I had lunch with a couple of friends about 6 months ago. I hadn’t seen them for almost a year. Back in the day we used to meet at least once a week for coffee. I don’t know why the relationship we had wound down. Sometimes it just happens, doesn’t it?
We get busy, locked in our own little worlds, we mean to call but we don’t. With each day that passes it becomes harder to make contact and we convince ourselves that it’s too much of an effort for people who have so many other friends anyway.
These two friends in question were part of the alpha clique at my son’s primary school. Even though they claimed to not be interested in the machinations of that clique I could see them working actively to become a part of it from day one of Kindergarten.
They tried to get me involved in the clique but well, that’s just not me. Despite my disinterest in their exhaustive networking strategies we became friends. Good friends.
We talked about everything – births, deaths and everything in-between. Yet I held back on the one subject I feel is taboo for most people. The one subject that will make people run away from you inwardly. The one subject most people don’t want to know about.
I wanted to tell them. I really did. But I couldn’t say it even though the words were tugging at the corners of my mouth. I wanted to say: I am really depressed. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the night. But I couldn’t.
I have been friends with these people for nearly ten years and they have no idea I have ever been depressed. It is my fault. I chose not to tell them because like Tom Cruise I knew they couldn’t handle the truth.
Anyway, it’s about time I got to the point of this post which is that at that ill-fated lunch 6 months ago I finally told them about my depression.
They cried. They commiserated. They were cross with me for not telling them sooner. Yet as soon as the words fell out of my mouth I wished I could take them back. I saw their eyes – saying to themselves Here we go; looking for a way to retreat.
It surprises me that people can’t talk about depression openly. It surprises me that so many people view it as a form of failure or weakness.
Misconceptions abound. Padded cells. Straitjackets. Foaming at the mouth. Talking to Jesus. I can’t tick the box for any of those.
My friend, Jules, suffers from depression. It makes her angry that people have such jaundiced views of it because as she says : Most of us will experience some form of depression or anxiety in our lifetime so why not talk about it?
Why not, indeed.
My two alpha clique friends disappeared into the ether after that fateful day. Until today, that is. Megan, the most alpha member of the alpha clique rang me to apologise for not getting in touch sooner and also to let me know she had just returned from a visit to the doctor’s and had been diagnosed with – you guessed it – depression.
It has opened my eyes, she said.
I had no idea how debilitating it was.
I feel bad for doubting you.
Megan and I are meeting for coffee tomorrow and any other day that she needs to. I firmly believe that no one should judge anyone because that tends to activate the what-goes-around-comes-around effect and when that happens some of us need a little help. And to be able to speak to someone who can handle the truth.