So I’m guessing y’all know by now that I suffer from time to time from a big ol’ dollop of that there depression? (I don’t know why the mid-Western twang, I’ll stop it – it’s a little unbecoming one feels). Anyhoo, I’ve been giving some thought to how that impacts upon you – I know, how unselfish am I?
As such, and in the interests of continuing ease of friendship, here are some things you should know and hopefully some things you can do to help me when the going gets tough. (Yes ok, do your best Billy Ocean impression now…that’s right, let it out…)
I need a plan. Not a life plan (although, yes possibly one of those too). What I mean is, I’m not good with tentative. If we arrange to possibly meet up, I need to know if it’s on or not and the where’s and when’s pretty much from the get go. If I don’t know, I get very stressed and can’t settle to anything else until I do. If for whatever reason I don’t hear from you (and that can happen for a number of reasons, rational-me does get that!) I become horribly paranoid and worried. To the point that I think you’ve a) met with a terrible fate and are dead in a ditch or b) decided I’m a god-awful person you can’t bear to spend time with. So please, wherever possible, furnish me with a plan!
I may not always answer my phone. There are times when basic conversation, or even texting, is just too hard. It really is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” so don’t think I’m deliberately ignoring you. Well I am, but not because I can’t be bothered with you, it’s because I can’t think of anything to say or because what I could say is too painful to begin to know how to express.
I may cancel our plans. Most of the time this will be for an actual reason like I forgot, I double-booked, something urgent came up – you know, the kind of reasons the rest of you give for cancelling plans. Occasionally it may be because I’ve hit a wall of depression and can’t move from my bed let alone leave the house, that being the case I’ll probably say I’m not feeling well – which is, funnily enough, the truth! It’s just that for me, not feeling well doesn’t mean a headache or a cold, it means I’m depressed. The thing I'd ask you to do here is just give me time, I'll come back when I can.
One thing I won’t do is lie to you. I may not want to burden you with the full truth of how I am feeling but I won’t lie. I was accused recently by a friend of 18 years of continually lying and making excuses to get out of seeing her. One of my ‘lies’ was something along the lines of “I had a bit of a breakdown this week and ended up having to go to a mental hospital so I’m not going to be able to meet up on Friday.” I don’t know what hurt and angered me more, the fact that she was so unfeeling about what had happened to me, or the fact that she thought I would make up such a monstrous untruth! Needless to say, that friendship is well and truly over.
I am blessed by having many good friends. And sometimes this blessing is a curse. I want to be there for you, to help you through your bad times, I pride myself on being there for those I love. But the depressed me has a tendency to think that I won’t be of any value to you if I can’t be the strong one, the advice-giver, the cheerer-upper, that I’m not really worthy of your friendship so I hide away from you until I feel able to be the friend you might need. I know it’s awful, that there’s a part of me that apparently thinks you are that shallow that you’d only see our friendship on the basis of what you can get out of it; I’m working on it. When I’m well I do know that it’s really not like that, it’s just that sometimes, and it’s certainly been the case over the past year or two, I’m not that well at all.