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What is wrong with my friend, why won’t she get help?

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  • #888637 Reply

    Hello, I would like some advice and thoughts on a friend of mine.

    Have known her for a few years, we will call her Mandy, she is 40, lives with her parents and has a physical disability and depression. Not sure how much her parents help her out as her dad has MS and I think Mandy’s mom is busy caring for her father. I don’t live near her any more, I live 300 miles away but we both still talk over the phone

    The problem is that Mandy hates advice, but will happily complain about having no friends (I am her friend which is insulting), no one that cares for her and is constantly bored. She has not been out of her home for 10 years, apart from her parents garden. I think I’m the only person she has contact with from the outside world (apart from her parents). I have always mentioned to her to seek support around her area or charities that might help. She just bites back at me saying “you don’t understand I can’t do that, all I need is a boyfriend that is on my wavelength and everything will be good and I won’t have to worry about anything else!” I tell her that it doesn’t work like that. She is incredibly insecure, constantly paranoid, and wants everyone to do things for her. I have mentioned on so many occasions to find a psychologist but again she gets annoyed or really upset at me for mentioning. Yesterday I was asking questions about something because I simply didn’t understand what she meant, well she started crying and said I made her want to kill herself. I try my hardest to keep my cool but it’s difficult when she is incredibly paranoid about a few questions that were normal and asked in a caring way. She is obsessed with finding a boyfriend that will do everything for her, as in think for her and choose her clothes and what to do about everything. She gets unbelievably jealous because I have a partner which I never talk about because I don’t want her to feel bad but she never asks about me and my life. I did tell her I wasn’t her therapist and she again got upset. I asked her “how are you looking for a boyfriend?” She said on mental health forums – I was honestly shocked because that’s not what they are there for!

    In the past and present she has always said she has ADHD and a borderline personality disorder but she’s never ever been diagnosed with either, she just goes on what she reads online. I’m bewildered at what to do or say to her now. She is incredibly sensitive but it is like she has the mental capacity of a 16 year old. She talks about having boyfriends but they were not real life ones just people she talked to online.

    What are your thoughts?

    #888643 Reply

    I think you should just be her friend as she is and focus on loving her and appreciating her good qualities. Ease up on telling her what to do if she’s not directly asking.

    This woman has challenges and limitations. She reminds me a little bit of my brother (47) who doesn’t have friends or a girlfriend and doesn’t exactly live with my parents but lives in a studio apartment they bought for him. He’s super lonely too and wants “a wife.” He’s talked about finding a “Russian Bride.” He thinks having a spouse would make his life better.

    Anyway, it’s nice that you’re her friend, but it’s not your job to fix her. Don’t exhaust yourself trying.

    #888649 Reply

    I agree with Kate. After so long I think you need to accept her as she is and frame your friendship around what you’re willing to invest. It sounds like this is a text/call only friendship. Do you enjoy your conversations? You can use phrases like “hmm”, “I’m sorry to hear that”, and “that sounds tough”. When she laments her circumstances you can ask “what do you think you’ll do?”. Basically just accept that she isn’t going to change or make choices to change her situation, don’t invest too deeply or worry about fixing her problems, and steer her towards subjects you both enjoy discussing. If you find yourself getting frustrated or upset then it’s ok to cut the call short.

    #888695 Reply

    I think that she panics. She sees that she is getting older and her life isn’t the way she dreamed. She addresses her paranoia to you because you are the one who talks to her and she vents to you.
    As Kate and said: just empathise and speak yourself of your life. Don’t limit yourself, just talk about your own stuff, the last movie you saw, what happens with your children, and so on. This will naturally broaden your horizon and maybe she won’t react the way you think. If she does, say again what was advised above.
    When it is possible, you could also once visit her, take her to a restaurant.
    Paranoia tend to decrease when in presence.
    But anyway, you don’t have a duty to be her caretaker. Act as a friend, not a therapist. If you don’t find interest anymore in those contacts, limit them.

    #888700 Reply

    Her life sounds bleak. Many are. The boyfriend is a fantasy she uses to cope. Midlife is hard for many. And often the end of a bumpy road.

    May I suggest you cherish her while she is still here as you will miss her when she is gone.

