Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

“Friend” is a word with so many nuances. A friend can be someone you meet for coffee occasionally or someone you’ve known for years; someone you chat to about anything except the important things or someone who knows your deepest darkest secrets. I used to have many friends but these days I have only a few, despite having many acquaintances. My mental health problems seem to get in the way. I struggle with meeting new people, I struggle to meet the people I already know. Even worse my illness surreptitiously destroys friendships like a tree that rots from the inside out; I only see the decay as it collapses and dies.

Over the last decade in addition to my amazing husband I have had 4 wonderfully supportive, close friends with whom I could be utterly honest and lean on when I was struggling. Now I have 2. The others abandoned me, telling me that my mental illness was too much for them to cope with. One told me that she was fed up with giving me advice that I didn’t follow and that she felt I wasn’t trying to fight the depression. She had her own problems and in a way she was right – at that time I was fighting as hard as I could but I was still drowning, still wishing for death every day.

That kind of thing must be hard to deal with. I don’t blame them for leaving me but it does make me sad that I am so difficult to be friends with. And it makes me reluctant to be honest about how I really feel. How can I trust anyone? Why be truthful if it just drives people away?

Ironically some of my best support these days comes from virtual strangers online. These people have never met me, they don’t know my real name and in most cases I don’t know theirs. But they are kind, supportive and non-judgmental, and they have held my hand through some dark times. When I was suicidal with PND and the first friend abandoned me it was posters on Mumsnet who supported me, talked with me and helped me see that there were other choices. It’s no exaggeration to say that they saved my life.

These days most of my social interaction is on Twitter, where there is another amazing community of people who are kind and supportive. There are many that I would call friends despite having never met them. I turn to them when I am struggling and don’t want to burden my husband or family; they have never let me down. And I am so grateful for them.

Here’s to you, online friends. You know who you are and you are amazing. You, DH and my 2 trusted friends are the reason that I’m still here and still fighting.

Thank you.


Comments on: "Friendship – offline vs online" (6)

  1. Claire SA said:

    Happy to help any time with strapping up your hands for the daily fight! Keep getting up off the mat. Life’s not great sometimes, but it’s always better when you’ve got a couple of people to lean on. And I’ve leant on you often enough too. xx

  2. Kristi said:

    I wish that I hadn’t read this to see how you were doing. I didn’t realize that you felt that way about me and my decision. I am sorry that you took it that way. It wasn’t intended like that at all.

  3. Online friends can be the best kind of support sometimes but I’m glad to hear that you do have a few close “real” (you know what I mean) friends. Depression is awful – especially when you are right in the worst of it. I am sad to say that I have been on the receiving end of this too. I have been “dumped” by people that couldn’t understand, for instance, my need to express myself on Facebook (now mostly on my blog) – even though I would only share certain things that I considered more private (about my feelings and things) with a select group of people – people I thought would understand. Some of those people removed me or apparently hid my updates because they thought it was oversharing! Hope you are okay. x

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