***Oldest friend decides she needs airfresheners now, I'm MCS***

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Jeanne-in-Canada, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Ok, this is eating a hole in me and I need some objective opinions. The oldest friend I have left, met her 20 yrs ago at a party, then we became fst friends a few years later. We haven't lived in the same town for 6 yrs and have drifted apart some. And I feel she's put several wedges in our friendship.

    The first hurdle from about 5 yrs back is that she doesn't visit me in Ottawa anymore. She's in Pembroke which is my hometown and it's only an hr and half away. I go there a bit more for my family. I've tried everything to get her here again, even offered busfair, a drive. She has a type of mental illness and has been on disability far longer than me, so she gets stressed out easy. But I still have to listen to all the other places and people she visits. It took me years to get past it, and some hard feelings, but I decided to get over myself and accept that I must stress her out to visit for too long.

    She's changed alot since starting menopause too. I just don't think I can take the last hurdle she put up, plug-in airfresheners. She knows it's my worst perfume allergy. She "forgot" how sensitive I was when I asked her to remove them completely from her apt. for days before I came. She put them in another room. I lasted 10 mins before I became incoherant and had to leave. We went to the nearest restaurant and visited.

    I don't know what her problem is. She might as well be spraying Raid at me. She still wants to talk, and if I could get past it, we'd have 2 hr calls still. I suspect this is a passive aggressive way to keep me away. Recently it occurred to me she's trying to see what lengths I'll go to to have her as a friend. Could anyone be that insensitive that they jsut don't get it, she seemed to one good friend that once did? She rationalizes that I'm not around much.

  2. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

  3. Rose_Red

    Rose_Red New Member

    It's sad but yes, people can be that insensitive.

    It certainly sounds passive agrresive. On the other hand, they don't call it the 'menopause monster' for nothing. Maybe she thought you were exagerating about the air fresheners. If it happens again you'll know for sure.

    One of the best things we can do is to remove ourselves from toxic people. Is the stress and worry worth the symptoms it's causeing?

    Maybe it's time to redefine the friendship. It could become a telephone friendship - you can cntinue your 2 hour phone calls but know that visiting will be limited to lunch when you come to town. Just a thought.

  4. PepperGirl52

    PepperGirl52 New Member

    My ex-best friend of 20+ years is an alcoholic and has some other mental health issues,as well. I never really thought a lot about them until I became so affected by the fibro.

    It seems that one benefit, if you will, of this disease, is that it really clarifies some important things for us, and causes us to put things into perspective.

    I agree with one of the other posters. If she is becoming toxic, and it's causing you more stress than happiness to be around her, then time to reevaluate the relationship.

    Good luck!! I know it isn't easy, and starting with just being 'phone friends' could be a better way to a long-term break up or it may even allow her to realize how much you mean to her vs any chemicals she would choose to put in her apt! People out there just don't think or don't realize how little things can be so huge for us!

    Take care!!! PG
  5. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    Dear Jeanne,
    This must be really hard for you to bear. I can empathize with you. However, let me tell you about meonpause.

    Some people, when they go into menopause, do change. sometimes things that didn't bother them before, really do now, like odors. There is also that fear of getting that "old person smell", either in your home or on your person.(She may start wearing perfume.Sometimes menopause brings on "little leaks" and one fears an odor).

    Also, is can be very true that she forgot about your reaction to fragrances. There is a strange thing that happens and it is that sometimes, the brain kind of "stops", at one point, and people do things they never would have done before, and say things they never would have said before.

    This is a very strange phenomenon. In fact, some people become totally different people from what they were before. The good thing is that this usually doesn't last that long. Please try to give her space for some months, until her body begins to even out. She probably in only half conscious of your reactions,and doesnt really want to hurt you . The last thing she probably wants, is to separate herslf from you, even though she seems to be doing just that.

    Don't take it personally. Please try to be patient, give her space, and see if she has come around in 6 months or so. I know you need a friend, but she can't help what is happening to her, any more than you can help what's happening to you.

