Today I spoke to a good friend about a problem we face as people with severe mental illness: Getting your life back after you recover. Specifically, we talked about how to restore friendships and relationships after a severe episode of psychosis.
It’s not easy, but here’s what I said, in a nutshell:
As hard as it may be, you have to accept that your behavior may have scared or offended someone. It’s not you, it’s your illness. It’s not a character flaw and you are not a failure. When you reach out to someone who you affected while ill, apologize if you frightened them or offended them. It wasn’t your fault. But it happened. Say you’re sorry.
Next, explain as much as you are able about your illness. Tell them your diagnosis so they understand. Even though mental illness is fairly common, it’s not talked about enough. Inform people about your health.
Tell people how long you’ve been recovered. This will let them know you are actively taking steps toward your health.
Not everyone will respond well. You have to accept that. In my case, I found out that some people I know simply discriminate. I don’t want them in my life, anyway, after that. Respect that some people just don’t want you in their lives.
If you take these steps, hopefully you will be able to restore needed relationships that are necessary for mental health. Good luck!