Week Two - The Trusted Circle of Friends
By Stephanie Andrews
Imagine losing a mother, grandmother and father all within a small time frame. Imagine birthing a child and becoming a new, young mom with no or very little family support. Imagine growing up with no true maternal figure and trying to raise a child of your own and at times not knowing what to do. Imagine growing up in an environment where depression and anxiety were a way of life. Imagine facing marital problems with nowhere to go or no one to talk to. Imagine dealing with post-partum depression after having your children but living in fear to talk to anyone about it so you just deal. Just imagine……life with no help, no support, no guidance and no family, what do you do? Do you just ‘deal’ or do you talk to someone about it?
Well this is a question that several of my close friends, friends that I have been close to for over 20 years, have dealt with and a question that I have sometimes had to ask myself. What is the answer, what do you do, who can you talk to without fearing someone will pass judgment on you and how you are feeling? The response came to me as why can’t we just talk to each other about this, open and honestly? I am a reader and a spiritual person so I instantly hit the books. I started digging deeper in my bible studies. I started reading books and articles on how to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety; how to handle tough situations that may occur; a lot of self-help books now adorn my shelves.
I decided to start hosting “Girl’s Night In” dinner parties as a way for us to gather as friends in a safe environment to open up and talk honestly about the issues that we were facing as women, daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. This created an atmosphere that was safe for us all to share topics ranging from job loss, depression, infidelity, child rearing, anxiety and the list goes on and on. This time has also allowed us to offer to each other how we all have handled the different situations in our lives and provide support and guidance to one another as friends should do-in a no judgment zone.
This circle of friends meet regularly. We talk regularly. We support one another. We celebrate our milestones and accomplishments. We cry together. We really have become that trusted circle of friends. If you did not have someone to turn to in what you feel is your time of need, what would you do?
I’m asking that we talk about mental health. And not only your own mental health but your friends and family’s mental health as well. Providing support, trust, open and honest conversations can truly make a world of difference. Being in a safe sharing environment is wonderful. It allowed me to open up and it allowed them to open up. This is my story. What is yours?