Friends and Mental Health: Let Your Tribe Help You Out
Thanking your friends for mental health support is a great way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, so I wanted to share something powerful about my own health and the tremendous effect creating a tribe and surrounding yourself with great friends has on your mental health.
Last year around this time, several of my friends and family members (nine people in total) headed to my local tattoo shop. Three of them had no tattoos before that day. Together, we put ourselves under the needle to get matching ink: a semicolon. The Semicolon Project aims to create mental health awareness and suicide prevention with a simple grammatical symbol. A semicolon is used in the place of a period; where an author could have ended a sentence, she chooses to continue on.
While getting a group tattoo isn’t the right choice for everyone whose friends and family want to show support, I’ve found that those marks have comforted me in difficulty more times than I can count. Remembering how much those people support me, working toward my health and success alongside me, helps keep me on track.
Why We Need Great Friends for Mental Health
Friends and mental health go together because humans are biologically social creatures so surrounding ourselves with friends keeps us healthy, physically and mentally. The effects of mental illness often cause us to isolate from others, and the longer we spend alone, the more we feel that nobody cares. We push others away because we don’t want them to see the difficulty we’re going through, to encounter us at our worst, or to experience a side of us that we’re embarrassed about. We don’t want to be a burden on those we care for, so (in the altered reality of our distressed minds) we believe it’s best to avoid them until we feel better.
What we don’t realize in those moments is that our friends and family would love nothing more than to help take care of us in those times. Each time I’ve made the difficult choice to reach out to someone, that person has actually expressed gratitude to me. It seems hard to believe that people would value being part of a dark moment, but they truly see it as an opportunity. Our friends and family want nothing more than to help us in bad times.
Accepting the Mental Health Benefits of Having Friends
It’s often hard for me to accept that people don’t just want the fun version of me around. That’s truly what love and friendship mean, though: being close to someone and supporting her in the hard times along with the good ones. You’ve probably worked hard to surround yourself with good people; take advantage of the support they offer you (even if there’s no visible tattoo to represent it).
Meredith, M. (2018, May 29). Friends and Mental Health: Let Your Tribe Help You Out, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2018/5/friends-and-mental-health-let-your-tribe-help-you-out