Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Friendship incident(s) and fear of people...

(16 Posts)
WomenAtWorkWithDiggers Sat 19-Nov-16 11:10:35

A few years ago an old school friend came to stay. We'd stayed in touch and seen each other occasionally since school. We both got quite depressed in school but shared gallows humour as well as generally bizarre humour. Around age 19/20 she told me I must still be depressed because my life was "aimless" (I had a 5 - 10 year plan, fgs!) She also referred to my then clear mental health problems as "teenage angst", saying I should "be over it" by now. I brushed these comments off so as not to spoil the friendship (I used to do this with everyone, have been massively taken advantage of because of it).

Things happened that I locked away inside and forced myself to forget because it was just overwhelming. I felt an idiot for having these problems but I was exposed to stuff I didn't know how to deal with (what with being poor, mental, and young.) Anyway aside from these comments she seemed a good freind, we didn't have a lot contact but when we did speak we were straight back in as if no time had passed.

Anyway a few years back life seemed to be going better (was in mid 20s) and I was the happiest I'd ever been. Then I broke down, was really weird, wasn't coping despite objectively being happy which was a first for me. Started remembering stuff, struggling to sleep, getting v anxious etc.

Then she came to stay. I told her it wasn't a good idea and tried to cancel explaining I couldn't cope, but she wouldn't hear of it. We'd been in touch quite a lot (both had had an interesting/varied year) and she said not to worry if I was depressed, we could just hide in if necessary.

The first night was sociable and anxiety provoking but ended up quite fun, but I couldn't keep it up. Following day her and one of my housemates decided we should go for a long walk, I wasn't up for it but didn't know how to handle the situation and did what I used to do which was convince myself I'm fine and pretend to be fine. This ended in excruciating disaster when I could't stop crying and was just whacked out overwhelmed and my brain ceased to function (reminds me of descriptions of ASD shutdown, but only happened if really really pushed, and ignored many warning signs or unable to escape). I can't remember the details but she and friend left me in an area I didn't recognise and I ended up being picked up and taken home by police, almost section 136'd but they decided better to leave me in care of friends. That alone makes me feel sick now and I can't process what happened. I thought those terrifying times of my life were over and she made them happen again by not listening to me. (This is really frightening, other people have done the same, they don't listen , they have insisted they know best and forced or coerced me to go along with it, and it's all gone wrong, for me.)

Anyway the rest of the weekend involved her basically socialising with my housemates and others, when I couldn't cope she just carried on without me. I should mention one housemate (the walk one) was rather attractive (as well as being the perfect example of male entitlement/gaslighting/wtf?) although there was one clear reason why she wouldn't have pursued a relationship with him.

I tried to explain to her why I was so upset (including that I was struggling without a space to retreat to as she had to sleep in my room). She didn't get it at all and shouted at me and I stumbled out of the room in tears, and bumped into another housemate. He grabbed me and shook me and snarled in my face that I'd better shut up or he'd call the police on me. This was terrifying as he had until then appeared to be the most gentle loving soul you could meet. I couldn't understand because he must have heard what she was saying to me/what had happened and calling the police made no sense whatsoever (in hindsight they'd not have done anything but it frightened me all the same). I later found out (from others) he did this Jekyll and Hyde thing, but at the time I was so confused and frightened. I ran to a friend's house and they were very kind and ended up calling over everyone from my house to make up and have a big group hug...

After my friend had gone home she sent me an email detailing what a great weekend she'd had and all the people she met and telling me I could be happy with all these fab people if only I tried harder, or something like that. It was awful because due to being pushed over the edge that weekend, people had found out I was mentally ill/had seen me really bonkers rather than just depressed which didn't exactly help with cementing friendships. (Was a great community in terms of fun and zillions of aquaintances but difficult to get below the surface/really accepted).

Anyway we stayed friends on facebook but didn't really communicate again until the past year. She acted like nothing had happened so I did too, again, I didn't want to rock the boat and wreck an old friendship (yes, I know...)

