I have a small but perfectly formed circle of good friends who I can trust with anything, and who, no matter how hard I push away, will not budge. They have seen me at my lowest and stuck around waiting for me to stick my head out of the hole again. Our friendships have been changed because of my illness though, and it makes me really sad to acknowledge that.
In some ways our relationships are stronger than before, their loyalty to me when I have pushed them away has been tested to the limit, but still they remain. We’ve talked about the darkest of subjects, argued and disagreed on many occasions when the demons have lied to me, and then laughed about the craziness of my head when the fog clears for a minute.
This evil illness has had a negative impact on so many of my friendships though, and it is painful to admit.
I no longer get text messages “just because”. I used to get regular texts from friends telling me something which had happened during their day, sharing a funny story or wanting to off load about something that was worrying them. Not anymore. It is completely wrong that all I want to do is talk about me and how I’m feeling. In fact that’s the very last thing I want to talk about. I miss my friend’s stories, I miss hearing about their kids and the escapades that they get up to. I miss hearing about the boyfriend/girlfriend dramas and even what the dog has done. If I ask, all I get in response is that he/she/they are ok/fine. Why? I guess it’s because perhaps because people think I’m so wrapped up in my own s*** that they don’t want to bother me. Maybe it’s because they are worried that if they message I might start talking about how I’m feeling and they either don’t know what to say or don’t want to get involved. That couldn’t be further from the truth – the reality is that I would love an unexpected text message about anything – even the weather.
I genuinely can’t remember the last time my phone rang because someone wanted a chat. Part of it is of course this modern world of social media – why call someone when you can look on their Facebook/Twitter and see all their news? Not all of us put our entire lives online though and it would be nice to hear a friendly voice every now and then.
As for going out and meeting up…. I used to get invited, but I guess I said no one too many times. The problem with not being asked anymore is that as the cloud starts to be less dense and I start to feel able to think about going out again, my confidence is so low that I don’t feel able to ask anyone. It really hurts to see photos of friends out for a night out knowing a few months ago I would have been included. I know it’s my own fault, life with a disabled child can be incredibly isolating and the demons on top have made me more alone than ever.
I feel like I’m stuck in a rut at the moment. My head is a little better, a little clearer – there are definite good days in amongst the horrific ones, but I’m noticing more and more the damage my illness has caused to the friendships I treasure so much. That in turn is causing the demons to shout at me and the anxiety to rise again – everyone must hate me, right? If friends wanted to talk to me then they would…..
I hope that I can somehow fix the fractures of these relationships, remind my friends that despite everything that has gone on, that they can – and should – talk to me about anything, that it’s safe to allow me back into their lives and I am capable of going to the pub for a drink without having a total meltdown!
I have depression, I always will have, but if they are prepared to look beyond the demons they’ll find that I’m still me.
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