Dear Dr. Archer,
I have a friend who is always depressed. She has low self esteem and I'd like to help her because she's always selling herself short. She has an ongoing problem with her dad, as they always seem to play the blame game. He blames her for making his life miserable and she blames him for making her life bad. He likes to play the victim and has recently disowned her.
I think many of her issues stem from this relationship with her father. She engages in self depreciating behavior. She has tried to drink herself to death, which failed. She has sex with many men when she doesn't enjoy it, and afterwards asks herself why she did it. Perhaps because it makes her feel accepted and that men find her attractive?
She will not go see a doctor; I've tried. Now I just want to help her. Any psychological help you could share would be appreciated.
Your friend clearly has low self esteem and may well be depressed. You don’t sleep with numerous guys and then hate yourself afterward or try to drink yourself to death without having a serious problem. You’re right about her father and her issues. I also think the multiple sex partners is directly related to finding a father figure since her relationship with her dad is so bad.
Two things you can do, Sam. First keep being her friend and listen to her without criticizing. Listening really is an art, and listening without being judgmental and then giving gentle advice help.
Next, urge her to see a therapist. I think she is depressed and that having a professional involved could work wonders for her. There is definitely an issue with the father that needs to be explored.
In the end, Sam, your friend will seek help only if she thinks she has a problem. It’s a fine line you walk, being a friend on the one hand and urging her to get help on the other. Good luck.