Tag Archives: friendship

Why did you leave me?

Why did you leave?  Why did you leave me?  What did I do?

Oftentimes, I feel like I have lost everyone.  It seems like everyone around me is just gone.  My friends, my family, even strangers seem to turn their heads the other direction.

I know this isn’t always true though.  I have had people stick by me.  I have had great friends.  I have found lots of support when I have told my closest friends about having bipolar, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder.

I did lose friends too though.  They would say they supported me.  They understood.  They would be there for me, hang out with me, but they were distant.  Soon enough, they were gone.  I know living with someone with mental illness isn’t easy.  I wasn’t living with these people though.  I know being friends with someone with mental illness isn’t easy either.  The problem was – I was the same person I was before I had told them — nothing had changed about me, my behavior hadn’t drastically changed over night, I didn’t suddenly start calling them all the time to vent about my problems, I simply let them know that I had mental health problems.

I guess I did expect support – but I wasn’t outright asking for it at that point.  I wasn’t calling.  I wasn’t crying to them.  I wasn’t divulging my problems on them.  So why did they leave me?

I will never know for sure why people leave.  Of course, there is the stigma.  There is just the fact that people might feel pressured or be scared.  I don’t carry a grudge against any of them.  I just feel sad.  I feel sad that I lost friendships that I truly enjoyed.  People that I liked to be around, people that I thought I would still be talking to today and in 20 years — we no longer talk.   It sucks.  Plain and simple – it sucks.

It isn’t always easy to be friends with someone who has mental illness, but it is possible.  In fact, we are really good friends, we add a lot to friendships.  We are extremely empathetic because we know what pain is like.  We tend to be good listeners because we know how important it is to be listened to.  For the same reason, we are there for others when they need help, even when we feel like the world is crashing on us because of our own problems.  And yes, I know we can be difficult at times, but there are some things you can do to help us too and there is a tip on there that will make your life easier (hint – boundaries!), which I wrote about here.

There are people that won’t leave though.  There are people that are here for me and will be there for you too.  There are people that care and listen and pay attention.  There are people that I have known since I was 5, that I didn’t talk to thought out high school and much of college – but then we got back in touch – and now, we talk again.  They accept me!  They are ok with me having problems.

Those are the people I want.  I want someone who is ok with me being me.  I want someone who will be there for me.  Someone who will support me.  I understand that perhaps the people who left me felt uncomfortable or pressured or didn’t know what to do or say.  I don’t think it is necessarily excuse – I think talking to me and educating themselves or something would be better, but I understand.  I miss those that left, but I am thankful for those that have stuck with me.

Being Friends with Someone With Mental Illness – What You Can Do To Help

Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times.  In fact, my group of friends is quite small.  Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like.  But I have friends that do not, and they are great! 

I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though.  You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.

Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:

 

1) They listen – My true friends simply listen.  They don’t judge me and they just listen.  They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking.  They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed.  Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.

2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone.  They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can.  They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me.  They are empathetic. 

3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do.  Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do.  I just ramble on and on.  So they ask me what I am wanting.  What do I need?  This question gets to the bottom of things.  Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed.  It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”

4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me.  They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.”  They do not stigmatize mental illness.  They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!).  This helps so much in the friendship.

5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better.  My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc.  My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray.  My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.

6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them.  I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them.  Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me.  If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend.  It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first.  Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?

Psych Hospitals – The Not So Scary Truth

Don’t take me!  I don’t want to go.  I’m not going!!!

Going to a psychiatric hospital can be incredibly scary.  There are a lot of horror stories about them.  And for the most part, in today’s society, the horror stories are not true.  I say “for the most part” because I know that for some people, they have had bad things happen to them.  But, in general, most facilities are safe places, where people can go and get the care they needed.  They are not strapped down for hours and hours, stabbed with needles, and/or drugged up and drooling on a couch.

As I have mentioned a few times on here before, I have a little bit of experience with psychiatric hospitalizations. 17 different hospitalizations to be exact – at 7 different facilities. 

  • 1 in Texas
  • 4 in Indiana
  • 2 in Florida

Out of all of these facilities, I would say I had bad experiences at 2 of them, and out of those 2, only one of those was a really horrible experience, and I would say I would absolutely never want to be admitted to that hospital again.  Despite that, I know people that have been admitted to that hospital, and have had completely different experiences than me – so I don’t know, perception of how I compared it to the other hospitals I went to maybe?

All of these hospitalizations ranged in time differences – from as short as 3 days to one as long as 6 months at a state hospital (that hospital was probably the best hospital I was ever at). 

