May 15, 2013

DarrenWhen you decide to tell people that you have a mental illness you hope that those closest to you will stick with you.

It doesn't always happen. It can be the people closest to you that find it hardest to understand. In the last eighteen months I have 'lost' several people that I cared the most about. They either didn't try and understand or lost patience.

I can't imagine it is much fun to be friends with someone who repeatedly tries to kill themselves, who hardly ever socialises face to face or who thinks he is the heir apparent to Ernest Hemingway's literary mantel during a manic period - including the boorish behaviour.

I find my friends have formed three groups to varying degrees since I announced my illness in several very public episodes.

Some people will see mental illness as a threat

Some people will see mental illness as a threat. They won't understand why you are crying down the phone at 3am or think you have been to hospital when you haven't. They will see the lurid headlines and dramatic TV images of the mentally ill.

They will no longer see the you that is currently hidden by illness. It really, really hurts when you are abandoned by these people. They might be the person you love most in the world and there is no mythical magic wand to stop it hurting; it stings like hell.

Some people will lose patience with you

Some people will lose patience with you. The sitting around the house, the crying, the anxiety attacks that mean you haven't been to town in months. They might care about you but they can't take it any longer. I don't resent these friends for leaving and you shouldn't either.

Mental illness is a shape shifting mythical beast to those with no direct experience. The dark fog that descends over our heads or the confusing mists of mania are as alien to the mentally healthy as trying to understand Quantum Mechanics would be for, well, most of us. We all have our limits. I have been way, way past mine several times so I try to keep in mind; some people just won't be able to stay with us on the whole journey. It upsets me but the door will always be open for them.

Some people show unbelievable strength

And finally there are the people of unbelievable strength. People you never dreamed would become rods of iron for however long it takes you to get better. People who share our burden, your best friends and some who surprise you in ways you could never have imagined.

My point is, in my experience, we all have our limits. I speak out about my illness as often as possible. You can't end the stigma overnight; there will always be people who just don't want to know but there are many who will listen and try to help as much as they can. There are people that will support you and your return to health. They will be the most important people in your recovery.

Talking can open up new friendships and strengthen existing bonds

I wouldn't be here to write any of this without friends and family who have supported me down this road: some periodically, some every step of the way. Only talking can open up new friendships and strengthen those bonds that are the foundations to making it feel perfectly normal to answer truthfully when someone asks "How are you?"

How am I today? Well I've been better - but thankfully I have found people I can say that to now.

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Comments

Ex girlfriend in denial she has depression

I have just recently spilt with my girlfriend who has had a history of depression. We split due to her deciding she was best suited to a life of being single. Our relationship picked up brilliantly for the first two months and then the devised negative thinking started to peek through & destroy everything that was positive in our relationship. I stood by her as much as possible because we loved each other & we talked about how we could resolve her anxieties she had about parents & bad neighbours by starting a life together somewhere else, her bad past as a kid/teenager etc but the up & down emotions she went through constantly just made it more grounds for arguing with each other. She would pick holes in everything I said until It got to a point that all that we loved in each other diminished & finally we grew apart & split. I feel i was adding more stress into her life & making matters worse. She has a history of suicide attempts, and she has a very negative view on everything in life but the major problem in all this is she is in denial that anything is wrong so it makes it extremely difficult to speak to her about it even though she was diagnosed by a doctor in the past for depression. When we split I asked her if she would consider seeing a councillor just to talk about her mood swings etc & as you can imagine that blew up in my face & we now no longer speak to each other. I'm concerned about her and would love some advice on what I or someone else could do. It's still quite tough for me that we split probably because she couldn't come to terms with her having depression but now the relationship is ruined I would like to think I could help her come to terms with this as a friend so she doesn't ruin any future life she might have with someone else or waste her life thinking she can't have a relationship with someone. So what do I do?

Hello, Rethink Mental Illness

Hello, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind both provide excellent information services that you can contact to get advice on how you may best be able to help. You can call Mind on 0300 123 3393 or email info@mind.org.uk and you can contact rethink on 0845 456 0455 or email info@rethink.org - if you would like someone to speak to about the experience, the Samaritans are always available and you can call them at any time or day on 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org

too much to lose

Not keen to try for fear of too many people falling in to first two categories and losing them. Even if one might say they aren't worth having around if they won't stay around - well, they are. Annoying that I have to choose between being able to be honest/talk to them and keeping them in my life, but such is life.

caught out

Its a bummer when you let slip that you've had problems and they act differently towards you

True Friends

Nicely put. Though I disagree with the idea that friends need to have "unbelievable strength" to stick around. A true friend doesn't need to summon vast quantities of extra strength and caring, a true friend will just be a friend. To think that my friends are all working very hard to maintain the friendship I have with them due to my mental illness is very depressing!

Mental health

Dear Sir or Madam I am the founder of and author at FAD FC (Football's Awareness of Depression Football Community). A place where Football players, coaches and managers suffering with or have suffered with mental health issues caused by or related to football can come and share their experiences via our website, find information on mental health, etc.. As an ex footballer myself, I lost my career abruptly 17 years ago . Since then, I have not been able to face Football, I couldn't even bear to hear the word and so I went into a massive spiral of depression so severly I were self harming, taking over doses and planning my own death. Basically, if I couldn't play football I wanted to be dead. After years of taking anti depressants and having many sessions of bereavement counselling to get over the loss of my career, I have finally returned to the game. But only by writing about it, I have just written a book 'A guide to positive mental health'. This is aimed at football clubs, players, coaches and managers. I have also recently contacted my local MP in regards to making Mental Health First Aid training compulsory within ALL football clubs. This could prevent situations like Gary Speed, Darren Eadie and even Gazza in the future, and just like Gazza once stated ''All football clubs should have their own counsellor''. I have recently spoken to a few professional football players who state they would feel more confident in speaking to an In-House counsellor instead of going through medical staff right through to the PFA. One ex player who is now serving in a UK prison after turning to crime due to the lack of after-care of his career states, if he had after care when his career were ending, he wouldn't have turned to crime. My aim at the moment is to assist clubs in promoting mental health by having Mental Health first aid trained staff and counsellors in all clubs. I also believe my book ''A Guide To Positive Mental Health'' would benefit clubs especially coaches and managers.

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