One thing that I had taken from my counselling sessions two years ago was that it is really important to have a circle of people you can talk to. It wasn’t really something I took into practice until the end of last year and it is only now, as I start counselling again, that I realise just how important it is.
There are three layers to this circle; a wider circle, the middle circle and your close circle. Each circle basically represents different levels of how much they know about myself and my mental health & also how much they can understand or support.
Now don’t get me wrong, just because you’re in my wider circle doesn’t mean I don’t tell you anything – it just means maybe I can’t be as vulnerable about how I am feeling or what I am thinking with you. That isn’t on you, but just something I’ve made a personal decision on. The same reason why a best friend may not even be in that circle, as maybe I don’t want you to know or see this side to me. There is also the possibility that you’re not in my circle because you can’t understand or offer me the right support that I need – that doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend though! I know it is a bit vague – but hey, that’s just how it seems to work for me.
My wider circle is a group of people who I would most likely tell drips and drabs about my mental wellbeing. They aren’t necessarily going to be my go-to people when I need someone to talk to, but also I wouldn’t hide my mental wellbeing from them. If for example, I was asked ‘How are you?’ I’m more likely going to be honest and say ‘I’m not okay’ – without going into much detail and pretty much changing the subject. I don’t really want you to prod and continue asking – I just don’t feel like you would be the best person to be having that conversation with.
The middle circle usually has the most people in it – I can pretty much be open to you about nearly everything and anything except the really deep dark secrets. I am usually a bit more embarrassed around you to talk about the darker things, so would leave that part out. I can rely on your friendship to check-up on me and to call me out when you know my ‘I’m Okay’ is a flat out lie. My middle circle helps to keep me sane and you are probably part of my daily life whether that is family, a work friend, a friend or maybe even someone in the gym.
I like to think of my inner circle as my ‘SOS team’ – these are these people that I can count on day or night to support me when I am having a bad mental health day. They are usually the the people who know everything from the good to the bad to the very bad. There is no embarrassment or shame in telling them how I am feeling, thinking or what I have done. My SOS team are the ones who I can openly say ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I had a panic attack’ but also the ones who I can rely to help talk me out of thinking the worse. I can be completely transparent.
Maybe having a Circle doesn’t work for everyone, but I can happily say it is somehow working for me. My Circle has started to get bigger and I am forever grateful for those people – if anything it has given the courage to be brave and openly talk about mental health in general. My Circle shows me how far I have come, especially when I never felt I had one. For me, it highlights a positive step in fighting my mental health.