Author Topic: Do you ask or even broach the subject?  (Read 4736 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Carotte

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1123
Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« on: September 28, 2013, 07:19:16 PM »
Ok, so I'm a bit torn over something. I'm pretty sure I did the right thing in regard of the specific of the situation, but it could have been different so I'd like to have your opinion on the general question e-hell :). (Not so my own background, it was really to illustrate the situation).

I recently meet with a friend and her fiance for a movie.
We're not like BFF-aways together-share everything-super close friends, but we know we can count on each-other. It's like we could not speak or see each-other for months at a time but we'll be happy to pick up where we left and be here in case there's a problem.
We're both pretty clumsy and share ours 'fails' when we have them, like ending up with a torn ligament while walking on a flat surface or needing stitches because of ice-cream. This time she had a bandage on her wrist, but only around it (not on the hand) and she didn't say anything so I didn't either.
I guess most people will/would have jumped to one of the possible conclusion aka self harm, I'm not a busybody but would have liked her to know that well, I'm here to talk if she needs and everything.
This time I only mentioned in an email that if she still needed to see me about something else I'd be happy to have a chat over tea or something.
I won't press it further since I know she has her fiance and family close by and hopefully closer friends and all, and for all I know no history of this kind of behaviour.
It might not be anything at all, it's just that usually I would have seen her and gotten a "look what a tomato did to me!".

But if it wasn't the case, how do you decide when it's past politeness and into safety trumping mode?
Does the relationship level change things - I guess so, but then where do you draw the has a right/doesn't has a right to speak line?-
Like close family, yes, stranger on the buss, mind his own business, but a coworker or casual friend?
Any way to broach the subject or does etiquette ask for you not to say a word until it escalates?

Would a blunt "I'm here if you need me" without any mention to the percieved problem be ok? then if you have a "what do you mean" back you can add anything unrelated "oh you know, I still have my handbook on underwater basket weaving if you need it" and leave it at that..

newbiePA

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 930
    • Outside the Marinara Zone- our new blog :)
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 07:26:32 PM »
I have managed to cut and burn my wrist, with no history of self-harm.  And I am not a terribly clumsy person.   Heck, it could even be a healing tatoo.  So unless you know she has a history of self harm, I think it is a bit of a jump.  That being said, your e-mail sounds vague enough to be safe.
Not such a newbie anymore

Perfect Circle

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2982
  • Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky...
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 07:27:51 PM »
I have to say self harm would have been the last thing on my mind.

I wouldn't say anything unless you have concrete reason to suspect this may be the case.
Maybe he's caught in the legend
maybe he's caught in the mood
Maybe these maps and legends
Have been misunderstood

The map that you painted didn't seem real
He just sings whatever he's seen
Point to the legend, point to the east
Point to the yellow, red, and green

NyaChan

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4107
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 07:37:23 PM »
Is there any reason or feeling - even if she seems emotionally fine, perhaps there is some pattern of injury - that leads you to conclude self harm is a possibility for this friend?  Unless you can articulate one, I've gotta say, I don't think that would even be on my radar.

flickan

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 192
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 07:38:45 PM »
I would not assume self-harm unless the person had a history of doing so and had spoken freely of this before.

I would also not be offended if a friend asked me outright if everything was okay because of a bandage on my wrist.  I don't like the idea of people assuming I'm hurting myself, but I completely understand that a bandage on the wrist can look that way.

This seems like a very touchy subject.  If you have offered her your concern then that should be enough.  Even if she had done something to herself intentionally I don't think pushing the issue would help things.

You sound like a very good friend.


Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8841
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 07:40:17 PM »
Here's one more consideration regarding her clumsiness. I'm also among the terribly klutzy, and one side effect of having a million minor accidents all the time is that I forget about them! They hurt right when I get them, they're annoying, but then after I've first-aided them and gone on about my day, a lot of times it stops hurting and I've forgotten I even injured myself until someone asks about why I have a band-aid or a bruise or whatever. It just sort of blends into the background of my day. Unless the story is really hilarious.

