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19 Reasons You Might Not Notice Your Friend's Mental Illness

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Friends can be a crucial part of a support system for anyone struggling with mental illness because, let’s face it, family and medical professionals don’t always “get you” like your friends do.

But sometimes it can be difficult to open up to your friends about what is really going on. And on the flip side, your friends might not know what signs or symptoms to look for when you’re struggling. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share with us one reason friends might not notice you’re struggling with a mental illness. Because by continuing to keep an open dialogue with our friends, we’re better able to support one another through the bad days and celebrate the good.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “I constantly reassure them everything is fine when we’re face to face. Once I’m alone with my thoughts I break down and panic because I feel like a liar. How can I tell my friends ‘everything is 100 percent OK’ when it’s not? I want help but I’m so busy helping everyone else and pretending that I’m OK I lose myself.” — Arisa R.

2. “I am always the one person everyone comes to with their problems, so when I am struggling to keep my head above water I always get dragged down by the weight of others.” — David K.

3. “I hide it by distracting myself with other activities, or I tend to try to laugh it off and make jokes avoiding anything that may be brought up about it, even though I’m suffering on the inside. I wouldn’t want to be a burden on them.” — Mary G.

4. “My friends wouldn’t notice I’m struggling because when I’m down, I share my accomplishments more on social media; like photos of what I made for dinner or all the cleaning I did that day. I itemize each thing and share it so people think I have it all together. They don’t see that I was cleaning out of anxiety or cried the whole time I cooked the dinner. I don’t share that part.” — Heather S.

5. “I never say anything negative about myself to others. I don’t want that pity or annoyance because I dared talk about something personal on that level.” — Hope R.

6. “It’s easy for them to not notice when I don’t leave the house for weeks at a time.” — Liz T.

7. “I always act happy and outgoing; always ready for the next adventure. When in reality, I’m trying my best not to let my friends down.” — Maya J.

8. “After years of having the idea of false masculinity beat into me, I’ve become fairly good at my stoic appearance, especially when I’m struggling.” — Bobby B.

9. “I put up a façade, or a mask as you will; I hide what I’m going through, so they don’t know. They have their own problems and I always feel like they don’t need mine or care about mine. I keep them at a distance. I don’t let them in. I keep minimal contact and keep the conversations revolving about their lives. I hide away, and become reclusive.” — Donald C.

10. “I don’t want to burden people with my story and am afraid of feeling uncloaked, naked and vulnerable around others. There is still very much a stigma surrounding mental illness and not enough understanding of its implications. So I withdraw, shut down and keep my distance.” — Marcel W.

11. “I keep things to myself. They wouldn’t notice the battle that’s going on in my head because I hide it in the biggest of the smile. They wouldn’t notice my tears because I don’t let them flow in front of anyone. They wouldn’t notice the pain in my heart because I always joke around and pretend to be an optimist.” — Mayesha A.

12. “When I’m struggling, I do my hair, put on makeup and wear nice clothes. Everyone comments on how great I look. I have no idea why I do this, maybe it’s my cover up. And when I am well I just tie my hair back, don’t bother with makeup and just throw any old clothing on. It just proves that how you look is definitely not how you feel. You can’t see mental illness!” — Kelly M.

13. “Because it’s almost a part of my personality by now and when it gets too bad I just put on a mask to hide what I’m really feeling inside. No one notices my pain because I don’t want them to. I feel like I’m so worthless that I don’t even deserve for my friends and family to care about me. I want to struggle alone because I feel like I deserve to.” — Taylor S.

14. “I avoid them. I tend to isolate myself on my really bad days and there are very few people who even notice when I do it. I guess I’ve gotten pretty good at it.” — Jeffrey C.

15. “I’m ‘high-functioning,’ even when very unwell, so people around me don’t tend to know I’m struggling until I crack. Even when I tell them directly, they think I can’t be that bad as I seem so ‘functional.’” —Lydia B.

16. “They simply don’t put in the effort to see how I’m doing. A simple ‘how are you’ through text every couple of weeks just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes it’s not them not noticing because it’s hidden, it’s them not putting in the effort to even uncover anything about how you are and what’s happening in your life anymore.” — Stephanie R.

17. “I feel like I’m being a burden or seem negative by telling my friends how I really feel all the time. When they ask me how I’ve been, I just say I’m alright or just getting better. I’m not as social as I used to be. I feel like it’s hard to be around people when I can’t control my thoughts. It’s much harder to be social than in the past.” — Ryant J.

18. “I try my hardest to smile around others but even if I didn’t, I honestly think it would be hard finding someone who [cares]! Unless I make the effort, pretty much no one talks to me. Sometimes I evan wonder if it’s mental illness or justified sadness.” — John L.

19. “I talk a lot. It’s actually a form of social anxiety. I also don’t want them to know, and if they don’t know there’s a problem, they don’t know to look for symptoms.” — Cheyenne L.

Can you relate?

Thinkstock photo via spfoto

Originally published: August 25, 2017
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