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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I have a ‘friend’ who, despite being 30 years old, lives with her parents and continues to act, at all times, like a melodramatic child. I will call her Mary.

Mary and I met at university. She was a bit batty but she could be jolly good fun. However, as the years passed and her frustrations at her ailing career and love life grew, she became increasingly histrionic and volatile, lashing out easily over what she perceived as any slights against her, which in turn resulted in my cutting our contact down to a bare minimum.

We broke off our youthful friendship, rather dramatically, in our early 20s, after I found a very expensive make-up compact of mine sitting, totally unconcealed, on the sink in the bathroom of her parent’s home. Mary had been with me when I discovered it was lost, and she had seen me turn my place totally upside down looking for it. It was a gift from a dear friend who lived interstate and I was gutted to have lost it.

And yet there it was, several months later, obviously heavily used, in Mary’s bathroom. It was a collector’s item and I knew for a fact she did not have the same one. I confronted her about it, with the compact in hand, and can you imagine what she said?

Without a beat or an inch of shame: “Well I’m glad you took it back, I thought the colours looked cheap on me anyway.”


I was livid. And worst of all I was stuck overnight with this thieving loon as her parents lived a few hours away from my home. I left the next day, vowed not to see her again, and didn’t, for years.

Eventually we both got older and, putting down that incident to a wild time in both our pasts – we did tend to party a lot in those days – I started to chat to Mary again as we had mutual friends.

Boy, I did I regret it. I quickly learned she had zero manners – zero – where my newly-purchased apartment was concerned. At first it was small things, like dropping food over the couch and on the floor and leaving it there, staring at it, but not picking it up, and ashing her cigarettes all over my house. And then it got worse.

She’d pick up ornamental jars of vintage candy I had placed in my kitchen and, despite being told to put them down, shake them repeatedly like a kid at Christmas. I pleadingly explained that I had spent some time arranging the candy wrappers inside the jars just so, but she became obsessed with shaking them the second I turned away, and would just do it again and again. Once, she even quickly ate some of the candy, which was over sixty years old.

On one particularly irritating day, against my better judgement I had Mary over to dinner. She insisted on making dessert and so brought over some chocolate, custard and cake to make into a quick trifle. However she cut the chocolate and cake into pieces on my bench top, with no chopping board, leaving long, chocolate-y cuts all through the wood, and then she’d thrown the chocolate encrusted knife straight back in the drawer. She’d also made a wild mess by pulling a bag of crushed nuts upside down from pantry and just leaving the trail behind her. Naturally she served this dessert in my antique champagne glasses even though I’d left out dessert bowls.

After that experience I was rather lax in inviting Mary over again, but one day I sadly relented, having fallen for her wailed excuses of feeling down following a break up.

We got to talking, light heartedly, about our failings in relationships, and she listed some of mine. It was a harsh but true comment, so I laughed and agreed. I then told Mary that her main failing was a lack of self-awareness – she often didn’t notice she’d pushed people a little too far.

Suddenly, she turned ice cold, got up, spun on her heel, slammed the door, and left.

Obviously, I had offended her. As she’d said something just as candid to me, I let it go and decided my relationship with this woman was truly, truly was done.

The next day my buzzer rang and there was Mary at the door, calmly telling me she’d left her sunglasses behind the night before.

She hadn’t, but I let her in to look, and what followed I can only describe as lunacy.

Mary stalked around my house for a time, then settled at my sunroom window and lit a cigarette. She began talking, her voice etched with barely held-back rage, growing ever louder, about what a sick and cruel person I was. She raved that by pointing out her failings the night before, I had done what she compared to “poking a cancer patient over and over and screaming: ‘You’re sick! You’re sick! You’re dying!’”

Now she was screaming. I told her she was being melodramatic, but that was the last word I got in. For the next hour, I was treated to wailing, screaming and stamping as she recounted every last thing I ever said or did in our history that she considered cruelty I’d inflicted against her. That was the best of it – the rant soon descended into gibberish, and at one point she pulled her own hair and slapped her own face while screaming about various people that were apparently conspiring against her.

At this point my housemate arrive home and he could not believe what he was seeing – this blubbering, screaming lunatic taking over our home. He immediately suggested I call the police but I truly didn’t want to get my crazy old friend arrested. So, with a big hoist, he pushed my friend out the door and threw her bag after her.

