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How To Save A Life Whilst Saving Yourself

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I have a friend with bipolar, suspected schizophrenia and bulimia (We'll call her Georgie). She's basically the same age as me and we're both going into our final year at high school. Since the middle of last year she has really been struggling with self harm and suicide attempts. She ended up in a clinic after her second or third suicide attempt and years worth of self harm in many different forms. We thought after 6 weeks in there, things were looking up for her, but recently she's only gotten worse. She was misdiagnosed (and consequently mistreated) with depression and it's only fairly recently that she's been put on meds for bipolar. The only problem is, they seem to do absolutely nothing.

It wasn't sure whether she'd come back to school to finish this year or she'd take a year away from everything and then do the final year in 2013 but she's decided to come back. Over the holidays she was excercising excessively every day and (I assume) purging basically every meal, which she's continued doing. She also recently broke up with her boyfriend of five months (he dumped her on their anniversary over facebook) and last night, some stuff that he said was misinterperated by her as him saying that he wished he was dead and she overdosed again and landed herself in hospital overnight.

She's so casual about the whole situation, making jokes about what happened in hospital and laughing about the voices in her head and what they were saying, but it feels like she just throws everything onto me and one of our mutual friends (Let's call her Paula). I'm sure she doesn't mean to put so much pressure on us and it's nice that she trusts us so much, but it gets so hard when all her problems become yours and you find yourself lying in bed at night struggling with the thought of her being gone forever. I am 'normal', whatever that means, but I do know this Paula has had troubles with cutting and purging as well and takes everything that happens to heart, because they made a 'self harm pact' which she's stuck to much more strongly than Georgie so she blames herself. Paula is definitely overcoming her issues well and is staying strong but we both find it so difficult when Georgie makes an attempt at her life or comes to school with a whole new set of scars on her arms.

Basically, what I'm looking for is some kind of magic fix to make it all go away! As if it could be that easy!!

I don't want her to die, but there's nothing I can do outside of school to stop her from hearing her brother saying spiteful things or the bank closing too early and it's hard when you have no control over these things. Do you have any suggestions to help her hang in there while we wait for her psych to find the right selection of meds to make her feel better?

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The best advice I can give you is to just be there as a friend for her. I realize that you wish you could do more, but you can't fix her and as you already know, there isn't a magic cure. The best she can do is follow the advice of her doctors and get the help she needs in order to get stable. That's up to her, and you can't make her do that if she doesn't want to. You can be supportive and caring though, and make sure she knows she has some one to talk to if she needs. That's all any of us really want or need some times. When we are at our worst we tend to push those around us away, but at some time, we see that we need people in our lives.

Also keep in mind that you can't take on her illness as your own. You can be a great friend, supportive, and caring, all without becoming mentally ill yourself. Just remember that you both are in charge of your own emotions. Avoid getting dependent on her for your own emotions. If you can do that, and remain a good friend, things will work out in the end for all of you.

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