Relationships Can Be Hard

Sad-looking girl sitting on the ground surrounded by autumn leaves

Relationships (of all kinds) can be hard, and mental illness can definitely make them harder. I generally try not to talk too much about other people here on the blog, but I’m going to make an exception because I’ve got some stuff to process.

My doctor in hospital spent quite a bit of time talking to my mom in person when she visited me, and then he talked to her again on the day I was discharged. I don’t know what was said in either of those conversations. While I did give consent for him to talk to her, I feel betrayed that she talked to him about my discharge. It’s dumb, because I should have just told him I didn’t want him to talk to her, but at that point, all I was thinking was that I just wanted out of there. Maybe I feel betrayed because she didn’t tell me anything about what that conversation covered. Now I just don’t want to talk to her at all.

I have one local IRL friend. We used to work together, and the friendship worked well at that point. Then I stopped working and my mental health has been declining, and maintaining the friendship became a struggle. I take ownership that that was mostly (although not entirely) my fault. Before I went into hospital, we were communicating very rarely, but when I went into hospital, he was quite supportive. During the brief bits of time when I was allowed to have my phone, we would text each other. Since I got out of hospital, though, we’ve talked a bit, but it’s been mostly superficial. He feels like a million miles away.

Since I initially wrote this, he texted me to ask how I’m doing, and he was concerned that I’m struggling. For some reason, though, he still felt far away.

Then there’s another friendship I’ve been struggling with; this is someone I met in an online community a few years ago. A few months ago, we started spending a bunch of time together online. At the beginning of last month, I was feeling really intensely suicidal and started bombarding him with texts, not saying I was suicidal, but just repeating help me, help me, help me. I was pretty batshit crazy at that point and not even really coherent, and the fact that he was busy at work didn’t slow me down at all. His response was sort of a virtual slap in the face that knocked enough sense into me to make me realize that I needed to be in hospital, so while it was perhaps not the kindest way of handling it, it was effective, and I’m grateful for that.

He didn’t respond to my attempts to contact him early on in my hospitalization, which made me think our friendship was toast, but we reconnected towards the end of my hospital stay. Then when my mixed hypomanic/depressive episode began, he was the unlucky recipient of a barrage of batshit crazy messages from me. After I was discharged, we were fine for a couple of days, and then I ended a conversation with something I shouldn’t have said, but he seemed to take in stride. Then I discovered the next day that he had blocked me.

At first I thought okay, I can see why he would do that as a limit-setting thing. I recognized that I was still not quite at the end of the mixed episode at that point, and a temporary block seemed like a reasonable way to corral some of the crazy. I’ve emailed him a few times to ask for a quick confirmation that it was a boundary issue rather than an end-of-friendship issue, but I haven’t gotten a response.

Yesterday was not a good day for me, and I started feeling pretty certain that the friendship was over. There was a prompting factor for me diving headfirst into batshit territory, but as time has passed since discovering said factor, I’ve become increasingly convinced that I was personalizing something that was unrelated to me and then catastrophizing on top of that. Mostly it was just the tiny straw that broke the crazy camel’s back because I don’t do well with uncertainty.

I sent a few dumb mid-freakout messages (I think I need to come up with a version of the dudgeon-o-meter to deal with feeling hurt—maybe a hurt decision tree). Later, I sent a more reasonable message apologizing for the likely cognitive distortions and asking for clarification so I didn’t have to play guessing games. I asked for a one-word response on the status of our friendship: pause or end.

No response.

This whole writing thing is actually quite helpful, because as I started writing this, I was 110% sure I’d been ghosted and the friendship was over, and I was shaking like a leaf and feeling like I’d been punched in the gut. Now, while that’s still a possibility, I’m 95% sure that the prompting factor did not mean what I initially thought it did, and there’s a very real possibility that the mid-freakout messages I fired off could be at least part of the reason I didn’t get a response to the more reasonable email. What’s hard is that I’m very low on resources right now, and I just don’t have much available to manage this in a rational manner in my head.

It may sound like he’s an asshole and that’s all there is to it, but he’s not, and it’s not. I am well aware that I’m very difficult to deal with when I’m not well (trust me, that’s not self-criticism, that’s cold, hard truth that anyone who’s been on the receiving end of that crazy storm would agree with), and he has handled a lot of my shit. I’ve skipped over a lot of details in this post, including dumb shit that I did, because I just don’t want to share too much that involves another person. I also know that he’s got his own issues; mutual fucked-upness has been one of the good things about our friendship. So it’s hard, not because he’s a terrible person (he’s not), but because relationships + crazy are a challenging combination. Writing about it is good, though; I’ve revised this post multiple times, and each revision has made me feel calmer.

