I am confused and need some advice

@winterose (39897)
Canada
February 17, 2008 12:37pm CST
I have a friend, for the last 5 years. We have never met in person but we are email friends. This person has a lot of good points but a lot of bad ones as well. She is very generous and has helped me out as well as lots of people with her money. The problem is she is also mentally ill and gets paranoid quite often. Several times during our relationship we have stopped talking to each over her accusing me of not understanding her and not being a true friend. All of this is in her head, I am probably the best friend she has. For the past three weeks it as been nothing but trouble through emails, it started with the article I wrote for re-gifting, she was the one that refused to use my gift cards and hurt me really badly in the process. At that point she threated never to talk to me again and I was no friend of hers for the full story look up my regifting article, you will see what happened and why. We managed to get through that but believe me it was difficult. Then it appeared that every email after that she wanted to argue with anything I said, I could see she was still angry. This lady is incapable of getting along with people, anything anyone says is understood by her to be against her. She is in deed paranoid. There is a site she goes too and was thrown off of many times for fighting with people, but in her mind she is only defending herself against these people when in fact she is attacking them. But you can't get her to see that. Anyhow there is a woman on that site that she absolutely loathes. The woman wrote an article about cyber bullying. It was a very well written researched based article. My friend was convinced this woman was calling her a cyber bully and went real crazy over it. Several people told her that article did not speak about anyone in particular and was not about her, she wouldn't believe it. I told her she was being paranoid, and then all hell broke loose, the seething emails I got from her was just too much. The last email I wrote her I told her she had to take her medication and to calm down she was falling apart. She returned the email and clearly said " I didn't even read this email. If you cannot support me, I have no use for you" That was it I couldn't take it anymore so I never bothered to answer the email. The next day I get another email saying I am so sorry for those emails, they got out of hand, but carol telling me I am paranoid is not helpful, I wish you could just understand and support me. I cannot support irrational behaviour I cannot agree with her mental illness and have her think the world is against her. I cannot in good conscience tell her yes that cyberbullying article was about her when I don't believe that it was. And I cannot take these viscious emails back and forth, it is getting to me. I haven't answered that email. I need space. I feel bad because I know that she is so down right now it is actually the time she needs somebody the most, but she is too irrational to deal with, anything I say will be construed as against her and so I can't help her and it becomes a vicious circle. What would you do in this situation?
7 people like this
18 responses
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
18 Feb 08
You're in an interesting situation. I'd like to come back and read everyone else's responses and your replies to them, but for now I'll just type out the things that came to my mind when reading your post. 1 - You can't save everyone 2 - You said she is mentally ill, therefore you can't expect her to be rational. You can't expect your friendship with her to conform to the expectations of a friendship with a person who is not menteally ill. 3 - This does NOT mean that you must subject yourself to repeated veral abuse. 4 - It takes two people to continue an argument, only one person to end it. You can choose not to argue about any topic. You choose to agree to disagree. You won't always agree on things. That doesn't mean you can't still be friends. 5 - YOu can choose how much or how little to interact with her. 6- If she can't accept your limits, then you have to consider letting her walk away if she needs to. 7- Friendship is about give an take. In my opinion if it's ALL take or ALL give, then it isn't a friedship worth nurturing. The give and take won't always be 50/50 but if the ratio is more than 60/40 then (again in MY opinion) it's not worth nurturing. 8- I did a discussion about how we should never tell a woman to "calm down" because that will just make her more angry. I think that applies tenfold in the case of your friend. And, although she may be clinically paranoid, there is no need to point that out. It will only hurt her and make her feel worse. I think you could come up with a better choice of words, like "I just don't think it was about you". If you can't get her to see that, then you just have to let it go. Arguing won't help matters. 9 - If she thinks it's about her, then she must recognize some of her behavior in the article and perhaps she should address that. But, of course, nobody can "make" her address it. I don't know if these thoughts will help you or not, but I do wish you luck with whatever you decide. Take care, Miamilady
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
18 Feb 08
miami lady I am a counsellor, I used all the words to say, I cannot write everything in one discussion here, I know I cannot save her the reason for bringing it up. the question is do I just back away for awhile or for good. No one can help her when she refuses to get help
1 person likes this
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
19 Feb 08
I tend to take things one day at a time in my life. I would back away for a while and see how it goes. You don't need to decide right now if it would be temporary or permanent. If your relationship with her is harming you, then for your own good you need to back away. If it is a cycle you have been through before and it gets bad each time that you let her back in, then your answer would be that it should probably be for good. If you haven't tried it before and it is something that you can mainting at a lesser frequency than you have up until now, then you should consider it just being a permanent backing away but not ending. Even with my friends who don't have mental illesses, I tend to keep them at arms legnth because I have too much stress as it is with my own family. I can't add the stress that drama from friend can bring, but I don't think I'd cut a friend off completely unless it were a toxic friendship that couldn't be managed. Good luck and take care.
