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20 Something
Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Sun Aug 09, 2015 05:50 PM

Hello, everyone, and thanks for being here.

Long story short, I'm back in Slovenia or wherever I really am, doctors are on break but I my friends got me appointments for professional help, and meanwhile I moved into their dormitory so we can all check up on each other easily. So that's going well, thank you all for your advice.

But before that I had lost my memory partially, had dizziness and fainting spells and some catatonia. One of my friends, Airplane, knew about all this, but he can be quite insensitive. Recently the situation with him got a bit out of hand, he's spread word around that I have "mental issues" and am the most mentally ill person he knows, and the stigma here among the internationals is pretty awful.

For instance, we had a bridge that was bombed during the war, and now a new bridge is built on top of it. When I mentioned being suicidal and really not wanting to commit suicide (only hurting too much to go on sometimes), Airplane mentioned how the ruins of the old bridge are still under the new bridge, and how interesting and dramatic it would be if I dashed out my brains on the ruins. So every time I cross that bridge I still think of his words.

The friends I live with are called Spiderweb, Catapult and Snowmaiden. Snowmaiden had severe depression but has it under control; she's been quite terribly hurt by Airplane, who says things like "How's the mental illness going?" in front of strangers. She's very hardworking, rational, kind and strong, but Airplane makes her sound impossibly crazy all the time.

Airplane tells strangers about Spiderweb's suicide attempt as a joke. He reacted to that the same way he reacted to me being (unwillingly) suicidal.

Spiderweb, though--very complicated. Basically he got away from a very abusive environment and tried to start a new life, only Airplane sabotaged his efforts by making him the butt of every joke so that some people stopped taking Spiderweb seriously when he asked for help. He says horrible things about Spiderweb all the time, but Spiderweb still spends time with him, even while knowing Airplane is hurting him and his friends. Recently Spiderweb was doing terribly, so I'm just helping him get his life together again by cooking and suggesting sleeping schedules and things like that. I told him to decline all requests and invitations from Airplane for awhile. Spiderweb was initially skeptical, but then he declined one request to help Airplane move furniture, felt happy--later the four of us realised that Airplane really hasn't got any close friends at all, despite what he says.

I've talked to friends outside this dormitory group, and they all say (without hesitation) to stay away from Airplane. Snowmaiden, Catapult and I all say stay away. But Spiderweb is convinced that he can change Airplane by giving him an ultimatum. He says Airplane is a jerk and a sociopath and racist and just about everything else we say he is, but he's convinced that he can change Airplane, even though Airplane mocks him too much to take his words seriously and sabotaged his efforts to recover, just so he can be entertained.

Spiderweb's current girlfriend has already said she thinks there's nothing wrong with Airplane. In addition, Spiderweb says she's jealous of me. She wants Spiderweb to be part of Airplane's friend group, even though Spiderweb himself is unwilling. In any other situation we'd all let him decide for himself, but his depression is so bad, and this pressure from girlfriend is really affecting him. Before her influence he seemed happy at distancing himself from Airplane.

Now the question is this

--is there any possibility that Spiderweb will succeed? We're all clear that Airplane is a bully and his main target is Spiderweb, but is there any way that he'll start respecting Spiderweb and the rest of us after Spiderweb gives him an ultimatum?

--Is there any way to make sure that Airplane won't undo our progress in helping Spiderweb recover? Because he is recovering a lot thanks to the new changes we implemented. Airplane liked the way Spiderweb was before (so did his girlfriend), but the problem is, Spiderweb didn't like how he was feeling before. He didn't have many feelings in general, though there was always sadness and lethargy. Now he's sometimes angry, sometimes hopeful, and usually extremely productive and interested in life.

I'm not going to go against his girlfriend, there's no point in fuelling her jealousy, and the only point is to help Spiderweb feel better.

Please, does anyone have advice regarding what to do? Catapult is out of the country, Snowmaiden is emotionally overwhelmed and now there's mostly just me. And even if there's not much I can do to help, what behaviour should I expect from Spiderweb if he tries out his plan?

