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The importance of a support system

by Kim – 4th Apr 2024

When I was about 12 and 13, I would put a lot on my friends, telling them every little problem in my life to a point where it became a strain on them and our friendship. Although I wince a little now remembering this, I don’t blame my younger self. I was struggling with a lot, but I also feel guilty that I made my friends feel quite stressed and upset feeling responsible for my feelings. I cannot change the past, so I now try and work towards maintaining healthy relationships working from my mistakes.

Strong friendships journey through both good and difficult times. I think if you care for someone, you should want to listen to their problems. Everyone struggles with problems at one time or another, and we all depend on each other for support.

So should you open up to your friends, or is that harmful? My answer is yes, definitely! Your friends should care and want to listen. They may not be able to give advice in every situation, but can be a shoulder to lean on.

However I can also see how talking to your friends almost everyday about your issues could become draining. You don’t have to fake being happy or laugh when you know you’re not feeling it, but don’t forget to also ask how your friend is, if they have any fun plans coming up, or even ask to hang out together.

It takes a village to support mental health. You should lean on friends, but also family members, teachers, professors, counsellors, and even yourself. In our lifetime, the person we will spend the most time with is ourselves. So be kind to yourself! Try some self care, counter negative self-thoughts with positive thinking, journal, practice sitting in uncomfortable feelings without engaging in self-destructive behaviours. I know it’s difficult, it’s hard to validate your own feelings and calm your thoughts down sometimes, and it can feel a lot easier to call your friend in a panic and ask for them to talk. But what if your friend is busy? For these situations, it’s good to have practices put in place to care for yourself alone.

Support systems are good because they give us variety. By being able to depend on many different people from different areas of our life, we can get lots of advice and support, and feel loved. It will also make people feel less pressure, as rather than one person providing that role it’s a plethora of people. The people in our life can also provide different roles. Friends for relaxation and fun, a counsellor for advice, teachers for academic support, etc. You can even find support in the unlikeliest of places.

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