I have a shrink. Her name is Mildred and she’s a widow and a mother of four. She’s a cooler version of my mother and she listens. My mother is pretty cool, by the way, but there’s stuff which is hard to express around her. Especially where I feel that she is the problem I need to express out of me. I like her because she’s human and she’s real and the truth doesn’t hurt too bad when she tells it.
But this post has nothing to do with me. Well, maybe something because I am writing it, but it’s mostly about surviving hardship. In the few years that I have been an adult, I have encountered three cases of depression. One was a friend I loved dearly who, following a rebellious phase and a constant oscillation between wanting to live it up and wanting to die, went off their medication and recovered. There was a rough patch a few months after that, but nothing compared to the utter hopelessness which they had found themselves in at first.
The second was the friend of a friend. This second person was also officially diagnosed as being clinically depressed. They had been known to be “moody” and “unhappy a lot” and having “very few to no friends at all”. Then they found a counselor and then a doctor and then recovered slowly from a series of closely spaced traumas which had brought out the worst of the darkness they felt engulfed in. This person now forms a healthy part of society and is making good progress in their personal and professional life. I’ve never met them, though.
Third comes the one person I met and hardly gave a chance. When I meet someone whom I feel has hurt someone I love and care about deeply or otherwise, I block them out. My bias leans closer in the favour of my female friends, and there really is a story there, but it doesn’t justify the danger of my one-sided approach. So I meet this guy twice, hardly talk to him, sympathize with his personal struggles, but go on to support the person in this triangle whose well-being actually counts for something to me. Months later, I am still of the opinion that my friend should cut ties with this guy, because I feel that it is unhealthy for both of them to feed off of each other; him, for his need for someone to “mother” him, and she, for the need to “save him from himself”. This week, this young man took his own life. Naturally, this friend, with whom I haven’t had much time to check up on, is distraught.
I spoke with a trained psychologist today. He is a certified addiction counselor. I wanted to get his opinion on the situation. He told me that the situation had nothing to do with her, because in all honesty, her friend was was well. I agree, but I also feel terrible for doing nothing to over the situation. I have recommended people to counselors for a while now, especially after mine helped me sift through some of my own troubles. Yet I dismissed someone based on a familial bias. Favouritism. I took sides.
I’m dedicating this post to all the people out there who have battled depression. As a teen, I sometimes fantasized about death because I thought it meant relief from all the feelings of inadequacy and low self worth. But I had grown up friends I talked to and I even wrote to my mother about ti. I also asked her not to bring it up when next we’d meet.
Going back to the beginning, I have a shrink. For several months now, I have not called Mildred in tears or because I am struggling to deal with some pain or guilt. And although that speaks of progress it also speaks of humanity. I may need to call her tomorrow. Or next month. Or next year. Because life is hard and we sometimes need to talk to someone about it. Not always a friend or family member. Sometimes it will be a mentor or a teacher or a spiritual leader. As long as it’s someone who shares your principals. We all need objective opinions and answers to questions we can’t tackle ourselves. We all need someone on the outside looking in to give us a full view of what we may not be looking at at a different angle or with fresh eyes or from a less cynical standpoint. I’d personally go with older and professional. However, that’s just me. For one, I just like to hear that someone has been here too and that they survived.
In memory of Jared*
You were loved
You will be remembered