Recently a couple of my friends have reached out to me about their own personal struggles with their mental health. Both suffering with anxiety and depression like I do.
For them opening up to me is just the start of their journey and as their friend I would love to be closer to them. Unfortunately we are over eight thousand miles apart, living on different continents and I know although we are apart in distance they are both always in my heart. I feel an intense sense of guilt for not being able to physically be there to support them. Giving each of them a cuddle and speaking calming and reassuring words. Telling them the darkness will pass. When my friends tell me of their suffering I feel such empathy towards them because I know I have been in that dark place not too long ago myself, but I am also riddled with guilt. I want to be able to not only tell them of my battles and my recovery methods via text or phone call, but most of all I want to tell them to their face so they can see the journey in have been and still am on. So I can look them in the eyes and say it’s going to be ok, but more so so that they can look into my soul and feel my love for them. I want to comfort them and reassure them both that they both will get through this, but I can’t because distance is keeping me from doing just that. For now I have to support them from a distance.
Both my friends are suffering in a different way. Post natal depression and anxiety and depression. They feel empty and worthless just like I did and even now when darkness overwhelms me, I still at times find myself feeling that way. The demons are hard to fight and when you don’t see a way out of that dark abyss of nothingness and yet everything it becomes even harder. I fear for them. Not being surrounded by a community who understands mental illness.
We face stigmatising everyday, but when you’re surrounded by people who do not understand it and who shows no willingness to understand, the fight becomes more difficult. We were raised in a community where mental ill health is deemed as something demonic. Sometimes anyone with mental illness is referred to as crazy and ridiculed. Mental illness is something I have never head of growing up and even living in my community as an adult I have never heard of or encountered anyone suffering from mental health related illnesses.
Maybe I have, but it was never known to me as it’s not spoken of. Things have changed so much over time and communities and places evolve, but the stigmas around mental health still exists. Although in some societies mental health awareness is better than in others, we still have to fight for acknowledgement and acceptance without judgement and that is hard to find. The world we life is is cruel at times and judgement and prejudice is just a part of the world we live in. It has become normal to put each other down and place unfair judgement. When I look at the world around me I see so many people pointing out other people’s flaws instead of embracing our unique and diverse personalities.
I am lucky to have such amazing friends who trusted me enough to share their experiences with me. I have great friends all over the world and they always reach out even when I do not have the strength to respond. I am lucky that I have had two really good friends close enough to me that when I needed them the most they came running to hold my hand and wipe away my tears. C &D were pivotal in my journey and helping me find a million reasons to keep fighting for me. They have helped me find my strength and that is what I want to do for my two friends in their fights. Wiping away their tears and holding their hands is something I can’t do and I feel so guilty and sad that I am not able to do that for them, but virtually I am there for them.
For now my hope is that while they are fighting the wars raging inside them, that they know although I am far away I am truly here for them and can relate to their situations. It’s not that long ago that I reached the lowest point in my life and felt as if I was drowning in a turbulent sea of emotions. Feeling every single emotion and nothing at all, all at the same time. The mind is a powerful thing and the tricks it plays is at times devastating. Although my circle is small I love my friends dearly and hate that they are fighting mental illness too.