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Building a Support Network

20 Aug

A healthy support network is something that everyone needs in their lives.  This network should consist of people who love you, believe in you, and who are willing to let you lean on them occasionally.  It should consist mostly of positive people who are mentally healthy, and possibly people who realize they have issues and are actively seeking help and getting better. People who rely on you as their personal therapist, who are not actively trying to get better, and who are just all around negative people should be interacted with on a minimal basis.

Part of my problem up until this point in my life is that I clustered together with people with issues in my social network. My support came from people with severe depression, social anxiety, low self esteem, etc. This was not healthy, and over the last year or two I started realizing I couldn’t pull myself up when my support network kept pulling me back down into what I was trying to escape. Amy told me that this is very true and that it makes it much easier to help yourself get healthy if you surround yourself with healthy people. I still have a lot of my friends who have issues, but I am no longer their go-to person nor do I spend a lot of time with them on a regular basis.

Right now I am working on rebuilding my support system. This is hard, as I find it difficult to seek out mentally healthy people to be friends with. I feel like I am a person most healthy people would not want to deal with due to my own issues. However, the more I get to know healthy people the more I find that this is not the case. They seem to be very supportive, positive, and want to help encourage me to get better and it’s great! Naturally, you don’t want to overwhelm these people all the time with how you are feeling (that is what your therapist is for!) but talking with them occasionally about stuff is definitely helpful!

Currently, my Healthy Support Network includes:

My Therapist – Amy is wonderful! She has an amazing sense of humor and we click really well. The first therapist I had was very serious and I just don’t mesh well with serious people on an emotional level. I think this is proof that if you don’t connect with your therapist that it might be time to find a new one!

My Yoga Instructor – Though my Yoga instructor is very new to my life, so far she is awesome!  I had a private class with her Saturday so she could show me poses that would help lessen my anxiety and help with my breathing and she was so positive and supportive! She told me I was a very bright individual for going to seek help and for considering Yoga as a way to lessen anxiety and help with my mental health. Just like when Amy says I’m bright I felt a sharp pang of disbelief, but it’s definitely helping with my self esteem issues to hear multiple people who haven’t known me for years say it 🙂

My Work Friend – This person has been really eye opening, because she’s my first local mentally healthy friend. With the few times we have hung out outside of work and the card she sent me she has blown my mind on how caring someone can be without being emotionally connected from having similar mental health issues. The only people I’ve really connected with in my life have all suffered from depression and that’s what made me feel close to them. My work friend has had issues with depression, but only in stressful situations like the near death of her father, and is otherwise a mentally healthy person. Er… well.. she is a bit OCD, but that’s completely different then any of my problems, so I don’t count it 🙂

My Significant Other – Though my SO does deal with depression and low self esteem, he admits to this being an issue and is actively working to help himself get better. He does not rely on me to fix it, it is not the main topic of conversation every time we talk, and I think it helps us both stay encouraged seeing each other making progress and feeling better about ourselves.

My Sister – My sister has a few issues similar to mine. I know she has mild social anxiety and does suffer from occasional bouts with depression, just not on the same scale as I do. She is very independent and is doing what she wants to do with her life and right now is a very happy person. She is also great at listening and knows what to say to make me feel better or diffuse my social anxiety.

My Parents – Though originally my parents were suprised that I was seeking help for my mental health, they have been very supportive of it. As time has gone by and I’ve let them in to see how truely unhappy I am, they have grown more and more supportive of me switching jobs and doing what I need to to be happy. This has taken a lot of stress off of me, as I am very much someone who has a strong desire to make my parents proud.

My Online Friends – Though I don’t talk to them as much as I used to, the online friends I have had for a decade have all been very supportive. Not all of these friends are mentally healthy, but they are all very supportive. One of them in particular has found this blog via Twitter, and has sent me very positive texts when he notices a negative post.  Another has told me he refuses to talk about his problems anymore with me while I seek help, because he knows I get very emotionally invested in other people’s problems. They are all great in their own right, but I try not to over utilize them as I need to work on building a better real life support network.

As you can see, I need to make more local friends to add to my support network. I have several friends around it’s just the ones I currently have are the ones that still hold on to depression and other issues and are not actively seeking help so I can not count them as part of a healthy support network. I am working on making more friends, and have a couple of specific people I think it would be easy to become friends with. It’s just difficult for me to find a healthy route to become friends with someone. Friendships usually spring from someone having a really bad day and me listening, and then we are friends!  So this is a new experience o.o

I am very happy that my healthy support network is growing, and I can honestly say I can see the difference having healthy people in my life has had on me. It’s harder to find negatives in life when you are surrounded by people who are positive. It’s harder to not believe in yourself when the people around you keep reminding you that they believe in you. It’s hard to fear the world when you have people willing to help you meet it head on.

I think my life is definitely heading in the right direction, now it’s just up to me to get enough courage to steer it where  I want it to go 🙂

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