    We are here for you.
  6. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I really need to sort this out once and for all. Trying to talk to her probably wont' happen. She hates confrontation. Beleive me, I've tried to address the fact she doesn't visit me anymore. I get denial, excuses, and even got hung up on once.

    To Adl,

    Some of the things you say aoubt menopause fit her. She never was a perfume wearer, until maybe 10 yrs ago, well after I developed MCS. I wasn't thrilled aobut it, but we've worked around it and she's been considerate when she visits and I visit.

    I know she has a fear of aging now and losing her looks, she talks about it alot actually. And we've had a big strain on our friendship because this terrible jealousy and resentment has come out in her. I'm a few years younger, but mostly I've stayed trim, she's gotten really heavy. I know she's sensitive about that, big time, she tells me rude stuff her family says to her and her husband. They can't help it much, they are on heavy anti-psychotic meds and you all know hw certain meds can make you just balloon uncontrollably.

    I've been as careful as I can about that, it's one of her hot buttons. She appreciates that I don't bug her about it. The thing about giving her a few mths w/ the menopause and personality changes is it's been at least 8 yrs, w/the last 4 being marked changes and unpredictable temper. She knows she's out of control, she was always the sweetest, gentlest person and she's definitely not that anymore. I understand that part, I was very volotile when i was trying to adjust to FM and becoming MCS and she put up w/ me. So I was all set to tough it out, and just back off when I need to.

    She knows how MCS I am. I've cried on her shoulder just last year about how I wasn't sure if Ron and I could last because he was always forgeting my allergies and she was on my side. That if I had to get my own place for my health and to ensure a safe environment to do it.

    then last I visit, she has airfresheners. She says the cats smell. She has always had cats, they smoke like chimneys, as I've pointed out, who could smell cats past all that smoke. her and her husband have been considerate enough to smoke outside, or just in their bedrm when I'm there. She totally knows how chemicals make me suffer, and that the payback can last a week. I informed her last yr, before her airfresheners, taht I wasn't going to be around them anymore for anyone, it's just too high a price for me. The timing seems rather suspect. But yet she made a comment when i hadn't phoned in awhile, "I thought maybe you'd given up on me too".

  7. ilovecats94

    ilovecats94 New Member

    The only thing you can do is to explain to her, once again, and tell her that in the future you'll have to meet in public places or she'll have to come to your home. Since she won't, I don't know what you can do.

    We have no smoking here in our house. Several of us are allergic to smoke. I have lost close friends because of this smoking issue.

    Certain odors don't bother me and then others do. There was a time when my husband just cooking--the odor of that would bother me and almost make me ill.

    I wish I could help you. Just wanted you to know that I'm sorry this has happened and I wish there was some constructive advice I could offer you.

    I haven't answered many of your posts in the past because I generally just don't have anything to say that would help you. I just wanted you to know that I have a lot of respect for you and I do read a lot of your posts.
    You have been one of the big helpers on the board for others always. Thanks for all you do and have done.

    Best to you,
  8. Francey54

    Francey54 New Member


    This is a tough one. Friends sometimes are good for us and sometimes they are not. Your friend obviously is goingf through some tough menopause and her mental state may be affecting your relationship.

    I know how it is to have strong odors around that drive you crazy. I can not tolerate any perfumes, airfreshners, cleaning products, detergent and softners. The biggest offensive for me is anything that smells gardeny or floral, UGGGGGH, I run out holding my nose!

    I don't know what advice to give you with your friend, but maybe you should pull back a little and see how she reacts. If she is still your true friend, she should see that you are feeling pushed aside and will make an attempt to reestablish a caring relationship.

    Good luck Jeanne, you are one of the most helpful responder to others posts, I hope I can offer you some comfort.

    I am here for you as you have been here for me. I wish you the best and please let me know how things turn out with your friend.

    God Bless.

