Have Mental Health Questions? Ask a Psychiatrist Online
Hello, I'm Alicia. Thanks for your question, I'm happy to help you today. It's never really easy to talk to someone about getting help, especially if you feel like they might not experience your attempts to help in the way that you intend. It sounds to me like your girlfriend may indeed be suffering from some repressed grief and other issues related to her parents' deaths, and there may very well also be some codependency issues at hand, too. Of course, your job is not to be her therapist but to help her realize the benefits of getting help. So I think the way to broach this subject with her is to come from a standpoint of your own feelings -- i.e. "I care so much about you and I am worried that you don't seem as happy lately as you could be." Try to avoid coming at this from a "you" perspective, like saying "You seem sad", "You have issues from the past" -- obviously I don't think you would say these things but it's not always apparent as to how certain things can come across and how they might put someone on the defensive. Try to be as gentle as possible without trying to diagnose her -- she may have low self-esteem, codependency and grief issues, but try to leave your opinions out of it as much as possible. I think you could focus on the things you said in the middle of your message, because those struck me as coming from a particularly positive and caring standpoint, "I want you to be able to see yourself as I see you -- there are so many great things I love about you, and I feel like you might not see them -- and I'm worried that you don't seem so happy lately. Maybe talking to someone about some of the things that are on your mind or that have happened to you would be helpful. What do you think?" Leave room for her to discuss her feelings with you about it too. And try to steer the conversation away from the "pity parties" -- if she does try to bring it back to that area, just try to focus on the fact that it might be better for her to talk about those feelings with a professional -- that you care about her but you're not trained in this area and you want to see her feeling better about herself. But just remember that it's ultimately up to her -- she has to be the one to decide to make the first step. And don't be surprised if she doesn't decide to see someone right away -- sometimes, just throwing the idea out there is enough as long as you can be patient and give her time to mull it over and come to her own conclusions. I hope it works out, and I wish you all the best.