In the previous post on coping I wrote, “My friends and my church are very important to me though. They’re my support system and I stay in close touch with them.”

Throughout this story about me and Living Room you will have read how much I valued my friends – three in particular. I received strong support from these people and loved them dearly, seeing God’s love portrayed in them. Through the love of these friends my own love for others and the energy to pass it on was sustained. They encouraged my faith.

I don’t think I could have managed to do the massive amount of work I did – raising awareness in the church, founding Living Room and spreading the concept, and giving support to the many individuals with mental health problems who came to me. All this, though my health often failed. I really did need such support.

But you will have read how I wondered now and then whether I was calling them too much or emailing too much. I was. A sense of boundaries was something I had never understood – not until a couple of years ago when I wrote about it. Is this common among those suffering from mental illness? Those who have such a great need? I have come to see it is, especially for those who did not have the love they needed from parents when they were children.

People like me tend to get overly attached to those who show love and care. If we are not able to create boundaries of our own, they need to be set for us. But this should be done in a way that isn’t hurtful. Our behaviour should be openly discussed with us so we can try to change. We should be told, like any person needs to be told when she’s behaving inappropriately.

But no one told me anything was wrong. By the end of my nine years leading Living Room I had lost each of the three friends who had given me so much love and support. One shunned me and would no longer talk to me. Another stopped spending time with me – refusing requests to have a coffee with me. And the third mistreated me over a long period of time, leaving me emotionally damaged.

I retired from my Living Room group, not doing very well. At that point my husband had seen me sitting on the sofa for long periods, unable to function normally, unable to cook. He thought I had dementia and I believed him.

I prepared to make what I could of my life while I was still able.

But what happened to those friends who had been so dear to me? Where did that “godly” love go? They abandoned me and I had no friends left in the church except for one: A person who I had seen through hard times throughout my Living Room years. She is with me still – like a daughter to me, and I like a mother to her.