Dear Person In My Life,
Over the years/months/weeks we’ve known each other, I’ve undoubtedly been a bad friend at one point or another. I’ve fallen short of the expectations I’ve set for myself to be there for you as much as I’d like.
I pulled a real bait-and-switch on you, and I’m sorry. When we met, I was probably performing at an 11. It’s my defense mechanism. The happier and livelier I appear, the less chance there is that you’ll figure out my secret: that I’m the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet. I seem like a social butterfly, but the truth is that I have to spend a lot of time alone to recharge from being around people.
You probably met me while I had it turned on, while I was in performance mode. And we hit it off and we shared a good time or two or a thousand, and that’s who you thought you’d just made friends with, huh? But over the course of our friendship, we both know what I’ve done. I’ve ignored your calls. I’ve flaked out on our plans. I’ve taken too long responding to emails, even though you know I have time to reply. It’s not that I don’t have time. I just don’t have the energy.
And now that I’ve come out of the Depression Closet, I’ve been letting myself slide even more.
I’m not going to make excuses. I’m just going to say that I’m sorry. That I know how much of a shitheel I can be. When I go from “hot and heavy” to “distant and MIA,” it’s not at all a reflection of you and how I feel about you. I wish that I had the ability to be that fun, lighthearted girl all the time. But the truth is, after I put on the show to pass as a normal person in front of you, I go home and deflate and crawl into bed with my clothes still on and switch it off, surrendering to the fatigue and emptiness that lives in my belly.
Please don’t take it personally. It doesn’t matter if it’s a work meeting or happy hour or a day at the fair. The end result is always the same: every moment I spend trying to pass myself off as a happy and productive person costs me time in the tank. In solitary confinement. Where I take off my Shiny Happy People mask and let my inner monster come out.
I have an inner circle of friends whom I confide in when shit hits the fan, but Donnie and my dad are the only two people who I let see my inner monster, whom I can turn completely off with. It’s partly about trust, but it’s mostly about protecting everyone else. People like you. People I don’t want to burden with seeing me in all my grotesque glory. So if I don’t tell you that I’m feeling empty and useless and wondering what the point of everything is, don’t think it’s because I don’t trust you or value your opinion. It’s the opposite.
Don’t believe me? Take it from an expert*:
“When a depressed person shrinks away from your touch it does not mean he is rejecting you. Rather he is protecting you from the foul, destructive evil which he believes is the essence of his being.”
― Dr. Dorothy Rowe, Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison
*Disclaimer: I have no idea if she’s actually an expert. Her first name could be doctor. I found the quote on Good Reads, cut me some slack or I’ll cry on you. That’s not going to end well for either of us.
So whether you saw me yesterday or haven’t heard from me in months, my apology still stands. Just know that I’m trying to be a better friend. Thanks for putting up with me: I appreciate the hell out of it, I’m glad to have you in my life in any capacity, and I know that I come with high highs and lower lows. I want you to know that I know, and I’m working on it.
But hey, rollercoasters can be pretty fun sometimes.
Nicole Mojan Pirshafiey
Formerly of the Land of Flaking
Current resident of Atonement Town