Carotte

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1123
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 07:47:01 PM »
Thanks everyone, but I was wondering more about the general question,

If for a reason or another, well mostly many reasons, you wonder if someone you know is self-harming or might not be doing great, but you're really not sure and doesn't want to intrude, is there still a way to maybe broach the subject or is it like parenting choice and you keep your mouth shut?
The grey area way before something really does happen in front of you and you have no choice as a human being (and not a friend or acquaintance) to do something.


Also just wanted to add that what raised the little alarm was mostly the fact that she didn't say anything. We're not shy about the stupidest clumsiness or latest fail, we share it, we embrace it, so it's weird for her not to have said anything.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5174
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 08:55:18 PM »
In this particular instance, it seems like you didn't ask her about the bandage, right? I think it would have been okay to ask--I'm sure it gets annoying for someone with a cast or bandage to be asked about their injury several times a day, but it also seems pretty normal to me, and generally a way of others showing concern for them. So as long as you approached it in a sympathetic manner, and not with a tone that assumed self-harm or abuse or something sinister like that, I think that would have been alright. Perhaps you could just ask her about the bandage now, and if it turns out to be nothing, your mind will be at ease.

In this case, do you think perhaps it made a difference that her fiance was there? Maybe whatever happened was something that upset him--like, he warned her not to run across the wet floor or carry too much and she did it anyway and hurt herself--so retelling the story in front of him would have upset him further. Or perhaps he even hurt her totally on accident--one time I accidentally elbowed my mom in the face and gave her a black eye, and *I* was the one crying because I was so upset about it. Or as others said, it could have been totally innocuous, like a healing tattoo, or so minor that she didn't think to mention it, or she meant to tell you but just forgot.

But for the general question: I think it's almost always acceptable to contact a friend and offer to be closer to them--get together, hang out, chat online, whatever. Sort of creating an environment and a connection where they can confide in you if they want. I also think you (general) should articulate to yourself exactly why you think there might be something bad going on, in detail, and see if those reasons stand up to scrutiny. I don't know that it's rude to ask if someone is harming themselves, etc., if you're doing it out of genuine concern; but it could certainly be off-putting, whether or not it's true, and might not get a genuine answer in response. I think I would just try to show that I cared and give them plenty of opportunity to confide in me if they wanted, maybe ask a few leading questions.
~Lynn2000

EllenS

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1368
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 10:25:01 PM »
If you are good friends with someone - especially if your 'bonding' tends to include swapping stories about being accident prone, then I think asking about self-harm would not necessarily be "rude", just odd and confusing.

I'm not really sure why you wouldn't just say, "hey, what happened?" when you saw the bandage. It sounds like you are close enough friends for that. It certainly would not be out of place if you had not seen her recently.

I think you can be a bit more direct about reaching out with concern, without naming specific issues.  There is no reason to be coy.  If you think something might be troubling your friend, just ask.  On the other hand, "I saw a bandage on your wrist, so I thought you might be self-harming" might be so off putting and intrusive, a person might not feel you were safe to talk to.

If you do have reason to believe something is wrong in her life, or she is having difficulties (no matter how it manifests), I think it is OK for a friend to call up and say "hey, thinking of you. I noticed you have been quiet/haven't heard much from you/seem stressed (etc) and I wanted to see how you're doing.  Everything OK?"  That seems to me, a question that should be put in person or on the phone, not by email.

sweetonsno

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1392
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 10:51:39 PM »
I think that unless you are very close and/or she has told you about a history of self-harm or thoughts of self-harm, you should keep your queries general. "How have you been?" is fine. "Oh, no! What happened to your wrist?" is also fine. Is there some more backstory that you aren't telling us? I don't think I'd assume that a wrist injury automatically meant self-harm, so maybe there's more behind the vibe.

I don't think it should raise alarm bells that she didn't immediately tell you what had happened, especially for a smaller injury. I understand that in the past, it has been sort of her "thing" to be pretty forward and self-depricating about her "oops" moments. However, it's definitely not a common enough behavior that I would worry if someone didn't do it. I think of it as more of an "inside joke" kind of thing. Yeah, it may be something that you two usually get a kick out of it, but not bringing it up once isn't necessarily a crisis.

