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To think I'm not facilitating my friend's anxiety?

(76 Posts)
Megatron Fri 26-Jun-20 11:54:23

I'm trying to work out if I am helping in this situation or not. One friend says I am 'facilitating' my friend's anxiety and 'pandering' to it. I don't think I am, but would like some other opinions. I should say, it's not caused any kind of friction between friend and me, I just don't know if she has a point or not.

We have a mutual long-standing close friend who has chronic anxiety. I am really fond of her and she's been a great friend to me in the past, is so kind and always has time for people. We are pretty close. She suffers from chronic anxiety, depression and had a nervous breakdown several years ago. She has a lovely DH and two gorgeous girls that she would do anything for.

She has struggled massively throughout lockdown, as many people have, and it's increased her anxiety levels massively. We message most days and I have been concerned about how she's feeling but she won't ring her doctor in case they want to see her, there's no way she'd go. We have a small friendship group of 6 of us and one of us (not me) has just been given a great promotion at work that she's worked really hard for. She's invited everyone for a socially distanced celebratory drink in her garden on Sunday over WhatsApp and it's completely put my friend in a spin.

She ignored the message for a couple of days then messaged me to say that she didn't know what to do, she hadn't slept since getting the message and the thought of her going makes her feel sick as she didn't feel she can go. I told her to just send a message and say so, which she did and our other friends are fine about it (apart from one) - they know she struggles massively and didn't want her to feel pressured. I suggested that when she feels ready, we could go for a walk (2 m apart obv) which she said she'd think about and maybe she could come to her front door and we could have a chat if I stayed by her gate etc. All little things to try to give her a bit of confidence.

Friend who is not happy that mutual friend not coming sent a message to me asking if I could 'talk some sense' into mutual friend and said that she needs to sort herself out and come for our other friend. I said that mutual friend is struggling (as she knows) and doesn't feel that she can just yet. Friend says that I am just facilitating her anxiety and that mutual friend needs to 'snap out of this nonsense'. I don't think it's quite as simple as that and I'm only trying to support mutual friend. I don't have any experience of chronic anxiety but I see what it does to my friend and how it affects her. The last thing she needs is criticism and I want her to feel comfortable, not terrified when she does feel she can some out. I don't really know if I should be doing anything different to support her apart from listen I suppose. Any advice would be appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
UnfinishedSymphon Fri 26-Jun-20 11:58:10

Your friend sounds like she doesn't have the first clue what it's like to suffer from anxiety

Di11y Fri 26-Jun-20 12:00:39

it needs to be baby steps. it's like saying to someone who has a phobia of spiders, oh just stroke my tarantula no big deal when they're at the run screaming from a tiny house spider stage. If you force them into it they'll just be traumatised and it'll reinforce the fear.

Megatron Fri 26-Jun-20 12:01:08

UnfinishedSymphon

Your friend sounds like she doesn't have the first clue what it's like to suffer from anxiety

She doesnt', she thinks it's something that mutual friend can control and needs to 'pull herself together'. As I said in my OP, I don't really either but I'm trying to and I can see that my friend's life is absolutely ruled by it in every way. I know how awful it is for her, she certainly didn't choose it.

OP’s posts: |
sassbott Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:04

Your friend is being horrible. Everyone needs to go at their own pace. How quickly they come out of lockdown is a deeply personal choice.

I have a close friend who is quite relaxed, her DH (suffers from OCD / anxiety) isn’t. I would have met with her by now if it was her choice. As it is, we still cannot meet as it would require driving. I’d need a use a bathroom and I know he wouldn’t want anyone else coming into their house to use their bathroom.

I’m not messaging her telling her to tell her DH to stop being silly. I’ll see them when the time is right and until then we’re content with FT.

billy1966 Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:09

Your friend should mind her own business and keep her views to herself.

It doesn't impact her that the other friend has anxiety.

Megatron Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:14

Di11y

it needs to be baby steps. it's like saying to someone who has a phobia of spiders, oh just stroke my tarantula no big deal when they're at the run screaming from a tiny house spider stage. If you force them into it they'll just be traumatised and it'll reinforce the fear.

