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When Mental Illnesses Feel Like 'Friends'

We’ve all had friends who have had a bad influence on us. But the kind of friends I made are different. They are in my head.

I met my boyfriend, Bri (bipolar) first. I can’t even remember when we became friends or how. Looking back, I remember Bri being in my life as early as third grade, but I never knew how much of an impact he would have on me then. Right now, Bri and I are closer than ever, but we fight a lot. We are always on and off and I never know where we stand. Sometimes Bri makes me really happy and sometimes he makes me really sad. There is no in between. Bri introduced me to Deb.

Deb (Depression) became my best friend. She was always introducing me to new people and habits as well. With these new friends, I didn’t need anyone else. Of course, Deb did make me feel really sad, but she was my best friend and I didn’t want to lose her. Deb made me not care about anything, which I loved. Deb didn’t like when I talked to real people though. She liked when I stayed in my room by myself. I began drifting from reality quickly because my real friends thought I did not like them anymore. I was closer with these friends in my head so I no longer needed real people in my life.

Before me and Deb became friends, Deb was friends with Sue (suicidal thoughts). Deb introduced me to Sue and we all became very close. Sue was always on my mind. Sue liked to play games with me though… She liked to come and go but she let me know that she was always there. Sometimes she was right there giving me hugs and sometimes she was with other friends, but I knew she would always be there for me and this gave me a sense of relief, which I needed after becoming friends with Annie.

Annie (Anxiety) was the type of friend you didn’t want to be friends with. The only reason I had to be friends with her is because she was friends with all of my other friends. We did not like each other though. However, since she was friends with all of my other friends, I had to be nice to her. Annie always put me down and told me I was ugly and that I would never be good enough. She made me scared to talk to people because I was so self-conscious. I always tried to be good enough for Annie, but nothing seemed to impress her. Sometimes when she got mad at me, she would attack me and make me cry and cry and cry. She would repeat all of the negative things in my life over and over again in my head. She would then make it hard to breathe because she would make me cry so much. When she attacked me, my mind would race with negative thoughts and it was hard for me to win the fight she was starting with me. These fights usually lasted only a couple minutes, but seemed like a lifetime in my head. Annie made me so self-conscious, and made me care what people thought, even though Deb made me not care about anything at all; It was like a war inside my head.

To fight this war, I needed a lot of alone time to think to myself. I thought about a lot of stuff and this war in my head made it very hard to focus on reality. My grades began to drop because I couldn’t concentrate on anything except my new friends. I was addicted to the way they made me feel (even when they made me sad) and wanted to understand my friends better.

One day, Deb, Bri and Sue were all against me and told me to kill myself. Annie was in on it too. They told me that nobody would care if I was gone and they were trying to help other people by making me disappear. They also said it was in my best interest to do this so the war in my head would end. I overdosed that day. I was put in the hospital with people who were also friends with Deb, Annie, Sue and Bri. They had more friends than me though. These people were also friends with Ed, (eating disorder) Cat, (self-harm) Ana, (anorexia) Mia, (bulimia) Addie, (ADD) Owen, (OCD) sophie, (schizophrenia) and Izzy (insomnia). Me and Izzy clicked right away.

After multiple episodes of overdosing, I grew angry with my friends for having such bad influences on me. However, at this point, these were the only friends I had anymore after isolating myself from my real friends. My real friends became enemies to me because they did not understand me anymore. Maybe this is why they say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Because I was finally starting to realize the friends that were in my head were mentally abusive. They made me block out people and brainwashed me into thinking they were there for me. They took a toll on the way I acted towards the people I needed the most in my life. I had lost touch with these people because of my mentally abusive friends.

If you are friends with any of these demons, or know anyone who’s friends with them, please understand these are not the right friends to have. They are mentally abusive and it took me so long to realize this. Even though they are so controlling and hard to get rid of, it is possible. They come in to your life unexpectedly and maybe unwanted at first, but then change you into a different person. You will begin to think they’re there for you but really, they are against you. Find the motivation to make new relationships with real people. Medication can be another solution. And most importantly, talk to someone you trust. I found that is the biggest step to stop being controlled by terrible friends.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.