DEAR ABBY: I am in my early 40s, and married with two daughters. I have a friend, "Sally," whom I have known since the third grade. We are like sisters.
Sally has been profoundly depressed for at least 15 years. She sees a therapist and a psychiatrist on a regular basis and is on medication.
My question, Abby, is what do you say to someone who calls at least once a week, for at least an hour, crying so hard I can barely understand her? She calls to tell me how sad she is and how she doesn't think anything in her life will improve. While I'm concerned for her and care about what happens to her, I don't feel I can give her any advice or guidance that her counselor/psychiatrist isn't able to give.
Short of listening and providing the proverbial shoulder to lean on, what more can I do? I feel I need to be there for her, but I also feel drained dry because this has been going on for several years. Any guidance you might offer would be greatly appreciated. -- CONCERNED FRIEND IN FLORIDA
DEAR CONCERNED: You are a supportive friend, but when Sally calls crying so hard she can hardly talk, tell her that the person she needs to be talking to is her therapist. By allowing her to vent to you, you are preventing the therapist from evaluating her while she's in crisis and giving her the tools she needs to improve. Your friend may need to have her meds adjusted or changed, and seeing Sally while she is "at the bottom" could give her therapist valuable insights. If Sally isn't capable of placing the call to her therapist, offer to do it for her.