The past few weeks have been hard. I’m in a low period of my depression. I can’t explain why, but it’s crept up on me.
I read this post today from Bear Faced Lady and it resonated with me so much I had to write something similar.
A Letter to my Friends
I think most of you know I have depression. If not, it is not because I don’t want you to know, it’s just hard to bring into the conversation over a meal or when I am actually having a good time. It is an illness, but unlike other illnesses there is no time-scale for when it will be over. It has been 18 months and I’m not recovered. I have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go and I want our friendships to stay strong.
There are things I want you to know, but can’t bring myself to say out loud, so I am writing this letter. I’m not psychic and I know you’re not either – although it would be easier if we were sometimes!
A big part of my struggle has been related to being around people – anyone and everyone. I shy away from group activities. I prefer to stay in to going out. I can’t stand loud, crowded places. I like quiet and calm. This means there are things I cannot bring myself to do, even if I used to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with you; I just can’t. You’ll always find me in a coffee shop at some point over the weekend though so feel free to join me.
I’m not good at vague. I need definite plans with places and times. I’m a planner. I’m rubbish at being spontaneous, even though I would like to be once and a while. I also hate lateness. I know there are reasons for being vague and late. However it doesn’t stop my irrational side taking over and anxiety spreading through my body. My heart races. I jump to the worst possible conclusion. Thoughts bounce around my head without direction. At these times my head is hard place to be and I doubt I’m any fun to be around. I’m sorry about that. You can help me by sending me a text if you’re running late. If we make plans, lets make them definite. If I say no to a group activity be patient with me.
We are one of the first generations to communication without talking. I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing, but I like it. I am better with emails and text. I have made a decision not to reply to things right away (at work and at home). It gives me time to think and plan a response. I’m not ignoring you. Well maybe sometimes I am, but at those times I am probably ignoring my phone completely!
It may seem like I do a lot. With swimming club, running club and other fitness things I probably am. These are important to me. They provide a distraction and a focus. I can set goals and work towards meeting them. They are scheduled activities at the same times every week. In a way I need them. They are a therapy for me. If I could afford it I would get a therapist, but boy are they expensive – I’ve looked! If I didn’t do these things I probably wouldn’t leave the house much at all. This is why I am not good at missing them. You are always welcome to join me though 🙂
Part of my recovery has been to be honest with myself without judgement. Depression is an internal illness and changing how I think is an important part of recovery. Depression is isolating. I can be in a room full of people and feel totally alone. My thoughts tell me no one gets it; no one understands what I am going through; that I should just leave. My logical self knows this isn’t true. We all put on a mask to cover the things we don’t want people to see. The mask is probably more natural than our true face. I am fed up of wearing my mask. I want to be honest with you all. When I say I’m not feeling well or I’m not feeling up to it, that is what I mean. I’m not making excuses. I’m not lying. I’m just not well.
Friendships are relationships and they take work and understanding to keep they strong. I want to be there for you. I want you to be there for me. Right now it’s hard to do either. A lot of the time I feel worthless and stupid and like I wouldn’t be able to help. At those times I don’t want advice or to be told it will be fine. I might not be able to open up. I may shut down. But knowing you are there for me can be more than enough. I hope knowing that I think about you all everyday can be enough right now. If there was an emergency I would be there in a second believe me!
I hope this letter will help you understand what I am going through and what you can do to help. I don’t want to be treated any differently, I just wanted to make you aware. If you want to talk to me about it you can, all I ask is to just make sure we are on our own. Lets go for coffee 🙂
Lastly this sums up how I feel about every single one of you and I hope you feel about me.