Jump to content

Fly on the wall to a friend’s emotional maelstrom


Recommended Posts

A friend of mine took a leap of faith and left town a few days ago and ever since then she has been having draaaaama in a very very public way (like, she’s taken to doing live streams to answer her Facebook friends’ questions. What even Is that?) She for sure has been dealt a series of bad hands and she has a whole load of trauma to unpack some day and that’s affecting her mental state but I’m being the fly on the wall and I see the real problems get mixed up with ones that seem to me to be of her own creation. And then in her updates she kind of rambles onto this non sequitur about how she needs to connect with country in order to move there and how she’s never fit into or felt comfortable in capitalist society (which seems weird to me but then it’s totally plausible that for some people they way they’re wired makes a capitalist society incredibly inhospitable. Considering how her mental health keeps her from holding down a job, it makes more sense in that context.)

Anyway, just, drama. And I can’t help from here this is sooooo far above my paygrade. And maybe she is on top of it and she knows what she’s doing and she’ll find her peace and prosperity but she’s made more than one tearful update video and posted it online in the last few days and she’s calling on friends to chip into a go fund me if they’re so inclined (lots of people have responded to her public unravelling with concern and some have offered coin so fair enough. But she keeps saying when she is earning again she’ll match their donations with a charitable donation. What’s going through someone’s head when they skip straight to that and don’t, I don’t know, offer to pay back the money to those who helped because they were worried and not just because they have coin lying around). I’ve been checking her Facebook updates like you’d watch the next episode of a soap and I don’t like this in myself. (Writing it here makes me realise it’s time for me to use discipline and stop doing that). 

Maybe you’ve had a friend go through a state of mind like this too and can share a cent or two. There’s no question here per se I just needed to get the words out of my head I think but 2 cents welcome. Especially if anyone know how to be a support but not an enabler to someone in her situation 

Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, 1a1a said:

Maybe you’ve had a friend go through a state of mind like this too and can share a cent or two.

I'm sure I have. Well, I know I have. But fortunately I've been off of social media for almost a decade and have been blessedly protected from that sort of display!

My mom sometimes sees my friends' tirades on Facebook and emails them to me, wanting to know what's going on, if everything is ok. I usually can't answer her. I (thankfully) have no idea, and trust that it will sort itself out by the next time I see said friend. Which is usually what ends up happening.

So, my advice to you, is to ignore it. If she reaches out to you directly, then worry about it to the appropriate extent. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really turned off by people who air their dirty laundry on social media, and especially someone who asks for handouts. I'd probably unfollow that friend for a while until she stops that strange behavior. She's not specifically asking for any help from you specifically, so I don't know why you feel the need to reach out and help her.

It's okay to have friends with major flaws but if it starts to emotionally affect you in a negative way, maybe let ease that friendship to a back burner, or sever the connection altogether.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is encouraging to hear just leaving it be is probably an ok course of action. 
 

She did call today looking for someone to film themselves delivering a letter to her brother. In my head I’m thinking this stinks of further exhibitionism. In her head maybe there are paranoid delusions (or sensible fears) that her brother won’t act in good faith and evidence of her actions is necessary. 
 

I suggested sending it registered mail (where the recipient signs for it). She said that won’t be fast enough, she needs to get her cats out. Counter offer, I can deliver a letter and ask him to sign. I’ll feel dumb doing it but it’ll achieve the goal without making him fodder for her reality tv show. If it weren’t for the cats I’d step aside entirely and leave that circus for someone else but probably worth checking in and making sure the animals and the brother are ok. If he wants my 2 cents (that she’s not in a good head space to do conflict resolution right now and leaving it well alone is the best course of action) I’ll offer it. Sticky wicket for the whole family I think (not just her, everyone acting in a way that drives a wedge between her and them) 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry this is happening. Completely step away from this. With someone this dramatic and unstable anything you do could go very wrong very fast.

Was she always this unstable? Does she have drug drinking or untreated mental health problems?

Pull back. Limit your social media interaction.

It sucks watching a friend go off the deep end.

However don't get roped into nonsense. Simply be understanding but keep your distance and boundaries.

Playing process server or mailman is not a good idea.

Edited by Wiseman2
Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Jibralta said:

I'm sure I have. Well, I know I have. But fortunately I've been off of social media for almost a decade and have been blessedly protected from that sort of display!

My mom sometimes sees my friends' tirades on Facebook and emails them to me, wanting to know what's going on, if everything is ok. I usually can't answer her. I (thankfully) have no idea, and trust that it will sort itself out by the next time I see said friend. Which is usually what ends up happening.

So, my advice to you, is to ignore it. If she reaches out to you directly, then worry about it to the appropriate extent. 

