(This blog is about mental health and putting yourself first. If you are worried about yourself or a friend I urge you to reach out and get professional help, through a hotline, a counsellor, an adult you trust, your doctor etc. I hope you enjoy this blog.)
We often emphasise the importance of checking on our friends, checking on our family, starting conversations and being “available to talk to for anyone who is struggling”, and to people who can do this effortlessly, I admire you endlessly. I in no way want to demean how incredibly helpful and important people who take this task upon their shoulders are, but I want to talk about something that we always seem to forget:
It is so difficult to not feel an incredible amount of guilt if we have to take a step back from helping or being there for our loved ones but it can be damaging to your mental health to give everything you have to others, always being there for everybody but yourself. There is no way to give and give and give if you’re mental health is deteriorating yourself. In my experience, I am ashamed to say, I can become snappy and impatient when my mental health is poor and if I give everything I have to push that to the side to be there for others, I often find myself sacrificing my own wellbeing in order to improve other people’s. You can be the most helpful and loving to everyone else once you have worked on yourself and your recovery first.
I also find ourselves sometimes using other people’s problems to distract us from our own. I often try to forget about my anxiety and help others when in fact it actually perpetuates and heightens my mental health problems. So look in the mirror (metaphorically but maybe physically as well) and ask yourself if you’re mental health is where you want it to be before you try to help others. You also have to remember that if someone reaches out with a problem you can’t cope with or that you get very overwhelmed by, you do not have to deal with it alone. Talk to that person about who they would like you to pass the problem on to, be it a teacher, a trusted adult, a family member, a manager at work who can direct them to mental health support or a school counsellor. They will understand that their problem may be too much to deal with and if you are very concerned the best thing you can do for them is to direct them to someone in a position to help them, and I promise it is okay if it is not you. I want to remind you that it is never your fault if someone is suffering with their mental health and you cannot carry the weight of everyone’s problems around on your shoulders everyday because that will inevitably cause you more pain.
I am in awe of every single person who’s job it is to bear the weight of other people’s problems but that’s exactly why I am saying this. Many people are trained to deal with serious issues surrounding mental health and if it is not healthy for you to do this then you are not obligated to. I would still encourage people to reach out to your friends. Start conversations. Help boost each other and support each other. Make sure your friendships are two-way relationships and you can receive the same amount as you give. I understand how hard it is to take a step back when things are hard, to unfollow unhelpful instagram pages, to stop a friend from talking when it all gets too much in your brain and to take some time to intentionally start or make progress on the journey of your recovery; however it could do you the world of good and ensure you can be a better friend and be a part of a bigger support system for friends in the future. A good support system is built of many people, I would advise you to not try and be a whole support system by yourself.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first.”
,Lucy x (I have not blogged on here in forever but I am writing a lot more now)