Category Archives: Relationships

Letter to a Friend About Mental Illness

Dear Friend,

You’ve often said to me that nobody is normal and we all have our problems. I completely agree – and I appreciate your efforts of trying to make me feel acceptable – but I think that perhaps you don’t really understand.

It’s true that everyone has their issues; we’ve all experienced traumas; we’re all broken. What we share in common are our human natures and the whole range of human emotions. What we are less likely to share in common – diagnosed or not – is mental illness.

Someone who is sad may say they’re depressed when they have no clue what real depression is like. It is not sadness – it’s worse.

Someone who is particular might say they’re OCD about something when they have no real understanding of the brutality of the disorder. In its most destructive form, OCD is oppressive and relentless.

You lack motivation? Sure, everyone does but do you know that tight grip of depression that feels like 20kgs of weight strapped to your feet? You can’t move, no matter how hard you try.

Someone who is feeling stressed from having too much on their plate may not truly know what real sensory overwhelm feels like – that state where your anxious mind meets a barrage of overbearing stimulants. The result is internal chaos.

You say you feel anxious. Everyone experiences anxiety – true – but not everyone understands the extreme stress response that comes in the form of a panic attack. It is truly awful and can be extremely hard to prevent, even after all your best efforts.

Someone whose brain has checked out for the day due to busyness, may not know what real dissociation feels like – that state in which you lose all sense of yourself. In fact, you don’t even know you’ve ‘left’ and so have no idea when you’ll be ‘back’.

Someone who feels lonely for a spell maybe doesn’t understand the feelings of abandonment and despair that you have to deal with as a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

These examples are just a few of the ‘not so ordinary’ issues I – and many others – have to deal with, on a regular basis.Whilst BPD, depression and anxiety don’t define who I am, they follow me everywhere. They are more than mere labels, simply because I have to live with them day in and day out. Relief is hard to get.

BPD, depression and anxiety – like all mental illnesses – are serious and can’t be equated with all manner of human nature and human experience. (Did you know that the most common reason why people engage in self-harm or attempt suicide is to escape unbearable emotional pain?)

So sure, no one is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. But one person’s ‘not normal’ is different to another person’s ‘not normal’. And mental illness is the most debilitating ‘not normal’ out there.

So now that you understand the difference between the things we share in common as humans and a few of the symptoms of mental illness, dear friend, please stop comparing me to everyone else and telling me that my suffering is no different.

Perhaps you will never fully understand, and that’s okay, but I’d really appreciate it if you continue to try and as you try, be careful not to dismiss the gravity of mental illness.

Love Jodie x



I made a pledge to myself a few months ago.

I made this promise because I feel like there’s too much isolated, silent struggle going on out there. It breaks my heart.

My pledge is this:

I will be honest about the struggle I go through with my thoughts and emotions. I will help to overcome the conspiracy of silence. I will speak up.

I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, poor health, relationships, conflict and life in general, in both silence and isolation – it’s horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

My aim is to be transparent and honest with people about the battles I face – to set an example and to encourage community.

I want to be someone who’ll never cease caring about others. I want to be someone who others are willing to confide in. More than anything, I want to somehow help those who are struggling on their own, in silence. Even if all I can do for them is just listen.

I’ve discovered some lonely, silently suffering people in the world and they’re the most beautiful of souls. I’ve made friends with many of them.

I’m passionate in my belief that we’re all meant to be helping each other in this life. Let’s stop judging each other and living individualistic lives. Let’s get our shit together and break out of our boxes to speak up and help someone.

Are you with me?


How to Respond

Part 5 of 5 – NPD series


Damage control

Psychological abuse creates emotional wounds and later, leaves scars. The damage can’t be seen but it is real and it is serious.

As I said in an earlier post, victimisation is not a reflection of how strong, or weak, someone is.

Remember that just because you wouldn’t get sucked into a narcissist’s game, doesn’t mean one of your friends won’t. Each of us is unique and we all struggle with different issues throughout our lives. Some of the issues other people struggle with will seem foreign to us. Try to understand.


Be gentle

If you know someone who’s being psychologically abused, please take it seriously. She needs supportive friends to help her through this hard time.

I detest the modern saying, ‘toughen up princess’. It’s so insensitive. It completely dismisses a person’s feelings. Telling your abused friend this (or anything like it) will just add to the self-hate she’s already feeling.

