This article explores symptoms that complicate interpersonal relationships and interfere with pro-social interactions. There are many diagnoses that have symptoms that further complicate our social lives when socialization is what’s needed the most for moving forward in the recovery process. A full recovery is possible for people carrying a serious mental health diagnosis with meaningful friendships, time spent socializing and having plain wholesome fun.
This becomes complicated and a struggle for diagnosed individuals with symptoms that cultivate feelings of isolation or even worse, delusional content or hallucinations activating displays or bizarre behavior. This article will discuss ways of coping with symptoms that complicate friendships and strain support systems. As always, discuss these skills with a therapist or psychiatrist before implementing them in your life.
If you carry a mental health diagnosis, you are hopefully already seeking out social supports and evaluating which supports are true allies in your recovery and radically embrace your diagnosis. Some friends may say they support you, like all friends do with or without a diagnosis, but will one bout of mania, bizarre behavior, and incorporation of them or other content into a delusional system scare your ally in recovery? Some behavior warrants immediate police intervention beyond the support of a friend. If you threaten an ally and put them at risk of harm; that friend must and should call the authorities.
There are many symptoms that truly make pro-social interaction more complex to navigate. Unfortunately, during the recovery process, planning and preparedness will only go so far with alerting friends to possible problems associated with your particular set of symptoms. Remember, some old symptoms will manifest unpredictably and new ones may emerge during your recovery. Understanding this will go a long way in reducing possible resentment and anger from allies that may hold you accountable for unexplainable behaviors or symptoms you aren’t prepared to effectively manage interfering with the relationship.
But where is the line drawn? This hopefully will be a mutual decision based on how comfortable your friend is with your symptoms and how satisfied you are with the support you receive from your friend. Sometimes, like all relationships, the decision will not be mutually. Be prepared for that sobering possibility. There is no question that friends of someone carrying a mental health diagnosis deserve our unconditional radical acceptance of their symptoms and their journey toward recovery.
Begin to evaluate the level of empathy and understanding you get during an episode and when you are at baseline. Don’t wait to evaluate a friends response to your behavior until you are in crisis. As always, when this journey puts you or anyone at risk of harm never hesitate to contact the authorities. You are not only preserving the safety of your friend but allowing your friend to continue on in their recovery without risk of further harm.