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Sorry to hear about your friend 💕. Has she had a diagnosis of anything? High emotionality and hopelessness can be a sign of borderline personality disorder. As can a trauma history. What kind of therapy is she getting? If there is something deeper awry then getting the right treatment designed for her struggles will make all the difference. For example, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is wonderful for borderline. General counselling is more suited to people with less complex issues. Just something to think about. It’s necessary and important to turn to people for emotional support and to give it but repeated discussions of the same issue is something we used to call ‘assurance seeking’ at the charity I used to volunteer at, providing counselling for for people with anxiety disorders. In the short term letting them know everything would be fine/alleviating distress made them feel better but in the long run it would uphold the feelings because they never tackled them themselves head on - they just kept going for temporary aleviation that just upheld the cycle. Sending her meta.
Could you gently mention DBT? I think I've heard of schema but DBT just has by far the best track record treating borderline features and it actually is based on Buddhist teachings of mindfulness and something called radical acceptance. Obviously it is totally up to your friend and she may not feel comfortable, but it's a wonderful therapy and it has the most research behind it - many people who receive it 'recover' from borderline. It could be helpful but best of luck to her. Just look to see if you are making the problem really better, and look to see if it is draining you as @Federica mentions. Sometimes letting people talk and vent upholds the neurosis and feeds it in both of you - I try to say this from a kind perspective, but having worked in mental health, I quickly learned the difference. I used to live with a girl with narcissistic tendencies, who also had panic attacks, and I recommended her the best therapies based on my experience working in mental health - I genuinely wanted her to get better and not have to suffer with anxiety because it sucks, but at the same time, sitting in the kitchen and letting her go over and over all her feelings and vendettas and worries would've just be upholding the neurosis.
Also, she may not want to go for DBT therapy but this is a wonderful book that you can send her way. It's a workbook so super easy to work through . https://www.amazon.ca/Dialectical-Behavior-Therapy-Skills-Workbook/dp/1572245131
Tackle the sense of low self-esteem you have which seems to be preventing you from believing and accepting the fact that much as you owe others respect and consideration, you deserve it too, and have a right to participate in something, or not, as the case may be.
In a relationship where you want to be, you owe it commitment. But if you're doing anything you'd rather not be doing, you owe it to YOURSELF to respect your own desires and act upon them.
You can't be held responsible for the way others process information. You ARE responsible for the way you communicate your wishes, and the way you treat people; but if your behaviour is compassionate and beyond reproach, it's not your call to mend their broken feelings, or change your stance in order to accommodate them and make them feel better.
You should never sacrifice your own mental, physical and emotional well-being simply to keep someone else from having to deal with the difficulties they are making for themselves.
Thanks Federica for your straight talking advice. I've struggled with not wanting to 'hurt people's feelings', and sometimes this has meant that I put other people's feelings before my own and have been bad at asserting myself and enforcing boundaries. This is something that I have been working on this year, since that last breakup. I also realized that it was patronising to think that people couldn't deal with the pains that are an inevitable part of life, everyone has their own journey and it is not on me to try to protect them from the pain of me living my life. I know it is also probably to do with fear of reprimand or feeling like my thoughts/feelings/desires weren't worthy or would be wilfully ignored, which I think stemmed from abuse. I guess a learned helplessness but I know I'm the only one that can pick my self up and recover from those effects, by rebuilding a healthier self. I guess on some level I feel like a terrible person and I don't know how rational that is, I've been trying to work on it but it seems so imbedded a lot of the time.
I follow Dr Greger, a physician who was inspired to become one through his Grandma's recovery from heart disease - she was given weeks to live, after three triple heart bypasses, and went on to live 30 years by going on a whole foods plant based diet (it's the only diet documented in a study to reverse heart disease). He reads EVERY SINGLE medical paper published to a medical journal each year and posts the info online for people to read - he is not for profit. As such, I find him the most trustworthy source of info on nutrition - it's all evidence based and he makes no money from it, so has no reason to push a certain style of eating - more extreme eating habits tend to have money to be made from them. He wrote an amazing book called How Not to Die - how to prevent and sometimes reverse our top causes of death (cancer, alzhimers, depression/suicide/heart disease etc). Amazing book and best thing I've read on nutrition and I've always been very interested in it. Basically whole food, plant based diet - limited sugar, salt and oil is the best diet for human beings - https://nutritionfacts.org. I tend to follow this in the week and the eat what I want on the weekend. Makes me shudder that I followed the Paleo thing for a bit!!
Also, wanted to add that sometimes for women it feels like a double-bind. You get shamed for being 'sexy' and wearing makeup, but then you get judged and 'rated' based on how attractive you are. So, what - we are supposed to be flawlessly beautiful without even trying? How is that realistic?
I think sometimes grooming and wearing makeup, and dressing well makes you feel good - why not enjoy feeling good in yourself? As long as you don't invest more in your looks than you do living a good, kind-hearted, meaningful-life, then that's all good . I think it's because there is shame around how you look as a woman, that it feels like such an emotional situation - compared to say other 'sense' pleasures and focuses. It's like if we enjoy food, or dancing, or socialising - it's all part of the material life, we can celebrate and enjoy what we have, without becoming attached to it and defining ourselves and world by it and attaching our happiness to it .