    And IF that happens… try to understand that for many, suicide is the only solution that makes sense to them. Honestly, it’s often the only viable solution. Suicide is so misunderstood. I get it… It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But trust me —- not everybody gets a happy ending. The closest some can ever hope to achieve is being happy when it ends.

    God, can I ever relate.

    #889843 Reply

    Thanks for the replies. I understand that she needs constant comforting and no advice but she snaps when I suggest small things like the other day she said “my mum won’t allow me to have black out curtains because I wake up too early” I mentioned why not an eye mask. Nope she snapped back at me, I only said it because I wasn’t sure if she had thought of it or tried it. I’ve limited the time I speak to her, but unfortunately she is becoming extremely draining on me. I feel bad, but I’ve honestly noticed a different with my own mental health declining when I speak to her. She is constantly blaming everyone for how she is and says I bully her at times (I honestly don’t). I understand mental illness but there comes a time you do have to try to help yourself a little and it feels like she has been living in this “victim state” for years.

    #889846 Reply

    On a separate occasion this week I confined in her that my partner had cheated on me and I’ve broken up with him, I was and still am distraught and her response was “ah typical”. That was it then she moved on to talk about her things. I feel like I’ve had enough.

    #889847 Reply

    It sounds like her mental health and current situation are making it difficult for her to be a supportive friend or react to stuff you say the way you want/need her to. It’s ok to need a break or to step back from the friendship. It’s also really nice to continue to be a friend to someone like this who needs a friend, and maybe lower your expectations about what she can give. It’s up to you.

    #889854 Reply

    Do you like her? Do you want her in your life as she is – no changes?

    She’s not going to change. This is her life. You said she hasn’t gone out in 10 years – and you’ve been friends for a few years. Somehow she managed to connect with you and start a friendship. So she has ways to connect with people.

    But honestly, it doesn’t sound like she’s a good friend. And it sounds like she uses you as her therapist and emotional support and gives nothing back. You don’t owe her your friendship and you don’t have to solve her problems. You can say “Hmmm, that sounds like a problem.” and listen to her vent. You can also ask “Hmmm, what are you going to do about that?” and then let her vent and then when she continues to complain you can say “Well you’ve said you’re not going to do anything about it and complaining isn’t going to solve it, so why bother complaining?” If you make yourself less of a crutch – she’ll find a new one.

    I’m sure that she goes through this cycle with people repeatedly.

    #889863 Reply

    I agree that this sounds very one sided and it’s no surprise that you want to speak to her less, or maybe not at all. Take a break. You don’t have to feel obligated to be there for her. Maybe in a month or two you’ll feel like reaching out, maybe you won’t. I would not keeping trying with someone who makes me feel so bad. It’s just not worth it to let your own mental health suffer. You wrote in months ago about her, right? And nothing has changed. She doesn’t want help, she wants to complain and be rude to you. If you are not in a place where you can shrug off her behavior, I’d back off for now. Good luck.

    #889871 Reply

    It sounds like she has pretty severe depression, that can make people very deadened. And feel like nothing can help. This is pretty awful for her, but also pretty awful for you. Maybe, if you want to continue to be her friend, make some boundaries in your own mind about what you can and can not give, by way of time and attention etc to safeguard your own well being. Sounds like she is suffering from some crippling mental ill health though, so I wouldn’t judge her friendship by what she is giving you- she may really care for you a lot.Support her if you can, but don’t give more than you can without harming your own well being.

    #890213 Reply

    You cannot force a person to do something they do not want. If anything, forcing someone too much will just make them more likely to resist it. Perhaps think more flexibly. Perhaps there are other ways to help with her depression rather than get a therapist. You’d be surprised how many lessons you can teach someone through regular conversation and leisure. People learn a lot of emotional skills through naturally getting to know each other, without forcing one another. People learn all kinds of logical decision making from strategy board games and the like. Perhaps just find something you can connect with. If you want to change her mind in more subtle ways, rather than get stubbornness from directness, show her how to live by example. People respond more to action, than they do words. Perhaps, learn to open up about yourself more and introducing your own interests rather than always expecting her to open up and invest in productive interests. It takes two to tango, after all.

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