She banged on the front door screaming obscenities along the lines of, “How could you do this to me?”, and actually asking, “Why have you thrown me out?” Then she suddenly stopped.

The next day, we realized she had stolen our doormat.

Needless to say, I never spoke to Mary again, though here is the kicker – she still texts me from time to time wanting to catch up, just like nothing happened. 1115-11


I am a very tenacious and loyal friend who will overlook immaturity, odd behavior and eccentricities in the hopes the person will eventually grow out of them.  You seem to be the same in that you don’t give up on friends easily.  Unfortunately we discover that some people aren’t worth the investment we make in them and that the time has come to starve the relationship into withering away.

{ 89 comments… add one }
  • --Lia November 17, 2011, 6:17 pm

    I wondered about bipolar, narcissism, and borderline also. The part that threw me was the apparent relationship with things, first stealing a beloved item, then trashing others. I’d never heard of that before, and thought of kleptomania. The self-centered behavior, the disregard for others’ feelings, the mood swings, the drama, the hitting herself, the melt-down, those all fit together. I think we could all do well to learn what the police actually do when they get calls about dangerously erratic behavior. I like to think they’re trained to know when to bring in a mental health professional much the same as they should know if a wound needs only a band-aid or an ambulance. One way or the other, the OP, if she knew then what she knows now, could have started recommending a psychiatrist after the compact incident.

  • boxy November 17, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Wow. Just, wow.

  • MellowedOne November 17, 2011, 7:31 pm

    OP: Talk to her parents. I’m sure they already know the full story (and may enlighten you), but they need to know that Mary is a potential danger to herself and others, and that she needs quality professional help.

  • Echo November 17, 2011, 8:49 pm

    Is it bad that I laughed at her stealing the doormat? “This’ll teach them. Yeah, watcha gunna wipe your feet on now, huh?”

    OP, please please please do not give this person another chance.

  • Dash November 17, 2011, 11:50 pm

    To those questioning how you allow someone like this to remain in your life, I offer this simple explanation: it is far less damaging than the alternative. Someone with this sort of personality disorder, when spurned, tends to lash out and bring torment upon anyone who dares suggest they aren’t the epitome of perfection. My heart goes out to the OP, as someone who is in a similar situation. If only it were easier to get them help.

  • Bea November 18, 2011, 12:17 am

    I just need to say that the armchair diagnosing going on in these comments is ridiculous. Sure, I’ll agree that Mary probably has some issues. But people naming specific disorders, giving warnings about knives, recommending courses of treatment, and making judgment calls about what they believe she has? Do you have a medical degree? Do you know anything about this person other than some info given in a few paragraphs? As someone with very dear family and friends who really do have mental illness issues, it’s disgusting, stereotypical, and offensive to hear this kind of stuff being said by those claiming etiquette. It’s not your area of expertise. Don’t pretend to be an expert. All you’re doing is furthering stereotypes and mental illness-bashing with the superiority and the assumptions.

    • admin November 18, 2011, 9:58 am

      The comments about the mental health of Mary have gotten quite out of hand and short of deleting all of them, I suggest people focus on how one interacts civilly with a person who one suspects is not emotionally or mentally stable.

  • Lady Macbeth November 18, 2011, 12:35 am

    Though schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder are definite explanations for Mary’s outlandish and overly dramatic behavior, my (non-professional but derived from weekly psycho-dynamic therapy sessions spanning five years) guess is borderline personality disorder. My sophomore year roommate in college was most certainly borderline (undiagnosed though), and her behavior was marked by extreme attention seeking measures and a general lack of self-awareness. If she felt insufficient attention was paid to her in casual social situations, she would scream at the top of her lungs and bolt out of the room, expecting one or more members of the group to remorsefully pursue her and plead with her to return. When she was not getting what she wanted from her boyfriend at the time, she would run into walls in the dorm hallways, trip on pathways outside, or fall up or down stairs. Fortunately for me, I convinced her to move out mid-way through the school year, resulting in a well-deserved and much enjoyed double-single for my second semester (and hardly coincidentally my best semester academically and socially in college).

