Why The “Detox Negative People Fad” Hurts The Mentally Ill

Why you should think twice before detoxing those "toxic" friends-on bettysbattleground.com

You’ve heard it before. Maybe you have even said it, or some variation. “Detox the negative people out of your life.” The basic tenet is that we all deserve happiness, we all deserve to be around people who make us feel good, nobody deserves to be abused, and we have a right to control who we do and don’t allow into our inner circle. Sounds healthy, right?

The problem here is that while abusive people are always toxic, “toxic” or “negative” people are not always abusive. Sometimes people get poisoned, and that makes them “toxic” for a while. But with treatment, care, and support those people can get better and become whole, healthy, happy people again-something they deserve too. Or, everyone can just detox them and they can stay toxic and embittered forever.

When you google “detox negative people,” page after page of results pop up. How to detox negative people out of your life and feel good about it states that a toxic person is “a person who complains and dumps their problems on you but doesn’t do anything to change their situation.” Removing negative people from your life says, “A positive attitude is contagious, but a negative attitude spreads like wildfire. No one wants to be around someone that is constantly negative and complaining. These people are toxic, and it is reasonable to remove them from your life.” How To Tell When It’s Time To End A Friendship writes, “you put in most of the effort.  You invite, call, and initiate almost everything to keep the friendship going.” In all three of these examples, and many more, people who feel poorly more often than they feel well, or who don’t employ “normative” social tools-no matter the reason-typically meet the standard of “toxic” and are therefore worthy of being detoxed. I have a major problem with this.

Why The Detox Negative People Fad Hurts The Mentally Ill

Learn how detoxing your negative friend may be the worst thing you can do-on bettysbattleground.com

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I was recently hired to join the Healthy Place dot com blogging team, as a co-author for Trauma! A Ptsd blog. I’ve been reading the blog for a while and I’m really happy to be writing for it now, but the reason I bring it up here is that I had to create an introductory video. I thought it would be fine. I put on a nice dress and asked my husband to film my 90 second video when I needed to leave the house for an appointment in ten minutes. Of course, I ended up not getting it done then. When I replayed the video, I realized I looked super bitchy. My movements and facial expressions did not at all convey how I had actually been feeling, and I came off sounding snotty when I meant to sound inclusive. Of course, it’s because of flat affect. Flat affect is a symptom of PTSD in which survivors have difficulty showing emotion. Instead of looking happy, we look angry or solemn. If the survivor is female that often translates to bitchy.

Imagine someone engaging you in debate-something I really like  to do-with a friendly, smiling demeanor. You know this person just holds a different opinion than you and wants to discuss it, not fight or insult you. Now, imagine the same debate from a person whose face isn’t showing emotion, and whose expression may therefore be interpreted as angry. It seems super combative, right? So by those standards, the second person is more likely to be considered toxic, when she’s done nothing differently than the first person, besides have a traumatic reaction that causes her to appear less happy. I’ve been detoxed by a lot of people these past ten years, and I’m  beginning to truly realize it hasn’t always been fair, and it hasn’t always been my fault. Even though I’ve always said that, I internalized a lot of these actions and began to truly believe that I’m a bad person undeserving of friendship and support. Well, I’m not. And maybe that friend you’re getting ready to detox isn’t either.

Chronic Negative Thinking Can Be A Symptom Of A Mental Illness

Learn why detoxing everyone who is negative can promote mental illness stigma. Learn how on bettysbattleground.com

I recently had a chance to sit down with Susan Collins, a clinical psychologist and research assistant professor at the University of Washington, to ask her some questions about happiness for an article I’m writing for another publication. During that interview she told me that, “People who are depressed tend to stay depressed…We start to get used to the way we experience the world, even if that’s a darker view.” She explained a phenomenon she’s encountered repeatedly, in which patients actively try to keep their lives from changing, even if that means continuing to seek negative partners or environments. “People who are depressed,” she explained,” tend to feel more comfortable when they’re depressed, even if they’re not actually comfortable.”

