Tales from my DMs: How a text can lead to a mental health crisis
Didn't think I'd be able to do another one of these but here we are. And when I write these posts for the most part I do believe private conversations should stay private. The only reason why I would publicise private DMs is if I have no loyalty or little respect for the person who is in my DMs or if I think revealing the DMs can lead to a wider productive discussion about a particular topic.
This case in particular falls into both categories and given my mental and emotional state over the past couple of weeks I think writing this blog post is necessary for me as I wasn't given the opportunity to express myself whilst the situation was happening. And blog writing is what I do. If you do Taylor Swift dirty expect a song and if you do wrong by me then expect a blog post innit.
And as I write this, just know this is only my story. So I am biased and maybe a bit unreliable. There is another side that probably has a completely different interpretation so I do not want to be seen as a protagonist. I just want to be as open and honest as I can about what happened from my perspective and feel free to draw your own conclusions. Of course I can't divulge every single detail but I hope to relay enough information where you're able to understand the gist of the situation.
But enough of that. Let's just jump straight into it. This is a real DM I received from a real person I did not know one Thursday afternoon.
And before I continue, this post isn't to draw anyone out or be vindictive. Believe me I did want to and had this blog post come straight after it happened it would've been, but instead this is more about my reaction and subsequent mental decline in regards to the DM. I can't promise there won't be some pettiness though. And I have been conflicted about whether this is something I even want or should put out there but in order for me to be honest about the mental health struggles that I've been having I think its important to understand where it came from.
On closer inspection I realised that the text was from someone a friend of mine was seeing. So of course I put this down to jealousy and insecurity. As much as I wanted to respond, I didn't, due to the fact that I don't need agg from people I do not know but also because my friend had asked me not to which I happily obliged. I put it down to a jealous bf cos me and my friend could have been romantically involved a couple of months prior. But at this moment in time we were just friends and hadn't actually seen each other for a while. I should also add that I did have my own grievances about being taken for granted in the friendship already so this only amplified reservations I already had.
At this point, things started to change for me though. To receive a message like this from anyone of course isn't great but to receive it from someone who is affiliated with someone who you believe to be a decent friend is a bit concerning. Someone who you were making plans with only a week prior and someone who you have tried to be there for at every given opportunity. It hurts. Then your brain starts working overtime. Then you start to think about the scenarios that could lead to such a comment. Was my friend talking negatively about me, were they telling lies and so on.
Having said this though, what I don't want to do is paint myself as a complete victim. We all know that in most situations it's never black and white. Especially in any kind of relationship we have to be open to the fact that our actions could also contribute to negative situations. Something I have made a habit of and something I will always try to do is accept fault whenever I can. Before laying "blame" on someone else I will think "What did I do that could've resulted in this happening?" Even though I can acknowledge and accept responsibility for some of my own behaviours that weren't ideal, which I also owned up to, I don't think it warranted a message like this (even if it may be true) when my friend and I had been speaking just that day.
I should say that my friend was very apologetic, "furious" and stated that they weren't sure if they could continue dating this person. And that was that.
So a couple of days go by and I hear nothing more but still emotionally reeling from what has transpired because I had allowed my mind to potentially overthink the situation. And obviously at this point I now have reservations about the guy in question. But then something set me off. Even at the time I know what I was feeling was valid but at the same time irrational. It is a weird position to be in to feel a certain way but also acknowledging the fact that you don't get to feel that way. So I see an Instagram story of the happy couple acting as if they don't have a care in the world whilst I'm sitting here still impacted by the DM I had received a couple of days prior. Now, I understand that people are free to post whatever they want on their social media. You are not necessarily thinking about how certain people will react. As well as this, one bad moment doesn't define someones character and if you are in a relationship then you are likely to post these kinds of things. In that moment however, what I was feeling was a sense of betrayal even though I understood it wasn't my friends fault and I can't blame them for not being sensitive to how I would react. That's my problem. Something I need to deal with but it doesn't change the fact that the random DM is the only interaction I had with him and since then hadn't heard anything from either of them.
During a week where I was already struggling with personal issues, heightened by the stresses of changing jobs and relocating whilst also trying to support friends going through their own difficulties, I made a concerted effort to reach out to people who I felt could help me through it. Not asking for anything specific, just wanting to chat and reconnect with certain individuals. And what started as an innocent conversation between friends turned into something a bit more sinister and only added to the emotional labour I was already feeling that week. As humans we can only take on so much. If you fill up your emotional tank too much without emptying, one day it will overflow and I witnessed this happen right in front of my eyes. Seeing the story was the moment the tank reached capacity and effectively came crashing down, and with that, the emotions came rushing out, raw, unfiltered and unrefined. So what on the surface may have seemed like an overreaction to a negative stimulus in fact what it was, was a channeling of emotions I haven't yet processed into a single situation.