Same exact advice-please give no money.  At all.  And ignore -she is reaching out to multiple people -not just to you -if she reaches out to you personally offer to do a phone call with time limits -tell her when you can talk and for how long and listen and then "have to go" if she goes off the rails.  I have two friends - now one is an acquaintance, one headed that way -  and to one I gave $15 a long time ago because she gave me stuff back when we were neighbors and hosted my son and I at her home.  She's now a recovering and/or drug addict.  The other had been off social media for months plus off my radar (we used to text regularly, she stopped, I reached out a few times -ball in her court) -her posts now are basically for attention mostly so sometimes I like them (like her new job- I liked that) and others I ignore.  She has a mental illness and medical condition.  I care -but I care about me more in this situation - and given her treatment of me I don't have the bandwidth to keep chasing her down.  Or the professional knowledge. 

We all have limited time and energy - ignore this energy-sapping nonsense.  And please please give no $.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd text her (rather than post) a suggestion that she can contact her brother's local ASPCA or Humane Society for an animal check (or recovery) if she fears that they are in danger. From there she can use certified mail or overnight mail for any other communication.

Beyond that, I'd unplug from her feeds knowing that she has my phone number if she ever wants to reach out to me directly.

 

Edited by catfeeder
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ignore. It's not worth being a part of this. She thrives on the attention and delusions. My advice mirrors Catfeeder's. Make a suggestion for her to get in touch with a local shelter and reduce the contact to phone calls only. I would not respond to texts. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

An update; against everyone's wisdom I didn't back away. Subsequently I ended up with the cats (handballed their care to my housemate who is delighted because she really wanted a cat and I was flat out against it). I offered to move her things out for her and store them at my place (yes I know, there's some white knight complex thing going on there I think, I didn't know you could white knight for someone you don't want to have sex with but there you go, I have stuff to unpack). She gave me a soft no. I was so vexed by it 4 days later I asked again. Over the last week we've had a few arguments because I offer help/my opinion (as if she was a poster here and I was responding to her post) and she hates All of my advice and preoccupations, it's not the help she wants, I get frustrated because turns out there was a hidden cost to my help which is now I have an expectation she will also help herself. I haven't been ranting about it here though because you all provided me with the solution and I didn't take it.

I've come back because of the following. First of all, someone tried to burn down her house wednesday night. I found out friday, the brother told me. I didn't believe him, jumped on my bike and went to look. Yep, the house has been on fire, the loungeroom and it's contents are ruined, the two front bedrooms have fire damage, amazing, it never reached her bedroom, there is still stuff here to save. I didn't tell her straight up because it would be giving her a problem she couldn't solve. I didn't want to, didn't know how to break the news, planned to break it on Sunday when I went back with the empty van and our mutual friend ready to haul things. A good news sandwich! But someone else told her and I stupidly confessed I'd known since the night before and of course she latched on to what I didn't do and we had an argument, and actually maybe it's fair and right she felt hurt by that, I can't tell her not to feel her feelings, I made a choice and I have to accept her reaction to it. What happened in the heat of the moment though was I got angry because she seemed once again to not be willing to help herself and not willing to consider why I might withhold the information (friend in the thick of a mental health crisis, feeling suicidal, no real support, far from home. Umm, I don't know, why might I hesitate to drop this bomb shell on her?!) She removed herself from the conversation because I was hurting her, I felt bad, she felt bad, everyone feels bad, this really sucks. She told me to stand down from helping for my own mental health. Here's why I think I'm a white knight because even after she told me this I didn't want to let the job go.

Anyway that brings me to why I've come back with an update. I was going to move out her things today but I woke up to the news that the house had been set on fire a second time. This fire was muuuuuuch more successful than the first, the contents of her room have been vapourised, the house has been locked. This arsonist used petrol. This arsonist dragged a bedframe from the driveway into the kitchen and loaded it with kitchen cupboard doors and the cupboards with cardboard (and still, a second time, this kitchen refused to burn properly, which is why I can still see the evidence of their preparation and determination to get the result they wanted. My friend and I did go and salvage a little, and I mean a really little. What was left of her possessions was almost nothing, (or nothing worth saving), some kitchen appliances, a bbq but someone has nicked the gas, the expensive cat run she bought recently, clothes from outside, a painting in the bathroom, an amanda palmer CD I gave her last year (of course amanda palmer survives).

And now that I don't have to do, now that it's quiet, the sadness is creeping in. It wasn't even my stuff but it is still so sad, being inside that destroyed house was Really sad, the notion that she lost sentimental items along with the rubbish and the replaceable furniture. Things that she abandoned yes, but she's not in her right mind. This is such messed up, dramatic and final consequences for her choices over the last few weeks. And before that encounter with the boss flipped a switch in her head she was really invested in this house, the last two months she had been doing home renovations trying to fix accumulated damage over the years, she sanded and varnished damaged floorboards, bought and laid new carpet, re grouted the tiles in the bathroom, all year with the increased welfare money in Australia she has been buying things to make the house and her life nicer, the bbq, the cat run, good, expensive knives. And then her mental health problems collided head on with whatever is going on in the head of the person or people who lit the fires and bam, it's all gone. She really does have to start from scratch now. And if I'm having these sad and melancholy thoughts, I dread to think how she is feeling. I think, even though we have argued lately, I'd better do some consistent checking in in the coming weeks. So messed up!

