Elizabeth, a Time to Change bloggerFriends are there for a lot of your ‘first times’ – your first day at school, your first car ride after finally passing your test, your first time out clubbing, but what about the first time you confide in them about your mental health?

In my experience it seemed to be that no matter how close I was to my friends, it still didn’t make me feel any better about admitting I was suffering with depression and anorexia. My friends had been there for all the trials and tribulations that life had thrown at me throughout school and the start of university but the idea of sharing a secret such as this with them, was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced.

All I remember going through my mind was a continuous string of ‘what ifs’: what if my friend reacts badly, what if they judge me for it, what if they don’t see me as being me anymore and instead just this weak, moaning 20 year old? It took a long time to gather up the courage to say anything. I had kept things hidden for as long as I could until it became obvious to my friends that something wasn’t right. I was no longer the fun-loving, socialising girl that they knew so well. It was at this point that I told myself to grit my teeth and be honest.

I had planned in my mind to tell my two closest friends at the time.

I had planned in my mind to tell my two closest friends at the time. One who had been my best friend at sixth form and another who was a close friend and also a colleague from where I was currently working part time.

Whilst I had initially thought about planning what I was going to say, in the end I decided not to overthink it and just went with the flow of calmly explaining that things weren’t good at the moment and that I was feeling very unwell and low. I explained that I been to see my GP where I was diagnosed and immediately given medication and started talking therapy.

Both my friends immediately showed concern and worry for me

Both my friends immediately showed concern and worry for me, stressing that I should look after myself and that they would be there if I needed them. It was like the whole world had just been lifted off my shoulders. There was a sense of feeling within me that things were going to be ok after all, that nothing would change between my friends and I and soon I’d be back to normal and we’d all forget about my illness.

However this hope of mine was unfortunately short-lived with one of my friends. The girl, who was also my work colleague, whilst initially seeming supportive suddenly began to distance herself from me and no longer wanted to discuss my issues. This was in spite having told me I could talk to her.

she told me she couldn’t deal with me being unwell and no longer wanted to be friends

Eventually things got to the point where she asked me not to discuss any aspect of my illnesses with her at all because she decided she couldn’t do anything to help and therefore didn’t want to hear about it. Things went even further when eventually she told me she couldn’t deal with me being unwell and no longer wanted to be friends and even asked that we specifically didn’t work the same shifts together any more.

To say I was devastated is an understatement. Having been so frightened of being honest and admitting that I was really unwell and needed someone more than ever, it was heart breaking to then have my worst fears come true. She no longer saw me as the friend she once knew so well. Instead she now saw me as someone who to her was ‘troublesome’ and wasn’t the kind of friend she wanted in her life anymore.

It was so gut-wrenching to hear that [she]... refused to have anything to do with me

It was so gut-wrenching to hear that someone who I had been so close to for the last four years and thought would be there for me, suddenly hit a switch on a friendship and refused to have anything to do with me. I tried so many times to show her that I was still there underneath my illnesses; I was still the same fun-loving girl only I was hidden by a mask that needed to be ripped off.

Unfortunately the loss of my friend left me so empty and devastated I ended up trying to take my own life and as a result ended up spending a month in hospital, to help me recover.

My best friend from sixth form, who I also confided in at the same time, remained my rock

Despite this heart ache, there was light at the end of my dark tunnel. My best friend from sixth form, who I also confided in at the same time, remained my rock. She made me feel like there was nothing different or strange about me and that our friendship didn’t change despite her now knowing that I was, in my mind, a freak.

She consistently asked me how I was doing, how therapy was going and if I was ever having a bad day. She was always there on the phone or would drop everything to come see me. She came to see me whilst I was in hospital and never once got bored by the amount of times that I cried. Naturally, it wasn’t a completely easy ride for her. I could tell there were times when it was very distressing for her to watch me go through sheer hell and I know she deeply missed seeing me laughing and being so carefree. But she did what any friend could in such a difficult situation. She was simply there. And she distracted me from dark thoughts by treating me normally and getting us involved socially with other people.

