I met an old friend today,
But I turned and walked the other way.
Depression is not so much a friend as an enemy, I suppose. But sometimes when you know your enemies this well, they almost seem like old friends.
Yesterday’s post was part acknowledging to myself that I’m here again now, I’ve come to the fork in the road and I recognise the signs. I have to actively choose to walk the other way while I still can, or I’ll be dragged down. And partly it was a promise to be open to those around me – the great void of the internet, and the people closest to me.
If you open up you’ll find that a surprising amount of people have been through something very similar. And surely there’s some consolation in the fact that you are not alone, even in your darkest hour? Even when you really feel like nobody understands – somebody does. Trust me. You’ll find that there are many around you who’ll find it easier to share their story because you shared yours, and will be grateful for it. This is something I’ve discovered again and again. I mean, choose your moment and your audience by all means. Maybe don’t tell your butcher. But do tell your mum, your partner and/or your best friend – or even find a support group – they’re not just for addicts!
But, sometimes sharing is hard. Sometimes you feel like you don’t have the words or you don’t want to burden those around you – because it is a burden. It’s a burden to know that someone you love is suffering, and you can do very little to help. A very dear friend of mine is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. I can’t fix it, I can’t make it go away, but would I rather not know? Not in a million years. I still have the opportunity of telling her I love her and that I’m here for her and she can talk to me if she wants to, to offer what little support I can. And so I believe it is with depression or any mental illness as well.
I know it’s difficult for poor Boyfriend to deal with all this. He – luckily – has no experience with or understanding of what it’s like to be depressed. Which is one reason I am drawn to him. He’s pretty much always happy and easy-going, he is a stabilizing factor in my life, my safe harbour. Another thing he is is selfless.
This selflessness is not unproblematic though. My failure to be happy becomes his failure to make me so. I talked to my mum earlier today who had read yesterday’s post and was all prepared with a battle plan. Boyfriend asked jokingly (I hope and assume) if one of her strategies was for me to find a new boyfriend who’d make me happy.
But my darling, we are all very much the masters of our own happiness, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Do I expect and anticipate that you will contribute to my happiness? Absolutely. And I’ve many years of evidence to support it. Do I expect you to be the maker or destroyer of my happiness? Frankly that’s a scary thought so let’s not even go there.
So let it not be your failure, or indeed anyone’s failure. Let it just be what it is. Let us find a way through it together and come out stronger on the other side.
And to you lot out there, sitting in your dark corners thinking you have no one and no one will understand: Please reach out to someone. Reach out to me, if you want, I’d welcome it. I’m never as happy as when my misfortunes, experience, mistakes, trials and tribulations can be of help and comfort to someone else. I feel redeemed; like some small part of it is worth it all.
Be kind to yourselves, people.