Let’s say the average person experiences their emotions on a 1-10 scale;
Typically, the day-to-day feelings may be sitting around a 4. Emotions exist, but don’t determine much, unless something out of the ordinary happens (a job promotion, your best friend got married, a death, etc). A person’s emotions will peak during events like these, they’ll probably be sitting around the 7-10 mark. The feelings will most likely stay a while, depending on the significance of the event.
As someone who lives with major depression and anxiety, I’m almost always living in the 7-10 range. I just have a lot of emotion…. All the time. There’s no real rhyme or reason for it, that’s just how I feel… all the time. Some days are easier than others, but some I struggle to get out of bed & do the bare minimum. The emotional exhaustion I experience may turn me into a “bad friend” – or at least it makes me feel like one.
My mental health gets in the way of a lot of things & can make it hard for me to do the things I really want to do – to someone who doesn’t deal with mental illness, this may sound ridiculous. They may not fully understand how draining the emotional roller coasters are.
To me, my mental health feels like a really big, weighted blanket. Sometimes it’s easy for me to take it off, but some days it feels like it’s 700lbs & I struggle to get out from underneath it.
Maybe that’s why my hands shake so bad.. Trying to lift 700lbs of unwanted emotion is hard.
Let me break it down.
Sometimes I don’t seem invested in your stories or your life.
Trust me when I say, I do care about the people around me. I want to know about your life, even if I forget to ask what’s going on.
My sadness, my extreme exhaustion, my lack of focus… these are all very real effects of my depression that I experience daily. Not everyone understands this. These mental blockages are always in my mind, sometimes I have a hard time grasping what is actually being said. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not trying to seem rude or uninterested. I simply have 100 things on my mind, but somehow it seems empty – if that makes sense. I may be in the conversation physically, but mentally I’m trying to maneuver through gallons of depressive gunk. But, I DO still care.
I may not go to your social events.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going out. I love dressing up & hanging out with my girlfriends. Whether its a planned event, or something spur of the moment, I’m probably super excited about it. Unfortunately, my moods are unpredictable. I might be so excited when we were talking about it, but I might bail at the last minute. I’m not surprised if this makes people not want to invite me out or see me as a “bad friend”.
By the time the event comes around, I may be too “down” to get out bed. I may be able to get up and take a shower, brush my teeth or even my hair. I may go through all of my favourite outfits & decide I don’t look good in any of them, even though I looked great when I tried them on a few days ago. I may be having second thought about what people are going to think of me if i do go out:
“Wow she wore that?”
“Look at her makeup, my niece could do better”
“Wow her friend is beautiful. So tall & so skinny”
When my anxiety gets like this & I start rethinking my choice of going, more often then not, I’m probably not going to go. It’s not that I don’t want to be there, it’s just that all of this builds up & my brain takes over. Sometimes I can fight it, sometimes I can’t.
Sometimes i wont answer texts, emails, or phone calls;
Do you know how many times I’ve sat & watched my phone ring until it goes to voicemail?
This isn’t because I don’t care, or aren’t interested in what you have to say. For whatever reason, my brain is convinced that if I answer the phone or look at that text message, bad news is going to be in the other line. 9/10 times – that’s not the case. Communication is SO important for me, but some days it’s really hard to process my thoughts into words.
However, it can be the total opposite… I can either go days without any conversation with you, or I’ll literally blow your phone up because my brain makes unrealistic scenarios in my head & I overthink everything.
I feel like I’m in a constant “tug-of-war” with my mind & reality.
If we’re having a consistent conversation all day, and you tell me you’re going to McDonald’s for ice cream, I will literally stress out until you text me when you’re home.
I know – but for whatever reason, my mind automatically thinks of the worst possible situations. Think of every unrealistic horror/action/drama plot line you can think of, that’s what’s going through my head. Whether it’s safety I’m concerned about, or maybe I just think you’re mad at me. Maybe your “tone” was off when you told me you’re getting ice cream… I’ll end up double or triple texting you, four times if you’re REALLY special.
“Are you safe?”
“Just want to make sure that we’re okay”
“You didn’t add a smiley face are you mad at me lol”
I understand this can be annoying and extremely frustrating if you’re on the receiving end, but trust me, I’m just as annoyed. I can feel your emotions through the phone, which makes the situation worse.
I overthink, you get annoyed, I get upset because you’re annoyed & then I overthink again. A cycle that seems to never end.
Am I a bad friend?
I don’t want to be. I don’t try to be. I hate that my invisible illness makes me come across as one. I aim to be as good of a friend as you are to me. I want to be there for you. I want to hear about your life & do different things with you.
Truth is, there’s a massive elephant in the room all the time. My mental health puts up a huge barrier in all my relationships. I’m constantly leaping over internal hurdles to try to keep all my relation”ships” afloat. Some days, your energy won’t be matched. I might seem spacey, or preoccupied. I might forget to text back. I might have to miss the party that we’ve been planning for weeks.
So, maybe I am a “bad friend” sometimes.
Please understand: I promise I’ll work on trying to tackle the barrier, but I can’t promise I’ll always be able to do it – 700lbs of unwanted emotion is hard. I struggle with depression & anxiety, but they don’t define who I am.
I want to be the best friend that I can be, despite what my brain tells me.
I’m going to do everything in my power to do that.
All my love,