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Question About Friendship and PTSD

Discussion in 'General' started by Marlene, Dec 22, 2006.

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  1. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    I've read a number of threads where people have posted that their friendships have not survived their PTSD recovery.

    Anyway...I have a dear friend who is one of the few people in the world who accepts me for me...no strings, no trying to change me. We've had many conversations about how we've been hurt in the past by people who've walked away rather than accept that we won't fit into their mold, their idea of what we should be.

    When my symptoms first started, she was there for me 100%. She even came down to Florida (she lives in Georgia) for a visit and to help me. When I started therapy and meds, she was there and supportive as well.

    When the diagnosis of PTSD came back, it was like everything changed. It wasn't too long after my diagnosis that her oldest daughter received the same diagnosis (her daughter had been in an abusive relationship *mental and physical* and her lover had held a butcher knife to her throat and told her 'If I kill you, no one will know'.)

    My friend now says things like, 'You go to the doctor they tell you you're either bi-polar or have PTSD. They hand out diagnosis's like their pez candy' and 'Your therapist is wrong...I still say the only reason you're going through what you're going through is because your mom remarried.' When I told her about how bad I had felt this week and my therapist talking to me on the phone and advising me to up me meds for a few days until I can get some stress down, she wrote back in an email that she was hoping that this new therapist and the meds would be working better for me. Like it was his fault that I had a stressful time.

    The funny part is that she has fibromyalsia and told me she spent years going from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong with her and there's still a lot of the medical community that believes that FM is 'all in your head'.

    My question is do I tell her that when she says things like this, that it hurts more than she can possibly know? Do I just act like everything's fine (we can talk about symptoms and pain and such) but I have to avoid the 'P' word or she goes off.

    I don't want to lose my friend whom I love very much. But it's ripping my guts out trying to act like everything's fine.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated because I'm pretty stumped. :frown:
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  3. nov_silence

    nov_silence Well-Known Member

    Okay, I am going to be blunt.

    The way your friend is reacting (not responding ) to your diagnosis and that of her daughter's is about her. Not you. It may feel like it is about you, but's it not.

    You already know the answer to your question. The real question is do you love yourself enough to take the steps you need to take.

    Loving someone is a a series of choices followed by action.
  4. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member


    I appreciate your bluntness.

    I know that this is my friend's problems and not mine. That knowledge doesn't make it hurt any less when she says certain things. Hell, I even sent her a link to a website I found very helpful for explaining about the whats and whys of PTSD. Several days later I asked her if she had gone to the website. A solid 'no' came back and so I figured, 'hey...she doesn't want to do this, it's her thing and I won't push'.

    Maybe I should have rephrased my original question to 'If I am open and tell her how much she hurts me sometimes, will I still have a friend there?' I know I'm the only one who can answer that question, but I was wondering if there's anyone out there who's been down this road and can offer a little advice.

    I know I'm going to have to do this, and soon.
  5. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    There is the real problem, not you. No longer does she have to deal with PTSD from a distance, she now has something she doesn't understand in her family, her daughter, in her face. Her daughter would be avoiding her, locking herself away, abusive, etc etc etc... you know the long list. Now she doesn't know what the hell to do, because anything she says is wrong.

    Remember marlene, unless you have it, you could not understand it. You know it, I know it, her daughter would know it... your friend feels a whole lot lost at present I think.

    I totally agree with nov... its got nothing to do with you.
  6. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    It took some digging, but I searched out this post I made several months ago to put an addendum to it.

    A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to my friend (mentioned in this post) with the intention of being honest and clearing the air. I knew the risk I was taking by doing this. But I felt that it needed to be done and I also felt strong enough to take the risk.

    Basically my email was asking why were you so supportive before my diagnosis and have pulled away from me since and act very angry whenever I mention PTSD? She wrote back a very angry email (expected) and I wrote back to her explaining a lot of things that have happened to me that I hadn't shared before because her whole demeanor and attitude had changed towards me. Like I said...I was hoping that clearing the air would help.

