September 20, 2017

"Constantly battling my own mind is hard enough, without trying to argue with people who don’t agree that I have depression and anxiety." - Katie

It’s so important to surround yourself with loved ones who care about you and acknowledge your mental health difficulties. You need a stable support network around you, even if it is just one or two people you can really count on.

I have had both good and bad experiences when it comes to trusting people, but it has never stopped me from remaining open about my struggles. I am so lucky to have a few true friends in my life that never judge me for my actions, never complain at me, and always support me when I need someone to talk to.

For me this is everything, because constantly battling my own mind is hard enough, let alone trying to argue with people who don’t agree that I have depression and anxiety. I shouldn’t have to justify myself and yet I have to more often than not. But two of my friends in particular are so perceptive to my emotions and needs, they help me feel stronger even when I don’t realise I need it.

They send me messages frequently, checking up on me and seeing how I am doing. And it’s not just a generic “how are you doing?” to which I could easily reply “I’m fine”, it’s an open invitation for me to speak to them about whatever is on my mind.

One friend from home, we’ll call her Esther, always tags me in supportive and inspirational messages she finds on Facebook, which make me smile as she’s thought about me that day (we live far apart when I’m at university). Esther also calls me a lot because we can’t see each other very often. These are such simple gestures, but they can make such a difference to me, especially if I am having a really tough day. We both met at sixth form college five years ago through a mutual friend who ended up stabbing both of us in the back. But Esther and I stuck together – I helped her through a lot of self-doubt and brought her out of her shell, and she in return has become like a younger sister. We are both protective of the other, and I’m never afraid to share any of my problems with her because I know how much she cares about me.

The second one we’ll call Luna. Luna is a coursemate at university, and she is one of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She always puts herself out for other people, and radiates kindness and understanding. We both struggle with anxiety, and that is quite positive for us because we understand how the other feels. Luna also messages me frequently – when she experiences an anxiety attack, when she needs to get something off her chest, or just to have a general chat. When I had a year out of university because of illness and had to come back to a different set of students in the year below, Luna reached out to me. She didn't have to, but that is who she is! She made sure I knew where to go and when, helped me to get to know some more coursemates, and was just so approachable from the start. It was so good for me to have someone there who was genuinely wanting to help me settle back in to university life.

Having mates in your corner to help you when you are struggling with your mental health is crucial! I am so grateful to have some true friends who would do anything for me, and who support me through all the difficult times that anxiety and depression hit me with. I know I am not alone, and it gives me so much strength to keep on fighting! This is why, if a friend of yours is struggling, you should be in their corner.

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