How to help a distressed and disabled friend
I recently helped (am still helping) a disabled person with a divorce. They should never have been left to themselves, for goodness sake!
1. Listen as best you can.
They do like to repeat themselves - once youv'e heard it 1,000 times, start to say "move on", they may not like it at first, but they get it eventually.
2. Draw a line between your helping them and your own life.
They can become too dependent upon a person, especially if you are the only one they trust. Ask if you can think about the problem they presented and get back to them. They might even find a solution themselves.
3. Set one day a week you can devote face to face time with what they need done.
I found that after helping them thru the divorce there were still too any demands on my time and resources. A gentle weaning with a promise of a certain amount of time a week. I pledged a day a week.
4. Create a daily list for them to work from
They can't do it all, and I certainly can't do it all for them. And with their disabilities they try to do too much at once and therefore get nothing done. I have started sending them a task a day to focus on. They will get distracted while trying to do it. But at least they have something to focus on.
5. Know their tricks and call them on it.
Everyone who has disability problems has learned a way to get around them, many do it through manipulation. Watch and listen and don't get caught up in their machinations. It will help you both!
6. Start your help as an acquaintance. Stay in your position as an acquaintance. "Friendship" requires more from you than you can possible give and stay sane.
7. Get them to enlist more friends to their cause.
Disability doesn't like to call attention to itself. They will not reach out unless you pretty much threaten to leave them to fend for themselves. This is taking a village to get them set up with a new life.
8. They will threaten to end their life. Don't ignore that but don't take the bait, either.
Both the lawyer and I have repeated that we will be forced to call mental health facilities if we hear them threaten to take their own life one more time. Faced with the future they cannot understand, it would be easy for them, but they also do not want to be put in a facility with no freedom. So, be up front with that threat rebuttal early on.
9. They can be wonderful and giving people when they are not so stressed.
Helping does not preclude having a nice relationship, a dinner here, drinks there (if allowed). It makes for a better working relationship and getting the job they need done completed.
10. I don't like to yell, but...yes, it is frustrating.
They just cannot get some concepts and never will. You need to move on from that / find another person to handle that in the future. I've recently been relieved from the only go to person after 1.5 years. This has been one of the worst challenges of my life.
In my limited defense, I didn't know they had problems/challenges when I first said I would help. I have learned a lot along the way.
11. Ask for help or ideas
I'm open, send them to me.