  • Marna November 18, 2011, 2:34 am

    Sounds to me like Mary isn’t so much a violator of etiquette as she is mentally ill. Hers are not the actions of a RATIONAL person.

  • Marna November 18, 2011, 2:42 am

    I have no way of knowing Mary’s situation, and the OP likely does, and perhaps Mary is a lazy lout with no job and no means of supporting herself, but I’m tired of seeing “living with family” tossed around like some insult. –Gracie C.

    Or possibly Mary is so far out in left field, she is UNABLE to live on her own.

  • Cat November 18, 2011, 3:38 am

    I would not begin to guess what the lady’s problem is but it is obvious that you cannot help her and, given her extreme reactions, she might be capable of harming you, emotionally if not physically.

    Friendship is based on two people capable of equal interactions. It does not seem to be working for you. A friend does not trash your apartment, steal from you, and make accusations against you in the way that she did.

    If she lives with her parents, I rather think they are aware of the problems that she has. I would allow them to deal with their daughter as they think best without informing them of my opinion. Generally speaking, they probably won’t appreciate it. Parents tend to believe and support their child, of whatever age. You don’t know what she has told them about you and they may see you as the problem person.

  • anonymous November 18, 2011, 5:18 am

    I haven’t read the comments yet so someone has probably already said this, but Mary sounds like she’s developed some mental issues. Pulling hair and slapping herself? That’s not “melodramatic” or “crazy” in the way we use to describe people who are not actually mentally unstable but just overly eccentric or socially awkward…that’s a straight-up “see a psychiatrist and therapist NOW” problem.

  • anonymous November 18, 2011, 5:21 am

    I should also add – I have a lot of eccentricities. I would hope that no friend of mine would stick around hoping that I’d grow out of them (they’re harmless as eccentricities go – more in terms of personal tastes and following a life path that deviates from the norm, not hurting or bothering others). I would hope that friend would like me *because* of them. If I found out a friend who otherwise liked me was quietly hoping I’d “outgrow” my eccentricities and become…what? Normal?, I’d probably end that friendship. I wouldn’t want to be eccentricity-free. A roomful of non-eccentric people can be a very boring place, indeed.

    Although it is possible that the admin has a different idea of “eccentric” than I do.

  • Bint November 18, 2011, 7:01 am

    Yep, I’m with everyone who thinks she’s ill.

    I’m also with everyone who thinks you should stay away from her.

  • The Op November 18, 2011, 8:42 am

    hi there everyone! OP here. Mary is a few sandwiches sort of a picnic basket but I assure you she’s more than sane 99 percent of the time, drug-free and very, very aware that the way she is acting is not okay – she is however prone to acts of wild selfishness and screaming, child like tantrums which I believe come from being incredibly coddled by wealthy parents. She is also an actress, and one who had at one time a fair bit of success, if that sheds any light on the issue!

  • The Op November 18, 2011, 8:50 am

    Ps. I saw her again after the compact run-in as the night it went missing we’d had a fair bit to drink – I thought maybe she drunkenly took it and said that horrible ‘cheap’ comment as she was so shocked to have been uncovered as a thief.

    I will add that after all your concern, I might well suggest she seek some counselling if I speak to her again! I had grown rather used to her hysterical outbursts, and I know for a fact she can shut them off at the drop of a hat should she be pacified and told what she wants to hear. Nonetheless, we could both do with a lie on the shrink’s couch after our last run in I imagine.

  • Stepmomster November 18, 2011, 9:28 am

    I’m with Rug Pilot on this one, her behavior sounds like bipolar disorder. My ex was bipolar and his hook was to constantly want to sue people, and he took the simplest things personally…if i left a cheese wrapper on the counter, it was specifically because I was trying to ruin his day. The OPs freind needs counseling and behavior modification. (Anger Management and a support group).

    The OP needs a good lock on her door and caller ID.

  • The Elf November 18, 2011, 10:25 am

    Yes, armchair diagnoses are inevitable but ultimately useless. Unless your a psychologist and Mary is your patient, anyway. And then you shouldn’t be posting!

