Friends who trivialize your mental illness are not friends.
Friends who don’t attempt to understand your mental illness are not friends.
Friends who shame you for your mental illness are not friends.
I have the worst time discussing my illness with others because the stigma of it remains strong in our society. People continue to blame the stricken for their illness. As if the stricken are guilty of wrongdoing, somehow. As if they’re guilty of something criminal. For being stricken with an illness. And, because it’s not an illness that a person can visualize through images of blood or physical scars or crutches or missing limbs, they can’t attach a reality to it. So they marginalize it. As they will the stricken. Or the stigma is too much for them to allow proper understanding. They instead pretend the illness isn’t there. Or that the stricken aren’t there. Because of these things, I have a difficult time discussing mental illness — my illness — with those in my life. And I’ve found that many have drifted away from me rather than stand with me, a tip of the hat to the stigma the illness continues to draw. Although props are due those who’ve chosen to remain and offer support and encouragement, often sharing with me their own experiences with an illness which mustn’t be generalized as there are many types of mental illness resultant from many causes and they influence a person in a variety of ways.
Mental illness is a thing, people. It gets at the stricken without their fault or knowledge. It’s a lonely thing. Without support of loved ones, it puts them into the loneliest of places, within an already dark and scary place for them to be. It’s confusing. It’s painful. It’s frustrating and creates anger. Navigating through this place requires the help of a gentle hand. Sometimes, it requires tough love but a hand nonetheless. Mental illness requires a hand. If the stricken cannot count on a friend’s hand…
No one can make it through any kind of mental illness without actively fighting it themselves. Without doing the best they can to recognize anything they can do to get themselves through it and putting it to work. Treatment is a lot of introspection, analysis. The work’s not always easy. It can hurt like a bitch. To have a friend with you — even in spirit — through that… To have that shoulder — even if it’s not constantly, physically there with you… That’s priceless.
Priceless, my friends.