“Some friends don’t understand this. They don’t understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you’re wonderful just the way you are. They don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
When you live with depression the loss of friends becomes part of daily life. You start to realise that people are ok with being there through the good but when things go bad they will pick up and run pretty quickly. It makes life hard for you, and your family who become your sole dependence when you are suffering and need as much support as you can get around you.
I have lost more friends than I will ever remember as a result of my depression and even my bowel condition making me consistently sick.
Earlier this year, a friend accused me of purposely getting ill to cause issues with her careful diary planning when I had to cancel some plans due to my bowel issues flaring up. A last straw for me with this friendship and one of several triggers now looking back for my current depressive state.
Why is there such a stigma attached to depression and long term illness in general that makes our friends run with such epic speeds away from us. These things aren’t contagious (in most cases). I do understand being around someone who is really ill, very low, tearful, suicidal won’t be easy. But having support from friends would help lift our moods, would ease the burden on our loved ones.
For me friendship is really from people who live overseas, my friends locally have mostly dispersed and disappeared now. I have a handful of overseas friends who read my emails, tweets, Facebook messages and are always there for me. These friends I am truly grateful for but would they also run a mile if they were local and had to deal with me face to face?
One of these friends came to stay with me for a few days recently from Germany. It had been planned for a while, from before I had got so sick, and I had been supposed to go to a music festival with her afterwards, but was too sick. I had assumed she would cancel, obviously used to this treatment from my friends in general, but she didn’t.
For those few days I felt my world light up a little, having a friend, who I had never even met in person before, staying with me. Someone to talk to about music, about work because we collaborate (when I am working), and just things other than how miserable my life is. For a few days although I was sad and in a lot of pain physically and emotionally, I felt a slightly more free from the shackles which pin me to my world on a day to day basis.
I hit the jackpot with my Husband and for that I thank God every day, he rides the storms I create and supports me with a calm many would find hard to maintain. I know it is not easy being around someone like me, I understand it can be like stepping into a hornets nest where you can be unsure what you are going to get back for your time. But deep down the real me is still there, fighting to get out and hurting because people really don’t care anymore.
Where my phone used to buzz with a “how are you?” text message it now sits silent. I am in the process of getting my contract cancelled and I doubt anybody will even notice. It’s not just how the illness makes you feel with depression, the knock on effects have consequences aswell. This is just one of them but it makes for a very lonely world.