Or why when I know I’m not doing well, I should take a step back and not try to push myself.
On Thursday night something bad happened. Or rather, a perfect storm of bad things happened. I’m not going to go into details, but the end result was that despite having been keeping myself mostly afloat for the last few months or so, I got to a point where I was once again seriously considering taking my own life. I was making a plan, doing internet searches to see where I could buy the poison I wanted to use… And then I got a text message from a friend in Japan. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t texted me, but the important thing is that he did. And that he listened. He didn’t once express that he thought my problems were silly (which each of them, taken alone, actually was), or that he thought I was overreacting (I might have been, I don’t know). He just stayed up late into the night with me until I felt ready to be left alone. Until I felt I could finally get some sleep.
It helped. A lot. I don’t know how to express how important it was to me, in that moment, to have a friend who offered me his unconditional love and acceptance in a moment where I needed a person to listen, to care. He didn’t try to invalidate my feelings, even if in the privacy of his own mind he might have seen them as an overreaction to the situation, he accepted that even if they weren’t real to him, they were very real to me, and to him, that was enough. He accepted that there are things in my life, in my mind, that are hard for me to deal with, and he accepted that in that moment, I needed him to put aside whatever he might have been thinking or feeling to be there for me. And he was. In the end, it was really that simple, and I’m grateful for that. But even his being there for me wasn’t enough to ‘fix’ me, it never has been, it never will be. Depression is like that.
The next day I went to school. I thought I was better, which I was. I also thought I was fine, which I wasn’t. By the time the last lesson came around, I was feeling rather awful. But because it was my favourite class, against my better judgment, I decided to try to make it through the last hour and a half instead of calling it a day and heading home to take care of myself. I made it through the lesson, barely. A friend told me to stop pacing because it was making her nervous and another friend came up to me and held my hand and whispered comforting things into my ear. The teacher gave me odd looks, but said nothing, even when I didn’t participate in class at all.
The lesson was not good. I couldn’t even fake a smile, much less try to act like things were any more okay than they actually were. I don’t remember the actual lesson itself very clearly. But later, I did worry that the teacher’s strange looks meant I looked like I was not paying attention, like I was bored. I started worrying about whether the teacher would hate me forever (this happens a lot, but that will be another post). I confessed these fears to another friend who listened and didn’t judge. She accepted that my fears were very real to me, and reassured me that even if the teacher noticed, he wouldn’t think that I wasn’t paying attention and that my expression had been one of sadness and struggle rather than one of boredom.
I’m not entirely sure what the conclusion of this post is supposed to be. Initially, I thought I was writing a post about how next time when I feel that awful, I should take the rest of the day off school instead of trying to push myself to get through a lesson, even if it is my favourite. But now, looking back on what I’ve written, I think what really stands out in my post is how wonderful my friends have been. How supportive, how kind… how important. So I think I’m going to leave this post like that, a monument to the people in my life who are willing to put their own struggles on hold to be there and hold my hand (physically or virtually) while I battle my demons.