Friendships and Mental Health

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I’ve already discussed the way anxiety and depression creates a seemingly never ending cycle with poor physical health, and a messy house. This week I have to talk about something that is a HUGE one for me. That is the cycle between mental health and friendships.

I had originally planned on putting this one off, but a real life event happened recently that made me decide today is the day. What happened? I received a Facebook message from a neighbor who was striking up a friendly conversation about a picture I had posted to my page of my bearded dragon, Spryo. Yep, a friendly message almost sent me into a panic attack. Neighbor, if you’re reading this, thank you and I’m sorry for waiting so long to respond! My mind just goes a bit crazy sometimes.

Longing For Friendships, But Afraid to Pursue Them

I don’t know about you, but I want to have some friends. Movies, TV shows, and social media show friendships as being one of the most magical, crucial things in life. But I truly don’t have any, except for my family. The lack of friendship causes me to think I am not worthy of friends. I find myself thinking that no one wants to be around me or even that I’m a horrible person.

But, when people reach out to me, like my friendly neighbor recently, my anxiety takes hold and prevents me from pursing that friendship. I begin overthinking what their motives are. Do they want something from me? Are they going to make fun of me? At the same time, I am afraid I will make myself look stupid and they won’t want to reach out to me again.

So to make the long story short, the mental health and friendship cycle is that of this: You have a strong desire for friendship but your level of fear (of rejection, of disappointment, or of being perceived as awkward or strange) prevents you from pursuing it. It’s an extremely difficult situation to be in.

Is Friendship Important?

Sometimes, I find myself saying, “Who needs friends? You don’t need them anyways.” But I’m lying to myself. I do need friends. Maybe some people don’t, but I have found the majority truly do. Humans, in general, are designed to be social creatures. We need to be connected to others. We need to hear what they have to say, so we can learn from them. And we need to share our experiences and help others to grow as well. All of that being said, if you are truly happy without friends, that’s totally your right. But personally, my lack of friendships makes me more and more unhappy which means that I do need friends.

How To Break the Mental Health and Friendships Cycle

As I said before, this is a HUGE struggle for me so I am far from an expert. But that being said, I have been trying very hard to do better in regards to making new acquaintances in hopes that I may be able to form some new friendships. If you also are struggling with making or maintaining friendships, let me give you a few suggestions that I am also working on.

1. Get Out in Public

You can’t make friends if you never leave your house. You have to be around people to get to know people. So find a group of people that meet regularly and join them. This could be in the form of a church, a club, or even a group of moms who meet weekly for playdates at the park. But find people to be around.

2. Put Your Cell Phone Down

Cell phones are destroying friendships. A lot of people have forgotten how to talk to other human beings. Break that cycle by leaving your phone in the car or even at home when you go out in public. If you’re not staring at a little box in your hand, you seem more approachable.

3. Reach Back

When someone does reach out to you (as my neighbor did through her Facebook message) take that as a sign that they are trying to pursue a friendship with you. Don’t over analyze. Yes, they may have ulterior motives. But maybe they are just as afraid to reach out as you are. Don’t shut them down and make them feel rejected. Instead, reach back out to them, even if that’s just through a quick text back or a smile and a nod. But don’t ignore someone when they reach out to you. Hopefully you can push yourself a little farther and actively engage in a conversation.

4. Instigate A One-On-One Encounter

This is where I say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This is a HUGE goal for me right now, but it’s not one I’m able to achieve yet. My inability to drive as well as my messy house brings up so much anxiety that I am not quite sure how to move forward with this step. So prior to reaching this step, I am trying desperately to fix the other two situations first.

That being said, this is the most important step. Friendships are hard to make in groups. It’s hard to push yourself into cliques that are already formed. Rather, the next step to making friends despite mental health would be to invite someone for an one-on-one meeting. This could be a play-date at a local park, a barbecue in your backyard, dinner, or even just a cup of coffee and some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But this step is when I truly believe friendships will be formed.

Does mental health make it more difficult for you to form new friendships? Tell me about it in the comments below!

