Keeping your friends when life changes
If your condition makes it hard to do certain things, like go to a mainstream school or move away from home, you might not always be able to join your friends as they become more independent.
You could feel isolated when your friends:
- go to a different school or university
- travel abroad
- start a new career or a relationship
- have children
Keeping in regular contact with your friends can prevent you from feeling isolated and lonely.
Keeping in touch
When you’re moving from one stage of life to the next, you could go from seeing your friends every day to not knowing when or where you’re going to see them next.
It can help you feel less isolated and lonely if you make plans to regularly see or chat with your friends - even if you do not always feel like socialising.
Getting out and about
It can sometimes be difficult to see your friends in person or join in with social activities. This could be because of social, physical or sensory barriers or the activity itself.
Practical issues like not being able to get to a venue or not having someone to help you can stop you from seeing your friends as often as you would like.
You might need help with:
- accessible venues
- events and activities
If you’re meeting outside your home, you might want to prepare for your trip in advance. Find information and advice about transport if you’re disabled on GOV.UK.
You can search for accessible places to go on AccessAble, like restaurants, hotels and cinemas. You might want to call and check that the place you want to go is accessible to you, even if it’s listed on the website.
Days out tips
Your local authority may have details of organisations in your community that can give help and support to get around.
GOV.UK: Find a community support group or organisation
Using social media
Social networking sites allow you to chat with your friends online if getting together is difficult.
Coping with change
Friendships help us feel like we belong. They can offer us support when things are difficult.
It’s easy to feel lonely when we lose contact with our friends. If you do not take time to look after yourself, a low mood could lead to depression. A general low mood can include feeling sad, worried or anxious. But a low mood will tend to go after a few days or weeks.
Making small changes in your life, like talking about your problems or getting more sleep, can usually improve your mood. A low mood that doesn’t go away can be a sign of depression.
Talk to your GP or call NHS 111 if you think you might be depressed.
Talk about your feelings
If you keep feelings to yourself, you could think that no one understands or cares what you are going through, but that’s unlikely to be true. Most people have experienced loneliness, so they should be able to empathise.
It can help to talk to your friends about how you’re feeling. You might want to tell them how your condition can stop you from seeing them as regularly as you want. You don’t have to go into detail and it’s up to you how much you share.
If you’ve lost touch, you can let friends know what's going on for you and why you haven't been able to see them for a while. There's no right or wrong way to talk about your feelings – starting the conversation is what's important.
Sometimes friends will make assumptions about what you can do. They might think you will be too tired or not interested in going out because you might not be able to join in or they will need to look after you.
Talking about feeling excluded is hard. Whether you decide to talk to your friends can depend on how close you are and your condition.
Tell your friends if you want to be invited to an activity or outing. Say you want a choice and that it makes you feel excluded when you are not asked.
You can also say that getting invited gives you a chance to suggest something else for a different day.
Being included and going out with friends.
If you are uncomfortable talking to friends about your feelings, you could try a support group.
Support groups are communities of like-minded people who meet up regularly to discuss a problem and help each other. Lots of groups organise social events and arrange special activities to help boost your mood and improve your wellbeing.
To find a group, you can:
Making new friends
Start by thinking about the people you know but not think of as friends. You might know people from:
- a sports club
- an activity you do
Having a shared interest means you’ll have something to talk about and makes it more likely you will become friends with them.
You may prefer to have friends who share similar experiences of disability. You can meet people with your impairment or condition through:
Talking about your impairment or condition with new people.
Join a group
Spending time with people with similar interests and experiences can provide much-needed support. You can search for local groups online or on sites such as Meetup.com.
Online groups such as Scope’s online community can be useful if you find it hard to leave the house or socialise.
Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is a programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people being active together.
Last reviewed by Scope on: 07/03/2019