2 people like this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
good advice
1 person likes this
@mtdewgurl74 (18118)
• United States
29 Mar 08
Winterose your an amazing woman and friend. You have stood by theis womans side all these years and took jab after jab. Not alot of people would have the strength to continue on with that relationship that long before giving it up as a lost cause. I know it must be really hard dealing with the ups and downs, the highs the lows, But you gave her a shoulder to use when needed. But she was so mean to you. I know I would find it hard to continue with this person as a friend. But you probably don't want to leave her either after all this time. I hope you will make a decision soon about if you are going to go on with the relationship or not. I just hope she knows what a angel she has as a friend. I have never had a friend stick with me through thick and then. And since I get depressed some it can be hard to face alone but you are a good person. She might not be able to help the way she is or have control over it. We shouldn't judge her for things she cannot control but for things she has contributed to the relationship on a good day. May god bless you many times over winterose, because you have a good heart.
2 people like this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
29 Mar 08
I have chosen to break ties with her, my health is what concerns me and she was wearing me down, it was time to break ties, perhaps in the future we can resume a relationship but not at this time.
@mtdewgurl74 (18118)
• United States
29 Mar 08
Yeah it can be emotionally draining and you need to take care of yourself, If you don't who will, You know your limits and know when not o push them. None of us are young spring chickens anymore..
@RobinJ (2501)
• Canada
18 Feb 08
Hi Rose, I think this is a no win situation. if you tell her how you feel you can not win. I think I would send her an email and ask her to clearly and concisely explain to you how she wants you to support her, as well I would put all the blocks up for her to try to remove. You might say I will not lie to you or for you, just to make you feel good, you are an adult and deserve the truth. List what ever you can not or will not agree on and explain that you both must agree that each other has different beliefs, ideals, and feelings and that it is necessary for you to have this. As well you respect that she has hers as well. I understand you wanting to be there for her but remember at what cost to yourself. and maybe you need to explain that , how she is a dear friend but life is far to short to live in turmoil and anger, now is your time for peace , tranquility and serenity,not walking around wondering what the heck went wrong this time. You deserve better so make her respect you as a friend and not a verbal punching bag
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
I have done all that you can't rationalize with an irrational person, all they want is for you to argue with them one hundred percent and if your opinion differs then you are not supporting them you are against them. she twists everything around to become negative. I could say something like I am sorry I don't feel like emailing this evening I am tired and she will answer you are just saying that you don't like me anymore if you were my friend you would email me this evening. I could say I do not see that bawbaw is after you, she just has a different opinion than yours and she will answer why are you sticking up for her I thought you were my friend, you are turning on me.
2 people like this
@RobinJ (2501)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Sorry Rose I don't have the patience for some one like that , they are like a high consumption piece of equipment and you are the battery trying to keep them running. All it appears to be do is draining what little life and enjoyment you have out of your life. I personally would walk away, because I need all my energy just to survive myself. all I can do is wish you well no matter what you do.