And I believe this is the real pivot of the story I want to tell today. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the fallacy of "Men needing to speak more". And one of the points I made in the piece is that speaking isn't always inherently a good thing and if you do make the decision to speak then it matters what you say and who you say it to. In this instance, I cocked up. From what seemed like a genuine friendship I thought I would be able to open up about how I was feeling (including some things that happened before this) in the hopes of getting things out in the open and talking through them. I think when anyone opens up to us about how they're feeling in regards to how we've treated them it's very easy for us to become defensive and take it as a personal attack. In reality, the solution to these kinds of confrontations is to be grateful that you are able to be honest with each other, listen and validate each other's feelings, actively work through the issues you're having and attempt to move on or at least end things amicably.
Instead, I was labelled as "Intense" and it was quickly made clear that the other party had no intentions of working through our emotions and not only want to drop all communications but wanted to block me. And I should add, just a few days prior they claimed they wanted to be friends and didn't want to be strangers. Now, was I being intense? Probably. I mean, if you're opening up emotionally to someone then chances are things are going to get intense. Can I blame them for feeling overwhelmed by this intensity? No of course not, we all react to these kinds of things differently and it's okay to feel as though someone is being a bit too intense with you. However, if this person is your friend and you've built this person up to be someone that you turn to when you yourself needs help then I believe you at least owe it to them to at least listen and attempt to work through the situation. Any kind of relationship is built on reciprocation. I never do anything for anyone to get something in return but I do hope that if I ever needed that person they would be there for me.
And I think this is why this whole situation knocked me for 6. Thinking you're in one place with someone then realising, actually this person doesn't respect you at all. I think I did catch myself too. After two hefty messages I realised that I wasn't really getting my point across and my tone may have been being misconstrued. So I simply asked to meet which I had asked to do before all this happened anyway. That night the answer was "yes". The following morning a "no". And we've all been part of situations where your friends start acting differently because they've got into a new relationship and acting differently is okay, but neglecting or dismissing the friendships you had prior to that is not. Even then, although annoyed, I conceded that it may not go down well with the new boyf. So at this point I can feel myself internally raging. A situation which I thought was in my control is now somehow being stolen from me and I feel it slipping away, and to add insult to injury I am afraid that third parties are having an influence.
And I realised every decision being made was relayed to me through the eyes of the new boyfriend as if I am a jealous ex trying to come in between them. Which was of course never the case and I made this abundantly clear. Can I say for certain that my friend was being influenced, of course not, but I think I can be forgiven for thinking it. Will I lie and say I liked the guy and wished them the best? Of course not, but I am not someone to actively try and dismantle someone's relationship. Even after making this clear I was treated as someone that can easily be kicked to the curb. And it makes you wonder how much someone cared about you if they're not even willing to have a phone conversation with you. Yes, after my meet up invitation was rejected I asked for a phone call and instead was met with messages from an insecure boyfriend. "I'm going to block your number now." Even in the end this person didn't have the decency to speak to me themselves.
I can actually understand a boyfriend being insecure that the person they're seeing is still talking to an "old flame". But if this is an issue then it is on you to make that clear. Don't continue to speak to me and ask me for favours whilst you're seeing someone if you feel it can cause issues.
And here's the thing with all this. Even after feeling as though I had been disrespected and betrayed I hoped and prayed that my friend would reach out and want to at least clear the air. And that's what I held on to for a good week after the whole fiasco. I thought there was no way this could be the end. But after being robbed of an opportunity to express myself, being fobbed off to a seemingly jealous boyfriend and seemingly discarded like a rotten piece of meat the whole situation was ALL I could think about. "What could I have done differently?" "Why have I been treated so unfairly?" "How can someone I was seemingly close with continue their life happily when they've made me feel like this?". And then my brain broke.
I withdrew myself physically from the world, I couldn't eat anything, every day I was hoping that I would get a message from my friend saying that things could still work out. I was feeling things I had never felt before even though I have been through a lot worse. I had so many emotions in me that I needed to process and the only person I wanted or needed to express them to wouldn't let me. So I had all this built up anger and resentment with no useful way to release it all. Along with dark depressive thoughts about my own life and not wanting this to be the beginning of something more debilitating I knew it was time to get help.
