Hello Dear Readers! Just wanted to make a quick note that everything on this website is free, including a free download of my book “Alert and Oriented x3.” The way things are, it is hard for me to make ends meet, so I am asking that if you can afford it and you enjoy my writing that you consider buying one of my books off Amazon. There are 12 of them, including 3 memoirs (Inching Back to Sane: Second Edition, Through the Withering Storm, and Alert and Oriented x3) as well as two Young Adult Novels, (In The Blink of an Eye, Those Who Dare to Dream) and four poetry collections (Poems From Inside Me, First White of Winter Poems, Stargazer: My Life in Constellations, and Poetry of Love, Life and Hope) and two short story collections (The Base Jumpers, Mustang Summer). It would be great if you could purchase them off Amazon, but if you can’t, it would be even better if you could contact your local librarian and ask them to carry the books in their catalogue.
So, on to the topic of the day. Having friends is difficult, but it can be our best weapon against loneliness. Loneliness leads to depression, and social anxiety and can literally be deadly. One of the most important things to understand is that there may be times when you are lonely and there is little you can do about it. This is a good time to reach out to a counsellor (there may be a Pastoral Care worker at your local hospital that can help out here) or another type of counsellor who can treat you for free or on a sliding scale. What often is suggested is cognitive behavioural therapy, but there are many strategies that can help.
One of the first things I recommend to people who are recently diagnosed is that they go to live in a supportive group home, especially one that doesn’t kick out its residents during the day. This can be a great place to learn life skills to eventually live on your own and also is a good place to meet and interact with others who suffer from mental illnesses, while hopefully having someone to talk to who is trained to deal with those who have mental health issues.
I also strongly recommend getting involved in some kind of club. It can be a chess club that meets at your library, it can even be a Facebook group for things such as military modelling. You can join all kinds of groups where you discuss fun things with people who like the same things as you do, but be cautious not to get too absorbed in your computer. I personally don’t think violent video games are a great way to meet people, but they can be better than just sitting and watching TV.
One of the ways you can get involved in an activity outside the house is to go to your local gym (free memberships in Edmonton if you are on Aish, thanks Shiona and Allison for pointing this out) but not just working out or swimming, joining a group that does something like Yoga or any kind of thing where you are likely to meet people. Some of you may feel apprehensive about this and worry people will judge you for having a mental illness, so you may want to look into groups set up by psychiatric clinics where you can go and join a support group and get feeling better about yourself so eventually you can get out in public. The important thing is to try and find something you enjoy and find a way to get better at it while meeting people
Family of course can be critical when you have a mental illness. Sadly, if you ever go to a psychiatric ward, it may be only your family that comes to visit, and it may also be only your family who supports you when you leave. Keep this in mind when you choose where you want to live when you leave the hospital. Try to get a place near a clinic and near your family.
Sometimes you will have some time in your day when there are no interactions to be had. Try to fill up these times with positive activities. I like to read for a few hours before bed, and if I have the time, I like to go for a three-mile walk or more, then buy a bottle of water and take the bus home.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to work or volunteer. Volunteering can be ideal because you won’t be expected to perform up to the level of a paid position, but you will be able to learn how to get to that level. Of course you should do as good of a job as you can, but in the end if it doesn’t work out, you really haven’t lost much.
One of the ways I like to make new friends is to stop and say hello to members of my community when I pass them on the street or on the way to buy groceries. It can be a nice thing to stop and share a few kind words or even just say hello and have a person say hello back. As you get to know them you can talk to them about things like how their business is going or how their workouts are progressing. Sometimes making connections like these can take a while, but are worth the effort.
Going to church can also be a beneficial thing, but please be a bit wary. There are churches out there that are simply in the business of shaming their congregation and then asking for large contributions of money. In my case, I live next to two churches that I enjoy going to, one being a Catholic Church which gives back so much more to the community than they ask for. They don’t pressure anyone to give a ton of money and they often have charity sales like when they put on a 25-cent garage sale. I often go to these to get books to read.
The final type of relationship I want to talk about may not seem like a relationship, but it can be. I am talking about keeping a journal. Go to the dollar store, get some pens and a few pads of paper and when the spirit moves you, use it to write poems, notes to yourself, letters to yourself ten years ago or just how you are feeling. A journal can be a great friend, and if you ever decide to write a book like I have, your journal can be an excellent source of content for your book. Thanks so much dear readers, take care and if you have anything to add or comment, please feel free to leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org