Thursday, 12 September 2019

I want to say something about mental illness

and that is this - "IT IS NOT CATCHING".
You cannot catch severe depression or any other sort of mental illness. There isn't any sort of fancy vaccine for it either.  If there was a vaccine then the world might be a much happier place. 
I have been thinking a lot about this recently because a friend of mine has been having another depressive episode.
Her husband has been amazing. He has supported her through these episodes not once but many times. He has kept me up to date too. I really appreciate that.
In return I have tried to be there for her. Instead of phoning and trying to talk to her when she was in hospital I wrote her letters. That way I thought she could read them when she was ready - and reread them if she wanted to do so. I tried to keep the letters positive without saying "you poor dear". She didn't need that. 
On her release from hospital she phoned me and we had a chat. We both tried to keep to the positive. I know it was an effort for her and, when I stopped talking to her,  the Senior Cat was looking at me and I had to admit "I feel a bit flat". Yes, talking to her like that was something that I felt required caution. I didn't want to say the "wrong" thing. It was a "keep things positive and encouraging" sort of conversation because she is still fragile although doing her best to be positive and look forward. 
And then she phoned me again two days ago but I didn't feel ready to write about it until now. I was intending to phone her yesterday but she got in first and I feel bad about that. I should have done something sooner.
I knew she would want to know something. She belongs to the same group I belong to and she would want to know what had happened at the meeting I had just attended. I had thought that other people who have known her even longer than I have might have contacted her and told her what had happened. Nobody has been in touch. She was on the committee and, for years, held a position of great importance. She is the person who always put her hand up and out to help.
Oh yes, we got a card and people signed it but just two of us instigated that. Nobody else had been in touch. 
There's something seriously wrong with this. No, she doesn't want a lot of phone calls. She couldn't handle that but surely one person who holds some position of authority could have made the effort to contact her and say, "We thought you'd like to know...."?
Perhaps I am expecting too much and yes, I should have done it myself - done it sooner so that I was the one contacting her. I
I want her to feel we are supporting her - so that it will be easier for her to come back into the group. 
Why didn't anyone else do it? Do they really think mental illness is catching - even down the phone line? Are they just feeling embarrassed and awkward? Perhaps they really feel they can't handle the situation and don't know what to say.
I don't know. What I do know is that we need to be there for her.

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