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If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bi-polar or other mood disorders it’s important that you know one thing: it’s much more common than you think. I know how just scary it is to go through this thinking that you are alone, and especially how overwhelming it can become when you feel as though no one will quite understand. I’m here to tell you that there are people out there who understand, and opening up about it to a close friend or family member can be life changing in many ways. Here’s why.
Communication Is Key
Telling your loved one’s what you are going through is vital if you wish for people to understand you and the reasoning behind your actions.
As someone who has dealt with this first hand, I know what it is like to let anxieties damage relationships with family and friends. Many of us tend to isolate ourselves from those we care about, convincing ourselves that they don’t want to be around us before we give them a chance. When a close friend of mine sensed that something was up, I decided that I should open up about my own anxiety before I let it get in the way of an important friendship. I explained that I’ve always dealt with anxiety and that lately it had reached a high.
Doing this allowed them to understand that I wasn’t pushing them away because I didn’t care about them- that it was actually the opposite. They understood that they hadn’t done anything wrong. That sometimes I might feel distant.
Telling someone you know you can trust means they know when to reach out to you when you need it the most. They’ll understand that sometimes you want their support even when you deny it. They’ll also grow to know when you need your space and that you have limitations that they should not push.
Sometimes We Need To Let It All Out
Before I finally gathered the courage to tell a close friend what I had been going through I kept everything balled up inside. Every single anxiety inducing thought and worry was suppressed, leaving me feeling utterly hopeless. The longer I waited to tell someone the more built up. And for the longest time I had convinced myself that I shouldn’t trouble anyone with my worries. I thought that it wasn’t fair to burden others with my problems, that I could just push those negative thoughts and feelings and that it would be all right.
Keeping everything inside isn’t healthy, or will whatever you are dealing with will go away.
Something I learned from opening up about my problems is that talking about them might not fix it, but it may help bring some clarity and release pent up feelings.
This is always up to you- some of us find it easier to resolve things on our own while others find comfort in seeking advice and sharing.
But what if they look at me differently?
I could lie and say that I am 100% comfortable discussing my experience with mental health and that writing this is easy. But I’m not going to because that is simply not the truth.
My biggest fear before telling those close to me was that they we treat me differently and see me as fragile or weak. Recently I discussed this with a close friend and I discovered something different. They told me that after I told them they were shocked that I was able to function so well. In fact, they said they felt proud knowing that I continued to put myself out there despite the fears holding me back. I was surprised by what my friends told me after I said this. They didn’t think that I was “weak” or “just paranoid” as I thought they would. They understood that my anxiety and depression didn’t define me. I was the same person I always had been- they just knew more about me.
What if you don’t feel ready, or you feel that your family/friends won’t be supportive?
In this situation the best thing you can do is encourage them to do a little research on mental illness- it is amazing how much someone’s perspective can change once they gain more knowledge on the topic. It’s absolutely okay if you want more time, just know that it’s never too late to reach out.
If all else fails and you still feel that they aren’t supportive, know that there is always someone out there who is. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted adult or to the many resources you can find online.
Don’t let your anxiety or depression convince you that you are not worthy of love and support. If there is anything you take from this let it be that you are always worth it and your health should remain your priority. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s up to you how you fight your battle and those who you wish to bring with you.