Helping a friend vs burnout (So many tws)

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by LilacMercenary, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. LilacMercenary

    LilacMercenary Well-Known Member

    So does anyone else get the thing where after you go through something stressful and everything's fine you just kind of turn into a helpless limpet for a little while?

    I had an incident (series of incidents) on Monday night that I just was not at all warned / prepared for, and I've just been slowly realizing that I'm not super okay in the aftermath.

    >got invited to hang out with a friend who has an eating disorder and recently broke up with her BF. She wasn't doing great the first couple days, but seemed to be getting better. My visit was presented as "well, I have all these support people staying with me, but I'd love to see you for a few hours if you're down!"

    >Turns out she had binged on an entire birthday cake, freaked out and made a plan to commit suicide the night before, but got help before she could actually go through with it. Sister and BiL took her to the hospital for an 8 hour stay, but she was eventually let go without being admitted (somehow?? so mad at the hospital for this) and they had been up for 32 hours and counting when I got there. Asked me why I didn't come earlier, briefed me on the situation and basically slapped me on the shoulder and left. I was told if I didn't stay the night with her that her killing herself would be on me.

    > I agreed to drive up to her and her bf's apartment to get their dog, only to find that the bf took their dog elsewhere and left their (still semi feral) cat alone with now empty dishes of food and water. He had left on Saturday and it was now Monday night. I went to Walmart to buy a cat carrier while friend packed up her stuff, with plans to take the cat to bf's mom's house.
    >Friend *texted him to ask permission*, freaked out when he said she couldn't take the cat, released the cat from the carrier and told me we had to leave it because "it would cause more problems [for her] if we took it"

    >Remember I said semi feral? Cat slashed me up to hell and back getting it in the carrier, while friend cried and talked to bf. When she told me we had to leave it at the apartment, I asked her if the cat's life was worth her ex being mad at her. She cried, told me I was making her want to kill herself, and ran out of the apartment with the cat carrier.

    >When we got back, she left my bleeding ass in the living room while she locked herself in the bathroom for a solid half hour. I eventually told her I would open the door with a screwdriver if she didn't open it so I could see that she hadn't hurt herself.
    Note that after that, I drove to their place 45 min away on Tuesday to feed and water kitty. Technically *breaking in* to their apartment, since neither gave permission for me to be there. On Wednesday bf's sister arrived and took it to her house. I wish I'd done this first, but was at the point of kidnapping it and taking it to a cat rescue when this happened.

    >Friend eventually apologized "for freaking out," but would not talk about the cat, and went to bed. I stayed up all night watching re-runs of MasterChef (which i now kind of despise by association??), because A) how do you sleep in a strange environment when you've had literally no warning beforehand, and B) everything listed above. Checked in on her every hour, and we made it through the night.

    >I got to be an hour late for work, because the closest family member I could take her to was an hour away in a direction I'd never been in, on zero sleep.

    Friend will be going in to residential treatment for her eating disorder starting either next week or the week after, and wants to hang out like nothing happened. I know from experience that *any* criticism is too much for her, and I'm deeply afraid of sending her back into self harm by outlining why I'm upset/not okay, but gentle "Monday really stressed me out and I'm still tired" does not seem to be understood.
    I also lost a HUGE amount of respect for her over the cat incident, and kind of want a lot of space because of that?? See again, does not handle criticism well when not starving and semi-suicidal.

    I feel bad, because she's obviously going through a lot right now, but I just keep remembering things this girl did in the past (we've been friends for 6+years now) and getting really angry all over again. I hate to say it, but I'm kind of thinking this killed our friendship maybe.

    (If anyone wants to offer advice or just sympathy, I'd super appreciate it. I've talked to family about this, but the reactions are all either "Why are you so upset about this?" or "Well, I always told you she was bad news, you're finally realizing she's terrible" plus huge heapings of "why aren't you showering" and "stop being so lazy." I feel a little like I'm making this all about me, because friend is obviously suffering, but I was SO not prepared/up to any of this.)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
    • Witnessed x 5
  2. LilacMercenary

    LilacMercenary Well-Known Member

    Also, like, what if my not being there means her family is spread too thin and something happens? Her parents took a vacation to Hawaii a couple days before this all happened and I don't even know when they'll be back. There is literally her sister and brother in law, who both work, and 1 cousin an hour away in each direction.
    I'm aware of the airplane/oxygen mask principal, but I can't stop with the feeling that I'm just letting everyone down. I am So Pissed that she was able to walk into an emergency room, tell them that she wanted to seriously hurt herself, and they didn't admit her for observation. I just don't understand how that can happen.
    • Agree x 1
  3. Chiomi

    Chiomi Master of Disaster

    Christ, witnessed. That is a fuckton of emotional labour on no prep.

