Quantcast

How To Maintain Your Mental Health & Sustain Healthy Friendships At The Same Time

Everyone's going through it. Here's how to deal.

What About Your Friends?

It would be a complete lie if I told you that I was fine; even as I write this, I'm not fine. As a Black woman with pre-existing mental health issues on top of financial burdens, constant fear for my life and being afraid of being in a room with more than 10 people at a time, I can confidently say that life has been pretty stressful. One of the most stressful parts about all of this is that my relationships have suffered, and I don't necessarily mean my romantic relationship.

Throughout the past few months, my best friend and I have been going through a rough patch. Granted, all friends do at some point or another, but we were just mentally and emotionally no longer in sync. I began to retract from her, not vocalize what was going on inside of my own head and bury myself in my work. Not because I had any ill will towards her, but because I felt as though she was doing the same - not talking to me.

In my head, if I'm not your person anymore, you don't have the privilege of being mine. Selfish, but unfortunately true.

Little did I know, she was lowkey feeling the same way about me. Small misunderstandings translated into escalated arguments; we would go for days without speaking and our friendship had only functioned simultaneously for the first time in months when we put together a digital conference. All of the RSVPs and YouTube replays could not compensate for our true underlying issues in our friendship. Even with our first successful business partnership, it was a very surface-level friendship and we never spoke with one another about our personal lives.

While trying to keep my mental health afloat, I feel this innate obligation to always check on everyone around me and constantly be in go-mode. Truth be told, I needed someone to check in on me and I needed to be a better mental health accountability partner. Pulled from my own personal experience, check out my advice on maintaining your mental health and healthy friendships when everyone is going through it:

Ask Each Other How You’re Doing And Mean It:

Giphy

It's easy to send a "Wyd" or "What's up?" text when starting off a conversation, but when you're asking, be genuine. If you're not ready to actually have your friend possibly unload and you're just asking how they are for a meaningless segue into the heart of the conversation, I suggest not asking. Mental health check-ins are extremely important in functional healthy relationships, especially during heightened times of racial injustice and social distancing, so make time for one another to truthfully spill the tea on how you're actually doing.

Give Each Other Grace:

Everyone is going through it right now - especially as a Black woman. My best friend works a full-time 9-5 and I'm a full-time freelancer so, needless to say, we've both got our hands full. Give yourself and your friend time to feel everything that you're feeling and know that everything you're feeling is completely valid. If they don't answer your text messages or FaceTime calls when you expect them to, that doesn't mean that they no longer f*ck with you. If it's been a couple of days, sure it's normal to be concerned, but extend the olive branch and allow them to reach out when they're ready. It's OK to want to be there for your friend, but don't be too pushy or overbearing.

Open And Honest Communication Is Key:

66.media.tumblr.com

If you're anything like me, you don't like to talk about your problems in your friendship or face them because then the problems don't exist; they are merely a figment of your imagination. However, failing to communicate doesn't solve problems, it creates them. Don't be afraid to bring your concerns about the friendship to one another, even if it means a few awkward pauses in between monologues. This person is your friend for a reason, so you should be able to come to them about anything - especially if this is your best friend and your main confidant. It's always tough to be honest about some snags in your friendship - I mean, look at Issa and Molly. Once you tap into that open communication and honesty, the hard part of actually addressing the problem head-on is over.

This Is Your Friend, Not Your Enemy:

Admittedly, my best friend and I have both been extremely moody, but it's not because of one another. Life is happening and it's happening to the both of us individually, which translates and trickles into our friendship with each other. Just because you may feel as though everything is slowly crumbling at the tips of your fingers, that doesn't mean that your friendship has to. I don't know who needs to hear this, but your friend is your friend for a reason. They're there to help and support you through whatever you're going through and they're not the bad guy here.

You're battling your own demons and it takes a lot of inner strength. Sometimes battling internally can alter your reality, including who is against you and who's for you. One thing I can assure you of is, projection is real, but don't create problems with your friend and push them away just because you're going through something. That's not fair to them.

Put Yourself Before The Friendship:

66.media.tumblr.com

This sounds backwards, I know, but hear me out. You can't pour from an empty cup and you can't drive a car with an empty tank. Take time to assess where you are in life, where you want to be, and what kind of friend you can afford to be to everyone without stressing yourself out. Be honest about your ability to be a friend to others if you're not truly taking care of yourself. Once all of your ducks are in a row, you can swim on down through any body of water. Until then, you can expect to drown before you get to the deep end.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Shutterstock

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Getty Images

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less

SZA is no stranger to discussing her mental health struggles and her experiences with anxiety. In 2021, the “Good Days” singer tweeted about having “debilitating anxiety” that causes her to shield away from the public. Unfortunately, she still has those same struggles today and opened up about it during Community Voices 100th episode for Mental Health Awareness Month. While SZA enjoys making music, she’s not a fan of the spotlight, which may be surprising to many.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts