Trying to shake off another sufferer’s suicidal emotional blackmail

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Justmehere

Moderator
I guess I could put this under supporter relationships because this came up in the context of my supporting someone with CPTSD, but it stirred up my own symptoms, and that’s what I could use advice about. I can’t shake this off.

There is an aquaintance/friend I met at a social event at a church just 4 weeks ago who is trying to manipulate the entire circle of friends at that church.

The sufferer asked for support and help. It was really she had no sense of boundaries for herself or others.

She pretty quickly exhibited almost every borderline personality disorder symptom extremely strongly. She tried to split people and complain about everyone to everyone else. Like 2 weeks into it. While also adoring me in a way that felt really bad to me.

Friends asked me how to respond to her. I told them to have boundaries, don’t get triangulated, and I gave them links to crisis lines that could support them if that need came up. I didn’t think the need for all this would come up so fast, but it did. She asked us to celebrate basically being free of a bad coping skill for xyz months and I asked specifically how she’d like to celebrate (it was a small thing similar to what AA or celebrate recovery would do) and folks gladly did what she specifically requested to do. All healthy.

The suicidal threats to others (not me) started later that day. I had already set the boundary I can’t do phone calls during the week and etc... She was hospitalized. I don’t know why, other than she posed an immediate threat to her life and she told quite a few people she was unsafe.

She asked me to drive her stuff to her. I was unable to do that. Like I don’t have a car right now. I had no way to get to the city she was in 3 hours away. She tried to guilt trip me, went on and on about her suffering without her things and I was the only one she can ask. She lied about quite a number of things, half of which I knew in the moment.

She kept calling me anyhow leaving lists of what to pick up for her to bring to her in the hospital.

I talked to her and talked to the hospital staff and set the boundary again the day after. No more phone calls to me.

The next day, she used a different not-yet-blocked patient phone number to call me at work.

I called her back one last time. I told her that I am at work, I have two minutes to talk, and this situation is not ok. The staff was aware that she is not to call me anymore. She is aware. If she would like she can meet with me and (person on staff with the church) to figure or how we can better help her as a church but I can’t do this. (I was beginning to dissociate at work with her messages. I really could not do this.)

She started to cry and get very upset “how can you say this to me when I’m in the mental hospital.” She went on and on how it was offensive to mention that I was at work. Makes her feel like her disability status is terrible. How could I just abandon her like this?... and on and on... she went.

I cut her off. I did interrupt her. I told her my staff could hear her yelling at me. She can still hang out at the church but I can’t help her get her things and I can’t do these phone calls. It’s stops now. I’m ending the call. She can email me or FB message me when she’s out of the hospital.

That seemed to reassure her. She apologized for misunderstanding. Argh.

I blocked all her numbers. I didn’t get any more calls and she didn’t even try.

She’s out of the hospital and she contacted me on social media. The first thing she had to say was that her hospitalization, her threat to end her life imminently, was the fault of myself and these other friends who were kind enough to do exactly what she asked us to do to honor her anniversary of stopping the bad coping mechism.

She point blank told myself and others if we had been less nice she would have not have been triggered and gotten hospitalized. She also wrote that her stay was lengthened because I was hurtful and disrespectful to her by talking over her when she called me at work.

What.

The.

f*ck.

I just met this girl.

I did take the bait and asked her to better explain her thinking just to make sure I did not misunderstand. I also explained again, I don’t have a car, you were disrupting my workplace and phone lines, you also were dishonest with me... she ignored all that. I wondered if it would click now, in a more stable place. It did not.

She was adamant that if we had been less nice about her anniversary and I had not interrupted her during that last call while she was in the hospital she would have not even hospitalized and/or at least discharged a week sooner.

I told her that her hospitalizations and the length of her stay are not my fault. Period. I am not so powerful as to cure her mental health condition and needs by simply letting her case a disruption in my workplace. I am concerned she is so clearly distressed. I asked that she no longer message me.

She messaged again to say she was respectful of my boundaries.

Riiiight.

“You are good at many things but respecting boundaries of mine is not one of them.”

“You are hurting me. May God help you.”

Then she threatened to off herself. I called a crisis unit and they went to her house. I have no idea what happened.

She’s blocked from all contact with me.

I can’t shake off what she did. I could run into her again if she returns to the church. I could make it a thing and tell staff what happened but I’m too tired.

I know she’s struggling, but I just met her and this isn’t ok. I can’t shake it.

The one thing that gets me is her telling me it’s all my fault she was a threat to end her life. She’s in contact with my friends at this church... she’ll tell them that too.

How do I just let this go?
 
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Rain

Policy Enforcement
How could I just abandon her like this?... and on and on...

I think you know that you did not abandon or hurt her in any way and that she is over dramatic and lives for the uproar and dramas and crises. You did nothing wrong but she seems to really need so much help that you do not have to give her. I am sorry that your paths crossed, I am exhausted from reading what she has been trying to place on you. You did nothing wrong and are not guilty of anything either.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Thanks @Rain. On the surface, I feel pretty solid that all this is not my fault... damn, it’s so not my job to keep her from kiling herself.

Yet I can’t quite let it go.

I have been battling my own suicidal thoughts lately, ones that I don’t tell any friends about, and maybe that’s why this is extra hard. Usually this stuff doesn’t phase me, not much.
 

Rain

Policy Enforcement
Yet I can’t quite let it go.

