If I didn't have my friends I wouldn't be as happy as I am now. In my darkest moments, they support me. When I feel like there is no light, they switch it on. When my thoughts are drowning me, they give me a new perspective. When I feel like a failure, they remind me of my worth. At every single point of my journey through life, they celebrate my achievements and my happiness, and they support me through despair. They make sure I never feel alone. They never pretended to know the answers.
They can't fix me. But they helped me to realise that I don't need to be fixed. They have always told me that as a person I am wonderful, it’s just that my illness makes me think differently. Nothing changed when I told them about my mental health problems. They knew that I am the same person and the only difference is that they supported me more.
When I told my friend Carys that I was hearing voices, she was literally the only person in high school that didn't freak out or run away. I remember once in a science lesson, was hearing voices and feeling distressed, she actually left her lesson to get me from mine. We got in a bit of trouble, but it meant the world to me that she was there for me. A lot of people tell me they’re here for me, but they don't respond when I’m down. Carys is one of the people who does.
Matt is the same. We became friends when we were at college, and a lot of the time I was quiet, or irritable, and my mood swings are always very intense, but he was patient and listened when I needed to rant about life.
They always tell me I can talk to them anytime I need. Carys picks up the phone at literally any time of the day. We could sometimes go weeks without talking if we’re both busy, but whenever I say I need her, she is there straight away without hesitation. She came to my appointments with me, she visited me in hospital and she would come to my house and cook my favourite things.
Sometimes, if I’m having a bad night, I can message Matt hundreds of times, and he always takes the time to read every message and reply to me. Whenever he knows I’m having a hard time and we meet up, he brings me a Diet Coke as well, and that is awesome!
They both know that one of my favourite quotes is "this too shall pass", and whenever I’m struggling, they remind me to tell myself that "this too shall pass". They always invite me out, even when the whole time I sit silently because I’m hearing voices or leave early because I’m so anxious, they always invite me to the next meet-up, party or meal out.
The best thing they do though, is they make me laugh. When I phone Carys and I’m upset, we talk about it, and then she makes me laugh by reminding me of a funny moment, or telling me something cute that her daughter Elsie is doing, so by the time we finish the phone call I’m smiling. Whenever I call matt and I’m upset, we talk about it, then he makes me laugh by making a stupid face, speaking in a weird voice or telling an awful joke. It makes such a difference to have friends who’re always in your corner.
If you are worried about your friends’ mental health, talk to them. You don't need to put on a show, or buy them something expensive – your friendship is what they need. The little things make the biggest difference, like tagging them in a funny meme, sending them a GIF, buying them their favourite drink, inviting them out, texting them if you notice they haven't been at school/college/work. The little things are what remind people that they aren't alone.