Sep 20, 2018
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
One of my best friends is afflicted with depression. He has it as well managed as such a vile disease can be, but there are still times he suffers in silence.
Silence is his way of coping. It is his way of getting through the darkness that consumes his mind; of escaping the voices that scream negativities and make one question their own purpose for existence. Silence is his way of communicating that depression has taken over his mind, be it for an hour, a day or a week, but I have learned over the few years I have known him that he will always pull himself up, regardless of the weight he carries on his shoulders.
His silence is actually quite ironic since he has spent his entire life in the public eye, communicating for a living. I have known of him for years, having seen him in the media however I never paid him much attention and assumed he was just another person with celebrity status, living “the life.” I saw a sense of confidence bordering on arrogance and assumed that carried on through both his professional and personal life. When he finally had a career change, I never thought twice about it, or him.
I needed my friendships to be tangible
I have had mental health issues my entire life. I was always depressed, suicidal and self-harming but had never been “treated” or even properly diagnosed for any of those things. It was only three years ago now that my healing journey truly began and I don’t even recall why or what led me to joining Twitter. I had never been big on social media as I thought it would be full of drama and that no meaningful relationships could ever come from platforms where people would never meet each other. I needed my friendships to be tangible, accessible and be in person. Nevertheless, I started a Twitter account during my darkest times. I was not even sure what hashtags to follow or how exactly the whole thing worked, but I slowly figured it out. During one particularly desperate and emotional evening, I sent a tweet saying that I was feeling suicidal. I had no idea what responses I would get, if any at all.
I felt like I had possibly made a friend.
Before I knew it, there were a dozen or more people reaching out to me, asking how they could help, which shocked me. How and why would these strangers help me, or even care to do so? One lady private messaged me and after a few conversations both online and on the phone, I felt like I had possibly made a friend. My illnesses were all raging at the time and so to widen my very minimal support system, she introduced me to a friend of hers who not only suffered with depression like we did, but was also starting a mental health foundation to create a sense of community for those who are afflicted. As I mentioned, I had known who he was for years and was immediately skeptical about someone of his “societal stature” even talking to someone like me, but with some encouragement, I sent him an email, expecting no reply.
I don’t think it was even an hour before he replied, and his response threw me off guard. Instead of rudely dismissing what I had told him in my email, he gently replied that he understood; that he personally knew how it felt to carry the weight of depression and anxiety and the depth of the dark hole it can so quickly drag you down into. He asked how he could help, gave me his personal email and phone number, and told me I could message him anytime. I was shocked, but being a pessimist, I didn’t think that it was any more than a one time reply to try and help a person out of a deep depression.
Convinced that if I text, he would not answer, I put my theory to the test. I sent a text explaining the severity of my depression and that I was having suicidal thoughts and within five minutes, my phone vibrated, with him on the other end asking once again how he could help. Every time I replied, I thought I had ended the conversation but no, he was not going to let it go quite that easy. We chatted for a few hours over text. I had calmed down and had begun to not only assess the situation, but him as well.
Having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) makes having and keeping friendships a true challenge, not only for me, but for the friend as well. I am terrified of abandonment and will do anything to avoid it at all costs, which for me often means building walls so high no one can get in, over or through. I do not trust easily, nor do I believe trust should just be given…there has to be a degree of it that is earned. With BPD, one of the biggest challenges is our propensity to push you away when you are getting too close and to then reel you back in because we truly don’t want you to leave. It is a vicious circle triggered by allowing someone to get in behind those walls and then realize they are going to leave anyway, so push them away before they have a chance to leave on their own. It gives me some semblance of control.
He planted himself in my life like a tree with roots.
We starting chatting every few days, which quickly became daily and we have not stopped doing so since. I started slowly to let him in, but each time I quickly retreated and pushed him away, and not necessarily in the nicest of ways, however, regardless of what I said, or the tone I said it in, he just kept coming back. The next day I would get a text to see how I am doing, and regardless of my reply or lack thereof, he planted himself in my life like a tree with roots. It’s been near three years now, and although I do it much less, I still occasionally give him the good old push and pull test, and not once, not one single day has he let me down.
He has become one of the very few constants in my life. In fact, he has become my rock. He has talked me off the ledge more times than I can count. He provides the rational mind for me when mine is not working. He not only validates my depression, but he truly does understand it. He is humble, and trustworthy. I know I can tell him absolutely anything without fear of judgement or repercussions. He spends his time speaking publicly about depression and mental health with one goal…to eliminate the stigma that surrounds mental health. His foundation has created perhaps the largest online community of support for those who suffer with various mental health illnesses, by simply letting people know they are not alone; by encouraging people to reach out when they are down and providing a platform for them to do so.
I am truly blessed and thankful for his presence in my life; for his patience, loyalty and endless amount of empathy. I am lucky to have crossed paths with someone with a genuinely kind soul. He has and will continue to change the direction of my life with his support, and I am so very lucky to be able to call him a part of my family. He is one of the few reasons I am alive to write this story and my gratitude to him is endless.
Thank you my friend, for being my lifeline.
I love you now and always.