OK, I this is going to be a bit negative. I KNOW I’m supposed to be trying to change things for the better, but I just have to get this off my chest!
Today, I let yet another friend go.
The way I see it, this person wasn’t really much of a friend, I wasn’t seeing them at all as they’ve been avoiding me like a dose of herpes, so the fact that I gave them a hearty push toward the door marked EXIT was only un-delaying the inevitable as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve lost a lot of friends this way. Some might say I should shut my gob, hang tough and wait for things to change when someone lets me down, but I seem to have a complete and total intolerance for insincerity and bullshit, coupled with a total inability to keep quiet when I encounter it, which doesn’t bode well for any fair-weather, bullshit toting ‘friend’.
In order to tell both sides of the story, I have to inform you that this friend has had a bad time of things of late, BUT even though she’d kept me at arms length long before her stuff hit the fan, I made sure she knew that I was there if she needed me and helped her both emotionally and practically when the going got tough. In return, both before and after these incidents, I heard nothing from her. Not even at Christmas or on my birthday.
So today when I contacted her to suggest we meet up, she fobbed me off, offloaded to me on the phone as per usual, and asked me a perfunctory ‘So how are you?’ right towards the end of the ‘conversation’. When I told her I was up and down as usual, to save her listening to my woes, she started lecturing me about how I was wasting my life. I told her that it was not my choice to be this way and that I had an illness, but she continued to spray me with her ignorant, arrogant, uninformed volley of verbal effluent, so I quickly brought the call to a close before I lost my temper.
She then proceeded to lecture me via text with regard to my pulling myself together, telling me very helpfully I only have one life, I’m master of my own fate and only I can change things for myself, to do ‘happy’ things, get out into the world, the aforementioned globe was my crustacean, be happy, take each day as it comes, light at the end of the tunnel, blah, blah, cliche, cliche, bullshit, bullshit.
I seethed. But I managed to hold it together.
Then she made the fatal mistake of following this pile of shite with another text saying ‘I wish I knew how to help’.
So I told her.
I told her that those times I’d contacted her in the last three months inviting her to do stuff with me was me trying to, albeit rather unsuccessfully, get myself out there, but despite her previous assertions of being ‘there for me’, she did not make the time to be by my side.
I told her that I had recently been diagnosed BPD before Christmas and the reason that she didn’t know this is that the one and only time we’d spoken since, I couldn’t get a word in edgeways. As per usual. I’m not kidding. In 2012 when I walked out of my job it took three meet ups for me to inform her of that, as she never shuts the fuck up long enough to let me speak.
I told her that lecturing me is NOT helpful as it frustrates me, especially when she talks such a load of wank, and that her monthly period downer is not in any way comparable to how I feel, even on a good day, as on the depression scale, it is like a mosquito bite compared to being torn apart by a shark.
I then told her that the most helpful thing of all for people with mental health issues is to do what I do for her; which is to LISTEN without comment, judgement or prejudice and to be there.
I then finished by saying that it’s obvious that she doesn’t can’t really cope with/tolerate my friendship right now, so I was going to stop trying to get her to do stuff with me and leave her be. And maybe, just maybe we’d touch base later on in the year. But that would be down to her. Not me.
Right now I feel like I usually feel when I’ve dumped someone. Satisfied, a bit smug, and full of self righteous indignation. But I know one day I’ll regret it, and will be pleased that I’ve kind of left the door, if not wide open, but slightly ajar.
After all, no one is perfect.
But I’m so fed up of these Paper Doll Pals who call themselves your friend, claim to be accepting and supportive of your condition (mental illness is very ‘right on’ nowadays, doncha know), but will actually do anything to avoid seeing you, and if they absolutely have to, will come mob handed, and talk at you with a jittery, staccato delivery, just in case you utter a word, which could lead to you drowning them with your tears, ranting at them like a maniac, foaming at the mouth and showing them up in front of that cute waiter in Carluccios.