If this article was helpful to you, would you mind sharing it with your friends?

Making new friends as an adult is hard, but so much more so when you suffer from anxiety.

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30 comments

  1. Luna S

    Making friends as an adult is so awkward and hard! I am glad I still have a very good friend from grade school.

    1. Jennifer

      That is so awesome that you do! I can honestly say I very rarely even speak to anyone I went to school with 🙁

  2. Danielle

    These are really great tips and an important topic to consider and bring light too.

    1. Jennifer

      Thanks so much for visiting with us today

  3. Kayla

    Someone was able to put into words how I feel! I always feel like people are laughing at me! I just try to tell myself that I’m not that important and be normal anyway. Making friends as an adult is so hard! Best of luck in your friend search!

    1. Jennifer

      I’m glad you were able to relate! I heard someone say recently, “We’d worry a lot less about what people think of us if we realized how seldom they really do.” It’s somewhat of sad statement, but very true. I think people are a lot more forgiving and forgetful than we give them credit for.

  4. Ashli Ferguson

    This is SOOO true!! I swear it is what keeps me going sometimes!

    1. Jennifer

      I am glad you’ve found something to keep you moving!

  5. Mr. H

    After reading it I can say, Choose your friends wisely because you’re the one who made a call for this beautiful relationship so don’t ruin it.

    1. Jennifer

      That is a very good point. Not all people are made out to be our friends. But we should definitely strive to be friendly with everyone.

  6. Bindu Thomas

    I had good friends at school. But I met my best friend when I was 23. We’ve been best friends since then.

    1. Jennifer

      I am so glad you have a good friend to rely on!

  7. Anagha

    Yes, friendship is related to mental health. Some people can’t make friends easily due to their shy or introvert nature. Some are too sensitive. Not all friends lasts long. But, it’s better to have at least one good friend.

    1. Jennifer

      You are definitely correct! Friends help in so many ways but can be hard to come by

  8. ara patria

    I could totally relate to this. As we grow older, it is getting much more difficult to find genuine friends. Thank you so much for putting my feelings into words! I really loved this article. Made me a little emotional.

    1. Jennifer

      I am glad you got some understanding from this. Sometimes just understanding our situation can help us learn how to improve it.

  9. Hackytips

    As we grow we start thinking a lot about human behaviour. That’s why friendship seems difficult in adulthood. If you see kids they get along quickly. Because they never bother what others think about them or how they treat them etc.

    1. Jennifer

      You are so right! As adults we worry way too much about what others will think. At the same time, kids are much more accepting as well. We could learn a lot from our kids.

  10. Pool Operator Talk

    This is a tough one. I think it is probably hard to be my friend and it probably takes a lot of effort, but once you get to that point, I think I am a friend worth having.

    1. Jennifer

      I am willing to bet you are a great person and friend!

  11. marjiemare

    I know a lot of people but my family is my closest friends. I enjoy the company of my two daughters. In my field of work, I do see the benefit of having a strong support system and having great friends is necessary.

    1. Jennifer

      I am currently the same way, family can be great friends too!

  12. nursery rhymes girl

    Sometimes I feel like I need friends, but sometimes it’s not.. they have equal no’s and yes’s in that 🙂

  13. Thuy

    I remember one time someone came up to me and said they had wanted to say hello for a while, but they were intimidated because I was “so cool”. I think the difficult part for adults with making friends is the tendency to overthink, I’m open minded and am willing to make a connection with anybody willing to make the effort

  14. Sarah Meh

    Getting out in public and making friends are good for mental health. I am a bit languid but trying to be more socially active.

  15. Devyani Ray

    I am the one to always reach out and make the first step towards talking to someone. I love everything you said here because it truly works

  16. Jessica Renfro

    I totally agree with the cell phones! People need to re-learn how to communicate with each other.

  17. bee

    I have had my best friend for 15 years now and I must agree with your tips. Thanks for sharing

  18. Timmee Gold

    Thanks for this. I learnt a lot today.

  19. Jen

    Great tips – I struggle with this too and it’s difficult. You sound like you have a great attitude and strategy!

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