There is one bit of good news which is she was feeling so bad last night she checked herself into hospital and although she was out on a day pass today when she found out someone came back to finish the job of her house (or a new person, apparently fire damaged houses attract arsonists. But the efforts dragging the bedframe inside, I think this person wanted the house gone specifically), I'm under the impression she has an appointment for some kind of mental health care tomorrow. Never has it ever been more timely. I'll see how I go over the coming week, I might be due to line some up for myself too. Even without the second fire the amount of stress that comes as a result of engaging with this person who has never been more quick to conflict in all the time I've known her, and the people around her, her mum, her brother, communications with every single one of them cause a visceral stress reaction in me now. I'm completely unused to this. Do they live with this all their lives? This is horrible, what a horrible thing to live with!

Link to post
Share on other sites

You ask the good questions.

On a conscious level, I think I stepped up to help because in the vacuum where her family should be I am a hopeful believer in the ability of the family we choose to be a support in times of crisis. The family is absent, she's been a great support to me in the past, this is her foul weather. She is not normally like this, I think we've known each other a good 6 years now so there's been a long time to build rapport and good faith.

On a subconscious level, could be tied in with my own tendency to hoard, could be related to a fear of rejection.

I was pretty done with her last night. Then I wake up to the news her house has burned again, this time much more successfully. This is one awful thing she didn't bring on herself and I feel sad about it.

Edited by 1a1a
more data
Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

What happened in the heat of the moment though was I got angry because she seemed once again to not be willing to help herself and not willing to consider why I might withhold the information (friend in the thick of a mental health crisis, feeling suicidal, no real support, far from home. Umm, I don't know, why might I hesitate to drop this bomb shell on her?!) She removed herself from the conversation because I was hurting her, I felt bad, she felt bad, everyone feels bad, this really sucks. She told me to stand down from helping for my own mental health. Here's why I think I'm a white knight because even after she told me this I didn't want to let the job go.

This is a very traumatic thing. Good idea to get counselling or therapy for yourself. She told you to "stand down" so give her some space and breathing room.

I too am a believer of the family we choose but you should also have boundaries and stop when you need to stop. If you can learn to take your mind off of what's going on right now and give yourself some mental breaks. Take care of your own physical and mental health. You'll have a much clearer mind that way.

Are you open to committing to getting some therapy or spending more time on you?

Edited by Rose Mosse
Link to post
Share on other sites

Something is really off here - I don't sense that you actually do care about her as much as you say you do, as much as you run around trying to help her do damage  control at every turn.  Maybe she senses this too.   You seem to react to her on impulse, you seem to have expectations as to how she should react to your help, your advice, your input - you've created this whole power thing where you're deciding when she can know about a fire, what's going to happen to her stuff, and then it's like it happened to you - which sure could be you being empathetic but..... I don't think so. I don't think you do either.

Yes, I think it's time to distance yourself for both your sakes and for you to speak to someone.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

you've created this whole power thing where you're deciding when she can know about a fire, what's going to happen to her stuff, and then it's like it happened to you

That's exactly the impression I'm getting too. 

This isn't exactly your story of trauma, OP. But I'm sensing that you're trying to turn into that and I'm not sure why. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

you seem to have expectations as to how she should react to your help, your advice, your input - you've created this whole power thing where you're deciding when she can know about a fire, what's going to happen to her stuff

Yes, good point. There is a power dynamic here. Reminds me of the the one you find in codependent relationships, where the one person assumes responsibility for the other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The co dependent behaviour could be a thing.

The feeling like I’m trying to make it about me feels a little unfair though, is that because I have feelings about it that I’m sharing here? I’m unpacking my thoughts anonymously online I’m not asking her to think about them. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

*thinks more* about the power dynamic where I started doing things  for her. I think that came in a vacuum of her crying to me about how they haven’t happened (seeking emotional validation for all the bad things that are happening, but it doesn’t land well with me because I think she’s amplifying drama and then I feel guilty because we argue), the cats, the house things, not contacting the landlord. She tried to get me to write a letter of eviction for her brother last week (I didn’t, that needs to come from her). Not defending, trying to work out how and why I got here so next time I don’t.

But what Can you do for a friend who’s gone manic? I guess, stick to validating their feelings is pretty much it for supporting without over extending and walking the path I did. 