Did you know you're able to self refer yourself for counselling on the NHS? So that's what I did. I won't go too much into detail about what transpired from that but I will say I believe it is the right step. I think there is a stigma around counselling and therapy in regards to people thinking there must be something devastatingly wrong with someone if they seek this help. When in fact I think the majority of people could benefit from it. What this situation taught me is that I was closer to having mental health issues than I realised. I do believe though I would've been fine if I didn't open up to the wrong person but it can also be argued that this was just the tipping point for a much greater issue I was having with my mental health. But the bottom line remains the same, not everyone deserves your emotional vulnerability so be wary about who you give it up to. I learnt that in the most devastating way and even now I am still dealing with the fallout of what happened.
I find it very chilling that we are living in a society where we are urging men to speak up and be vulnerable but when they do it comes back to bite them in the arse. Do you want us to open up or not? You can't pick and choose what we open up about. It's not fair to label us as "intense" when we do and then run for the hills. I am only doing what I've been told I should be doing. You want to know how to get men speaking more? Create an environment where men feel as though they can. And actually it's not even just men, it goes for anyone. Don't be that person that is going to make someone else afraid of opening up again.
I see myself as someone who's quite mentally resilient. I don't make myself emotionally vulnerable constantly but I have no problems doing it when I feel like I need to. Of course I made the wrong decision this time and whether this will stop me from opening up in the future remains to be seen.
I've learnt a lot about myself in the past couple of weeks and have begun to reevaluate my relationships. I am thankful that some good has come from this in terms of self reflection but if you were to ask me if I'd go through it again then I'd say "hell no". Do you know what it feels like to reach a point where you've lost interest in everything you once enjoyed doing, not being able to get out of bed just wondering how you're going to make it through the day? It is not something I'd wish on anyone and being in this mental state might be closer for you than you think. Always empty your emotional tank when you can, if someone is opening up to you try your best to be the person they need in that moment. They're speaking to you for a reason. You may think this all sounds a bit dramatic over a falling out with a friend but what I'm trying to emphasise is that all this wasn't just down to one falling out or one DM. If that DM or falling out is feeding into an emotional network that has already been compromised then you're going to have a mental bloodbath on your hands.
And this just echoes the fact that you don't know what people are going through, so always do your best to be kind.
I'm not someone who likes to burn bridges. I always think there is a way back and I have seen it happen first hand. I am not someone who puts time and effort into a relationship only for it to amount to nothing. I understand that not everyone is in your life forever, people drift apart and that is okay. But no one deserves to be treated in the way I felt I was in this particular situation. If you want to be with people during the best of times then you have to be ready to endure the worst. And that is a mantra I hold for all of my friends whether I've known them for 10 years or 10 weeks. I can be confident in myself that I will always try and do my best by people and can only hope for the same in return.
And having said this I am not even saying that I acted in the best way throughout all this. If you're reading this you're probably asking questions about some of my behaviour and rightly so. As I said at the beginning, I am not the hero of this story but what I can say is that I did my best and did what I thought was right at the time.
Still writing this I feel so conflicted as to whether I should even be making all this known. I have no problems talking about my own experience with mental health during this time I am more concerned about publicising details of a relationship I had. And I keep coming back to a few things as to why I don't particularly care. The rules change when you cast someone out of your life. It is both your stories and you do not owe anything to that person. Keep me in, keep things civil and I will always respect you. Not that I am disrespecting now but if you can so easily discard our friendship like it was nothing then I can't even see why someone would care abut me divulging certain details about said relationship (Did that sound a bit vindictive? Oops). Aswell as this, if you're going to DM someone you don't know verbal abuse, then all I can say is you better expect it to be publicised eventually. And if there's no apology or no remorse then I have no issue exposing that (dw I won't @ you though). Just like you did what you thought was for the best, I am doing the same. Writing this post has helped me process the emotions you wouldn't allow me to so I cannot apologise for that.
So my dear friend, if you're reading this (you're probably not seeing as you blocked and unfollowed me but oh well) I am sorry. I am sorry this has happened I am sorry for allowing my emotions to get on top of me and taking it all out on you. I am sorry for guilting you and expressing negativity towards your new relationship. I hope you're doing well. But I really hope you're able to see why your behaviour was so egregious in my eyes. Try not to call people who are opening up to you "Intense". Don't be influenced by the same person that caused the mess in the first place and PLEASE DO NOT give that same person the authority to talk on your behalf. I really hope you're able to do better in the future, but also just know I'm here and ALWAYS willing to talk.