2 people like this
17 Feb 08
I think you nailed it on the head when you said everything becomes a viscious circle with her responding to your emails in an irrational and nasty manner. It is admirable that you have maintained a friendship with this person and it is extremely easy to feel guilty about not responding to her when she behaves in this way but at the end of the day it is not acceptable behaviour and you are not obliged to accept it. By responding to her accusations and accepting her apologies you are allowing her to continue this behaviour and giving her the excuse of her mental illness. A friend has recently been through a similar thing with a guy he has known for years who has paranoid schizophrenia. He would allow this person to be at times both verbally and physically abusive excusing his behaviour because "that's the way he is sometimes" I would advise you to do the same as he did and put some distance between yourselves. Yes it is difficult but what right does a friend have to abuse you just because they are ill? It sounds as though your friend is capable of rational behaviour since she is able to apologise for her nasty outbursts. I would advise her that you will be happy to continue your friendship providing she respects it.
2 people like this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
17 Feb 08
oh she will be nice when she is feeling better, but then breaks down again, this is her illness. I am a counsellor by training, I know all the ins and outs, but this is a friend that really does need a support system not everyone in her life to turn her back on her. I am taking a break right now because I do not want her to wear me down along with her. I just don't know if I should just take a hiatus or abondon her completely.
1 person likes this
@dreamy1 (3815)
• United States
17 Feb 08
What's the reason you are friends with this person? If she has always been like that from the time you've known her I don't know why you stayed friends this long. Sure you may have disagreements with from time to time but if you continually have struggles with someone why continue the friendship because it's obvious you're not compatible to be friends. Her mental health issues are affecting things and I know she can't help it. Why do you need to continue to be her friend? I feel you are getting something out of it by staying her friend but is it something you really need in your life?
2 people like this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
17 Feb 08
the issues is her mental health, I know that, you have to make some concessions with people who are mentally ill, we are friends because as I say there are good things about her as well. I was concentrating on how difficult it is right now, she has been there for me and helped me in many situations and I have helped her that is what friends do for each other. the trouble is the mental issues are now getting the best of me, I can no longer help her, I could do the take a time off thing, or I can make the decision for good, this is the junction I am at right now
@suehan1 (4355)
• Australia
18 Feb 08
this is a hard one rose.i work with a women that has a mental disorder and became very friendly with her.after a few months her behaviuor became very erratic which caused hugh problems with all the staff.at the time i felt i had to back away from her a bit,as she was like a pimple ready to explode,well that made things worse and she then started targeting me as she was very paranoid.we had to end up getting management to have a round table confrontation with her and she had to then go to her doctor to increase her medication.she is now o.k,but i can not return to our old friendship as it is too much to handle and simply exhausting.so i know how you are feeling.if it is simply a friendship over the net you may simply do not reply to her.the choice is yours rose,you have to do what is best for you.cheers sue
2 people like this
@gabs8513 (48710)
• United Kingdom
18 Feb 08
Well to be honest Carol you have done your Best and tried very hard with her and I do not blame you for feeling the Way you do now Take the Space from her as she will make you Ill if you don't Ok she has an Illness and I am sorry about that but she does not seem to be taking her Medication to control it at the sounds of things I hope it does get sorted I really do
2 people like this
@sid556 (30989)
• United States
18 Feb 08
My thoughts in reading this were to wonder why you continue to remain a friend to this woman? It doesn't sound like much of a friendship at all. I'm sure there must be another side to this woman when her illness is not taking over. I do have some friends with mental illness and it is not easy to deal with sometimes. I would let her know that you care a great deal about her but that you are not going to tolerate nor respond to the nasty e-mails. That you will ignore them until she comes to her senses and decides to be civil. Then follow thru. If she really cares about your friendship, she will refrain from hitting those keys when she is in a mood. I'm sure you understand that she probably really does sincerely feel awful after the fact and you should forgive her for she really probably can't help herself. Still, you should not tolerate it.
