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8 Ways Life Is Better With an Equally Anxious Friend

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You know what is better than having a “best friend?” Having a “best mental health friend” — someone who can relate to all the ups and downs (and lefts and rights) of navigating life with depression and anxiety.

1. Nothing you say is weird, nothing.

“Phone phobia?” That one usually gets some strange looks, but not when you say it to someone who feels exactly the same way. In almost 20 years I have never talked to my friend on the phone – and we are both completely OK with that. Actually, it would be super awkward and probably only happen in an emergency. In fact, if my phone rings and it is her caller ID, I will immediately get over my phone phobia and answer, because I know it must be important.

2. They will never hold it against you.

If I behave like a complete jerk, it’s OK. She knows there is more to it, like medication changes. She doesn’t take it personally if I act like I’m actually terrified of her because my anxiety medication just isn’t working today. Or if I literally won’t stop talking because I didn’t take my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medicine. It’s all good. There is no running tally of what you do wrong when the other person knows tomorrow it might be them “acting out.”

3. You don’t have to maintain the relationship for it to be there.

It’s OK if we don’t communicate for six months, it doesn’t change anything. Introverted, anxious, depressed or just plain busy. The most refreshing thing about having a friend with mental illness is that they completely understand “maintenance” should be left for cars, not relationships. We are too busy trying to keep our heads in order to worry that the other person might be “offended” if we don’t make some half-hearted effort to ask “how’s it going” at least once a week. I know she is there. She knows I am here. Always.

4. Medication side effects are never TMI.

There is nothing we don’t share when it comes to medication side effects. Hair falling out, peeing yourself, zero interest in sex, weight gain, fatigue, paranoia, anything. We talk about side effects like people talk about the weather. It’s just part of our respective lives, and there aren’t that many people you can have an honest discussion about constipation with except maybe your doctor (and even then, awkward). And the casual way we discuss things actually makes it that much easier to deal with. It takes away the sense of isolation, and makes it relatable.

5. Frustration is real and acceptable.

Neither of us has just one condition, or a straightforward treatment. We both have to change meds, try therapy and generally spend a lot of time keeping our mental health in check. It’s a frustrating process that we aren’t inclined to complain to anyone about. Except each other. When I was on a 6 times per day medication schedule I spent an hour whining about how ridiculous and unfair it was, and how the meds made me have to go to the bathroom all time. She could completely relate. She understood, and there was no pity, just support.

6. Silence is always awesome

We both struggle with the concept of small talk and socialization. She’s much better at it than I am, but luckily she is equally uncomfortable with it. So even if we chat non-stop for an hour, there is nothing wrong with 20 minutes of dead silence. We can lay by the pool with our iPods and not say a word – and it is still a great bonding experience. Anxious introverts bond over silence.

7. Your flaws make you fabulous.

The very things society defines as “wrong” with us make us so uniquely suited to be buddies. I’m not entirely sure what “normal” women talk about with their friends, but whatever it is it can’t be nearly as entertaining as our chats about whether or not to wear a diaper to your wedding if your mood stabilizer is causing incontinence. Seriously, everything that is “wrong” with us is the reason we are so awesome.

8. You will find your true family.

You are born to relatives. Your family is who you chose. If you are related to a group of people who make you question your own sanity sometimes, you are in good company. So why not chose to surround yourself with people who support you and love you exactly the way you are. Better yet, find someone who is in equal need of unconditional love, and turn them into the family you always wanted.

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

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Image via contributor.


Originally published: July 8, 2017
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