I co-own/moderate a Yahoo group for people with borderline personality disorder. I’ve been there more than ten years, and for the most part it’s a good bunch of people. But right now there’s one member there who’s making me want to throw things. I’m going to rant here so I don’t go off on her.
She constantly posts in other people’s threads about how bad she feels. Never more than a sentence or two, never enough to really respond to with more than “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time.” On the rare occasion she does start her own thread, she rejects any support other members try to offer her.
Today she wrote a post (hijacking someone else’s thread, of course) about how no one cares about her. It just about sent me into orbit.
Look, I know feeling isolated and uncared for is a common experience for people with mental illnesses. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. And it’s hard to talk about; I understand that too. But there’s a big difference in saying “none of you care about me” and saying “I feel like no one cares about me.”
(“There she goes being all semantic again,” I hear you say. But bear with me.)
“None of you care about me” is an accusation, and it puts the accused in an impossible position. You can’t say, “Look, I’m trying to care, but it’s really hard to do when you keep rejecting everything I offer,” or the instant response will be, ” See, I knew you didn’t care about me!” You’re left with two choices: saying, “You’re right, I just don’t give a damn anymore” or reassuring them that you do care. Both make you the guilty party. It’s a guilt trip, and I choose not to engage with those anymore.
“I feel like nobody cares about me,” on the other hand, leaves room for people. You’re owning it as your feeling, not objective reality, and not anyone’s fault. When I say “I feel like nobody cares,” it’s generally part of an acknowledgement that I know people care–I’m just feeling very alone.
It’s hard to ask for care and support. God knows I get that. But most of us aren’t psychic and don’t know what people want/need from us unless they ask. If you don’t ask for something, then it’s not fair to blame them for not giving it to you!