So people who have histories of depression, trauma, or other negative experiences and emotions actually become habituated to negativity. It is caused by changes in the brain, and it’s a phenomenon recognized by the medical community. It is not a symptom of being immoral or abusive; it’s a sign that someone needs help. Would you detox your best friend for crying when she has cancer? If you wouldn’t, then why would you detox her for replaying a negative pattern that she is physically incapable of breaking on her own? A “person who complains and dumps their problems on you but never does anything to change them” might actually be a person who is stuck in that thinking and needs supportive help to get out of it. Abandoning her will only reinforce those patterns. Remaining her friend and providing firm but gentle positive support will help her break free from the negativity in which she is stuck. If our doctors can recognize this fact, why can’t our friends and family?

Surrounding Yourself With People Who Only Lift You Up Is Self-Centered

Your friend is constantly depressed. She always looks at the negative side of any situation. You come home exhausted by the way she hyper-focuses on self-criticism, and reacts with anger or sadness to simple misunderstandings. You decide that, while there were valid reasons you became friends in the first place, she is no longer serving your goals. She brings you down and contributes nothing but negativity to your life. She needs to go. You detox her, and surround yourself with uplifting people while congratulating yourself on ensuring your future success with these strategic moves.

Are you sure your friend detox isn't rooted in selficenteredness? Learn more on bettysbattleground.com

Here’s the thing. Friendship is not supposed to be a business transaction. You don’t strategize your friend groups, and if you do, you’re the toxic one. Everyone has ups and downs, and if someone is battling a mental illness or injury, those downs may very well be darker and longer than you’re used to. We all need mentors and supports and people who will help further our goals. It’s not wrong to attract those types of people in your life, but it’s self-centered to expect that kind of support and not be willing to provide it. If you’re a positive, affirming person, then you might be your depressed friend’s mentor, whether you know it or not. If you detox her because she’s not furthering your life, you’re behaving in a selfish, reckless manner, and not being a friend, or a good person, at all. Now, you can set boundaries. You can tell her that you can’t be her only support. But detoxing her because she isn’t serving your goals? That is incredibly cruel and selfish. If that’s the reason behind your friend-detox, you seriously need to do an inventory of your priorities.

Negative People Aren’t Necessarily Toxic People

Is your friend poisonous or poisoned? Find out how to tell on bettysbattleground.comLook, I know it’s important to rid truly toxic people from our lives. Many of the articles that teach you how to do that acknowledge, after listing common symptoms of depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions, that toxic people are also those who intentionally manipulate us and use our good intentions to harm us. While repeated negative symptoms and resistance to change are symptoms of mental illness, manipulation and harm are symptoms of abuse. Nobody deserves to be abused. We should all learn to have the strength and knowledge to rid ourselves of abusive people. But first, we need to stop conflating mentally ill people with abusive people.

I am a person who tends toward the negative. I’ve had a lot of experiences that brought me to that point. I was the product of an affair, and when I was a child, my half-brother used to tell me I was a mistake that shouldn’t have been born. This had a profound impact on my self image, which led me to use drugs when I became a teenager. My involvement with certain members of the drug community allowed me to accept low standards of treatment-like being lied to, stolen from, and talked down to-as normal, so that when I entered into an abusive relationship, I didn’t even realize it was abusive until it was too late. The violence that transpired during that relationship physically changed my brain to the extent that I have permanent brain damage known as PTSD. My thoughts tend toward the negative, because that is what life has shown me and what my brain is used to. I can work on it, but I will probably always have a darker-than-average outlook. I’ll always have suicidal thoughts, and moments when I get triggered. I will always need a measure of support and compassion.

Does that make me abusive? No. But people have treated me like it does. Friends have abandoned me because they were sick of “hearing me talk about suicide and doing nothing about it.” What a statement. I’m not sure if they meant going to treatment, but it sounded to me like they were challenging me to attempt suicide. Which I did, a number of times. On other occasions, friends stopped talking to me because they disapproved of my drug use. Ironically, addiction and PTSD-the disorder I was self-medicating-are now known to be exacerbated by social isolation. So those people who detoxed me were doing me a huge disservice. They had an opportunity to help me become the kind of person they would want as a friend; you know, the person they befriended before the abuse and addiction changed me, but instead they just abandoned me. I’ve heard similar stories from many, many people in the mental illness community.

