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What is going on with her, what do I do?


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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?

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How does your partner feel about you spending so much time communicating with this woman online? Doesn't he want to spend time with you?

 

How did you meet this woman? In person?

 

And why do you think it's your responsibility to solve this woman's problems?

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How does your partner feel about you spending so much time communicating with this woman online? Doesn't he want to spend time with you?

 

How did you meet this woman? In person?

 

And why do you think it's your responsibility to solve this woman's problems?

 

I chat to her over the phone about every couple of weeks and the odd text. My partner has no problem but he thinks she is using me. I met her at work over 10 years ago then her physical illnesses (an eyesight problem) stopped her working. She was very shy but we had similar interests at the time. I don’t want to “fix” her but I’m worried she will get in to a “relationship” that will destroy her even more and I think she makes me feel like a bad person because I care.

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How did you meet her?

 

You say she hates advice. So STOP giving her advice.

 

As to your question "what do I do?" ..... You do nothing. This is who she is. You can't fix her. She can't change.

 

I know you are right but it’s hard when she is constantly complaining to me on the phone about it all. It’s like she just wants me to say “there there everything will be ok.”

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I think you've given plenty of good advice and you've even given indirect advice to yourself. You are indeed NOT her therapist.

 

Since you know what she is and the way she operates, it's probably best for you to practice a little emotional distancing and stop getting so offended or affected personally by the things she says.

 

She has mental health issues. She's not going to comprehend what you're saying like an average person and she's not going to do as you say either. Again, you really are not her therapist.

 

Lend a caring ear and let things go. You're letting her choices affect you and that's not a good sign.

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She obviously has mental health issues and there is no way you can fix them for her. She needs a trained therapist/psychiatrist and if she wont contact one there is nothing you can do about it. She wont listen to you.

 

I see two choices for you - either learn to not ask her questions or stop calling her and remove her from your life.

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When she complains you can kindly say, "I'm sorry to hear that. What would you like to do about it?" Let her come up with her own answers. Every now and then you can say, "That's an interesting idea. How would you go about doing that?"

 

Let her work out her own stuff, and if she gets offended, you can ask her if she'd prefer that you not be interested.

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I know you are right but it’s hard when she is constantly complaining to me on the phone about it all. It’s like she just wants me to say “there there everything will be ok.”

 

That's exactly what she wants. She isn't looking for any kind of advice and that's why she gets mad when you try to give advice. She simply wants to talk, except that her personality is such that her "talking" is really just a whole lot of whining and complaining mixed with fantasizing. It's how she relates and all she wants from you is a listening ear.

 

She has a pretty toxic personality and if you can sort of distance yourself emotionally enough that you can just sit and listen, aka just be a pal, all good. If you find that you are taking her whining on board too much and it's causing you distress or starting to affect your mental health, then you might want to take a step back.

 

People like her are like a walking black hole. They tend to suck the life and energy out of you if you hang around them too much. Human energy vampires. What you must wrap your head around is that she is doing exactly what she likes and what she likes is to complain and complain. Even if she took all your advice and did everything, she'd still be complaining about a million other things because that's how she is wired. It won't change.

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It would be best not to project. Stop trying to help or advise her. Instead focus on your own health, your own situation and improving your own circumstances.

I suffer from depression/anxiety that effects my ability to work at the moment, so I’ve had to move back home to my parents. It has been a couple of years I’ve been back. I also don’t ask for money, I do my own laundry and help out around the house.

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I don't think she has the ability to get into a relationship. She sounds like she's all talk, which people do when they don't have a life and don't really do anything about it. So I don't think you have to worry about that. The only thing you may be able to do is to distract her from all this with light, positive conversation. Divert her from being negative. The reason the way she is, is that people with mental illness don't have a proper coping mechanism like normal healthy people do. She can't cope with the advise you give her, so she will quickly dismiss it. She vents negatively because that's how she copes with her emotions. It can't be turned off, but it can be maintained with therapy and medication...the problem is, she has to want to do it. It's fight or flight, and nothing in between when these kinds of conversations come up, so she may never get the help she needs. Kinda have to have a nervous breakdown and end up in the hospital to get help...sad but that's how it is sometimes. I know for sure you can't expect a person that doesn't think normal can be a good friend...they are so caught up with the mess in their head they don't have the capacity to do so. Like my mom who is bi-polar, can be very difficult, is a narcissist, has passive aggressive tendencies, and can be down right mean/opinionated. It's her mental health. Nothing I can do about it...she's taking medication, therapy, but still it's there.

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Captain awkward has some good letter answers on friends like this.

 

Some thoughts and suggestions

 

How much would you like to maintain this friendship?

 

If the answer is quite a lot, what topics do you enjoy talking with her about? Make a big list, keep it with you next chat so you have directions to take the conversation in.

 

You know she doesn’t want advice so exercise all your self control and don’t give it unbidden. But also, it is totally ok for you to not want to be a listening vessel for all her problems. Set a time limit. Maybe 15 minutes (maybe less if that sounds too much). Let her know, either at the start of the conversation or before the conversation that you are trying a new thing where you don’t let yourself get trapped in negative thought loops. You’ve been setting a time limit on venting about frustrations before moving onto other topics. Tell her she gets 15 minutes of advice free sympathetic ear and then it’s time to change to subject.

 

Captain awkward probably has better scripts for in stating that boundary than mine but it’s a something. Tweak to taste

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Friendships should be equitable. I get that you are there for her but does she show any interest in you and your life? If she does you didn't mention it.

Granted, there are times where one friend needs more attention than the other when times are are hard. But at the end of the day relationships are like bank accounts. You make withdrawals and deposits. At a point in time when you are balancing this checkbook I'll guess this relationship is severely overdrawn. Does she ever make a deposit?

And if not the question here is what do you get out of this?

You feel guilty, want to make something better you have no control of and you keep going back for more.

It suggests a certain degree of codependency here. Part of codependency is doing things for someone that they can otherwise do for themselves.

Surely if she wanted to she could get herself out of her own messes, get professional help, but she doesnt want to. . .

Instead she stays stuck and drags you down and nothing changes.

I'd severely distance myself from this lopsided toxic friendship.

I would take my focus off of her and ask myself some serious questions why I continue to insert myself in something that is this unhealthy.

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