But I have been having horrible intrusive memories of that weekend. I feel so frightened because I trusted her and she did that. I have a lot of these memories and nightmares about times when I've been really hurt by people and it's seemed inexplicable/utterly unexpected/unpredictable. I try to put them into context and understand, in order to deal with them. But generally it's impossible as people who treat you badly don't tend to stick around to give a reasoned explanation afterwards (one person did, years later). So the really inexplicable ones haunt me years later. It's part of what I struggle with mentally, mainly stuff from my late teens/early 20s that I just cannot process and terrifies me.

So... I thought we were good enough friends that I could ask her. I explained the context, ie. about having memories of various situations and that I just wanted to understand so I could lay them to rest. (I have been having increased memories/nightmares/anxiety in general recently.) She just told me I should try to enjoy life. I replied that I was trying to, and that's why I did/do (XYZ good things), but that the intrusive memories and nightmares are really hard and I'm trying to understand the past in order to deal with it and leave it behind. She again told me to try to enjoy life, and blocked me.

Please, someone explain this to me. Why was she so horrible to me that weekend? How can someone your trust turn like that? How the hell do I avoid it? I keep thinking if only I'd insisted she didn't visit, but if I'd done that we'd have just fallen out then, and I'd feel like it was my fault for overreacting (And would certainly be treated as such). Every time I've been seriously hurt by people I've trusted it's because I've ignored little red flags, or not noticed them as red flags... if she'd been kind that weekend, for example, then insisting on visiting because she was worried about me would have actually been a nice thing to do. I would not have predicted her actions at all.

Every day now I'm waking feeling sick with fear. I feel so worthless and useless, but I try so hard and try to be ok and then people like her just think I choose to be depressed or something. I have tried so hard for so long to make sense of everything. I just want to have some clarity so I can stop being frightened. I've had a load of therapy (and trying to get more) which has helped me stand my ground and have better boundaries, but I'm scared of being viewed as a bitch for being hard hearted or insistent with people (or cutting out people who continually overstep boundaries/make me feel unsafe.) I've got a feeling there's a massive blind spot where I'm missing something but cannot work out what!

WomenAtWorkWithDiggers Sat 19-Nov-16 11:15:37

Oh my goodness, sorry it's so long, wanted to outline situation clearly

CageyBee Sat 19-Nov-16 11:17:48

You need to cut all contact with her.

RosieposiePuddingandPi Sat 19-Nov-16 11:30:42

She sounds like one of my sister's ex-friends. My sister has suffered from depression and anxiety since she was 16 and one of her 'friends' went out of her way to minimise it and to persuade other people in their friendship group that she was just out for attention.
After a good few years (and thankfully some loyal friends) my sister went NC with her and is much, much happier for it.
I think some people just don't have the capacity or want to understand mental health and mental illness and want a simple life so deal with people the way you describe this woman.
It's not you, it's her and for your sake you need to just cut her out of your life (seems like she's already started that by blocking you). And carry on seeking therapy and support while doing it.

WomenAtWorkWithDiggers Sat 19-Nov-16 12:18:57

In your sister's situation, Rosie, didn't that mean she lost a whole load of friends because of (a) avoiding the person, and (b) stuff they'd said about her? That's one of the difficulties, although perhaps not in the situation Idescribed. Although I did wonder what would have happened if I'd insisted she didn't visit - she may have shown up anyway and a housemate would have let her in and there'd have been a big scene and I'd look like a bitch...

The other things is - how on earth do you predict who is going to do this? As I said, we'd been in touch a lot over the previous year and had met up about a year before this incident. It felt like a good friendship. I could not have predicted her behaviour, nor that of my housemate (he was even more shocking actually, like two different people). If I cut everyone off at the slightest hint of a red flag I'd know nobody.

WomenAtWorkWithDiggers Mon 28-Nov-16 14:04:17

Anyone? Please, this means so much to me, I want ti work it out.

April2013 Mon 28-Nov-16 14:37:08

I think some people are just horrible and it's ok to drop them when it becomes clear that they are and hope that you come across much kinder people in the future. I've had similar friendship drama and I can totally empathise. It is crap you can't predict it often. Friendship drama is so painful isn't it, but nice people are out there.

mumonashoestring Mon 28-Nov-16 14:42:46

You've been put in a truly horrible situation.

Sadly, it's impossible to completely predict how anyone is going to behave - people behave differently in different situations, they behave very differently under stress or when they're afraid, and people do change. For what it's worth though, the thing that leaped out at me?

