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Why don't my friends and family understand??

Community Member

Hi there, i'm a long time listener, first time caller/poster. Had no idea if this is the right place for this but I really wanted to get some honest opinions on my thoughts, and it seems this is a far more suitable place to express them than compared to a public social media forum where keyboard warriors can act like heroes. So here goes!:

All my life, my friends and family have never really understood my mental health problems. I have a 67 year old mate (who has been like a father to me as i lost mine when i was 10 years old, and at the same time his ex wife took his 3 son's from him never to be seen again. I'm 36 now and for 26 years we've had this mutual friendship, this understanding if you will that life can just deal you a really consistently shitty hand. But you keep on going, you don't give up. To me, he was a father to me, and I, like a son.

About 10 years ago my mate (mario) had a stroke, his new wife left him, his 2 step kids turned against him and recently they put him in a nursing home. I used to see him at least once a week. I'd take him to the club, we'd have a beer, and think about the good old days.

As I grew older, my mental health became more of an issue, and I couldn't see Mario as regularly as he expected.

The phone calls then started coming. Mario wanting to know why I'm not seeing him, where am I, when are you coming over. Constant call after call, voicemail after voicemail to the point where I could no longer manage the stress and anxiety that this man was putting on me. Particularly when his voicemails were quite abusive swearing at me for not seeing him. After that we stopped contact for a few years..

Recently, we reconnected. I'd just had (another) relationship failure and I'd never seen Mario since he'd been in the nursing home (approx 2 years) We cried together, we caught up on old times, and he stilled loved a beer (but now, it's red wine)

I've been seeing Mario approximately twice a week and it's starting to give me anxiety again. He is expecting it all once again that I am there at his beck and call. I have no money so have had to take 2 buses and a train to see him each time (instead of a 25 min car drive) He's calling me every few hours and now is getting his (even older) friends to call asking me why I am not coming to see him.

My question: Is it wrong to put my mental health as a priority number 1 and cut ties with this man again? He may not be around in another 2 years or once I've sorted myself out??

2 Replies 2

Just Sara
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hey Adam and welcome to our caring community;

Your situation is indeed a tough one my friend. How disheartening it must be to have this happening with a man who took on a paternal role in your life from so young, and now the tables have turned. Not unlike biological parents eh?

Looking after number 1 is what we promote on this forum because as your friend has shown, others do. If cutting off contact is what you really want, then please do. If you want a 'better' relationship, telling Mario what your needs are and what you expect from him could be a way forward.

Learning to communicate these things is part of growing older. If we can't, then we give too much of ourselves away trying to avoid conflict; this creates internal resentment.

Your mental health's primary and as you'd know, problems seem bigger than they are which escalates anxiety, so voicing what we need is paramount for coping and self management.

It takes courage to speak up and isn't learned overnight either. Taking one small step at a time can eventually lead to a confident sense of self. Maybe start by sending an email or text msg to Mario saying how you're feeling about the relationship of being caught between feeling sorry for him, and taking care of yourself? Then wait for a reply.

You can only deal with what's in front of you, not try and predict outcomes like a game of chess; too many variables cause the mind to overreact.

I really feel for you and your situation Adam; what I've suggested isn't the easy basket by any means. It is however a practical way of dealing with things yeah? Positive and skilled communication serves us well in the long term.

I'd love to hear how it goes or if I've helped in any way. Btw, the Social Zone is more for light hearted chats, games and relief from heavy issues we face. Your thread may be moved to a more apt section so others can find you. Please don't worry if it is ok. If you press 'My threads' button it'll come straight up.

I wish you well hun 🙂


Community Member

Hi AdamAsh,

I understand what you are going through. I'm in a simular situation, but in a way on the opposite side where my anxiety is like your friends and I annoyed them so much that they have blocked me,(phone, email and facebook). And my friend is also elderly so I understand the pressure of not knowing how much longer they will live. They have moved, but I don't know where to, so I'm not lucky where I can visit and joke about old times like you can. And i'm hoping that they will come to understand like you that I had issues, but it is under control now.

And it is hard, but you do have to think about yourself and what is best for you. That is what I am focusing on. And being sort of in your friends shoes, I would like you to be honest with me. Tell the truth. My friend just ignored me and it led to the situation that I am in now because I couldn't see what I was doing. I wish my friend was straight with me. Maybe they felt that it would hurt my feelings, but being ignored and finding out later that you have been blocked hurts way more.

So my advice to you and is be gentle, but honest. Tell them that you need some time for yourself and you feel that they are smothering you. It won't be easy to say and it will hurt to an extent, but if this friend is worth keeping as your friend, it is better than losing and then regretting. Ur friendship will become stronger from it. Time is precious for us all.

I hope this helps and know that your story helps me cause it does give me hope that maybe I can reconnect with my friend, so thankyou for sharing. Good luck!