Losing friends and stigma

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Cocobird

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Losing friends and stigma
« on: November 27, 2015, 01:24:25 AM »
I was diagnosed with PTSD a couple of years ago. Before that, I had a few major depressive episodes.

I had several friends who couldn't deal with it. One very close friend, who I used to talk with every day, completely withdrew. When I went back to work, I went to lunch with her, and she kept having to reassure herself that I was better.  And one man completely stopped speaking to me because I told him that what he wanted me to do was triggering other things, and so I couldn't have lunch with him 50 miles away.

I am trying to end stigma, so when someone asks me a question, I try to give an honest answer. This has backfired several times, but I keep telling myself that CPTSD is nothing to be ashamed of, and needs to be acknowledged at least.

Any suggestions to deal with this kind of junk?


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woodsgnome

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2015, 02:58:22 AM »
The honest approach turns out to be the safest, I've found. I was badly used by the m, for instance; whenever someone would ask about her, I deflected it, sometimes told people she died early (emotionally she did, but it's still a half-truth). That answer could end up being a double whammy, though; as it could prompt further questions leading to even more evasive answers beyond the little white lie behind which I sought to divert it in the first place. Or it produced a faux sympathy from whoever I told, even more awkward to deal with.

I still avoid the topic, if I can, as it's of course just as painful as it's ever been to go there. But if I have to, I also have concluded, as you have, that cptsd isn't something to be ashamed of. It affected me deeply, it explains some of my behaviours, but the minor discomfort of revelation outweighs full denial.

As you say, the reactions can backfire, but that's not about you, it concerns the "friend" or whoever responds negatively. It too stems from fear, only this time it's their fear and has nothing to do with you. It's still uncomfortable, as we fear their rejection in like measure, but I've still found the only option to be the honesty course.

It's not like I wear a sign saying "I have cptsd" but if it comes up, I've felt better since I haven't tried so hard to hide (although I still fervently hope it doesn't come up). Sometimes "a rough childhood" is enough of an answer, and if it gets further, I know what went on, they don't; I'm trying to deal with it, they should be able to respect that. If not, I don't need further dealings with them in that regard. It hurts, as I have chosen a very lonely way of life, but true friends should commit to accepting all of you.

Surprisingly, a couple seemed to regard me better having heard how I've learned to be stronger with it, especially having taken steps to learn more about it, to understand myself and what I can/can't do about it.

This is such a weird culture where it's not understood that life isn't a sport with winners and losers. The implied message is that wounded people are losers, and cast in a negative light. Seems pretty positive, though, to have tried to pick up the pieces of a damaged soul and walk with it, accepting it even, in hope rather than defeat.

« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 05:17:45 AM by woodsgnome »

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2015, 08:07:07 AM »
I want to echo what Woodsgnome has said.  :yeahthat:

Unfortunately I can relate with your experiences Cocobird. I have lost an old time buddy, and some other friends who I was not that close with anyway. But loosing the buddy has hurt.
I commend you for trying to end the stigma. Though if it's backfiring too much or too often, may I suggest a bit less 'all out' approach.
Unfortunately for many sufferers of all kind of conditions, it's a common reaction in people to shy away. The worse the condition, the greater the withdrawal. It's like people think it's contagious, and perhaps they get confronted with their own 'dark side' or mortality (in the case of life-threatening physical conditions ).

I've had a lot of support from many friends, but as I take even greater distance from my abusers (my FOO), and keep reiterating my successes in going NC with them, I have noticed support is now falling. I think that they, like me, had hoped/wished that my relationships would improve, but now that the opposite is happening we are getting in different territory. They have been able to work out their differences with FOO, and I haven't. And I think they shudder at the thought of loosing their contact with their FOO. Just as I have long resisted doing so. And their FOO is likely not as abusive as mine (if abusive at all).
I'm not having 'success' so to speak, and sometimes I think they see it as a personal failure of themselves as well.
Anyway, I have decided to celebrate my small victories more privately.
This board has been of great help for me in that respect as well. Because I need to celebrate my hard won progress, with people who understand that the joy of celebrating 1 year NC also comes with feeling the pain of having had to do so.
To have a smile and a tear at the same time and that's the way it is, alas.

Be gentle with yourself, Cocobird. Working on ending the stigma is great, but do so from a safe position. Give it time.
I know that I myself have needed many years to accept the condition I'm in. I can't expect other people to do it much faster than I have done. Even if I do crave for it.

 :hug:
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 08:20:05 AM by Dutch Uncle »

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foggy

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 12:21:41 AM »
i understand what you are saying,thought i had driven friends away,even found myself being dishonest with myfather and siblings,in retrospect most friends tried and i never noticed the ones that did'nt,the atom bomb  moment,sorry not moment,long slow fuse burning,massive head implosion and all the residual fallout basically meant that i was not the person they used to know,so no resentment,it was just easier not to see or talkto anyone because the only thing i wanted to talk about was"it" one friend perservered ,dropping in and out for years and thankyou for him,eventually insisting that i told in acouple of installments,most/some of "it"felt a lot better and continuing to be supportive,that led me to eventually clearing most of the elephant out of the room with my daughters,turns out i was'nt telling them much they did'nt know,definitly be as honest as you feel you can,i think some of the stigma exists because we dont talk.liked woodgnomes response to you"seems pretty positive to have tried to pick up the piecesof a damaged soul etc,to paraphrase beckett,you just keep trying,fail better,keep trying.stumbled on your post while trying to learn my way around this site,felt it was something i could respond to,anyway my very kindest thoughts

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 12:45:57 PM »
The buddy I mentioned in my previous post used to throw a 26th of december diner for all his and his wife's bachelor friends.
Last year (when I had just started tackling my alcoholism and was send off to a psychiatrist for a follow up on that in January) and a particularly stressful X-mas diner with my uHPD-therapsit-mom in tow I thought it better not to join my buddies diner.
In hindsight that was a good move for me, as I had a major blow up with 'mom' the day after, and I would have had dragged all that nastiness to the diner.
And I had been confident if I would have felt to join the diner after all, I could have just shown up and would have been welcome.

