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Author Topic: Friendship Problems
12redtulips
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Member # 44219

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Hi there,

So recently my relationship with my entire group of friends has fallen apart. This is due to mental health issues I have been having (anxiety problems). Last weekend, when I was at a party with my group of friends, I got into a disagreement with one of them, who was insisting that I was always mean to another girl in our group and that I am too clingy to a fourth girl who I had considered my best friend. Basically, this caused me to have a panic attack and I had to be taken to the hospital.
After returning from the hospital, I had an email from my best friend that basically said that she and the rest of our friends do not want to talk to me about the disagreements we've all been having until I get help for my anxiety problems. She also told me that we should take time apart for a while. I replied letting her know that I understood where they were coming from and that I agreed that it would be good to take some time away. I then got another email from her saying that the group didn't feel like I should join them for beach week (which is a month away) and other end of the year activities.
I'm getting psychological help from my university's health center so I don't feel like that really needs to be discussed here. But, this is a rather slow process and I'm feeling really distressed about my friend situation. I only have 2 friends and a handful of acquaintances outside of this friend group that has decided to no longer see me. My parents are supportive, but I haven't been able to open up to them about how serious the friend situation really is, so they don't realize that I basically have no friends right now.
While I get that time away from these friends is a good idea, I also feel so abandoned and alienated by everyone. I'd feel much better about the whole thing if I knew that I had their support and they wanted to resume our friendship in a few weeks/months when I've gotten some help. However, none of them have indicated that they have the slightest interest in seeing me again.
Right now I'm just trying to lay low and not contact these friends if it isn't an important matter. But, I'm really torn as to how to feel towards them: part of me wants to just take the summer away from everything and hope that things will be better for our friendships when school starts up in the fall. This option seems the best choice but it makes me feel really anxious to have to spend the summer wondering if I'll have friends when I return to school. The other part of me wants to lash out at them and let them know I'm angry for the way they have treated me and feel like I'm not the only one who has made mistakes in this situation. I realize that this is probably unwise and will only worsen the situation, but I'm really fed up with being blamed for my actions while everyone else acts like they've been saintly towards me.
I've never been very good at making or keeping friends and am worried that I won't be able to find new friends now that my current relationships have crumbled. I'd really appreciate some advice on how to respond in this situation (and sorry for such a long post!)

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I can certainly understand you feeling abandoned: I mean, it sounds like you have been, after all. I'm so sorry you're having this all happen, especially given the timing. Losing a whole social group, and probably a support system, at once is really devastating, especially when you're already in a bad place.

Can I ask about the friends you do still have outside this group? Do you feel like those are solid relationships you can count on?

How about this other group this has just happened with: would you say this was a strong group for you, with really close, solid relationships? Would you agree with what sounds like a quasi-collective assessment that your relationships there weren't healthy? Do you think the panic attack you had was maybe in part a reaction to dynamics that haven't been good for you in that group before that event happened? In other words, even though something like that is certainly likely to be stressful, that kind of reaction sounds pretty extreme to me, and like one we'd probably be more inclined to have in a social situation that wasn't so great to begin with.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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12redtulips
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Member # 44219

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Of my two other friends, one of them is my roommate who is aware of the situation and most of the details. She's very supportive and has been really helpful over the last few days. The other friend is a high school friend who I only see a couple of times a week, and I haven't told about this situation (and am not really planning on telling right now, since she's basically unacquainted with all of the people I'm having issues with)

About the problem group: I would say that I had a close, solid relationship with my best friend and another girl in that group, and I've been especially hurt and disappointed with the way these two girls have treated me recently. The other girls in the group I am friendly with and enjoy spending time with, but definitely wouldn't consider myself especially close to them. The girl who I argued with last weekend has a reputation for being brutally honest, but I often find things she says to/about me hurtful. I've told her when I don't appreciate something she's said to me but I've never gotten an actual apology from her.
I would agree that my relationships with the group haven't been health, especially over the last few months. My anxiety problems are definitely related to/triggered by my unhealthy relationships with these girls, since this wasn't the first time I've had a panic attack over social problems with them.
I feel like I definitely need time away from these friends since my relationship with them has been problematic, but I guess I'm just really worried because it seems to be all my fault and I don't feel like I'll be able to make new friends. I'm sad to have these relationships that I've been building over the last 3 years fall apart and I don't want to have to spend my last year in college basically alone

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You know, I think it's pretty clear this isn't all your fault. The dynamics of a group can never be about just one person in it.

It sounds to me like, however rough this is right now, and of course it really is, that breaking ties with this group as a group is probably your best move, even if they hadn't initiated it. Now, perhaps in time you might be able to re-establish friendships with the one girl or anyone else in it who you felt you did have a healthy relationship with, but sounds like the group is pretty toxic for you, and has only become more so.

But not being part of that one group doesn't mean you can't potentially come back to individual friendships in it that WERE and can be healthy, you know?

I also don't think you'll be unable to make new friends or be alone. Sounds like you have at least one very good friend, and it also sounds like a lot of these "friends" really...well, aren't.

Like I said, that doesn't make this something that isn't a loss for you, of course it is. And for sure, it can really sting to lose a social circle you've formed over a few years, especially like this, rather than say, because you moved away, or any of the other less hurtful ways this kind of change can happen.

It seems to me that right now, your best bet is taking space and taking care of yourself, focusing on the healthy friendships and good friends you do have and working on those friendships. I'd also suggest trying hard not to worry about next year, since next term is still a good way off, and you likely won't be feeling then like you are right now.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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12redtulips
Neophyte
Member # 44219

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Heather,
Thanks so much for your advice on this. I think that the relationships with these friends have been pretty toxic, and hopefully after taking some time away from them I'll be able to make a better decision as to whether I'd even like to continue to be friends with them again.
I was wondering if you had any suggestions about how I could tell my parents that I'm continuing to get psychological help? They know about the hospital already, but since I'm on their insurance plan they'll need to be informed that I'm seeing someone at the health center. Any thoughts on how I can make that a little easier?

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Can you fill me in on why you suspect it'll be a hard thing to do? Are they generally not supportive of counseling?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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12redtulips
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I wouldn't say they're necessarily not supportive, but its certainly not something thats discussed openly in my family. Mainly I'm feeling really embarrassed to have to tell them that I'm getting help and I feel like they'll want to ask a lot of questions as to why that I don't really want to discuss with them
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Sorry to be late coming back to this, 12redtulips.

So, are you able to set limits and boundaries in your family? In other words, let's say they do ask. Can you say "I want some of this to be private," and have that respected?

I think it can also be helpful to remind ourselves when we are seeking out or getting help than seeking out help we need isn't a weak thing, it's a strong thing. It's a deep commitment to needing self-care, it's us setting pride or bravado aside, cultivating humility and acknowledging we can't do everything ourselves (no one can, after all), and the courage to change our lives for the better. All big stuff, positive stuff, strong stuff. Nothing to be embarrassed about, something to actually feel pretty proud of ourselves about.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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