I am so glad I confided in her because it made me realise that having a friend’s support can make a huge difference to your recovery

For this, I will always be eternally grateful. I am so glad I confided in her because it made me realise that having a friend’s support can make a huge difference to your recovery. It also helped me to develop my confidence and come to the realisation that if someone chooses to walk away from me because of mental health issues, then that’s their problem, not mine. I find it very sad that some people feel the need to do that but I can’t help being unwell. I didn’t choose it and I didn’t want it so why should I be left feeling like it’s my fault and that it must mean I’m an unlovable freak? I now know that I’m not.

Someone who chooses to end their friendship with me because of my illnesses wasn’t a true friend in the first place. And that’s ok because I know that there’s far more to me than my mental health issues and there are plenty of great friends out there who can also see that.

It is because of her that I am still here today, living my life to the full; proof that a friend really can save your life

Now I’m in recovery and my friend and I are still very close, though a little further apart because we are away at different universities. But I know she’s always there at the end of the phone. It is because of her that I am still here today, living my life to the full; proof that a friend really can save your life.

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Comments

The courage to ask for support

I was touched by your story. There is a real effort at the moment to get people talking about mental illness, but what your story shows is that it still comes down to real people feeling they have to take a chance in telling friends and family. It's that courage that I want to comend you for, especially as one 'friend' ultimately proved false. Your school friend is closer to my own experience both in suffering and as a counsellor that all it takes it one person to stand with you and you have that rock to start building on, so stand with you in the moments of crying and self doubt and to share the little victories with. You say that you have moved on to University now so I hope that things are better or improving and that despite one bad experience, the support of a good friend really does make the difference.

Your tale brought tears to my eyes

I found your story very sad and touching, and close to my personal experience. I told a 'friend' about my depression at work and found it spread around. Some of my friends don't understand and I know they never will - but I appreciate their honesty if they say so. I'm also supporting someone with mental health issues and it's very difficult - but in my opinion loving someone, being a friend, isn't just about being there for the good times. It's hanging on and sailing through the troubled waters too.

Depresion is killing me

Society have double standards about depression. I will explain what I mean. If you tell someone that you are suffering from depresion, they immediately replay "YOU HAVE NO REAON TO BE DEPRESS" they will continue telling the reason they believe you should not be depress. here some of the things a depress person has to hear: "You are beautiful, you are healthy, you are not homeless, you have a job, your parents are alive and the list goes On and On.." if you tell someone you have any other heath problem they show compassion, and show concern about you, even ask how can they help. I told my brother about my depression, he did not care, I believe nobody cares or understand. I am tired of feeling tired, tired of looking tired, and waking up without hopes, tired of living my live pretending that I am ok, I am performing 24/7 to cover-up my depression. FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT. "HOW MUCH LONGER COULD i HIDE MY SUFERING" 99% of people kill themselves because nobody cares.

Support

Hi there, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear it sounds like you're going through a really hard time, and you're right, it's not helpful at all when others dismiss illnesses with comments like those. We're campaigning to change these kinds of attitudes, and hope it makes others more empathetic. I hope you're getting the support you need at the moment, what you're going through must be very tough. We have some support links on our website which you may find useful: http://bit.ly/SuPp0Rt – Take care of yourself, Tim at Time to Change

Just being there really counts and can make such a difference

This blog really struck a chord with me. I have suffered with depression for years but it took a long time to acknowledge it, and an even longer time to get help for it. My friends really made all the difference. They were all there for me, and it came to the front that some of my friends had been through similar experiences and so we were able to relate to each other, and it strengthened the friendship. One particular bad bout of depression was brought on my workplace bullying, and when I tried to talk to someone at work about it, in confidence as I was constantly reassured, surprisingly my thoughts/feelings etc made their way back to management and instead of helping me, the bullying got worse and led to panic attacks. My friends supported me all through this, and when I moved job I really felt my confidence coming back and a lot stronger in myself for going through it.

Not everyone can support you.

