Making friends can be difficult. Socializing can be more of a chore than a pleasure for me. And opening up, expressing emotions, and having a voice are all foreign concepts.
While my time in outpatient treatment did teach me how to work on these challenges, my college friend is the one who truly pushed me to overcome these friendship barriers.
She showed me that putting myself first won’t lead to me losing my friends. Rather, she’s shown me that true friends support self-care and self-worth and will stand by you through the hard times.
So my recommendation for anyone battling negative self-talk, perfectionism, eating disorder behaviors, isolation, anxiety, depression, or any other internal battles is this:
Find someone who will help you prioritize your mental health. Have friends who will snack with you at all your snack times. Find someone who will listen openly about your boy problems, but will always end their advice with “Is he still good for your mental health?”
The kind of friend you need:
Find someone who will normalize social eating and drinking and will silently celebrate your little victories.
Have friends who understands that needing time to recharge is normal, and going into your room to be alone doesn’t always mean you are isolating.
Find someone who is slightly more extroverted and can motivate you to get out, but that is also introverted and understanding of social burnout. Someone who can encourage you to go out on Friday night, but who will then recommend a pajama night just the two of you for Saturday.
Get a friend who doesn’t treat you like a fragile porcelain doll. You need someone who will share their own struggles and call you out when neccessary.
Find someone who sends you random Venmo money to make sure you are “treating yourself.”
Have friends who you can go weeks without properly talking to (because adult friendships are hard), but once you are reunited it’s like you were never apart.
Quality, not quantity
During my struggle with an eating disorder, I tried to uphold a lot of friendships that weren’t balanced. I put a lot of energy into toxic relationships, as ED told me these were all I was worthy of. It wasn’t until I began treatment that I allowed myself pure, supportive and balanced friendships. Once I allowed myself to be loved and supported, my recovery skyrocketed.
Having a strong support circle is vital to recovery.
And remember, the size of your circle doesn’t determine the value of the support. My inner circle consists of about six people. While it is tiny, I would always choose these few, strong friendships over a dozen more distant friends. Quality over quantity.
So get a friend who can be your rock. Find a friend who knows your needs, moods and warning signs.
And for everyone in my circle, thank you. Thank you for supporting me, understanding my recovery roller coaster, and riding next to me no matter which direction the coaster is going.