My brother brought my little niece over yesterday, and I cried multiple times during the visit, mostly because I just felt exhausted. I’m not sure what to do now to build up more resources. And while coming down from the mixed episode meant that last week was reasonably okay, it’s a problem if I continue going in a downward direction.

Having my mom stay with me and ferry me to outpatient ECT is a backup plan I might have to consider if I’m not able to replenish resources on my own. I’m sufficiently medicated that suicidality isn’t an issue at this point, so I don’t think a return to inpatient is likely to be needed, although that crossed my mind briefly when my brother was over here yesterday. Hopefully I’ll be able to manage without more ECT, as I’ve got some good stuff in place. The email to the hospital about the mouse infestation is on pause until I’m a little better resourced.

I’ll keep all of you lovely people updated on what I decide to do. ❤️

113 thoughts on “Relationships Can Be Hard”

  1. Possibly the friend just felt like he’s unable to provide you with the support you’re expecting from him? It’s tough obviously when you know that you shared a connection.

    1. Absolutely, there are limits to how much support either of the friends mentioned in this post can provide. I think what I’m having the hardest time with is lack of clarity, because then I start guessing, and I’m very, very bad at guessing.

  2. Relationships are so hard to navigate, no matter the level of crazy involved 🤣. The poor people on the other end of me on my bad days…girl, I get it.
    I mean this in the most genuine and honest way, please feel free to email or text me or whatever it is that works for you if you ever want to.
    If there’s one thing I’m good at, and enjoy, it’s building relationships with good people and supporting others.
    People deserve to have people, no matter what.
    Just know that I’m here for anything should you want that. ❤️

  3. I don’t think “relationships can be hard” I think “relationships are hard!” There’s so much self-awareness in this post. And I feel you on handling uncertainty – it is so hard because holding on to hope when the answer might be “no” feels cruel. But is it possible that your friend doesn’t yet know what the answer is?

    It seems like you have well-earned the time to be exhausted and if there’s anyone that understands that – it should be a two-year-old. I bet she handled it beautifully!

    Sending you lots of wishes for good coloring or anything else that helps provide self-care as you recover from some serious trauma as it seemed like the time in the hospital was.

  4. Despite actually being a million miles away, I am here for you. My email address has changed since we last communicated using email but my new address is on my contact page. Please reach out if you need to lean on a friend. I’m a tough old bay who doesn’t personalize other peoples ranting. Just an offer I want to extend. It is good to have come to some resolve as a result of writing it out.

  5. Sorry to read this, I hope you are OK. Losing friends is awful, especially over mental health stuff.

    So, I wasn’t sure whether to say this when you were in hospital, but would it be OK if I prayed for you? I hope that’s not offensive. In Judaism (or my understanding of it), it’s as much about saying someone is part of our community as asking God for help. I won’t be offended if you say no.

  6. You are right relationships are very very difficult to navigate.
    I would say I suck at this..

    I would ask yourself though what is it you want from the relationship?
    Is it friendship or something else?

    Also one thing I know for sure, and that is if somebody wants to stay in your life… they will. You won’t have to force them.

    It is a very hard thing to do, and I do not do well with uncertainty either, but sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.

    What it seems I tend to do, is make them a priority in my own head and mind, and so I over-analyse, and take everything personally. But in fact things are not often related. Sometimes people just forget or don’t exactly know what to say. Or are not feeling great themselves.

    I know I ignore people at times, or hold off responding because I don’t feel well enough or right in my own self, to be able to talk or message. I just don’t have the energy. So it might simply be that.

    Either way, you just get you in a good place and concentrate on what you are doing.

    Leave them to it, what is important is that you are ok. The right ones will stick by you.

    Love you ❤

  7. Yes, friendship can strain. I have been on the receiving end of texts that shown mum was unwell prior to her being sectioned. And it is a strain. As you know, I was going to quit full stop with mum during this and more back in 2019. But I was good mentally myself.
    I took that 3 month break, rather than cut off and I wrote mum a letter to explain that. Minus me feeling suicidal part.

    From there, I have stuck with mum, but now at distance again. This time no more visits to see her, because I just won’t allow to be pushed away no more and so only time I will make contact is things like when I se d birthday cards.
    I have to make time for me now. Especially as I became suicidal again with the strain of deputyship.

