Today I am going to be coming at you with an Anxiety Diaries post and the topic for today is Anxiety and Toxic Friendships and how to deal with that.
Mental Health as a whole is something not everybody understands or wants to understand. There are people in your life that are good for you and other’s who aren’t.
During my course with Anxiety I have had some friends who have been wonderfully supportive and others who are not. Mental Health and Friendships are two things that are a big struggle for me and one which I have had to really learn about through trial and error. There was never a book or blog post that I could read to teach me how to deal with this and it’s something I think that needs to be said so people going through the same thing can see their not alone, so many of us are in the same boat.
I have had all sorts of comments over the years from ‘just get over it’ to be being called weird, stupid and just plain being made fun off for my OCD tendencies and Anxiety. Some people truly don’t get it. I’ve struggled with Anxiety for years and I finally have the courage to look at friends who are toxic in my life and say ‘you know what, this isn’t a good friendship for me and I need to end it.’ And that is something that is hard, I’ve only really had to do this 3 times in my life and all of which have been within the last 5 years.
So a little backstory…
The first was a friend who I realized was actually a bully. I was being given abuse daily by them and given comments about outfits and have lies spread. She would tell me others were bitching about me in the hopes I wouldn’t be friends with other people. I was being manipulated. I finally realized what was happening and I ended the friendship and it was one of my best decisions. I became so happy and more confident, I no longer was being the target of abuse everyday or being lied to.
The second time I had to cut off a friendship was with someone I thought was a best friend. This was a friendship where we knew each other for about 8 years throughout school and would see each other as often as we could accept once again, I was being constantly put down. I was being told who else I could be friends with. I’m the sort of person that hates confrontation and this girl knew that and she would regularly ignore me and make me feel so bad so I would apologize. The final straw for me was when I realized the extent of what was going on here when she said to me ‘I love pretending to fall out with you because I know I can make you apologize for anything because of your anxiety. It’s funny.’
How horrible is that? What sort of person says and does that? Someone I really don’t need in my life. Sadly I had let them get away with manipulating me for years but I finally woke up and realized and that wasn’t ok.
And finally the other one was recently. As mentioned I hate drama and confrontation and once again like the other 2 ex-friends it was happening again. Not the bad remarks to me but the lies, I was having things made up about me, having her make up that others had said stuff to me and comments about my mental health or how OCD is funny.
So how do you end a friendship?
There isn’t a right way. There isn’t an easy way. There is only the way best for you.
Luckily in my case, I’m out of school and go to university and work so my free time is very small so I wouldn’t run into these people often. I can imagine that ending a friendship is 200x harder if you do have to go to school with them, work with them or see them often for any reason but ending a friendship doesn’t mean you have to hate them. You can be civil, it just means you are looking out for you.
With two of these friends the ending of the friendship was blunt, it ended with an argument. Well it ended up with me finally putting my foot down and sticking up for myself something that the other person didn’t like.
The other friend I suppose I just stopped talking to all together. I phased them out of my life and that’s not as brutal as it sounds. I was always the one fighting for a friendship I suppose and making plans so I stopped and put that in their court. If they were going to message and ask to go out then they could. They did once and I was genuinely busy. Then it just ended, no big argument or drama and that’s the best way I think. I do wonder if they realize why… I would have loved to explain why but you can’t argue with people who find it funny to use your anxiety as a weapon against you. I actually did run into them last month and I was civil and nice and would you believe they laughed in my face because I was with my best-friend who they hate? A person they told me I wasn’t allowed to be friends with anymore simply because they didn’t like them. I realized I made a good decision then.
The truth is, when arguments happen the other person who has treated you in such a way is shocked. They expect you to lie down and roll over again, take what they have to say and be quiet because of your anxiety and they never expect you to stick up for yourself. When you do it the first time, I promise you have this amazing feeling, as I say I hate confrontation my heart will pound and I will be shaking but afterwards I feel so proud of myself for going ‘enough is enough.’ That one moment of terror for me is just something I have to go through in order to be happy and not be put down.
Before you make a decision.
Ending a friendship is hard even when you know it is for the best. When you know they are dragging you down and toxic. Before you make a decision talk it through with another loved one, just explain how you’re feeling or even talk to that person. If they can modify their behaviour and realize what they’re doing so you can still be friends then that’s great. Sadly that wasn’t an option for me, so much had happened which I can’t get into but my only options were to carry on with that friendship and put myself through it still or end it.
- Don’t be made to feel guilty.
- Don’t let them manipulate you into thinking your sensitive or irrational.
- Don’t let them make you feel weak.
- Don’t let them decide who you can and can’t be friends with, how to dress, what to eat.
- Don’t let them get away with their back-handed comments on your weight, outfit or passions.
Friends do criticize sometimes out of love when they’re looking out for you but there is a difference between love and a toxic friend. This person will find a way to make you feel bad about everything, second guess everything and everyone. You will know the difference.
This is something that I’ve dealt with and I’ve had to learn. It’s a hard journey, it’s not easy but at the end of the day you need to say to yourself ‘My happiness is the most important. This person is making me feel so down or such a way that I’m not happy. That I’m stopping myself from doing things that I love, or seeing people I want to see or becoming friends with new people and that isn’t ok.’
Your life is yours and nobody else’s. I was always scared I wouldn’t make new friends and I did and you will as well. There are people out there who do understand your mental health and even just you in general.
You don’t need to have a Mental Health problem to end a friendship, if you feel like you have a person in your life that is like I have mentioned then you too need to take a step back and think about if that friendship is healthy for you.
I hope that this post is helpful and it offers support to you or anybody going through what I have. Let me know in the comments, email me or DM me if you want me to do a post on anything else in particular.