July 25, 2013

LizJosh and I became friends instantly. We met on the first day of university and, since we shared a similar sense of humour, we managed to find even the most mundane tasks incredibly enjoyable.

It’s not often you meet someone you get along with so well straight away; it was effortless. As you can imagine, we did everything together.

When my mental health seriously began to deteriorate I wasn’t sure exactly how to tell him that there was something wrong. Our friendship was based on ‘not taking life too seriously’.

We were always laughing and joking; how much would this change our friendship? I was empty, vacant, a shadow of my former self. I was petrified he wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore; maybe he’d think it wasn’t worth the hassle?

"The doctor says I’m suffering with anxiety and depression," I said

"The doctor says I’m suffering with anxiety and depression," I said.

Josh was quiet for a long time. Eventually he took a deep breath, smiled and said, “It’ll be okay.”

He wasn’t being dismissive. I could see that he understood; his eyes were wide and reassuring. From that moment on Josh has always been there for me. Sometimes, when I’d be feeling a bit better, we’d go to the cinema, travel together and spend evenings out with friends. Often though, when I couldn’t face the world, I’ve always had someone there to keep me company.

I’m grateful for his unnatural patience

It must have been difficult to live with someone so unpredictable and moody but, for the entire time we’ve known each other, Josh has never questioned my actions or made me feel guilty for the way I am. I feel so fortunate that I’ve always had someone there who was just willing to listen. I don’t want advice, I don’t want an opinion and I don’t want to be judged. All I need is someone who is willing to listen to me.

Perhaps most crucially, I’m grateful for his unnatural patience. Five years later and having since been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Josh is still a vital part of my life and, most importantly, my recovery. He is proof that I am capable of making and maintaining friendships and that, despite my illness, I am worth the effort.

He will still sit up with me until the early hours of the morning if I can’t sleep, he doesn’t expect me to feign a smile when I’m feeling low and, when I’m too anxious to leave the house, he completely understands.

I find talking to people about my mental health daunting. Will they understand? Will they reject me? Will they think of me differently? If people care enough about me they will listen, will endeavour to support me when I feel that I can’t support myself and will accept me and love me for who I am. I don’t know when I’ll be better but I can’t describe how much it has meant to me to have a friend like Josh.

And I’m sure he’ll agree with me; there have been some bad times but there have been some very good times too...

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