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The 3 Friends You Lose in Mental Illness Recovery


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

After nearly a decade of illness, and having tried almost every treatment inclusive of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, medication and controversial trials — my prognosis was not good. In fact, my prior well-respected psychiatrist predicted I would end my life in a matter of three to four years.

Lengthy, often involuntary hospitalization was a normal component of life for me.

By some good fortune, I commenced treatment on a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and responded very quickly to the medication. I was not expecting it, and hadn’t dared to dream of it… but, my entire life changed.

I rapidly became a productive, resourceful, witty and capable adult. I began to live. I sorted my life out in a matter of months, becoming organized with a clear vision of my academic future. I knew in my heart, for the first time, what career I should pursue.

Nobody appreciates wellness quite like someone who truly never expected to experience it again.

During the onset of illness, it is common to lose friends, and as one ventures deeper into the system friendships often begin to consist mainly of others experiencing mental health issues.

I had never truly imagined recovery, and least of all considered losing friends due to it. So, here is, at least in my experience, the three friends you lose in recovery.

1. The Ones Who Made You Their Charity Case

They visited you in hospital, asking to take “selfies,” and post them on social media. Being your friend, in their eyes, showed the world how compassionate and open-minded they were. They were only interested in you during crises, and never ventured too close during any relatively stable period. Your recovery, essentially, provides no benefit to their selfish need to appear publicly altruistic. How is that for irony?

2. The Ones Who Can’t Relate Anymore

You bonded with them over illness. In fact, it was all you ever spoke about. They felt good to be understood. In recovery, they cannot relate to you in this way, and perhaps are experiencing some understandable jealousy. To them, you are too different. Attempting to understand your new life can be painful for them. You have what they desire most, and slowly, they drift away.

3. The Ones Who Used Your Illness as Their Excuse

They constantly used your illness to excuse their lateness, tiredness, etc. Regardless of whether your illness had anything to do with their issues. Now, this is difficult to do as word spreads of your recovery. They were essentially using you, and now they cannot do so in this manner.

Whilst this is simply my personal experience, it follows logically that as we lose friends in the onset of illness — we also do in the journey of wellness. However, these losses are not such as they reveal the true nature of friendship. Anybody who uses you solely for selfish gain, or is not prepared to be happy for you… well, they are probably people who do not deserve to be in your life. Surround yourself with people who will support you in illness, and who celebrate your wellness with you.

Respect yourself.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Pixabay photo via keulefm


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