• United States
18 Feb 08
every human being is created by God unique way, on body has same habit and behaviour even if they are twins. You know that your friend has "mentally illness", but why you just leave her alone? your relation ship was begin 5 years ago... quite long time to make relationship. What you should understand is, she need some body to support her, become her shoulder to cry on, not to judge her.. support emails and helping hand,much more valuable for her to help her able to stand at her own feet. Many problems that she can't void at this life, only your support email, or even small phone call will help her to pass or even settle all the problems. Keep on contact her, even while she angry with you.. keep on doing something good, someday, all your efford will paid back to you. Regards, Teddy
2 people like this
@livewyre (2455)
18 Feb 08
You have to remain true to what you believe. I had a friend who was completely paranoid to a ridiculous extent, he would tell me his stories and look at me expecting a response - the story would be something like 'they locked me in a room and sucked all these ideas out of my head' - how can you respond to that. I had to find a way of keeping talking to him without saying on the one hand 'I believe every word you are telling me' and on the other 'are you nuts!!' My resolve was that I would listen but never agree with, or encourage any of his more preposterous ideas. It does not do any good to reinforce the fantasy, but equally you should not openly challenge them as you are not equipped to deal with the 'fallout'. At the end of the day, she needs you to help provide a balanced input into her life, but unless you are a trained therapist, you would probably be best advised not to try and challenge her too harshly - her fragile mental state is probably bolstered by fantasy and suppositions, if you try to take these crutches away from her, all sorts of stuff could come flying your way. In the case of the guy that I knew, his paranoia was his defence for the fact that he felt his life had amounted to very little, and he needed someone or something to blame - he settled on 'them'. If you can find a way to be firm about what you think without being too confrontational, I would say that would be your best bet...
1 person likes this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
18 Feb 08
I am a trained therapist.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
18 Feb 08
A couple of comments and questions for both of you... I thought that paranoia was a chemical imbalance in the brain, not a defense against a failed life. is there more than one form of paranoia? I've often heard the term paranoid schizophreanic. I figured paranoid is short for that. I have some very minor backround on it. I had an aunt who was schizophreanic and a neighbor. From what I understand they have very little, if any control over the disease and what they experience. A question...is there really any harm in humoring their "fantasies"? It seems to me there might be more harm in confronting them and forcing them to hear that what they are seeing is no real. It seems like it would be very agitating, which I don't think is good either. The way I see it. They simply live in a different reality. is that really always such a bad thing? Is there a way to interact with a person who is paranoid and respect what they are seeing and feeling? I would never advice that a friend do this to the point of making themselves suffer. If the relationship becomes abusive, then, of course the friend would have to back way. I'm just saying, we don't have to agree with their paranoia to respect it. I admit I have neve had a one on one relationship with someone who is clinically paranoid and this is pure speculation on my part.
1 person likes this
@livewyre (2455)
20 Feb 08
Thanks for responding with such intelligent input. Paranoia is a symptom rather than an illness, you can feel paranoid without having any in-balance. Paranoia means that you feel there is a force working against you, and is often fueled by guilt. EG. You feel guilty about something almost subconsciously, and when things start to go wrong, you begin to believe (without justification) that you are being punished). Paranoia can manifest itself in all sorts of ways, but is by no means limited to metal disorders. Paranoid Schizophrenia on the other hand is a form of mental illness which is characterised by pronounced paranoia. Hope that sheds some light on that question... Your other point actually I agree with, but you have approached it from the other perspective. I certainly do believe that there is a danger in confronting the mistaken perceptions of someone who is mentally ill, and I did say "equally you should not openly challenge them as you are not equipped to deal with the 'fallout'" My point was that I have a philosophy that in essence you cannot be blamed for stating the truth, because it is true! On the other hand, if you lead someone to believe something other than the truth, then the responsibility for all the consequences fall squarely on your shoulders... My experience taught me that I was very very uncomfortable with some of the things my friend was saying, and I felt that if I lied to him, I was (as you have said) humoring him and therefore could not claim to be a friend. The difficult balance was in trying to remain supportive without appearing to support increasingly bizarre claims. I theorised that in checking his line of thought, that it may have helped him to keep a sense of perspective - if you can understand what I mean?