A Fad That’s Embraced By The People It Most Hurts

The saddest, and most ironic, part of the “detox negative people fad” is that it is championed by the mental illness community. People with one or more mental illness feed right into this fad. I get it. Having a mental health condition leaves us more vulnerable to abuse. Because we can’t always use our own senses to gauge situations, we rely on the direction given to us by others, which opens us up to manipulation. When you have been used, abused, or manipulated even once you don’t ever want to experience it again. When it has become a chronic issue in your life, you become super wary. Cutting people out who we confirm or suspect may do some of  those things feels empowering.

The problem is, of course, that when something feels good and merits results, we want It can be empowering to rid yourself of an abusive person, but be wary of taking it too far-on bettysbattleground.comto repeat it. If you cut an actually abusive person out of your life, your life will improve. And you crave more improvements, so you seek more people to cut. Now, you’re cutting out people who are very sad, very anxious, or who ask for help far more than they give it. Maybe you detox people who share your same disorder, or who act as you do, or did in the past. That is not fair.

People going through a mental health crisis cannot reasonably be a main support to someone else going through a mental health crisis, but that doesn’t mean those two people can’t be friends, or support each other. Those of us with mental illnesses need more community, not less. We shouldn’t be breaking ties with one another because some fad tells us it’s good for us. Dividing up the mental health community is good for nothing but strengthening stigma.

Think Before You Detox

Before you detox a friend, think carefully about why you're doing it-on bettysbattleground.com

If you consistently feel like crap every time you hang out with a particular person, it might be time to “detox” them from your life, but before you actually do it, think. Consider the situation and examine your feelings. Are you feeling heavy around this person because she is acting in an abusive manner toward you, or because her talk of abuse triggers you? If it’s the latter, try having a conversation with her first. Tell that you’re also a trauma survivor, and hearing about her trauma brings up issues for you. You wish her the best, but you can’t be a support in that way at this time. Maybe you can do other things when you spend time together? If your friend is, in fact, mentally ill and not toxic, she’ll listen, and stop talking about those memories around you.

You should also check and make sure that the reason you feel drained after spending time with a particular person doesn’t have more to do with you than with him. Maybe something about his behavior reminds you of something you are struggling with in yourself. Maybe the two of you share a tendency to over-analyze social interactions, except that he does it aloud and you do it in your head. Instead of getting rid of your friend for something which is not meant to harm you, use it as an opportunity to work on yourself. Try to heal whatever it is inside of you that causes this anxiety in the first place.

Another thing to consider is that not all abusive people are bad. Wait, what? Is this Betty talking….Betty is an abuse victim! She struggles to forgive her own abuser. What is she saying here? Calm down! Hear me out. Sometimes when people are in a lot of pain, they snap or yell or take their pain out in inappropriate ways that end up hurting other people. I’m not talking holding someone in a motel against their will and beating them up. There’s obviously an intent to harm there. I’m talking someone who makes snide remarks, or gives backhanded compliments-that kind of thing. It’s not okay, but he or she may not realize what she’s doing, or that it’s hurting you. I know that I have historically held such a deep-seated belief in my own inefficacy that I’ve tested my worth by insulting people to see if it affected them. I realize now, of course, that what I was doing was very fucked up. But when nobody reacted by showing they were hurt, I thought it meant nothing I said or did mattered, so I behaved like nothing I did mattered. Before ending the friendship with a person who acts this way, try talking to him. Tell him what he does and how it makes you feel. If he still does it after that, go ahead and detox him. But give him a chance first. Even though his behavior is abusive, he may not be an inherently abusive person.

Sometimes, friendships are worth repairing. Learn more on bettysbattleground.com

Sometimes relationships are toxic and abusive. Sometimes we need to end friendships or cut family members out of our lives. Nobody should feel guilty for ridding herself of an abusive person. If we truly want to support the mental health community and the people in it, however, we need to make sure that the people we detox are truly toxic, and not simply poisoned.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you ever detoxed someone? Been detoxed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Also, it would truly make my day if you could take thirty seconds out of yours to click a share button or two. They are floating over on the side or down below the post.

