This isn’t an entry about how to avoid being depressed, or ways I try to fight falling into a funk. Rather this post explores a fear I have when it comes to opening up, about showing others how I’m feeling when things aren’t great.
Some years ago my wife and I made friends with someone who shortly thereafter moved to Southeast Asia with her military husband. The time difference was hard on her, as was the fact that many of her old friends didn’t talk with her often after the move.
We tried to keep her spirits up, and my late-night work schedule allowed for frequent chats, in which I tried to remain positive for her. She hated the country, the people, the “crooked cab drivers,” and the fact that she was so far away from home. She pined for her husband’s tour to be over, if for no other reason that she could return to her friends.
As the two year term came up, we were happy for her to go back home, to share in everything she felt she had missed during her stay abroad. What happened though was that our chats became about what problems she faced now that she was back home. Friends had moved on, things were different, she missed being abroad, and nothing was going right in her life. She missed being abroad and longed for the life she had left behind there.
Essentially the mirror image of all the complaints she had when she was away, repeated again when she returned home.
It got to the point where we wouldn’t ask how things were going anymore, because we didn’t want to hear the day’s latest torrent of negativity. Our interactions became briefer and briefer, eventually ceasing altogether. Every interaction with her was about something negative, and we realized that the only constant in all of her woes was herself.
I genuinely worry that, when I open up to people or write entries like this, I’ll end up souring relationships, that I’ll be seen as a negative person, driving people away like my former friend did with a constant barrage of woe and despair.
My depression has cost me a lot, chief among them a very important relationship, the loss of which I feel regularly. I hate to think that it will push others away, and I fear that they will see any interaction with me as a “what’s wrong today” session, filled with cyclic and repeating problems that do not cease.
Today was a difficult mental health day, and trying to square that with work and social obligations can be challenging at the best of times, paralyzing and crippling at the worst. Every step may be a step forward, as the adage goes, but some steps remind me just how far I have yet to go, and the path seems impossibly long.