• Mike Douglas

Online Friends to just Friends


It's Friday night, time to live it large!

Well, mmmm. Yes. I suppose errrr...yes....

Well, I'm at home. In sweat-pants. I've eaten pizza, half my pick'n'mix. I'm drinking cola straight from the bottle. Something's going to be large and it's not my night haha. Before you start think rude things I'm talking about my belly!

I am so thankful for my online buddies, that have become simply buddies. I'm talking about Laura, Simba, Liv, Kay, Rich (who my phone always wants to call Rick. Even though I don't know any Ricks!) and a few more. These guys have been amazing support for me lately. Our discussion topics are quite diverse, and I think that says a lot, that we are able to talk openly about things we know, think, have experienced and those we have no idea about.

I don't usually do name drops because, as Rich has mentioned in his #FF blog (http://www.richbiscuit21.wordpress.com/) I feel guilty for not mentioning everyone. Particularly when there's so many people I have spoken to and who have been helpful in many different ways. However right now I don't want that to stop me mentioning these guys specifically. Plus I just need to write something positive right now. I feel on the edge of a negative spell, so I'm focusing on the positive.

These cool dudes have all been on Mike's Open Journal Podcast (on iTunes and acast) too, so you may have even heard the first time we spoke!

I also realised today that this month is the one year anniversary of meeting Sarah online. It has been a manic year, so many discussions; mental health, medication, boobies, penis', weddings, family, relationships, dating, homes, ideologies and after all that she only found out my 'real' name last month haha.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to Sarah for being there to support me though those dark thoughts. For telling me cutting is not what you want to do, "this will pass, keep talking to me". She has shown me when I'm overthinking (not that that stopped me) and when I've maybe not thought of something in a different way.

This beautiful woman is amazing and I am so looking forward to finally meeting Sarah & her sexy husband Oli in around a months time. May our friendship continue and continue. I may even get to meet some of my other buddies as I'll be attending the #MHmeet while I'm in Manchester.

I have realised that I have / am pushing some friends away. It's hard because some times you, I, want or need to be alone. Then when I want to be with people I don't have the motivation to organise something, which previously I would have done. It's hard, I guess over time we change and our relationships change. I feel like I have started to invest much more in online relationships. Possibly for a few reasons.

The obvious of a new friend is always interesting, but also maybe I feel more protection with online friends. There isn't the long history, if I really wanted to I could stop talking to them or even block them (I haven't done this yet though haha). I think I also feel more of a connection with these people because we have a shared experience and that experience is usually an extreme one. You know when you made amazing friends when you were little at summer camp or on a holiday active programme? Or like they pretend to on reality tv? It's because it's an experience, it's extreme and it changes you in ways you don't fully know or understand. It's kind of like that. We all have an experience with the mental health demon. (S)he has affected us in different ways and appears in different forms. But we have all battled this bitch and we continue to win (sticking with the positive vibe).

It is them that I often talk to after I've had a episode or when I'm struggling. I need my fellow warriors.

It's times like this I also feel bad though. I realise for all the talk about mental health stigma. It is me that carries something of a stigmatised view, in that my other friends wouldn't or couldn't understand in the same way. I realised this and I do try to tackle this, it's just hard sometimes to talk about sometime you don't fully understand, and often I feel so much less of a person when talking about it. Now I know I shouldn't and I know most of my friends wouldn't think this. But that doesn't stop that being the way I feel.

I suppose the fact there is a physical distance between me and my new buddies may also help. My 'relationship' issues are kind of avoided by not becoming too close. Although I have already had a conversation with Sarah about pushing her away because we became close friends. I believe my worry is linked to issues around trust and people being there for me. I don't want to lose them, so I push them away before they have a chance to leave. That can be really hard to deal with, and in itself encourages new short term relationships. So I fight to hold on to these guys. They are my support network and I hope I am able to be part of there's. More than that I think of them as my 'real' friends. Not 'online' ones.

So, in short thank you, all of you! Especially Sarah, Laura, Kay, Liv, Simba and Rich.


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