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Til next time.

39 thoughts on “Why The “Detox Negative People Fad” Hurts The Mentally Ill

  1. WOW I haven’t even read through the whole article yet but I have to tell you, I AM SO FRICKIN HAPPY to see that you posted this. I’ve been thinking about this a LOT lately and I think after I read through this, I may write a response to it on my own blog. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into this article. THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting it. This is a perspective that is /absolutely critical/.

    • As someone who suffers from depression, ptsd and anxiety, I do agree with you, but what about the people that have bdp, for example, and have caused you immense stress and stopped you from healing from an abusive relationship because they keep asking about it and won’t stop even after you ask them to stop with the questions because it’s upsetting you greatly, don’t you have right to put your own mental health first and cut this person from your life to finally fall inner peace?

      • Well I think you asked two questions here–“What about people with Borderline Personality Disorder” and “what about people who continue to act abusively after repeated conversations about the behavior?”
        Everyone deserves the chance to heal regardless of their diagnosis. People with BPD can be kind, sweet, loving people capable of curbing their self-destructive tendencies and living full lives with meaningful relationships. So just because a person has “BPD” does not mean it’s okay to “detox” them.

        Now–if a person is pressuring you or bullying you and you talk to them about it and they refuse to stop, that’s different. But that’s a behavior, not a diagnosis. You wouldn’t be detoxing that person because he or she has BPD; you’d be detoxing that person because she refuses to respect your boundaries. That’s an important distinction.

        • Thank you. That makes sense. I just felt so much guilt for detoxing this person because she has bpd, but wasn’t respecting my boundaries. It makes sense now, because it doesn’t matter whether she has bdp or not, she was not respecting my boundaries and I had a valid rain to detox her from my life.

  2. This is an incredibly important topic and it’s great that you’re spreading awareness for it. You’ve shown it from several different angles which is quite impressive considering that you must only have one opinion on it. Do you often detox negative people from your life?

  3. I have detoxed almost everyone from my life. It wasn’t because they were mentally ill or negative. I’m bipolar and negative so I get it. I cut these people out because they were liars and users. They only showed up when they needed money or their other friends were busy. This decision wasn’t made quickly and it saddened me. Took me years and I did try multiple times to confront them. Didn’t work. 🙁

    • It sounds like you did what you could to make sure you were doing the right thing. Like I said at the end, I’m not arguing that we should NEVER detox anyone. I was in an abusive relationship..I didn’t call leaving him “detoxing,” but I suppose I could have. I’m simply suggesting that in general, all of us be more thoughtful about who we detox and why. Sounds like you had good reasons and did try to work things out in other ways first. I’m sorry that so many people in your life treated you so badly though. <3

  4. I have mixed feelings on the topic. As someone with anxiety, I can see how “dumping toxic people” can harm the mentally ill. However, I have dumped toxic people from my life who were hurting me. Mental illness is also not an excuse to treat other people like crap. There has to be a balance.

    • Mental illness isn’t an excuse for treating people like crap-but it can make you unaware that you’re doing it, or that people care that you’re doing it. If you dump someone without ever having that conversation, it’s unfair and it ultimately helps no one. Also, a lot of people detox people for other reasons, like simply being negative, being perceived as unwilling to change *which sometimes only means their disorder is treatment resistant* or for engaging in disapproved activities that maybe you don’t fully understand