Please don’t highlight the things she may have done wrong, unless she has specifically asked you to!


How the victim is feeling

Your friend might be feeling worthless after a narcissist is done with her. Nobody feels good after being mistreated, even if it’s clear the offender was being a complete jerk.

She’s probably going through an episode of depression and feeling more than a little red raw.

She’ll likely also be feeling very stupid for not realising a narcissist had been taking advantage of her. She might be beating herself up for it.

I can assume what your friend might be feeling because I’ve been there and I’ve felt all these emotions.


Encourage and highlight

Encourage your friend to look at the positives she can take from her bad experience. Help her to develop tools she can keep on hand in her relationship tool box.

Highlight to her that her vulnerable traits are actually qualities! We don’t need a world with more hardened hearts. We need to nurture the soft-hearted.

Soft-hearted people feel emotions deeply. Be conscious of this and be patient. Your friend needs time to heal.

Gently help your friend to move on by being the most supportive, present friend you can be.

I needed nurturing and that’s exactly what my true friends gave me. They gave me all the love in the world.


This concludes my five part NPD series. Thanks for tuning in!


I was a Victim

Part 4 of 5 – NPD series

Character traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder = susceptibility not strength

It wasn’t neediness that attracted a narcissist to me (although it’s likely that neediness does attract narcissists). And I wasn’t wearing a sign that said ‘abuse me’, either. In other words, that awful treatment I received at the hands of a narcissist? I wasn’t ‘asking for it’.

The honourable character traits that draw a narcissist to us can be the very traits that make us vulnerable to a narcissist’s abuse.

The narcissist targets people who are compassionate, forgiving, sensitive, trusting and loyal. Although having these attributes make it easy to fall prey, they do not make us weak. The difference between being weak and being strong comes down to whether your heart is unguarded or guarded.


Unguarded heart

In my experience of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) I left my heart unguarded and that is why I ended up so hurt. It wasn’t because of who I was or who I am.

I refuse to believe that we need to change ourselves in order to repel and prevent abuse from a narcissist. I’m convinced we can remain authentic to our character and be strong and wise to ward of any bad treatment.

I refuse to harden my heart just because someone hurt me. I’m soft hearted and I’ll never give that up. I’ve simply become a wiser version of myself. I’ve learned from my mistake and moved on.


Bad timing

I met said narcissist at a course where I was looking to establish new connections. I realise now that I was too open. I was caught up in the excitement of meeting new people (I do love to socialise).

I was also going through a lonely, bored season of life (but that’s a whole other story). In the beginning, this new friendship was exciting and fun. I let feelings distort my perspective.


Recognise red flags

To my detriment, I didn’t acknowledge the red flags. I let caution slip and stupidly left myself wide open to hurt.

The experience reminded me that in any relationship, we must stop and listen to our instincts. What’s your heart telling you about this new person? Be cautious; tread carefully.


My worst me

There’s no doubt about it, I reacted badly in response to how I was treated. The key word there is reacted; I said awful knee-jerk words of anger that I’m terribly ashamed of having said. I was hurt and confused by NPD games.

I’ve accepted responsibility for my unpleasant behaviour – there’s no excuse for it. And I also think, hell, no one deserves to be treated like I was. I wouldn’t wish such treatment on my worst enemy (even if I had one).

As a friend of a narcissist, I became someone I didn’t like and others didn’t like. I wasn’t being a true representation of myself. This is my biggest regret – losing my true self (for a short while).



I also regret that I didn’t listen to the people around me who were telling me this friend wasn’t worth my effort.

At the time, I didn’t know NPD was playing with me but I still should have opted out and put myself first. I could have guarded my heart by withdrawing from the relationship.

I wouldn’t have ignored this friend (I find it hard to ignore anyone) but I certainly would have kept him at a safe distance.


Learning curve

I chose to believe the best in my friend. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a best in him to begin with. It was all just ‘smoke and mirrors’, as the saying goes.

I’ve learnt something I deeply wish wasn’t true and it’s this; you can’t believe the best in everyone. There are actually people out there who aren’t worth your time, effort and heart. Better to let just them pass you by.


