Build healthy relationships

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I used to hold people at arm’s length. I was afraid of letting anyone in too close because I hated who I was and didn’t wanted others to truly see me; then I’d be alone.

I moulded myself to fit the type of friend I thought those around me wanted. In junior high, I agreed with the friend I spent the most time with that female masturbation was disgusting. I went to parties because my boyfriend wanted to go, even though I hated being in houses crowded with strangers and couldn’t stand having nothing to do but drink and look around for a cat or dog I could pet.

In my early 20s, I met a woman about 10 years my senior through a vegan meet-up group. She started inviting me to events at her home, which led to us frequently chatting via Facebook messenger, be babysitting her kid and her helping me out with rides and groceries. She was openly flawed and I still loved her. Even when I fucked up, she still loved me and I became comfortable being vulnerable and real. I knew she wouldn’t ditch me if I had a different opinion than her, as long as I was respectful.

That woman completely changed my life. I learned what a real, healthy friendship looks like and began striving to model all my relationships after what I had with her. I weeded out the people who weren’t good for my mental health; the ones who didn’t understand I needed time away from my phone and expected me to always be there for them, but who were seldom there for me.

I started being more honest and finding ways to be a good friend despite my anxiety. Opening up allowed the people around me to support me in the ways I didn’t know I had needed and that anxiety lessened. On the worst days, I knew I had people who I could talk to, people who cared and would understand.

Relationships of all kinds are difficult when you struggle with your mental health, but they’re incredibly important for coping and recovering. My number one tip for people with anxiety disorders is to find and develop meaningful friendships to help get you through.

I’ve started a private Facebook group for anxious creatives to chat about what’s going on with their work and lives, ask for advice and give support. If you’re interested in joining, send the email attached to your Facebook account to me at megjcrane@gmail.com and I’ll add you!


So many things are wrong with my brain, which is making blogging difficult. If anyone is interested in guest-posting about their experience as an anxious creative, tips for dealing with the struggle or explanations of different types of treatment, email me at megjcrane@gmail.com.

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To hell with everyone

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It’s now been two months since I felt like me regularly. While I feel like I’m living in reality more often now, I’m still often floating off somewhere, barely holding onto the real world. Some of the thoughts I’ve had and the things I’ve said have been so outrageous, I scare myself a little. My memory is shot and I frequently forget things I’ve done, arguing with my mom that she threw out my bowl of donuts when actually I put it away in the most ridiculous cupboard.

But, in some ways, my broken brain is benefiting me. Breaking some of my old bad habits is easier than it was before. I know that when my brain heals and the fogginess lifts, something about who I was has changed. The biggest difference is that I’m becoming a selfish bitch, and I’m totally okay with it.

They say being lonely when you’re in a romantic relationship is worse than being lonely when you’re single. I’ve been there and it does suck. But what’s far worse is being lonely when you know you have plenty of friends.

Before the accident, I complained to my therapist that I was so busy because so many people wanted to see me all the time. I was stressed from juggling all my friendships. With this concussion, I’ve barely heard from many of the people who used to fill my time.

I realized a lot of this time I was sharing with friends was actually me helping them. I spent hours driving people around, listening to their problems and organizing to get them the help they needed. All the while, I was leaving so little time to take care of myself, I probably needed help as much as they did. But I knew they’d do the same for me if ever I asked. At least, that’s what I allowed myself to believe.

The truth hurts. In this case, it’s made for one of the most painful times in my life. I asked my friends for visits or friendly mail to cheer me up through the monotonous days of lying on a heating pad on the floor, listening to podcasts when I could and sitting in silence when the headache, lightheadedness and dizziness settled in. Based on the minuscule response I receive, I realized that what I thought were friendships were too one-sided to be called such.

I’m fully aware that some friends, true friends, haven’t been around because their lives are so busy, they can’t give more of themselves up to someone else. “Have at least a couple of people been here for you?” one friend asked, unapologetic that this was only her second visit despite my public admissions of depression and loneliness.

I know pre-accident Meg would have resented her lack of guilt. In fact, even a few weeks after the accident I was outraged that some of my closest friends hadn’t even really tried to get in touch. But, now, I just feel admiration. And jealousy.

Amidst my embarrassing monologues explaining how doing anything—looking at my phone, listening to music, cooking—makes me feel faint and nauseous, I’ve been asked for favours. And I’ve unapologetically said “No,” despite wanting to say “Yes” and then “Are you fucking kidding me?”. After the inner outburst of rage that someone would dare ask me to physically or mentally exert myself for them right now, I came to understand that it’s solely my responsibility to know when I’m available to help, just as it’s my responsibility to know when I need to ask for help.

Saying “Yes” isn’t automatic anymore and it’s easier for me to say “No” to going out of my way to help someone who hasn’t earned a place in my heart. As my brain heals, I’m hoping this becomes it’s new way of functioning and one day I can ditch all the guilt I feel about putting me and the people dearest to me first, and everyone else dead last.

Having friends is stressful af

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As much as I pretend that I hate everyone, I actually accumulate a lot of friends. There are the people I’ve known since high school who I sometimes fall in and out with, but who know me so dang well and love me despite all my flaws. There’s my vegans who I met more recently but who I feel totally and completely at home with. And then there are all the folks who I meet through my job, either from planning rad events with them, tabling next to them at sales or becoming fascinated with them during an interview or while editing their writing.

This support system has been invaluable. I have people to get angry with and folks to cry with. When I’m at my lowest point and need a laugh, I know exactly who to call. And, in turn, these people call me when they need something, making me feel useful and like a valuable part of their life.

But these relationships have also been a huge source of stress and anxiety.

Friendships take work. Even when things are going good, it’s rare to have someone who you can go months or even years without speaking to and then pick up exactly where you left off. There are about a dozen people who I’d love to see on a weekly basis and another dozen folks who I’d love to get to sit down with at least monthly. And I can tell the desire to chill is mutual by all the texts, Facebook messages and phone calls I get asking when I’m free.

It’s fucking overwhelming. Especially when I start to give away my workdays to hangout with friends. I’m well aware that I’d be making enough money to get by (relieving a huge amount of stress) if I kept my friend-time to mostly the evenings and weekends, but then I’d miss out on being with my people!

When I was in college, I knew I wouldn’t have time for anyone so I hosted a weekly vegan potluck. Every Sunday, I opened my doors to the people who wanted to see me and the people who I wanted to see. It removed all the guilt I felt about not making enough time for certain people in my life.

So, that’s a thing that’s going to happen again. Right now, I’m in Calgary and I won’t be back in Winnipeg for more than two weeks. But, when I get home, I’m going to plan a weekly hangout with pals. It’ll likely be Sunday morning cartoons, crafts and snacks at my place, but I’ve gotta chat with my new roommate first and see how she feels about a bunch of strange people invading our home weekly.

If you want an invite, let me know! And weekdays are really all that works for you, let’s skip the coffee date and instead run errands, grab a quick lunch near by home, do some crafts (I always have crafts of my work-day to-do lists!) or do something active like snowshoeing or wall climbing.

If I can tie myself to my desk more often, I won’t need to stress about taking a day off to help someone with childcare or drive a friend to the hospital. After all, part of the reason I chose to be a freelancer was so I’d be around to support the people I love, not so I could slack off.