    Her reply was that while she realized what I had was difficult to deal with, *and this is an exact quote* 'I really don't give a damn what's wrong with you' and when I 'get over it' she'll be more than happy to have conversations with me.

    The funny part was that, while this was not totally unexpected, I really was expecting to be ripped to shreds if this was her response/attitude. I wasn't. It was partially relief that the unknown was now known and that I better know who's true in my life and who's not. I respect her decision and wish her the best.

    Nam wrote that PTSD changes who you are in a lot of ways. My former friend said she had been waiting for 'me' to come back since my symptoms got too bad to ignore in July. I told her I wasn't the same person anymore, but was trying to get to be a better person than when all of this started. And I do know I won't be in a friendship based on dishonesty (I've worked too damned hard to be honest with myself) or someone else's convenience. I'm worth more than that.

    Also-in the midst of all of this I found out that she doesn't believe her daughter's diagnosis of PTSD. So...again I wish her the best and I go forward.
  7. Scott_Fraser

    Scott_Fraser Well-Known Member

    Hi Marlene, if your friend is a true friend she will stick by you, through thick and thin. If not they are not worth bothering about. My true friends have stuck by me through my illness, most of them are former members of my regiment, and of course my new friends that I meet at Combat Stress Rehab, as were all in the same boat.
    Take care
  8. mac

    mac Active Member

    Since coming back, slowly but surely I have lost all frienships I may have had, as well as a number of family relationships too. There's different reasons for all this, but the bottom line is they can all kiss my @ss now!
  9. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Hello Marlene, well done for trying with your friend. You gave the friendship a chance by being honest which is what friendships should be based on. Its a shame that your friend feels the way she does but thats her decision. At least you know where you stand now.

    I have lost many friends since my accident and other friendships have changed. Things move on I hope you find other people that you can have a more honest relationship. I find my friendships since have a different weigh to them now, I know the understand exactly what I'm like and they've seen me really bad and so also see the improvements rather than wanting you the way you were.
  10. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Hello Marlene,

    I have had trouble with friends and issues like this. I have a best friend who, when I was at my worst, turned her back on me. Like you, before that she was amazing. Then when I needed her most, she turned her back and said "Hell, you've got two arms, two legs, what are you whining about?". We pretty much lost contact for 18 months. Eventually, I realised that, in this instance, she was finding it difficult feeling so helpless.

    Clearly, the issue of PTSD has become too close to home with your friend, with her daughter, and rather than accepting it and trying to understand it, she is denying. She might even be suffering with a bit of guilt for not being able to protect her daughter, and this is stumping her. But you don't need somebody else to be making you feel worse, you need support. The fact that you have surprised yourself in your reaction to this speaks volumes, it sounds like you have come to a point of acceptance which is good.

    I also did this with my friend. Then 18 months later, she was ready to come back and listen, and try to work a way forward. I told her a few home truths, and lay some ground rules down, and she gave me some back. Somehow, and god knows how, we have got back on track and things are back to how they used to be (almost). I guess my point is, perhaps your friendship is one to let go of for now.... but who knows? She may deal with her issues, learn from her mistakes, and come back a better person and friend for it. But, as many have already said, if she can't prove herself to be a friend to you, then she is no friend.

    Sadly, it seems to be that when things are hard, you find out who are 'convenience friends' and real friends are. But it takes strength to say no thanks to those that aren't true.
  11. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    The good part to this is that my oldest friend (who was in the Army with me and was my first friend when I got stationed in Germany-21 years ago...OMG when did that happen!!!!) and I have become so much closer since I confided in her about what was going on with me. She's very empathetic and caring. Years ago her father was given an anti-depressant that wasn't supposed to be taken with his blood pressure medication, it caused him to have a psychotic break and he killed himself. So she's a lot more sensitive than most about emotional/mental problems.

    Cards, emails, phone calls just asking 'Hey, how are you doing today?' have helped more than she'll ever know. Just knowing one more person is helping me on this journey is such a gift. And also just talking about normal 'stuff' and fussing about the goofy things our 18 year old daughters do, laughing that ususally when we're on the phone our hubbys are both napping on the couches.

    Glad I found out who my true friend is.
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