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Who is in your support group?
I don’t mean like, a support group where you sit in a circle and talk about your problems. Although, that is an extremely viable and helpful kind. I’m just talking about your family and friends. Who is always in your corner? Who can you call at 2am and expect an answer?
For a while, our guest blogger, Jocelyn, wasn’t sure. She wasn’t even sure a support group was necessary for getting through her mental health issues. But, as you’ll read in her post, she learned over time to find people she could count on. Now that she knows the process, she’s going to share it with you. Jocelyn has tips on where to find your support group, She also knows how to handle people breaking away from it. She’ll inspire you to get out there and be social– you never know who could become the most important person in your life.
I thought this post was a really great one for Mental Health Monday because no matter what you’re going through, you need support. For some mental health issues though, that can be really hard to establish. Think, social anxiety where a person has extreme difficulty interacting with others. Or depression, where motivation slips down the drain and people don’t see reasons to even leave the house.
For those of you who don’t know what Mental Health Monday is, it’s a giant conversation about mental health that spans tons of topics affecting twenty-somethings. Uninspired is all about helping people in their twenties strike a balance between living a good life now and building a future that’s good later. A lot of that is making sure you feel comfortable doing everything you need to do for your health. That’s why I gather these amazing women to tell their stories. With all these incredibly strong people telling you how they made it through their struggles, you’re bound to find someone you relate to. And you’re bound to find hope.
So, without further ado, I’ll let our latest brave lady tell her story. Here’s hoping you find the strength you need to get out there and build the support group you need. And, if you’d like to visit Jocelyn’s blog, you can find her at byjoc.com.
How to Find a Helpful Support Group
“For most of my life, mental health issues seemed to me like a battle only for the individual experiencing them. As a child I wasn’t spoken to with many emotional words, and my parents didn’t share their trials and tribulations with me. I entered adolescence and young adulthood not entirely knowing that other people could maybe help me. I wasn’t aware that emotions, emotional experiences, and thus, help, could be shared.
The shred of basic interpersonal emotional awareness though that I did have, was more helpful than I thought. In each stage of my depression, I found some sort of group or even individual to count on. This wasn’t always the same group of people, especially moving from high school to college. It wasn’t even always the same type of person, either. Friends, family, teammates, friends of friends, the internet. My circle of reliance became convoluted and misshapen so to speak, but for good reasons.
In sharing each stage with you, I hope to bring clarity to your search for your own support group along the way.
I knew as early as middle school that I wasn’t going to be able to get through life alone. However, I didn’t know necessarily how to ask for help. Either way, this stage was unwittingly devoted to the beginning of my vetting process in trying to find my circle. I made sure to stay close to friends, engage myself in some babysitting, and to enjoy the sports I was participating in. Reaching out in life, I thought, would be a good place to start on reaching out emotionally.
Junior high brought stronger troubles and the realization that some of my vetting the previous years did not quite hold up. This is a crucial step of your process though. Setbacks are a natural part of any recovery. It’s at that moment that we learn our boundaries and who we may or may not include in our circle.
In high school I found my support group mostly in my teammates.
I played three sports through the four years, ice hockey, swimming, and water polo. It allowed for so much space in my life to be able to not only have an individual outlet, but for those us going through rough spots together, to fight through it together. We would see each other for practices, games, meets, and tournaments and brave our issues side by side. In such actions, we felt stronger for it.
Because I was not in classes with my teammates, I wanted to find supporters there as well. This bit was a little more difficult as my in-class self was quiet, reserved, and very focused on the work in front of me. I didn’t find someone in every class, and that’s okay. But, in the classes I needed to, I did my best to find one person I could at least do some schoolwork with. I also grew closer to some of my high school teachers. Though I didn’t divulge any of my mental health issues to them, it was a wonderful relief to be able to have a casual, calm conversation with adults when needed.
College was where the real soul (and circle) searching began.
College was a tumultuous time, and encompassed many expansions and contractions of my circle. Ultimately though, until graduation, my circle was always a group I could reach out to, rely on, and just be with. I was in a sorority, which was a blessing. I found girls my age that had no serious mental health issues, I found girls 3 years older with similar issues I faced.
Everything wasn’t sunshine and roses though. I did have my setbacks just as before, where I had to reevaluate how far I had extended my reaches. But, it had its own silver lining. Every time I was forced to reevaluate, I learned more about myself, my people skills, and how to reach out.
I hadn’t been big, up until this point, on reaching out to my parents.
They hadn’t previously spoken to me in emotional terms and therefore I didn’t know how to return that to them. But as I cultivated these skills and as they realized that something may be wrong, they too refined their methods and we met in the middle. I understand that this dynamic may not be possible for everyone, though. If your parents or guardians are not who may be able to help in this situation, you could try a different family member, a friend’s parent, or a therapy service – some online programs are not nearly as expensive as in person sessions! Slowly though, my circle started to include my parents.
Though each of these stages of life and health have already progressed, my circle still fluctuates. I assume it will do so until the end of time, as connections grow and fizzle. In terms of actually reaching out to all these people along the way, I suggest taking it bit by bit. It’s almost as if your emotional health is dating someone else’s emotional support – you have to figure out what works and what doesn’t in any situation. In a certain instance, a friend reached out to me because something I had joked about stood out to her. She was going through her own depressive episode. Her therapist had suggested that she find someone to lean on. Upon hearing my off-handed comment (my humor style is mostly self-deprecating) about being sadder than I look, sparked in her the idea that perhaps I was someone that could be in her circle.
Pay attention to your surroundings, and in doing so, your circle could grow more quickly than you might think.
And since we’re on the internet, I’ll end here. I’ve always found solace, comfort, and camaraderie in fellow internet users. Find some positive additions to your online circle, here, on other blogs, on social media, online games, wherever you spend your time. Find your circle.”