Having a mate in your corner can make all the difference when you have a mental health problem. So, if your mate is acting differently, step in. It's not hard - read these stories to see how it's done.
When I was 14 years old, I was suspended two weeks before the official start of the Christmas holidays. I’d been self-harming for months at my boarding school, while firmly believing that I’d been exceptionally secretive.
Fortunately, I was surrounded by a group of people who pulled away every lie and excuse until I had no choice left but to accept help. At the time, I hated them all. Despite the hours that these people had spent trying to understand and support me, I felt deeply betrayed.
I first met Ron 10 years ago, when we were both hospitalized on a psychiatric ward. It was my first hospitalization for depression, whereas he had schizophrenia and had been hospitalized multiple times before. We connected instantly, despite the strong disapproval of the hospital staff, and formed an intense bond that would last for years.
Having friends in my corner has made the prospect of recovery seem possible - something I spent years believing wasn’t. One thing that always made me sceptical, about disclosing my mental health difficulties to friends, was the fear of them judging me and no longer wanting to be friends, due to the stigma associated with my illness: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
I’m unsure I’ve ever been described as an ‘inspiration’, until now. Should it even matter?
I think it does because words – carefully-chosen or not – can shape attitudes. How often have we watched, or read about, a Paralympian’s medal-winning success and the adjective ‘inspirational’ has been used? It’s meant as a sincere compliment, and yet an unintended consequence may be to reinforce what makes them different.