I am close friends online with one of my friends, Cord, a rabbit. The both of us will sometimes talk about things, like our future in the fandom, our future mates, etc. Cord has been depressed lately due to loneliness and not having a mate. Having dealt with depression myself, I try to cheer him up, and let him know he isn't alone. He always says he feels fine, but I feel like he's saying that so not to worry me. He just recently told me that he has been drinking, at only 18 years of age. This worries me immensely, and, as a Christian, I often focus the majority of my prayer into helping him get better. He's an amazing person, and I don't want to lose him. Is there anything I can do or say to encourage him to stop???
Beeter (age 18)
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Yes, there are things you can say to your friend Cord. But first, you need to have the full story, which I don’t feel I’m getting here (my bear instinct kicking in). You say Cord is depressed because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, so his solution is to start drinking? Lots of people don’t have girlfriends at 18 and they don’t turn to alcohol. Yes, being alone can suck, but he’s too young to throw up his hands and give up, and if he really wants to attract a girl, he ain’t gonna do it by being a drunk. Obviously, that just makes matters worse.
Might there be something else going on here? How’s his family life? School? Does he have any mental or emotional problems that need attention? All these things are important to find out. Your instinct that he’s hiding something when he says he feels fine is probably correct, and I don’t think his troubles begin and end with girlfriend issues and booze.
So, what do you say? First off, always acknowledge the other person’s pain; validate the fact that he is suffering and never dismiss his emotions like a high school coach telling an injured athlete to shake it off and do 10 laps. Avoid platitudes like “Everything will be okay” or “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” They don’t help.
Next, tell him, if you haven’t already, that you’re concerned about him, especially his drinking, but don’t use judgmental words such as “it’s a sin” or “underage drinking is illegal”; that’s not telling him something he doesn’t know or is aware that others will say. But note what I said above about drinking not being a solution but rather, indeed, something that will make his life worse—just as if he were taking drugs. In other words, phrase it in a way that you are concerned about his health, not his moral standards.
Then just start talking to him, trying to get him to open up. Ask him what’s going on in his life. How are his parents, siblings? School? Just talk. If you talk long enough and make him comfortable enough, I’ll bet you something will pop up in the conversation you didn’t know about him. You will know it when you hear it. Now, be careful not to instantly jump in with advice. If you do, he’ll get defensive and close up again, and it will be harder to have him open up the next time. Instead, keep talking around the issue and just listen to what he has to say. Continue in this manner over days or weeks, whatever is needed. Eventually, if things go well, he might ask you that key question, “What would you do if you were me?” And you say, “Well, if it were me, I would....”
This is a tricky dance you are conducting, and it takes a lot of patience. If you’re up for it, you will prove yourself a true blue friend.
Good luck, and bear hugs to you!
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Hello Papa Bear.
This is Beeter again. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my letter and write me back, it means a lot. In response to your response, I have told my friend about my concern for him. Not just my concern, but the concern of another friend of ours. He says he appreciates our feelings, but "he's fine". You may very well be right about him hiding something, and I don't know what, but I will still be as good a friend to him as I can. I don't tell him things like "it's a sin" or whatnot. One of the main things I hate about Christians today is that they run around telling everyone "you're going to hell for this bla bla bla" It's total crap. As followers of Jesus, we should be spreading love, not hate. I try to simply ask him how he's feeling, and I try my best to cheer him up if he's feeling down. About the relationship thing, he's a very passionate floof, when I say he wants a guy in his life, I mean he REALLY wants a guy in his life. We often talk about our lives at home and school, and it almost always shifts to our futures in school, in the fandom, and most often our future mates. I don't know why, I guess we both just really crave love, you know? I will take your advice, and thank you again for replying to me. God bless you, and have an amazing day, buddy.
Your friend, Beeter.
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Congrats on being what I would call a "true Christian" who is not the type to throw stones. Good for you!
You and your pal are very loving beings. That's wonderful :-) And I understand your need for love. If you don't mind indulging me, I would like to offer a bit more advice.
When we are desperate for love our desperation becomes very evident to the people around us. Did you know that humans, just like other animals, are capable of emitting pheromones? This can, on one hand, signal receptiveness to being a mate, but when one is desperate, anxious for love, it can actually drive potential mates away. The more desperate you become, the more repulsive you become--from a chemical point of view.
Therefore, the best advice I can give your friend is he needs to play it cool, chill, become more bear-like. He should then complement this strategy to make himself the most attractive potential mate possible. I don't mean physically attractive (except for the importance of good hygiene and grooming), but attractive as a person. Think of it this way: what is the better way to catch fish in a stream? Plunge into the stream, stomping about, clumsily grasping for the fish and they scatter? That is the strategy he has been attempting thus far. Or, is it better to create an attractive fishing lure, then drop it gently into the stream and attract the fish to you?
You're a good friend, Beeter. I'm glad your buddy has you in his life. Good luck to you both.
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