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I love my friend but she's emotionally exhausting.

(53 Posts)
MacduffsMuff Sat 15-Aug-20 12:26:16

We go through the same cycle all the time. She is constantly troubled/overthinking/overwhelmed/overlooked/tense. All her own words regarding her feelings. She perceives so many things as a slight from people (usually innocuous stuff that would offend no one). She messages me, I say the same things each time and she feels better and they cycle continues. I want to help her, I really do, I know she suffers from anxiety. I just don't know what else to say or do. It's constant.

OP’s posts: |
Yoloyohol Sat 15-Aug-20 12:39:58

Not intending to try diagnosing someone online - but it's possible she has BPD. If she has sadly the energy you pour into trying to make her feel better will only ever be a too small sticking plaster and probably kill the friendship in the end.
I'd suggest changing the cycle and directing her to seek professional help every time instead.
Whatever's going on with her, you can't fix her, just support her getting help and or fixing herself.

user14562156358 Sat 15-Aug-20 12:44:07

Couldn't possibly have a thread on MN about mental health without somebody suggesting the person has a fucking "personality disorder".


tectonicplates Sat 15-Aug-20 12:53:05

The thing is you have to look after your own mental health, which includes trying to get away from people who drain you. I used to have a friend a bit like this and she was exhausting. She'd come over for a cup of tea and I'd end up feeling like I'd gone on a ten mile walk. I felt physically exhausted after speaking to her about actually quite mundane things. I had to end the friendship as it really was draining me that much.

Does she go to counselling, or have you ever suggested it to her? If she has that many issues to unload then maybe it would help get to go to someone who gets paid to listen to it all.

Claricethecat45 Sat 15-Aug-20 12:54:19


What happened to plain old 'unhappy person' ?
And being a good friend by a bit of 'listening' draining though it can be and we all know that....and then why post about it asking for help - when no one can?

Are peeps so bored or self absorbed that they feel the need to share - for a bit of traffic? Yes- Im a right grump today but your comment got me thinking

MacduffsMuff Sat 15-Aug-20 13:13:52

And being a good friend by a bit of 'listening' draining though it can be and we all know that....and then why post about it asking for help - when no one can?

I'm trying to be a good friend. I listen constantly. I don't know what else to say that makes any difference, the cycle repeats over and over. I'm not a horrible person, I want her to feel better, but I can't deny that countless messages every single day is having an affect on how I'm feeling too. She never, ever asks how I am.

She has had CBT and counselling before and also has a highly anxious partner which I don't think helps as they both seem to heighten each others anxieties.

OP’s posts: |
IrenetheQuaint Sat 15-Aug-20 13:18:32

It is a really difficult situation, and you will have to decide for yourself where your boundaries are. Maybe just replying to her once a day? It's also OK to say "well, we discussed this yesterday", "you know your perceptions aren't totally accurate", etc.

Yoloyohol Sat 15-Aug-20 15:51:59

It probably makes little difference, but I apologise that I've clearly upset people here with my response.

FWIW I wasted years of two people I cared about lives and my life, accidentally caused co-dependence, and failed to help or get them help when I was genuinely trying to, because it never occurred to me that there might be a specific reason why the smallest normal things from others were turned into supposed personal slights by by the two people who I got trapped into a similar cycle with.
It turned out to be the clue, along with the same things said each time and them feeling better until the next day when the cycle continued.

I'm glad someone said something to me, but clearly it shouldn't be said on MN. Sorry.

Perfectstorm12 Sat 15-Aug-20 16:03:58

It sounds really difficult. I have had to pull back from a similar situation. I feel guilty about it, but her constant insistence that she is 'right', even if that 'rightness' is based entirely on her own anxiety just became draining and overwhelming to listen to. On some level, somewhere, we were friends, but anxiety has absolutely annihilated our relationship. And I am also anxious, but some balance had tipped somewhere and I now dread seeing her. I wish I had backed away a long time ago.

Perfectstorm12 Sat 15-Aug-20 16:05:38

Also, you need to really consider why you think you are responsible for 'soothing' her anxiety? How can you possibly be? We can't be that person for another adult.

Callardandbowser Sat 15-Aug-20 16:16:08

I’m worried that I’m this friend. I don’t have Bpd but I have had a life built on the foundations of trauma passed to me from my parents which puts me on the back foot somewhat in relationships.
My compassionate friends with empathy have lasted the distance. The less so haven’t. Which one are you?

DobbyTheHouseElk Sat 15-Aug-20 16:22:32

I had a friend like this. Sadly I couldn’t cope anymore and ended the friendship which I do feel bad about, but I was having problems myself and they were dismissed quickly by said friend so I could spend more time thinking about her.

I do feel like weight has lifted which was quite interesting.