Thanks to all for reading this.

9 Replies to Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.

re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:44 PM
Glad to hear you're away from your parents, and starting to feel better.

This is like the broken leading the broken here. Cripes.

Here's my prediction:

On the surface, Spiderweb will succeed. Airplane will settle down, and be nice, and everything will appear to be going very well.

And then once he's lulled Spiderweb in to thinking that everything is going just great, and that their relationship is healed, Airplane is going to wind up, and hit him with a punch in the gut like he's never felt before. He'll tell someone that really, REALLY shouldn't know about Spiderweb's problems about every single detail.

It's how abusive relationships like that work. It'll play out again. Since you are NOT in a place to stop this, you need assistance that's bigger than you. A professor in your university, maybe?

And Spiderweb's boyfriend has a weird problem, again, one that you're not in even the slightest bit equipped to solve. She is also all the things that Spiderweb is. The depression, the emotional problems, the whatever else? Her too. And she finds solace in the fact that Spiderweb is also all of these things. Because then the depths that she feels them all feels a little more normal, and a little more justified. And she's not going to know what to do with herself if he gets better, because then she's low, alone, and what is she supposed to do then?

And it really, REALLY calls the program you're studying in in to question, that there's all these people with severe depression, and emotional problems, and whatever else, and there's not a single person available for any of you to go to. You guys are hardly an advertisement for the program, or the school. To say nothing of the mental health program in the country you're in. Yikes...
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:41 AM
Edited by SwordInStone (239239) on 2015-08-10 01:00:47 misspelled word
Hmmm, okay, let me think this through.

I appreciate your advice, and I think you're right about Airplane and the abusive pattern. In fact, I noticed he's in many ways like my father, and this abusive cycle has already repeated with me (only it's not so emotionally damaging since I don't care much for him). And Snowmaiden did use the word abusive...you used that same word only after reading a summary of the situation, so I'll definitely keep in mind he's most likely abusive and that a healthy friendship with him is far from likely.

Sorry if I made my country sound awful; it's a very reputable university, the best in the region. There's been much better insurance and much less mental stigma than my former university, which was in the United States. The reason none of us has help yet is because Spiderweb is actually having a relapse (he had been doing better before, which is why his doctor's appointments became infrequent), I'm having trouble finding an English doctor--if I needed urgent help then I'll see a Russian doctor or go to emergency room, or have Snowmaiden and Spiderweb translate--and Snowmaiden already had her professional help and is doing much better. We're both quite clear that it's hopeless with Airplane, the only problem is convincing Spiderweb not to listen to his girlfriend on this particular topic. I have his doctor's contact information, though. I know we're all broken in some way, but we've been struggling through it, and the only way we can let professionals help us is if we are willing to help ourselves as well. In addition, doctors can't be there 24-7, so we try to be there for each other. I'm usually strong and patient for Spiderweb, and if I break down, then Snowmaiden reminds me that sometimes it's just his depression talking, and I'll get patient again. And Spiderweb himself reminds me that if he goes away emotionally, he'll always come back. I think we're all perfectly capable of helping each other, and shouldn't refrain from doing so just because we're all a bit broken. Besides, I've called in a support system of friends who aren't broken just so we'll all have some perspective. So apologies for going against you on this point, but I don't think this is very cringe-worthy.

About Spiderweb's girlfriend--I heard her mental health is perfect, but then again, Airplane told me that...
I'm not sure if she's depressed, only she's not serious. Not sure how else to put it; she likes cute, harmless things, and takes pictures of Spiderweb sleeping, changing clothes and so on. When Spiderweb is really depressed he spends all day playing video games, and so she affectionally calls him Czech (not Czech) otaku; basically to her he's a sort of interesting joker fool who's also eccentric and foreign and incredibly handsome. Some of his quirks, like lethargy, video games (he actually hates it when he spends all day on video games, but she's fine with it; Snowmaiden and I got him to quit and now he's fixing things all day and much happier) aren't actually personality quirks but symptoms of depression that put a lot of stress on him. Girlfriend is from a different continent, Airplane has a fetish for girls from that continent and has a group of them which he calls his (ethnic slur)s. I'm not sure if girlfriend is mentally ill, but she doesn't take Spiderweb seriously, treats him like an exotic, curious toy instead of an actual person. She hasn't actually done anything for him. I've been cooking meals for him every day, mending his clothes so he doesn't have to go around in rags like Raskolnikov the way he did last month, and discussing my presentations and papers with him to make sure they work. He appreciates the help and isn't taking it for granted because he's able to do things again. It really helps take off some of the stress load. And the girlfriend says horrible things about me, but neither of us really care, we've both got things to do.