The reason why I really am writing this, is because far to often people talk about their bad experiences at the psych hospital.  No one really talks about how much it might have helped them. This tends to scare people off from actually going and getting help when they need it.  They are scared they might lose their kids, or they will never get out, they will be restrained and tied to a bed, they will be treated bad. 

This isn’t true though.  I can’t promise every hospital is going to be amazing.  It isn’t a 5 star hotel, and some hospitals are newer and better than others.  But it is a safe place if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others.  It is a place for you to get help.  Unless there is abuse or neglect of your kids where they are in immediate danger, they wont take away your kids if you have someone to watch them while you are there – you will get them back (per every situation I have ever encountered with people that have had kids).  You might be there 1 day (unless you are under a 72 hour hold), or you might be there a month – but that is between you and the doctor and how you feel you are doing.  If you are not a danger to yourself or others though, they cannot keep you in there against your will. 

I know it might not seem like the hospitals helped me at all, considering I was in and out of them so much.  But they did!  They saved my life.  If it wasn’t for them, I would be dead.  I would go on and off my medication, I was non compliant.  I didn’t think I needed help.  I didn’t know how to accept the help.  Every time I went in I hated life and wanted to die – or had actually attempted suicide.  They would bring me back to reality, get me back on my meds.  Get me into the group therapy there, the techs would talk to me, the psychiatrist would talk to me.  I relearned how to use my coping skills.  I got stabilized.  For the time being anyway.  For me, it took more than an acute care hospital – it took the state hospital.  For most, it doesn’t take that though.  But for me, that state hospital literally saved me from destruction. 

I spent 6 months there and I was scared to go.  When they told me I was being committed I was scared.  Yet, I didn’t even think much of it at the same time.  I was so over hospitals and assumed I would kill myself no matter what it didn’t phase me.  In the end, after 6 months, I was a new person.  Yes, I still struggle, but I think about how much time and effort everyone put into teaching me how to live again, not just survive in life but actually live.  The psychiatrist, nurse, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, techs, recreational therapists – it was amazing how much everyone cared. 

People at psych hospitals do care.  It is a not a gloomy place where patients are catatonic and drugged up, tied to chairs and beds.  Groups take place, patients make friends, support is given. I still have friends from some of my hospitalizations in the acute care hospitals and friends from the state hospital.  And we keep in touch more often than other friends because they understand me much better.

If you need help, reach out.  Take it.  It is there.  Don’t be scared.

Post A Day – She Saved My Life, Stopped Me From Ending It All

Word Press  Post A Day:  Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

 

Growing up, I was quite social.  I can’t say I had one BFF.  I had lots of friends, and some I hung out with quite more frequently though.  Leah and Alex come to mind during my 4th and 5th grade years.  I had started a new school and immediately found them to be great friends.

As I went onto 8th grade, I can honestly say that I did grow to have a best friend.  Although I am not sure best friend is the right word…I think true friend is more accurate.  She listened to me, cared about how I felt, and we did things together.  Vicki was there for me when no one else was.  Throughout my severe depression, she showed me that I wasn’t alone.  I was extremely suicidal and I know she did not know how badly I felt this way, but her actions kept me from ever actually carrying out my plans.  She literally saved my life in high school.  I wasn’t social in high school, in fact I was pretty withdrawn because of my depression and past history of sexual abuse, I didn’t trust people. With Vicki though, I could be open and honest.  She kept me strong and I got through high school and graduated.  She was my best friend, but she was more than that – she was a true friend, and honest friend, a real friend. 

I personally enjoy being a lone a lot of the time.  I do however think that having someone to confide in it important.  Isolation can lead to bad things.  It can lead to depression.  Loneliness is horrible.  Many people might say they don’t need other people, they don’t need friends.  I said that for a long time too, and still say that sometimes, but I am really just hiding the fact that I am scared to let people in. In fact, I wrote about this just the other day, how I longed for friendship, but didn’t know how to let anyone in.  I am not sure it matters that you have one person as a friend who matters the most, and I don’t think that you should have a ton of friends, but I think if you at least have someone or a few people that you do trust and can go to and confide in or hang out with and have fun, that is what is important.

 

LGBTQ – Not a Mental Illness, but they are faced with mental health issues

Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual.  Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.

These are not a mental illness.  In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM.  All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.

However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals.  It is not due to their beliefs though.  In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis.

When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high.  Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur.  Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur.  All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.

It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be.  No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them.

We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need.  All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.”  I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so.  I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help.  Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry.  Friendship and understanding.

I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college.  I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so.  It was hard for them.  They were not treated that great.  But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal.  Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago.  But it still is a really big deal at the same time.  So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources.

Some resources are:

GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)

Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html

NAMI – GLBT Resources