Q:I have a friend who just got out of the hospital after being held there for a week. My plan is essentially to treat her normally (I've already let her know I missed her), but I'm worried I might accidentally say something that will trigger her or something. Any advice?
Your plan to treat your friend normally is a good one, and is probably going to make her feel a lot more comfortable transitioning back into everyday life. And it’s also great that you don’t want to trigger or upset her; everyone could use a good friend like you!
There’s actually a super simple solution to your dilemma: talking about it. I figure you already know this, but knowing just what to say can be a little tricky. I think the best way to talk about something like this is to be straightforward. First, make sure you’re in a quiet space away from prying ears and eyes. You could start by restating how glad you are to see her back, or delve right into it. Let her know of your plans to treat her normally, then ask if there’s anything you should do/not do in order to make her feel more comfortable or avoid triggering her. Lastly, extend an invitation for your friend to talk to you if she ever needs to.
It should sound something like this: “Hey (friend), I know I’ve said this before but I’m glad to have you back! I want to treat you normally now that you’re here, but I don’t want to accidentally say something that could trigger or upset you. Is there anything you’d prefer I not do or say so we can achieve that? And I hope you know that you can always come and talk to me about anything if you ever need it.”
That’s it! Communication is essential in every friendship, and your friend is very lucky to have someone who is wiling to communicate with them.
Q:I've been clean from self harm for a while now, but at the moment only my cousin knows that I used to self harm and found out by accident. I want to tell my other close friends because hiding scars all the time is frustrating, but I don't know how.
We actually have a special page dedicated to this!!
If you do decide to tell your friends in person, you should make sure you go to a place where you’re comfortable, like your room or a friend’s room not a crowded cafeteria or something like that. If it’s just the two of you (or the group of you), it’s probably going to be easier to let them know.
The important thing is to go in with some idea of what you’re going to say and make sure you’re comfortable with the situation.
Q:I hate being judged for having a mental illness. I hate that when I slip up and cut when I'm doing my best to recover they get angry and say I'm not trying. What can I say to them? I am trying and I just wish they would accept that it's hard and I still care even when I do screw up.
Trust me, I know that feel, bro. My family (and even my therapist sometimes) thinks I “should be recovered by now”. But the truth is that yes, I have a long way to go, but I have made SIGNIFICANT progress. So have you. People tend to think recovery looks like this, but really it looks more like this.
A lot of people, however, don’t seem to know this. Society as a whole is very judgmental of mental illness, and many people don’t understand why people can “just do” various things. People right now judge others for mental illness, but there is hope yet. Mental illness is, slowly but surely, becoming less stigmatized. It won’t always be this way.
The main thing to say— or do, rather— is proof that you’re trying. Tell them how you plan to recover (see our guide to reducing self-harm). The other main thing to say is how they can help you. They may blame you because they feel out of control of the situation, but if you encourage them to do things that you know will help you (distract you when you’re triggered, etc.) they may feel more motivated to encourage your recovery in ways that are helpful to you. Because while they may seem angry and blaming, know that in reality, they just want to see you succeed.
You are trying. You know you are trying, we know you’re trying. It’s really fucking hard. People these days don’t tend to acknowledge this, but mental illness is really, really hard to recover from. You’re not alone. If you see a therapist or counselor, ask them about medication. If you don’t see anyone, please ask your parents or a trusted adult (such as a school counselor) if you can make an appointment. Therapy (and medication) can make a HUGE difference in your life. You’re not in this alone.
Another note (sorry for all the posts today)
Feel free to share your recovery story, how CR has helped you, or even something good that happened to you today. Tag it with #chooserecovery and maybe we’ll reblog it!
Any more (non-advice) questions for the CRew’s Q&A?
Yesterday (Sept 12, 2014) officially marked three months of being clean from self-harm.
Today (Sept 13, 2014) is day one of yet another month of my recovery.
I am stronger than I thought. I am stronger than I know. I am light and fire and steel. I am warmth and dreams and creativity. I am words and love and life. I am alive and living and recovering.
Choose recovery, my friends. Choose life.