Finding Friends With Mental Illness
You probably know the saying, “birds of a feather, flock together.” In case you haven’t, it basically means that those who are similar are more likely to be friends with each other. As a little back story, I had went to a college that had specialized services for people with disabilities. While I don’t agree with it, most mental illnesses are categorized as a disability, rather than just an illness. So my college prided themselves on their treatment of people with disabilities, mental and otherwise. It is here that I made a larger majority of my friends, some of which are still my friends today. However, the one thing that I notice, is that those that are still my friends today, most have a mental illness of their own. “Birds of a feather, flock together, especially if they have broken wings” as the mother of my one friend has said numerous times.
The thing is, when you have friends that also have mental illness, you are able to be more comfortable with them. There is not really a pretense that everybody is “put together”, because we are all our own little respective mess. It is really quite nice to be yourself once in a while, because at least for me, pretending to be alright in front of others gets very tiring. There is a common feeling amongst the mentally ill of loneliness. Not only in the actual definition of the word, but also in the feeling that you are alone on this journey of mental health. When you find people, that may not necessarily have walked in your shoes but have walked a similar path, your small, lonely world begins to open up. There is a comfort to be found, knowing that there are people that you can talk to and hold nothing back. This type of relationship is so very different from all others, because there is no fear that what you say will cause distress in the other person. For example, if you tell your parents that you’re feeling suicidal, most of the time, they begin to watch you like a hawk and are scared to the nth degree. Whereas if you tell your mentally ill friend, they’re more likely to understand, and offer the kind of help that you actually need, rather than doing what soothes their own distress regarding the situation.
When you are mentally ill, you feel like finding friends of any kind can be an arduous task in itself. If you think of how small the ratio of healthy to mentally ill people actually is, the task of finding mentally ill friends gets even more harrowing. Now I’m not saying that mentally ill people are rare, there is a whole lot of us, but finding those people and getting them to lower their defenses so that you can do the same is a little more difficult. Most people these days do not broadcast the fact that they are mentally ill, so finding someone who is, and someone you get along with, does indeed seem difficult. Yet, you still will. Life has a way of giving you not what you want, but what you need, and in the strangest most incomprehensible way. So, keep hope, that one day, you’ll find the people that you were always meant to be with.
In case you’ve been having trouble staying in contact with your friends, try reading this article Climbing Out From Under Your Rock, And Reconnect With Your Friends
In case you’re a friend of someone with mental illness and you’re looking to support them, read one of my favorite articles from The Mighty: 21 Ways To Be A Good Friend For Someone With Mental Illness