Suffering with mental health problems can be incredibly isolating. People often find it hard to understand what you're going through and turn away; you can often find yourself becoming more introverted; sometimes you end up pushing people away because it can seem easier.
On my first emotional counselling session, the therapist asked me who was in my support network. And I hadn't thought about it. It was a really hard question to answer, but she pointed out how important it is to have one. I found getting things down on paper really helpful in aiding me to see who I really counted as being part of my support network, and why they were included.
Having a support network is crucial in times of crisis. I wrote down a list of all the people that knew about my mental health problems. The last thing I'd want when I'm feeling really down is to have to start from scratch, explaining to someone that I struggle in the first place before letting them know that I'm having a breakdown. Then, I considered if I'd actually really feel comfortable opening up to them when things get bad. There are a whole tonne of people who know about the fact that I have mental health problems (I'm pretty open about it, gotta reduce the stigma ya know?), that I would never call or message on a really bad day.
Once I'd whittled down my list of those I wanted in my support network, it was time to think about why. My counselor and I went through each person on my list (and it was a fairly short list in the end), to consider what each one offered to me in a crisis. My partner was on the list as someone who lives with me, and is always physically there to support me. My sister was on the list as someone who's known me for the longest time, and as such knows exactly what to do to cheer me up. The list continued like this, and I mind-mapped around each person to say why I could go to them when I was struggling and what they would offer.
If you want, you can go one step further and let everyone in your support network know that they're on there, and that you appreciate them and trust them enough to be someone you can turn to in a crisis. I haven't told many people about my support network because it's something that's really personal to me. If I feel down, I know I can look through my mind map and drop someone a message to let them know I'm feeling shitty. It's a reminder that I sometimes really need that I'm not alone and that it's totally okay to ask for help.