[cw: past self harm, mental health, suicidal thoughts]
I talked to a friend earlier this week about my mental health issues. I felt like it was time to tell somebody about them because whatever is going on (depression and some suicidal ideation, which isn't that unusual for me, just a bit worse than I'm used to) has been happening for a few months now, and I've realized that I'm starting to push people away to avoid them finding out how I'm actually feeling, because while I don't consider it to be a big deal, I think they might and I don't want to have that conversation with them. My Depression Brain thinks that I'm right and it's normal for me to be this depressed and that I should hide it because The Normies Won't Understand. My rational brain knows that that pattern of thought is a specific thing I've pinpointed before that tends to precede my mental health getting worse, and the best way to deal with it is to let a few people know what's going on so I can be more accountable to a less-biased third party who can help assess what's serious and what's not, instead of letting Depression Brain make that call.
I chose a friend who I thought wouldn't take the situation too seriously—a person who's been blasé in the past about my issues—but apparently my judgment of that person's attitude was not great because he seemed pretty upset by what I said and kept asking questions about it and expressing a lot of concern for the following day. (We're in different countries and time zones, so communication is kind of slow.)
It was... uncomfortable. I anticipated that it would feel bad and vulnerable to talk about feeling depressed and anxious, and it did. But I also felt very relieved and happy when my friend expressed that he cared about me and felt bad that I was feeling that way. Having those feelings made me feel uncomfortable, because I don't want dealing with my mental health to be enjoyable or rewarding in any way, because I feel guilty and wrong about having any depression-related positive experiences ever. So I hate being comforted for my depression/anxiety because I don't deserve it and I worry that it's counterproductive and incentivizes remaining depressed, and at the same time I really want interpersonal support and to be comforted and feel loved when I'm feeling down, but I need whoever's doing the comforting to not pity me at all and pretend the comfort and whatever I'm going through are completely unrelated, and basically this explains why I read so much hurt/comfort fanfic, because I have like eight complexes about this kind of situation in real life.
It was surprisingly hard not to lash out at the person with whom I was talking just to end the conversation. I had to keep reminding myself that I specifically decided to talk about this and it's not like he was prying into my personal life without my permission.
The upshot of that whole ordeal was that friend thought my current mental situation sounds a lot more severe than I think it sounds and was seriously asking if I thought more intensive treatment (than the current therapy twice a month situation) would be a good idea. While I can recognize that if I'm having suicidal thoughts that's objectively pretty serious, at the same time, I've spent so much of my life this-depressed-or-more that even though I haven't felt this way for this long in a few years, it still doesn't seem like a crisis or even a problem I should act on (because it'll go away eventually). The truth is probably somewhere between his perspective and mine, but I really don't know where.
To make things slightly more complicated, I bought a car today, which is one of the big things I was stressed about. I got really freaked out that I wouldn't be able to get proof of car insurance fast enough to get the car I wanted. If that had happened I just would have had to delay for a day or two, but for some reason earlier this week that felt like it would be The Literal Apocalypse. Anyway, now that that's over with, I feel very relieved and relaxed, and it's tempting to take back everything I said and go back to pretending I have no problems. But I just went through this exact same pattern with getting furniture moved into my new house, where I was terrified and extremely depressed leading up to it, and then felt great and thought all my problems were over once I got it done... That was less than two weeks ago, and shockingly enough, turns out I was still depressed and just had a few good days. This will probably turn out the same—today I'm elated because I feel like I narrowly escaped untold levels of disaster, but I don't want to completely drop my efforts to actually get treatment, because it seems unlikely to last, since it hasn't the last like... eight times this has happened.
I told my friend that I would tell at least one of our other friends so he wouldn't feel solely responsible for this situation, and I want to go through with that because I don't want there to be so much pressure on this friend while I'm still thinking about how to tell my therapist about this stuff and actually get help, but at the same time I feel bad bothering a new person with this when I'm actually doing better than I was before.
I guess the theme of this whole post is that a lot of mental health issues are by nature intermittent, and part of treatment is continuing treatment even when things seem to be all better. I've been told this before about psychiatric medication—frequently when a patient starts psychiatric medication that works, they misinterpret their symptoms being resolved by the medication as their illness going away, go off the medication, and then have a relapse because the reason they felt better in the first place was that the medication was working. This philosophy is also true about finding a social support system, though, and being honest with friends about feelings, and therapy. Opening up to friends only when things are going really horribly just creates a situation where I have a crisis, talk about it, feel better, stop talking about my feelings because I feel better, and then end up in another crisis because I don't have a sustainable outlet for my emotions. The resolution to this is probably to start talking about my symptoms earlier, not just when they become so severe that I can't hide them anymore.