    I have family members who are not stable and a couple of friends who have various ailments. One thing is that you have to know your own limits. I cannot deal with one certain person when he’s having a really bad episode. I just can’t. So, I make an excuse and walk away. I’m sorry if that sounds cold, but I have to protect my own sanity too. In the case of one family member, I’ve had to reduce contact to the most superficial level. I’d cut him out if it wouldn’t cause too much family strife. This person is not getting treatment and there was one unacceptably bad thing that left me wondering if I was going to be the person on the 6pm news saying “I knew he had some issues, but I had no idea he was planning THIS!” Before I get flamed, let me point out that I spoke to an expert and together we determined that there is nothing I can do. The mentally ill have rights too, and unless I can demonstrate specific and immediate threats to his person or others, my hands are tied. In this person’s case, I fear it there will be some sort of violent act before he gets the treatment he needs.

    But other than those extreme examples, the way I’ve dealt civilly with someone who is not stable is with a lot of forgiveness and a little planning. Intent matters a lot to me, so I’ll consider if this person intended something malicious or if they were just awkward or clueless. If I think they meant well, I forgive. If I think they didn’t, I’ll consider that behavior within the lens of the illness and maybe chalk it up to the disease rather than the core person. In that case, I’ll try to limit the circumstances which took us to whatever they did.

    Which brings me to the planning. There are some things that bring out the worst in some people, like alcohol. If I don’t drink, they may not be tempted to drink. If we meet for lunch, not dinner, it’s less likely alcohol will be involved. Perhaps it is the press of people that brings out the instability, so instead of going out to eat you get take-out. Whatever works best.

  • --Lia November 18, 2011, 10:27 am

    Here’s a thank-you to Bea and the admin for the wake-up about throwing around mental health diagnoses without the experience or professional knowledge to know what I’m talking about. Good question: How does one maintain a relationship with someone who might act like that. Some thoughts come to mind: Since she seems to attack valued things like compacts, candy jars, and doormats, I’d recommend seeing her, if I was going to see her, in public places, restaurants or parks where we could talk and laugh without personal possessions coming into play. Alcohol wasn’t mentioned as a problem, but I’d suggest keeping away from bars. Alcohol doesn’t always make things worse for someone who isn’t stable, but it’s rare when it makes things better. After that, I’d recommend just staying on my toes. Take note of trigger subjects (like life mistakes and failed relationships), and keep away from them. When they come up, change the subject or say that you don’t feel like talking about that. Also avoid reminiscing about times that were too wild in the past.

    I’d compare mental illness to physical illness when it comes to making diagnoses. I’m not a doctor, but if a friend continued having a deep cough for weeks, and if that friend kept saying that she just couldn’t shake her cold, at some point I’d recommend she see a doctor because it sounded like it could be bronchitis. It’s similar with erratic behavior. I can’t diagnose borderline personality disorder or bipolar, but I can recognize when something isn’t right and suggest my friend see a doctor. Then, just as I might check with my friend’s doctor on what I could do to help her get over bronchitis (I make an excellent chicken soup), I might ask what the best thing to do would be to help when my friend was having a violent blubbering melt-down.

  • Cat November 18, 2011, 11:09 am

    admin: it’s a good comment. I think that this poster is obviously from the British Isles and things are handled differently over the pond. I am from Florida and I see it very differently.

    A couple of years ago a man named Paul Meridge was invited by his parents to his uncle & aunt’s home in Florida for Thanksgiving. The uncle & aunt were not told he was coming. In his thirties, he had always seemed a bit unstable and had never been able to work. His parents supported him.

    He went out to his car, got a gun, shot his twin sisters (one of whom was pregnant), the sister’s husband, his aunt, the gun misfired when he tried to kill his uncle, and then he walked down the hallway and shot his six year old cousin sleeping in the bed. He told those who lived that he had been planning this for twenty years.

    I had a brother who was equally violent and who threatened my family with a loaded twelve gauge shotgun twice before I left home at nineteen. My parents were in total denial about his problems and would never call the police or try to get him help.

    Most of us can’t read something like this and not see the potential for disaster. How do you interact civilly with someone like this? You don’t. You do what I did: you legally change your name, move to another city, get another job, and pray he doesn’t find you.The best day of my life will be the day I know he is finally dead and I am safe.

