I am a good friend, but depression makes me a bad one.
It makes me irritable, and unforgiving. I live in this state of agitation, pushing people away because I can't stand to listen to them. I avoid eye contact when I'm talking so no one can read my thoughts. I 'mm' my way through conversations because I have no attention span.
I make snappy comments and snide remarks to nothing. I don't text back, because I can't summon the energy to care, or it's too much effort to compile my thoughts. I have two modes: petty and vindictive, or silent and sullen. Sprinkle a fake smile now and then, with just a dash of occasional real enthusiasm.
Somewhere in the folds of my dysfunctional brain is the real me, the sociable one who loves to make people smile, warning me that if I carry on pushing people, treating them this way, I'll have no friends left. As if I didn't already know that? I just don't have the ability to care about it right now. It's easier to hope my friendships are more stable than my mood than to explain why I'm being this way. I like to think my acting skills are just good enough I am passable most days; distracted, tired, having a bad day.
A year ago, I went on antidepressants. I didn't particularly want to - horror stories of pills that eat your brain and turn you into zombies being just one reason. I found it difficult to believe that I could be me on mind altering drugs - after all, my depression was mostly situational, surely?
Five months ago, I took myself off antidepressants - I was better! They were making me fat. I didn't need to tell anyone. How ironic that it turns out, I am only 'me' these days with a little help. Not that that is a bad thing; you can't will away a chemical imbalance, goodness knows I've tried.
Last week, I finally went back and admitted I was relapsing. New pills, and this time some counselling - something I've been scared to try since the bitch counsellor I had at thirteen. Troubled upbringing.
I thought at first I was being a bad friend because I was pissed off with everyone, but my counsellor said something that struck a chord. After describing myself as being a shit friend, and a horrible person, and someone I hated being to my friends, he simply said: "It sounds like you are more angry with yourself, than with anyone else."
Quite the little revelation, there. There are many things I hate about myself in the present. My lack of energy and emotions. My short attention span. The fact I'm overeating because food makes me happy. The way my house isn't as tidy as normal, because I can't summon up the strength to clean. I wish I could do that Hollywood trick of pulling off this body suit and then voila, there's the me I like - happy, confident, nice - and dare I say it, a stone lighter?
There's no quick zipper fix for depression, though. I'm already starting to feel a bit more 'me' back on meds, and I'm hoping the counselling will help. Self-love is definitely something that is lacking around here.
All faring well, I'll be back to myself in no time. The girl who will cancel plans when you've had your heartbroken to sit with you while you cry. The one who sends flowers to work when you've had a bad day. The one who speaks her mind instead of hiding in her head. She who is genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Depression is not an excuse for me being a bad friend, but it is an explanation.