I think Ellen makes a really good suggestion. If there's something else that is bothering you, like she's been more withdrawn, has lost an abnormal amount of weight, or something, go ahead and give her a call. Focus on that, not on the wrist that may or may not be the result of self-harm. I don't think anybody would be offended by "You seemed a bit quieter than usual and I wanted to check in and make sure everything was okay." It may be that she had a late night, or it may be that she's having a tough time. Either way, you're showing that you care and you are available.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30541
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 11:23:25 PM »
I have to say self harm would have been the last thing on my mind.


Ditto. In fact, if you scrape your wrist, an adhesive bandage may not stick well, since that's such a mobile joint. It may be that the only way to keep a bandage on it is to wrap a strip of gauze around it.


But I also would probably have just said, "Ooh, what'd you do to your wrist?" without thinking about it.

cicero

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17615
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 11:59:10 PM »
I have to say self harm would have been the last thing on my mind.


Ditto. In fact, if you scrape your wrist, an adhesive bandage may not stick well, since that's such a mobile joint. It may be that the only way to keep a bandage on it is to wrap a strip of gauze around it.


But I also would probably have just said, "Ooh, what'd you do to your wrist?" without thinking about it.
Me too, on both accounts. Self harm would not have entered my mind and - especially since in your background you intricate that you tend to discuss this stuff- I would've askedf about the bandage.

            Created by MyFitnessPal.com - Free Weight Loss Tools

sammycat

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6070
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 12:09:28 AM »
I have to say self harm would have been the last thing on my mind.


Ditto. In fact, if you scrape your wrist, an adhesive bandage may not stick well, since that's such a mobile joint. It may be that the only way to keep a bandage on it is to wrap a strip of gauze around it.


But I also would probably have just said, "Ooh, what'd you do to your wrist?" without thinking about it.
Me too, on both accounts. Self harm would not have entered my mind and - especially since in your background you intricate that you tend to discuss this stuff- I would've askedf about the bandage.

Me three.

OP, unless there's some major backstory we're missing, it almost seems as though you want your friend to be self harming, and I really can't imagine why that is.

Bijou

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12951
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 01:28:43 AM »
I had my wrist wrapped in a bandage when I'd had an iv on my inner wrist.  I did get some funny looks from people when they saw it. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

Psychopoesie

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 850
Re: Do you ask or even broach the subject?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 01:55:27 AM »
If you are good friends with someone - especially if your 'bonding' tends to include swapping stories about being accident prone, then I think asking about self-harm would not necessarily be "rude", just odd and confusing.

I'm not really sure why you wouldn't just say, "hey, what happened?" when you saw the bandage. It sounds like you are close enough friends for that. It certainly would not be out of place if you had not seen her recently.

I think you can be a bit more direct about reaching out with concern, without naming specific issues.  There is no reason to be coy.  If you think something might be troubling your friend, just ask.  On the other hand, "I saw a bandage on your wrist, so I thought you might be self-harming" might be so off putting and intrusive, a person might not feel you were safe to talk to.

If you do have reason to believe something is wrong in her life, or she is having difficulties (no matter how it manifests), I think it is OK for a friend to call up and say "hey, thinking of you. I noticed you have been quiet/haven't heard much from you/seem stressed (etc) and I wanted to see how you're doing.  Everything OK?"  That seems to me, a question that should be put in person or on the phone, not by email.

This.

If you get concerned for a friend, reach out to them and let them know you're there to talk with. That way, whatever's going on, they have a chance, or several chances, to tell you about it.

Also be prepared in case the friend tells you they are self-harming. Listening is always a good response. Would you also encourage them to get help if they haven't already and, if so, from where? Worth figuring out a little in advance.

There's heaps of info out there which explains self-harm and ways friends/family might help.

For example. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm

Good luck - you sound like a very caring friend.  :)