A few weeks ago, I caught up with an old friend from my days in Tokyo along with his wife.
Towards the end of my time there, our polar opposite situations took a big hit on our friendship.
He was happy and lovedrunk in a serious relationship, leaving (what I thought) little time to hang out with me, who – in stark contrast – was very single, lonely and emotionally unstable.
It’s been 10 years since I left Japan and since then, he and his wife moved on to New York. Being a Sydney native though, he makes annual homecomings.
He first got back in touch with me three years ago when I was still trying to get the hang of being a mum of twinnies.
A little reserved on whether I was still in the angry, unforgiving state we last left each other, he seemed secretly pleased that even without motherhood, things had changed.
How can anyone hold a grudge for that long anyway?
While our catchups are still sporadic, we’re warming up to each other again.
Yet, our situations are still very different.
He’s caught up in the fast pace lifestyle of “New Yaaaawk”, a huge success in the financial software industry, making bucket loads of money.
While happily married, there seems to be the unspoken decision to not have children.
Despite all this, he leaves his ego (and man, I remember he could have a biggun!) at the Big Apple and immerses himself in all that is good about his home country – the fresh air, the gorgeous sunshine, the laid back appeal of drinking a beer while watching boats on the harbour.
While taking a walk to burn off our hearty fish and chips lunch, the conversation of mental health came up. Mine, in particular.
I was taking a big risk. He could’ve easily slammed me and be done. But I went with my gut feeling, told him about my journey with depression, stress and anxiety and took a giant leap of faith in our friendship.
Initially shocked, he was sympathetic. While perhaps unaware of the stigma with mental illness, he let me educate him a little, gently letting the conversation be guided by what I had to say, actively listening, holding back judgement. Though, it seemed there wasn’t any to begin with. Just pure concern.
We recalled our time in Tokyo, especially the tough times I went through, explaining that it could’ve been quite possible that even back then, I was unwell, not just a grumpy lonely old cow.
And he got it. I even think he appreciated that I opened up, despite all these years of silence between us.
I used to be shit scared telling friends about the state of my mental health.
There’s just that huge fear of judgment.
What I’ve discovered, though is that talking about it is not only cathartic, it reassures me of who my true friends are.
Trust me, for all of the many who have openly embraced my unhinged-self, there are those who don’t get it at all.
They get an immediate strike. Harsh and clinical?
Just saving energy and emotion for those worthy of it.
But, I’m glad I’m talking. I need to put it out there. The more I do it, the more empowering it feels.
If you have concerns or seeking support regarding your mental health or someone close to you, call Lifeline (13 11 14) or beyondblue (1300 22 4636).
Joining Essentially Jess for another round of #IBOT!