It goes without saying that mental health problems are going to affect your relationships. They change the way you see and interact with the world so it’s inevitable. And obviously it’s going to differ massively from person to person and lately I’ve been interested in how other people have maintained friendships with their own problems and if relating at all is difficult – for me, I’ve always found it hard.
Looking back to when my problems really became apparent: anorexia. With my anorexic voice in my head there was very little room for anyone else’s and people getting in the way of my routines coupled with my lack of personality due to a lack of energy, I found friendships hard. Some people battled to stay in my life. Others less so. What was interesting though is that it must have been seen as a very ‘glamorous’ illness. When I was in hospital people came to visit and vowed to love me and be worried about me that I barely heard from again since once I became healthy. Yuck – who needs friends like that?
Now, with my ongoing BPD, there are people who I have drifted from. My anxiety can get in the way, I can be flaky with arrangements, I can feel dull, inferior and like I add nothing to a relationship. I feel selfish and like a ‘bad person’ unless I put everyone else first. And then I get overwhelmed and so cancel everything and feel disgusted with myself and too ashamed to press the friendship further. I have friends that are safe and those who aren’t and I totally don’t blame people for losing patience with me as I can do too.
And although I may have lost friends to my problems, I’ve also gained many. Through my various treatments and in other walks of life, I’ve met other people who struggle and it’s always such a relief to be able to talk to someone who understands first hand where you’re coming from. Sometimes these friendships can become unhealthy or difficult if your issues clash or are too similar, but often they are rewarding and some of the closest friendships I’ve made.
Anyway, that’s my ramblings but I’m interested in what other people have felt about friends and mental health too. 🙂