Your friends are the best resource you have for recovery – make the most of them.
For a long time, I thought I could manage my mental health by myself. No asking for help, no one needed to know I was struggling, I barely even admitted it to myself. I. Was. Fine. Now, I’m guessing that version of me sounds at least a little familiar. Whether you’re just having a bad day, or that bad day has turned into a bad week, and then a bad month, it’s really easy to pretend everything is fine.
But (surprise surprise) burying my head in the sand was the worst thing I could have done. It wasn’t until I started opening up that I realised how much I sucked at coping on my own, and it took me a long time to realise that asking for help was okay. Leaning on someone else when I was struggling was okay. And now I want to tell you why it’s okay for you to do the same.
The importance of having someone you trust
When you feel like the world is against you, its hard to trust anyone. But whether its a family member or a friend, I promise you, there’s always going to be someone you can rely on. For me, that person was my best friend. He got me to admit something was wrong when I barely even knew it myself; he let me know it was okay to open up; he listened when I did and then he encouraged me to go and seek outside help. Almost a year on, he’s still here ready to pick up the phone when I need a rant. (Seriously, he’s basically a superhero).
Now, I’m not saying everyone is going to be the same but my point is that you’re never by yourself. I promise you there’s someone in your life who will listen when you ask for help – they’re probably waiting for you to say something.
– C.S Lewis, The Four Loves
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
It’s also important to remember that you’re not the only one. My friend got me to open up by showing me that other people around me were struggling too. Eventually, I realised that it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t even just us. Most people you encounter have gone through difficult times at one point or another. More people understand than you think.
But it doesn’t mean you have to spill your guts
I get it, you’re not always going to feel comfortable telling your life story to everyone you meet. You might not feel comfortable doing it at all. And that’s okay, too. Starting University means making a whole new group of friends and that means you might not feel comfortable opening up straight away (but if you do, that’s awesome). My point is, your friends are there whether they know you’re struggling or not. Whether it’s blowing off steam on a night out, paying spontaneous visits or just spending a night in complaining/ gushing about your boyfriends (depending on the mood you’re in,) I cannot express enough the importance of human contact. You don’t necessarily have to open up to lighten the load. Just a laugh will do.
Learning to stand on your own two feet
As much as my friend was there for me for the trips to the well being services, the relapses, the 1am anxiety attacks (yes, I’m serious) the most important thing he taught me was how to deal with those things on my own. Having a stable group of friends around you (or even just one by your side) gives you the courage to try standing on your own two feet, and even walking a few steps. You know they’re there to catch you if you fall.
Returning the favour
This was a huge help for me in itself. Once I was out of the woods I started to notice the people around me, the signs that maybe they weren’t coping either. I realised that if I could do even a fifth for them what my friend did for me, it might make their lives a little easier too, and they might never reach crisis point at all. Please, it could be as little as hyping your best friend up in the comments of her Instagram post, or as big as going with her the first time she visits a therapist. Whatever it is, letting people know you’re there makes the world of difference. Take it from someone who’s lived through it – be there for your friends, and they’ll be there for you too.
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