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⚠️Trigger Warning: depression, anxiety
Growing up, I was extremely concerned that my mental illnesses would prevent me from forming close friendships. Over the years, I have developed many personality quirks and traits that stemmed from my issues with mental health. I was greatly concerned that those quirks, and my mental health in general, would cause me never to have good friends.
Despite my worries, I have been able to cross paths with a lot of great people. Even though I am awkward, an introvert, and so many other things, I have been able to find great people to spend my free time with. I’ve also managed to find the people who I would consider lifelong friends.
While I have been very fortunate to befriend great people, that nagging worry regarding my mental health always remains in the back of my head.
This was especially true with the friends I had from childhood. I had kept such a huge part of my life secret for so long. I avoided being honest with people about my anxiety and depression because I wasn’t sure how they would handle it.
I’m a natural avoider in so many areas of life. And I wanted to avoid the possibility of losing my friends for as long as possible.
One of the greatest reliefs that I have found in being honest about my struggles is that my true friends didn’t see my illness as a reason to stop talking to me.
My conversations with friends have given them a better understanding of my struggles and why I am the way I am. Talking about my problems has also given me the chance to feel closer to my friends, which is a huge blessing.
There are friends of mine who also struggle with mental health. These are the friends I feel like I can be vulnerable and honest with regarding different topics related to my mental wellness, whether it be seeking out therapy, the days where I struggle with my mental health, past triggers, or something else.
The best thing about these friendships is that these people can relate to what I am saying. Like all other friends, they empathize with me and my issues. However, these friends can also understand what I’m talking about on a deeper level because they have been there themselves.
There’s a mutual understanding of our tribulations, which makes our friendship stronger and more meaningful.
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Having professional support from someone like a therapist is amazing. I am thankful that I get to see someone to help me with my mental health consistently.
However, sometimes it’s nice to vent about my mental health in a laid-back way. The friends who have mental health struggles allow me this freedom, for which I am forever thankful.
I have another set of friends who I don’t speak to about my mental health as regularly. They are aware of what my mental health illnesses are. However, my mental wellness is not a regular topic of discussion when we are together.
Even though these friends and I don’t regularly discuss mental health, their value in my life is equal to those friends that I do discuss mental health with.
When I’m around these friends, I can let loose, not worry about judgement, and focus on having a good time.
I get to experience the luxury of not fixating on my mental health worries. Instead, I focus on being myself and having fun. This would not be possible without being around friends who are awesome and genuinely care about me.
I now realize that I can have meaningful friendships with people even if I struggle with mental health.
I know that I have to hold myself accountable and that I can’t use my mental illnesses as an excuse to be a bad friend.
Being a good friend is tough. It includes the willingness to initiate conversations and plans, being there in bad and good times, active listening, and so much more.
No matter how much work being a good friend entails, I know in my heart that my mental illnesses will only get in the way if I let them.
I can choose to focus on my anxiety and depression and let my friendships fall to the wayside. Or, I can choose to focus my energy on keeping my good friends as a part of my life. Personally, I always hope to choose to focus on the latter.
If you feel like you don’t have any friends, please know that it’s never too late. There are always ways to establish connections with new people.
You may use online platforms to connect with really awesome people (like our community here at Libero) or, maybe you start hanging out with someone from a fitness class you take. You may even find solace in spending time with a coworker that you genuinely like outside of work.
There are so many options to meet people and form connections.
If you haven’t found your people yet, that does not mean you are doomed forever.
I believe there are people out there waiting to meet you and be your friend and that the best is yet to come in terms of having genuine friends by your side.
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Hi everyone! My name is Matthew. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in middle school. I have been trying my best to learn how to cope with my mental illnesses for years. I am still very much learning how to deal with my mental health and live a life of happiness. However, I have found ways to help me feel better, such as going to therapy and writing. Otherwise, I am pretty much a couch potato at heart who loves sitcoms, video games and professional wrestling. I am excited to be a part of Libero!
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.