My goodness, last night he was showing me how he fixes a certain gadget, he was so experienced, and his "clients" are university students who stop by to chat about whatever subject they're studying, I was helping him set us a resting schedule and he was so excited to be getting his life back together, it was amazing. Since the four of us started, he's been seeing friends again (instead of only playing video games with Airplane), going out with people and doing the work he does best. I mean, he can be very charismatic in social situations, he's great to his siblings, he speaks five languages (Snowmaiden speaks seven or so) and can keep up with discussions from chemical engineering to archaeology--all this wasted because Airplane is insecure and wants to emphasise Spiderweb's depression as much as possible...

Sorry for the rant.

Thanks for your input, Theresa, and I'll keep your suggestions in mind. Since none of our local friends like Airplane, I think I'll encourage Spiderweb to discuss this issue with multiple people and override his girlfriend's suggestion by majority vote. Like twenty to one majority vote, that is. And if things get back, I will contact his doctor. She most likely speaks English; if not, we've got Russian in common, and Snowmaiden will soon be back to translate.
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By saaammiemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 440, member since Thu Apr 01, 2010
On Mon Aug 10, 2015 01:39 AM
Actually, I found your comment a bit judgmental, Theresa.
Not the part about there not being help available, that IS bad.
But there being people with mental issues in the program, well, there are people with mental issues EVERYWHERE. Doesn't really say anything about the quality of the program or the people in it.
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Mon Aug 10, 2015 04:55 AM
Thanks, saaammie.

More information: the girlfriend is insecure. From am observational instead of judgmental standpoint, she's not considered attractive by her native or foreign beauty standards. Once said that she can't imagine any man finding her attractive, and Airplane has commented on her lack of beauty a few times behind her back. Her country has high expectations for outward appearance and behaviour (think South Korea or Taiwan). Spiderweb happens to be extremely attractive by pretty much any country's standards, and I wouldn't be surprised if the relationship is a source of pride for the girl, just because in her country it would be something to be bragged about to the girls and relatives.

I know many people say physical beauty (or lack thereof) is superficial, and perhaps it shouldn't even matter, but unfortunately in this imperfect world it does matter tremendously, especially to imperfect people. I don't think the girl would have gotten together with Spiderweb if it wasn't for his looks and charismatic personality. She seems more interested in being jealous of me than joining his friends in helping him, more interested in keeping him as he is, perhaps knowing that if he moves on from his depression he is likely to move on in his relationships as well. Theresa has already pointed this out.

The girlfriend is going to use Airplane to get rid of me. I think it would help if Spiderweb's other friends point out that continuing to bend to Airplane is not a good idea. I don't care if he'll ever love me, there's no point in coercing anyone. Only, last night he was so happy and productive, yet he was reading to me his records of the worse days, and I thought, please let him never have to experience that again.
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 7177, member since Fri Apr 16, 2004
On Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:46 PM
saaammie wrote:

Actually, I found your comment a bit judgmental, Theresa.
Not the part about there not being help available, that IS bad.
But there being people with mental issues in the program, well, there are people with mental issues EVERYWHERE. Doesn't really say anything about the quality of the program or the people in it.


