How Mental Illness Affects My Friendships



As I am writing this, notifications keep on lighting up my cell phone and it's making me feel a lot of things. I'm part of a group conversation on WhatsApp with the people I met when I worked in Milan as an au pair. Even though I consider them my best friends and I love them to bits I just can't bring myself to join or even read what they are talking about. I'm ashamed of my current situation and I'm afraid I will turn the discussion into a pity party. 

Only a couple of them are aware that I'm unemployed, that I burned-out and that I ran into a whole lot of crap after I left Italy. It's not a topic I like to touch on and therefore I made the choice to distance myself. I'm not the person anymore they met in Milan, even though I would love to be, and I don't want them to feel sorry for me. I never expected depression and anxiety to have a toll on existing friendships. In my case, having friends is something rare in itself as my upbringing didn't exactly allow me to bond with people, so the few friendships I do have I value dearly, I'm not desperate for friends however. Even though it makes me sad that I don't interact with my best friends, making new or recycling old friendships is not something I currently put time into, as I simply don't have the energy for it. Due to my online content some old class mates have contacted me and have expressed that they're eager to see me again, but bringing back old school memories is not exactly my idea of fun. Those 18 years that I spent in the education system were the worst days of my life. All I can recall is being bullied, belittled and not ever feeling good or smart enough

More recently I had a falling out with someone I've known and had a great friendship with for over a decade, because of our shared passion for horses. We talked it out but we haven't been contacting each other even since, which is really sad. She's a person who I find to be very smart and very successful in life, I've always admired her for that, but that makes her exactly the kind of person I'm most afraid of. Battling a mental illness is hard and since it is not physically visible I doubt that someone who's had a relatively 'easy life' will understand why I still 'don't have my shit together'. My self esteem has hit rock bottom and the last thing I want is someone like that to judge me. I know some friendships are not meant to last forever but this is different.


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