Welcome to part one of three…I am starting a new little ‘series’ where I will get 3 of the most important people in my life and my mental health journey to just talk a little about how it has affected them.
First of all, my best friend Ben
Ben has been my best friend for many years. We met at school, I used to go into one of the blocks and watch him play ping pong and then he would come over and make me laugh until I wanted to pee (he still does)
We have a very special friendship, I love him like a brother. I laugh, cry, smile and share all of my memories with him. He is family.
I would not have been able to get through so many things in my journey without him there to catch me on the bad days. He’s been there through the highs and the lows, the eating disorder, the anxiety, the depression and the break ups. He was always there. He’s been there from celebrating successes in life, to watching me breaking down because I didn’t want to live when I broke up with my ex.
He has watched me in these times a lot more than my other friends, I see him every week and share it all with him. He has experienced it first hand and has become a safe place for me.
That’s the thing when you are suffering, you collect all of the things or people which make you feel safe. It’s their choice if they want to stick around – Ben has, for that reason I am so lucky.
This is Bens point of view…
“I don’t actually the remember the first time I met Shannon (she clearly doesn’t mean that much to me). I reckon it was probably in Media class in high school; whilst I was being a teacher’s pet she was probably, well, doing the same. It was only when we became really close that I began to learn about Shannon’s mental health and to tell the truth, the first time I’d learnt about mental health at all. Being a young, impressionable (nerdy) young man, I can’t really recall being aware of a thing called ‘mental health’ because I nor my parents had come into contact with it and even if they had, they wouldn’t have told me.
As my friendship grew and grew with Shannon during and after our education, she became like a sister to me. I now know everything about Shannon; what her habits are, how her mind works and unfortunately, how fucking awful her farts are. This closeness meant Shannon was much more susceptible to opening up to me and in time, I began to understand how such a crippling affliction affected pretty much everyone, including me (and if you think it hasn’t, then well, you’re lying).
On the eating disorder –
She was always obsessed with her image and was constantly concerned of what people thought when they looked at her. Personally, I think the plague of social media didn’t help and I’m sure the same goes for many young girls, and boys, of that age. I always did and still do find it frustrating when Shannon asks ‘Do my legs look massive?’ or ‘Do you think I have a big belly?’. No matter how many ‘No darling, you look fine’ one-liners I pumped out, Shannon refused to believe me, or anyone else for that matter. She’s improved a hell of a lot in that sense over the years so bloody well done to her and I hope one day she will be able to see what we all see, a beautiful woman full of life.
Selfishly (or selflessly, depending on how you look it), I have always preferred talking about Shannon’s problems compared to mine because…
1) Shannon’s problems are always real problems that affect her day to day life. My latest girl problem or aggro at work doesn’t even come close to what Shannon has to deal with on a daily basis.
2) If Shannon needs to talk to me, I want her to. I never want her to feel like she can’t open up to me.
On the ‘break up’ –
The break up was a bloody awful time for Shannon. The way the whole thing unravelled was heart breaking for me to watch but obviously, a living hell for Shannon. That whole time really affected her and was a big setback on her road to recovery. She thought she had everything she needed and was convinced she was set for life; I thought the same thing for a time too. However, it didn’t work out and it really broke Shannon. I tried to be there as much as I could but the damage was already done and I hope Shannon never ever has to go through anything close to that again. However there is one big positive to take from that utter shit storm. She must take solace from the fact she got through that. She was strong, resilient and dealt with everything she faced like an adult. I can definitely say I am nowhere near strong enough to get through something like that but Shannon did, and that says a lot about her as a person.
How it affects me sometimes –
Sometimes I do feel helpless. I have gone home countless times from spending time with her asking myself ‘How can I help more?’ or ‘How can Shannon fix this?’. I have always been naive enough to believe the answer is in books – hence me buying her some sort of well-being related book EVERY Christmas and birthday (Sorry Shannon). But I think the answer to this is people. Shannon has some fantastic people in her life; a loving family, supportive colleagues, caring friends and praise the lord, an awesome boyfriend. As long as these people continue to talk and support Shannon and she continues to offload her thoughts onto them, she will one day beat this. Talking about stuff is key, NEVER bottle any problem up, no matter how big or small.
To bring this poorly written, grammatically incorrect monologue to a close, I feel incredibly blessed to have Shannon in my life. I take great comfort that whatever problem we face in life, we will share it and tackle it together. I am overwhelmingly proud of Shannon. She plays herself down but deals with so much shit and just keeps on going. I know one day she will beat this, she is way stronger than she thinks.
(Now she promised she’d pay me for this interview and she ‘claims’ she sent a cheque in the post. Let this post go on record, I HAVE NOT BEEN PAID. I will be suing).”
Sometimes I forget that there are other people involved in my journey, as much as I care for others sometimes I am so absorbed in everything in my mind that I forget about my friends and family for that split second. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to listen to my family, my friends, their stories. I want to get better for me primarily but for others too, like Ben. Someone who has always put up a fight for me, for that Ben, I thank you.