Are Friends Necessary?

Mental illness can be very isolating. Often times there is fear of judgment and rejection. If your fear prevents you from totally putting yourself out there, start small. Go out for coffee with a family member and make a point to go to family gatherings. I understand what it is like if you are afraid of making a social mistake when meeting someone new but fighting that fear and overcoming it will do you much good.

Social rules can sometimes be hard to navigate because they change from person to person and group to group. Some people may be ok with swearing or talking about difficulties in life where others may need small talk and jokes.When you first meet someone, introduce yourself and ask them their name if they don’t offer it. If you have trouble remembering names, consider repeating it back to them such as “It’s nice to meet you Terrie.”. Try not to avoid eye contact. People want to know you are listening to them, and you should be. Really listen to them when they talk. You want to give yourself an opportunity to get to know who they are and decide if they are someone you want to talk more with.

Don’t be quick to judge especially on appearance. You don’t know if what you are seeing is their true self when you first meet. Maybe they’re crabby from a long day or they are nervous about meeting new people too. Put your best foot forward. Show people good things about yourself and remember your hygiene. Depression can make self-care difficult like bathing but you don’t want to turn someone away simply because you had body odor or look disheveled.

When you feel ready to meet new people and don’t know where to start, ask family or other people you know if they know anybody worth meeting and if they would introduce you. Even if these people don’t become friends, the practice in socialization will help you along your way to finding your friend.

Finding possible friends can prove to be a challenge sometimes. Take advantage of any social opportunities you already have around you. Make time to add an opportunity to make friends somewhere new as well. Maybe it’s a coffee shop, a cooking class or through social media. Consider volunteering, it’s rewarding and will provide you an opportunity to meet people. You could look up support groups or hobby centered groups in your area on google or facebook. Even forums are a good way to practice introducing yourself.

Ask questions about what kind of person they are. Do they work? Are they funny, wise, cheerful or goal oriented? Share aspirations and interests as you move forward and feel more comfortable with your friendship. Be careful not to overshare early in a friendship. A friend doesn’t need to know personal information such as your social security number or address, especially if you are making friends online.

Be yourself. You want someone willing to be around you as you are. If you present your best self as much as you can, it is easier for others to accept our flaws.Don’t be afraid to break off a friendship that becomes a negative influence in your life. Occasional ups and downs happen in any sort of relationship but make sure they are treating you with respect and consideration. Look for people that share interests, goals and morals.

Whoever you choose to be your friend should contribute something positive to your life. Some friends come around to have coffee and talk about their week. Some friends want to go on roadtrips and have adventures.  However your friend benefits your life, make sure you are beneficial and a positive influence in their life.

Don’t expect them to take any kind of abuse. Being critical and rude repetitively and unapologetically will most likely end a friendship quickly. Be yourself and let them be themselves. Changing how you handle social situations is okay so long as you don’t go against your morals or push your limits in negative ways.Expect to have an even trade of give and take. Be mutually beneficial. Return favors and kind gestures equivocally.

Friendship has many different kinds of benefits. Providing happiness and comfort should be a part of any good relationship. Understanding goes a long way, both ways. Be aware of their own struggles and responsibilities. They have their own life too and respecting that will help your friendship grow better.

Some of the best friendships I’ve had I was able to be myself, share stories from our pasts and laugh often together. Creating new memories together and bonding through shared experiences. Friendships can be like an oasis in the desert. When you need help, you have a new possible source of comfort.

Friends can be a good source of hope as well. Finding resilient friends who are able to push through success and failure can inspire you to keep going when things become difficult. They can offer you a different perspective than yours and sometimes help you solve problems through advice and talking through some issues.

They can help fight your negative inner voice. Providing reassurance in your life that everything will be okay and you are capable of meeting your goals.Make good decisions with your friendship. Personally I have always been prone to people please. I prefer to adapt to social situations than stand out. I’ve learned over the years however that this isn’t healthy and made me meek. I’ve found now that individuality and uniqueness are better than conformity.

Some people don’t even know they are people pleasing. If you find yourself going with friend’s ideas even when you strongly disagree with them then you should take a step back and consider that it is okay and healthy to be you. Stand up for what you believe in and do not circum to peer pressure.