I think she is counting on this fact and has targeted you for a soft touch. I do not think she is doing anything but idle threats that she is not prepared to follow through with.

You are a very caring person but keep your boundaries strong Okay? you did the right thing calling someone else to help her. I really think that if you can detach from her threats, you will be able to let go. It is out of your hands and out of your control and whatever she chooses is not your fault,and you are not manipulating her.

In time you will feel better as you get out from her control over you she has right now but I think you have been doing so amazing at sticking to your limits with her.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
I think she is counting on this fact and has targeted you for a soft touch.
Yeah, I think you are right. I also think she thought I’d be different than I was because I have ptsd too. She idealized that at the start, and I tried to tell her to stop, no one lives up to such idealization over the long haul....

Thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad I called the crisis folks too. It’s in her hands and theirs. I hope she’s alright. Nothing I can do.

Hopefully this all just passes and I can let it go...
 

Friday

Moderator
I'm too furious to say anything useful.

I really don't take kindly to people threatening my friends.

***

I know you're a smart cookie, but you do get that aspect, right? She was threatening to kill someone unless you did what she wanted. Whether or not she intended to go through with it, or that person being herself or someone else, doesn't really matter. She still threatened you with it. :mad:

Which isn't being suicidal, by the by. She might also be suicidal, but it's a separate thing. Wanting to die / fighting to live... And threatening someone else with death are two very different things.
 
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Justmehere

Moderator
@Friday - omg, exactly! I think you put into words what I didn’t want to admit.

I have been there for suicidal friends plenty of times. I’ve been concerned, but not triggered.

But this felt predatory. No was not answer she’d accept and death wasn’t just an escape for her, but a threat to get what she wanted. Threatening to kill someone whom I wanted to live to try to get me to comply - so. not. ok.

That’s what really spooked me! That makes sense why I dissociated over her messages at work, why I feel so protective of our mutual friends this afternoon, and why I keep spinning on this a bit. UGH.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
Unfortunately, we can’t help everyone. But seeing other people hurting, and not being able to cope? Especially when that’s a real live person reaching out to you in the real world, moving in your social circles in the real world.

I don’t think it’s about “just letting it go”. This wasn’t a small thing. Every single time a person tells us “I’m going to kill myself”, there’s a huge amount of emotional stuff going on. And in situations like that, we put the emotions on hold until the situation is sorted.

So now that the situation is (reasonably) stable, it’s time to bring out the emotions that you put on hold and give them some space. Anger, exhaustion, fear, frustration, whatever it is that you stopped yourself from feeling to manage the situation? You need to give those emotions space now. They need to come out and create a bit of mess before you get to “let it go”.

You did great. You did better than could ever have been anticipated. Perhaps now, you need to stop managing it all brilliantly, and be messy and emotional for a while. This is a great place to be messy and emotional:)
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Perhaps now, you need to stop managing it all brilliantly, and be messy and emotional for a while. This is a great place to be messy and emotional:)
This brought tears of relief to my eyes, like a cup of cool water on a hot day. Thank you!!!

I think I need some time to be a mess! It’s been hard lately trying to be my very best at work and so many places and tonight my composure is cracking. Probably much like it should...
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Would it be at all useful to talk about this with the rest of the group that got swept up into it? I'm going to take a wild guess that they were each affected, in their own way. I have no idea what their level of understanding of this kind of dynamic is. You might be asked to enlighten them some. But, it has been suggested to me a few times that "normal" people often share their feelings about things like this with the rest of the group and I'm told it's helpful. :cautious:

Sounds like you handled it beautifully, BTW. Something I learned while going through a divorce is that there are people who get through life by manipulating others. If I don't let them manipulate me, they will find someone else. In the end, they will get by.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
But, it has been suggested to me a few times that "normal" people often share their feelings about things like this with the rest of the group and I'm told it's helpful. :cautious:
Yeah. So I’m told. Lol.

This is something I wonder about doing. I don’t want people to think oh, if I am struggling and tell jmh, she’ll tell everyone about it. I want people in this circle to know it’s safe to say hey, I’m struggling...

And yet this is pretty extreme behaviors for someone we all just met a few weeks ago. She’s messaged a lot of people in this circle. The crisis worker told me she’s likely to message them again and will try to split people and bring others down. They pegged her as borderline and etc very fast.

I did send out a group message about the veteran crisis service, without naming her, but in retrospect, shoot, it might have been totally obvious... sigh. I really didn’t mean it as a sideways thing.

I told them I contacted the crisis line this morning about how to respond to someone I was worried about, and it was super helpful, and if any of them ever felt afraid for someone's safety and especially like they had to act or else there would be harm, please contact them for advice on what to do. Don’t do this alone.

I included the church staffer closest to this.

I got some messages back thanking me for the resource.

The crisis worker told me to do more. Contact people, let them know if this is happening for them, there’s support out there, let’s all talk it through...

There’s one person in the group I really trust, and I think I’m going to reach out to her and explain what happened and my concerns about what others might be dealing with, unaware the rest have been dealing with it too. She’s good about these things.
 

Gamera3000

Confident
Wow what a tarbaby situation. As in, you touch the tarbaby, just trying to help out, and then you can't get it off of you.

Sometimes people like this purposefully go to places like churches, because they know there's a volume of caring people there who they can take advantage of. It can be hard to tell the difference between a person truly needing help and someone who is just trying to suck up energy.
 
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