I’m going to write about two things that are uncomfortable and can trigger resentment: money and mental health. This is hard for me, and it’s really only the start of a much deeper conversation, but I wanted to start with something simple in the vein of my “how to help a friend” posts. I’ve been doing verbal gymnastics trying to figure out how to broach this thoughtfully and I have a million mental asterisks and footnotes and follow ups, so please understand that I *know* things aren’t this way for everyone, but I felt like it needed to at least be addressed and, wow, do I feel poorly equipped to do it and, yes, I am stalling, why do you ask?
Put simply, please, when trying to help a friend who is struggling with mental health, consider that they may be struggling financially as well.
(This is *not* about you giving them money or helping in that way *at all*. Just had to clearly state that.)
Using myself as a hypothetical example (I don’t actually enjoy manicures, but the actual activity isn’t really the point, so I’m generalizing): getting massages and manicures together is a fun way to relax and reconnect, and we have done this a few times previously. You notice that I’ve been withdrawn lately and you thoughtfully invite me to repeat this outing we have enjoyed in the past.
Beyond the usual inclination to withdraw when I am depressed lies the very real fact that I cannot afford a professional massage, manicure, and inevitable lunch out. My personal and vacation time is long gone, for doctor or therapist appointments or simply days I could not trust myself to leave the house. Co-pays are eating through my already-meager savings at an alarming rate and the life-saving medication I must take to stop myself from self-harm takes more every month, too.
Then the shame spiral starts, for not having money, for not being better at making it or saving it, for not yet figuring out this crucial element of adulthood. I will berate myself for the missed opportunities and lost jobs when I could not get out of bed for fear of hurting myself. I will think that I certainly do not deserve a friend like you who wants to spend time with me and, more importantly, you deserve better than a friend like me who can’t even go out to lunch.
No, I’m sorry, I really can’t. Thanks so much for asking though.
There are days when no one or nothing could get me to go out. There are other times when, if the invitation had been for a walk in the park, I could have said yes.
(Again, this isn’t a plea for you to give money or pay for things or anything like that. I don’t want to feel like a burden or a freeloader or a charity case, either!)
((I can’t find a graceful ending. This whole post is so awkward; I feel like I sound ungrateful or selfish or both. Ughhhhhh.))
(((“Be a writer,” they said. “It will be easy; you’re so talented.” Bollocks.)))