Last year I got a new job and around that time, a good friend of mine stopped talking to me. I tried to find out what happened but I was hurt. After a few months of silence after sending multiple messages, I blew up and told him he was being a terrible friend and he blocked me.
Losing him as a friend was hard and it took a long time to get over. However, I still wish I knew what changed and got some closure. I want to reach out but I'm not sure if it's appropriate, especially since this happened a while ago. Do you have any advice?
* * *
The first thing I would suggest depends on whether you have any mutual friends. If you do, contact them and see if they have heard anything. Usually, such behavior from people is the result of misunderstandings or miscommunications, so, yes, it's important to find out what went on so that you can try to clear things up. If no mutual friends are available, perhaps you can scope out his profile on some furry social site or other, then go there, read his posts or journal entries, and see whether they offer any insights. Your friend might have blocked you in a messenger or email program, but he might not have elsewhere, you see. There is also the very old-fashioned telephone, but of course, that can also be blocked. Next, there is in-person contact. Does he go to a particular furmeet or furcon on a regular basis? Perhaps you can go to one of those and try to talk to him in the real world.
So much could be going on here that led to this state of affairs. Perhaps he was going through something personal and difficult and was unable or too tired or sad to contact you and then when you blew up at him he was shocked and hurt. Perhaps he heard a false rumor about you that made him stop talking to you. Perhaps he's just a jerk. You don't know until you can talk. When/if you do, start with an apology for blowing up at him, tell him your friendship is valuable to you and that you will do anything you can to reconcile (within reason, of course).
Bear in mind it is possible you might never be able to talk to him again, and you will never get that closure. Could be one of those lessons that, in life, nothing is guaranteed and stories often don't come to satisfying conclusions. I hope that it works out for you, however.
I guess I’ll cut to the chase with this email... I’m questioning my mental health. I’ve been wandering for a while if there may be something not right about me in the head, as there seem to be all sorts of things about me that just don’t really add up. These, for lack of a better term, “symptoms” are as follows:
These symptoms might have something to do with “events” that have been going on, shall we say? You already know about my mum’s issues, which I won’t get into here. Plus, it doesn’t help that one of my two workplaces has high-tier employees who think it’s perfectly okay to talk about gay people behind their backs with such wonderful phrases as “up the sewer-pipe” and “sucking his filthy diaper”.
Whenever I read about symptoms of mental illnesses, they tend to include things like eating disorders and alcohol / drug abuse, none of which i feel apply to me. My diet’s not changed lately, drugs are a total no-no, and alcohol is for special occasions only and never for getting drunk. So, I’m not all too sure. Some symptoms I read about seem to make me say “yes, there’s something off” whilst the lack of others make me think “perhaps I’m being OTT.”
I know you do this column out of genuine kindness and that you’re not a trained psychiatrist, so I imagine the advice you can give is probably rather limited. But, I know from previous articles you’ve had your own mental struggles, so I figure you’re probably the best person I could ask about this sort of thing. People shouldn’t have to tolerate me like they do when I get down in the dumps as often as I do. It’s not fair on them all to keep on having to prop me up.
What do you think, Papa Bear? Do you think I have a mental illness of some sort?
* * *
Many of these symptoms are indicative of the overly sensitive person, including the crying and empathy for others. The good news is you are not mentally ill. And FYI, eating disorders and food/drug addictions are not mental disorders; they are addictions. A mental disorder is what happens when your perception of reality and your interpretation of reality do not match reality. For example, declaring, "I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt" would indicate a mental disorder.
Along with your hypersensitivity, you sound like you have social anxiety (problems dealing with people), low self-esteem (self-criticism), social dysphoria (problems being in groups and not feeling like other people), obsessive-compulsive disorder (obsession with finances, planning trips), and stress from your family situation.
I'm not qualified to diagnose the numbness-in-your-forehead issue. That could be caused by stress, but it could also be a medical issue, so I would have to say that you might want to get it checked out by a qualified physician and not an advice columnist.
I would not diagnose your issues as having just one cause, therefore. I think you have several things going on all at once, and that is a lot to take. Again, I don't label such things as mental psychoses so much as they are neuroses. A neurosis is when things like depression, anxiety, and stress hamper our quality of life, whereas a psychosis involves losing touch with reality.
Deep breath. Okay, as with so many other things in medical arts these days, I have read that psychologists no longer call it "neurosis," but, rather, they favor the longer term "non-specific psychological distress," or NPD for short.
Recent research suggests that a good way to ease the symptoms of NPD is, interestingly enough, mindfulness. This term might be familiar to you if you have ever read up on Buddhism (Buddhism rocks!) What is mindfulness? It is the deliberate examination of your thoughts and feelings in order to understand what they are and what causes them. Understanding the root of your problem is a huge step toward treatment.
As Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne wrote in Psychology Today, "In mindfulness, you concentrate on and accept your thoughts, and feelings and consciously insert yourself into the moment. You might imagine that this is the worst thing for highly neurotic individuals to do, because it focuses their attention on their maladaptive ways of thinking. However, part of mindfulness is deciding on how to view the experience that you’re having. If you’re engaging in mindfulness, you look at an experience with acceptance and curiosity. Rather than fighting the feeling, you ask yourself where it’s coming from, and redefine the situation as one you can conquer." ("Research Suggests a Cure for Neuroticism," Psychology Today, July 11, 2017).
I would suggest to you two things: 1) if you can, seek some professional counseling; 2) read more about mindfulness and how it can benefit you. One author I would definitely recommend to you is Don Miguel Ruiz. I have some of his books on audio and he makes a great deal of sense to me. There are many other books you can explore, of course, by just searching on "mindfulness" and also writings on Buddhism.
I hope this helps.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.