Monday, May 14, 2007

Reentering Life (Part 2)

On May 5, I wrote a post called Reentering Life, in which I talked about how increasingly difficult I find it to reengage with my friends after a depression is over. I wrote that I find it easier to be with people I don't know rather than good friends who want to talk about their lives and ask me questions about mine. I said that once a depression is over, I'm not really interested in listening to a recitation of what's happened to everyone during my absence nor do I feel like talking about what I've been doing or perhaps more appropriately, not doing.

I received a few different takes on this from Paul, Marja, and BamaGal, which you can read in the comments section. Yesterday, I received an email from Syd at Bipolarity that made me realize that my post was not entirely truthful. (I've linked to her post so you can read her response in context.)

Actually, let me rephrase what I've just said. When I expressed my feelings on May 5, I was truthful about how I felt...then. However, what I didn't realize at the time, was that my depression wasn't quite over. It was on its last legs but not completely gone. In fact, when a depression still has its tentacles in me--no matter how thin and weak they may be--I am not interested in reengaging with friends. However, all of that changes once I'm truly well.

Yesterday marked my first day of "real wellness." And so I emailed ten friends (and three relatives) and announced, "I'm back." In one case, I invited a friend who lives a few blocks away to take a walk with me this week. In a few other cases, I told friends who live further away or in other cities or states that I'm well again and just wanted to say "hi" and catch up. I wrote highlights of what's been happening to my husband and son and told how I sold my book, started this blog, and am taking a photography class--all topics I am interesting in discussing.

Most of all, I was letting everyone know that I'm willing to reengage, and I will respond to telephone calls and emails. The reason I want to clarify this is that I don't want Syd or others to feel that when I'm truly well, I feel it's healthy to remain reclusive or cut off from those people I care about most.

I don't want to give the impression that I feel that intimacy isn't important because I believe it is. I don't want to suggest that I feel this illness is an excuse to shed friends or relationships just because it's sometimes so difficult to maintain them.

(to be continued)


marja said...

I'm glad to hear that, Susan. Syd's post really made me sad for her. Having to leave friends behind every time a depression hits just does not seem to be the way things should be.

I must be different from the norm. When I get depressed I reach out to my friends. I can't bear the aloneness I feel. So I call them and tell them how I feel. Yes, I complain to them. My close friends will live with that. They get the cheerful and fun me other times and they understand that I go up and down. With my friends I don't pretend.

Isn't that the way it should be for BP's relationships? If we educate our friends about the nature of our disorder they have the tools to help them deal with us. We need their support. (I do, anyway)

Syd said...

Susan, I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling better and that you are indeed "reentering life."

Your points are all well taken, as are Marja's, and I assure you that you did not leave the impression in your original post that you do not value relationship with others.

I am fully aware, and believe I've stated in previous posts, that I have series relationship issues, that I suspect are exacerbated, but not caused by BP. Betrayal, co-dependency, rejection, physical and emotional abuse, all play a part in the complex nature of my past dealings with others. Even had I been aware of BP during those times, I don't think I would have had the energy to add that dynamic to the mix.

You and Marja are truly blessed to have loving, loyal and empathetic family and friends who love you unconditionally.