Climbing Out From Under Your Rock: Reconnect With Your Friends
Most people may already know that isolating is a sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, coping mechanism for several mental illnesses. However, if you’re like me and you lean more towards the harmful end; then you may notice some distance forming between you and those close to you. Most mental illnesses can make it difficult to form, and maintain relationships with other people. In the case of family, hopefully your family is understanding of your illness, and accept you for who you are. Although, when it comes to platonic bonds formed between people you’re not related to, things can get a little tricky; especially if they aren’t aware of your illness.
If you’ve been successful enough to have formed these relationships, then the majority of the work is already done. Yet, if your illness leads to isolation, the connections you’ve worked so hard to make and keep, can start deteriorating rather quickly. Now, if you’re lucky like me, the friends you’ve chosen are just as, if not more than understanding than family. Even without steady contact, we can pick up wherever we left off, once I return from my desolate hole. Maybe, you aren’t so lucky with your friends, but you still want them to remain in your life. Be that as it may, sometimes the anxiety creeps in, and you wonder if the distance may have gotten too great to be able to patch things up. The following are some of the ways you can try to close the distance between you and your friends manufactured by mental illness.
The first step is always the most uncomfortable, but you absolutely cannot reconnect with your friend(s) if you continue to give them the cold shoulder. Give them a quick text to see if they’re open to talk. You can even call them if you’re worried that they won’t respond to a text. You’re more than welcome to just talk on the phone there and then, but I recommend trying to set up a face to face. There is just something about being in the presence of each other that will help close the gap. If you feel you’re not ready for that yet, try and make it a weekly thing to exchange some texts or a phone call. Once you’re ready for a meet, don’t be afraid to make it a short one. Going to a restaurant is one of my favorites, because after you’re done eating, it gives you an easy out to go home after. The key here is baby steps, until you feel like you’re back to the same level of connection.
Don’t make excuses
If your friend(s) don’t know about your illness, it tends to be easier to rely on other explanations. Such as, you’ve been really busy at work recently. You’ve been really caught up in family matters. Maybe it’s because you just don’t have the money to go out. It could be as generic as you don’t have any free time to hang out. Remember this, even if some of your “reasons” may be true, it takes seconds to send, or respond to a text. Even if you’re like me, and are not too comfortable with texting because you overthink and analyze everything, and everything is so open to interpretation without vocal or physical cues; it takes effort, on both sides, to make any relationship work. It could be your friend(s) could be putting in their end, and are becoming tired of it not being reciprocated. So you have to simply step up, and take accountability for your part in this relationship. If you still want this person to be in your life, then you have to put in some work every now and again to keep it that way. If they know about your illness, admit that you let it get the better of you, and you’re trying to get back into the swing of things. If they don’t know, tell them and explain as much as you feel comfortable to help them understand. If you don’t want them to know, be aware that you will probably have to tell them eventually, but for now, just state that you’ve been feeling unwell and took some time to focus on your health. This isn’t entirely untrue, but it is most certainly a lie of omission. Whatever it is you tell them, just make sure to tell the truth, your friend(s) will respect you for it.
Use mutual friends
If you have that one friend that you’ve never been all that close to, but you always hang out together with another, shared friend, use that to your advantage. Use what you have in your toolbox to reconnect to the mutual friend, and then slowly work your way back together into the group you used to have. This really only makes sense if the group you had, wouldn’t be the same without that missing friend. This is really kind of niche advice, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t need to use it. However, for those that could use it, hopefully it helps.
Prep your reconnection
If you’re like me, you need to plan everything, down to the smallest detail. If that’s the case, do what you do best, and start planning! Start getting things you can talk about together set up in your head. Y’know, get back into that hobby you shared, go see a movie that they’ve already seen, or watch some recent games with their favorite sports team. Once you’ve got the talking points down, focus on the timing. When are you gonna set up a meet, or a phone call? Get the best dates and times for you set aside, then cross them with what you remember of your friends schedule to find the best time to get together. If money is a concern of your end, save a couple bucks to use specifically for this event, but do it over time, so you don’t add any unneeded stress on your budget. Of course, pick your outfit, make sure you have transportation (if needed) and most definitely clean up. Maybe shave, or style your hair, and you 100% have to bathe, being clean is the most important part. As it will not only improve how you feel, but will also make you appear more put together and reliable to your friend(s).
That’s really all I have right now, because your individual situation could vary so drastically that other points may not even be worth mentioning. But the moral of the story is, if you want someone to be a part of your life, you’ve gotta crawl out of the blankets, and put some work into it! I wish you all the best of luck, but remember, your friends may not be able to wait forever, so use your time wisely!! If you know of any other ways, help each other out and post them in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Unsplash: Tegan Mierle