  • Calli Arcale November 18, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Good advice, admin. I’ve known a few people who are not emotionally or mentally stable; in some cases, there were diagnoses, but in most cases there were not. It’s difficult to draw a line between “spoiled brat” and “mentally ill”, especially since there is considerable overlap — one can be both. But it really isn’t important; the medical diagnoses are none of our business. But what is important is what do you do when you have someone like that in your life?

    I think the OP is handling it correctly. Some have suggested calling the police, but if Mary is not an imminent threat to anyone (including herself), there really isn’t anything the police can do. Someone like this can be destructive, especially emotionally. Keeping her at a distance is a good way of protecting yourself. Remind yourself that what she says to gain sympathy may not be true — if you are feeling magnanimous, you can believe her, but remember one of the smartest things Ronald Reagan ever said: “Trust, but verify.” More importantly, don’t let her claim emotional territory in your life. You can do this without being rude — just be firm, and do not allow her to define your worth in her terms. That is, don’t feel guilty because she’s getting mad. It’s her choice to get mad, not yours. As long as you’ve followed etiquette and don’t owe her anything, you have no reason to feel guilty. So don’t owe her anything, and if you do, repay it as quickly as possible. This is not for her sake alone; it is also for yours, so that she doesn’t own you.

    Of course, that’s not always possible. If it’s a relative, there are connections that can’t be easily set aside or ignored. In that case, let etiquette be your guide, and don’t allow the other person to tell you whether you’ve lived up to it. (They’ll tell you anyway, but that doesn’t mean you need to believe them.) In many cases, you can even build up a healthier relationship, if they learn that you cannot be manipulated but still care about them and are willing to be there for them. Doesn’t always work, but when it does it can be very rewarding for both of you.

  • Meloni November 18, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I don’t understand why the OP would willingly submit to so many occasions of this abuse? It seems you are allowing your boundaries to be violated over and over again.

  • Enna November 19, 2011, 3:15 pm

    I like MellowedOne’s post about speaking with Mary’s parents as I personally if I was in the OP’s postiion be concerned about Mary’s wellbeing as a firend. @ Bea, I agree with you to a point that you can’t say if someone has ABC because of two paragrahs, however if someone is acting really strangly there could be an underlying issue which could be physcial or mental.

    I have one firend who got very hyesterical she was crying and my mum answered the phone and the firend cried down the phone, she couldn’t help it. Mum was very supportive towards her (I was at work at the time). When I relised how unhappy my firend was I advsied her to see her Doctor, in fact I was kindly firm on her that she had to see her family doctor and she be 100% honest with him/her. This is because I care about my firend and her wellbeing. I personally have had expiernce of depression and a close family member had it too.

    I think if someone is acting odd, and the “reciever” can’t handle it, that is fine – we aren’t superheros. It also depends on the relationship you have with the person showing the “rude” or “conerning” behaviour. If the person is a close firend or relation you are emotionally close to then civilly suggesting support and help e.g. seeing doctor or counseller is fine. If you aren’t close to that person be calm, try to defuse the situation and either remove youself form it or if it is in your own home or place of work try to remove the person and limit contact with them. This requires being patient and being civily kind and firm, do not do anything that could annoy or irrate the person further.

  • Enna November 19, 2011, 3:16 pm

    P.S it can be tricky to define if someone is “rude” or “melodratic” or is actually quite a vulnerable individual.

  • Lady Macbeth November 19, 2011, 6:17 pm

    To a certain extent, though we may not be mental health professionals, suggestions as to the condition may be helpful in understanding – and as such, coming to terms with (which is not a synonym for accepting) – the behavior. On our end, there is absolutely nothing we can do to facilitate this person seeking help. Help is something she will get only if she wants to (provided she refrains from future verbal assaults and thievery, which might result in law enforcement being dispatched).

    What we can do, as pointed out by our admin, is offer how we might deal with the situation(s) that have arisen. If you find Mary’s behavior unacceptable and are unwilling to cope with all that comes with it, simply don’t. Set boundaries and enforce standards. If Mary will not meet the minimum expectations you have set forward, then a friendship with her should no longer be desirable and need not be maintained. We all have the right to good friends of our own choosing. We should not submit ourselves to behaviors or sets of behaviors that we feel will not enhance our life in one way or another. In fact, in this instance, Mary’s behavior seems quite detrimental to you, OP, and your previous and repeated toleration of these behaviors is not doing Mary any favors either (as you pointed out, her parents coddled her as well).

