I was dating this guy about 4 years ago. We got really close and he ended up confiding in me things he never told anyone. He's severely bi-polar and has a history of depression, so he was self-medicating himself with alcohol, and was a heroin addict. At the time we were going out, he was sober about a year and going to daily AA meetings. Our different lifestyles and his drastic mood swings were too much for me to handle so we broke up. Since then, when we see each other at our yoga studio (which is about once a week), we say "hi," but that's about it.
Recently, out of the blue, I received an email from him saying that he had decided to go for treatment in a hospital for his bi-polar disorder. I was happy to hear that, but he said he needed someone to take him to the hospital for the 3 hour treatments, 3 times a week, for 6 weeks (he is going to be put out for shock treatment so he can't drive). He knows my schedule is somewhat flexible, and was basically begging for me to help bring him once a week, since he has hardly any friends who know about this, and his family is out of the picture.
I really don't want to get involved (because of all the reasons we broke up in the first place), and I really can't take off work once a week, but I feel so bad, knowing he has no one to help. What should I do?
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Dear Want-to-Help Heather--
It sounds like you are in a tough place, and you are being asked a huge favor from someone who is clearly reaching out for help.
My suggestion is to ask him if he's thought about hiring a private nurse who can bring him to the hospital, stay with him, and then bring him home. He has to realize that it's a lot to ask for you to take off work once a week for 6 weeks. If a nurse is out of the question, he may need to confide in some of his other friends (who don't yet know about his situation) and see if they can help. Then you wouldn't have to do it once a week, you could maybe do it every other week.
If giving up your time isn't the main issue here, and you just feel weird about spending time with him again, knowing he is relying on you so much; I would just be honest with him. Explain that you don't think it's appropriate for you to be his caregiver and that it makes you uncomfortable to be back in his life in this way. You can apologize, hope he understands, and move on with your life. Although he clearly needs help, it is a lot of anyone, let alone an ex- girlfriend, so I am sure he wouldn't be all that surprised if you declined this responsibility. I hope this helps Heather. I hope your ex gets better, but remember you are your first priority!