How to Be a Better Friend When You Are Struggling

My friends are some of the greatest people in my life. They are funny, intelligent, and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. I love them and feel so much gratitude to have them in my life. However, sometimes I am not a good friend. I could write a whole list of reasons why I’m not always a good friend but it all boils down to me. I am not a good friend sometimes because I get stuck in a funk and forget about the things and the people around me.

Every time I fall into this funk the same thing happens. I start to feel overwhelmed with my emotions and my life. I start to shut down. This shut down typically starts with myself. I begin to neglect myself and forget to eat, stop exercising, and in general stop taking care of myself. After the self-neglect happens, I begin neglecting those closest to me. I stop talking to my family and friends and fall into deep isolation. I make excuses to cancel plans and don’t respond to my friends. Once I start entering this stage of my funk, I risk losing myself and falling into a full depressive or manic episode.

It took time for me to realize this cycle and even longer to figure out how to try (key work try) to combat it and stop the funk from manifesting. Here are a few tips on how to be a better friend when you start to fall into a mental health funk:

Tell Your Friend What’s Going On

Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone that you are going through a rough patch due to your mental health. But telling your friends that the reason you haven’t been responding to their texts or hanging out lately is because you are struggling can help them understand where you’re coming from. I’m not suggesting that you go and tell your friends every single detail about your mental health but being open with them can help. Some things I say to my friends when I fall into a funk include:

“Sorry I haven’t been around lately, I have had a lot on my mind.”

“I’d love to hang out but I’m not feeling up to it right now. But let’s plan to meet up sometime soon!”

“I’m struggling with some things right now and just need some time to work them out. Once I have dealt with everything I will let you know.”

Stay Connected

Even if all you want to do is crawl in bed and not talk to anyone, try to stay connected with your friends. There are many ways to stay connected and it really just depends on your relationship with your friends. One thing I do is to tag my friends in silly Facebook and Instagram posts. This is a quick way to just connect with your friends and let them know you are thinking of them even if you aren’t mentally in a place to have a conversation or be truly connected at the moment.

Accounting Joke
Photo Credit: I Love Being An Accountant Facebook

Learn to Say No Gracefully

I am bad at saying “no” even if I really, really, REALLY want to say no. I will say yes to save face and be miserable. This affects all parts of my life not just my friendships. I’ve had to learn to say no gracefully and in a way that all parties are satisfied with. I read an article to about how to say no to anyone that had three tips that have worked for me:

  1. Say it fast
  2. Explain Why – Briefly
  3. Propose Something Else

These are just three simple tips on how to be a better friend when I am falling into a mental health funk. What are some things that you do when your mental health issues begin effecting your friendships? Comment your own tips below!

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