I fully understand the issues you've experienced here, I have had friends whom I have known for years grow increasingly impatient with the length of my recovery after a breakdown (not as frustrated as I am btw!) Unfortunately, there are some people who cannot deal with my situation and as you said, rather than beat myself up about how frustrated they are with me, I have decided that its something else I cannot control so therefore the best thing i can do is look back over our friendship with fondness and focus on the future with positive anticipation :)

Depression

The most supportive friends when I have been in episodes of clinical depression have been those that have experienced it themselves. I am always mindful that many people will not care or may even reject me, so when in depression unfortunately I tend to isolate myself. Because my illness has been chronic , lasting 25 years on and off, I´ve learnt what to do and what not to do. Because depression causes a behavioural change, in my experience, people sense it and stay away. It´s only when I break out of depression that people respond well to me again. I don´t want to be negative but chronic depression does not mix with societal expectations of thinking and behaviour and some people are still scared of "mental illness" but in my case, I have endogenous depression, which is a physical imbalance of chemicals. It´s about as psychological as a tin of sardines. Talking therapy doesn´t work, only medication. In a way I have a "Physical illness". I wish people were more understanding. My mother once attacked me, when I said I was suffering from depression. Sadly, I had to leave because she was giving me the worst of vibes. I´m afraid when I enter into depression it is almost complte isolation and I only confide in a handful of friends.

They don't understand it

The 3 girls that i have been best friends with for over 12 years now dont understand my depression at all and because they dont understand it they simply try not to talk about it, which makes me feel like i cant talk to them if im having a bad day, only my two other friends that have experienced depression themselves are understanding and supportive of me and i tell them everything about it because of that.

Bipolar disorder

I have an older sister who I am normally very close with. But when I feel seriously depressed, even suicidal, as I have for many years, she doesn't really want to hear me talk about it and does not understand how devastating rapid cycling bipolar disorder is to me. I have the feeling, though I know she loves me, that she wishes I would just "snap out of it." This attitude intensifies my pain and increases my sense of extreme isolation. I don't know what to do with this pain.

I really feel for you

As a sufferer of depression, I can't imagine what it must feel like to have a friend be so nasty like that just when you need warmth and support... it would make you feel worse for sure! All this means though is that this girl was not a real friend. You sound like a great girl and your experience of depression / anorexia will make you a more compassionate / understanding person so really, a wonderful person like you doesn't need people like that in their lives! Her loss, not yours! If there is one thing that mental illness can help us with, it's finding out who our real friends are. I am so glad your other friend was there for you. As the saying goes "A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out"!!

Thank you!

Your post has helped me realize how lucky I am to have friends + my husband who are here for me when I go through depression. I sent this to my friend (me telling her about my depression has brought us a lot closer) and to my husband. My friend said (about your first friend being nasty to you) "poor girl, that's horrible!". My hubby says: "Oh, that's good news for the writer that is - a pretend friend has been removed from her life - always a good thing!". I couldn't agree more. As someone who sometimes suffer from depression, I may have lost acquaintances or "superficial" friends but I have gained some amazing real friends!!

I know that feeling

I don't have the guts to tell my friends or family of my depression I have had numerous online and doctor tests about depression, They all say I'm severely suicidally depressed, and I can't tell anyone, I feel hopeless, medications don't work so well, they need me to go to a hospital for a long time to "cure" me, but I am a teenager, I have school, family, unnsupportive friends, bitch assed teachers, and tests So as you can see I can't do this without telling anyone, My mum had cancer, my grandpa is dead, so if I do it would be insulting to their memory I can't live like this, I see no other option then suicide....

Nothing to be ashamed of

I'm also a teenager (although i'm guessing you're a bit younger?) with a mental illness and have been in a similar boat to you. The first thing I really must say is suicide is never an option. You're still so young and you'll have so much to give. There's people who'll become your best friends you haven't even met yet! And who knows, you could be destined for amazing things. The first person to cure cancer? To land on mars? But more then anything you have so much time left to actually be happy and enjoy life. I was terrified about telling anyone about my bipolar disorder, but in the end it really helped. It does take a lot of guts to do but will really help you in the long run. It sounds like you really need treatment from what you're saying, and if you really can't tell anyone the staff at the hospital can do it for you. They can explain it really well to family and friends and if you don't feel ready to see them straight after the staff won't let them in. I hope I said something that helps you even a little bit, but think about what I've said and really consider if its worth giving up life without trying to get support first. If you need anymore advice hit me back on this comment. best of luck xxx

suiside?