      • My friend got hospitalized for her mental illness about a week and a half ago, but right before she got sent away I found out she had lied to me about being a product of rape. When we first met she told me the story of how she didn’t know who her father was because her mom was raped before coming to America. She told me all these awful things she used to say to her about she wished she had never been born and more. She also told me that no one in her family knew because her mom and her stepdad had decided to keep it a secret. Right before she got sent away I found out that she had told her boyfriend a completely different story. That instead of being a product of rape, she was actually adopted and again no one knew about it because it was a secret. She had told her boyfriend that she had been in foster care, but when I asked her mom about it she was completely clueless. I mean maybe she was adoptive and her mom is hiding it. But when I confronted her about the story she had told me, she told me that it was actually her sisters story, but didn’t really seem to see anything wrong with the lie. Because this lie emerged her boyfriend and I, while she was hospitalized tried to piece things together, figure out what was and wasn’t true. She ended reading through out messages and texting me at 3am calling me “fake”. At that point I was very overwhelmed, and my own anxiety was beginning to flair up. I told her I need a break, that I needed some space to take care of myself. I texted her yesterday to see if I could see her, and explaining that the lie she told me had really hurt me and that I needed some time to process it. In her response she basically accused my of trying to take her boyfriend away because I informed him of her lies, and told me that I had created a situation in which she felt like everyone was against her. She accused me of “never truly being her friend” and basically said that I was pretty much required to be there for her in her time of need. While I understand she needed someone, I was not required to be there for her, especially when being there for her would mean hurting myself. The truth is that she created this whole situation, and yes she might be mentally ill, but I cannot logic with someone who is irrational, and someone who is a master at victimizing herself to a fault. I’m far from perfect, but I also can’t accept all the lies, and the blaming. I was willing to accept my part in this, I did abandon her, and I apologized, but if I had a chance to redo I would make a lot of the same decisions. Especially the time and space that I took. I think she wanted me to fight for our friendship, but I won’t. I’m here if she wants to reach out, but that’s all I have left for her. I feel insanely drained, and I can no longer handle it.

      • This is a great point too.

        I’ve been detoxed by quite a good number of people when I was really in the worst of mental illness and one thing that was hurtful and frustrating was being dumped without anyone even trying to have one conversation about what the problematic behaviour was or any example. Don’t assume someone in poor mental health is going to be taking accurate personal assessments or is deliberately ‘being negative.’

        I really identified with some of your reasoning above.

        When longtime friends suddenly decide as a group, in adulthood no less, to label you ‘toxic,’ ‘disastrous’ (ie depressed, suicidal) but don’t actually have examples of anything you can work on, or give you a chance to change, you feel like it was really just a case of waiting for an excuse to purge a burdensome friend with mental health issues (who by the way, was there for others in similar troubles whenever they needed it).

        • This has just happend to me by a group of friends who have been like family for the past 15 years.
          I have just been thrown out and nobody said why or spoke to me.
          My mental health has deteriorated so bad ow I’m so hurt sad and heartbroken and feel it must be something wrong with me.
          I also now think am I toxic to my kids am I a bad mother if this is what my friends think?is everyone better off without me?
          Just feel lost.
          This article though gave me a little hope

          • I am so sorry Amanda. I know exactly what this feels like. I don’t know you, but I know that nobody deserves to be abandoned simply for struggling. And also that having a mental illness does not make you a bad mother. You deserve better from your friends and family.

          • Thanks, I am so glad I have found Betty’s battle ground don’t think I’ve stopped reading since I have

  5. I love your take on this! It’s good to see it from a different perspective and this side is as important to society as the other! I can understand this because I can totally relate because I’ve been there.

  6. I myself suffer from Anxiety so this article is totally necessary. That being said though, i have never ever let my illness impact on other people. Its important to find ways to deal.

    • It is important to find “ways to deal” but 1: That’s not something we do alone, especially if it’s a severe issue, and 2: We (including you) can’t know if our mental illness impacts others if nobody tells us about it. People get detoxed for doing things they don’t even know are a problem because nobody bothered to sit them down and SAY it.

      • This. Oh my god, this. I have recently been reminded that I’m slipping back into old and destructive patterns, and have subsequently been socially isolated because of them. On the one hand, I understand — nobody should have to put up with my crap. On the other, nobody wants to accept their role in the triggers they tripped for me. And I am at a loss for how to deal with anything at all. I am fortunate to have a couple of friends who are willing to help me through this and are very understanding of me. And I try my best to do differently, I really do. It’s just so, so, SO difficult to try and change the person I am to suit a world order that I do not understand and find unbelievably… unhealthy, is the word I want to use. One that just doesn’t accommodate any value system that isn’t based on relentless, undying false positivity even when it’s just not feasible to do. Like, what. What am I supposed to do, here. I can only take the blame so many times. Why is it always my fault? Why am I always required to change and compromise?

