April 10, 2017

Sometimes the thought of being there for someone can be pretty daunting. We question whether we’ll have the time, whether we can say the right thing, and perhaps if we’re having a hard time too, whether we can truly give another person the support they might need. In my experience however, being there for someone can range from offering up my spare time or gifts, to simply sending a text and letting someone know you’re thinking about them. As we get older, it can feel harder to be there for the people we care about when there are so many things happening in our lives, but it doesn’t need to be, or feel like, a full time job.

We never know what acts of kindness and support can make the most difference to a person as we’re all different, and this is definitely true for mental health. A few years ago I was incredibly ill with anxiety and it affected my life in every way possible. The support I needed from those around me ranged from letting me stay over at their houses when being at home made me feel too anxious, to leaving their phone on loud so if I needed to contact them, I knew they could hear it. Although it was nearly five years ago since it was at its worse, some of the acts of kindness I remember now might have seemed like some of the smallest back then.

That’s why when a few months ago, I found out a close friend was struggling with their mental health, I knew that despite my worries about whether I’d be able to step up – there would be plenty of ways I could be there for them. One of the main things I wanted to make sure was that I gave them choices about the kind of support they needed – but that I didn’t offer anything I wasn’t comfortable with. Having a history of mental health problems myself made it much easier for me to know what might be helpful for them, but to understand that there would be times when I needed to come first.

Having the initial conversation was of course hard, but understanding my own experiences meant I could ask things and suggest things their other friends and family hadn’t been able to. We could discuss whether certain things made their anxiety worse or not, knowing that it would help us both. For example, when I went away for a few weeks, I asked whether they would prefer to speak to me every day over the phone (if possible) in case their anxiety increased while I was away, something which although small – I wouldn’t have known to ask if I hasn’t been for my own experience.

The most important thing I’ve realised though is that being there for someone doesn’t always mean asking them about how they’re feeling every minute you’re together and re-arranging your life around them. It means accepting that your relationship might change and allowing space for those moments, but continuing to do the things you love together, to be the people you want to be around each other, and knowing that the bond you share is much stronger than anything else you might be going through.

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Comments

Everyone is differant.

Having read the blog by Katie - in your Corner, I found it very enlightening and I could understand exactly what she was saying. 'Being there' - yes, you need to find out what that is for that person. So being there from a distance can be the correct thing to do for some people. Silence may be at one time, conversation another. You have to have an understanding of each other. I know from experience that if you ask a question and you have no reply - can be daunting, but during better times for them, may be you can have a more responsive outcome. Being there could be a phone call - with no response, but they are still listening. The hard part is not knowing if they wish the conversation to continue or not, if they are not communicative. It is very complex. Best not a family sibling. Too close. Much food for thought.

Being There For Friends

I have so much respect for people that step up to help their friends with mental health issues. I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder and I get so tired of people saying "I wish I could be some help but have never experienced it and don't know what to do for you". It is nice to talk to someone that knows exactly what you are going through but when you suffer from one of these illnesses, you feel isolated at times. Just knowing someone cares about you and will stick by your side during tough times means more than anything. The stigma that goes along with mental health is scary and I always worry what others think of me. Just having support of your friends and knowing they aren't judging you would be the best thing that could happen :) I started a blog recently because I want to help others with mental health issues and discuss symptoms and feelings associated with it. I would love your thoughts on some of my recent posts. Search for positiveplaceonline. Thanks so much :)

Thank you Katie for your

Thank you Katie for your eloquent and very insightful post. You said so many things in exactly the right number of words. It has really helpful when reflecting upon what went wrong with some close friendships I've lost in the past couple of years. I have been torn between feeling intense shame for not being the person my friends needed when they were going through hard times, and my own resentfulness towards my friends for not giving me the space I needed because I was going through my own hard time. I asked for space, meanwhile they wanted me to be there. I tried my hardest to support, advise, ans assist them, sometimes going way out of my natural character. I guess they sensed that too. I've since concluded our friendships ended because the timing was wrong and we had been drifting apart for a while anyway, growing away from each other. I'm trying not to regret anything because I can only learn and move forwards, and I don't want regret to hold me in the past. I can see now that my friends and I made each others' mistakes - needing something from each other, but not being able to see that we could be the very friend we needed for each other. We are human and simply lost each other in our own respective darknesses. When our minds take over, it is so important to surround ourselves in the light with happiness and positivity. I can only hope that my friends have been doing this, and wish them the best. And now, all I can do is take care of myself and find my own sources of light and joy in new friends and positive connections. And aim to do a better job of stepping up in the future. Thanks Katie.

Excellent

Helping yourself is the first step..Before i could get others to eat but not myself i realise i could relapse,somedays i do but they are way less than they where which was 24/7.365 days a year..I have seriously used up more than 98 lives i intend to enjoy the bits i am able to..Sometimes people have no compasion.They have no idea of peoples life experiences as a Child..I have found some proffesionals rubbish..Others good..I got lucky last time i was sectioned i was exceptionally physically ill..Not caused by Anorexia..To many meds they are not the complete answer never come off them without advice i am still on some but from 42 a day with no Dossett box..I have a GP who listens..HEADSPACE is a good app..I resist any medication or changes unless short term..Everyone is different..But just neing given more and more tablets is not the answer.Some yes but be guided by your Dr or PSYCHE..Nothing helps me sleep!!So i just watch TV until i do fall asleep.You must remember people are ignorant many are kind but more have no understanding or want to.Before you help anyone else help yourself..Make friends with people you trust who don’t judge..I have found sadly that close friendships with people in similar scenareos..Is not always helpful..Advice on who to seek help from is great point them in the right direction and never ignore someone who is desperate..Or be critical or Rude if you can’t handle it pass it on to someone who can!!Getting cross/Sad is part of life if it goes on too long..I have good weeks and terrible..If Someone Knocks You Down-Stand Up..

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