How are you feeling now? New year, new you? I know things get tough but please get some help. Life can be so great! My partner has had depression all is life and felt really low earlier this year. It was only when he reached bottom, that he got the help that he needs. He is now much better, feeling positive and I am considering moving to be with him I also found it tough, and at times felt like his carer. I am glad I stuck buy him. Please speak out and get help. Even those at rock bottom can start again with a positive outlook. Please take care of yourself. Choose to live. :)

same for me

the same thing happened to me, where my best friend of 2 years left me when i needed her the most and told me that 'i was too much'. when i started reading this blog i was hoping it wouldn't be the same for you but it was. but i'm also glad we both have someone who's always there because it helps soo much to know that someone will listen to you and not judge you. thanks and best of luck x

Hugs to you

Hi, I'm aware this was posted a while back. However I'm sure it is in your thoughts. I am going through a similar phase in my life. I've clung on for 3 years with these feelings and finally admitted I'm not well and need help. I've found out through this process I have 1 true friend left. However she means the world to me and like you say, if they are willing to accept you during phases of illness (Which is NOT our fault!) then they are true friends. I feel awful and try convincing myself day after day that i'm sane, i'm normal, and can fit in. I can't do it any more. Thanks for your blog, it comforted me x

hi there

my best friend is in the hospital and has been for 53 days suffering from anorexia. Now imagine that the friend that left you and was horrible is me but I never left her. I just completely said the wrong thing the whole time and I just wanted to help her and when she told me all about her illness and how upset and angry she was it made me very scared and it lead me to getting some depression. I had to see a therapist and everything and it was a really horrible time in my life. Me and my best friend had been so close for 5 years and we always referred to each other as having the same brain - that's how close we were! So when she was taken to be an impatient in a care home it killed me and I just wanted to come in every day and basically I just wanted to help We have another friend who didn't get as freaked out as me and my best friend now sees her as her "rock" when I'm feeling like it should be me Anyways after I said all the wrong things and I needed her help as equally as she needed me when I was going through my depressed phase, she decided she didn't want to be friends with me and I wasn't allowed to talk to her because obviously I just make things worse I still love her and I want to be there and I want her to talk to me about it but now she doesn't let me come in and I don't want her to think of me as that friend who just left her when things got tough. I want to prove myself to her but I don't know what anorexic people want to here and I want to be as good as of a person as her other friend. People say just be there and don't give advice or criticism and treat her normally but how can I do that if she isn't even talking to me?! I still send her messages every day saying I hope she has a good day and try and stay happy but she never replies so I don't know if I should continue sending them? Would it make you feel good? I just miss her and I want to be there - I've changed now, I know I have but she won't give me another chance, I would really like some advice on this

Your friend

Hi there, I'm sure your friend does appreciate your messages, but she might not be in a good place right now. Keep being there for her :) Best, Crystal at Time to Change

I have it as well

Im currently going through depression,Its not getting better My friends say its nothing even though i've alraedy been dignosed by a doctor they say its nothing i think its because of my age (11)

Support

Sorry to hear you’re having a hard time, we hope you will begin to feel better soon. We know how isolating it can feel when it seems like no one understands, please do remember to talk to someone you trust. Childline are always there to listen and take you seriously. You may enjoy reading blogs from other people who were once in a similar position - these are from young people who work with us: Nikki: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/talking-about-mental-health-duke-and-duchess-cambridge There's also a nice bit at the bottom of this page about volunteer Vithuja's story: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/royal-visit-world-mental-health-day Hopefully these can give you and others the sense that you’re not alone and things can get better. Best, Crystal and Naomi at Time to Change

Please help me

My depression started when I was about 10. My mom died of leukaemia and my dad left my brother, my sister and myself alone. He moved away. I realized I had depression when i was about 12. I wanted to tell my friends but i was afraid. After another long year, I had to tell at least my best friend. When I told her she told me she was noticing me being sad. She said she didn't want to deal with the fact that her best friend was depressed. She ended our 5 year long friendship within 2 minutes. I told her not to tell anyone and she agreed. Still, I wonder. How come the next day when I came to school, everybody knew. No one would talk to me. Apparently, I over heard, I was a freak, a liar, a retard, a loner.... To this day I don't know what the heck I should do. I have dark thoughts, just taking a bat to school and relieving myself by slapping the silly out of everyone. My life sucks. My biggest pet peeve is when people say that they are depressed or they say they had a hard life. They don't know the feeling of depression. The feeling of pure evil in your heart, a black hole swallowing you soul, drowning out the light. Can anyone help me? I want a friend. I want support. I want my life back to normal. Help me.

