's awesome to have such a supportive person in life. I wish you best of luck with this! :flowers:

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I am so sorry for what your friend is going through.  When your family is not supportive of you at that age, that is beyond hurtful and sadly makes the situation worse.

She definitely suffers from anxiety.  Keep encouraging her to keep talking to you and venting about anything that is bothering her.  I agree with everybody that mentioned breathing.  Anxiety tricks our brain into thinking we feel like we're dying when our chests pound, our stomachs churn, and our throats close up, but if she focuses on her breathing or even meditates it can help.

It really is angering how her family is because she honestly can benefit from an actual therapist covered by her family's insurance.  There are so many people that specialize in adolescents out there.  For the time being, research free programs in your area.  She could also take advantage of the school guidance counselor, but if he/she suspects something very severe he/she will notify her parents that she would benefit from an actual therapist.  I know she doesn't want her family to find out, but her parents very well may need to hear this from an actual adult to smack sense into them.

She could also join a place like here.  Her parents would never know it was her as long as she keeps her identity to herself and clears her date history.

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10 minutes ago, Diego_Sebastian said:

Yea, but i mean,, keep telling her that. I think, that maybe, is a good way to keep her thinking how her thoughts are wrong, its like emphasize the way she have to think, i mean, its not just a thing you have to tell her just 1 time, you need to work on that with her, to her stop focus so much in the thoughts of the other people. To her starts to change her switch. I mean, if the problem is she care too much about what other people think, thats in what you have to work on, stop that thinking.

You are right about that the thought process needs to be worked on, the trick is that it needs to be done in a smart way. It might help to identify what is it exactly she's afraid of in different situations, then analyze those fears and distorted thoughts and work on ways to change them. Aside from exposure therapy this is also an improtant part of CBT process, I forgot to mention it in my previous post.

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2 minutes ago, Diego_Sebastian said:

Ok, but be careful with the part of "exposure" part. In this cases i think she have to first feel confortable, then have exposure, otherwise she can have bad experiences, i mean, before get exposure she needs to know what she is doing, otherwise its like jump to the pool without know how full it is. Just that. 

Thanks for this point! It's true that the cognitive part always has to come first, and accompany the exposure exercises every time, otherwise they couldn't ever work.

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