Monday, 13 February 2017

MH Monday: Friends and mental health

So today I thought that, whilst I show you photos of myself and my gorgeous friends at our ball over the weekend, I would also share with you some thoughts about friends and mental health.
 My friends are some of the most important things in the world to me, and they are also one of the reasons that I have got this far with regards to my mental health. All of your relationships in life affect your mental health and coping mechanisms, and my friends gave me the support I needed to pull through my depression and come out the other side.
It has been proven that the quality of your relationships affects your mental health - which is quite obvious when you think about it. The better your friendships, the more support you are likely to receive, and the better you are likely to feel. I think it also boosts your self-esteem to be around people that genuinely enjoy spending time with you, which again is another positive factor towards your mental health.

I remember that when I was depressed, I used to doubt my friendships (although they gave me no reason to do this). I was quite self-loathing, so I would always wonder why anyone would ever want to spend any time with me, except if they just felt sorry for me. My friends made me see the error of my thinking, and they always made sure that they showed me that they enjoyed spending time with me because they liked me, and not because they felt like they had to. They always gave me the reassurance that I needed, usually without me even having to ask for it.

I think there was a point when I was very down and quite young where I used to rely on my friendships quite heavily, and I was very dependent on them. It used to really affect my mood if one of my friends couldn't see me, or if they said something slightly critical - I would become very depressed at this point.

Whilst I was down I also found it harder to make the effort to see friends, as all I wanted to do was lie in bed and wallow in my low mood. But they all stuck by me and made sure that they popped in to see me whenever they could - and my housemates were incredible, always checking on how I was and making sure I was safe and had the support around me that I needed.

However now I feel much more independent within my relationships and I'm also a lot happier in myself, so I understand that people enjoy being around me, and want to be my friends because they like the person that I am. I also feel like I appreciate my friends so much more because of what I have been through, as they stuck by me throughout, and for that I am very grateful as I know it can't have been easy to see me so unwell.
 I also feel like I rely on different friendships for different things. For example, there are a few friends that I know I can always talk to about my mental health, and they won't judge me for whatever I'm thinking in my head. There are other friends that I perhaps wouldn't go to about my mental health, but I would talk to them about other problems, such as boys or work. All of my friends are just as amazing as each other, but they are my friends for different reasons because they are all completely different people and good at different things.
My friends have been one of the most stable aspects of my life throughout my journey through depression, and for that I am most grateful. I honestly couldn't have got this far without them, and I am so happy with all of my relationships in my life. My uni friends have been through almost 5 years of hard work with me, and my friends from home have been so incredibly supportive along the way. I can't wait to see where the next chapter will take us!

Thank you all for listening to my irrational ramblings, wiping away my many many tears, and giving me a kick up the bum when I needed it. Oh, and for those many cuddles and words of support. I love you all lots xoxoxox
In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.
                      - Andrea Dykstra

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