  7. Well this is my first ever response online to anything.
    First, I read your Vox article that addressed methadone in times of natural disasters. I am also on methadone and have often wondered what one does as an addict (on methadone or not) to maintain themselves in times of civil unrest, war or acts of god. Finally someone else out there wonders too!
    And this article. I have been “detoxed” out of many lives many times and until now never questioned whether it was unkind or unfair. I accepted that I was garbage.
    There is so much shame.
    Thank you for being out there.

    • Well, I’m honored to elicit your first ever comment response 🙂 Thank you for reading my writing and taking the time to leave you reactions, it really means a lot to get this kind of encouragement and know that what I’m saying matters to someone. I don’t know you, but I know you aren’t garbage…I carry that feeling within myself too, and other people have helped me feel that way, but that doesn’t make them right. It’s stigma, like you said. And it’s been fed by a lot of misinformation and prejudice. It will take a while to do undo all of that, but if we keep telling our truths, eventually, people will be forced to change their minds, whether they want to or not <3

  8. I have had depression all my life and have been recently diagnosed with treatment resistant depression and have little hope of ever being free of my depression. I know my life experiences and depression have made me a sad and negative person, and as a result, a toxic person, a poisoner to my family and friends. I am now alone in my battle, I understand how hard and exhausting or is to love someone with depression, but it is heartbreaking and soul destroying to be abandoned to fight this noonday demon on my own.

    • I’m so sorry you’re alone, and I feel the same way. On one hand, I know why people don’t want to be around me…on the other hand, I can look across the expanse of my life and see the full spectrum of my behaviors, and I know that the loneliness and abuse preceded any “toxic” behaviors, and I don’t think many people really reached out. It’s hard to understand why some of us are so wholly abandoned, and even harder not to harbor resentment for that. I’m sorry you’re going through it too. We deserve support, but the world, unfortunately, is not just.

  9. I am in a situation where a friend of mine is dealing with severe mental illness and I have tried to be there for her as best as I can for the past few years I have known her, although I admit I have not always known the best way to be there for her, but it’s reached the point where I’ve realized that time and time again I end up with the short stick in our relationship. I understand that many of these “toxic” characteristics are a result of mental illness but at the same time I truly do not know what to do at this point, since (and this has been for years) I have constantly felt my energy being drained and myself constantly being taken advantage of by her. I have addressed this multiple times with her but it feels like we always end up in the same place, back where we started. At the same time I often feel afraid to address broader grievances with her, for fear of her getting angry, but shouldn’t that not be an issue if we are truly close friends?
    I don’t want to stop being friends with her just because of her mental illness and I don’t want it to seem like I’m done being there for her, but at the same time, as a person who struggles with constant guilt for a lot of things, I don’t want to keep myself in a situation that is emotionally harmful because I feel guilty for not being there even for things that may not be entirely to do with her mental illness. I struggle distinguishing sometimes between the effects of her mental illness and what is simply just her personality, I know it isn’t all black and white, but at this point I feel that at least distancing myself is what I need to do. Yikes sorry this is insanely long and personal I’m just writing in the hopes that you have some advice or some words to help clarify things for me lol

    • It sounds like a really difficult situation. But the fact is that you deserve to be respected and cared for by your friends as much as they deserve the same from you. If you feel this person is repeatedly manipulating you, then that’s abusive behavior. For someone with a mental illness or trauma history, being told you’re acting abusively may be hard–but there are ways to get that message across while still being mindful of her feelings. Things like, “I know you don’t mean to hurt me, but sometimes when you call me names, even if you’re joking, it makes me feel bad.” Or whatever the case may be. If she doesn’t stop after that, then she doesn’t really have an excuse. I mean, it’s one thing if she slips up but is mostly trying to change those hurtful behaviors. But if she completely ignores what you’ve told her, then it’s more than just a mental illness. It’s a part of her personality that she’s going to need to acknowledge and change before she can be a friend. You deserve healthy friendships too!