    I am glad you find writing helpful as I do. I hope things continue to be ok for you. Concentrate on you. Those who will stay, will stay.
    Enjoy cuddles with those guinea pigs too. Xx

      1. As you know, I made it clear with mum, once I asked her twice during my conversation with her, that I knew she knew who I were, then making attempts to ask why she pushing me each way I come, wanting to me to go the minute I am there and how that is not protecting me, but breaking me. And so making it very clear to her, that once I leave the room, I won’t be back, when she confirmed she wanted me to go.
        I will only be there when mum wants me. But I feel that will come when its too late.

          1. I have accepted for some time now, as I mentioned once in a blog post somewhere, that I have done what I can and words to that affect, that you and other readers left me, at a time when I couldn’t do that, with the guilt I had.

            I am prepared should I only now be there when it comes to mum’s passing one day. I can’t see mum changing and wanting me there before this. I have found peace with all this now, should this happen.

  8. Hello Ashley, thank you for your openness with this post. I just wanted to put my perspective on this matter to see if my experience might offer insight into how I cope with my worldly relationships. I am kind of doing well at the moment in my health but I can still have bad times too. The one point I wanted to make is that none of my friends or family have ever been able to find it easy to help me in my, for want of a better description during my bat shit crazy moments.

    I have been lucky enough though to have health professionals that I have been able to turn to instead and if I need to scream or stamp my feet at anyone (which I have done only a few times in my life, I try to do by turning to health professionals to try and get help). I find the relationship, boundaries and expertise that I health professional can give although more clinical and less personal is the one that I need and feel able to emotionally unload to.

    I have never been able to do this with friends or family. My parents are the only close family I now have and they are very scared when I become unwell and it’s a burden I try not to put to them when I need help and support, professionals are paid and trained to try and manage my mind in moments of crisis and I feel safer turning to help to them instead.

    With regards to friends and sometimes partners, I have lost some amazing friends or broken up with some partners over the years or now have distant relationships with friends and sometimes people naturally grow apart but I feel or know that my mental health difficulties also lead to the ending of those relationships. In hindsight I do not blame myself or them for these lost friendships or partnerships, but as they are not health professionals I would not look to have health support from friends or partners when I am in crisis either and when I have tried to do this it really is successful if at all. They are not experienced or trained in order to have the emotional or expertise to manage my health.

    I kind of find that I try and compartmentalize my relationships and feelings to different people in different ways, I do this for self interest reasons and try to not hurt others too e.g. I know who to turn to for health reasons, I know who to share a good night out with or a phone call with and I know what my parents need from me and what I can safely provide to them. I don’t use people but I do have different people to meet different needs, no one person can do everything for me. Many of my close friends also have mental health difficulties and I feel very safe in many of their company and comfortable too and feel accepted for being myself which is something that matters to me. But they are vulnerable adults in their own way and there are many of my friends that I could not turn to in times of crisis or for crisis support but that does not mean they are not good friends or even the best of friends.

    I hope that that makes sense and I hope you and your relationships get to level that benefits you and those that you care for and care for you.

  9. I hope you know you always have support. That’s what is wonderful (IMO) about this community, that some of us absolutely relate and will be supportive, no judgement. I see that nobody else has chirped up because it may be that this is one of those times where just listening is what’s need and not a lot of chat. I am very heartened to read that there is at least one other person “out there’ who finds writing cathartic and helpful. I’ve been chastised, gently, for using my blog that way. Tough beans is sort my attitude, because it helps so much. Thanks for the validation of that method. I hope things work out.

  10. I’m glad you’re at a point where suicide isn’t an option in your mind. As for your friend, maybe he just needs some time to think about what’s going on. However, it isn’t a great feeling being ghosted, and perhaps he could have gone about it a better way. I hope there comes a point when you get a response and there’s a bit more clarity.

  11. I’m really glad you wrote about this Ashley so I know I’m not alone in relationship difficulties. I have decided for myself to not get too intense in my relationships anymore because that’s when things can go wrong. Also, unless the person is very bad I like to leave the door open, not cut off the friendship as in final, because then you can resume the friendship in the future.

    1. I like that approach. Yeah, the intensity thing is hard. It wasn’t an issue for me until I first got sick. When I was in hospital then I met a guy that was a huge part of my life for years, first as a boyfriend and then as a just plain friend, and we were both pretty intense when we weren’t doing well. I think I got too settled into that and need to do more to rein it in.