Techway Sat 15-Aug-20 16:39:51

@Yoloyohol, I thought your comment was fine. Personality disorders are still in early stages of being understood, similar to the understanding there is now about learning difficulties, whereas people were labelled "dunce".

Trauma causes anxiety but at a point where it is a lifelong pattern and impacts most areas of your life then it is defined as a personality disorder, not just ""unhappy". I personally don't like the term but it is the current term. I suspect understanding will evolve and the description change.

Here are the symptoms

It is thought personality disorders are caused by childhood trauma but genetics and personal traits such as sensitivity or resilience will also have an impact.

Op, whatever is the cause if the pattern is the same then it is unlikely she will change and needs outside help. If it drains and depletes you then that isn't something you can continue with and you will need boundaries.

ChicCroissant Sat 15-Aug-20 16:43:39

It won't change OP, so you may want to step back. If you don't want to do that, you need to push things back to here 'what are you going to do about that'

What do you do as friends (eg go out, meet for coffee) other than just being a support for her?

MacduffsMuff Sat 15-Aug-20 16:54:44

*I’m worried that I’m this friend. I don’t have Bpd but I have had a life built on the foundations of trauma passed to me from my parents which puts me on the back foot somewhat in relationships.
My compassionate friends with empathy have lasted the distance. The less so haven’t. Which one are you?*

Well @Callardandbowser it's been 17 years so please don't try to make out that I'm some crap friend who lacks empathy and compassion. Do you (if you think you are that friend) ever consider the pressures you're putting on other people? I ask that genuinely.

There are supposed to be two people in our friendship, not one being made to feel responsible for the others happiness. If I don't respond to messages within an hour or so she rings me constantly to find out why. She called me 6 times on Wednesday because I hadn't responded quickly enough - my 'excuse' was that I was at chemo - which of course she had forgotten about.

My life isn't all sunshine and roses, it would be nice if support could way a two way street.

OP’s posts: |
TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sat 15-Aug-20 17:00:30

I had a friend like this and to be honest I binned her over lockdown.

I felt like she was taking more emotionally from me than I was willing to give so I don’t consider her a friend anymore.

It’s easy to be soft on these things for the sake of having been friends with them for a long time or whatnot- but honestly... life’s too short for people that suck the fun out of things

Callardandbowser Sat 15-Aug-20 17:03:10

@MacduffsMuff I generally just isolate myself from everyone and keep things superficial because the level of deregulation and angst my soul carries is too much for people.
I am at the start of psychotherapy so hopefully I’ll get better.
You’re a good friend. Maybe you need to be more boundaried and tap out when she starts draining you.

candycane222 Sat 15-Aug-20 17:03:20

Wow 6 times in a day OP!!. Even my most demanding relative doesn't do that! And if they did I would be concerned that they were having an MH crisis and would be suggesting they sought professional help. Honestly you need to find some boundaries. It really sounds like she is making you responsible for her emotional state, which is terrible for both of you. This has to stop!

ElspethFlashman Sat 15-Aug-20 17:07:14

I'd have dumped her just for the Wednesday shit tbh.

And reflect on this - if you were to die from the cancer (just hypothetically!), I guarantee she'd find someone else to pester with her poor me act.

And she'd be weeping to them about you whilst never reflecting that she was an absolutely SHITE friend to you.

I'm not sure why you're not fuming???

candycane222 Sat 15-Aug-20 17:08:49

And I'm very sorry you are going through chemo. She isn't really a friend is she if she doesn't take the trouble to sympathise and care, she really is mostly a user. You can't be helping that much if this goes on and on. And anyway you aren't her doctor, so it isn't your job to listen.

MacduffsMuff Sat 15-Aug-20 17:09:58

I'm not sure why you're not fuming???

To be honest @ElspethFlashman I think I'm just so weary with it all.

OP’s posts: |
couchparsnip Sat 15-Aug-20 17:13:35

I would be using that Wednesday as a reason to dump her. Or at least make her think about what she's doing.

LuvMyBoyz Sat 15-Aug-20 17:27:16

I’ve had this and realised after years that nothing I said would help. So I empathised and limited contact gradually. Rarely see her now and am much better for it...completely draining.

katy1213 Sat 15-Aug-20 17:35:41

You got me with the six phone calls through chemo. Dump her and block her. She has 'anxiety' which is a sacred cow on Mumsnet. You have something real. Hope you feel better soon. You have enough on your plate without all this nonsense.

RoadworksAgain Sat 15-Aug-20 17:36:30

Good god she sounds like a shit friend. You must be a saint to have not exploded at her after Wednesday.

Do you actually get anything from the friendship, any support, lighthearted chat, the chance to offload yourself, does she help you take your mind off what you're going through? - or are you hanging onto it purely because it's been going for 17 years?

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