I am lucky. My soul is filled to the brim with love and gratitude for the life I lead. True, bouts with depression or any mental illness are bound to break apart some friendships. But it also has a habit of revealing who your truest friends are.
I have a best friend who live way out in the Pacific Northwest. We met in college, lived in the same dorm, worked at the same boutique, and formed a bond that rejects the idea no “out of sight, out of mind.” When we do get the opportunity to spend time together, we are inseparable, travel to our own little world, speak a weird language that nobody else seems to understand. And that’s OK. My understanding is you’re not meant to share this type of connection with every single friend in your circle. Someone, somewhere wrote that different people awaken different beasts within us. I think that’s true.
So when my depression awakened a monstrous beast, Ellen was, of course, compassionate but also curious. She wanted to know what my daily life was like, how depression made some mornings more difficult than others, why I would get stuck on certain thoughts and spin my wheels until I burned out. It was tough trying to relay some instances to her over phone or through text. We did our very best to make do with what we had. Still, even in different states, we managed to battle my depression together.
This is Ellen’s post on what it’s been like for her to have a best friend deal with a mental illness. I asked her to be candid, only giving her a couple of points I wanted her touch on, but ideally, I wanted her voice to come through in this post. So, without further introduction, here is what Ellen wrote and how she has learned to look past the depression. I love her immensely for doing this for me and also being such an amazing friend. ❤
Brianna asked me to write about what it’s like to be friends with a depressive.
I have to say it’s fantastic. Whatever, that sounds bad. Does it? I don’t know or care. My friendship is with Brianna, THE Brianna, the Complete Series of Brianna Lombardo. Depressive is part of her, but certainly not everything. Just as her magnanimous humor is part of her, but certainly not everything. I learn from all she is all the time. Recently, the lesson has been in yoga. A depressive breakdown paved her way to this mentality and sense of being. Yogi Rodney Yee said “That’s exactly how it is in yoga. The places where you have the most resistance are actually the places that are going to be the areas of the greatest liberation.”
Brianna was my first friend in Chicago…we met on Facebook. You know, back when only “.edus” were allowed and you could create “groups,” like “ClIfToN-FuLleRtOn 20o5!” That’s where we found each other. When I got to know her in person, I found out two things: she is the funniest person I’ve ever met and goddam! what a flake! I was ready to deal with the latter because the former made such a difference in my life. The belly laughs I had with her were medicine to me; it made it easier to be away from home and everything I knew.
Through the years, I’ve realized many things about her flakiness. Maybe drinking all her money away was not the way she wanted to spend her evenings. Maybe she just wanted to spend time with her ultra-bro-friend; we’ll call him Mr. Biggs. Maybe being home with her only (and might I say, bad ass) parent is a comfort to her. Maybe saying “yes! I’ll go out” and then not was easier than facing the peer pressure. Maybe she had the best intentions of going out and then anxiety or fatigue overcame her and she stayed home. Maybe it was the early signs of her depression. Maybe I have no room to judge because Brianna is Brianna and if I love her, then I love all of her.
Our relationship, like many, are full of ups and downs. That’s how I know ours a good one. It might be easiest to categorize her depression as a “down” on the roller coaster. But when has the “easy” route been the best one? Almost never. Sure, her experiences have been tough, even brutal. And listening to them have been similar. But what has come out of the struggle is gold. I have never seen Brianna so in touch with her own person, so open-minded and so ambitious. I love seeing this transformation and learning from it.
Depression is not something that you “kick to the curb” the way you might the flu or, if you’re lucky, cancer. It’s with you constantly. Pills can help subside it. But it takes a lot of creativity to figure out how to move your mind, body and soul through it, everyday. I’m thankful that my friend, and others I love, have the ability to see and grasp the possibilities and beauties that are ever present. It reminds me to do the same.
Everyday I’m grateful for my friendship with Brianna. And I’m comforted knowing that it’s something that won’t go away, despite our distance. It has become a mandatory part of who we are. Brianna, thank you for being my soul sister.