Recognizing the effects of mental health illnesses (i.e. depression) on one’s social life is important. These effects are subjective to the illness or person, but some factors are more common for illnesses such as anxiety or depression. In this article I will explore some common ways your social life can be affected by a mental illness and then I will give you some ways on how to get around these problems.
Socializing less or completely isolating yourself can be a negative outcome of mental illness. According to BBC’s 2017 report, 55% of people will a mental sickness “stopped socializing or going out.” This could be a result of feeling like a burden to your friends or feeling that your social life is a burden to you. Cutting off your social life could increase the symptoms of your mental illness and cause you to lose confidence in yourself. Thus, it is important for you to hold on to your friends as they are the ones that will support you through your journey.
If going out feels like too much for you while you’re dealing with your mental illness, try keeping in contact through text, video chat or other methods that require less energy. Do you struggle with leaving the house but still like playing video games? Find a game you can play online with your friends so that you’re still experiencing the benefits of social activity.
Explain to friends you trust that you struggle with mental illness and let them know how they can best support you.
The stigma around mental illness makes it even more difficult for people to come forward and talk about what they’re experiencing. You may avoid expressing your feelings because you’re afraid your friends won’t understand. It is important for your friends to understand that you have a mental illness and how it impacts you. You can explain the symptoms and tendencies of the illness so that your friends can best support you.
You are not obligated to tell every person you meet that you have a mental illness, and some may find it off-putting if you share it too quickly after meeting someone. Once you’ve gotten to know someone a bit and some trust has been established, share that information with them, only when you feel ready.
It’s possible that some friends will not be supportive when you share that you have a mental illness. This unfortunately is unavoidable and it’s best to focus on those in your life who are supportive.
I will leave you with this quote from Jim Morrison:
Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
Remember that mental illness is not a weakness. I encourage you to see it as something that will help you and your relationships with others to be stronger and more meaningful.