No doubt buddy and wife were disappointed, but I thought we had a strong bond, and it was better to say beforehand I wouldn't join, than to say I would and then cancel/be in a dreadful party-pooper mood.

I didn't hear a thing from this buddie for three months, while I went to the psychiatrists for possible anxiety disorder and a check on whether I had a Personality Disorder.
Then I bumped into this friend on a (friday-night) party, and I would get the results of my SCID-II test the monday after. So I was quite reserved, didn't feel like talking much about it, wanted to have the results first. Things got awkward and it went downhill fast. He remarked, in a resentful way to my ears: "I'm loosing 30 years of friendship here!"

That weekend I wrote him a letter. The gist being that I felt he had put too much on the table (the whole 30 years! Geez…), that I felt uncomfortable with that and that for me those 30 years would stay for always. Nothing could undo, annul these 30 years of friendship.

I felt I had to write it as it bothered me and I needed a clear head for my test-result-monday ahead…

So I got the result: all negative. No PD, no anxiety disorder.
So I spread the news around among all my friends.
Remarkably few and/or bland replies, but hey, I can live with that. I had to digest the results myself as well. In a way no result was a bad result, as I was now back to square one: "WTF is wrong with me?" had not been answered.

But, with these loads off my shoulders I decided to meet this buddy. I spotted a nice exhibition he might like, invited him and we went.
That was nice, and on the way home I asked him about the letter I had send him.
"I have nothing to say" he said.
That was it.
He didn't ask me anything about the test results, nada.
He did make a remark (then, or perhaps week or so before at the party, I don't remember exactly) that he was going to rekindle all of his friendships…

That was eight months ago, and I haven't heard a word from him since.

So this year I won't visit the diner either, haven't had an invitation either, which surprises me, but I've made peace with it.
I did my best to meet a friend, and do more than just talk about my personal issues. I did try to get a talk going about his sense of loss of our friendship, but to no avail.

So, alas, there won't be much happening on that front, which is a pity. But I'll cherish the good times we had, and I will not fall for his "30 years lost".
That's his part.
Not mine.

This year I'll be skipping two traditional X-mas diners: at 'mom's' and at buddy's.
And to be honest, I don't feel too bad about it.
The grieving over the loss of my 'mom' and my buddy has largely taken place over the course of past year. Sad but true.
This year I'll probably have a sort of X-mas-diner 'wake', and next year there will be something new.
What I don't know, but it'll be new.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 12:47:46 PM by Dutch Uncle »

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tired

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 07:34:31 PM »
it's ok not to have friends. maybe you don't have a lot to give right now. or maybe you do now, but your old friends don't see it or don't see it yet.  they will either see that you've changed without your having to explain or you'll just end up finding new friends.  I think if you see yourself as your only necessary friend it'll be ok. you'll eventually attract one or two people that are valuable and you'll find others to call aquaintances. 

i guess what i'm saying is that there's no good way to hold on to people who aren't working out for you as friends but what you can do is make it not bother you. 

as far as stigma goes, i don't tell people about my problems unless they are in my "inner circle" and even then it's something i only mention briefly and fortunately my one friend has ptsd too so there's no need to go on about it.  the reality is that many people will react that way and that's something coming from them and their own problems.  it might be easier not to tell people.  you can say something else, for example if you have to cancel a lunch date instead of telling them about ptsd as a reason (which is my problem usually) say something that they can understand.  it sounds dishonest sure but you don't really owe anyone explanations for everything.  and it's sometimes kinder and friendlier to leave out stuff.

like i said i have one friend who understands ptsd and we get along fine.  having found one person i don't really care if the rest of the world doesn't understand.  but i need the one.

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Cocobird

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2015, 06:04:05 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the support and stories. I kind of thought I was the only one that lost friends. But my good friends have hung in there, and my daughter is great. So I don't feel lonely at all.

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foggy

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Re: Losing friends and stigma
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2015, 12:52:14 AM »
feeling for you here,dutchuncle,but really like your last paragraph,to paraphrase<again>,"how can friends accept it quicker than YOU have accepted it."Hi Tired,it is ok not to have friends and the real trick is to not let it bother you,that is the real truth.you can be alone but not lonely,white lies are completely ok. Stigma must be confronted,but not to the detriment of your own health,horrible to say this,but it seems it is often the case that we form relationships with other "damaged" people and to my cost that has not always been helpful.I think that it is best to be as honest as possible,and to accept that unworthy relationships are best let go of .really sorry if i have touched on any nerves,but i only want to try and help and be helped .Cocobird,this has been illuminating,had never even considered the question before,luckily,like you ,one good friend and the understanding of daughters has kept me"endeavouring to perservere",only ever kind thoughts