I often worry about what I say to the friends who ask me for advice about problems or issues regarding their mental health. I’m not an expert. I don’t do scholarly reading on matters pertaining to mental health. Although I have been wanting to, frankly. I delay such activities as I have this habit of getting dumbfounded at the technicalities. I’d end up staring into the blankest of spaces trying to decipher what the fuck I just read.
Anyway, yeah, I know how dangerous saying the wrong words is. I know how sensitive and malleable the mind of those who are at the end of their rope is. I’ve been there. I’m still there, in fact. I may be a hundred times better than who I was. I may seem a completely different person – positive and more joyous – but I’m still there. I still feel that dread, that paranoia. I still feel the anxiety and the isolation. Only what’s changed is I can handle it better. Most days, at least.
I suppose I have to say it out loud: I am suddenly doubting my capabilities to help people!
The words that I say and write are based on my experiences and struggles with depression and anxiety. None of them are based on psychological and psychiatric research or academic inferences. Though I have flirted with the idea of going back to college and finally graduate, with a Psychology degree this time as opposed to Mass Communications, but with what I’ve heard about a couple of schools and colleges, I don’t think they’d allow someone with a diagnosed mental health issue to actually take up a course that deals with mental health issues. Not to mention that if I’d ever go through with it, I’d probably end up at my old school Southville International School and Colleges. The school that forced me out of Mass Communications because I am a stutterer. But I digress.
As I was saying, none of my ways to help people are based on any official basis. I’m not doing what I do on any official capacity. And it is suddenly frightening me. With every conversation I have with friends and relative strangers, I partly become responsible for their lives and mental health. I can argue that they do know that I’m just a clinically depressed guy who openly talks about his illness. That when they send me a message asking for help or advice, they assume the risks involved. Then again, they’re often desperate and any logic throws out the window. Which is often the case with mental health issues. Logic becomes an afterthought.
I’ve been wondering if I should stop what I’ve been doing – helping those who need help. I’ve been wondering if I should stop being open about my depression. Even with people I’ve just met, I’m open about it when the topic comes up. The only reason why I’m so open now is because keeping it all in before made the depression progressively worse. It was holding everything in that made me hit rock bottom.
I’m scared, to be honest. I mean, I can keep their issues separate from mine. I don’t make their problems my own. Talking to them doesn’t affect my own depression and anxiety issues. In fact, the conversations help me a lot. The more I talk to them, the more I learn about myself. The more I learn about depression and anxiety. What scares me is failure.
What if I fail? What if what I say makes them much worse? What if I unintentionally lead them to suicide? What if I fail them?
Failing them would mean that I failed my mission, my purpose in life. Failing them would mean that I failed myself.