Today I am going to talk about friendship.
A good friendship can be one of the most sustaining factors in our lives. Our friends can mirror back to us our strengths and weaknesses. With a good friend we don’t need to explain ourselves and we feel supported.
Apart from the small and hand-picked inner circle of my close friends, I try and spread my friendship net widely.
At one point in the past, I found that I was mainly mixing with other people who had mental health issues. Essentially, there was nothing wrong with that as I felt understood by other patients. But sometimes the conversation didn’t get much past “Who’s your doctor?” and “What medication are you on?”
A balance of friends
Today I try and have a balance of friends, i.e. male/female, older/younger, working/not working, in relationships/single, mental health issues/other difficulties or none, old/new, interested in the same hobbies/interested in different hobbies, family/friends
It can be difficult to enlarge your circle of friends, sometimes for economic reasons, but there are a number of things I do. I build on relationships with family and extended family – for example my sister and I are both interested in music and poetry so once every so often we go to a concert or a poetry reading together. Also I have a couple of first cousins who live outside Dublin so I keep in touch with them by phone and visit them a couple of times a year, making use of my free travel pass. I attend a weekly social evening run by service users for service users. We have become a supportive community for one another. I also know people from the self-help group Recovery International, from doing voluntary work, and from my interests.
Increasing your circle of friends
One way of trying to increase your circle of friends is to try and link up with friends from school/college. A good way of doing this is with a Facebook account. I have become reunited with friends and family that way, by typing their names into the search section. It can also happen that (in “real” life) you meet friends of friends (or family) and broaden your network that way.
Being a good friend
The most important factor with friendship is that you need to be a good friend to have good friends. A good friendship takes commitment, reliability, regularity, support, honesty, trust, patience, loyalty, generosity, confidentiality and humour on both sides. All these qualities can be summed up in one word: “love”.
It is important to love yourself as much as you love your neighbour. Unless you love yourself you can’t give or accept love properly. That’s why it’s important to become your own best friend and from that you will be a good friend to others.
Till next time.