I’ve been thinking a lot today about mental health/illness.
The flood of posts after Anthony Bourdain’s death are so cliche. “Reach out” or “There’s no shame in asking for help” or “I’m here for you” really piss me off. Sort of like how the “thoughts and prayers” sentiment does after another shooting.
Like. Thoughts and prayers? I’m here for you? You guys. We have to actually do something. What is with the pattern of everyone thinking they’re part of the solution by taking to social media about it?
Sending thoughts and prayers to gun violence victims does nothing for them. Something has to actually change. Saying, “There’s no shame in asking for help” to mental illness suffers does nothing – you have to actually be there for them, in a real way. Not just a facebook post.
And I sort of loathe the fact that people make it sound that simple. Oh, just reach out, they say. That’s the answer to all your problems. But I reached out to people last year, in the darkness, and got nothing. What do you need, they asked. I need friendship, a coffee date, I said. And I never heard from them again.
Don’t suffer in silence, they say. But when I didn’t suffer in silence, when I was open and shared what I was going thru — all of my friends disappeared. Nobody checked in on me, nobody called to see how things were going. They all knew and they all did nothing.
Then there’s the scary concept of first of all — thinking that mental illness is situational, ie: he had everything. And two: thinking we know anything about someone based on their social media and public persona.
Just because someone looks like they’re having the time of their life doesn’t mean they actually are. That could’ve just been the curated two second glimpse into their life they chose to share that day.
I think about how I shared and so often was met with, “But you seemed fine on Facebook!” Because facebook is what? Something they can check off their list and still call themselves your friend? Oh, well — I liked her photo so I’ve done my friendship duties.
I honestly don’t understand this. It’s really quite scary. We’re sharing more and more and yet we’re all so much more isolated.
I reached out to a friend a couple of weeks ago to see when we could talk on the phone. She just straight up said she was too busy. I’m sorry, but — if your life is so fucking busy that you can’t find 30 minutes to check in with a friend….you need to check your mother fucking priorities and overhaul your life.
I read this Medium article the other day about spreading joy and sending people random messages telling them what they mean to you….like this was some genius concept they had just discovered. That is not what’s wrong with the world. It’s easy for people to reach out in that way — to spread positivity.
What I want to so is send messages to so many friends I lost count telling them what pieces of shit they are. Telling them what absolute garbage people they are, let alone what a terrible friend they are. I feel like that would actually feel a lot better than messaging someone and saying, “hey I think you’re great”.
Because that kind of shit is all just words. Oh, you think I’m great, huh? Well would you come over and wash my hair? Would you bring me dinner? Would you listen to me cry? Ok, well then fuck off with you thinking I’m awesome. I don’t really need that.
I thought about this sort of two-part thing. Last year I posted something on facebook about how to be there for your friends — bring them a meal, drop by and share tea with them, etc. It wasn’t a direct call to my friends, it was just a general post. But this one gal took it personally and brought us a meal. She was sort of an outside friend, not in our direct circle, but still — it was lovely none-the-less. Some weeks (or months?) later I sent messages to literally dozens of people saying we were struggling, needed work/money, and to please keep their ears open. This same friend responded again and paid me to do some house work.
Interestingly — I never heard from that friend again. A funny example of asking for help and then receiving it, but also a direct example of — check in on your fucking friends. She witnessed us at a spectacularly low point and either never thought of us again or (more likely) just couldn’t be bothered.
Which brings me to the dozens….I mean literally 40+ people I sent private messages and emails too. And I either didn’t hear back from them, or I got a “so sorry to hear that” bullshit message, or I got a “let me ask around” message but nothing else.
So that’s turned me off of the so-called community I thought I was a part of. Because everyone loves us when we’re telling fun travel stories or sharing sex adventures, but when we actually need something — fucking crickets.
One of the people that I had initially messaged asking for help that I then never even got a response from — they messaged me some months later needing a favor. And I just thought, wow. How disconnected could you be. How out of it could you be. How selfish could you be. Of course I said no because: boundaries. And because we are not all fucking one. Treat people the way you want to be treated is nice, but it’s sort of an ignorant sentiment. Of course I want people to be nice to me and help me and be there for me, but I’m not going to be that for them if they’ve been shitty to me, you know? That’s called Being a Fucking Doormat.
It’s crazy too how long it can take for people’s true colors to show because if you’re like me and you’re a strong person who generally has their shit together — it could take years before a friendship is tested and you actually need anything from them. And that’s what happened to me. For years and years and years I was fine, I had my shit together so much that I had loads of excess love and energy to give. I wasn’t keeping score, I didn’t care. But then came the day when I needed to call upon friends. And I got nothing. It made it feel like my whole life was one giant illusion.
And now, it’s full steam ahead, but not without the motivation of wanting to stand on top of the world and then have everybody notice. And be able to tell them a very satisfactory, “go fuck yourself”.
I don’t feel like this is a bad thing though. We’re told that it is. Any negative emotion is something we need to “work through” or “let go of”. But why? Sometimes it’s okay. I’m not cynicle with new people. It’s not like I meet a new potential friend and think, “Well this isn’t worth it — they’re probably just an asshole underneath”. I’ll continue to love people and help people, just not the same people that ghosted me.
That, my friends, is self-care. That is self love. That is having some fucking dignity.