If your friend is experiencing mental health problems, there are a lot of things - big and small - that you can do to help. These stories are about the good and bad ways that friends have responded to someone with a mental health problem. 

The stigma around mental health makes it harder to deal with

Since the age of 12 I have struggled with my mental health. I became anorexic between 12 and 14, and then I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at 17.

Despite days of feeling fine and genuinely happy with life and the world that’s out there, there is always that part of my head where my depression and anxiety make sure they have something to say.

Understanding BPD can end the fear and stigma around it

I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) this year and it affected me a lot. I’m in a friendship group where we talk a lot about mental health, so I know the basics about depression, ADHD, PTSD etc...but I almost never heard a thing about BPD.

My first thought about my diagnosis was fear. People with BPD were just “crazy people” to me.

Ask twice and let them know you're there to listen

Someone who has shown me they were in my corner was my friend Sandra who I first met at work; we became friends after recognising our similar tastes in books, and penchant for morning coffee.

We'd eventually come to realise we had more in common than initially thought.

I don't know how to explain it fully but when I talked to her, about anything and everything I felt that sense of "this is a safe space, this person gets me".

I'm trying my best, like everyone else - don't treat me like a burden

I often feel like people in my life can be caring…but only for a short time and only if it doesn’t interfere with their own lives. 

There are times I haven’t left my bed for 3 or 4 days. My thoughts have turned against me. My mind battles to stay alive. I hear an overwhelming voice telling me my friends hate me, that they’re talking about me, laughing at me or plotting against me. 

At first it feels like my friends care, check in and worry about me. But soon it feels like I’m a burden and I hear things from them that aren’t helpful.

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