The Bottom

My BFF called me just over an hour ago to tell me about his life since I saw him last week when he was in town for a conference. The highlight: he was diagnosed with major depression.

There's the obvious reasons he called to tell me about his breakdown on Monday and subsequent diagnosis: I'm in mental health, a counselor-in-training (practically a counselor at this point). I care a lot about mental health in the black community. I'm his BFF, I love and care about him, etc... but the more he talked the more I realized there was probably a bigger and deeper reason for his sharing. He didn't want me to experience it too.

My BFF and I are BFFs because we're so much alike. He pinpointed his ability, from both natural origins and because of our shared undergraduate major, to read people emotionally as one of the major causes of his illness. The more he talked the more it made sense to me why lately I've just been so tired. Why I pull away when people reach out to me and just want to be friends and do friend things. It's weird because as I've posted before, I think I understood it, but his situation made it real for me.

I'm damn intuitive. Like freakishly so. I can tell if something is wrong with a person, regardless of how well I know them, right off the bat. And then I have this strange need to take that burden off them and handle it myself or make them feel better, and I'm very adept at making people feel better. I've come to despise this about myself, but it's a double-edged sword. It's why people, especially people in need, are drawn to me. Why I'm going to make a good counselor. Why I always find myself in the middle of craziness. One of my attributes, really one of my blessings, is also a curse.

But all of that work is tiring. It is HARD to deal with my own stuff and go through a whole day taking on everyone else's stuff. It's exhausting and so it makes sense that sometimes I just want to be by myself. Sometimes I don't want to answer the phone. Sometimes even a simple request to hang out is just too much as I immediately know, even though it's sub-consciously -- that it will require me to be "on" and being "on" is too much all the time.

I know many of my friends might be surprised to read this. I also know that many of them aren't and have tried to get me to slow down and take better care, but it's hard to change something that feels like a gift -- a calling, even. What I need is to control it, not stop it.

My BFF's call today reminded me that if I'm not absolutely careful, I'm going to end up in his shoes and much more sooner than I suspect.

However, I'm so proud of him for being open about his struggles and being willing to grab this tiger by tail -- but then again that's him. It's one more thing that makes him amazeballs and I don't doubt that like everything else he tackles, this'll be handled effectively and in what'll feel like no time.

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