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Finding Community as a Person with Mental Illness

communication-1527103-1279x800Finding and keeping friends is tough for anyone.

Outside of the friendships we’ve formed in high school and college, being a young adult can be tough for finding a niche where you fit in. We’ve got things to worry about like work, relationships, activities and anything else that put a crimp in forming new friendships.

The fact is there just isn’t enough time to focus exclusively on friendships anymore.

This aspect of life is even tougher when you have a mental illness.

On top of the normal stuff people worry about we’ve got worries about social interaction, paranoia, delusions and a whole host of other things that can make relating to other people seem nearly impossible. Even further we’ve got to worry about being honest when our symptoms get the best of us, we have to be able to trust people enough to be up front about what’s going on in our heads and in our lives.

Sometimes there are days where we just don’t feel like even approaching anything social and because of that, isolation is a common problem among people with mental illness. At times it can be so much easier to just be alone than to worry about performing correctly enough in public in order to keep or even attempt to make friends.

For people with mental illness community is a foreign topic.

It doesn’t have to be so daunting though.

If and when you’re feeling up to it there are a host of communities for people with mental illness.

These communities can foster deep friendships as you discover people that share your insecurities and problems and challenges, and they can create lasting bonds simply in the solidarity of having to deal with such horrible stuff.

These communities exist in order to get us out of our own head and to create an understanding that you are not alone in your struggle.

I’ve always been in awe at how powerful it can be to be among other people that share the problems you’re going through. Sure there might be a little negative competition like “I have it the worst, no I have it the worst” but for the most part the love and understanding of people with whom you share a diagnosis can be a powerful thing.

People with mental illness can be the kindest, most gentle, most sensitive, most creative people you’ll ever meet and while it might remind you that you’re crazy to go to a support group like Schizophrenics Anonymous, it can also serve to create a deep understanding of the hardship of living with a severe incurable illness.

The coolest part is, you can say the craziest, most messed up weird stuff you can imagine and the guy across the table will be like “Yep, no big deal”. It’s like you can be wholly and completely yourself, your weird psychotic screwed up self that you don’t show the public, and people will get you.

If support groups aren’t your thing there are numerous chat rooms for people living with mental illness you can go to and not be afraid of performing socially with eye contact and body language and everything else that has the potential to distract you from being honest.

The main, major thing though is coming to terms with the realization that you are not alone, and believe me you aren’t.

Finding Community as a Person with Mental Illness

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Finding Community as a Person with Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Oct 2015
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