When I was in my third year of studying medicine, things in my life started spiralling downhill. I was hardly sleeping or eating, was having trouble concentrating at university, and was feeling incredibly low and anxious about life. I was having thoughts that my flatmates were planning to have me kicked out of our house.
I felt so bad for feeling bad, when I couldn’t see any logical reason for it.
I had a great friend who I felt safe to share some of my experiences with. It was through her encouragement to talk with my doctor at student health that I finally managed to see a health professional and talk about my low mood.
Once I started on antidepressants it was my flatmates (the ones I thought wanted me kicked out) who supported me. They reminded me to eat healthily, and they kept me company when I wanted to isolate myself.
My church family gave me loving environments to retreat to when I needed time out in a family home. My pastor talked with a psychiatrist about how my church could support me best.
It didn’t get better straight away, but in time and with good supports and treatments things have improved.
My advice to someone with a friend who is struggling with their mental health is to be the best friend you can be to them. Not the best pharmacist, or doctor, therapist or parent. Do what friends do, do it well and with compassion.
Amanda Luckman is a book lover who struggles to finish books, a coffee drinker, and a person who treasures fresh air but works full time in an office at the Ministry of Health in Wellington.