Sometimes, You're the Toxic Friend

toxic friend - Christy Flaherty.jpg

I began to look at my past and realised I was so drugged up on Prozac and so numb, I never realised the pain I must have caused someone who really cared about me.

Words by Selena Arroyo

Image by Christy Flaherty

Whether intentionally or not.

Throughout my 22 years of life I’ve experienced quite a few turbulent friendships; but there’s one in particular where I can genuinely say that I’m to blame and to this day it haunts me that I probably really hurt that person.

In High School I had a best friend, we’ll call her Donna. Donna and I grew close quite quickly and everything was great; to this day she is still the greatest friend I’ve ever had. Donna was brilliant, but our highs were high and our lows were low. For the longest I thought she was the shit friend who didn’t care when in reality I was too blinded by my own emotions to realise that the toxic friend was me.

High School was really hard for me. On the outside I was the sassy, funny girl in AP classes and honours, but I was also self-harming, diagnosed with depression, anxiety and body disorders. At the time, I didn’t know how I was feeling, I genuinely did not know why I was so sad. I tried therapy but It didn’t work; it’s quite hard to open up to someone when you don’t know why you’re feeling the way you are. So, I took Prozac for about 4 years and never properly dealt with those emotions.

I then made the biggest decision of my life and moved to London. It’s been such a rollercoaster. When I moved here at 17 I was so happy, or so I thought. I was having breakdowns but I was still in such a high from starting all over in a new country where no one knew who I was. Even though the first two years of London were amazing, they were filled with breakdowns and days where I just couldn’t cope. Sophomore year, when all the Prozac benefit wore off, I was a mess. There were days where I wouldn’t go to class because my mental health was so bad.

No excuses, but because of my issues, I tended to focus more on my sadness than those around me. I realised a little too late.

One day I finally managed to talk myself into getting it together. I stopped and asked, “Why am I sad?”  At the tender age of 19, after about 6 years of emotional instability, I finally began to properly understand myself and my emotions.

I began to look at my past and realised I was so drugged up on Prozac and so numb, I never realised the pain I must have caused someone who really cared about me. Even when I was with her, my mind was somewhere else. No excuses, but because of my issues, I tended to focus more on my sadness than those around me. I realised a little too late. Not only did I mess up my high school experience, but I probably really hurt hers.

So, A Word of Advice:

I know that me being “toxic” was by default due to my emotional issues, but the moral of the story is to recognise your OWN behaviours and actions. It’s very easy to be clouded and focus on the little things that affect you instead of the bigger picture that affects others and you might just lose a good friend from it.

Mental health issues can really mess you up, trust me I understand, but if you can recognise the signs of you even being the slightest bit toxic, whether intentionally or not, please stop and ask yourself “Why am I acting this way? Why am I feeling this way?” It could really help, at least it did for me. Everyday I’m growing, learning to communicate better and becoming a better person despite my illnesses and I hope you are too.

Also, try to figure this all out in your own city before flying across the Atlantic, just a suggestion.