I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with depression. Not because it was clearly a horrible time in my life, but because minutes later I received a text message from a close friend telling me that she didn’t like who I was anymore.
‘You’ve changed,’ she said.
She wasn’t wrong, I had. I’d changed a lot. I wasn’t myself at all, I had been possessed. However, despite her observation being absolutely true, it still hurts. I didn’t like who I was either, but for a good friend to point out what a horrible, selfish person I’d become, it felt like she was kicking me whilst I was down. If I’m honest, it still feels a bit like that. She told me to ‘look at myself’. The last thing I wanted to do.
The reality is, people don’t understand depression. People aren’t educated on mental illness. They think that you can ‘snap out of it’; ‘pull yourself together‘ they say. My friend thought I could do that. She thought I was choosing to be a miserable cow with no purpose, motivation or energy. She thought I was choosing to cry myself to sleep each night and question my worth every minute that I was awake.
‘I don’t like you as a person anymore.’
We argued. I lost my rag a little bit. I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed of my diagnosis and I felt ashamed of who I was. Now, I don’t feel ashamed, I feel proud. I fought a hard, hard battle. It’s a shame that I lost people along the way, of course it is. But to hear that your friend has been diagnosed with depression and decide to tell them that you don’t like them anymore is a low blow.
No thanks to you, I’m doing okay. I hope you like who I am now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t give up on somebody with a mental illness. You find it hard to be friends with them? They’re finding it harder, I promise.