When Friends Don’t Accept Your Mental Illness

March 4, 2013 Chris Curry

If you told one of your friends that you had cancer, there is almost no chance that they would respond with ‘oh, it’s probably all in your head.’ But for some reason, that is a common sentiment when it comes to mental illness. Especially the less ‘in-your-face’ ones such as depression and anxiety.

You’ve told them about your mental illness but they deny that it’s real. If they do accept that it’s real, they deny just how serious it is. Or even worse, they mock others with a mental illness, all the while not realizing that they are in fact mocking you as well.If your friends don't accept your mental illness, then are they really your friends?

Are They Really My Friends?

There comes a point in a relationship such as this where you have to ask yourself ‘are they really my friends?’ Only you can answer this question. And it’s a tough one to answer.

When I got my mental health conditions under control, I noticed that a lot of friends sort of disappeared. They were no longer interested in hanging out with me if I wasn’t going to be doing all the ridiculous things I used to do. If I wasn’t living on the edge, they had no use for me.

But when I started to meet new people, who accepted me for who I was, I knew that I had found my real friends. They are people who knew my past and believed in my future. People that I guarantee would come visit me if I should ever be admitted to a psychiatric hospital again. They are people that would challenge someone who was mocking a person with a mental illness.

Have You Stood Up?

If you have recently ‘stood up’ and disclosed your mental illness and lost a friend, then that is enough proof that they were never your friend to begin with. No one would abandon a friend for having cancer and a true friend would never abandon someone for having a mental illness.

If you have faced a lost friendship due to disclosing your mental illness, please do not despair. It says a lot more about them than it does about you.

You are a strong, caring, passionate and loving person. And there are many people in the world who would count their lucky stars to call you a friend.

Go and find these people. You deserve to be treated with compassion, respect and understanding.

After all, you have a mental illness.

You’re not crazy.

Chris Curry's website is here. Chris is also on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

APA Reference
Curry, C. (2013, March 4). When Friends Don’t Accept Your Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Chris Curry

Sandra L. Flaada
March, 9 2013 at 10:36 am

I have had this experience and you are right--I thought it was me. Thank you for straightening this out. I no longer need to wonder why this friend is not in my life any longer.

March, 9 2013 at 11:11 am

My brother told me I should probably try to get off some or all of these meds I take because of the expense and they did not seem to really be doing any good maybe the opposite.He is a very non-communicative person and doesn't like to talk about anything.I already am feeling bad about myself because of the meds and I don't think he even knows that I have developed very bad arthritis also.He has hardly ever been sick a day in his life and was a real jerk to my folks when he was younger.

Linda Baron Katz
March, 11 2013 at 6:59 am

I agree Chris. I use to have the same problem of deciding who was my friend and who was not. I also had trouble when I was single because every time I told the guy about my mental illness, he ran away from me and all the men thought of was whether or not I could have children as if that was the most important thing in a relationship. Some did not want to date me because they were afraid of what their parents would say. It was not until I joined NAMI, that my life began to change. I started dating people who had a mental illness because I knew they could understand what I was going through. Finally, I met a man that has a mental illness and eventually started to date him and got married. He is compassionate, sincere, and understands me when I am going through my ups and downs. I do the same thing to him. Therefore, we balance each other out.

Anthony Daconti
April, 24 2013 at 9:38 pm

I have been down this road before. You really do need the courage to believe that friends who mock your mental illness may not be friends at all. However, a friend who accepts your mental illness certainly deserves the title of friend.
May, 17 2013 at 3:53 am

Hey there, my name's Jeffery and I sometimes blog about this subject too. Actually, if I may, let me ask you something.. Could it just be me or does it look as if some of the responses seem like they are coming out of brain dead folks? :-P Also, if you happen to be on additional social network sites like web 2.0 site list, I'd like to
keep in contact. Could you post a list of all of your shared sites like
your Twitter, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

Paul Shtogryn
May, 27 2013 at 9:25 pm

If they don't then obviously they were never your friend in the first place.

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August, 6 2013 at 5:37 am

This happened to me about three years ago with a coworker, we were really good friends. I am not really over it at all. Everytime I see her I feel so ashamed, so embarassed, so inadequate in her eyes. But, I just have to keep reminding myself how terrible it would be to be fooled into thinking she was a true friend for any longer.

Ellen Stockdale Wolfe
August, 6 2013 at 5:50 am

I have not only had this experience but I have had anger and hate thrown out at me by a family member reading my memoir and blog. I will abide by my therapist's and social worker's suggestion to have nothing to do with this family member. Some people have not looked at their own problems and are terribly threatened by the revelation of one's mental illness.

August, 6 2013 at 5:58 am

a friend of 30 years told me she was trying to understand my mental illness but I knew deep down she just couldn't accept it. She figured it was just an excuse for the crazy things I did- mostly spending way to much money. That I attempted suicide because I didn't want to face the consequences. It was little things she would say. But when i found out what she was saying about me to others it really hurt..sorry to say we are no longer friends.

