I’m good at giving advice.  Really, really good.  I can be sensible, wise, kind and empathetic and I have frequently surprised myself by seeming to be able to help my friends with my quality advice offerings.

Taking advice, however?  Not so much.

Nonetheless, I decided I would force myself to take my own advice and tell some friends here that I was feeling bad.  It wasn’t easy – when people say “Hi, how are you?” my automatic response is “Very well, thanks. How are you?” so its not as simple as it sounds just to casually drop in a phrase like “I feel a familiar sense of anxiety and dread” or “I feel close to tears for no clear reason, actually” or, and this is the one with the real bite, “I’m worried that I might be slipping back into Depression again.  I had Depression before, you know, and longed to commit suicide – thought about all the ways I might be able to do it effectively and with the minimum of fuss and bother to others. I don’t want to go back there.  Well, at least, I know I shouldn’t want to go back there but the trouble is that when you’re depressed the distance between wanting to live and wanting to die which seems like a vast landscape when you’re well shrinks to just a few, easy, shuffling footsteps when you’re ill, until you cease to care and find yourself slipping and sliding all the way down the suddenly empty hill to the cold muddy puddle at the bottom.  But other than that, I’m fine, thanks.  How are you?”

You see my difficulty.

Anyway, I did it.  They were universally concerned and caring and supportive.  And powerless.

But I took a day and a half off work, which was good, and then spent a very enjoyable weekend in the company of another set of girlfriends in the coastal suburbs outside Sydney.  

We talked about our healthy eating plans – all the foods we had to avoid – and all the exercise we are going to take, as we stuffed ourselves like Foie Gras geese on chocolate, crisps and bread.  Then we told each other how gorgeous we all are and how stupid the male population of Sydney is, not to be beating a path to our respective doors, as we watched ‘Under a Tuscan Sun’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ on DVD with the house’s feline and canine residents firmly ensconced on our laps.

How men survive without this kind of reciprocal network of affirmation I will never know.

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11 Responses to Girlfriends

  1. LazyBuddhist says:

    Good for you! And while your girls day out may not have alleviated that sense of foreboding, you held it at bay for at least a day.

    Even though part of the nature of depression is a wish to hide and feel ashamed, I think a big step forward is to speak its name out loud and treat it for what it is – not a character defect, but a disease. Sure, friends may not not always be able to help us, but with each friend who knows, it’s like leaving a bread crumb so that others can find you or you can find your way back.

    Hang in there Trucie. It sounds like you have some good friends there. And you have a lot of friends out here in blogland who understand Depression all too well. Take care.

  2. piereth says:

    Sounds like a wonderful day and I applaud you for telling your friends and us, who are also your friends! that you are feeling crappy. You know you can tell me anything – if you even want to just splurge the gloop out of your head into the pensieve of my email account you’d be welcome!

    Men don’t survive – they endure without it. I have a friend going through similar to me – he’s been able to talk to nobody at all about it until I asked him if he was all right. He says the pressure has been unbelievable. I can only think they must put the fear and worry somewhere else. How, though?


  3. azahar says:

    I still reread that last email you sent me, that was so full of genuine caring and real understanding. I’ve been happily-crazy-busy this past week with my beautiful friend Craig visiting, but I will make it a point to write back very soon and attempt to help you feel as good as you made me feel.

    Meanwhile … more snibbles!

  4. Jenny says:

    I love how when you have a night out with girlfriends that you actually feel refreshed… like you’ve taken a nap, or let out a big SIGH.

    I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. Don’t ever fall so far that you leave us… we would miss you terribly.

  5. I don’t know why watching Jane Eyre cheers me up, but it always does. Sounds like a great time.

  6. modestypress says:

    Many men hang out in bars watching sports events on big screen televisions and complaining about women and trying to feel “manly.”

    I am not supposed to tell you this, as I am sure it will come as a big surprise and leave you shocked and dismayed.

  7. Smart men survive by either capturing the heart of a woman who will listen, or by having female friends.

    The ones who don’t or can’t do these things remain unenlightened, stuck, and generally miserable, angry, and often alcoholics.

    I’m so glad you have a support network, and that you decided to use it. It’s so hard to do, it’s sosososososososo hard. But it’s dawning on me, gradually, that people actually want to be good friends. Like, they want to be there and be loving. And it’s actually a kindness to let them do that … to make them feel that they’re giving something important and worthwhile.

    I know how I feel when someone I care about calls or emails me with something they need to talk about. I’m always so relieved to have been available. I guess other people feel that way too. What a revelation.

  8. David is quite right. Without my female friends, email, blogging and in what is commonly referred to as real life, I would not survive.

  9. truce says:

    Lazy Buddhist – absolutely, I promised myself I would stand up and shout about it next time if it ever struck again, rather than slapping a smile on and trying to cope alone. “The disease that dare not speak its name”. 😉

    piereth – I think they put the fear and worry in their sock drawer, and then the fumes just annihilate them…

    azahar – I’m so glad that my email touched you, really, I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to know that. 🙂

    Jenny – isn’t it amazing that eating junk, talking til your throat hurts and staying up waaaaay too late watching soppy romantic nonsense makes you feel so good?!

    waxingstrange – I’ve always loved Jane Eyre – possibly because I went away to school where I was frequently cold and hungry, and then I became a nanny in a place far away from home. I still haven’t met my Mr Rochester, though… unless its David!

    Mr Random – I am shocked and dismayed. I may have to go to a sports bar to recover.

    David – that’s it exactly: people WANT to be a good friend. What a revelation. Word. 😉

    Archie – Hang in there and if you see the black dog, throw something heavy at it.

  10. modestypress says:

    As you know, I have been pursuing the impractical and perhaps improper goal of matching you up with David. My guess is that the two of you would be a compatible mismatch.

    One symptom that leads me to this diagnosis is that each of you is good at offering advice to other people, but not so good at doing the same for yourselves.

    Therefore, I envision in your (imaginary) relationship that you would take turns. One day you would offer him good advice. The next day he would offer you good advice.

    Would either of you take it? Does the lady eat the tiger?

  11. truce says:

    why would the lady eat the tiger? they smell and they’re far too furry.

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