Through years of disappointment and broken trust,  people now must earn my trust as it is not easily given from me. I have a wall up to block people out of sensitive areas of my life and mind. I have found friends worthy of that trust and have been able to let them in but very few have earned that with me.

Some friendships develop quickly and some take years to fully blossom. However comfortable you are with your friend, be sure to set boundaries. If you do not like being touched or don’t like talking about a certain topic, express that. Allow them to set boundaries as well and respect them.

Telling your friend about your illness can be very difficult. You don’t necessarily know how they will react and that can be frightening. When you feel comfortable with them and you feel they are worthy of your trust, sharing your story delicately can help your friend understand you better. Knowing more about who you are can strengthen friendships.

Some people aren’t familiar or accepting of those with mental illness. Unfortunately you may find some friendships just aren’t able to share this piece of you. I personally believe you should have at least one friend to share your diagnosis with and have to lean on occasionally with them being able to help you easier.They may react with sympathy or concern. Some may push you away and as unfortunate as that kind of reaction may be, don’t be afraid to get back up and try to meet another new friend. Just as the struggle to find the right therapist can be daunting and take a few trial runs with different people, eventually you will find someone that you connect with.

Explain your diagnosis simply. Add details as needed and only what you and your friend are comfortable with. Be considerate when sharing information. Going into details of trauma is usually too much. Keep the dark details for a therapist unless you’ve developed a strong relationship with a strong person that has agreed they are comfortable with it.
Be patient with any questions or concerns they may have. Be open and honest. Painting a varied picture of what your struggle is like will make it harder for your friend to support you in the future.

There are different types of support that you may receive from a friendship. You may find a friend who isn’t so great with talking about feelings but is always there to help you out if you need company or just want to move some furniture. Different people will support you through different methods.

They may provide you with distraction. Whether they are jokesters, story tellers or adventurers, having someone to pull focus from time to time to give your stress level a little rest is certainly helpful. Beware though not to let them distract you too much and prevent you from getting things done.

Some by happenstance and some out of concern, you may find your friend check in with you. It might be once a week after they’re tennis match or once a day when they have a moment.

The usefulness of this is seen as getting a foot in the door to stop isolation. Someone to reach out to, update you on current events and maybe even invite you out. This is a good opportunity to just work on reconnecting with people.

Some of the give and take you see the most of is the ability to bounce each other’s ideas off of one another. Not for advice but rather to have another set of trusted eyes to look at things and let you know what their perspective is.

Friends can provide reassurance. They may cheer you on, reminding you that you can do it. You may find yourself being overwhelmingly self-critical. Having someone to reassure you of your worth, the progress you’ve made and the positives in your life can make a big impact on your ability to handle challenges.

As difficult as it can be to ask for help, getting yourself to take that step when the time comes you need it is very important. If you’re building your support system, you’re going to want to be able to use it.Don’t wait until it’s too late. I have been guilty of this myself in the past. Those times I would feel kind of low for a week and think to myself that it really wasn’t a big enough deal to tell them at all. Then as the week ended, I found myself curled up into a ball sending some message of despair to them at 1am.

For me, telling someone I’m kind of low or starting to become depressed now happens when I feel it. I know my friend would rather have a conversation on hardships and finding ways to overcome them than trying to make out what constitutes an emergency phone call.While it is useful to receive any sort of support, keep in mind that everyone has limitations. You should never force or guilt a friend into doing anything they don’t want to do.

Be considerate. They have their own lives, their own time schedules and needs.
 Sometimes our illness can be too much, not just for ourselves but for our supporters as well. They may feel overwhelmed, know when it is time to give them a little space. Keep in mind that when you isolate you also may push friends away.

Any friendship can run through rough patches. Some friendships are strong enough to overcome these challenges time and time again. Others wear out after a while. Losing friends can be very upsetting but understand it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a new friend again. Picking yourself up after any kind of lost relationship is difficult and takes time to heal but stay strong.

Everyone has struggles, yes, but we all have good pieces in our lives, some bigger than others. Having someone to share in those good pieces is a wonderful feeling. Whether you end up with one friend or many, whether distant or close, treat them well.

Have any tips on having friendships? Comment down below.

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