Around age 19/20 she told me I must still be depressed because my life was "aimless" (I had a 5 - 10 year plan, fgs!) She also referred to my then clear mental health problems as "teenage angst", saying I should "be over it" by now. I brushed these comments off so as not to spoil the friendship (I used to do this with everyone, have been massively taken advantage of because of it).

This would have been the big warning sign for me - although I can see that you brushed it off because you were trying to keep your friendship going, I do think that someone minimising your feelings, telling you that your instincts are flat-out wrong, insisting on everything being done their way? Massive signs that that person is not going to be a good friend to you.

All the friendships that I've had that have lasted and meant something all have one thing in common, although they're all with quite different people/personality types - we care enough about one another to listen when the other person says 'that's not right for me'. The fact that they feel strongly that something is not what they want is enough for us to put our assumptions to one side and listen. If they need support, then we offer that support as far as we're able to, whether they're doing what we would do or not.

Oh, and as for her refusing to explain her behaviour? No-one wants to write back to someone and say 'I was a colossal arsehole, there is no excuse for my behaviour', which is basically what she would have had to say. Much easier to minimise the hurt felt by the other person and say 'oh just move on'. That way they don't have to confront their own behaviour or face up to just how wrong they were. That needs to be your mantra whenever thoughts of her pop into your head - "I did nothing to deserve that treatment, she was just being an arsehole".

LetsSplashMummy Mon 28-Nov-16 15:08:20

Firstly, your housemate sounds awful, just awful, and not someone you should waste time worrying about.

Okay, I am not suggesting this is your fault in any way but there are a few things to think about. She was young and inexperienced with mental health, in fact she thought she was experienced because you had both been a bit depressed as teens but she clearly looks back on that as something she grew out of. Had you told her about how serious it is for you or usually played it down?

I have arthritis and for the first year I tried to hide the pain and soldier on, it was such a relief and really good for my friendships to be clear with my friends when something was wrong. I had just come across as sulky and reluctant to do anything. How were they to know I was in agony unless I told them?

You need to be more assertive. Instead of really saying no, all it looks like you are doing is complaining about things. I think you have to be clearer in explaining when things are wrong and not caving in to visits and walks you cant handle. Anyone would be confused by the signals you sent out, especially someone who didn't understand mental illness. You wanted time out to retreat and yet complain that she hung out with your housemates without you. What should she have done?

As for leaving you on the walk, it is unfortunate you can't remember the details but it is quite likely they tried to talk to you before buggering off. Could you have told them to go, even if you didn't mean it? Did they call the police to go and collect you (might explain the flatmates comment)? If they did, I think it was out of desperation and being out of their depth. They could hardly restrain you and carry you home. Would you know what to do if a friend broke down with you in the middle of nowhere?

Instead of raking up old ground, in a way that comes across as blame, you should instead look at it as a time you didn't trust your instincts and learn from them. You knew things were heading downhill but carried on - that is the thing you have the power to change.

Lastly, it is possible she was having a hard time and wanted to visit you for support in some way, which became clear wasn't possible once she arrived. Perhaps she was really lonely and felt sad when she saw what nice friends you had, so lashed out about how lucky you were. It is possible she wasn't in a good enough place herself to give you what you needed. This can be the cases for any friendship - obviously there will be times you will struggle to support a friend and it won't mean you dislike them.

Good luck, I hope this doesn't come across as blaming you, I am trying to find explanations because you have asked, but I think there are plenty of situations much too complex and misunderstood to be simplified by someone being a bad person. I hope you have found some friends you can trust.

YouHadMeAtCake Mon 28-Nov-16 15:15:03

She is not your friend. None of them were. Block all contact and keep it that way. People like this can only treat you how you allow them to treat you. Put both feet down firmly and fuck her right off.

Margo3791 Mon 28-Nov-16 16:27:02

Lots so called "friends" we make in our teens and early twenty are not that good friends in the end when we look back. I'm not saying this is everybody's experience but I have experienced a lot of disappointment and hurt from people I made when I was young.

I don't think this "friend" really understood your situation, your needs and where you were coming from. If she understood, she used it to hurt you, not to help you, and just simply because of that, she wasn't a friend.