    Love and hugs,

  9. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    As for the why vs. the what. I think they are intertwined, but even if I ignore the why of it. The reality of the situation is this. Even if she suddenly wanted to visit, I wouldn't have her here now. A practical matter, I'm not vindictive, she'd walk in w/ all her stuff and my whole house would smell like an airfreshener.

    I don't know if you appreciate the level of sensitivity here. When some people visit, depending on how strong I am (how much sleep, etc) I can have to open window, turn aircleaners full blast, use fans and air for hours to get the smells they bring in out. Ron has a friend whose clothes smell so strong (we don't even know what it is either, he doesn't wear cologne) I can put the thickest wool blanket where he sits and it will still take a week and lots of rigamorole before I sit where he was again.

    My new rule to protect myself is that if someone screws up w/ airfresheners once, I just don't go again. I'm up all night, the pain kickback is excruciating, it's not worth it for anyone anymore. She knows all this too. So I can't visit her again.

    I just don't know, sure I can bend over backwards and forget the fact she's left me w/ no place to stay when I visit Pembroke. But even if we just do lunch, I can't even hug her anymore, can't pick up her cats, nothing.

    So you can say it's not about me, ignore it, but I can't. In the meantime, she's phoned a few times in last mth or so and I don't feel much like getting back to her. I'm not good at leaving things tense and unsaid, I'm not a good pretender. I've talked to her about it a bit, she says she's gotten attached to having the a.f.'s. I said I hoped she was attached to me after all these years. I've made my stance, she's made hers, what's left? She does have the luxury of changing her position, I don't.

    A prayer, and one last call to see if she's rethunk perhaps?

  10. lana33

    lana33 New Member

    I suffer from depression and am going thru menopause. I have not lost my mine yet though.lol

    I just wanted to say. This is my opinion only. My mom died 2 years ago. She was manic-depressive all my life. But we found out when I was 14. However, she was very manipulative. She came off as very kind and so nice to some people.

    She always played mind games with me and always made me feel guilty. This was part of the abuse I went thru growing up. Everyone always said,"You know she has a mental illness".

    But she used this to her benefit. I thought a long time ago it would all be clear to me when she dies. And I would understand then. Well it is clear to me now and it was then.

    I at least stopped feeding her behavior about the last 5 or so years before she died. I always wanted us to be close but she refused to acknowledge her ways or to change.

    I hope this helps.

  11. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I think I know what you are saying, but I guess you are staying vague out of prudence. Just incase I may be offended at your viewpoint perhaps?

    Well, I'm not, Iv'e wondered myself. She has gotten quite nasty the last few years, I don't get to see too too much of the old Sue. I'd like it if you would be more specific. You sound very bright and in the know. How did you change the dynamics w/ MommyDearest in her last 5 yrs?

  12. lana33

    lana33 New Member

    I couldn't change my Mom's behavior. But she knew when she really wanted me around for any decent amount of time, she would act normal.

    However, this was not a consistent thing. She seemed to get pleasure from making me feel bad. She would say things to make me angry, if I didn't jump for the bait she would keep changing an issue or subject around to try and get me to argue.

    I was with her at to some degree all my life so I can't give you every example. I just believe that it depends on what mental illness a person has as to how much they take in.

    I was a nurse before I quit working and worked in a mental health facility. Even some schizophrenic people can reason to a certain degree.

    I don't mean to offend you or anyone here. Just stating my opinion.

    [This Message was Edited on 09/03/2005]
  13. pepper

    pepper New Member

    Air fresheners should be banned! Perfumes too! I hear that they have proposed banning perfumes in all public buildings in Ottawa. I don't know how they could ever enforce it but at least it might make people more aware that there are people like us out there that suffer from these things.

    I have the same problem as you do with people who claim to care for me still dousing themselves in perfume and plugging in those darn air fresheners. In my case, I believe that there is no animosity involved, just lack of knowledge and lack of understanding.

    I have said it over and over again and still they do not get it. Your friend has some type of mental illness. Could this be contributing to her inability to understand your MCS? My family and friends don't have that excuse and they seem unable to empathize.

    That is an interesting point that someone made about perhaps she is trying to avoid the "old people smell".

