If there's one thing about my mental illness that I will always be "grateful" for (I say grateful, but that's not quite the right word, just the closest that I can find) - it'll be my friends. Mental health is a divider; it shows who is there no matter what, and I believe that those who can't be there for whatever reason (and I'm surprisingly cool with that too, these days) are the people who were meant for different things. I guess what I'm trying to say is - my mental illness has helped to weed out which relationships were meant to be, and which ones just weren't going to work out in the long run, for one reason or another.
However - it's hard. It's hard to give the love that you want to to the people around you, and it's hard to accept it back when you have a mental illness. It's harder still when your friends are suffering in the same sort of ways; some weeks it can feel as though you're all in seperate black voids and you barely speak. So, I've been trying harder with my friends; checking in even when I feel shitty, sharing my problems and taking their problems on - and it's working. I'm not scared to say, "hey man I'm kind of struggling this week" and I'm also no longer scared to say, "hey man, tell me why you're struggling this week".
Out of all of the weeks I've spent in therapy, I've spent over half talking about trust. Why don't I trust? Have my friends ever made me feel like I couldn't trust them? How do I think my being closed affected them? There was no judgement, no implication, just facts that finally allowed me to say my issue out loud; I struggle to keep friends because I won't open up to them, and this reciprocity is what friendships and relationships are built on for the most part, and by shutting people out I was making the people around me feel like I didn't trust them, or value the relationship.
So, I've started to open up; climb out of my own black void and give people a hand out of theirs - and it hasn't been easy. I feel like I don't deserve friends some days, and other days I have to convince my friends that that's not the case when I know that they're feeling the same; but our mental illness don't make us lesser people. Our mental illnesses don't make us less loyal, or funny, or loving. Our mental illnesses don't take away the good memories that we have together, they don't stop us being the friends that they've always been - and in fact having friends around us seems to have helped a fair few of us.
This is a brain dump; but it's also a thank you - to all of my friends, for being there. I appreciate it.