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AIBU to back off from friend with anxiety?

(15 Posts)
AIN Sat 28-Nov-15 18:57:13

I have a circle of friends who I have been friends with for over 10 years. Only two of us have children but I have always been the go to person when the others have troubles.

One of my friends has anxiety issues and has every since I've known her. Examples of her anxiety is needing constant reassurance she looks ok on nights out, checking we aren't laughing at her, asking our opinions when people are looking at her, is she fat etc. The latest thing is she keeps ringing me over contraception issues. Is she pregnant? Exploring every contraception in detail asking me to read research on them etc. She's recently had a coil fitted now her anxiety has gone through the roof I have 5+ calls a day over 30 texts. If I don't answer she worries I don't like her etc. It's really wearing me down and I'm getting anxious that she's going to call! I've recently sent her a message advising her to go to the GP as her anxiety levels are not normal. She's not impressed! I know it's not my place to tell her to go, but I really feel that I can't take it any more. I can't enjoy myself when we go out as I feel I'm her personal counsellor and don't get to have fun. I've given her (and the rest of my friends) a lot of myself, but I feel tired of it and just want to concentrate on my family and not read 100's websites on issues that are worrying her.

laundryeverywhere Sat 28-Nov-15 19:05:49

I think you should talk to her again, but in person. Tell her you care about her and she is a nice friend, but you absolutely feel she must get some proper help. I know it's another thing to do, but maybe offer to go along to the GP with her.

If you are seriously considering backing off from this friendship, please consider having a kind but honest chat with your friend first. She might take on board what you are saying, and become less demanding, or she might flounce off - either way, you'd end up with a more manageable situation than you have now.

But if you just back off without explanation, that will only add to her anxiety, because she will not be able to stop fretting about why you aren't calling her/seeing her/texting her.

bobsalong Sat 28-Nov-15 19:08:43

I've had friends like this. It is hard, because you can see how little confidence and self-esteem they have. But at the same time you can't spend your life boosting that for them 24/7.

Maybe the way you worded it was a little bit blunt, but it's not nice to be harassed. Maybe next time she asks any questions just say "I've already answered you" and just change the subject? Keep changing the subject if she keeps bringing it up? If you get cornered just say you can't keep answering the same question all the time and change the subject again! She will get the message. I ended up doing that when it got annoying, just steered the conversation to a different topic every time.

iwantgin Sat 28-Nov-15 19:08:57

YWNBU

have you tried talking bluntly to her?

Explain how you want to help her but will only be available for a certain amount of time?

I had a family member who constantly texted and called asking my opinion on her boyfriend. Eventually I said that she could talk about it but only for (ours) 30 minutes per day. I had to say something as it was dragging me down too.

AIN Sat 28-Nov-15 19:19:55

I'm not going to stop being friends with her, and of course never back off without telling her as I know that would add to her anxiety. I would tell her that I can't keep talking to her all day (I have done this in the past and had to reassure her for hours that I still liked her and its just the time I couldn't spare). I've offered to go to the GP but she doesn't Want to (she's worried they'll take her children away). She really does need help but I can't force her.

SilverdaleGlen Sat 28-Nov-15 19:22:02

DH is going through a shitty shitty time with depression and anxiety and I know he has lost friends for similar reasons. It's left him very isolated.

That doesn't mean they are wrong, they have their own shit to deal with.

However they've created more issues by lying and avoiding than just being clear. I am clear with DH, have to be. Have told him I have the DVS, work and my own crap to deal with but that's why I'm not answering /giving time not because I don't love him.

Be honest with your friend. Make it clear she needs help. Set solid boundaries.

SilverdaleGlen Sat 28-Nov-15 19:23:14

*DCs.

X post. There is only so much you can do. Tell her you love her you value the friendship but you will only be responding to texts when YOU have time. Etc. Stick to it.

whois Sat 28-Nov-15 19:37:51

Yeah I do not think you would be a bad person if you backed off. That level of support is redic. But yes, agree that you should tell her way in a nice way, you like her and value her as a friend but you don't have the emotional energy to be her crutch like this.

hihihihihi Sat 28-Nov-15 19:39:56

I've been on the other end of this (suffering from anxiety and low sel-esteem) and SilverdaleGlenn's advice is spot on. I lost a really good friend because she didn't tell me I was becoming too much for her. I wish she had put clear boundaries in place and told me the impact i was having on her life.

Also, if your friend won't go to the GP would she go to private counselling. My local city has a women's counselling centre which is means tested so doesn't cost a fortune. She needs to become aware of her thought patterns and why her anxiety spirals out of control: counselling can help with this.

laundryeverywhere Sat 28-Nov-15 20:35:30

You can reassure her that the DCs would not be taken away. I know a MH nurse dealing with very serious cases and they only call in S.S if the kids are definitely at risk I.e being abused or neglected. They don't just assume MH problems means kids at risk.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Sat 28-Nov-15 22:03:14

I think a blunt yet caring conversation is needed

She won't thanks you immediately but she will in time

She needs to see Gp and can she afford counselling - it's an average of £50 per hour and it's so so invaluable and useful

Be brave and tell her flowers

Pepperpot123 Sat 28-Nov-15 22:05:41

I worked with a lady I was quite friendly with once. Her anxiety and need for constant reassurance was wearing me down and eventually we fell out, cue many awkward work scenarios. I just wish I'd sat her down and told her yes I still want to be friends but you need external support. Would have saved so much hassle and upset.

earlgreycat Sat 28-Nov-15 22:32:33

That doesn't sound like anxiety. It sounds like borderline personality disorder.

If you are getting harassed with this many calls and texts I don't think you do need to explain. Whatever the cause, it's incredibly draining to be on the receiving end and enabling it doesn't actually help the person even though they may think it does.

What you said to her was fine.

earlgreycat Sat 28-Nov-15 22:34:31

PS it's not necessarily reasonable to insist people explain why they're backing off. When someone is this unstable and paranoid it can blow up very badly.

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