Wednesday 19 February 2020

Please Invite Me Out With You

By Amy Cullis

Ever since I started to become mentally ill, I have noticed a distinct drop in the amount of times I have been invited out by friends. I have even lost friends because of the effects of my illnesses.

Many of the times I’ve been invited out, I know I’ve cancelled and this probably leads to someone wondering if I really do want to meet up with them. The truth is, I do though. I really truly do.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s hard to believe that one person can accumulate so many mental illnesses, but it is possible. Each of these illnesses affect my functioning in one way or another, and pretty much all of them can affect my ability to get out of the house and meet up with people.

My Anxiety and OCD make me worry about humiliating myself in public. I fear losing control of my bladder through not being able to get to a toilet in time. I have to complete rituals and even control the things I’m thinking otherwise I convince myself I will lose control and not be able to cope with the shame. My OCD in particular isn’t as bad these days, but in the past I have had to cancel plans last minute, or I’ve been late because I had to repeat my rituals. It takes a lot to quieten the intrusive thoughts I have around this. It also takes a lot to cut down my counting and repeating rituals. Part of me knows that logically the rituals mustn’t really affect how well I can control my bladder, but those toxic doubts of “what if?” hold me back and make me repeat them, just in case they do have an effect. The times when I’ve not been able to control my bladder, or I’ve almost not been able to, my brain puts down to not doing my rituals properly or enough. Next time I will be extra careful.

My Depression can severely impact my motivation and self-esteem. I see myself as a bad, unworthy friend; who will not be good company to be around. The thought of putting on a smile, being chatty, and coping with crowds in order to meet my friend/s can become very daunting and I may even think they don’t really want to meet up with me. If I have cancelled before, I also feel very guilty and this will make me feel too ashamed to meet up again.

My BPD has an impact on my thoughts and behaviour around friends. I may be clingy, or I might completely isolate in order to avoid abandonment and rejection. I will go through times where I cannot bear conversation. I cannot cope with the idea and even paranoia that my friends aren’t as close to me as I am to them. I feel no one will ever love me as much as I love them, and I get scared of holding on too tight, so I do the opposite. It will take so much for me to make plans, and eventually I believe I push friends away. They may think I’m not interested in meeting up with them, when in fact the opposite is true. I am so desperate to be loved and accepted that I fear what will happen if I take the plunge and attempt to make plans.

My most recent mental health diagnosis is PTSD. My main trauma has little to do with friends and friendship groups, but it can affect how I act in busy situations. When I am out of the house I can feel unsafe and out of control. I am easily startled and always on my guard. Sometimes knowing I will be like this is too much to cope with and I will cancel plans.

This may seem like a lot to take in, and may leave my friends wondering what to do. For me, though, the worst things are lack of interaction from friends and not making plans. I may cancel many times but please keep the faith that there will be times when I am able to meet up. Just to be invited means the world to me, even if I can’t make it. Please include me. Feeling left out is something I’ve experienced ever since my childhood and it doesn’t take much for me to still feel left out now. If it confuses you that I cancel so often, then talk to me! I will be more than happy to explain what’s going on. It may even bring us closer together to know why I act the way I do. I promise I will always try my best to stick to our plans, and I will try not to cancel last minute without good reason.

Communication is so important in friendship. It may even become more important when one of us falls ill and cannot get out of the house as often as we’d like. Please continue to communicate with us and include us in your plans with friends. We may have not changed. Our health has.

About the Author

Amy Cullis is a mental health and chronic illness blogger from the UK. They have a BSc (Hons) in Clinical and Health Psychology. Amy blogs at Amy’s Mystery Illness, contributes to The Mighty and has a keen interest in writing, politics, and equal rights; alongside music and photography.



1 comment:

  1. Amy, it might not be the effects of your mental illness. It might be their discomfort and ableism.