Tonight I was reminded of the possibility that my address book may change, and it fact, it may be changing even now, without my knowledge. One of the things that I was keenly aware of when I became outspoken about my depression was the fact that not everyone may be understanding nor amicable to the idea of associating with (or dealing with) someone with a mental illness. Oh, and by the way, I don't shy away from the term "mental illness" either. My depression is not a "condition" or "issue" or feeling. It is a serious disease, and let's face it, some people are uncomfortable being around those of us who are saddled with an affliction. That's sad, because they don't need to be afraid or uncomfortable. I'm not, nor have I ever been dangerous to anyone else. I've never exposed anyone else to peril, and in fact, in serious situations where I am a decision maker, my disease and personality actually provide me with a unique analytical perspective on cause and effect. I don't approach life in an overly optimistic sense, but I am not fatalistic either. I am a realist. And, by the way, depression doesn't make one stupid either.
What depression does do, is turn one inward on his or herself, and without going deeply into the symptoms and nastiness of the thing, to make a long story short, people in a depressive episode are no fun. Picture Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. Except this Eeyore is not only morose, he is also irritable, snappy, finds himself apologizing a lot, and becoming more and more isolation in actuality and perceptions.
In a Winnie the Pooh story, Pooh and Piglet and Roo would rally around Eeyore and at the end of the story, they would all go to Rabbit's house for carrot pie and honey. In reality, Pooh and the gang may get tired of Eeyore and stop calling or coming around. Eeyore becomes more and more socially removed, and he is alone with his thoughts, despair, and hopelessness. Eeyore may turn to alcohol, or drugs, or some other self-medicating, and/or self-destructive activity. The poor grey ass spirals and eventually he dies, except for...
Tigger. Forgot about him didn't you? And Owl, and Christopher Robin. Heck, even some characters we don't even know yet. Eeyore's address book changes. Those that were friends may drift away, fatigued of their friend, and those friends who are full of energy, or wisdom, or compassion emerge into a new paradigm and a new dynamic that accepts an Eeyore that is, in their eyes, more than his disease.
I'm not afraid to have my address book change. If friends turn away, or what I previously perceived as opportunity, or career goals, or more, then so be it. Is it fun? No. I am not saying that I relish the thought. But I also know that all of those I have in my life and all those that I have close to me I want close to me because they accept me for who I am. I don't want friends to associate with me because of who they think I should be, or because they think they can cure me, or because they just think it is a noble thing to do. The friends that I have I want to have because they love me not despite of, but through my illness. When someone is willing to work a little at polishing brass, it gleams brighter the more you stick with it. Leave it alone and it goes dull.
I have grown to appreciate all the support and love I have received from those friends, family, and colleagues and support me for who I am, and because of this, I am all the more motivated to stick with those I know who suffer as well from mental illness. I know that the work I put in for others pays dividends beyond measure, and I want my friends to know that to me, and to others perhaps yet to be entered into "contacts" that they are worth all the polish and elbow grease in the world. The resulting glow is what, in turn, brightens my world.
If my address book is to change, then let it change. I need to make room for Tigger.