  10. I have a friend who is suffering from severe depression and suicidal tendencies. We have been friends for our entire lives and I have been trying to support her as best as I can, but it’s gotten to a point where I’m afraid that anything I do could trigger her suicidal thoughts or actions. We had mutual friends who she no longer gets along with because they decided to cut out her toxic friendship, but I still spend time with them and she takes it as me not caring about her. Recently, she discovered that I was going to a sleepover with some of her ex-friends. It wasn’t a secret but I didn’t mention it because I didn’t think she needed to know. She took this as me lying to her and attempted suicide because of it. There have been so many instances where she has gotten angry at me or upset enough to try and hurt herself because I made a misstep and I just feel like I’m living in fear. I always try to give her the reins on wether we stay friends because I know I’m one of her only supports, but there’s a part of me that wants her to cut me out. Maybe I’m being incredibly selfish to want to cut her out of my life, but it’s hurting my mental health too. I don’t know how to be a friend to her when I’m constantly afraid of unintentionally doing anything that could hurt her. I feel like I’m in the wrong. Like the things I do are actually terrible and I’m the terrible human being. I just can’t help but want out so I can live my own life.

  11. This happened to me recently with a friend who I thought was one of my best… she kept trying to make me change aspects of my life which she thought were bad for me then after a while she just stopped talking to me. It really hurt me a lot. I’m not having a huge group of friends and I put love into my friends however she senses my negative elements were not good for her and choose to cut me out. I know that she was actively weeding out the nativity in her life because she spoke a lot about it to me, but I was never expecting to be the one she would rid herself of.

  12. I recently detoxed someone from my life. She was once a dear friend of mine, but a few weeks ago sent me a message being incredibly hurtful. Background: I have spent much of our friendship bailing her out of of bad situations and saving her so to speak from herself. She blamed me in that message for not spending more time with her even though every attempt to contact her for the past few months was either ignored (ghosted) or met with a minimal response. I know she has background of bpd, depression, anxiety, that is not formally diagnosed but both she and I agree she likely has some degree of all or some of these conditions. I am usually very patient and forgiving but I deleted her number and have avoided contact because she said she hopes my bf and I break up, and that I fail in life, and that I am a toxic horrible friend. I know I fall short because I am uman but I don’t think anyone deserves this type of treatment. I work a high stress job and deal with anxiety off and on as well as provide for myself and bf. I am not opposed to working things out if she comes to me but I left the ball im her court, letting her know that I’m here but not pushing it. But I wonder if I should

  13. I have this friend who’s been depressed for years and i don’t know when it started. She only opened up to me when we started working. I was there for her for years. Everytime she’d ask to meet up, I would go. We met 1-2x a week. At first I was okay with it. I wanted to be there, but as years passed, there were days that I would just like to stay at home and save money(she didn’t want to meet up at her place since she want a change of environment and she won’t go to our place either as she’s shy with my family).
    In person, she seems okay, everytime we’d go out, she won’t be the sulky type of person you’d expect a depressed person to be, or maybe thats just how i imagined them. But when we txt/chat, all the negativity would drain the life out of me. I don’t know how to respond. Should i listen to her? Should i suggest her things she could do? Should i be understanding? Should i give her tough love? I tried them all but after 4?5? years, nothing’s changed. I can’t go with her to activities that would make her forget her problems as i dont have the funds to do so. She asked me to try a ton of activities with her that i declined since i need to budget my finances for my responsibilities.
    Now, I’m not the type of person who doesn’t have problems,
    I have my own anxieties as well,and it’s gotten worse this year. I lost my job, my family’s a mess, i have the worst confidence. – it felt like everywhere i turn, i cant find a safe place of comfort. I just want everyone to shut up. I want my anxiety to shut up, but it didn’t.
    I became aggressive with everyone and when my friend would chat me tagging along her negative thoughts, I would scold her.
    She told me later on that she’s been afraid to talk to me as I’ve been hard communicate with lately as it felt like anything she’d say would be wrong when in fact she was just joking-according to her. I don’t know, maybe I got tired of all the negative things happening in my life that i just want to lessen it as much as I could.
    We haven’t talked much in months unlike before where we talked daily. Everyday I’d feel guilty for what happened, we drifted apart. I know she’s still depressed , I see her posts on social media sometimes and I ignore them.
    I don’t know if I abandoned her, maybe I did.
    But for the meantime, can i heal first? Or am i just selfish? I don’t know what to do.