    And yeah, it's ridiculous that she didn't get admitted for inpatient care immediately: she needs people who are trained to deal with this and not family who have little or no training, lots of emotional investment, and other things to do. Hopefully if things get bad they will take her back and she'll actually get admitted again.

    You are not letting anyone down by having limits and boundaries and enforcing them. If the oxygen mask thing doesn't quite work, let me tell you what we learned in paramedic training: you look out for hazards first, and don't let yourself be hurt in the line of duty when you can prevent it, because then you can't help and are, in fact, a liability. Self care even in the face of other people's distress is a real thing, yo.

    Also that poor fucking cat.
    • Agree x 3
    • Like x 1
  4. LilacMercenary

    LilacMercenary Well-Known Member

    I'd like to rate your post as 'like' 'useful' and 'informative' because they're all of those, but have to settle for like as the catchall. Seriously, thank you. I think you're the first person who's both taken all that seriously and didn't try to tell me how wrong I was for [various reasons] I'm really super grateful.

    The sucky? complicated? thing is that I'm actually really super good in a crisis. Like I feel like if I were forced back into that right now, I'd do okay for this girl (I just would be seriously not okay whenever the whole thing was over). It's really hard to rate my own mental health over the physical health of someone I care about, even without various members of her family (who obv care about her more than me) telling me I need to suck it up and handle it because someone has to.

    And yeah, I feel like that cat got the worst of it out of anybody. I can't imagine having a mostly-stranger catch you and stuff you in a carrier before being dumped out and left alone again was remotely okay for it, not to mention at least 1 whole day without food. The sister seems responsible, thank god, but poor little fluff ball =(
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
    • Witnessed x 1
  5. Alaspooralice

    Alaspooralice An actual trash fire

    I really don't think you are overreacting or being bad or whatever. You had no warning, were expecting this to be a normal hangout, and were suddenly made this girl's caretaker. Plus, the animal thing would have fucked me up. I love cats, and honestly I probably would have kidnapped the cat because I can also be vindictive. I think you handled this really well, but that doesn't make that situation ok for her to have thrust on you. Like, I know she is having a hard time, but so are you, one doesn't negate the other. I hope you're feeling better.
    • Like x 1
  6. LilacMercenary

    LilacMercenary Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @Alaspooralice, I'm definitely feeling better after a weekish of not dealing with the situation. Sorry it took me a bit to answer you, I had to think about it since I'm still sleeping way too much and kind of more generally upset. I think the situation kicked my depression/anxiety into overdrive and started some new bad habits, but I'm not sure I'm still reacting *to that situation specifically* anymore, if that makes sense.

    Otoh, I have zero idea how to enforce any boundaries in the future, and now that I've calmed down a bit, I'm not sure I'm prepared to sacrifice the only IRL friend I have by cutting contact. Friend is off at an eating disorder treatment place for the next 1-2 months, but I'm really concerned that when she comes back it's just going to go back to business as usual, aka Lilac being an emotional door mat.

    In somewhat other news, is it only me who's not able to edit thread titles? I'm feeling like the ptsd part of the title was blowing things out of proportion, now that I'm feeling better, and want to take it out, but editing the body of the thread doesn't affect the title, and obviously tag editing isn't the right place. Is there a /third/ edit button I'm missing?
  7. Alaspooralice

    Alaspooralice An actual trash fire

    Hey no problem, I was taking no news as you resting. Glad you are feeling better! But in, yeah I get how one situation can cause you to feel crappy, then pick up bad habits and continue them even after feeling better about the initial thing. Makes sense to me cuz same hat.

    I don't think you have to go no contact, it seems like this could have been handled better with more communication on her end? Maybe start with asking what you are going to be doing when you hang out, and if the plans go a place you are not comfortable with (for whatever reason) or she outright does something other than what she said the plan was, tell her your expectations and don't be afraid to leave if you are not comfortable with the new situation. Which, can take some building up to but try to be in the mindset of "if this is gonna be bad for me I can leave". Again not trying to say she is bad, just that sometimes you gotta think of yourself first.

    And for title uhh? I think you edit the OP?
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice