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Topic: How to help me best friend

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. MissyMe
    MissyMe avatar
    3 posts
    12 July 2018

    My best friend of many years suffers from anxiety and bipolar. It has caused a huge strain on our friendship over the years because of a core issue that he won't engage with me unless it is on his terms because he is so distrusting of people (both when he is manic and when he is not). I have tried so hard to educate myself about his illness and always try say and do the right things. When he goes through manic times I try and be reassuring that I am there for him. He is prone to periods of completly shutting down followed by exploding at me about how much he is strugglying. I know that some of the behaviours are out of his control, but others are and can be very hurtful. When he engages in these behaviours I try to calmly address them with him, but every time it ends up with him verbally attacking me or him disclosing that he is struggling with his mental health after telling me for weeks or months that he has been doing ok. For the most part I just end up trying to reassure him that it is ok and I am there for him and trying to say and do things that make him feel better.

    A few weeks ago I attempted to address the issue with him about how he shuts me out of his life and after we got through his initial aggressive reaction, we actually spoke and it seemed that there was a plan to deal with it and he was very positive about it. But when it became clear a few days ago that he might not want to fix the issue I tried to address it with him again. He told me that he doesn't want to lose me as his friend but he also needs a break from me. We spoke on the phone and he was very rude to me which has become more frequent recently. I very firmly told him that he is not allowed to speak to me like that and that I care about him but he is not allowed to treat me like that. Now he has completely shut me out.

    He has not been able to sustain friendships in the past and I am starting to understand why. I am absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally. I am trying so hard. But if I ever show I am strugglying, he just says hurtful things.

    I am also so worried about him right now. He is in the worst place I have ever seen him. I know he has no support because aside from his psychologist, I am the only person he ever talks to and now he has stopped talking to me too. He said few days ago that he is going to get help, but I don't know that he will.

    I would love some advice about what others have done in a similar situation.

  2. quirkywords
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    quirkywords avatar
    8275 posts
    12 July 2018 in reply to MissyMe

    Welcome Missyme,

    What a wonderful compassionate friend you have been to your friend.

    I was diagnosed with bipolar over forty years ago and know how hard it can be to keep friends and how badly I treated my friends in the past..

    I can feel how exhausted and frustrated you are from helping your friend.

    I can u derstand how worried you are about your friend.

    I can relate to how he values you as friend but pushes you away at the same time.

    You need to look after yourself and set boundaries. I know this is easy to say and hard to do but really it is necessary because if you become sick you will,not be able to help your friend.

    The psychologist will see your friend has no contacts and may help him with strategies.

    Would you be able to set some boundaries and not feel guilty if you set limits. .?

    I have a friend who is in psychiatric unit and I find it hard to set boundaries but I know if I don’t my own health will suffer.

    You are being a great friend .

    How would you feel if you set boundaries.in your friendship with your friend?

    These are just my thoughts, what do you think?

    Quirky

  3. MissyMe
    MissyMe avatar
    3 posts
    13 July 2018 in reply to quirkywords
    Thanks Quirky. Your response was very helpful. I would like to set boundaries with him, but I struggle with what that looks like because he is already shutting me out. Do you have any suggestions of what some boundaries be?
  4. quirkywords
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    quirkywords avatar
    8275 posts
    16 July 2018 in reply to MissyMe

    Missyme

    Thanks for your reply.

    I suppose you know yourself well enough to be able to set boundaries so your health won’t be affected.

    maybe decide how much contact you can cope with and keep to that.

    Also looks after yourself by doing things that help you to unwind and relax, whether watching a movie, tv, reading. a book , going for a walk etc.

    The usual things like eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise will help.

    If you find phoning or face to face contact stressful, you could text to show that you still care and then visit or phone when you can .

    As I said it is a personal thing and you will know what you can cope with.

    not sure if that helps.

    Quirky

  5. MissyMe
    MissyMe avatar
    3 posts
    17 July 2018 in reply to quirkywords
    This is helpful - thank you

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