Maintaining friendships – social anxiety and mental health.

It was freezing. I couldn’t really afford it. I was on my own. I had lost my ID. It would be too busy. The roads were closed. I’ll stay home.

The above thoughts raced through my mind at rapid speed throughout the day and my anxiety was the driver.

Last night I had an invitation to a party. I don’t get invited to many parties any more. The thing is, when you spend so much time declining invites and isolating yourself from the world, eventually the world gives up on you.

Your friends don’t give up on you though and every now and then my friends will invite me out even if they are secretly thinking ‘She won’t come’. So when I walked through the door last night, I think my friends were more shocked than I was that I actually turned up.

These particular friends are former work colleagues and I hadn’t seen them for well over a year. The last time I saw them I was hypomanic, I had quit my job and found a fantastic new opportunity (I now realise, I was suffering with delusion).

I gave up a very secure, and very well paid job, where I had made great friends. I left for a job that had no security. It was a huge mistake but there was no telling me at the time. I was chasing my dreams. Mania had yet again convinced me that this was a great idea.

Fast forward a few months, I fall pregnant, my new job falls apart and I have a breakdown. I crashed into a deep, dark depression that I have struggled to push through.I isolated myself completely. I felt embarrassed, ashamed.

So that’s why last night was a big deal for me. And I’m so proud of myself for pushing through my anxiety and getting out despite everything I’ve been going through. I did have a wobble on my way in, because Wales were playing and it’s always packed on match days. I forgot that the roads were closed and when I realised I would have to walk a while on my own I went into panic. I told Ross to turn the car around and go home.

But he didn’t, and I braved the cold and the crowds and made my way to my friends birthday party. I was nervous to see my friends after everything that had happened but they welcomed me with open arms. It was like I had never left. I believe that’s the beauty of true friendship. Those friends that you don’t have to see all the time but you know they will always be there, those friends are diamonds. Treasure them.

I had so much fun last night. I didn’t drink when I was out and I danced my socks off. I felt good, I let my hair down and I had a laugh. I realised how much I missed the confident, bubbly person I used to be. I’m not all the way there yet, but last night was a start.

That’s why I’m so grateful for friends.

I haven’t been the easiest person to be around lately. I’ve pushed the people I love away. I have tested their patience and I have lost a lot of people I love this year. So for the friends I have left, for the parties I still get invited to, the unspoken words of support disguised by a smile or a hug. For all the kindness I do not deserve.

Thank you. Thank you for still including me and thank you for not giving up on me even when I have given up on myself. For that, I am forever grateful.

Love, Laura xo



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