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What Happened When I Opened Up to My Male Friends About My Depression

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

It’s the most difficult conversation I think you can have: opening up about your mental health to a close friend for the first time. I have recently been going through an extreme bout of depression, in and out of hospital for the duration of it.

I decided I should confide this for the first time to a couple of my close male friends. I have never had a problem in opening up to a couple of female friends I have, but never to a male. Typically, as 18-year-old lads, we meet at the pub. I was extremely anxious about opening up about what was going through my mind, and what I had been through in the last four years. As I was explaining my illness, my close friend was looking down at the floor; it was clear he didn’t know what to say and was clearly shocked I had struggled in this manner for so long. After a few awkward moments of silence, he looked up and asked me: “So, what does that mean? That you’re mental?’

Yes, that’s exactly what it means. It means, when I go through these severe bouts of depression, I separate myself completely from my friends, family and society. It means I can see no point in living, and the pain of even being alive is insufferable. It means everything is dark, lethargic and pointless. It means I don’t care about the future and what happens. It means I think I am a burden to everyone I know — friends, family, customers at work and even people I see in the street.

This is the lie of depression. It will tell you no-one cares about you, no one wants to be around you, and the world would be a better place without you. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Depression wants you to think your very existence is meaningless when it is the polar opposite.

After I told my close friends what was going on, there were plenty of questions. They were both stunned to find out I felt this way; the shock was there to see on both their faces. Ultimately, opening up about what is going on in your head is essential. I used the analogy of comparing mental illness to physical illness. If you break your leg, you can’t “man up,” “get over it” or “stop feeling sorry for yourself.” To this they understood and agreed — if your body breaks down, you need medical attention to get better. It is the exact same with your mind; if it breaks down, you also need medical attention in order to get back on track.

It is imperative that we open up about our mental health to our friends and family; tell them how we are feeling because, in the end, good friends will listen to you and help you out. Don’t suffer in silence; have that first conversation and you will most likely feel like a massive weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Photo by Nick Schumacher on Unsplash

Originally published: December 27, 2018
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