Alex's Answer

I'm dating my best friend

Your Question

Hi Alex. Just recently my best friend confessed her feelings for me which is great because I have feelings for her too. We’re dating now and I genuinely feel safe and comfortable around her. But there are a couple problems that I don’t know what to do about. First of all, because I love her and feel safe around her, I get some anxiety when she is away of I won’t be able to see her for a while. But the second part is more serious because it’s about her. She cuts herself. I just don’t know how to address it because she doesn’t talk about it (for obvious reasons) but I want to reach out to her and tell her that I do it too. I just want to look after her and make sure she’s okay. She is an amazing girlfriend. I love her. 

Answer

Hi there and thank you for contacting Ask Alex. 

Firstly can we say how brave you are for reaching out and asking for help.  You talk about how you and your best friend are dating now, and how you feel safe and comfortable around her which is such a positive aspect of any relationship. You mention, however, about a couple of difficulties that you are experiencing . The first one you speak of is feeling anxious when she is away or when you won’t be able to see her a while. We wonder, do you experience anxiety often, and are  there other things that can trigger your anxiety? If so, what kind of positive coping strategies do you use to help manage these feelings? If not, going for a walk, talking with a friend or trusted adult, journaling are all examples of positive coping strategies. 

You speak also of your girlfriend self harming and this is something you do also and you want to speak to her about it but she is unwilling to talk about her self harming. Firstly people can use self harming as a way of coping when they feel stressed  or are faced with a challenging situations. However, self harm is not a positive coping skill and it would be important that you reach out for help. You can be supported in understanding why you self harm and be given alternative positive coping strategies, for when you are feeling under stress or facing difficult situations. 

There are many organisations that can support you in this . If you are 16 years or older you can attend your local GP where they can make a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). If you are under 16 years, your guardian will need to accompany you to the GP. You can find out what CA does here www2.hse.ie/mental-health/services-support/camhs/introduction/

Pieta House is another organisation that supports young people who are engaging in self harm www.pieta.ie. They have a text service (text HELP to 51444) and a 24-hour helpline at 1800 247 247.

In terms of your girlfriend we wonder, is there is somebody like a teacher, guidance counsellor or another trusted adult who could support you in talking with your girlfriend about her self-harming? You could also  share this information with her that we have chatted about here. If you are very concerned about your girlfriend’s  mental wellbeing, it is important that you talk to a trusted adult around this to ensure that your girlfriend gets the right support. 

Taking the first step in reaching out is always the most difficult but you have done it, well done! Do you have someone in your life like a family member , friend, teacher, extended family that could support you in this journey. You, just like your girlfriend, have the right to get the help and support you need to get through this difficult time.

If ever you need to talk about it and you don’t know who to go to, know Childline is here for you. We will listen and support you whenever you need us. You can call us at 1800 66 66 66 or use Live Chat on our website www.childline.ie. We are open 24/7/365, so there will always be somebody here to chat with.

Take care of yourself and know that you are never alone,

Alex 

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