Last night I felt very sorry for myself as I’d been so dizzy that I’d had to go to bed very early. Before anyone jumps to the “ah-ha! See? Veganism makes you dizzy. You must not be getting enough nutrients/protein/food,” conclusion: my Doctor has done numerous tests and thinks the dizziness is PMS-related. I’ll write a post on that at some point, but, right now, back to this post…
So I was in bed feeling like I was going to pass out when my best friend called. I hadn’t spoken to her in a few weeks, as she’s been super-busy with work, and I was so pleased to hear from her. For an hour and a half of chattering and listening to her hilarious stories, the dizziness disappeared. I finished the call feeling so much happier and more positive. It got me thinking about how powerful friendships and support can be.
Over the past few years, many of my friendships have fallen by the wayside, as I’ve been in my OCD-filled bubble. For the past couple of years, I have been something of a recluse, barely going out or seeing friends/family, and simply surviving from day to day trying to minimise my anxiety levels. I’ve spoken to friends during this time, but hardly seen any of them. I’ve often had to cancel plans, as just getting ready to go anywhere has proved overwhelmingly stressful. I do feel as though I’ve become a bit lazy, although that laziness is probably more my subconscious way of keeping myself calm.
Every time I hear from a friend, be it by text, phone or FaceTime, it reminds me there are many people out there who care about me. It can help make a bad day feel so much more bearable to know that I am loved and supported, even when I can’t physically see my friends or family.
After developing OCD nine years ago, I lost friends. Many of those I thought I was closest to drifted away, as they struggled to understand or accept my illness. However, I have made so many new, awesome friends, including some from support groups I attended, that, even though some friends not being there when I needed them hurts to look back on, I have a bigger and better support network now than I could ever have done before becoming ill. The friends who stuck with me through the hard times are worth their weight in gold.
My OCD has made me become a much better, kinder and supportive friend. I don’t blame old friends for finding mental illness hard to understand, as I didn’t understand it before I suffered. There’s so much stigma and taboo involved in talking about our mental health that unless you or a loved one has suffered, it can be impossible to comprehend.
When I was first diagnosed, even my own dad found it hard to accept, and spent the first few years thinking I needed to just “snap out of it”. It wasn’t until I fell out with him that he started making an effort to understand. Coming with me to psychiatrist appointments after my severe relapse helped him to finally see that OCD is an illness, not a choice.
Back to the point of this article, as I feel as though I’ve started to ramble… I learned years ago to really appreciate my friendships. I do my best to keep in touch with those I care about, even if it’s only by the occasional text or Facebook message. We’re all so busy and wrapped up in our own lives (even if that is being spent sitting at home fretting over every tiny thing) that days of not speaking to a friend can turn into weeks, months or years before we even realise it.
I tell my friends regularly that I am ALWAYS here for them if they need me. I mean that more than I think they realise. If they call me in the middle of the night, I will answer (if they try a few times so I wake up!). If they really need me to go out somewhere to help them, I’ll be there (even if it means increasing my own anxiety – doing things for others always seems to help me suppress my OCD a bit). If they are struggling and just want to rant, I will listen (although I’ll probably interject a few times, as I find keeping quiet pretty hard! I can just listen if someone asks me to though).
There are friends in my life who I have not seen for years and hardly ever manage to speak to, but I know that we will always be friends. When I speak to these people, we chatter away as if we see each other every day. There are others who I manage to speak to more often, but who I know would be there even if I didn’t. I am so thankful that I have so much love and support in my life even when I can’t see it.
I hope reading the above has helped you to know that you are not alone even if you feel like it. We all have people in our lives who care about us and who are always happy to hear from us. It can be easy to think that people don’t care if they haven’t got in touch for a while, but life gets in the way. Friendship is a two-way street so before dismissing a friendship as having fizzled out, make sure YOU make an effort to get in touch with them. Something as small as a Facebook message can make a huge difference – I for one am always pleased to hear from someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
If you have some time on your hands, why not pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or even just sent them a quick text. It could make their day!
On a final note, this blog and my twitter account have started new friendships. If you’re struggling and really feel alone, I am here, as are millions of others online and in the real world. My best friend is someone I met in a shop and randomly befriended due to a shared love of make-up. I met another friend in a shop in America and I am attending her wedding later this year. Yes, there’s a pattern here (I may have a history of befriending shop-assistants and a bit of a shopping addiction), but there’s also a lesson: amazing friends can be found in the strangest places, and that could well be a blog.
Love and hugs,
P.S. I realise grammar has gone out of the window for this post. Reading it back, I started changing who to whom etc. but realised it’s much better for my chatty posts to be written how I speak so I’ve changed them back. 🙂