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Should I end this friendship?(10 Posts)
I have a friend with on going depression and anxiety which stem from traumatic childhood experiences. Most of the time, probably connected to this, she is also very self-absorbed and doesn't seem to have the ability to see, or maybe she just doesnt care about, the impact of her actions on others. She cancels things at short notice, will be vague about meeting up in case she gets a better offer, says she will do things and doesn't, rarely says sorry if she inconveniences me etc etc. Over the years I have often been at the point of just letting the friendship end but then I try to be understanding because she clearly has a tough time mentally. Last night I had another final straw moment. We Facetimed because I thought that the current situation would be making her anxious, which it is although not as much as I expected. We chatted for about an hour and not once did she ask if I was ok, or ask anything about how me and my family are coping in what are pretty precarious financial times for us.
I have a feeling that if I didn't contact her again, she wouldn't contact me. But I am also concerned that over the next few weeks she may become very depressed. She is single and lives alone but does have other friends, although we don't share any mutual friends so if I don't contact her I can't find out how she is doing from others. I swing from thinking that I should be understanding of her issues and give her some leeway, to thinking that the positives I get from the friendship, she can be fun to hang out with and we share some common interests that none of my other friends have, are far outweighed by the unbalanced nature of the friendship. There are only so many times I can be supportive and not get anything back. What should I do?
An hour of ur time once a week to check up on her isn't much to keep ur conscience clear. When things are a little more normal think about going low contact and/or a gentle fade.
Can you adjust your expectations if the friendship so you can remain friends?
Can you see yourself as a very distant carer through these crazy times and then reassess when/if things get back to normal. I mean I'm checking in on older neighbours via text, out of duty rather than a particular friendship.
I have a friend like this. Has on off depression. She is very self absorbed, a lot of depressed people are, they can not see past their own darkness sometimes, obviously so. Maybe 1/10 interactions she might ask me something about my life. When I met her she wasn't like this, I was there at a point when she had a breakdown. In good times she's hilarious and witty and caring and there are still glimpses of that.
I keep the friendship going by checking in with her via WhatsApp. Just a quick message here and there to check how's she's doing and to ask about her day. If I have the time I will get her to elaborate.
If I were you I would change the dynamic of the friendship. Stop organising to meet up. No more FaceTime calls. Just drop a text in here and there once a week or every two weeks. That way you don't have to get dragged in to big narratives about her life and you keep your energy for the struggles your own family are facing at the moment.
Friendships should be balanced, don't feel you have to navigate her out of her situation, you aren't responsible for that and it should be at the detriment of your own health or family time. A bad friend isn't really a friend, depression or not.
There are only so many times I can be supportive and not get anything back
Yes. Her doing this is annoying and not ok. If this is what she wants, she needs to see a therapist for it, or other services. I have severe mental health problems, but I would always ask how a friend is etc.
I have a feeling that if I didn't contact her again, she wouldn't contact me
Don't worry, I think she would call you if she was unhappy with a situation, to use you as a therapist, piss and moan.
Personally I would say to the person that I'm not a qualified therapist so I don't feel I'm the best person to help her. I would encourage her to call her consultant or GP for a review of her meds, get on he list for counselling and seek private counselling if possible (this can be given over the phone.)
You would actually be doing the best thing for her health by doing it. Even if you're a qualified therapist, you're not her therapist and don't have the necessary distance to help her that someone in a professional relationship with her can.
Have you tried explaining how you're feeling to her? I have a friend who tends to do this - like I contact her and it's just "whoosh" brain dump of everything she's thinking in response and not a single question or thought about me. And I took a big step back and I didn't reply for while as it really got to me, and I felt guilty about going silent, so brought myself round to speaking to her again and speaking a bit about what it felt like - not in an accusatory way, but in a I need some support too kind of way. Anyway, for me it worked and she's now a bit more careful about showing some interest in my existence.
Please don't just withdraw. It's the least helpful thing all round.
Calmly let her know how that call felt for you and that you were hurt. Let her know that you are conscious that this could be a difficult time for her, but be honest about her feelings.
The behaviour you describe is quite common for people suffering from depression. What is she doing to treat her condition?
Can I just add, you could tell her how you felt, but have often heard about this not ending well. I would carefully consider worst case scenario before I did this. My advise would be, if you think there was any chance of it turning ugly, just withdraw a bit. Doesn't have to be a big showdown, but reduce contact to what you can cope with. Maybe restrict face time to half an hour for now, rather than an hour, and reconsider your options at the end of the current situation.
far outweighed by the unbalanced nature of the friendship
There you have it, the steering point for ALL relationships with adults - if there is an unhealthy imbalance in the relationship then you need to take a step back and review.
I've suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life - and even I know that mental health is no excuse for treating people like shit....so this is my perspective on it.
She cancels things at short notice This could be due to anxiety/depression. I used to have to psych myself up for 'simple' things like meeting up for coffee etc, but the panicky feeling would still be there in the background and the closer it got to meeting them, the more the panic would rise - until you find yourself all dressed up but unable to step foot outside the door....eventually i decided if i wasn't feeling 100% by a certain day then i'd let them know i was cancelling to break that pattern of 'last minute' letdowns.
My advice would be to give plenty of notice for meetups - which gives her time to build herself up; you also need to set a boundary for cancelling so she has to let you know by X day. Constantly letting someone know only at the last minute (especially when you CAN help avoid that) is inconsiderate and disrespectful.
will be vague about meeting up in case she gets a better offer
That isn't 'friend' behaviour....you're being treated as though it's ok to use you when it suits her!
rarely says sorry if she inconveniences me
Bad mental health and even ASD has never prevented me from apologising to the person i am/have let down!
Again, it's as though she doesn't have ANY consideration or respect for YOU, she will 'use' you to fill the gaps and all on her terms too.
NOT how real friend behaves.
We chatted for about an hour and not once did she ask if I was ok, or ask anything about how me and my family are coping in what are pretty precarious financial times for us
My sibling is like this - and she's a super-narcissist.
She's draining your energy by making you listen to her drivel on about the same things....and again there's no thought for you as a person with a life who is just as important in the universe as her.
Last night I had another final straw moment
So how many more before you snap - or end up destroying your own mental health?
YOU are not responsible for her.
You HAVE done all you can to support her.
NOW you need to set better boundaries and stick with them - especially in the current climate.
I've gone Extremely low/No Contact with my sibling.
I had to push the guilt and worry i felt to one side, and put my own health and self-respect/esteem first.
If i hadn't i would have had a mental/nervous breakdown.
Your mental and emotional energy is a priority too - NEVER feel guilty for honouring that.
Thanks for all the responses on this. At the moment I'm going for the 'treating her like an elderly aunt' approach. She needs support at this difficult time but I have no expectations I will get anything in return. I'll reevaluate when times are more normal.
Just a further question for @monkeymonkey2010 or others. Friend actually seems to be at her nicest and most considerate when her depression and anxiety are really bad. It seems like when she is at her most vulnerable she can actually take others feelings into account. For example, at those times she will be apologetic about not being able to meet up because she just cannot get out of bed. It is when her mental health is a bit better, but still not 100%, that she becomes more self-centred and inconsiderate. I still try to be understanding because of mental health but now am wondering if actually that aspect of her personality is not connected to the anxiety and depression. Does anyone have any insight into this type of behaviour?
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