Mental health: recognizing and disengaging with toxic friendships (Opinion)

Welcome to The Mav’s mental health editorial series: The Patchwork Project

Anonymous, Writer

All opinions are those of the writers themselves and do not promote any official view or stance of Mead High School or St. Vrain Valley Schools.

The house that I grew up in was not so different from the characters we read about in books or watch on Thursday night sitcoms. I grew up with two parents, a sister, and a few dogs that came and went throughout my childhood. I’m thankful I had loving parents who raised me to be what I hope is a good person. The things that I’ve had a hard time with as I got older have centered more around the people around me in my school environment.

I love the friends I’ve had in my life in the past, but I had some negative experiences within friendships that made coming to school harder than it ought to be. A middle school friend made several body image comments directed at me that I should have clocked as a red flag long before it ever got bad. I was pretty small and some of the remarks she made about my size got me in ways I wouldn’t realize the gravity of until years later.

The thing that got me out of that situation was sitting myself down and thinking long and hard about the things in my life that should make me happy. I remember sitting in the library thinking about how my friends treat me versus how I think I should be treated.

After that, I spoke with some close, healthy friends and eventually a teacher I was close with about my situation. This gave me the strength to put some space between toxic friends. Doing that was the best thing I could have done for myself. 

I’ve learned a lot since then. Eventually, I realized that your immediate mental health is something that you have control over no matter what anyone tells you. Though that responsibility can put people in a tough situation, you have the power to make your emotional wellbeing better in some ways. You have the power to reach out to someone; a teacher, a counselor, and even a parent if you’re able to and feel comfortable doing so.

If someone were to take anything away from my experience with mental health, it’s that no matter what your situation is, reaching out to someone and taking the weight off yourself will only do you good. It’s a hard thing to reach out and speak up for yourself but it’s worth it. I promise.

Opening up to someone doesn’t weigh them down with your problems, it just gives them the chance to deal with difficulties alongside you until you’re able to put yourself above it.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for support when you need it. That does not make you any less strong, any less capable, or a burden to those around you.