The quirky and delightful Mindfump has requested stories about supportive and inspirational individuals in the world of mental health recovery. I have been blessed with a few such individuals – but there is one gorgeous soul who immediately comes to mind.

Last year I was in a terrible place.

I’d fallen down a dark and dirty hole and it was awfully jolly lonely there. I wasn’t sure I could ever find my way back… Having never expected to develop major mental health issues, I didn’t have the required skills, coping mechanisms, or support networks to move forward. All those things were there for me to reach out and access. I had no idea how.

I have a group of fabulous friends, but can’t bear to be a burden. I would rather blow a million ridiculous scenarios completely out of proportion in my head than darken a friend’s day with my weird worries. A burden shared can be a burden on both parties. A burden I couldn’t bear to bear.

One of my beautiful friends however, not only provided a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but her own shoulders are strong enough to bear my burdens without distress. She can empathise –  genuinely listen and hear – without turning my problems into her own. She has perspective and understanding and life experience. When she hears problems, she listens, reflects and offers thoughts without judgment. She’ll hold your hand, offer a hug, or ask if you’d like a prayer said. She can look you in the eye and know something is not okay – with no word spoken. She’ll ask you to stay – just a little longer – to hear what’s going on. She can listen to suicidal thoughts and make no judgment, then say, “I would be sad if you died.”

I would be sad if you died.

There aren’t many people it is possible to talk suicidal thoughts with. Practically nobody really. Having one such soul is an absolute gift. I can trust her. I trust everything she says is her truth. I believe that if I died, she would be sad.

When someone is suicidal, those kind of statements keep a last little link to the land of the living. Someone would be sad if I wasn’t here any more. Those six little words kept me grounded an extra day. Every day counts.

She also had faith in me. She believed in me – and my capacity for recovery – long before I could even contemplate such positivity. When I couldn’t care for myself, she cared. When I couldn’t believe in myself, she believed. She saw me in my darkest, ugliest moments – starving, depressed, self-harming and suicidal. Sick, crying, unkempt, anxious and panicked. Never an ounce of judgment ever crossed her face.

We may not have been friends a long time, but her kindness in my darkest moments was a guiding light. If I fall, she will offer a helping hand. If I’m standing upright, she will be my friend – sharing her own wins and worries – loves and losses. She knows when to focus solely on my issues. She knows when we can just be friends. She knows. She is my friend. And I will always be so incredibly grateful for the calm hand that guided the faint glow as I slowly, but surely, started crawling out of that dark hole.

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