I have a friend. Well, I have lots of friends. But I have one friend in particular. This post is for her.
We met about three years ago, just before I realised I have depression. We got on OK, went for coffee a few times and hit it off. And then I realised I had depression and started seeing a counsellor. Shortly after, she realised she was also not OK. Since that moment, we have become so inseparable that everyone thinks we are sisters. We've stopped correcting them.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we're there again. I'm dealing with my issues through counselling, but she has gone one step further and had joined a group therapy class. I am so in awe - I have enough trouble opening up to one complete stranger every week, yet she manages to tell lots of people all in one go what's happening in her head. I don't know how she does it.
Every week, as part of her class, she has homework. Of course, she is super diligent and does it without fail, and we analyse it together before each class, because that's what friends are for, right?
This week, the homework was to ask close friends some questions - questions like 'how would you describe me?' and 'what positive characteristics do you think I have?' So, of course, she asked me.
We are so close it should have been easy to answer these questions. But it wasn't easy at all. It was really really hard.
We are so similar it felt like the questions were about me. Not in a narcissistic way, just that I find it so hard to say nice things about myself that I put myself in her shoes, and I know how hard it is to hear other people say nice things about you when you don't believe them yourself. And I know that, in saying nice things, as much as the professionals say it will help, I will make her cry. That doesn't feel very nice to me.
I don't know if I can handle the guilt of making her cry, knowing that it is because of something I have said, nice or not. I don't want to be the one to tip her over the edge and make her feel worse, knowing that she struggles so hard to believe all of the nice things people say about her. I know she feels that way because I feel it too, and it is so hard to separate that from the knowledge that, maybe in the long run, it will help.
I am so proud of my friend. I love her to pieces, and I would do anything to make her happy and to feel better. I love being her friend because, in our own slightly confused and messed up way, when I am with her I feel some semblance of normality - I know that I am not the only person with problems and seemingly irrational issues, and that makes everything just a little bit easier to deal with.
So I am also completely, overwhelmingly, confused right now. Do I say nice things and feel guilty that I made her cry, knowing how hard it is for her to process nice things; or do I just keep doing what I'm doing and stand by her side and hold her hand on every step of this ridiculous journey?
Whatever happens, I guess I have to do something. And since she's probably reading this through floods of tears, it's probably too late for me to do nothing. I guess I can live with the guilt, as long as it helps...