Friend just told me I have a mental illness

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Michelle_NZ, May 12, 2006.

  1. Michelle_NZ

    Michelle_NZ New Member

    I cant believe it.

    I rang an old friend who I know has HIV. When we last spoke, he talked of how he had wanted to take his own life but he managed to get to a place of acceptance of his illness.

    Well, I thought I would ring him to talk about his process of acceptance - because I am struggling with that myself.

    So, we had been talking for about 30 minutes and I had explained my entire situation to him, including when I got sick with a viral infection, how I initially recovered and then relapsed in Dec 05.

    I explained in detail the physical aspects of CFS - how sick I feel, the extent of the fatigue, nausea, headaches, body pain, low blood pressure, dizziness, numbness in my body, chronic insomnia etc etc

    And then, he says to me "Well Michelle, our situations are quite different because what you are dealing with is a mental illness, and I have a physical illness."

    WHAT?!?!? Sometimes I just want to scream.
  2. Michelle_NZ

    Michelle_NZ New Member

    The thing that stuns me is we had just spent 30 minutes discussing my PHYSICAL symptoms. I explained to him how I need to rest after my shower because I am out breath.

    I told him about the pain, and exhaustion that come with CFS - how disabled I have become.

    He made all the right noises while listening, and asked questions etc "Oh that sounds horrible, I dont know what to say etc etc"

    But then to turn around and say "You have a mental illness". Was he listening at all to what I already said - clearly not.

    Thanks for your comments folks
    Take care
  3. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    I am sorry your friend disappointed you like this.
    It seems you were there for him but maybe he does not want to be there for you.
    Perhaps with all chronic illness we are somewhat affected mentally, (like depression and anxiety) just from dealing with it all, but the illness comes first.
    Sorry your friend can't see the big picture.
    By the way, why don't you call back and let him know how this upset you. His attitude is like some doctors, if they can't find abnormal test results they conclude it is all in your head. You don't expect this from a friend.
    Even if he thought that, it was insensitive to say to you.
    [This Message was Edited on 05/12/2006]
  4. Amy143

    Amy143 New Member

    I am so sorry too~ My entire family said that to me, and still says I have depression. I never had depression in my life, then one day woke up in severe physical pain and next thing I knew I did not sleep for 5 years straight, and that will ame a person go coo coo. The disease can drive a person crazy, the person is NOT crazy, it is dealing with the ignorance in handling these diseases. I feel sorry for your friend that said that to you, how cruel. I would have said, well yes I am very sick, but you see? You will die before me. I know that sounds harsh, but what you give is what you get. (I mean your friend)Tell your friend I said to get a life and research more before assuming like a bitter ass.
  5. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    Please don't tell your friend he will die before you,
    that is too cruel. It will not make you feel better.

    Lashing out in anger is easy but you can never take those words back.

    (No offense to the person who recommended that).
    [This Message was Edited on 05/12/2006]
  6. Lolalee

    Lolalee New Member


    I am curious. What did you say to your friend when he said you are dealing with a mental illness?

  7. kalina

    kalina New Member

    I am so sorry your friend treated you that way. That's a strange thing to say from someone who should know better.

    My CFS was also "diagnosed" as a mental illness by a person I thought of as my friend, so I know it hurts. More than enough to make you want to scream.

  8. butterfly8

    butterfly8 New Member

    Sorry that your friend has left you feeling so bad.

    It sounds like he has his own demons to deal with. Perhaps they are so bad that he is not in a position to really understand yours - which are also very real.

    Cfs puts a strain on all relationships and if your friend has hiv then the strain is even worse.

    I KNOW that your illness is not a mental illness - now just make sure that you know it too.
  9. KMD90603

    KMD90603 New Member

    And by ignorance, I don't mean that he is a bad person. He obviously just does not understand the magnitude of this disease. No, our disease will not kill us like HIV. However, sometimes I think that's even worse. Because the thought of having to live with these symptoms for the rest of my life is extremely scary. Some people say that it can just "go away." However, after being sick for 9 years, I highly doubt it's going anywhere.

    Anyway, your friend is definitely uninformed about CFS. Maybe you could find some good, solid information on it and have him read it. Immune support has LOTS of info about CFS on it. Send the website to him, and ask him to look at it. If he's a true friend, he will be open minded about it. It seems as if he's minimizing your illness because he's comparing it to HIV.

    Hope this helps . Gentle healing hugs,
  10. starmom

    starmom New Member

    I think I would probably have been too stunned to react at the time. But I might call and drop the line that "I am so sorry for your ignorance. Your comment the other day really showed me that I cannot rely upon your judgement and support."

    Just me,


  11. julieisfree05

    julieisfree05 New Member


    I'm so sorry about what your "friend" said to you.

    You aren't the first person here (nor will you be the last) to hear that..I've heard it too!

    You may want to try having him look at this website:

    It's Dr. Robert Bennett's site and he's one of the top FM/CFIDS researchers in the world. There is a link to a page that "debunks" the myth that these illnesses are psychological in nature. He explains the brain problems, chronic pain and fatigue, HPA Axis dysfunction, and the objective evidence for our symptoms. It's more of a site for FM, but there is information on CFIDS too.

    Good luck.. sometimes you just can't change a person's pre-conceived ideas..

    julie (is free!)

    You can't fix stupid! - Ron White
  12. bluestanglady

    bluestanglady New Member

    I totally understand where you're coming from. My best friend (or so I thought was my best friend) I found out was telling people that she didn't believe I was sick at all -- that I was doing it for attention. (Let's just say she's not my friend anymore). This is a person who I confided in and we were at each other's houses with our families every weekend. She was someone who I thought would always be there. Sure, I wanted the attention so I ruptured a disk in my neck, had surgery, then got FM, lost my business and went on disability, losing about $40K a year. Most people don't understand FM and never will and it's best to just stay away from the negative people in your life.
  13. Michelle_NZ

    Michelle_NZ New Member

    Lolalee - to answer your question of what did I say to him when he said it was a mental illness? I barely had time to think of anything - I was in shock. I said "What?!" And then I said "It is NOT a mental illness, and that attitude is part of why I have found this to be hard."

    I was upset about it, and it bugged me all the next day. Then I emailed him a copy of the "What is ME/CFS?" document, and my own personal CFS story.

    To give him credit when he replied, he stated in his email that I had helped him understand it better, and wished me a speedy recovery.

    Ggiggi - yes I mentioned that statement from the latest research, and included it in my email to him.

    I still have heard nothing back from many of the people I sent my awareness email to last week. I'm getting ready to move on I think. I just have to accept that some of my friends will not be there for me.

    Take care

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