When I am depressed or full of anxiety, when I can’t do anything to get myself off the couch, when all I can do is lie in a foetal position, all curled up in my misery – the last thing I want is human contact. And so I know, if I want to fight the illness, if I want to be In Recovery Me, then the thing I must do is cultivate relationships with other people.
Right now, search in your mind and think of three people with whom you have relationships; Big or little. What comes to mind for me are the two people I live with – my son, Dominic and my husband, Bill. And for my third person, I chose a little relationship – I’m thinking of the woman at my gym who works on reception. Her name is Amanda. Having thought of these people, I now resolve that today I will cultivate these relationships. I will nurture them. I will be a GOOD friend.
It is early morning and already I have made my husband a cup of tea in bed. This is good. This makes me feel good about myself. And ultimately this is what we want from our friendships; Positive energy that you put out and then it reflects back.
It’s all very scientific you know. When we work on our friendships we release a lovely chemical called Oxytocin. It is a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain. Oxytocin is sometimes known as the "cuddle hormone" or the "love hormone," because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially. My favourite description is that it is the “Tend and Befriend” chemical; Rather than adrenalin and cortisol which are “Fight or Flight.”
But what if you are thinking – I don’t have any friends? Well this simply isn’t true. Each person you encounter in the day can be classified as a friend of some sort.
You will have your best friends; ones with whom you share secrets and days out. And then you will have your acquaintance friends. These would include people like the bus driver, the girl at the corner shop, the receptionist at the doctors, and for me – the woman at the gym. These are people you encounter throughout your day. If you think of them as friends you will invest in your relationship with them. You will be friendly and this is what helps to lift depression. Taking the focus off you and putting it onto someone else.
My mother told me at her knee – “if you want a good friend, then be a good friend.” Wise advice. The best way to make friends is to be friendly. Resolve right now that today you are going to be friendly. Send a FB message, make someone a cup of tea, and use someone’s name when you address them. It doesn’t take much. But by doing this we can banish depression and anxiety; back into the corner of your mind to gather cobwebs. No matter where you are on the mental health spectrum – happy or sad, you can take energy and put it into making the people around you feel happy.
Simply be friendly.
Have a great day. A day In Recovery Me.
About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother AND FRIEND of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.