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Lee-Ann Groenewald
August, 7 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hi. I would like to respond to Jeffery's comment ( May 2013), regarding the "brain dead respondents". Brother I share your concern. This, however, is my first visit to the forum. I am not familiar with the background (psychographics, demographics etc. etc.) of participants and therefore cannot be presumptuous or judge/mental. It would be great to have some kind of history. Thanx.

August, 8 2013 at 8:50 am

I recently came out of a 2 year depressive episode. Probably the worst I've ever experienced. I lost 2 of my closest, dearest friends. One of which I had been best friends with for 22 years. While she "dumped" me almost a year ago, I am still so heart broken. I had always held her in such high regards. She was my daughter's Godmother. We were so close. I had many stress' during that 2 years (constant fear of loss of job, dealing with mental illness of my teenage daughter, a relationship with a man whose adult children hated me). I finally got the courage to break up with my boyfriend, finally lost my job, and after a almost successful suicide attempt, my daughter final got the proper treatment and medication. She's in college now doing great! My friend of 22 years believes I am a drug addict because of the "cocktail" of meds I take (which helped me finally find remission). Who do I share those memories with? I look at the pictures and remember all the good time and just cry. It boils down for both friends that I couldn't give them the attention they wanted from me. I'm a recent empty nester and single, I feel so lonely. I'm afraid to get close with anyone again. I can't take the pain.

January, 12 2014 at 7:39 am

I suffer the same plite. People are so judgmental. At 34 I've never had a true friend. People use mentally ill people for sex, money etc. then dump us. Ive never had a good man in my life either. Including my father. Everyday I wish I could die. But deep inside I dont want to. I just want to be loved and accepted.

April, 16 2014 at 5:16 pm

I had this experience with an ex. He was my best friend for a long time too. What really hurt was that he would rather believe I was being lazy and using him than to believe I actually was dealing with a serious illness.

May, 22 2014 at 12:09 pm

Friends? I was silent for a long time, virtually withdrew from all social activities. Did anyone wonder or ask? No. I finally reached out to a couple people and told them about my panic anxiety and near agoraphobia. One ignored me completely, even though I added some good family news hoping for congrats. The other said "sorry to hear about your anxiety, let's keep in touch." Over a month has gone by, not a word. I give up with hoping for a hand held out in friendship to me. Even a short e mail of how ya doing would help. But no. What are they afraid of, catching something? If I ever get well, a wall of caution will be surrounding me.

Andrea Paquette
May, 24 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hi Demetria, I feel for your situation and totally understand where you are coming from. These two individuals are obviously lacking in knowledge thus creating a lack in empathy. However, I hope that you won't build your wall of caution too high and too strong. I did that for awhile, but as I surrounded myself with others that had similar experiences and people that were open to learning about my illness, I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn't have to be too cautious. It was just me being afraid of being hurt and there are many people out there that will love you for who you are. Sometimes we just have to give them a chance. :)

March, 30 2016 at 8:41 am

Guys stop worrying about others and start focusing on yourselves.
Everyone has issues in their lives but some dont meet the DSM criteria.
Focus on the positives in your life and be your own best friend. X

April, 17 2016 at 2:20 pm

I am happy to have found this blog. I'm going through this right now and it sucks.
When I was finally diagnosed, I was a wreck. My life crashed and I was "treatment resistant" which only made it worse. It took me a very long time until I was even well enough to realize WTH was going on. I also had so many physical issues at the time too, so was in and out of hospitals.
Because of all of that and having everyone walk away, I just withdrew more. Pretty much agoraphobic at this point.
There was one time I met a woman from my friend's school and our kids played a lot. We hung out a few times, I thought it was nice. Then the BP came up somehow. Before I knew it, she had unfriended me on FB, would not let my son play with hers anymore, and even told some other moms. I was devastated and withdrew again.
So the problem is that I don't even really know any of the moms at my son's school and he is 9. And I am feeling a little better and have realized how lonely I am. The moms are probably thinking "she is so weird, I've never even seen her". How do I go about meeting people who may or may not know about my MH, and have never had a conversation with me? It seems so daunting and I have great experience building walls. If I feel someone is withdrawing for any reason, I push them away first.
I am unsure how to go about this and that just makes me more anxious and panicky.
Any tips for me?

February, 11 2019 at 8:48 pm

I had one friend. One. She always degraded me for my mental illness. She knew I didn't have any other support system. She didn't let me talk to other people about her at all, so it took a long time before I opened up to someone about how she was treating me. When I finally did, my doctor informed me that she had been abusing me.
Soon after this discovery, I learned that I am terminally ill. She disowned me after finding out. I guess she just didn't want to deal with the stress of a dead friend?
I'm all alone now. I wonder why I was ever even born. Jesus is all I have.

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