As pp's said, don't feel bad about cutting ties with this person. Try to remember the good times and put it down to experience. I also have a couple of ghosts like these in my life. People who called themselves friends but that looking back were exactly the opposite: selfish, manipulative, and just horrible persons.

Another thought on house sharing, I house shared for many years and I have some terrible memories too from those times. Except for a couple of people, the majority were just shitty. Sometimes I think about these people and the things they did, and I get the creeps. Again, I put it down to experience but I think it didn't help my mental health at all to go through that experience.

Thefutureisbright2017 Mon 28-Nov-16 18:36:10

What a terrible time you're having with this op. Your pist however screams autism ir at keast on the spectrum. Have you considered this? Great online links you could see if you relate.

Thefutureisbright2017 Mon 28-Nov-16 18:37:42

Sorry for all the spelling mistakes. Didn't want to read and run.

WomenAtWorkWithDiggers Mon 28-Nov-16 19:24:03

Thank you for the replies.


Nowadays I wouldn't stick around if someone made those comments. Actually I don't think we spoke for a while at the time, but this incident happened a few years later, when I'd heard from her out of the blue and we'd been in touch again for a while (and mutually supportive to some degree). At the time it felt like "We have our ups and downs but are still there for each other". hmm

Margo I house shared for many years and I have some terrible memories too from those times. Except for a couple of people, the majority were just shitty.

Being single, childless, under 35 and on benefits due to MH, I am still expected to houseshare. I don't; I live in poverty instead. It's bonkers, given how much it has helped my mental health to live alone!

TheFuture Your pist however screams autism ir at keast on the spectrum.

Awaiting assessment. I really hope not, as I don't seem to fit in with/relate to women with ASD either. sad Some of the things I relate to, like finding life overwhelming despite being capable of things when taken individually. Others I don't - for example I seem to be good at reading nonverbal cues - in fact when I'm around the one person I know irl who is one the spectrum I can find it quite anxiety-provoking, because he doesn't do standard facial expressions etc so I feel I'm constantly scanning him and frightened I can't "read" him. This also made me realise how much I try to respond to others' cues though, almost looking at them to know how to act rather than my own free will, which I'm not sure is normal... Also have tried to work on that.

Let'sSplash You wanted time out to retreat and yet complain that she hung out with your housemates without you. What should she have done?

Not insisted on visiting even though I'd explained I couldn't cope. Not pretended to listen and that she was coming to support me when that clearly wasn't the case. Not imposed on me in order to have a little holiday herself.

Would you know what to do if a friend broke down with you in the middle of nowhere?

Actually, yes I would. And have. I most definitely wouldn't leave them there! It is calling to mind another situation involving a member of the public sort of breaking down and friends trying to help but making it worse, I walked over and got involved and actually helped and it was all sorted (to some degree) quickly. I'd originally hung back thinking I couldn't be of any use until I witnessed their cackhandedness. I only remember this because the others were confused and couldn't work out what I'd said or done differently. The answer was I empathised. Hmm. I suppose part of is it's so easy to forget haw personal experience gives you insight that others don't have.

For the record, I didn't need "restraining", don't know where you got that from. I'd have just sort of shut down and spaced out.

Rollinghills30 Mon 28-Nov-16 23:46:13

Goodness. Please cut ties with this awful friend of yours. She really doesn't deserve your friendship or loyalty. I had a school friend who I had stayed in touch with for years and when her friendship wouldn't have counted the most (pregnant 9 months into relationship) she simply said 'I just can't get my head around you being pregnant' and that was that. She was also the type to make back handed digs whenever possible ('oh I like your sofa, it almost looks like real leather). I do understand it's hard to just say goodbye to a 'friendship' that you have known for so long but you need to make space for good people to come into your life. She sounds nasty and only out for what she can get out of a situation. Deeply unpleasant and I'm actually wondering whether she is lovely herself, hence her insistence at seeing you, and latching onto your housemate. Let her get on with it away from you. You don't need that in your life. x

ThisThingCalledLife Tue 29-Nov-16 01:26:50

i don't feel like talking about it right now but i didn't want you feeling alone and awful.

i recognize what your experience, mine has been very similar.
i'm due to see psychiatrist soon for assessment.
i think i'm on the asperger's part of the spectrum, high functioning.
Hence i appear 'normal' and then face that attitude from people.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now