I want you to imagine for a few minutes that someone very close to you calls and says, “Hey, we need to talk as soon as you get a chance.”
What feeling does that evoke in you? A feeling of concern or dread? Are you thinking that something is terribly wrong or are you not worried at all and you will talk as soon as it’s convenient for you? Most of the time I’d venture to say that the majority of us are eager to find out what it is “we need to talk about.”
Now imagine that it’s your doctor. You’ve either had a mammogram for a lump you found last week, or you had a prostate biopsy because it’s been hard to urinate for a while now and your dad passed away two years ago from prostate cancer. You’ve been anxiously waiting by the phone for the news, good or bad, and while you know something isn’t right you just want to know what it is so you can move forward to the next step.
Everyone has rallied around you these past few days in support because they’ve been telling you that you need to get your condition checked out and you finally did. Prayers of support and love have gone up. Friends have called or messaged you daily to see how you’re doing emotionally. Every sigh you breathe, moan you give, frown you serve is met with questions about how you are feeling physically. Pats on the back, tight hugs and kisses to your cheek are paired with the generalized statement of “It’s going to be OK,” “Things happen for a reason,” “You’re such a strong person, you can get through this, but we’re here for you too.”
Now, take a deep breath as you’re still imagining these scenarios. You haven’t had a mammogram, or a prostate biopsy. You’ve only been to see a doctor because you’ve not been feeling yourself lately. You’ve been fatigued. Just the thought of getting out of bed and showering makes you cringe. Perhaps you have been struggling to get a mortgage modification on your home because your spending has been out of control. You’ve replaced your “new” carpet three times this year because the color hurt your eyes or made you “feel weird”. Your friends and family have started talking behind your back about you. Or so you think. Something just isn’t right, so you went to your trusted physician and after lab work has come back, your healthy as a horse. Physically that is.
You’ve just been diagnosed with a mental illness.
So you sit in your car after getting the news. Pamphlets, drug samples on the seat beside you. Part of you is happy. Happy? Yes! You’re happy because so many questions have been answered. You knew there had to be a reason you were feeling this way. Now you have a reason. You’re depressed. You have a new pill to take that is supposed to make you feel better. You’ll be back to your morning jogs in no time. Well, give it a couple of weeks to kick in that is. You’re manic. You’ve got a pill for that too now. You’ll forget the first names and all the private lives of the workers at Home Depot in no time because you won’t have to replace your carpet anymore. Well, give that a couple of weeks to kick in too. Oh and going to the grocery store? That feeling like your chest is being crushed and your dying of a heart attack? The feeling of death looming that you haven’t told anyone about but your doctor because they might think your crazy? That’s called anxiety. You’ve got a pill for that too now. That one will kick in roughly ten minutes after you take it.
Yet you’re the only one that has a sense of happiness or completion. Not a total sense, but somewhat. You’re also sad. You know deep down most of your friends and family are going to meet this news with skepticism. You know what they say about people who are depressed. There’s a whole list that I’m not even going into because we all know what they are.
Those words don’t matter. What you need to hear is :
“I’m here for you.”
“When you’re ready to talk, I’ll listen.”
“I don’t know much about your diagnosis but I’m willing to learn.”
I’m a pessimist when it comes to this crap. Especially right now with one of my very good friend just being diagnosed with Bipolar 2.
She’s confused on how to feel. I know exactly how that feels. It makes me sad. I actually cried that night after she told me and have been thinking about her ever since. I can only hope that sooner than later her confusion clears up and she can embrace her diagnosis.