Did you ever meet someone where you just gave up on helping them? Because no matter what you do, it just doesn't seem to make a difference?
I've got a few cases like that right now... and I honestly don't know what to do. I think I can carry on a while longer. But I'm coming to the point where I cry out to God in frustration, "I just don't know what to do next!"
There is someone I know who just doesn't seem to understand what people say. I actually asked another mutual friend once, "Err... does this person have a mental deficiency?".
I wasn't being rude - it was a genuine question! But it didn't take too long for me to realise that that just couldn't be; the person's speech reflected someone of normal intelligence; this person just seemed insensitive to other people's reactions and feelings.
So then I thought maybe the person had Asperger's - the disorder often seen as 'a milder form of autism' where a person does approach people and talks but doesn't seem to read social cues such as boredom, irritation etc. on the part of the listener.
But then I realised that, even KNOWING someone has Asperger's, what can I do about it? And does it make a difference if I 'try to help' someone with Asperger's? Does it help THEM any? Or is it just for the benefit of the people around them; that they irritate others less?
Such a sad state of affairs; as far as I'm aware, there is no 'cure' for Asperger's anymore than there is for autism. The only thing one can do is teach them social skills so that they are more socially acceptable and less isolated. :(
Another area that's pretty hard to deal with is depression. I'm not talking about the blues... I'm talking about an extreme heaviness that brings a normal, articulate, capable person into such a state that their voice is flat, they feel tired all the time, they lose interest in everything and they can't seem to shake themselves out of it.
Neither am I talking about being with a friend like this for days, weeks or even months - if you can't cope with a friend who is like this for that relatively moderate period of time, you do need to review why you got into this friendship in the first place and whether it's worth keeping.
Because somewhere underneath this depression is still the same friend you once knew with the same characteristics and personality that you loved; it's just masked for a while and can appear if you wait just a little while longer. If you don't think it's worth waiting for, there probably wasn't much to the friendship to begin with.
But I know some individuals who have been depressed for years. Oh boy, is that ever difficult! And sadly, people who have been depressed that long don't seem to realise anymore that they are depressed - they're too used to waking up to a grey sky (even when it's blue and sun-shiny to others) and to feeling tired and hopeless to realise that it isn't normal.
There is no point trying to shake someone out of depression; I'm pretty cautious about doing that anyway. When someone appears to be holding on just by a thin piece of thread, you don't shake the thread too vigorously lest it snap!
People with depression don't seem to hear speech. They seem locked in a grey bubble which reason cannot pierce. If a person with depression talks, they seem to go round and round the same issue, remaining oblivious to the 'facts' that you try to tell them that seem obvious to you.
They're not interested in any activities because they're tired all the time and as far as you can tell, everything is 'tasteless' to them. There are no 'colours' in life.
One friend that I knew who had depression, thankfully came out of it by becoming very interested in a new hobby. To my delight, it brought new friends along her path, a new purpose and reason in her being, and before I expected it, she was striding confidently upon life's path again.
Oh that all friends with depression could reach that happy state to freedom!
Perhaps at the end of the day, what helps is to know that we are not 'saviors'. There is a Savior, and He is all these people need. Perhaps it's time we withdraw our bumbling hands stretched out to lift, aid, guide, and sometimes (truthfully!) slapping, and begin to lift them in prayer for our friends.
After all, today - you stumble. Tomorrow - perhaps I will. And I pray that when I do, you will pary for me; even as I pray for you today.