This week in the Year of Gratitude series, the suggested writing prompt is ‘a friend’ that you’re grateful for. Here’s my take on the subject…
It took a few minutes for me to realise that my phone was ringing. The harsh sound of it vibrating on the wooden bedside table was what finally woke me up, but I didn’t reach over to pick it up. Instead I looked at the clock. It was 2.30pm. On a Tuesday.
I pulled the sheets over my head and went back to sleep. An hour later I woke up and saw I had a text message as well as the missed call from earlier. It was my friend Kirsty explaining that her and Claire had been in the area having lunch and did I want to join them.
Obviously I had missed the opportunity because I had slept in, but I didn’t care. I had successfully avoided another human interaction and that was all good in my book. Cha-ching.
Ignoring people was a commonly used strategy for me back then, when I was unfit for work due to depression and anxiety. I’m not sure how much I let show to my friends at the time, and I’m sorry for that. I didn’t want them to see the bad parts of my life which meant I didn’t let them see much of me at all.
I’m so grateful for my friends that have stuck by me throughout my mental illness. I also don’t blame the ones who didn’t hang around. It’s been almost 5 years since I was diagnosed and I’ve been a bit of a handful to deal with. Sorry about that.
There are a few things I want them to know though and here they are, in no particular order.
I hide it constantly
When I’m out shopping, at the gym, in a restaurant or at work – especially at work – I’m probably pretending to be OK. There’s a negative voice inside my head and sometimes it can take control of how I feel.
I’m getting better at ignoring the internal commentary – I hate myself, I’m so fat, I’m so useless, I’ve got nothing to say – but it’s always underlying and waiting to hijack me when I least expect it.
The painful part is that I’m always expecting it, and that’s exhausting in itself; always been on high alert for low moods and panic attacks. When they finally do show up I’m ready to hit the deck almost immediately.
I can’t always explain my actions
Sometimes I ignore phone calls. I read messages and then procrastinate for hours or sometimes days before responding. I know it’s rude. I know I’m being a crappy friend but sometimes I just can’t communicate with other people.
I don’t fully know why and I can’t justify my actions but believe me when I say it’s nothing personal.
I’m so grateful
I don’t always show it but I’m so grateful to have people around me who still care about me. I know I make situations difficult when I get socially awkward and shut down to everyone around me. It’s inconvenient and embarrassing for me.
The thing that gets me through is knowing that other people care. When I think I’m a total piece of shit, my friends and family are still there. They’re knocking on my door when I don’t answer the phone to make sure I’m OK, and that is something I’ll always be grateful for.