Monday, April 7, 2008

Giving Advice - A cautionary tale...

The names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

A close friend of mine had been prescribed meds because of severe anxiety. He was/is a great guy, but also a bit of a side show attraction. He stood 6 feet tall, shaved his obviously red head and grew a 8 inch goatee that he constantly stroked and talked about. He was proud of being a bit of a sideshow attraction.

This was during the late 90s and we were mostly college students and drinking buddies. I was 23, 24 years old and seriously thought I knew everything. College was easy for me, but not so much for my friend.

So I tried to help him out... I told him that maybe his meds were the reason he was having trouble in school. I was reading a lot of Uncle Bill (William Seward) Burroughs at the time and was under the impression that doctors were quacks and apparently heroine dealers? Impressionable. Hindsight is a bitch.

I don't actually claim total responsibility for his behavior or for him quitting taking his meds because he was an adult and I was just giving some friendly advice, but there is a grey area here where the advice you give creates havoc and sends people away...

I can definitely hear myself saying, "Man, you don't need that shit. You're not crazy. (He didn't always seem crazy to me, but there were times.) Those doctors have you hooked on that stuff. Or... They're just trying to make money off you. (Which I still don't think is completely false.)

I think you can see where this is going. He quit taking his meds, went to a restaurant and flipped over some table, took a leak on the floor of McDonalds, that sort of stuff... He went on a rampage all over town.

Maybe this post isn't about giving advice. That's an egotistical thing. This post is about taking advice. People are always going to give you advice. So be careful, or you might wind up in the asylum like my friend.

I received a phone call from him about a year ago, from the farm... That would have put him at almost 9 years away. Ouch! He's still there as far as I know.

10 comments:

Allie said...

Oh I wouldn't blame that on you. I'm all for hearing advice not always about taking it. Its just nice to hear someone elses opinion.

Oh and I'm 24, so what are you trying to say? I don't know everything? Dangit!

ElPato said...

Girls are way more mature than boys! I don't see how a 23 year old girl could date a 23 year old boy.

Allie said...

I've never dated someone my own age and I don't think I ever will. Right now my range is 27-33ish. So with that being said I TOTALLY AGREE!

Ankur Dnyanmote said...

Its so much more than that.

Like the Butterfly Effect.

This dude took your advice, but someone else might have not.

YOU gave him that advice, but someone else could have too if not you.

Was he always sane? Was it inevitable that he would wind up crazy? Afterll, there are also cases where theraphy works only for a while and later, the biologically dominant trait takes over. Thats destiniy in a way.

Control is an illusion till your next accident, the chances of which happening are always beyond control.

Preventive medicine is a prophylactic delay. What is strong enough to manifest WILL manifest.

Dont be too hard on yourself.

More importantly...dont be so linear :-)

Dana said...

It is ok to give advice....
Some listen and some don't ya know..


Don't be down on yourself, you're a great friend for trying to help, some people would just ignore it.. At least you tried to help.. It's not your fault...

Feel good that you were the best friend you could be!!

acyd said...

the crazy always escapes eventually, meds or not. it was really just a matter of time.

btw
burroughs is the love of my life.

ElPato said...

I'm not down on myself really, this was a long time ago. I'm just more thoughtful about the advice I give.

And yes, when he went crazy he went very very crazy and it was inevitable.

Isn't the butterfly effect the ultimate linear model? A chain of events, a fucking sequence, man? Haha - love ya Ankz...

Dahlia said...

It is too bad that your friend is still in there, but hindsight is perfect isn't it? And like you said...the butterfly effect is really unforseeable anyway...I guess it could have been worse...

Ankur Dnyanmote said...

And now I will tell you why "details" are so important. Clearly You assumed that you knew what the butterfly effect is. Well...here is a simple beginning to understand

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

As a matter of fact...very few things in this universe are linear systems. Linearization is to simplify. Which is good...dont get me wrong :-)

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

I don't know a whole lot about a lot, but it does seem like from the little detail we have in this story, it seems entirely possible that his problems exceeded what could have been controlled with an anti-anxiety medication anyway. It's good that your not down on yourself, good to be cautious in advice giving and advice taking too.

For me, it's always hard to remember (because I like *everyone*) that some people are more qualified to turn to for advice on certain subjects, that just because I trust/love/like/admire someone does not make him or her an expert on whatever subject happens to be vexing me at that particular moment. So yeah, caution in both directions seems fair.