I would like to start this off by saying that this is not a cry for help, this is not a plea for attention, and this is not a shady pass at someone who treated me badly. It is an observation. And a request for everyone out there who has friends that may struggle with mental health or, you know, being a person sometimes.
If someone comes up to you and says “can we talk about something?” and starts to express how they are feeling or thoughts that are going on in their head, don’t try to make it a teachable moment, or simplify or generalize what is going on. Don’t try to fix. Just. LISTEN.
This person could have been bottling this up for a long time, and has finally had enough of tamping down the anxieties that keep them from sleeping at night. They could have had a monumentally bad day and don’t know how else to decompress except by talking it out with an actual human being. Maybe they really do want your opinion on whatever “craziness” is bothering them, but I promise they will ask for that if you do one thing and
JUST. FREAKING. LISTEN.
It can be tempting to redirect the conversation because it isn’t something you are comfortable with, but try to avoid that if possible. (Unless the topic is plotting a murder. Redirect that. That’s not good or healthy). If your friend (or family member) is discussing self-harm, don’t freak out on them, they are already freaking out on themselves. Let them know that you care. By Listening.
Be Present for your friends and family. You may be the only one that is.