Help a friend in crisis

Firstly, I apologise to followers of me on Facebook, you might have seen this already. Secondly, my apologies to everyone who has been waiting and waiting for a expletive-filled wine post. No wine had been consumed for a period of time at Elitistreview Towers, because alcohol is a depressant and… well… read the post below. Yes, you have guessed it, it is another mental health post. I am loopy, you see, so from time to time I feel the need to explain aspects of being a shoulder of pork short of a roast dinner.

Bloody hell, I’m deep in the depths of suicidal depression. Every waking second I think about drinking bleach. I even dream about drinking bleach! There is no escape from the constant, commanding thoughts to drink bleach. The only thing that is holding me back is that I know how I would feel if The Editor topped himself – I’d have to be in a pretty bad way if I found myself having to inflict those feelings on The Editor.

Alas, the horse’s hair that is stopping the bleach bottle from emptying into my mouth is being slowly thinned by the finest of sandpapers. Firstly because of my constant bloody appalling back pain and secondly I fined the pains meds I take for that really punish my mood – bums they drag my mood down (but not, I suppose, as quickly as no painkillers would lead to ‘bleach therapy’).

The thing I really wanted to say is that it is terribly lonely being suicidally depressed. After the last time I put something on Facebook about being suicidally depressed a few people left supportive comments, which was very kind of those who did – thank you.

However, out of the N friends I have across the globe, only two people called me: my mother and the producer of the BBC program I finished filming for a few weeks back (so he wasn’t just trying to cover his arse). He’s a really understanding, genuinely nice chap. Most of my friends are genuinely nice.

We nut jobs are told by fruit loop charities/therapists/psychiatrists/etc. that people don’t call because people don’t know what to say to barmpots in crisis and also that people are actually afraid of calling cuckoo clock noggins because they are afraid they’ll say something wrong.

OK, there is a chance that people may make the odd faux pas when talking to a cracker barrel with only crumbs left in it. Let me assure you that for the vast majority of bananas in pyjamas, ringing up a friend who is having a tough time, for reasons and in ways you may not entirely be cognisant of, a normal(-ish) chat with someone you’ve loved as a friend, possibly for decades, is so good that all but the most horrendous utterances are hardly noticed.

Some people are quite cruel when it comes to avoiding all contact with someone approaching, experiencing, recovering from, or even having left far behind a florid and/or extended crisis situation. These types are definitely not one’s friends – don’t be one of them as it will add to the unhappiness your friend is experiencing.

In England the first question on a phone call is almost invariably, “How are you?” Being in a position where someone might have to ask his and, hell’s bells, respond to an honest answer I can see would make a lot of people extremely wary of calling a friend, Rest assured, if we ‘brain plugged in a sand trap two metres from the tee’-types give an honest answer, we are not asking you to be a highly trained intervention squad and give us a solution to every one of our mental problems within an accuracy of 12 decimal places. Not at all.

We just want to make it clear we are having a really hard time and that we feel we can trust you by saying so. “Cripes! That sounds a real struggle for you”, would be a good type of answer. If you prefer something like these will do, “What’s being done to help?”, “You’ve been in this situation before, you’re strong, you’ll get through it this time as well” or even simply, “It may not seem like it now, but the bad times always end. Keep hanging on.”

Then you are free to have a (largely) normal chat about the kind of things you (largely) always talk about. Don’t rush to get off the phone, but when the call naturally draws to a close, tell your friend you’ll be thinking about them and you hope they’ll get out of this situation soon. Then you can hang up and know you’ve improved a valued friend’s day immeasurably – a truly Good Thing!

I should state that this is a generally applicable post; nice as it would be if someone did, I am not canvassing for friends to ring me. Certainly no one did when I put this on Facebook. This is intended to be firstly an educational piece for those who have friends going through a hard time. Secondly it is intended for those who want to learn some new euphemisms for crackpots.

I left an additional comment on my Facebook post buried far down in one thread (probably where no one would see it). I think it is an important point to be made so here it is:
One of the problems that people in crisis often experience is that a friend or relative will say “Call me any time you need to.” I don’t know how universal this is, but when I’m in crisis, as I am now, calling people is perhaps the last thing you are capable of doing! You may have an unrealistically negative view of yourself and feel you don’t want to in ‘inflict’ yourself on someone else. You may be so down that you don’t want to drag someone else down with you. You may be scared of making a call for all sorts of reasons. Telling someone to call you is far, far, far away in terms of helping you if you are in crisis than someone actually making a real effort to help you and picking up the phone to call you.

  • willersc

    David,

    This is a wonderful post, a powerful reminder for all, many thanks for sharing! I genuinely hope you are feeling better soon.

    Cheers
    Will

  • Davy,
    Since I discovered your posts I have eagerly awaited each new missive from you. You are a unique talent. I have never developed a love for Burgundy as you have, but I still enjoy reading your impressions. Keep on carrying on.

  • Thank you, Will and Mr Dude in Como, it is good to have some positive feedback when I veer wildly off topic like this. I think my depression will evaporate pretty quickly when my back gets operated on – alas that might not be for several months. If I am brutally honest (and I sincerely hope The Editor is not reading this) I am not sure I can give favourable odds of this finishing positively…

  • Jonathan

    David,
    Part of what I have always admired about you is your honesty, so I am certain that you feel every bit as awful as you do and I cannot begin to put myself in your place; but sharing this with us is not dragging us down, it is part of the ‘you’ that we have got to know over the years. So it follows that if we have the time to benefit from your amazing enthusiasm for good wine and food then we also have the time to be with you when it gets bloody tough.
    David, I am thinking about you and really hoping that you and The Editor enjoy many, many good bottles together in the years to come.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Jonathan. I really wish this was not a ‘part of me’ people had got used to. I am greatly tired of all my failings and don’t want to be here anymore.

  • Jonathan

    I really don’t think that it is a ‘failing’ even though I understand how miserable you feel. As my good friend says ‘we all have a boil on our bum’ and today your’s is feeling particularly bad but tomorrow offers the possibility of all the things of which you are a master. As you will have seen from your last posts on Wine Berserker’s, you are really well liked and respected. Plus who else could have got your vocabulary not just accepted by Americans,but absolutely relished!

    • Thank you once again, Jonathan. When one is suicidally depressed, and has been clinically insane for almost twenty years, it becomes very easy to view things as failings. Depression poisons everything, alas.

  • Last Tuesday I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. If you don’t know it, it’s one of those Quixotic illnesses thought to be caused by neurotransmitter dysregulation that causes multisystemic problems, pretty much all of which I have. The ‘type’-symptom of it is that one’s body hurts all the time – this I certainly experience. No cure or terribly effective treatment, natch! At the risk of sounding boringly melodramatic, all of this is becoming distinctly difficult to soldier on with.

  • As I commented on the Grumpy Gaby post I’m so depressed my nipples might jump off at any moment to try and find someone happier to attach themselves to – at least i think that is how i put it…

    I said that, although it would be nice, this post wasn’t pleading for people to ring me. Boy, people took that bit seriously! The only social calls I’ve had since posting this have been, once again, my chum at the Beeb and my mother. I may not be at my most sparklingly loquacious, but it would be nice to know someone gives two hoots about me. At the moment I’d guess i give half a hoot about me, but the strangulated hoot is finding it harder and harder to make even it’s half noise with every passing period of time.