That's exactly what I think. She just won't cope seeing more than one person at a time on her first time out in quite some time.

OP’s posts: |
mbosnz Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:19

I think you tell the friend who wants you to join forces to pressure your friend who suffers greatly with anxiety that she can back the hell off, and that you won't be doing any such thing, and you'll be tearing her a new one if you hear that she has, ignorant bint that she is.

GracieLane Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:34

No you can't "snap out" of anxiety. There are methods used such as flooding (where you go to the scariest situation) and graded exposure (where you gradually increase how scary the situation is) but different things work for different people and some people can only do so under therapeutic supervision (with the support of a psychologist/therapist/career).

You can't "snap out" of anxiety like your friends, because it's not "feeling anxious" it's a medical condition. Just like you can't "snap out" of diabetes, Crohn's disease, schizophrenia etc.

TinyPigeon Fri 26-Jun-20 12:02:54

Your other friend sounds like a massive cunt tbh. You can't "snap out of" mental illness. I thought most people understood that now.

Megatron Fri 26-Jun-20 12:04:12

I remember about a year ago, she came to my door at 8.30 in the morning to ask me to take her girls (I live about two doors from school) into school because she just couldn't fact walking through the school gates. She was shaking and crying and it was heartbreaking to see.

OP’s posts: |
Megatron Fri 26-Jun-20 12:05:14

mbosnz

I think you tell the friend who wants you to join forces to pressure your friend who suffers greatly with anxiety that she can back the hell off, and that you won't be doing any such thing, and you'll be tearing her a new one if you hear that she has, ignorant bint that she is.

I told her there's no chance in hell I'll be pressurising mutual friend. I just wouldn't do that to her, it's not what she needs.

OP’s posts: |
DileenODoubts Fri 26-Jun-20 12:07:50

You sound a great friend to your anxious friend. The second friend, on the other hand is not.
Is she an authority on this stuff? Obviously not so her opinion of what you do with anxious friend holds no weight.
She’s in no way involved, she’s just a guest like you and anxious friend so what difference does it make to her?
What’s she like? Does she like to be the one in control, answered to, in the group? Ask yourself why you are worried what she thinks? Is it because she complains about other members of the group vocally when she doesn’t agree with their actions?

LadyMinerva Fri 26-Jun-20 12:08:34

If only those with mental health issues could "just snap out of it".

You are an amazing friend. You have such empathy.

Sadly, you can't make your other friend understand any more than you can 'cure' your friends anxiety.

I can't advise you on what to do but I can assure you that you are not enabling in any way.

vintageyoda Fri 26-Jun-20 12:08:50

I'd stick to your guns, OP. 'Friend' is being pretty ignorant with her 'snap out of it' attitude, people like that can do so much damage in these cases.
You offer your (anxious) friend what she is able to manage. A chat at her front door will do her the world of good and may even embolden her to make another small step toward reintegration.
It's worth saying that she can have a telephone consultation with her dr. Which might be a good step forward to finding the help she needs.
All the best to you and your anxious friend.

user12699422578 Fri 26-Jun-20 12:11:10

Friend says that I am just facilitating her anxiety and that mutual friend needs to 'snap out of this nonsense'

This person is ignorant and nasty. Frankly they should be told they are out of order before they cause harm.

Health conditions are not chosen. People with paralysis cannot simply walk because someone else finds accommodating their wheelchair inconvenient, people with diabetes are not spontaneously cured because somebody else finds their needs tedious...

Your approach of supporting your friend to take small steps to build her sense of safety is positive and healthy. It is the approach mental health professionals would take if they were supporting her. It has to go in small repeated steps reinforcing her safety and ability to cope, otherwise it can be damaging and counterproductive.

MashedPotatoBrainz Fri 26-Jun-20 12:11:54

You can't just pull yourself together if you suffer from anxiety. Your friend is an ignorant cowbag and needs to back the fuck off.

zingally Fri 26-Jun-20 12:24:33

I have a friend who sounds very like your friend with the anxiety (she's single and lives with her mum, who also has mental health probs).

