Thursday, June 16, 2005

advice

I sent this email to Theo just now. We had dinner last evening and discussed depression and how one deals both with it in one's self and in a friend. Since I have been guilty of posting this sort of thing and then deleting it in a fit of second-guessing (one of my worst pathologies) this time I promise I will leave it here, no matter what.

Hi Thierry,

I have been thinking a lot about our discussion of depression last evening, and how ___________ is doing with regards to advice, etc.

I don't know if I was able to articulate my ideas clearly; I was very tired from my days of no sleep and my brain felt slow. But now I will try. Forgive me if I am repeating myself.

I think it is very difficult for anyone who has not had chronic, long-term depression--lifelong--to understand how it eats away at your confidence, your ability to make plans for the future, your outlook on possibility. My most well-meaning friends are full of suggestions: take a trip, take a class, go out and do things, join a group...and while I can intellectually and rationally see the logic and the benefit in all these, emotionally it can be impossible to take steps in any direction. You become paralyzed with anxieties and fears, and sometimes it is far safer to stay in one place. As much as doing so is just making the depression stay in place, it is often the only choice that is possible.

Does this make sense?

And so you can latch onto the idea of a relationship providing the stability and balance that your own psyche can't provide. While this places an impossible burden on the object of the relationship, it is an idea that is hard to shake off. I know because I have this problem, and I stay in a relationship sometimes for the "wrong" reasons, although for me they seem to be the only "right" reasons.

So _________ may withdraw because he is afraid; he might not want to admit this, and he might not want to seem like he is weak, but he is. I don't mean this in any way as a criticism. He is ill. As am I. The best we can do is try to manage. I know this sounds defeatist, but it is, for me anyway, the conclusion I have reached after thinking/pondering/questioning my depression for most of my life.

I know you are a generous and kind person and I know you mean the best when you reach out to him. Don't be hurt if he can't respond all the time.

Your friend,

Jonathan

2 comments:

lodgerlow said...

I wonder if I could hover over a point you made in your email? "I think it is very difficult for anyone who has not had chronic, long-term depression--lifelong--to understand how it eats away at your confidence...". I know that what I am going to say is something that you know already, but I think that it does no harm to pause with it for a minute.

Whilst your comment is true, there is great value for depressed folk in being around people who don't understand depression. By their example we are reminded what it feels like to not feel depressed. The longer you have been depressed, the harder this is to remember... and the further (both in the past and future) our own healthy moods seem from us.

Whilst there is value in being understood, there is also value in being near people who care... but don't understand.

Thierry said...

Our conversation last night and your email today made me see certain things that I probably couldn't see - and therefore couln't understand.
I don't care so much that he can't respond all the time. I think it's something clear for me that love is unconditional or only a joke. All I can say is that I'm here and available, now, tomorrow, years from now. I only wish I could make a real difference and help the ones I love more than I actually can sometimes. This is where the real frustration is. It's not about what I receive. It's about what I wish I could give.
I remember when I was a teenager and my mother was depressed for 2 years. This is also how I felt. Terribly frustrated that I couldn't find the way to give her something that would change her condition.
Thank you so much for helping me understand better these things.