Friends Articles

Depression in Common: Losing a Friend to the Sadness You’ve Silently Battled

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

depression-different-everyoneDepression is personal. It is this aspect of depressive thoughts that make them seem impossible to share. I let mine hold me in silence and agony for years. It had me convinced that nobody cared, nobody could or would help. It played into an overall sense of hopelessness.

I struggled for many years, reading books, going to therapy and soul searching, before I finally felt depression was a thing of my past — not something I was always just staying one step ahead of.

And then an old friend committed suicide. I had known him since childhood, during my darkest days and yet I had no idea he was struggling with depression.

Relearning How to Relate to People After a Major Trauma

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

IsolationWhen I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, it was almost impossible for me to talk to people, let alone relate to them.

If it wasn’t the constant anxiety and paranoia keeping me from engaging, it was the burden of having an 800 lb. gorilla that nobody understood hanging over my head.

How could I possibly get on anyone else’s level when there was this immense self-stigmatizing diagnosis of being crazy sitting on my shoulders?

8 Ways You Can Avoid Turning Help into Hurt in Relationships

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

best friends

Fortunately, we live in a society in which helpfulness and kindness are fairly common values. We typically consult with our friends on our troubles, help a neighbor out and offer problem-solving assistance to our spouses, family and friends. This is a beautiful thing.

However, if we are not mindful, helpfulness and advice giving can be one very small step away from the less attractive behaviors of being passive-aggressive, manipulative, judgmental, attention-seeking and invasive.

Are We What We Wear?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Are We What We Wear? On a hot summer day in Central Texas I exited my apartment in a linen skirt, white short-sleeved sweater, and sandals. My neighbor, who is also a friend, greeted me on this bright sunny morning with the comment “you look like such a counselor today.”

At first I wondered what this meant and felt it might be negative in nature. However, throughout the day I embraced this idea. What does it mean to “look like a counselor?” What could it mean to look like a teacher, attorney, housewife, or barista?

Encouraging Males to Embrace Safe, Platonic Touch

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

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Touch. It’s a delicate subject. I just read an article that discussed the idea of gentle, platonic touch between men. It made the case that men are often isolated from touch at an early age by both parents, and that the lack of gentle, platonic touch is a killer. The author decided he would try a different approach, and never give up hugging his son or holding his hand when the opportunity presented itself.

As I read the author’s words, this notion of touch between men felt sort of radical, and I started to wonder why. I found myself agreeing that, for the most part, this physical form of isolation seems true for most men, though not all of us. Many of us get cut off from touch at a relatively early age.

Leaving a Legacy Behind

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Leaving a Legacy BehindI recently saw “The Fault In Our Stars,” based on the novel by John Green. This heartbreaking film portrays two teenagers, Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who fall in love as they both battle cancer.

Though I’m not interested in reviewing the film (quite frankly, it was a bit too emotionally disturbing for my taste), I do wish to highlight one crucial aspect that “The Fault In Our Stars” emphasized — the concept of legacy.

A Very Public Suicide and Those of Us Left Behind

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

A Very Public Suicide and Those of Us Left BehindI saw the news Monday morning that there was a jumper on the Williamsburg Bridge. In a city of eight million people it’s not uncommon news. The report said: black male in his early 30s, no name, a note was found in his briefcase.

They emphasized how he had snarled early-morning traffic.

A person commented on one news site: “This city will chew you up and spit you out.”

Four days later I would learn that man was my long-time friend Don. He had stopped traffic. What may have appeared to be an inconvenient commute was actually a lot of joy and light leaving the world.

Not the Man I Used to Know

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Not the Man I Used to KnowEarly in my sobriety, I became friendly with a university professor who regularly attended my home group meeting. This person taught political science, and I enjoyed our conversations about current events, especially discussions around the Middle East, as Israeli and Palestinian tensions were peaking during this period. He was a supportive friend, and encouraged me to mentor another newcomer who later became one of my very best friends.

A short time into our friendship, the professor showed up late to our meeting and was disruptive throughout the hour. He stood up several times in the middle of other people sharing, washed his face in the small kitchenette sink, and had several coughing fits. It was odd, but I didn’t know enough to confront him or suggest he leave the meeting.

It’s OK to Have Anxiety

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

It's OK to Have AnxietyAnxiety is a fickle beast. It can come on at any point during your day and completely wreck you until you’re able to find a place to unwind.

A major point of contention in my struggle with mental illness has been the anxiety I feel in social situations.

It goes like this: You’re about to enter a new situation and deal with people who don’t know you. You wonder what they’re going to think of you.

How to Ask for Help in a Crisis

Friday, July 11th, 2014

How to Ask for Help in a CrisisI have lived with schizophrenia for eight years. In those eight years I have gone through cycles of wellness. While it primarily gets better with each passing day, there are still periods here and there where life becomes too overwhelming or where I push myself too hard. Then I feel the intense crushing weight of existence on my shoulders.

In those times I tend to retreat, not only to my apartment but into myself. I lie there on my couch staring at the TV, emotions flowing through my spine. It’s all I can do to keep myself from crying.

Sometimes the feeling lasts for only a day or two. Other times it builds until there’s a tipping point where I make some declaration of exasperation and throw my family into a tizzy of worry.

When Someone You Love is Unhappy

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

When Someone You Love is UnhappyLove is what connects us to others. It provides us with fond memories of those around us. The truth about love, though, is that it often links our own happiness with the happiness of others. We feel compelled to make those we love who are unhappy, happy.

It is because of our own discomfort in seeing those we love unhappy that we seek out ways to change the situation, justifying our behaviors on the idea that we are helping them. Or, we begin to see our own happiness fade in the presence of an unhappy friend or family member.

You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental IllnessIn the eight years I’ve lived with schizophrenia I’ve seen horrible days and I’ve seen days where the sun seemed to shine just right on my face and strike a certain happiness in my soul.

Throughout every day, though, I’ve struggled with my thoughts.

There isn’t a day that goes by where a bit of panic doesn’t creep up into me. In those moments it can feel like the world is against you. It can feel like you are the only person alive who is feeling that certain kind of panic, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not.

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