  12. I’m glad that you’ve used your blog in this way. Whatever helps and blogging have way less side effects than meds or ECT (it might even help others). I wish you all best Ashley. ❤️

  13. Relationships are hard, as everyone else here has said. We humans are also terrrrible and predicting how we will feel about anything in the future – it may be that you will both be in a better place, emotionally, to nurture a friendship at a time later than you think; and the friendship will emerge in a new way because of it.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily the end of the line if he doesn’t respond in a few days. A letter that comes further down the track (eg weeks/months) might probably create a different impact to, say, rushing an immediate reconciliation where one or both of you may still be anxious over uncertainties?

    PS this is not advice – just considering the long view.

  14. There’s so much self-awareness in this post. So much acknowledgment of the validity of their feelings and your own. Relationships are hard, no question.

    Your post has me thinking about the times when I’ve been the one dumping untreated depression onto another person, and also the times when I wasn’t there for someone more in need. Regrets on both sides. It’s uncomfortable to think about these things.

    Wishing you continued healing.❤️

    1. Thank you. ❤️

      The worst depressive explosion happened just before my first hospitalization, when I through a rather large rock through a friend’s window. Enough time has passed that it’s kind of funny in its absurdity. This friend recently knew about that, and when I told him I was in hospital, I said the silver lining was tas that he was too far away for me to have started lobbing rocks through his window. Laughing is easier than diving too deep into regret.

  15. Another agreement that’s relationships are hard. Add in mental health issues and it can be really tricky. Uncertainty sucks and just adds to the situation. Good luck, I hope you get a response from your friend.

  16. We would’ve wanted the hospital to replenish your resources. For us, hospital serves that role. Is there a different hospital? Trauma wards are sometimes calmer and the coping skills taught can be similar to psych. Maybe you can try that route? Or a residential program, where you get oversight, groups, therapy, and freedom of movement within the grounds. Some have massage and art classes. One we went to had amazing chefs who helped nourish us.

    1. There is another hospital I could go to, but I don’t like being hospital and it’s generally a difficult experience that’s sometimes offset by the fact hat it’s a way to get ECT. There isn’t really much of anything here that’s kind of in between hospital and community. Home is always my preferred place to be, and things have to be pretty grim for me to seriously consider non-home options.

      1. Yes, hospital is so difficult for so many reasons. We imagine that your needs for space and autonomy are hard to meet there with all the supervision and scrutiny. That’s our big struggle. It’s even hard for us to poop without space. Sleeping in a place with open doors and lights always on and constant checking on us sucks. Residential was better. But itit required a time commitment—for us 35 days. If it were shorter, we’d want to return to residential

  17. Thankyou so much for talking about relationships. Yes they can all come with there ups and there downs, I have a habit of if I don’t hear back from someone. immediately I go down the road of they are mad at me. I am totally at the time not considering that they may be busy.

  18. I did the same thing many times with a few people. They just pretended not to know me or in fact don’t know me at all. It’s my delusion for thinking that they know me. At some points, the unreplied messages plus work stress made everything go down the hill and repetitive, thoughtless self-harming behavior started. For me, it’s not about him or them, it’s about social connection. I feel it is hard to make friends around and feel understood (except on WordPress). Maybe as you said, because we are crazy. I am lucky to have maintained 3 real life friends who are always there to reply me on just anything but they are long distance friends. But I guess that’s the nature of friendship. No matter how close we were, it’s normal for people to move on with time and the friendship just fades. So just hold on to those which will last and stop torturing yourself by shouting into an empty chamber or the so-called only people who we thought they could understand/handle/care for us. It needs self-control and it was hard for me too last time. very very hard because we were lonely and not understood even around people. That’s my turn for reflective sharing. Thanks and take care 🧡

    1. I’m so glad that WordPress is a place to feel understood and supported. Without it, I think I would be very lonely and feel like I couldn’t connect with anyone. ❤️❤️

      1. Yes, with internet, it’s easier to find like-minded communities. And also the features of WordPress in building new connections based on similarities of blog posts.

  19. It can be quite tricky. I have someone very close to me and I’ve been at the receiving end several times when they are not well. The sensory input can be quite overwhelming. The emotions, after such episodes, range from exhaustion to fear, to helplessness and genuinely wanting to support the person but just not knowing what else to do. In the end silence just takes over.

  20. Relationships can be so very hard, especially with mental illnesses in the picture.

    Whether your friend replies or not, I do hope you’re not blaming yourself harshly. I’ve definitely lost many friends along the way, and in my opinion, you’re a good person. The freak out and text barrages are because you were ill, and you sought treatment etc and then apologised.

    Very very very different than particular people I’ve blogged about.

