Mental Health: Drama, Crisis & Friends

In this one forum I’m on regularly, there’s currently a discussion going on about mental illness.

One person feels s/he can no longer be friends with someone who has stopped taking medication.

I can actually understand that part.

The medication changes a person’s personality on some levels.

When I look at my life, I currently have very few friends in my life that knew me before I was medicated. That is my fault. I let most of those old friendships fall away.

During the discussion, other people have brought up moments of drama and crises that people in their lives have caused or lived through. One in particular mentioned that she had a family member with bipolar, and she will no longer deal with someone who admits they have the disease – whether or not they are medicated – because of all the drama.

People with problems create drama in their lives. I’m sure you’ve seen it. I’ve seen it, in others and in myself.

No one likes to be pulled into someone else’s drama.

Except. . . . what is life if not dramatic?

If your life doesn’t have a little drama in it, what are you doing? How do you spend your time to avoid all drama?

Pets cause drama, making changes to your life causes drama, being married or being a parent has it’s own drama, getting ahead is dramatic, LOVE is dramatic, EVERYTHING in life has drama.

So, when someone says, “I can’t deal with the X’s drama any more,” what they mean is, “X never learns from his/her mistakes,” or, “X’s stuff is too exhausting to deal with,” or, “X’s problems end up hurting me.”

All of these are legitimate reasons to minimize contact with someone – you have to protect your own mental health.

But I guess the term “drama” used in this way annoys me, much the same way people calling things “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” because they are mercurial. Or the latest one with every armchair shrink diagnosing people as having Asperger’s. *eyeroll* And yes, I know I’ve been guilty of that.

It’s true that I tend to create crises, over and over.

I know it, and I’m working on it.

But it seems as though I perform better in a crisis, at least I get much more done. I don’t know why, and I don’t like it. It is very stressful, I don’t like it and a large part of what I’ve been working on this year has been trying to stop doing this.

I haven’t been completely successful, but I think I’m making some progress.

It’s also true that being my friend can be exhausting.

I know it.

That’s one reason I withdraw during hard times. I don’t WANT to draw everyone else into the pit with me.

What’s my point today?

I don’t know.

I guess I’m beating a dead drum of wanting people to be precise when they speak. Or to be more understanding of mental illness. Or something.

I’m tired of my own drama, too, and want it to end. Maybe the friend that was referenced above feels the same way?

3 thoughts on “Mental Health: Drama, Crisis & Friends”

  1. I have a sister who I consider a drama queen. I know I have drama sometimes, but she seems to always have more, but it's probably because of the way she reacts to it and talks about it. Everything seems to be a big deal to her. If I call to tell her some news, good or bad, she has some better or worse news, or bad news that some how cancels out my good news. I find it stressful to talk to her because she always has a laundry list of problems in her life. I wasn't surprised not long ago to hear that she had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She seemed to meet all the symptoms.

    I'm sure I don't always know how to handle those around me with mental health issues. My sister has always been difficult for me to get along with. (We used to fight terribly as kids, and I've always felt like it was better for our relationship that I live far away from her and only spend time with her occasionally.) My husband has battled with depression, and sometimes I notice him having a down day and I don't know how to respond. (My inclination is to try to cheer him up, but that doesn't work.) My mom had major mental health issues, and I still don't feel like we relate to each other very well. I wouldn't ever say that I won't deal with someone who has X problem, though, because each person is different. I'll just continue to do the best I can to connect with people and hope they do the same with me.

  2. Karen, for some reason your comment got sent to the spam folder. I rescued it. 🙂

    Dealing with mental health issues is hard on everyone. I know that. Setting boundaries is an important part of being someone who supports someone with mental health issues.

    One of the things I love best about my BFF is that she does set very firm boundaries. Some people might think she's rather blunt at times, but I appreciate it, because I need it.

    I think there are times when I walk all over other people's boundaries (especially when manic) and I'm not even aware of it at the time. In retrospect, I can see it, but in the moment, I don't know I'm doing it. So, having someone tell me, bluntly, “Stop here. NOW,” is a good thing.

    Problem with that is that it takes introspection on MY part to understand and appreciate it. If the ill person isn't yet at a stage where they can do that, it becomes more difficult.

    But even if the ill person doesn't have the insight, s/he still can benefit from someone setting boundaries.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  3. I'm just getting caught up on blog posts.
    This is an interesting one to me. I have also removed a lot of people from my life that I think just have too much drama. I've also distanced myself from people who are frequently depressed.
    Is this fair? I don't know, and I'm not sure it really matters. While it may not be fair to drop a friend for being human, flawed, ill, whatever… it's also not fair to the other person in the friendship to have the constant external source of emotional upheaval. And it's that upheaval (or “drama”) that I'm trying to reduce in my life.
    I don't know if there's a right or wrong, fair or unfair, about any of it. I just know that my quality of life is significantly reduced by chaos. More for me than for most of the people I know. So I choose to limit sources of chaos. I also prefer (usually) to focus on the positive, and on the future. So I limit sources of perpetual negativity (including TV news), and I limit the time I spend with people who dwell more on the past than they plan for the future.
    I don't think there's a right or wrong in the choice of friends we make. I think we choose friends that satisfy some need in us (even if that need is to help someone else). And sometimes either someone stops satisfying those needs, or our needs (and our recognition of them) changes.
    I also don't know what my point is here. But it was good mental exercise for me to try to think my way through this. Thanks.

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