1 person likes this
• Canada
23 Feb 08
I just don't have time for people like that, be they friends, family or random strangers who THINK they have good intentions. Those intentions are no longer good when the other person hurts. Even though the first person may think s/he is right, it doesn't give that person the right to hurt another person. I think I read your gift card aticle on Gather. How long ago did you write it? Time's really flying down here in Arizona. You've asked some interesting questions, and I've been hitting your discussions tonight, as you've probably noticed by now. ;-)
1 person likes this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
23 Feb 08
I wrote it about 3 weeks ago and this is still the fallout from it, but I have decided to break all ties with her, not because of the gift certificates but because I just cannot take all the irational behaviour anymore, she is no a downward spiral and I am certainly not going to agree that an innocent woman is out to get her when she is not.
1 person likes this
• Canada
23 Feb 08
Good for you!!! I know some people might think a decision like that too painful to make, but my question is this. Is it more painful to put up with her, or not to have her in your life? I think you truly did what was best for you. You made a very wise decision, and one that I would have made, had I been in your situation.
@chertsy (3804)
• United States
17 Feb 08
Wow, your a really good friend for being so patient with her for 5 years. I think I would email her explaining that we need space from each other, that it breaks my heart that she gets upset over the littlest thing. I would do some research on paranoria and bipolar and send her the links and explain that I want her to read it before responding to me. I would tell her to go back to the doctor and ask to be tested for these two things. Hopefully, my friend will and actually get the help that she needs.
1 person likes this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
17 Feb 08
I am a trained counsellor I know the ins and outs of what she has, and she has all the research herself, her trouble is accepting her illness and nobody can do that for her.
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@chertsy (3804)
• United States
17 Feb 08
Again, your a really good friend to be patient with her. Especially, that she knows her problem but lives in denial about it.
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@Deea48 (1168)
• United States
29 Mar 08
I also think you should just step back for a while. If she has been a friend for 5 years, I guess I would not be so quick to just let her go. Just take some time, if she needs to know why, tell her. then tell her to let you know when she has had some help, and no more drama. I wish you good luck my friend, it is never easy dealing with someone who suffers from mental illness. I hope she gets the help she needs.
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
29 Mar 08
she doesn't want help, she will not listen to anybody including her psychiatrist. and I am not ruining my health over her, I am disabled and I can't take this drama anymore. I have been so much calmer since I have broken ties with her. who knows what the future will break but for me this was the right decision for now.
@cokyjazz (429)
• Australia
17 Feb 08
Winterose,i think you have done all you can do.I think she knows how much you care,it's her ilness that has taken over her for now.It is wise to step back now before you burn yourself out.You have been there for her for 5 years and i'm sure she knows you will be there for her when she gets her old self back.Please dont feel guilty because you have done all you could to reach her.
1 person likes this
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
17 Feb 08
thank you cokyjazz
• United States
17 Feb 08
From what you write, it sounds like you've bee3n supportive of her in every way you can. She has gone off the deep end and you cannot, in good conscience be supportive of her irrational thought processes. To do so, you wouldn't be a friend, just a leaning post. Carol, I think that stepping back is a wise choice. It doesn't mean you're abandoning her. It means you've got respect for your own sanity and that's important. It's apparent to me that you like this person -- you just can't deal with the paranoia. She needs professional help. If I was in the same situation, I'd send one email telling her that I like her, but cannot support her in her current frame of mind. Let her know that you're stepping away because it's not a healthy relationship and intrudes on your boundaries.
@winterose (39897)
• Canada
17 Feb 08
I did in the last email I wrote her which she wrote back and said she didn't even read, there is nothing else I can say to her. She won't listen,
• India
23 Feb 08
go and meet her...........other wise.it will be so later
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Feb 08
Unfortunately I think the best thing you can do for her right now is let her go and hope that she will seek help for herself. If you try to continue to support her it is likely her behavior will continue to get worse. It seems mean but you cannot help her if she will not help herself. She needs to realize that she needs help and she cannot do that if you continue to allow her behavior.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (115769)
• United States
17 Feb 08
I got into a situation similar, but not so protracted with a family member, a cousin. On the advice of my brother, I say nothing to her. She cannot even manage to remember to send stuff to my e-mail, not my husband's. After a point, you have to quit being guilty about the other party needing you, and respect yourself enough to be distant. If my problem person were to send me a rational e-mail, I would respond. I am not initiating any contact. If I get anything uncivil, I will ignore it.
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