Written by Taylor Nicole.
My father used to say if you could count all your true friends on one hand, consider yourself the luckiest person in the world. I never really believed it in my younger years, being the girl with a million friends. Recently, however, his advice has been very important after a year long weeding of friends. I still am friendly, and the girl with a lot of “friends” but I’ve found one easy way to weed through friends. That is, if they can handle/understand my mental illness or not.
I felt like I couldn’t be myself around them.
I used to just brush it off when people didn’t understand (or want to understand) my illness. I didn’t think it was a deciding factor in friendships. But those friendships were hard and forced. I felt like I couldn’t be myself around them, and I didn’t feel like I could open up and share what was going on with myself. I felt like I could only be half myself; they only could see the happy go lucky, healthy version of me. They weren’t welcome to see how dark my days could get, or how sad I really was.
I couldn’t tell them when I was having a bad day.
There was a really lonely time in my life when I started cutting out these kinds of friends, but the loneliest days were being surrounded by people but having to keep my illness a secret. Whether they just didn’t care or it made them too uncomfortable, I was having to hide myself. I couldn’t tell them when I was having a bad day.
Not everyone is going to get it.
The truth is, there’s going to be people who don’t understand your illness, people who tell you to get over it, and people who cringe at the mention of mental health. It’s not their fault they don’t understand; they just don’t get it, and you know, good for them, because maybe that means they aren’t struggling. Ignorance is bliss, and not everyone is going to get it. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep these people in your life.
I feel healthier having friends who understand.
This past year I’ve filled my life with people who understand mental illness, whether they be in real life friends or people I’ve met online. I have never felt more supported or loved. Having people who understand makes it so I don’t have to hide on bad days. I can now tell people when my mental health is getting bad, and I can get access to help quicker versus before when I kept it to myself until the point of crisis. I feel healthier having friends who understand.