Edited by 1a1a
Remembered more things that feel relevant
Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, 1a1a said:

But what Can you do for a friend who’s gone manic?

I think you have to leave it to the professionals. 

When I was on Facebook, I ignored people who carried on like that.

You planned to ignore your friend at first. What drew you in?

On 2/13/2021 at 9:45 AM, 1a1a said:

I’ve been checking her Facebook updates like you’d watch the next episode of a soap and I don’t like this in myself. (Writing it here makes me realise it’s time for me to use discipline and stop doing that). 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

She directly messages me and adds me to group chats focused on solving her problems ah hah *groan*
 

I have noticed people who I would consider her close friends have been conspicuously absent. I ended up being contacted by one of them after the argument that resulted from me not telling her about the fire as soon as I knew. This friend and another of her close friends have been talking to each other about her situation, whilst not getting involved directly. And she mentioned on that first night they considered calling triage (mental health services) on her, but hesitated, and regretted not doing so. Through my mum I found a different service that can help but you have to know the exact location of the person needing help, I could give the contact number to my housemates mum who lives on the island my friend has gone to and I did but hard for me to deploy without know her geographical location. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You really haven't answered about what drew you in. Others in the group chat do not appear to have gotten themselves as involved as you. Why do you think you've delved so deeply into this, as compared to others?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sense of loyalty, tendency to be overly helpful (I wouldn’t say I’m at people pleaser levels of helpful, because I don’t tend to agree to do things I don’t to do, but becoming invested in other peoples problems definitely something I’ve observed in other areas of my life, especially work), the absence of anyone else helping in a meaningful way, mild guilt that I got a stable enough family of origin to have no debilitating mental health issues. I’m just spitballing. I appreciate being nudged to explore this angle as I find it helpful for detaching.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, 1a1a said:

The co dependent behaviour could be a thing.

The feeling like I’m trying to make it about me feels a little unfair though, is that because I have feelings about it that I’m sharing here? I’m unpacking my thoughts anonymously online I’m not asking her to think about them. 

No but you likely are giving her that impression in how you relate to her.  It's not just about asking someone to think about you -it also has to do with your motivation and how you react -so the actions you are taking seem off to me as if they're really not about your concern for her well being.  Thoughts are fine. It's how you react that matters and whether or not you're sharing with her how this affects you you are showing it.  

Example- I have a friend who was there for me in significant ways several times -many! She would be again.  She's fallen on hard times.  Crises.  Deaths, sudden single motherhood, looking at foreclosure on the home she shared with her estranged, now deceased, boyfriend//father of their child.  Terrible.  Now the pandemic.  On and on.  But lately it's been too much -she calls too much, calls at really inconvenient times, calls when I have told her she shouldn't as my husband is asleep (I know, put the ringer off).  But I have been as up front with her as possible about my boundaries. Yesterday I spoke with her about a business issue for a half hour in the morning ("quick question" she said - nope).  Then I got a time sensitive work project.  She calls again as I'm working.  I reply "can't talk" -she messages - I reply -I will try to respond later - I made myself not read her wall of text.

  And I did -later -but I didn't call - I texted - she replied what a good friend I was.  Here's the take away.  I put myself first.  I could not interrupt my work, I'd spent time helping her already that day, it was not an emergency.  I showed her I put myself first.  Politely, quietly. 

I didn't get all martyr-like and stop my own work  and swoop in to "help" her and I didn't call her back right after telling her I couldn't talk.  And my response was short - and didn't say "I'm here if you need more help!"  -because that would be wrong for my boundaries.  That would tell her "ask me how high to jump" - but if it were you you might because it would be about you wanting to feel powerful and show her how much you know, how you know better, how you are at her beck and call even if it means hampering your work responsibilities.  You would then let her know in one way or another all you sacrificed to be there for her that day for her "crisis."  That's the difference. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

All in all considered, probably nothing.

I think I see your angle Batya, my reaction to her lack of action belies a lack of altruism in my motivations. What was in my conscious mind when I took initiative and assumed responsibility for the cats and the things in the house was that she would be pretty gutted to realise she'd lost them in a mental health episode, when she gets through to the other side. Maybe I had internalised an idealised notion of her having a support network to cushion the blow too, like the protagonist in the show Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Which, in other words, sheltering her from the consequences of her actions, two sides of the same coin?

I did a little reading on co dependency, she definitely, easily slips into the roll of taker. And she did try and get me to be her every day companion over the last year but that eventually got very firm push back (not before I experienced a scenario where I was accepting maybe 50% of the invitations to catch up, less than she wanted to, well above the amount I wanted to and over a period of time I found my internal monologue becoming more and more judgemental of her. I think I got cabin fever! Allowing myself to be pushed into more contact time than I wanted, was a 'giver' trait I felt personally attacked by, but not so much the rest. I do say no to her, often.)
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...