Friendship & Mental Illness

This post was inspired by a piece of the same name written by Jenna (wishingwellblog) a couple of weeks back. I’ve included a link should you want to head over there and have a read at some point. I’d definitely recommend it!

As a child when we start to learn to use the computer we’re taught about the widespread dangers of the Internet, we’re taught to be careful about what we upload – once it’s out there, there is no controlling it. And above all else, we’re told not to talk to strangers. I can understand why. It’s all perfectly sound advice.

As Jenna did herself, I’d like to kick things off by asking you all a very simple question…

Have you ever lost a friend?

I have. I know you have too. Sometimes this is connected to mental illness, sometimes not. Sometimes we just drift apart. We can’t be expected to maintain an ever-expanding circle of friends from when we enter primary school to when we enter retirement. We’re setting unrealistic expectations if we believe that we can. Friends come and go depending on our circumstances at the time. It’s a fact of life. And something else we’re not taught as a child.

I didn’t realise it was possible to make friends on the Internet. Sure, we still need to be careful. Online we can be at our most vulnerable. We think we’re ok, safe in the comforts of our own house or bedroom, but that’s what makes us even more vulnerable. We’re unsuspecting at times. All that said, I have experienced nothing but joy meeting people online.

My struggles with mental health led me to creating this blog, which in turn, has led me to meeting a truly wonderful group of people online. I have found support, care and friendship where once I thought impossible. Illness does have it’s silver linings.

It seems strange to use the word ‘meet’; I’ve not gone anywhere, I’m still at home looking at a screen, I’ve not ventured outside my room, yet I am talking to someone halfway round the world. Technology is amazing these days.

Some of you might question the legitimacy of a friendship if we’ve never met face-to-face, and I can understand where you’re coming from. There are times where I feel like these friendships have a limited possibility of growth. Where can they go when thousands of miles and multiple time zones separate us?

But perhaps we’re reading this the wrong way round? Maybe our friendships are stronger than we realise, our friendships have endured thus far in spite of the distance between us. Perhaps there’s something more to ours than the common, everyday friendship? The nights whiled away messaging each other, confessing all the emotions we’ve kept locked away through-out the day. Maybe there’s something more intimate about these friendships? They’re certainly more honest and truthful than others we have.

Life can be unpredictable. So who knows where things will go? Not for a second as a child did I imagine that I’d be sitting here talking to you today. But I am. Where to next? I don’t know, but I’d like to think that I’ll meet you on my travels of the world one day…

Take care

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a FANTASTIC post, Matt! I totally agree that while we need to be careful who we talk to online, we can meet some wonderful people as well. As long as we watch what we say and who we say it to, we can make some great connections! I’m so happy that I met you! You’re a wonderful friend!

    1. M_McKeen says:

      Thank you B, I really appreciate this comment! You’re such a great friend too 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Getting Through Anxiety and commented:
    Matt shares this wonderful post on being careful online, but at the same time, connecting with some wonderful individuals!

    1. M_McKeen says:

      I’m glad I could help 🙂

  3. BEAUTIFUL post, Matt. You really took the question and made it all your own. I’m so glad you did. Your point that online friendships are really strong because they’ve survived despite the distance is so true, though I’ve never thought of it that way before. I definitely consider you my friend even though we’ve never met and I live across the pond! Illness does have strange and wonderful silver linings…🌟

    1. M_McKeen says:

      Thank you so much Jenna! 🙂 if only it was a pond, it’s a real shame these distances are just so vast. I’ve met some amazing people because of it and learnt so much from them. Thank you!

  4. Gemma says:

    Lovely post. If it wasn’t for anxiety and depression we would never have become friends x

    1. M_McKeen says:

      I know, I often have thoughts like that. I try to focus on all the benefits that I have come from anxiety and depression. And your friendship is certainly one! x

  5. Well said. It’s interesting I have had some offline friends bail on me because things got “too heavy,” but people online stay loyal.

    1. M_McKeen says:

      Thank you! I don’t understand why, but it’s something I’ve found too.

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