    It is clear that you have given Mary more than enough chances. She has not changed and is unlikely to do so in the future. You are not obligated to subject yourself to this simply because you have some history of friendship. As the old quote goes: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In my opinion, it seems easiest to remind yourself that Mary is unlikely to change in the future (the past has proven that well enough) and move forward with your own life.

  • anonymous November 19, 2011, 10:26 pm

    “I suggest people focus on how one interacts civilly with a person who one suspects is not emotionally or mentally stable.”

    Well, in the case of a friend you don’t have that many ties to or even like all that much such as Mary, the answer to that is simple. You don’t interact with them. You end the relationship.

    If it’s someone much closer to you, especially a family member, the answer changes.

  • Miss Werewolf November 20, 2011, 3:03 am

    You know, as a person who actually is mentally ill, I find this really offensive. Mental illness does not cause rudeness, jerks come in all mental states.
    Despite having a mental illness, I go out of my way to be polite. I am not childish. Please stop with the diagnosis’s. People like you guys were why I didn’t get treatment for my disorder for so long. I was always told that if I had a mental illness, I was a horrible person who would never be able to have normal friendships and would be inherently unlikeable. Luckily I had a good doctor to set me straight on that. All people with mental illnesses are different, some are polite, some are jerks. I know sweet people with bipolar disorder, borderline personality, and schizophrenia. And I know perfectly healthy rude people.
    Anyway, again, please stop stigmatizing mental illness. My life is hard enough with the illness, so I would appreciate support, not stereotyping.

  • anonymous November 21, 2011, 9:41 am

    I may get jumped on with both feet from everyone for saying this but…I think the OP keeps in contact with this obviously crazy woman for the sheer drama! Never knowing what she’s going to say or do. Look at the original letter, crazy thing after crazy thing. The poor loon is good for a lot of stories! “…and did I tell you about the day AFTER the party, when she came over and…”

  • Wink-n-Smile November 21, 2011, 11:11 am

    Miss Werewolf – well said.

    Mary might be mentally ill. Or she might be a spoiled brat, prone to histrionics, and be purposely acting ill, so that she can act out, without getting in trouble for it.

    I find the comments saying things like “My roommate was clearly bipolar (undiagnosed),” to be disturbing. If it’s undiagnosed, how is that clear? It could be any number of things.

    I, too, have known sweet people with a mental illness, and some healthy jerks.

  • The Elf November 21, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Me too, Wink-n-Smile.

    The thing about declaring diagnosis for somebody who isn’t formally diagnosed is like this: You never *really* know, unless that person has been diagnosed and tells you the correct diagnosis. But when someone tells you they’re hearing voices, believes their thoughts can impact the world in ways they can’t possibly, and says that they can’t take this particular road because the government is after them, schizophrenia is a pretty good guess. When someone tells you that some days they are so sad they can barely must the strength to get out of bed, you can reasonably assume this person should get screened for depression. Some things are so obvious they just about reach out and smack you in the face.

  • The Elf November 21, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Meant to add: Having an armchair diagnosis is ultimately not helpful unless you can use that to push the person to seeing a doctor. But it is inevitable, especially when the behavior is textbook.

  • gramma dishes November 21, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Miss Werewolf ~~ Your post is eloquent. Thanks for the reminder.

    To the best of my knowledge I don’t personally know anyone right now who is mentally ill, but I certainly do know some rude, obnoxious, drama seeking, self centered “normal” people!

  • Library Diva November 21, 2011, 4:37 pm

    Anon, I’d wondered the same thing, although with a slightly less snarky take on it. Perhaps “Mary” is actually a lot of fun on her good days. I had a friend in college who was extreme (although not as bad as Mary). She was attention-hungry, known for getting drunk and going home with whomever (and no, you couldn’t talk her out of it) selfish, clingy, and pouted when she didn’t get her way. She was also interesting to talk to, had a great sense of humor, would go out of her way for anyone who genuinely needed her, and was good at thinking up adventurous evenings. So I continued to associate with her for our last two years of college. Her bad nights were nowhere near as bad as what OP was subjected to, but still, bad enough for me to have distanced myself if I didn’t like her so much the rest of the time.

