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I Had to Stop Looking for Support From Friends Who Couldn't Understand My Mental Illness

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After receiving my diagnosis of major depressive episode, many friends did not stick around. I was told I have too much drama, that I’m evil and that no one will ever be able to love me. Desperate to find support and reverse the rejection, I kept going back to the same friends.

I tried to show them I wasn’t evil, and that I’m still me because they just knew about an inner battle that I’ve been fighting for so long. But the bigger picture scared them. They could not comprehend I could be battling something so dark and heavy, while having a “normal” life.

And still for months, I wanted them to forgive me. Forgive me for being sick, depressed. Forgive me for being honest and looking for help. I believed if I could show them I’m not sick, that it was a mistake to speak out, that I was wrong and that I’m better now, they might take me back.

While there were those who could offer me what I needed — love, understanding and compassion — I still desperately wanted the same from those who simply couldn’t give me what I needed: acceptance and support.

Mental illness has a heavy stigma, an iron wall many are not able to climb. Sometimes nothing will motivate the ones we want to climb, to look what the wall is hiding, to see me on the other side of my diagnosis.

Only after the realization dawned on me that they cannot give me what I need could I find grace to forgive and move on.

Certain people do not know how to react to mental illness. They judge, they fear, they believe stigmas and would like to put everything in a box to make sense of the world around them. They don’t have the ability to support, love and accept someone battling mental illness. And no matter how many times I went back, asked differently, proved I’m not the “dragon” they think I am, I was the one who was hurt and disappointed.

With the acceptance that it is not within everyone’s ability to comprehend mental illness, freedom came along for me. Grace for their inability and shortcomings allowed me to still see the person behind the rejection, the hurt. It made me appreciate those who can give love, support and guidance so much more. It uprooted the sadness and unforgiveness in my heart — freeing me to heal.

Extending grace and understanding to those who could not understand — this was a very important step in my healing process. I could finally move on to other people who can walk the path of healing with me. Those who had what I needed, without holding a grudge against those who couldn’t.

Unsplash photo via Elijan Henderson

Originally published: March 1, 2018
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