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Rant about friend - Carers UK Forum

Rant about friend

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Just sounding off on here, normally I am very patient and laid back and totally diplomatic and accepting if a friend gives me a good excuse for something.
We have a number of friends who just don't understand punctuality at all, my best friend is regularly 20-30 minutes late!
Actually, I'm really pleased for you, that you got lost in what you were doing, were happy, and relaxed, not clock watching. That's a good sign that you are at last unwinding. You've spent years clockwatching, being tied down by dad, through love.
Anxiety is a wretched business. It eats one up. My SIL has what is probably 'GAD - Generalised Anxiety Disorder' as she is chronically anxious about EVERYTHIGN.

She frets endlessly about her son driving to see her, hates going on motorways, and if the dog even throws up because it ate a dead bird on a walk (or whatever!) she is near meltdown. So much so that, it sounds awful to say it, but so it is, that when her older dog was ill, and needed an operation that might well have prolonged his life, my bro opted for euthanasia instead, as he said his wife could not have 'coped' with the anxiety of the dog having an operation....

To me, that is just appalling - to deliberately choose to kill a harmless animal just to spare my SIL her bloody stupid anxiety! She'd rather had the dog dead than to worry about him....

However, that is what anxiety can do to someone - turn them into people we don't approve of morally.....!!!!!!!!

Like OCD, anxiety feeds on itself, and grows stronger. It takes a real effort of will, and courage, to defeat it. Hard to do.
sorry - I should have said it turns them into people that I don't approve of! Not everyone is as intolerant as me!!!!!!!!!!
Your posts are refreshingly intolerant and I, for one, always look forward to reading your amazing in-depth posts. Many thanks to you and BowlingBun for the wisdom and humanity that you both explore.
SB, not sure if your being sarcastic or not, but on the assumption that you are, I would say the following:

Do you think it morally right to kill an innocent dumb animal in order to spare a sentient human stress? Because that is what my brother did. He did it because his wife has that degree of mental illness that makes things like fear of illness in a being she loves (in this case the dog) exceptionally heightened and therefore distressing to endure. So the dog had to die prematurely to protect his wife from feeling that degree of fear and distress.

To me ,that stinks. It's yet another example of just how selfish mental illness can make people. I don't know of a single person with any degree of mental illness that is kinder and more compassionate to others than they are to themselves. But then, expanding that, perhaps it is not just mental illness, perhaps it is all suffering that makes us selfish - makes us 'less nice' people. I can certainly apply it to myself, I assure you!

I could have chosen to look after my MIL with dementia myself - she loved being with me. It ate my life. I 'suffered'. So, because I didn't want to suffer, I made HER suffer instead. I put her in a care home. Now I don't suffer, but she does. She's somewhere she doesn't want to be. So MY suffering didn't make me a better person at all - it made me callous and selfish!
Henrietta - returning to your original problem, before my digression into the morality, or lack of it, in the behaviour of mentally ill people (!!!!) - how did you handle the situation when your friend 'ranted' at you?

Did you apologise, or did you justify your behaviour? In other words, did you agree with her world view, or your own?

I do think that one of the dangerous things to do with those who see the world through a distorted lens (ie, through any degree of mental illness) is to 'pander' to them - as that only confirms their behaviour. By apologising for having caused her such distress you would have confirmed to her that she was RIGHT to feel such distress, that your being ten minutes later and then being pretty casual about it was 'unacceptable and wrong'. But if she has heightened (ie, irrational) feelings of anxiety, then to 'pander' to them is the last thing that anyone should do! One can 'acknowledge' them - as in 'I appreciate you get very anxious', which is to recognise them, but it is not to affirm or confirm them. So 'I know you do get very anxious, but in fact being only ten minutes late really isn't rational cause for excessive anxiety and resulting anger' is probably what I would have (tried!) to say (SO much easier when it isn't ourselves and is in retrospect!).

The other problem of course is that of control. By apologising you allow her (ie, her anxious self) to be 'in control' and to 'dictate' the way you behave. If you now think, Hmm, I really musn't be late again or she will kick off!, that is allowing her far too much control in a friendship.....

Above all, I would say that any relationship in which one party is 'walking on eggshells' is NOT a healthy one!
Hi Jenny
Your thoughts are always welcome. I probably reacted the wrong way, stunned shock so I did apologise a few times more than necessary and yes I probably will worry about being late again . I don't think I went so far as to make me sound in the wrong, just reiterated what had happened and apologised. She is a control freak but I just let her get on with it- anything for a quiet life. I'm naturally diplomatic, avoid confrontation and generally try to calm people down etc etc so probably didn't handle it at all well.
It was left in the air so I will just carry on as normal next week and not mention it again. Eggshells yes but a a long term old friend always there to help me in her own way.
I think I really learnt a few thing from CBT that I did through the trial course on the Alzheimers Course. It's not really what happens to you that stresses you out but your own response to the things that happen so I can see rationally how she over reacted, and understand why and have a degree of sympathy but it is still really hard to respond "correctly".
In your version outlined above, I would see that as confrontational causing her more stress (and me) when I would be trying to reduce her stress. It's a bit like when I worked in the office world before my caring days. I always "managed" difficult clients shouting and being abusive by being overly nice to them-nothing winds them up more when they are itching for a row.
I definitely think that there should be some give and take between old chums! A friend only becomes toxic if there is only ever take and no give! So providing you get - and have in the past got - 'good stuff' from her, then you can afford to be tolerant of her 'little ways'!!!!! Maybe if she kicks off another time, though, it might be something to make a stand on?

I actually do agree with you not only about what you said about how the stress doesn't come from what is done TO you, but how WE react to it! And it's our reaction we can control, not the outside 'cause'.

As far as apologising is concerned, I personally, apologise very readily about things I couldn't care less about - yeah yeah I'm sorry, whatever whatever! That kind of thing! I just don't care, so I don't stress about it. My husband always hated it - he used to say 'You're not sorry at all, are you?!' and of course I wasn't, as in my book, whatever it was I'd done wasn't a crime in the first place, so I didn't care about apologising breezily!!!!

I think it's only when we let someone else dictate OUR behaviour beyond what is 'reasonable' that we start to walk on eggshells. Maybe, however, walking on eggshells per se is not a problem IF we are perfectly prepared to crunch all over them and squash the eggs - whatever, whatever!!!!!!

It will be interesting to see how your friend reacts re your next meeting. I completely agree that NOT giving someone a fight when they are spoiling for one REALLY winds them up!!!!!! :) :) :)
To Jenny. Please accept my apologies for my post. I was not being sarcastic. I meant what I said, and I agree with you. I will not bother posting again. Once bitten twice shy and all that.