  14. lana33

    lana33 New Member

    From what I understand, you don't want her to do away with them for good. Just when she knows you will visit stop them for a couple days and until you leave from your visit.

  15. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Mostly I want her to stop whatever crap she is pulling. I've known her 20 years, she was never an airfreshener or even scented candle person. I'm the best friend she has left, why would she start now, knowing full well what it puts me through?

    She used to get really mad about an ex I had. I adored him, he actually was manic depressive and he and his whole family were into the plug-ins. When we got serious he changed everything (and for me w/ a bf, it's all body, soap, cleaning products), but if we had a big fight he'd plug them back in, knowing I'd be suffering at his place and jsut from his clothes for over a mth because of it. She couldn't believe I'd take crap like that from him.

    When I try and impress on you guys how much she totally knows about me, and really gets it, she does. There is no way she is just forgeting, or that she doesn't get it. We've both stood on our heads for each other through thick and thin.

    Ron's family doesn't get it, it took Ron forever to get it. I do know the difference. I'm sure you do too Pepper, between those that don't get, and the ones who just don't care. My girlfriend Sue is a very bright lady, people don't know when they meet her and her hubby that they would be psychotic w/out their meds.

    I think Lana is onto something. Sue has turned our friendship into something on her terms, it's not much of a democracy anymore. And she has developed this intense jealousy and covetness of people, and of me for certain things. She's even aware of it about the never being satisfied w/ what she has, she mentions it often enough. And we had a big blowout a few years ago over her jealousy (just so happened to be staying w/ her for a wk) because I stood up for myself and refused to feel guilty about her favourite thing to get on my case about.

  16. helpeachother

    helpeachother New Member

    Hi Jeanne, sorry about your illness and frustration.

    Ive got the CFS FM LD etc and for 4 or so years now WOrsening MCS. Its recently getting so bad that the tiniest things that didnt even used to bother even me are now making me sick.

    But I certainly must say that the family friends and loved ones that accidently or on-purpose do these things are so unwilling to respect our wishes and illness. They are disgraceful. It happens to me over and over and it truly tries its best to "get" me.

    What I have figured out, now that the MCS is at the very very bad stage, is just NOT to allow these folks near me (this is after time and time again of explanations, articles and promises) and just hope that they soften their selfish hard hearts. I pray for them.

    Its funny and I think we may have bonded here- one of my explanations that i repeatedly use is the one about spraying RAID in my face (just like in your post), then sometimes add about being hit in the head by a hammer.

    It is very hard to accept this behaviour from loved ones but we have to move on with our anger or it will take away from the allotment of productivity and health that we do have.

    The simplest way that I look at this is to think back 10 years before all the illness, and imagine that someone tried to explain MCS to me. You can't understand it. Of course, you could respect the ill person's wishes. That takes real insight and compassion.

    Please hang in there and try to heal. Please do not knowingly expose yourself to the offending toxins since once the "toxic body burden" fills you up, you may not be able to bring it down. Much love and Peace.

  17. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    Dear Jeanne,
    I began to think that maybe she did want a break, until your last line, when she says that she was afraid you had given up on her, too. Maybe even she doesn't understand what is happenng to her. It could be the meds.

    All I know is that sometimes , after menopause, and when we are sick, we do things we wouldn't do ordinarily.

    I have a friend who is very sensitive to fragrances. I don't wear them around her. I usually wear them all the time, when she is not around. One day we were shopping and walked near the cosmetic section. I walked right over and sprayed myself with a perfune sample, which is something I always have loved to do. As soon as I had done it I remembered her sensitivity, and I felt bad, and apologized. Now, normally I would not have done such a thing.

    I remember my mom doing and saying kind of inapprepriate things in her later years, that she would never had done or said before. Like, one time she spoke to me in Spanish in fron of a guest who did not understand the language. Ordinarily she never would have done such a thing. I just can't explain it. I don't think people mean anything by it, though.

    Maybe someone else has an idea.

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