So, the last week or so has been emotionally challenging for me. For no good reason. Just likely the pressures of the season and a whole lot of missing my loved ones who are no longer with me. The notice about my surgery consultation, coupled with holiday and work stuff, and my daughter's uncanny timing with trying to assert slightly more independence has been a lot to absorb. Fitting in all these pre-op tests with work and making the magic of Christmas miraculously happen without seeming to take the effort we all know it takes - possibly a little too much. I'm on the brink of tears probably 50 minutes of every single waking hour, and I'm barely sleeping.
Today I met up with long time friends of mine for our annual "festive special" celebration at le Swisse Poulet. And what would ordinarily be an energized couple of hours sharing gift bags full of baking and happy stories of things that have happened since we saw each other last in the summer, turned quickly into a sad story sharing experience that left me honestly ravaged. One of my friends announced that she's separating from her husband and when asked why, I suddenly realized it could have been me sharing precisely the same story today. I realized quickly that I'm lucky my husband has made the efforts he has. Otherwise it likely would have been me sharing this very news. My daughter's godfather is also part of this crew, and when I first met up with him for our lunch today, he quickly asked me about my mental health issues, and confided that he has been feeling extremely unhappy and that he's now seeing his family doctor. My heart broke for him, because let me tell you, the last thing you want to hear is that someone you love dearly is now experiencing the same thing you've survived. ESPECIALLY when you still struggle with it, and you have the tools to help you cope. And the third part of our foursome is also dealing with some sadness that is related to the loss of a loved one. Between all four of us, we have been so dramatically impacted by our losses and we have seen each other through the darkest hours, that to see us all come to this screeching halt, and see us all stiffening our lip and squaring off our shoulders to brace ourselves for the next hit, was so remarkably poignant and disheartening all at once.
I love these people. I think they love me just as much. We don't see or talk to one another nearly as often as any of us would wish to, but I do believe we always know we're still there for one another. At least I hope we all feel that way.
In driving my friend back to work after our lunch, I reminded him of some of the things he told me when I first got sick. I tried to reassure him that it was manageable, that he could do this, and that his people love him. He was quick to exit because he's not used to this kind of attention or needing to be this vulnerable. And that's when it struck me. We're struggling because we've let our own hand made safety net pull and stretch and now there are some rather large holes and we're afraid of slipping through.
And that how it struck me. We need to "re-knit our net". We need to catch each other and build one another up once we have landed each other safely on the shoreline. And maybe our lunch was step one of that, but in any event, this should be true for everyone who suffers with mental illness like depression. And particularly for the loved ones of those affected by a mental illness. They need you to knit their net for them. The worst fear anyone with depression or anxiety disorder is that they'll fail and fall, and get lost completely. It's absolutely terrifying to be in that position where ever step you take feels like it's on the edge of a slippery cliff. 10,000 feet into the summit of a mountain, and when you look over the edge, it's so steep a drop you can't tell if the net even exists. We need that net. Everyone does. So, if you're reading this, and you know a loved one has been down a lot lately. Reach out. Do whatever you can to pull them out of their funk. You won't know you've been successful til you've not given up on them. It takes time, but every single phone call, every single touch, and every single kind word knits another catch in their safety net.
As we approach Christmas, this kind of effort is never more important than it is for that person right this moment, today. Pick up your phone and dial the numbers. Leave a message and say "I love you". You might be amazed at how uplifted you even feel by having said it.