My friend has HUGE amounts of anxiety around work (we're in the same field, but I'm a few years further along than her). Two or three years ago now, she had problems with workplace bullying, and just really struggled. She'd CONSTANTLY message me, asking advice, I'd give it, and then she'd NEVER follow through with it. Then a few days would pass, and we'd go through the whole rigmarole again. I did find it intensely wearing, and in the end, I had to step back, resorting to "ah, that sounds hard, what are you going to do?" and "are you genuinely asking for advice, or are you just venting?" I felt bad, distancing from her, but it was getting to the stage where I had to protect my own mental health.

3 years on, she's generally doing much better, but our friendship has never QUITE been as solid, as I'm wary of being her emotional sounding board again.

Nitpickpicnic Fri 26-Jun-20 12:29:58

Take your unsympathetic mate aside and set her straight. Instead of telling her off, just say something like:

‘You are so lucky that you haven’t experienced this sort of anxiety. Life events can tip any of us into that space so very suddenly and traumatically. Be grateful that your life so far lets you say things like ‘snap out of it’. X friend is trying so hard to pull herself out of a very real hole, inch by inch. Standing at the top and telling her to ‘just find a rope’ isn’t just mean, it’s entirely pointless. The only help we can offer is patience and kindness. And probably childcare. So let’s do that. And keep being grateful we’re strong and confident. Cos you never know. One day we might need her to show US the way out of a hole.’

I know, too wordy. But hopefully you get my drift.

I was like your (unsympathetic) friend for most of my life. Untouchable in my confidence. Sure that people just needed to buck up and stop being self-indulgent with all that mental health nonsense.

A traumatic birth put an end to that. Now I get it, and how long the road back to living life without fear can be. I wish I could spend an hour explaining it to your mate. Or maybe just airlifting her to a dark mountain cave and telling her to call me once she finds her way home. It feels exactly like that sometimes.

Good on you for your empathy, and for helping your anxious friend in such practical ways.

1300cakes Fri 26-Jun-20 12:37:07

The anxiety isn't really relevant is it? If someone doesn't want to come to an event, then they don't come. It's rude and pointless to hassle them about it. Whether that be because of anxiety, they are busy, too tired, don't fancy it, or whatever.

Viragoesque Fri 26-Jun-20 12:39:36

The anxiety isn't really relevant is it? If someone doesn't want to come to an event, then they don't come. It's rude and pointless to hassle them about it. Whether that be because of anxiety, they are busy, too tired, don't fancy it, or whatever.

I was about to post this. It's an invitation, not a legally-binding summons. If I turn down an invitation for any reason, I don't expect to be hassled about it.

Brefugee Fri 26-Jun-20 12:40:24

while your other friend is displaying a total lack of empathy, your anxious friend needs to find some better coping strategies, i think?
Because if getting an invitation stops her sleeping for 3 days how does that affect her family? Of course you can't say that to her because, anxiety.

How does her partner cope? her children?

FlamedToACrisp Fri 26-Jun-20 12:46:02

mbosnz

I think you tell the friend who wants you to join forces to pressure your friend who suffers greatly with anxiety that she can back the hell off, and that you won't be doing any such thing, and you'll be tearing her a new one if you hear that she has, ignorant bint that she is.

Why would OP need to be so aggressive? She could just say firmly that she doesn't agree, and that trying to force the mutual friend would only make it harder for her to cope.

Shoxfordian Fri 26-Jun-20 12:49:54

She sounds very unsympathetic
Carry on being a good friend

Nearlyalmost50 Fri 26-Jun-20 12:52:16

I think you sound like a lovely friend- offering to see her at the front door/socially distanced one on one sound like the most she can cope with now.

I feel a bit sorry for your friend with anxiety, if everyone didn't know about her anxiety, then she could have just texted 'sounds fab, but I won't be able to come this time, thanks for asking' and no-one would have thought twice about it.

I hate friendship groups where everyone is obliged to perform friendship regardless of whether this actually works for them!

I would just say to your other friend, that's just the way it is, and don't enter into any further discussion about your mutual friend's anxiety- I'm sure she doesn't feel great knowing everyone is talking about her and whilst it's fine not to hide it, her being so honest and so transparent is making her a target now for people to judge her. Which is the last thing she needs.

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