Choose your thoughts

There are several reasons why we leave our hearts unguarded. Inexperience is one reason.

Experience equips us with tools for our future. Learning by doing is unavoidable. I encourage you to view a bad friendship experience as a valuable life lesson and harness the wisdom you’ve gained from it. Put what you’ve learnt in your relationship tool kit.

Try to see the positives from your experience with NPD. Dwelling on the negatives will only make your heart bitter and bitterness will rot your soul.


One more thing

My words of advice to you are; don’t rush into new friendships; tread cautiously. Above all, don’t bare your heart to anyone who doesn’t reveal some of his or her own heart to you.


How do you respond to a victim of narcissism?


Friends with a Narcissist

Part 3 of 5 – NPD series

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) reflect honourable character traits in you, myself and others. This makes it hard to tell if someone is a narcissist.


Mr Private

Narcissists are very private, at their whim. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against privacy. Many of my friends like to lead much more private lives than me. But what was considered private to this person changed depending on his mood and agenda.


Excuse me?

The narcissist I knew said nothing plainly. I had to read between the lines all the time. Afterwards, he’d tell me I was too literal and needed a dictionary definition for everything. I felt stupid.


Mr Bully

He laughed often at my expense. He poked the kind of fun that broached boundaries I had set in our friendship. I told him when he hurt me, but he didn’t respond.

I brazenly told him when to back off, but he’d come back to a sensitive topic another time, another way. He was always pushing me.

I wasn’t to make him feel like the bad guy, even though he knew that’s what he was. It was too intense, too burdensome for him, to bear the responsibility of his actions. He wanted an easy friendship that required no effort on his part. I had to be fun fun fun!


Mr Honest

My narcissist friend came across as very honest. He said things like, ‘you can be bare with me’ and ‘I’m one of the good guys’, inviting me to trust him. He implied he cared but his later, punishing treatment proved otherwise.


Bitter Pills

My friend would not grant me forgiveness. He did once, in the beginning. He even said sorry… once. Only once.

Sometimes I offended him (and sometimes admittedly I was in the wrong) but often, he would be offended for no known reason. Later he revealed his unforgiving nature.

I had to play by his rules or I was out. I was told not to take offence to anything he said because, ‘he never intends to hurt anyone’. If I responded in a way he disliked – if I defended myself and stood ground – I was blamed for misunderstanding him. (Funny, because I’ve always been quick to listen and slow to judge.)


Call me Sally

I was called a multitude of things I had never been called in my long history of healthy friendships. I was tip-toe-ing on eggshells to keep him happy and prevent the abuse.


Mr Charity

He claimed he liked to help people but he only helped if it served his purposes as well. One of his solutions to one of my ‘problems’ was very inappropriate. And he kept pushing it, because it was what he wanted.

I was made to feel like the odd one out of an entire world of normal people who put these normal solutions in place. It was creepy.


Ostracise me, pleeease!

Towards the end, I don’t even think my friend liked me, yet he hung around. I was still a good supply source for his narcissism. He didn’t want to get rid of me. He would do so in his own time, on his own terms.

I was repeatedly ignored for varying lengths of time as a form of punishment for something I’d apparently said in the ‘wrong way’. No amount of contact from my side would move him to acknowledge my pain. I felt he didn’t care that I was suffering. And so, this is basically how our friendship ended. Mr NPD got shelved.

How on earth did I fall for his tricks?





How to Pick a Narcissist

Part 2 of 5 – NPD series


I’m not claiming to be an expert on narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). I’ve simply learned a lot through experience, other people, and research.

For simplicity, I will describe the narcissist as a ‘he’, as it is men that most commonly have this disorder.


NPD defined

According to Wikipedia, people with NPD are characterised by ‘exaggerated feelings of self-importance’. They have a keen sense of entitlement and ‘demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behaviour’. They also have ‘a strong need for admiration but lack feelings of empathy’.


My experience against NPD traits

The website, Psych Central, states that to have NPD, a person must meet five or more of the following criteria. (Under each one, I describe how I observed it in the NPD person I encountered.)

* Has a grandiose sense of self-importance:

I was considered ‘less than’ him in all ways, as were many other people.

He thought himself more experienced in all areas of life.

If my views were different than his, he argued to change my mind. This often encompassed belittling.

* Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love:

He was a player. He said inappropriate, suggestive things. His conversation was sometimes provocative.

* Believes that he is special and unique:

A great many people made no sense to him. He considered most people to be fools. He considered himself different – better somehow.

* Requires excessive admiration:

He displayed his creative talent and loved the praise that resulted.

He required high fives for jokes but rarely doled them out.

He baited me into giving him compliments by projecting a low self-esteem. This gave him an ego boost.

He rarely gave me compliments and when he did, he had an ulterior motive.

* Has a strong sense of entitlement (unreasonable expectations and / or automatic compliance with his expectations)…

Even if he didn’t make his expectations known to me, I was still somehow required to measure up. There were so many invisible rules.

* Is exploitive of others:

He laughed often, at my expense and in company, and created ‘jokes’ that highlighted what he thought my character flaws were.

He called me names even though he told me not to name call.

He’d use personal information I’d given him and, in a power play, twist it to suit his agenda.

* Lacks empathy:

He had no room for understanding or compassion (although in the beginning, he made a great show of it). No amount of me apologising was ever enough. Everything I did, or said, was wrong.

* Is often envious of others

He masked his envy with jokes but underneath, jealously seethed.

* Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes:

There were always riddles I had to solve. If I didn’t understand something, he turned his explanation into a ‘lesson’. He wouldn’t give a simple explanation. I was treated like an idiot.

He never said things simply. I always had to read between the lines and would usually be admonished for not interpreting him correctly.


Do any of my examples strike a chord for you? You can take the Psyh Central’s quiz (either for yourself or, by entering another’s characteristics, to find out if someone you know may have NPD) here.






Friendships that Damage

Part 1 of 5 – NPD series



It felt like my flesh had been shaken from my very bones… Yes, at the time, I was hurt that much. The price I paid for this relationship was far too high.

Last year, I entered a relationship that I severely misjudged as being beneficial. What ended up happening was not good. This person’s game play damaged me.

I saw Narcissism’s ugly head up close, smelt it’s acrid breath and fell for all its dazzling charms.

I was emotionally abused. I was called names, had judgement statements fired upon me, and was ignored. I was treated like no friend should ever be treated.

Please understand, I’m not the sort of person who harbours a victim mentality. I’m not the stereotypical drama queen. The last thing I want to do is belittle anyone – online or in real life – regardless of how badly I’ve been treated.

Having a Narcissist in my life was a tough, confusing time.

I began to understand what really happened (and why) only after extensive research, talking about the friendship with a psychiatrist a few times over, and listening to some wise, trustworthy friends (who resisted the urge to tell me they ‘told me so’).


Narcissists are real, with a capital N.

Sure, I knew about narcissism (most people do) but I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t think narcissists actually existed. Like psychopaths, such characters were too incredible to be considered true in my mind. How could someone think like that, act like that? This is real life after all, not fiction!

Many people (statistics show mostly women) across the world have encountered someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Even today, someone is suffering at the hands of someone with NPD (statistics suggest, it’s most likely a man with NPD). This epidemic weighs heavy on my heart because I know what it feels like to be hurt by it – to be that unsuspecting ‘victim’.


So what?!

Why should you care? I’m glad you asked. I’m asking you to care because this friendship was one where NPD, and its insipid by-products, ruled.

I hope that this five part series will do at least one of the following for you:

a) Raise your awareness of NPD so you can recognise it
b) Increase your understanding of NPD relationships
c) Help you choose against becoming a victim
d) Motivate you to end a current NPD relationship
e) Help you heal from past NPD damage

A good friend reminded me that even wise men fall for flattery and lies. So don’t beat yourself up like I did. Please save yourself the pain.


Light at the end of the tunnel

You’ll be glad to know that since this relationship ended, I’ve redeemed all the vital parts of myself and regained happiness. You can too.

Healing from the ordeal has taken many months for me, considering it was a short-lived friendship. It will take longer, the closer you are to a person with NPD, because greater damage is caused. But I promise you this; you will heal.


Survey like a meerkat

Are you judging your relationships wisely by stopping contact, taking a step back and having a good look at what’s going on? Or are you like I was, drifting on the ebb and flow of your friend’s agenda?

Have you felt like you’ve been locked in a cage with no way out? You can break free.

How can you pick a narcissist?