Having friends in my corner has made the prospect of recovery seem possible - something I spent years believing wasn’t. One thing that always made me sceptical, about disclosing my mental health difficulties to friends, was the fear of them judging me and no longer wanting to be friends, due to the stigma associated with my illness: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
However, my friends didn’t judge me. Since becoming aware of my mental health difficulties, my friends have always told me that “if I ever need someone to talk to”, I can “talk to them” - a few words that have a massive impact when my mood deteriorates. It makes me aware that they are always there for a chat when I need it and that I’m not alone.
My friends are also eager to learn about my illness and often ask me questions to try and understand it and the things that can help if I deteriorate. This is a relief because I now always feel able to open up to them, discuss it and then if I do deteriorate, I know that I can always reach out to them for support and they will have somewhat of an understanding when I talk to them. When I’m really struggling, they will invite me out shopping or for a walk to the park - something that can interrupt and distract me from suicidal and negative thoughts. And if it’s so bad that I lack motivation, then a simple coffee and chat can have the same effect.
They have also visited me during my worst times in hospital. Due to the stigma and media representations of psychiatric hospitals, I was terrified of being on the ward myself and assumed that my friends wouldn’t visit. However, they did, which made me realise that despite the stigma often associated with mental health and psychiatric care, my friends didn’t hold the same stigmatising views and were there for me no matter what. Even a short twenty-minute visit off them could distract me from my negative thoughts and would make me feel positive and determined to get better whilst in there.
My friends will always encourage me to seek professional help if I reach crisis and will also emphasise that there is no shame in it. When they can, they will offer to accompany me to appointments if I ever need someone for support, which can be helpful when in crisis or when I’m extremely anxious about particular appointments.
My friends also talk about their own mental health struggles, which allow us to talk and work out ways we can overcome these difficulties together and makes me not feel ashamed to share my own experiences. Most of all my friends have faith in my recovery and believe that I will succeed in it, reassuring me that it is still possible, even on my worst days.
The friends in my corner have played a massive role in my battle towards recovery so far - something I am extremely thankful for.