Support

Hi there, thank you for sharing your experiences. It sounds as though you have been through a very difficult time. Please don't feel like you are alone - there are people out there that can help you. Samaritans are now free to call on 116 123. As an anti-stigma campaign we aren't able to offer advice on support directly, but you may find these links useful: http://bit.ly/1Lh54ZT Best, Tim at Time to Change

Strength

You are incredibly strong. I'm at 23 year old girl who has suffered from a major nervous breakdown in the last year. I'm still unsure as what recovery means and unfortunately I don't have a large amount of friends. I have confided in 3 but feel as though I have started to become isolated from them. The majority of my family dont believe in mental illness. I feel as though this is torture and unfortunately thoughts of suicide are common for me. Your strength is so admirable and I wish I had the resilience that you have developed. Best of luck to you in the future x

I really want to tell my friend

I'm 16 and I've had depression and anxiety for the last ten months. It was really hard. I had an emotionally abusive boyfriend who I eventually broke up with. And although I don't believe he was the cause of it, he certainly didn't help at all. I began self harming and became very insecure about all my relationships, including my friends. I went to therapy for a while and I think I'm a lot better now, even though I still feel very depressed at times. I haven't cut since I broke it off with the boyfriend 6 months ago. Anyway, I've wanted to tell my friends about my depression for a long while now and whenever we have a sleepover I always think that I should do it. But I'm always really stressed about how to. It just never seems like the right time and I don't know how to start. I've considered doing it over text which I think I would find easier but I want to do it in person. I've decided to only tell my best friend as recently I've felt like telling the rest of my friend group wouldn't help, especially since one of them has started dating my ex only recently. I just really want to tell my best friend but I always freeze or get too scared. I know she'll support me but I just can't seem to tell her. Is there anything you can reccomend? I'd really appreciate some help. Thanks

I'm actually in tears reading

I'm actually in tears reading this. I've recently been diagnosed with depression and I've yet to tell any of my friends about it. I don't have many close friends, only two. My friend whom I've known since primary school, I wouldn't normally talk to about things like this. My other friend, who is an ex work colleague and who I've become very close to in the past three years, I tell everything to.  When my mum died three years ago, she really helped me through it. She had gone through the same thing with her mum a year previous (before I knew her), so she was able to relate and give me a lot of advice. Honestly, if it hadn't been for her friendship and support, I don't know what I would have done. Recently though, something seems different with her. We would always meet up once a week, go for a long walk, have a coffee and a good chat. But in the past month or so, she's cancelled on me every single time. We still talk via text, but although her reasons for cancelling do seem valid, I'm at the point now where I think I've done something wrong. It's happened at a time where I could really use her friendship and advice too. So I'm too scared to tell her I have depression as I don't want the same thing to happen to me, where she just cuts me out of her life. Her friendship means the world to me, so the fact she hasn't been wanting to meet with me, is only making me feel worse about things. Whenever we would arrange to meet, if I had been feeling really low, just hanging with her would instantly lift my mood. I now I feel I'm losing that. If I tell her about my depression, I just don't know if she'll turn around and be there for me and I'll realise she just genuinely has been busy lately. Or if she'll shut me down and we'll just continue to get more and more distant.

Depression as a 14 year old

Hello. I have depression and I am a 14 year old. I told my best friend that I have depression and he is always like you will get over it, I am a baby, and you are over reacting. When I heard him say that, I started crying. I cried throughout the whole week. Now, I wont be able to sleep untill I cry myself to sleep. I am so afraid of loosing this friend. I have already lost most of them. I feel very distant from my friend now. I feel very lonely. I am only 14 but this is happening to me. I dont know if I can carry on with life like this (I have suicidal thoughts, but I will never kill myself).

Support

Hi there, I'm really sorry to hear that you're struggling and that your friend was not supportive. We are working to change attitudes in young people, as your story illustrates how important this is. Thank you for sharing. Do you have the support you need otherwise at the moment? Have you felt able to speak with your GP and parents about it? We have some links on our site that I hope will help if you need further support: http://bit.ly/1SzXo4B. Take care of yourself, Tim at Time to Change

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