You've got a friend in me: supporting yourself and others

Reaching out to others with mental health issues: My experience I have a memory of a member of my family saying that mental illness is just a 'cry for attention' and that I should do my best to not fall mentally ill. Of course, that stuck with me and because of that, I felt like reaching out to any member of my family would be the wrong move, leaving me feeling completely lost in terms of who to turn to. Coming from an Asian family, mental health was not something openly discussed or even considered, thus I did not have the confidence to talk about my mental health with my parents because I was under the impression that they just would not understand. I decided to reach out and talk to my closest friend about the way I was feeling. I knew she had dealt with anxiety and I thought she would have a better understanding of what I was going through. It felt good to talk to someone who was really able to relate to how I was feeling, confirming that I was not alone but also validating my feelings. I knew she was only my friend and not a therapist though, and that eventually I would have to seek the help of a professional which is what I did. After a few visits to my GP, I opted to receive treatment through an online CBT program with a mental health worker checking in on my progress every week. I made sure to fill my friend in on how I felt throughout this online programme; she checked in on me and I also checked in on her. We started talking more openly about our mental health and it honestly felt freeing and, as cliché as it sounds, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. In our 10 years of friendship, I felt like we became closer than ever.

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