I’m a sponge. I’m always listening to other perspectives and taking in what other people think or feel. That’s a huge part of me and I love it, most of the time. While I’ve learned a ton from taking so much in that way, I’ve also learned that I have to watch how much I let it influence who I’m becoming.
The people I surround myself with don’t have to have it all together by any means.
That’s never going to happen, for as long as I hang around other human beings. Still, I need to be aware of the people that I let into the inner most parts of my life. The ones who have motivated my recovery in the past seem to share a lot of the same qualities.
1. They live (or are aiming to live) like I want to live
It’s good to see examples of other people you respect and love, taking care of themselves like you should be. When people who I love and respect can fight for the positive things they want in their life, it gives me hope that I can muster up the same energy.
Maybe it’s a pride thing that I need to work on a bit, but when someone is telling me I need to exercise/eat better/challenge a thought, so on, if they’re not at least trying to do the same themselves, their input is not as persuasive.
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2. They let me know they believe in me and my recovery
I’m well aware that my mental illness has impaired activities in my life, and people might not be wrong when they state my limitations in it. But it’s essential that I have people that see my potential or the things I’m already doing great with.
My depression has told me enough times what I can’t do. I need other voices that are going to argue against that for me, someone to help me problem solve and succeed when I can’t.
3. They don’t add to the stigma
For the most part I’m very open about my past and present issues with mental health, but it hasn’t always been so easy to talk about certain experiences. People that I consider my closest friends are the ones that listen and want to understand my experiences with mental illness. It’s just as normal as talking about a physical illness with them. There might be some tension, being that any kind of illness is difficult to cope with, but shaming doesn’t have a place here.
My feelings and experiences are validated no matter when they came about. I’m not silenced or dismissed by their annoyed facial expressions. I’m heard and still accepted as the same Brooke every day.
4. They call me out on my crap
Once I know a person isn’t going to impose stigma on me, it’s crucial that this person is also willing to call me out at times. I don’t always need the hammer to come down on me. Yet, I do need honest people in my life that won’t remain silent while I’m heading toward old tendencies that leave me crippled.
Sometimes I accidentally and purposefully (opps) make poor/totally horrible decisions. It’s great to try and be gentle at first, because a reminder is maybe all I need. But at a certain point, I’d rather have a confrontation or two than enter back into my miserable disorder.
5. They don’t romanticize elements of disordered thinking
I’ve been guilty of this one, too. From falling in love with characters for entering into “beautifully” vulnerable, but toxic relationships due to their depression, to jealously admiring how a girl could fast until she looks like a delicate corpse.
Sometimes we make disordered thinking seem so unique and lovely, but the truth is, it can be permanently damaging. It’s been super valuable to have people in my life that see the reality of my disorder, and poor mental health in general. They’re not swooned by all the ways depression or an eating disorder can be glorified.
To the people who have inspired these 5 things (though you do so much more):
keep pushing me to be a better Brooke, and thank you for being available for tons of others that lean on you too.
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