    1. Yeah, you’ve had some awful encounters with people who aren’t at all willing to own their shit. Owning my stuff is something I’ve worked quite a bit on, not in the sense of self-blame, but just recognizing my role, apologizing, and trying to create change. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s something I’ve definitely gotten better at compared to early on in the course of my illness.

  21. Yes, relationships as such are super difficult, but when craziness is involved it turns into a proper explosive combination. It’s good that you wrote all this down and that it helped you to see things a bit more clearly. Hugs. 🙂

  22. Wow I am sorry to hear you had to go through all of this. I too have a friend who stopped talking to me in the past, she was taking a break from me. From that I understood that I needed help. Now we are good friends and we talk normally, like nothing happened. She taught me a lesson.

  23. Isn’t this the truth.
    Dealing with issues from our partners while dealing with our own can cause us to shut down or become overwhelmed 😔 I know the feeling as I’m sure, many others do as well.
    Thanks for highlighting a topic I am currently embarking on to deal with this issue without medication. It isn’t easy but is necessary to move forward with my partner and myself.
    All the best and keep up the great work 👍 I enjoyed your writing.

  24. I don’t know how I ran across this post but Im glad I did… I hope that this blog and this post helps you on your rough days, I understand that relationships and trying to take care of your mental health can be sooo hard. I am currently dealing with my share as of now. I believe that you will prevail and see through any dark tunnels you may come across. You are strong and I hope you know it and believe it to be true❤️

  25. Well sometimes, we can’t really make these relationships work the way we wanted. I can feel how exhausted you are by just reading this. I hope you’re getting better day by day. Losing a friend is very hard and heartbreaking. So I really understand where you’re coming from but we shouldn’t ask them to stay because not all people want to stay in our lives forever and I am sure that there will be someone who would come to you one day and will always be there for you and deal with you through your ups and downs. Again, I hope you get better!

  26. Ashley,
    I so identify with you! Relationships are sooooo difficult to maintain when you are dealing with mental illness. With life, itself.
    I am presently fighting the urge to keep myself and my feelings away from my two sisters, who I live with. I was so filled with insecurities that I kept them at arm’s length, and I find that I have to resist the urge to stay behind my “walls” of so-called “security.” When really, it is a wall of fear. But I have withstood that fear and yesterday my sisters and I had a whale of a time sharing the Lord and each other’s struggles and joys with one another. It was wonderful.
    As my sister, Cassandra, says to me: what I am facing and going through is not simply a “mental illness” challenge. But a LIFE issue. I have been so quick to ascribe everything to my mental illness that I forgot to factor in this thing called life.
    My life has been difficult this year and I wonder when all of the challenges and fighting the fight of good faith will have come to its end and I will be free just to be ME, you know? I know that God knows what He is doing, that everything is absolutely under His Control, and that He is absolutely TRUSTWORTHY! I just get tired of the fight. I sometimes want to say, “To hell with this SHIT and sit down in the middle of the road and have a good cry. Only I don’t cry. (At least, I hadn’t cried until the last two weeks. In these past two weeks, I have cried more than I have in my whole life! And in front of my sisters, no less! I don’t like crying in front of people. If I cry, that is. It’s a paradox. I both love paradoxes and I hate them at the same time.)
    I am discovering more about myself in this past year than I have in the past ten. So much growth. So much pain and loss. I both love the challenges and am weary of them, at the same time. know what I mean?
    Thank you for your blog. It has brought me much insight and peace. I am able to accept all the parts of me. Not just the “acceptable” parts. And that is a victory that I am celebrating this Easter weekend.
    Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

    Cassie

    1. I’m so glad you were able to really connect with your sisters yesterday. Acceptance of both the “acceptable” parts and the messy, sometimes ugly parts is such a powerful thing. Those challenges can sure get tiring, but we keep going, and that’s a huge victory. Hugs 🤗

  27. Wish you light and sensible days…and sending love and light your way. And yes writing can do a lot for our mental health. I wrote a book about self healing named Fighting with My inner Demons and it did released a lot of darkness and this blog I write is just because to keep myself sane and balanced.

  28. Reading your post really made me think about one of my friend who taught me a lot in life and left me as a mess… People often see wounds on our body as we get physically hurt.. But no one, literally no one wants to see our mental or emotional wounds… They pretend as if it doesn’t exist in our lives 🥺
    Bless your soul with lots of love dear 💕 🙏😊

  29. I’m glad writing was helpful.
    Relationships are indeed difficult to maintain. I have been in your shoes.

    I hope you find inner peace.

    I’m rooting for you

    Sending you much hugs

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