I pulled this excerpt out of a long pre-blog journal entry I wrote exactly seven years ago. It relates to my son's depression and suicide attempt (which preceded his addiction). And how his friends at the time shunned him. And how painful it was, as a parent, to watch it all unfold.
February 5, 2007
As for [my son's] friends who have abandoned him: I wish I could sit down with them as a group and make them feel what [my son] feels. Make them feel what it’s like to have your best friends in the world just suddenly dump you. To have them make fun of you. To have them laugh at you. To have their parents say bad things about you. If they could actually feel that pain, maybe they’d realize how mean and cruel they’ve been (and are being). I give my son all the credit in the world. He’s hurting inside. But he’s taking it. As much as it hurts him, he’s standing in the line of fire and taking shots left and right. And he’s still standing. I have to admit: I don’t know if I could do what he’s doing right now. Maybe God’s plan is to put [my son] through this to make him a stronger, more resilient person. I love [my son] with all my heart. And it hurts me so much to see him go through this.
Depression is a disease. Like cancer, or heart disease, or diabetes. It affects perhaps the body's most important organ: the brain. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most stigmatized mental health issues in our society. But it doesn't have to be.
If someone you care about suffers from depression, don't be scared. It's not contagious. And don't turn your back on them. Be compassionate and love them with all your heart. Because they need that from you more than they ever have before.
"I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would." --Elizabeth Wurtzel, from the book Prozac Nation