Don’t judge a book by its cover…

Good afternoon everyone,

Hope you’re all feeling fine and dandy!

I really wanted to blog yesterday, but the day literally flew past.

I went to Leavers Group, which yet again turned into a disaster. I’m not too sure what it is about me, but in this group I seem to find myself in more conflicts than I do in the “outside world”. I have started to think about whether or not staying in Leavers is a good idea. Something I wish I wasn’t questioning as it’s about my recovery/management for mental health.

After the group, a couple of my friends and I went to have a coffee somewhere. However, we ended up at a restaurant deciding to have a bite to eat and an alcoholic beverage. I could only have the one, as I was driving, but it was so nice to have a cold cider in the middle of the afternoon. It’s certainly considered a treat.

We spent the afternoon chatting away, and being open about a few things. One specifically being about judging a book by its cover.

The reason this was brought up was because I was flicking through one of my friends photos on Facebook and seeing how much she had changed. I noticed so many similarities between her and myself. Almost as if you could see where mental health took a hold.

Of course, the photos of the happy go clubbing days, were just faces of someone fooling around. Someone trying to fit in and feel comfortable about themselves, a photo doesn’t show the insecurities and emotions that person was genuinely feeling.

When my friend first stepped into the therapy room, I worried as to whether or not we would get on. It’s funny how you can judge someone by the way they dress, or the colour of their hair and well, that is exactly how stigmatising works.

After all, I have piercings and tattoos and consistently change my hair style and colour, I also use a walking aid to get about. If I were to find work, they judge me on my appearance, and whether or not the “stick” will affect me in the workplace. When of course, my tattoos and piercings don’t stop me from doing the job, and if I need to alter the way things are done then for my physical health then things can be worked around. Employers just don’t see that. They worry about offending others. They worry how “you” will affect the company in terms of business. Will they lose customers etc.? Crazy!

So, when you realise that you’re doing the same, are you stigmatising people about your own illness too? Are you technically stigmatising yourself?

When we look at those around us, we instantly decide whether or not we will get on with them, without getting to know them personally.

It was only when I started giving my friend lifts to and from the community that I got to know her. Between the two of us, I’d like to think that we have helped each other a lot in regards to some stuff we ought to be discussing in therapy. We found something in common and something we both felt awkward bringing up in a group, that talking to one another was something of a replacement for that loss.

It was really helpful for us to be sitting in a restaurant discussing the thoughts and feelings we had about when we first met. To know that we all had the feeling of what the other thought when we first met. To know the anxieties between us were all there, but then most importantly to know that we worked through it and gave each other the time of day to become closer friends, and be honest enough with each other about everything.

Anyway, the hours flew by. It was a bit difficult at times when I think about it. We’d been discussing so much that we didn’t see the time go.

I think that having been in therapy, it has made me appreciate the friends I have and have made a lot more now. I have found it so hard to keep friends in the past because I’d always turn things onto me, or there would be the competitive streak between us. But the few friends I have now know who I am, and willing to give me a chance. They accept me and don’t expect me to change. The fact I have learned to speak up, and be brave about opinions I may have about something, shows I have grown as a trustworthy individual.

I know that it will be hard work. The future is uncertain in many aspects of my life, but at least I know my friends will help me day to day, to get through it.

Thanks for reading,