I am a big believer in the merit of peer-guided support, though there are definite limitations and risks associated with sharing about mental health. Because we are not all trained in psychology work, we can sometimes accidentally use trigger words, gaslight, and trauma dump when we are trying to open up about mental health.
However, that should not deter friends of persons in recovery from confiding in others. How do we share from the heart without tiptoeing around the topic or hurting people?
Like anyone who is hurting, I have always sought to build a support system of friends with whom I would feel safe. It did not matter if my peers could relate to my experiences or not. As long as they tried to understand how I felt, that was sometimes the only thing that would make my situation better.
A hard lesson I learned was that ‘relating’ and ‘empathising’ were two very different acts. The latter was what I needed from my friends.
Over time, I learned how to differentiate between the two, and I have met many people who were great pillars for me during different periods of hardship. Some leave, and some stay on the sidelines until another struggle comes up and they spring into action. And then, there are friends who are consistently beside me to experience the ups and downs of the everyday.
Still, it can still be challenging to be open about mental health with someone you deem completely trustworthy. This could be the result of relationship (familial, romantic or platonic) trauma, issues with abandonment, insecure attachment styles, or any number of reasons.
Then what happens? I’ve found that there are other ways to protect yourself from crippling betrayal by former trusted allies. And, if not, it may serve to reassure you that you are safe to talk candidly about mental health.
For more targeted practices, self-help resources, and peer support, check out SG Support Group on Discord.