I'll be honest, I thought the same thing Therea did. It just seemed a bit odd to me to have a group of people who all have mental illness that are taking big tolls not their day to day lives. But perhaps part of that is just the treatment available and stuff. I have friends on different meds and stuff that I haven't seen at their worst so I guess maybe my group of college friends would have been just like this if it weren't for treatment. No advice, just saying I understand where Theresa is coming from, but it did make me think that perhaps it's not as odd as it initially seemed.
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By schuhplattlerPremium member Comments: 3037, member since Sat Dec 23, 2006
On Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:28 AM
Glad to hear you're away from your parents, and starting to feel better.

Amen.
Emphatically Spiderweb needs to disconnect from Airplane, even if he has to parachute. Would Airplane feel safe if anyone around him ever became more able in any way, shape, or form? Is he fighting some long-forgotten battle? It sounds as though this character seldom misses an opportunity to put anyone down.

Meanwhile, tap into the joy of Slovenia to bring you and your friends uptone.
www.youtube.com . . .
www.youtube.com . . .
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Thu Aug 13, 2015 07:00 PM
Edited by Theresa (28613) on 2015-08-13 19:01:53
saaammie wrote:

Actually, I found your comment a bit judgmental, Theresa.
Not the part about there not being help available, that IS bad.
But there being people with mental issues in the program, well, there are people with mental issues EVERYWHERE. Doesn't really say anything about the quality of the program or the people in it.


And maybe it is, because after all, we're only hearing one side. But from the side I have heard about, mental health problems seem prevalent, social stigma seems great, and treatment seems hard to come by. ...that's not great news, any way you slice it.

(And I'm aware, of course, that you could likely say the same thing about America. I would call that bad here too. This isn't like an elitest, "Americans are super awesome" sort of thing. This situation would be bad, regardless of the nationalities involved)
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Sat Aug 15, 2015 02:24 PM
Thanks again. Snowmaiden and I will definitely do what we can to undo Airplane's influence.

Update: we're definitely making progress. He's got a sleeping schedule going on and is becoming more cooperative in accepting help. Still hasn't seen Airplane yet. Mood usually fine with friends, but it seems like he needs solitude to actually feel the negative emotions he's been suppressing for so long.

I think I'll post on another board a different side of this problem. Rest assured, we're definitely going to give up on Airplane. Thanks to everyone who contributed, as well as those who read.
re: Advice needed--how to deal with a sociopath.
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:10 PM
Update: Catapult is back with us. Spiderweb's girlfriend is visiting. Spiderweb seemed tired of listening to Airplane and wasn't particularly enthusiastic about his girlfriend's visit. Since she's here, he has stopped spending time with his current friends circle. He wanted to go back to our normal schedule after she leaves and is now willing to speak with his doctor again.

In case you're wondering about our country's public institutions, here's something new:

1. I went to the dean's office at Spiderweb's department and in very broken (Lithuanian/Finnish/Czech/whatever language it is) asked them to rewrite the rules to accommodate Spiderweb should he decide to return to university. They were very touched and agreed, though they said the process would be difficult.
I asked them to write an apology letter to Spiderweb and to specifically invite him back. It's a huge department with hundred of students, so it's normal that they'd have trouble keeping track of everyone. Even so they agreed and apologised for their negligence.

My own department is well-aware of my mental health problems. It's small enough to be family, unlike his department, but both are very accommodating.

I'd had gotten the letter that day, too, if it wasn't for my poor grasp of Albanian (schuplatter, I appreciate the videos, but I'm not really in Slovenia. I'm somewhere in the Balkans or Baltics. I've revealed my location a few times and hinted at it even more, but no need to make it too obvious).

2. Spiderweb's doctor is on holiday till mid-September, both of us tried to reach her, didn't work. Also, the university tried to find a therapist for me, but all doctors are on break till September. Snowmaiden and Catapult got me an appointment on her insurance, but it's in mid-September.

Conclusion: Mental illness isn't stigmatised, and people do genuinely try to help, but the system for getting help isn't ideal. Good intentions without always having the means to carry them out. No reason to be judgmental because we're working on it.

Just so you know, the people who stigmatised my illness are foreigners. East Asians, to be more specific. Business-driven, opportunity-seeking types.
And Airplane's father is so racist that our alcoholic villagers are more open-minded.

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