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How to end this friendship? (mental illnesses)


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Hi ENA, me yet again.


I am having troubles with a close friend lately. I feel it is time to part ways as I am so hurt... but I don't know how. This is not like a relationship breakup where I can say I'm not happy, and walk away... I feel with friends you cannot "break up".. advice would be appreciated.


We met 6 years ago. There are a lot of things which really aggravate me about her, some of which include: very selfish, very very close minded, pushy, insincere, never keeps promises, hot and cold, always gives crap but can't take it... Basically the whole relationship is one-way. She will make me do things for her (go to her house late late at night to keep her company) only never to return any favours for me.


The reason it has started to go down hill is that she is institutionalised for schizophrenia. She has been this way since before we met, so I have known this all along - however as years have gone by, she has learnt to really manipulate me and use her illness as an excuse FOR EVERYTHING. She has been in and out of hospital the entire time I know her, and every time she stays there, I visit her as much as possible, spending entire days there, because I know how horrible and lonely that place is and I feel so so bad for her.


About 2 weeks ago, I finished a 12-hour shift at 1am. She called me and begged me to come over because she was going to kill herself. I had just finished work and was dead tired after working 4 12-hour shifts in a row and she knew this. I told her to come over to my house, I would pay for the cab, but right now, I cannot drive anywhere as I am too tired (she lives 30 min drive away) she really did not want to do that, so I said she can call me when I get home and I will stay on the phone to her all night to keep her company.

I went home, waited for her to call, and in the mean time I fell asleep. I texted her the very next morning "Hey, are you okay? Please call as soon as you wake up" --- She took 2 days to call back and didn't mention the nights prior.


The last time she was in hospital I had visited her 4 days of each week. The last time I spent time with her I brought her home-made muffins and spent a day with her. A few days after that she was let home. She called to tell me she was out for now, and I made an insensitive joke calling her "crazy" (Do this a lot, we both have history of mental illness and we make jokes about it a lot) but that day she was feeling sensitive and took it to heart - Basically she told me I was a horrible friend, never did anything for her, never listen to her problems or give advice.... I apologised for days and she didn't speak to me for a few weeks.


I understand her situation - I know it better than anyone. I know she has up and down days, I know she is volatile and needs a 'rock'. However, I am her rock whenever it suits her. When I go to her with my problems I usually get responses like "oh. yeah. that sucks. yep.. anyway about me.."


I know I have to be careful with her and I do appreciate her when the relationship is reciprocal but I am at my tether. I was the first person she came out to, and when i lived abroad she called me every day. But I can't wait around for when she is "happy" to have a good relationship with her. It makes ME feel like I am on a rollercoaster.

Every time I see her I get depressed. Every time I spend time with her, I regret it straight away and want to leave the situation. She makes me lose all my confidence and self esteem. I put so much energy into this friendship and never get it back. Also, having been close friends for 6 years, you would expect a "bond" to really be there. I have friends who i've known for less than a year and I feel I have this really strong love bond with them, I feel I know them inside out - However, with her, I feel we don't have that. I feel there's a huge gap inbetween us. I feel stunted for conversation for example, I can't hug her or show any affection unlike all my other friends, I feel I can't tell her anything 'sensitive', and I feel I can't tell her my opinions on things, lest I be judged... Ugh.


What can I do, given she is only "logical" (thinking straight) about 30% of the time - the rest of the time she is in a haze.

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You sound like an amazing and caring friend!


I do have a sister with schizophrenia, and when she is in her "right mind" she is a caring and sensitive individual. That being said, it sounds like you know what it is like when they are having a schizophrenic episode - there is almost no reasoning...


With my sister (and she is in her 50s) I have recently learned that if she really really wants something then she can make some choices that we thought she was incapable of making - so yes, we have also been manipulated.


Last Christmas was the last straw. My mom told her this summer that if she wanted to go to an elderly uncle's birthday party then she would have to choose to be on medication. Otherwise, my mom would take her somewhere else away from all of our relatives. She chose (finally) to get back on medication.


The message from our family to my sister was that we all love her, but we miss the real "her" when she chooses to go off of medication. Then it alienates her from us...


So - it is a good thing when you set limits with your friend - with lots of love! - but you need to take care of yourself first and foremost.


You did the right thing by going home that night - if your friend tries to manipulate you just stand your ground. You did call to check on her and it is clear that you really do care for her.


When she gets mad at you and does not speak to you, don't take it personally - because you have really bent over backwards to help your friend.


Setting healthy boundaries is a good thing, and your friend can learn to follow them even if she does have schizophrenia.

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Dear Friend:

You missed your golden opportunity! The next time she is angry and won't speak with you, don't go chasing after her to apologize. This is what she expects and how she gets power with you. Don't give her any power. I had a bi polar college pal that I had to treat this way, she sulked, expecting me to apologize, I didn't and I was free. Really, I know it's good to have friends and people ARE NOT damaged goods, but she has to cut you some slack. She doesn't. And I think it's time for you to just fade away....



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Thanks for replying guys...

She called me two days ago to see each other but I was busy, so she asked me to contact her when I was free. I don't think I will. It isn't playing on my mind so much. I really am quite busy, haven't seen many of my friends at all lately. I guess if it gets a bit strained and she really pushes to see me or asks if I am avoiding her, I will just tell her that it is stressing me out and I can't keep up the friendship as it's hurting me?

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