This is particularly galling, as it’s very rare that I offload on anyone, and if I do it’s when I’m in control so the dialogue is conversational, analytical and usually in response to the other person’s questions. I’ve never dared let anyone see me on my darkest days, cos if they’re like this at the mere awareness of my condition, they’d probably run from the room screaming if they saw me at my worst, buried under my duvet, crusty eyed and gummy mouthed, willing myself to die rather than face the world again.
For anyone reading this who has mental health issues, or is close to someone who has, you know yourself that we aren’t always easy to be around. We’re not always reliable. We cancel a lot, to spare you seeing us when we’re sick. We can be a bit fuzzy depending on our med intake at that time. But on the plus side, we’re usually witty, creative, intelligent, empathic, have integrity, and if someone is lucky enough to be a real friend to us, well in return, you will not find a more loyal, empathic, supportive pal, even if you try.
We are flesh and blood, body, mind AND spirit, and will be there for you in every capacity we can and will stay strong, even when you yourself cannot. We will not flutter away, flapping crazily like the Paper Doll Pals of this world when the wind blows a little. Come rain, sleet, snow or shine, if we are well, we will be there, braced against the wind, face scrunched against the onslaught, because we value your friendship more than anything in the world, because you are rare and all the more precious for that.
Want to know how to be a friend to someone with mental health issues?
Listen on those rare occasions that we want to confide in you. Hide your embarrassment if you can as that will only make us clam up and feel mortified that we are impacting you this way.
Be there. Bodily. As in, in the same room! And if you can’t be there bodily, be present in the best way you can. ‘Cos sending a text saying you love someone when you can’t be bothered to drive five minutes down the road to be with them is untruthful and insulting. Spare us your bullshit purlease, we have enough to deal with, thank you. Once, many years ago when i was having a killer migraine, my sister knelt beside my bed and held my hand for hours. Practicality wise, it didn’t help. Her hand and arm got in the way as I twisted, turned, wept and groaned trying to find comfort and respite. But her and it’s continual presence reminded me that I wasn’t alone. That someone who cared was there, suffering alongside me. And I still remember it to this day.
Be normal with us! You don’t need to gaze moonily into our eyes and ask ‘How are you?’ nodding sadly, squeezing our hand at our response, as personally, I’d likely to throw up, laugh or take the piss out of you mercilessly. Just be the same sarky bitch/jerk/clown you always are in real life as that’s why we love you in the first place. Plus it will, no doubt help us from going under, so tip toeing around us doesn’t do us any favours. You being you, enables us to be who we are, at our best. And we’ll tell you if we’re feeling off, OK?
Don’t preach or make suggestions unless we ask for them. There is nothing rational about mental illness. We know that going to the gym, doing voluntary work, meeting new people can be beneficial. But for a lot of the time, despite good intentions, we just aren’t able to do the best for ourselves, because a lot of us are afraid, neurotic, paranoid and/or hate ourselves. if however you’re doing something yourself, offer to drag your nutty pal along with you. They might just say yes, and you’d be doing them a massive favour.
Be honest. If you have your own shit to deal with and need time alone, just tell us. We, if anyone, will understand the most and will give you the space you need until you feel strong enough to deal with our crazy asses again.
Have I missed anything? Please comment if I have because it’s important that people don’t treat us with kid gloves, or act like they’re in the presence of an unexploded bomb. We’re still the same old Sista/John/Caroline/Edgar that you know and love, just a bit flawed that’s all. Like everyone else. Just more so.
In the meantime, I’m hoping that my therapy will start sooner rather than later, as at this rate, I might as well be on a dessert island, such is my growing isolation. 😦
As for my thin, wispy little friend, I’ll just have to see what happens to our friendship, and will let you know if she returns.
Anyway, you know what they say, don’t you?
If you love someone, let them fuck the hell off until they realise what they’ve lost and come back, with their weedy, scabby tail between their legs.
Well it goes something like that, anyway…. 😉