All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

Does Depression Impact on Friendship?

Everyone who knows anything about my creative writing output will be aware of the one theme that every single; short story, novella, novel, screenplay, vignette, stage play, treatment and random blathering is about.

As Stephen King is a horror hack.
As (Messrs) Mills and Boon are cheddery romance hacks.
As Dan Brown is a terrible-writing-&-dialogue hack
…I am a self proclaimed friendship hack.

Whether it be the joys of childhood friendship (The Gang), the pain of lost friendship (The Ghosts that Haunt Us), the ever-evolving nature of friendship (One Last Night), the heart-warming friendship of neighbours (Neighbours:The Movie!), friendship blossoming into love (Behind Closed Eyes) or the psychopath-goes-on-a-killing-spree-and-murders-all-his-best-friends friendship (The Guys) I vomit badly written prose about friendship onto every single page of text I’ve ever written!

I even dealt with it in an earlier post.

And what of this post? Well I think it’s fairly obvious I am about to begin a long and meandering diatribe on the super-power of sheep when they are possessed by Gatorade & Bega cheese, complete with the obligatory obscure mammal reference thrown in for badly timed comic effect.

Seriously though, this post is another answer to that question.

Yay!

Why I continue to write about friendship is beyond me – I think it’s because it is something I have always yearned for, so when I sit down to escape into my fiction I create worlds of best friends and people connected through years of shared joy, laughter, tears and soulful mornings spent flirting with each other on pebble beaches.

The reason I am thinking about friendship so much today is because I found myself embroiled in a heated argument online with a guy from Singapore. He will hitherto be known as Mr Singapore. It was in an obscure depression chatroom I frequent occasionally, and I was describing my experiences this year and what occurred both before and after my breakdown.

The basic gist of the argument was thus:

MR SINGAPORE – Everything that went wrong was entirely your fault.
ME – No. A LOT of went wrong was entirely my fault but I’m not accepting responsibility for everything.
MR SINGAPORE – You should
ME – No, I shouldn’t
MR SINGAPORE – YES!!
ME – NO!!!
MR SINGAPORE – YES!!
ME – NO!!!
MR SINGAPORE – YES!!
ME – Right! Outside! C’mon, you and I are gonna settle this with a mole digging tournament.
(a unique and rather fun way of settling an argument, wherein both parties dress up as mole and see who can dig to the finish line first)

Sad thing is though, he was probably right.

As I said in my previous post about friendship, I believe it is very difficult to be friends with someone who is depressed. From first hand experience I have witnessed the pain and heartbreak that friends go through when they care about someone who is suffering from depression.

How much they just desperately want that person to be happy and carefree and dressed in a tutu singing I Like Giants down Chapel Street with a chorus of lemmings in close pursuit (the second, and I promise final, obligatory mammal reference of the post).

The sad truth is:
I have seen friends crying so hard that snot drips from their nose three feet to the ground.
I have seen friends shaking with pain and anger, tears streaming down their face.
I have seen friends recoil from me in dismay as I try to comfort them.
I have seen friends in more pain than I ever wanted to see them in

…because of me.

The sad truth is:
Every friendship I have ever made I have let slip away.
Everyone who tried to forge a friendship with me, I destroyed.
Never willingly, never knowingly, but always on a subconscious level for the exact same reason every time. It is the same reason so many people with depression do it. We have, it appears, an innate ability to push the people we care about most out of our lives.

The only way I can explain it is that I care about that person so much my heart aches to think of them unhappy – and knowing how difficult I can be – the only way I can ensure they are happy, is to eliminate myself from their life. So they can seek out the joy and happiness they so truly deserve away from the anger inducing, snot trail producing, messed up depressed man who is not worthy of such wonderful people in their life.

That’s how it feels, for me.

Because, when you are suffering from depression, you constantly feel like such a grotesque human being it is hard sometimes being all the things that a friend wants you to be. you can’t understand why anyone likes you, because you don’t like yourself.

It is hard to smile and dance, because you just don’t feel like it. It’s hard to share whimsical stories replete with wit and humour, because you just don’t feel like it. It’s hard to be there to support someone through a bad time, because your mind is consumed with your own self-absorbed troubles and selfish desires. It’s hard being a friend whilst you feel like this.

It’s even harder being a friend to someone suffering from depression. The burden a depressed person can put on their friend would suffocate even the most solid and soulful of friendships; the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Lucy and Aslan, Willow and Xander…none would be able to survive the torment a depressed person can inflict. I can just see it now, Aslan sprawled on the floor of Cair Paravel, sobbing his little heart out, whilst Lucy wishes desperately for the witches wand to turn the bloody animal to stone once and for all. I don’t even want to imagine what Xander would have wanted to do with that yellow bloody crayon if Willow had been Depressed-Will instead of Evil-Will. Yep, yep, yep…being a depressed person’s friend is not something I would wish on even my worst enemy – let alone the people I care about the most.

Yeah, in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have been so crass with Mr Singapore. I’ve known all along my innate ability to push people away, to commit such unforgivable acts they turn people against you for life.

I’m sure that I will, one day, be able to finally beat depression. Pretty darned positive of that! When that victory comes though, it will forever be soured, because the people I would need to thank the most would have been lost to the winds of time. When that victory comes, I won’t be able to say the one thing that I always wanted to say.

Even though I always push my friends away, I was – and will always – be forever grateful for the brief periods I knew them. Every single one of them touched and inspired my life. Every single one of them granted me a small token of their soul, which I have kept with me, using their strength, their love, to help me fight this battle.

So to once again answer the question I posed in my previous post on this much over-used topic of mine. Yes, depression can impact on friendship.

It’s just unfortunate that the impact a depressed person unwillingly puts on their friend creates frustration, anger, streams of tears and snot-trails.

Whereas the impact a friend puts on a depressed person, makes them just want to suck that snot trail from their nose and hug their friend for filling them with a strength they will remember not only until the day they finally get that dance, but into infinity, and beyond (in fact)

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