The Devaluing of the Word 'Friend'....
....and wishing that someone appreciated you.
It's funny. I have been thinking a lot recently. Which, to those that know me, know that it is very much the norm. "Here's Steven over-thinking again!!! If only he could not be who he is". As weird as this is to say, that's not the case most of the time. I do it deliberately and it's a bigger problem that it sounds.
I actually got tested in hospital where I found out, to my surprise, that I have a very high IQ and that I struggle to slow down and focus on one thought at a time as many come at once. Being dyslexic, you should see me trying to write anything substantial, it's a barrel of laughs. It's part my bipolar disorder, part the isolated life I grew up in, part environmental, part genetics.
Anyway, as interesting as this objective view of why I am like that is, I very often wish sometimes I did not think as often as I did, or be aware so strongly about my own morality. Mental health has its drawbacks and that certainly is one in terms that I very rarely get a break from my own mind. But this is not, in my eyes, just being aware of my own struggles.
One of the ways mental health is so effective is that it latches onto real feelings and real situations. The fact I try and live a pro-choice, open-mind type life means I am often aware of how pointless, futile and realistic a lot of things in life actually are. One of them is how irrelevant I am in the bigger picture, which I'll get to later. In fact, as much as I love free thinking, I get the appeal of being ignorant and close minded because, in that reality or world you have created it, means you are never wrong. There's nothing as much to be questioned / feared. As much as I hate the word 'content' as to me it seems like settling for the minimum, I can see its appeal in being safe. It's the only way I see religion making sense in terms of being fearful of this being 'it'. It's the only argument I can see being understandable.
There's a couple of things that got me to think about the title of this piece. Not only has Geek Apocalypse become 3 years old recently, but I actually realised that it has been a year since I got my own place. Time really does go fast. I used to laugh at my parents for saying, "life goes quick", but it really does go faster as you get older. With these in mind, it leads me to look at my life objectively and also to think about the pros and cons of living alone.
One is that I get to walk around naked......totally joking. I just know that's what everyone assumes people do. In all seriousness, I like having a safe place for me to recover, to be left alone when I need to be, and, if a party or night out sucks, I can leave knowing I have somewhere to go if needs be. The downside is that people assume you're ok all the time. They leave you alone even more than in an environment where you are with someone, so by definition it can exclude you even more from people's thought process. This is especially true if you live alone. No-one wants you to be the third wheel, which in certain situations I actually find that rather unfair to a lot of people. I wouldn't leave a friend alone if I'm with my partner in certain circumstances. Granted a third person at a cinema is weird, but my point is everyone thinks that applies to everything, i.e putting your partner first for everything. To me, a loving, compatible partner is allowing you to include everyone in your life, not inhibiting them to just you.
Anyway, I think the easiest way to go back to what the core reason of saying this is, is to be blunt. This is easily the worst I have felt since living here in my own flat and I've been trying to figure out why that is. It leads me to something I have felt for as long as I can remember. Something I don't think I have actually talked about openly before. I have suffered, or whatever the right word is, from chronic loneliness. It's the biggest and most debilitating feeling in my life and reason I struggle to the point where I feel I am living a life which is so unrewarding. I don't do things for my own enjoyment and when people hear me say that, they can't understand it and ironically think it's a selfish stance that I am taking.
What I mean, is, being alone is not the problem. I actually have periods of time where I prefer it, but it is something much, much deeper and more profound than that. Loneliness is much more about feeling no one is there for you, All the things you love and appreciated can't be shared meaningfully with anyone. I like Rimmer's line in Red Dwarf about it;
'I'd trade it all in, to be loved, and to have been loved'.
I understand the point. I'd trade any personal achievement, if it meant I would be loved for the person who I know I am.
I want to say at this point that I find a lot of things on an individual level rewarding, it's just I find not being important to someone in a meaningful way or having someone to share things with is unbearably difficult to deal with. It affects me to the point where I don't want to die, but I'd prefer not living most of the time because I find a lot of people I meet to be thoughtless, uncaring, unkind, and more the point, to the people I strongly care about, I don't feel if I was here it would make a difference to the people around me.
I know that's a horrible thing to say in a basic sense, but I do feel that strongly and it's not that I feel unworthy or a bad person or that anyone's a bad person. It's just I have a level of wanting to be fair and a consistent part of something bigger that people don't want to try to be in or if they do, I am certainly not included in it. I always loved The Atari's song 'Unopened Letter to the World'. It's about being remembered after you die, but is so ironic. I understand the point. You're very often a person under appreciated in your life until you're no longer around, but people wish you still were.
The thing that most demotivates me and makes me so unwilling to try, is the amount of times people have little time for those around them and misuse and devalue the word 'friend'. How many times have you heard people say 'I don't want to give you a chance, but we can be friends?' when if they were a friend and mistreated you, you'd be justifiably angry?? Also, how dare they use 'friend' as a second choice like it means very little?
How many people say to you "you're their best friend", but they no longer speak to you?. I can tell you it's 5 for me and, at the time, I said it. I meant it. I wasn't the one lying. How many people have you heard that have went on dates and instead of just saying the truth of "we are different people and this won' work out, too well....we could be friends??' in such a hollow, demeaning way.
I once had a girlfriend cheat on me and said afterwards, "I'd really like to be friends?". That should tell you the standard we are dealing with, that I'd happily consider having a backstabber as a friend in her eyes. Telling the truth in today's society is regarded as a crime the more I hear stories similar to that.
It always seems whenever you're angry and frustrated that you think too much of yourself, or you take yourself too seriously. Yet this is something I deal with all the time and it affects me greatly. The most common response is only you can make yourself happy, but I am more aware to know that it's people who aren't aware of how much we need other people to be so. How much we inherently rely on people from birth to care for us. Like I said in the opening paragraph, I am too aware of that there's only so much I can do if I am not given a chance.
I know deep down, I am someone that is under-appreciated and is feeling really hurt by it. You very often get people that say "well there are other people that feel that way", which is a cop out as that means to me that their friends and close ones are also not reminding them they are worth something. Tell me who these people are, and I'd tell them they matter just as human beings.
People seem to forget, it is a privilege to tell someone they matter, and giving them the feeling of they aren't alone is sometimes as powerful as saving their life. If you read any case studies about severe mental health issues, that is a true defining reason a lot of the time.
There seems to be a lot I meet who are unaware of what they want, and yet I am aware really overwhelmingly what I don't have. And although I would love to be with a girl right now, I think it's appropriate to use one of my favourite Rolling Stones lines.....
'I am not waiting on a girl, I am waiting on a friend'
Incredibly powerful stuff from Steven, I'm sure you'll agree. Do you understand the point Steven is making? How do your friends react to your mental illness? Has it affected your relationships, either in a good or bad way. Let us know in the comments below.
Steven is the host of the Mentally Sound radio show on Gravity Radio North East, broadcasting on the 2nd Friday of the month. He is also the host of his own podcast 'Geek Apocalypse' and you can keep up-to-date with Steven on Twitter, where he's @Geek_Apocalypse