    • Nobody should force you to spend money you can’t spend. If it’s that important to your friend that you join her in costly activities, then she can offer to pay for them, yeah? But you shouldn’t feel guilty for not spending money you can’t spend. As for just general friendship–well yes, you deserve to heal. But let me ask you this; you have described having anxieties, feeling grumpy, and snapping at people. These are all symptomatic of your own mental health concerns, perhaps depression. How would you feel if your friends dropped you because of it?

  14. hey, this is a great article and describes what happened to me.
    i had befriended a girl at work. i am a woman too.
    we became really close in a short time. i didn’t have any other friends since i am not from here.

    months passed and she left the job and i stayed. a lot of my coworkers were very rude to me and it was just a toxic environment and i was on the verge to quit every single day. i would cry daily and development an extreme alcohol addiction.
    i was already considered alcoholic but when i worked there i became so addicted that even i realized i have a problem.
    so one day she came ro my job. long story short i was going to get fired because of her. and so i quit.
    i told her about it. and she slowly but gradually stopped talking to me. always acting like she was busy to the point where she now reads my messages and simply ignores them.
    i never once blamed her and always said something nice on holidays.
    mind u she knew about my deepest secrets and my bad state of mind. i was also in a abuive relationship and did not have nobody.
    she just ghosted me.
    i met someone who i thought was a friend through her who i had to detox. this guy was manipulative and selfish and always hiding it with his nice guy facade.
    the truth is he took advantage of me when i was black out drunk. i was manipulated to be in a relationship with him while i was in one already but i had to because i was scared of what this apparent nice guy friend would do if i dont comply. i was at a loss. but i can say now after i detoxes him. i beat my year long self harming behavior and my alcoholism.
    i am alone but so much better off. i am happy with what i got. i am actually happy that i dont have friends. at the end they always hurts me. but i can say i am at my best now. of course i would be better if all this didn’t happen but i live and learn and that what life is about 🙂

  15. Thank you so much for this article.
    A year ago, I almost “detoxed” the guy I now consider my best friend and basically feel about him like about family, and one of the reasons was precisely this idea that friendship has to be a more-less equal balance of giving and receiving, and I felt like I was giving too much and getting very little in return.
    But then I talked to him, and that’s how I became aware of his PTSD – I had known about the very fact before, but I had not understood, before that, to what extent it affected his everyday life and interactions. I think that conversation was, ultimately, what helped us build genuine friendship and what helps, alongside your article and other articles on helping somebody with PTSD, to understand his experience better.
    I have simply made peace with the fact that he is not going to be able – not in the near future, maybe not ever – to be as considerate and helpful to me as I am to him. That I will have to be mindful of his triggers, that he won’t be able to communicate with me as much as I would ideally want. That I will continue to put a lot of effort into maintaining this friendship. But in the end, he’s a wonderful person and I feel like it’s worth it. The whole situation isn’t; it’s not fair that somebody should suffer from that kind of trauma, ever. But I hope I am succeeding in making him feel that I’m not going anywhere and he can count on me to always be on his side.

  16. I have been detoxed for a decade, now. On that long a timeline, I have not only told myself that it means I may not deserve friends the rest of my life–I am 34–but, I have also convinced myself that the people I meet are only made up in my head, to convince me further that I either deserve isolation (and perhaps the trauma that caused it), or that I simply do not deserve good things anymore.
    Most people do not feel real to me, anymore. I fear that the only way I can be convinced, otherwise, is if a friend or lover stays longer than the 6 years my rapist did. I keep using my rapist as a basis of comparison for my relationships. Of course, this is a ton of pressure on the other people, and certainly on myself. So I avoid people altogether, by staying in bed and having panic attacks or blackouts if I leave my apartment.
    Being detoxed and rejected tells my mind that I deserve rape & isolation, before I deserve new friends or lovers or sunlight.

    • I’m so sorry. Humans can be so disappointing. I hope you eventually find people who cherish you and that you’re able to recognize your own inherent worth. You DON’T deserve to be raped and excluded from life.

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