  • Molly November 22, 2011, 12:47 am

    Agreed that she sounds potentially mentally ill, but she’s not the OP’s responsibility, nor is that an invitation for being horrible – and not having manners. I have various mental diagnoses and I have BEEN the psycho, paranoid, viciously mean “friend.” I never took it to Mary’s extremes, but I was definitely out of line. The only thing that made me realize that, wait, maybe I’m NOT behaving normally and could actually use some help getting a grip on my life was a friend telling me flat-out that I was destroying our friendship and that he wouldn’t continue to associate with me if that’s how I was going to behave. He was my best friend (still is a very close friend, though we’re not as close as we once were, unsurprisingly). It hasn’t been easy, but after a few years, I feel like I’m functioning like a sane, normal, good friend, the kind of person I used to be before I lost my marbles. I still have problems. I can still be a bad friend; I can be a bad girlfriend and a bad daughter. But it’s not my friends’ job to treat me like some lesser life form who can’t be held to the standards of “normal” people; I’d be annoyed if they did. The OP has shown more patience and willingness to forgive than I think a lot of us would, but if after all of this Mary doesn’t see that what she’s doing is messed-up, she’s not likely to hear it the next time, or the next time, no matter what the OP says. Until someone wants to change, they won’t.

    And mental illness isn’t an excuse for being disgusting – I can’t think if any mental disorder that involves dirtying a friend’s entire home with food and ash as a symptom.

  • Maryann November 22, 2011, 7:25 am

    Miss Werewolf – I understand what you’re saying, but in this case, I think you’re mistaken. The person in this story isn’t merely being rude, she’s acting in a way that a mentally healthy person does not act.

    The people here who were saying as much weren’t saying that mentally ill people are all rude, even if you’ve heard that from the foolish and are sensitive to such comments. The people here were saying she’s got a problem that’s stopping her from understanding her behavior is extreme and harmful.

    I’m glad you don’t have that problem, but that you do not have that problem doesn’t mean that it’s not tied to mental illness. It’s quite clear that this instance is.

  • Enna November 22, 2011, 10:26 am

    @ Miss Werewolf, you make a good point. Mental illness does not mean someone is horrible. I also agree with Wink-a-smile and Elf.

    With my firend who was getting very upset she went to her doctor and he diagnosed her with depression. It depends how well you know the person and how close to them you are. The way my firend was behaving I was concerned for her well being. She told me her diagnosis and I was there for her when she needed a chat or to meet up.

  • The OP November 22, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Well I feel rather bad now for causing all this drama! Yes indeed Mary is very fun to have around when she isn’t having a massive tantrum and she sure is good for a story, however normally a fun one of adventure and not of chaos. While on one hand I am genuinely concerned she made need some sound counselling after hearing all your comments – our mutal friends have always accepted her as merely hystrionic – I have always found it amazing how quickly Mary’s ‘mental illness’ dissapates if you tell her exactly what she wants to hear.

  • MellowedOne November 23, 2011, 12:28 am

    No, mental illness does not cause rudeness, and I for one do not think that was anyone’s intent.

    Mental illness, in its varieties and degrees of severity, is usually thought of as a potential cause when an individual exhibits symptoms in relationships, symptoms that are generally perceived to be out of context with the setting. Anyone can act in a self-indulgent, rude or self-entitled manner, but I believe that what really caught people’s attention to Mary’s actions as described by the OP:

    ” the rant soon descended into gibberish, and at one point she pulled her own hair and slapped her own face while screaming about various people that were apparently conspiring against her.”

    I for one have never seen a person act in a self-destructive manner unless there were some underlying serious issues at hand. OP, if Mary’s symptoms seem to be those of her own choosing, then a polite but firm conversation with her should clear the matter up.

  • Anderlie November 23, 2011, 12:58 am

    I am going to play Devil’s Advocate and say that I think she’s just a horribly spoiled, melodramatic brat and that’s why she still lives at home – she’s been completely ruined. I still remember a woman I knew who would instantly fly off the handle into histrionics whenever she didn’t get her own way and a lot of people did think she had mental issues. Turns out after she was finally shoved into therapy they were just extreme tantrums and her most effective trick for swinging the voters to her side.

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