I have a bit of an unusual problem and I really don’t know what to do. I’m in a long distance relationship with another fur for three years (living in two different countries), we’re both trans women and despite having different schedules we both made an effort to talk to one another regularly through good times and bad. Though recently she has been responding less and less and becoming seriously depressed to the point that all she does is work (14 hours a day), make lunch, sleep and nothing else. She has no appetite and rarely drinks fluids. Nothing gives her joy anymore.
We’ve talked about getting help but meds are expensive and therapy even more expensive. Last time we talked she was worried about her friends, one tried to commit suicide and was in the hospital. He might lose his job and can’t afford to pay the bills. Another lost his mother and another yet lost his apartment. She is usually a very helpful person but she feels she can’t even help herself let alone her friends. I’m legitimately worried about her to the point of tears. I feel so useless not being able to help her when she needs it the most, I just don’t know what to do. I know it’s not an easy problem but any advice you could give would be helpful, thank you.
Concerned in Canada
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You don't explain why she might be depressed, so I can only respond in general terms. First of all, yes, she does need to get some professional help. Does she have insurance? You say she works, so she may have insurance through her company. As you know, the Affordable Care Act requires you to have insurance (you're in Canada, and I'm guessing she's in the USA? Actually, if she's in Europe she is even better off). Recently, a U.S. law was passed that said insurance companies need to include 3 free consultations with a psychologist; some provide more, depending on the policy. Anti-depressants, of course, must be prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist and should also be covered by insurance. So, saying "medication costs too much" really should not be an issue (Lexapro cost me $20 for a month's supply, and my insurance is pretty lousy). Furthermore, a little Internet research should lead you to free group or even one-on-one counseling for depression.
Your friend needs to think of her own well-being first before trying to help others. You might have noticed, for example, that Papabear has been posting less often of late. This is because I am still grieving after losing Jim last year. On good days, I will write the column, but on bad days I focus on myself and feeling better.
Therefore, my advice to her is that, while it is nice of her to be concerned about her friends, she is not in a position right now to help them (other than being a shoulder to cry on, perhaps, on occasion). She needs to try and help herself first.
The same goes for you. Stop worrying about all those other people. Are you doing okay? If so, good, and do your best to help your girlfriend. Do some research on getting her help that is at no- or low-cost. Believe me, it's out there. Be there for her, she needs you.
If I knew more about what was going on with her, I'd try to give more details, but that's as much as I can do right now. Write again if you wish to.
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