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: 

  • transport 
  • 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. 

You can: 

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.  

Support groups

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: 

  • school 
  • 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.

Getting help if you need it

If negative feelings stop you from carrying on with your normal life, it may help to talk with a therapist. Therapy can help you to understand and manage your feelings, as well as helping you cope better with your condition.

You should talk to a therapist if you: 

  • feel anxious 
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • are not getting on with your friends and family
  • struggle to control your behaviour 
  • have low confidence You can get help on the NHS. You’ll usually have to join a waiting list. Ask your GP how long you might have to wait.

NHS.UK: Find a GP near you

You can also refer yourself directly to psychological therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), without seeing your GP. Find help with stress, anxiety or depression on NHS.UK.

Visit Connect for mental wellbeing on NHS.UK

Help for young people

Some schools and colleges can arrange mental health care for you or refer you to someone who can. Find information on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

The Mix provides non-judgmental support and information for young people under 25 on everything from sex and exam stress to debt and drugs and self-harm.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 07/03/2019

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