When mental health makes connections harder to maintain. 


I really enjoy the company of other people, but sometimes still I want to have my own space. At other times I experience paranoia, disordered thinking, difficulties concentrating, anxiety and depression. These things get in the way of talking with other people, replying to messages and spending time together. 


These experiences make it difficult to want to connect with others or simply pick up the phone, and can make me feel that I’m not truly wanted. I can also feel like a burden to my friends and loved ones. It becomes hard to leave the house, decide on a time to make a call, or be able to concentrate on a conversation. Then there are thoughts that distract me while I’m with another person, leaving me struggling to follow a conversation or connect. 


I’ve had instances where I’ve not contacted my closest friends for months, due to the impact of my emotional state. At the end of a period of isolation, they wanted me to promise that I wouldn’t cut off contact like that. This reminded me that while our mental health can make it harder to stay connected, it’s also hard for other people to be wondering how you are doing. They also miss out on your friendship, support and comfort. Connections and friendship are 2-way streets. 


I’ve found that people are usually understanding when things aren’t going so well, and often willing to help out even if they don’t know the whole story. Luckily, there are times when I can step out of the story and acknowledge what is holding me back. 


Even when it’s tough, I still care about the people I have been close with, and these thoughts are healing and reassuring. It works as a stepping stone to reconnecting. Any connection can seem painful when we have had our trust broken and feelings hurt in relationships, and sometimes it feels like the nurturing thing to do is to avoid connecting with others entirely, but I have found the opposite is true. 


May we all find connections where we can love and be loved, where we can comfort and be comforted, and where we can experience (when we are ready for it) a reciprocal journey of providing support and being supported. 


This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/