Today I have been feeling exceptionally powerless. It’s a feeling I am sure most people have felt at some point, and one that is often tied to depression. In this particular instance, it’s because I have a friend who is suffering, and I find myself unable to do much to help. As much as I want to, there’s really nothing I can do, and that makes me angry, because this powerless feeling is just so unpleasant. I hate to know that someone I care about is suffering and not be able to do anything about it.
It’s a feeling I am sure many of my friends and family can sympathize with; after all, at various points in my life, they have felt that way regarding me and my depression and suicide attempts. I have always been reluctant to talk about my feeling to people; in some cases it is because I don’t trust them enough to share, but in many cases it is more along the lines of not wanting to burden the people I care about with my problems. No matter how much I was told that others wanted to help, I felt that it wasn’t something I should subject anyone else to, either out of fear of them rejecting me or shame that I couldn’t handle it on my own.
Now I find myself thinking about it in a different light. When people say they are willing to help, to talk about things and to listen to me, I take them at their word. The people who really care for me will listen, and try to help out, even if listening is all they can do; the people who don’t care I probably don’t care much about either.It is a slow process, but being able to open up to others, to feel that kind of vulnerability instead of living in an armored shell with only my own (often dark and depressed) thoughts to keep me company, is one of the biggest things I have been learning to do at Menninger and the step-down program.
As I’ve mentioned before, I feel that I have made a lot of friends in both programs, and I think a large part of that is because we were able to open up to each other. We felt safe enough in our environment, and in our shared experiences, that we were able to let each other know how we felt about things, and what we were thinking, without a great deal of fear. I know there was certainly some, at least for me; I can’t go from a socially awkward, introverted mess to a social butterfly, and I’m not sure that I would want to. Fear of rejection – one of the most powerful fears in my life – isn’t ever going to go away, much like depression won’t go away. But I can, and have to some degree, learned to manage it enough that I can reach out to others for support and communication when I need to.
One of the friends I made at Menninger was an amazing person. Very young, but very talented – a great singing voice, along with a wonderful ability to play the piano; enormous empathy for other people, even when feeling bad; an amazing mind and gifted intellect. But this friend had problems with depression, worse than mine, even though much younger than I. My friend seemed to make great strides in the program, and while I was sad to see them go, I thought my friend would be able to do well back home. And for a time, that was true; but then, whether set off by any particular incident or not, things went downhill, and fast. Now I worry that this friend will end their life, and I, being half a continent away, find myself unable to do much of anything besides try to be available if my support is needed.
So, like I said, I feel powerless. I am angry at the world that something like this could happen to such a good person; I feel guilty that I can’t do more; I am afraid of what will happen, or what could happen; and I am sad about the whole situation. But barring an expensive plane trip, there is little else I can do. All I can do is give what support I can, and be as good of a friend as I can, and hope that I can help my friend through this in some small way. It was devastating enough watching such a close friend leave Menninger, knowing I will likely never see them again; it could be far worse. So I sit, and I wait, and I try to help, and I hope.
Feeling powerless is a terrible feeling.