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Managing Friends 101 – The Basics. Wednesday July 8, 2015

"I'm sorry."

"I'm really sorry."

"I'm just so desperately, grovelingly sorry. I was wrong. I hurt you. You have a right to be angry. And I apologise humbly for what I said or did."

I seem to spend a lot of time saying that sort of thing. And, either it works, or I have the sort of friends who will be glorified, beatified and eventually canonised into sainthood upon their passing from this world. Because, so far, I haven't lost any of them.

One of my friends recently confessed to me that he has a tongue like a viper. That didn't precisely come as a surprise; I had felt its sting more than once. But, oh, I can wield an email like a sledgehammer; I can annihilate with a few well-chosen words.

Okay – so badly chosen words. Because I don't actually want to leave people pulverised on the floor wondering what happened.

And yes – the blunt instrument emails normally happen when I'm in my arrogant and spiky phase.

I won't share with you this original email, but part of one I wrote when I came down a little and realised how hurt the recipient was.

It was made more challenging by the fact that I had to choose whether to share my mental health condition with this (fairly new) friend or whether just to apologise and leave it.
In the end I shared it.

"It's probably the second hardest thing to tell a brand new friend that you have a mental health condition and that they've just suffered some of the fallout from it.

"There are harder things to say of course – like, "get yourself down to the clinic - I think I might have given you something…." But I think we can safely cross that one off the list of things I'm ever likely to say to you (or to anyone)!

"So – yup. I'm really, Really, REALLY sorry for the email the other night. But my apology doesn't mean a lot unless I put it into context.

"So – I have bi-polar disorder. Sometimes known as manic depression. I go up – and come down.

"The downs are bad, but the ups are worse.

"Because while I'm full of energy and wildly creative (whole new story conceived, created, plotted and started in one night – that was Friday – you saw that!), I'm also argumentative, intolerant, judgemental, impatient, humourless and arrogant. Ah, I see you've met that person. Dammit. I really wish you hadn't.

"So – for what it's worth – you have my sincere and profound apologies.

"I'm back in control now. Humour restored. Compassion modules fully engaged.

"I hope you'll accept the apology and continue the friendship (which I value). But I certainly won't blame you if you walk away.

"You have my best wishes, always."

So – this friend is obviously another saint in the making. My apology was graciously received. Forgiveness was freely given.

Good friends are worth an awful lot of apologies, explanations and swallowed pride.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 8:34am

Thank you for the blog. I find it difficult to say sorry to my partner. Why? well because I am hurting inside. I feel isolated, alone and am in a rut and so I feel these feelings I have need to be understood by him and I don't feel he does understand, this then causes resentfulness. He is a good man and wants me to be happy, I do not treat him well - I think he has become my 'punch ball' (not literally) - any advice would be welcome.

Julia Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 10:37am

Your husband may not understand how you feel and because of this finds it easer not to ignore your depression exactly but to carry on as if you are basically OK and will get better. I am still not sure if it's better for a partner to respond in a like manner, i.e. analysing and going over the problem each time the other partner asks for help or if it's more helpful to behave like you say your partner does. Also if you can't vent on the person closest to you, who can you show your frustration and resentments to? Your partner is still with you so I am sure you aren't as bad as you say. I felt very guilty yesterday for snapping at my husband for no reason other than I felt so tired. I didn't say sorry later on but was nice to him instead. Saying sorry is meaninglessness in many ways; actions speak louder than words and my view is that your partner knows he is lucky to have you.

Hopeful One Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 10:42am

Hi Mary- today's blog is gold dust for me . I also revealed my depressive episode to my last cyber squeeze in my effort to be honest and genuine . I am afraid,she promptly dumped me citing that she could not handle it as this was the cause of her divorce 7 years previously. She had told me about that so maybe I should have been careful. Anyway I made profound apologies but the poor thing had no sense of forgiveness . You were so kind to remind me that it was her loss and there were plenty of other fish .You were proved right. I am meeting my new squeeze tomorrow. I won't mention depression having learnt my lesson. Mum's the word - for now.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 11:52am

Hi Mary, your behaviour when high is very different from the nasty behaviour that can result from depression, yes? When i'm depressed, i sometimes project the self-loathing onto my husband in the form of criticism, sarcasm, irritability.....but am learning to catch myself or at least apologize after the fact. The behaviour you mention here is not so much self-loathing as...what? frustration? impatience? Is arrogance a big coverup for fear? Have you been able to analyze the feelings that underlie it all? Am i asking all the wrong questions:)? Thanks again. susan xx

Anonymous Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 2:46pm

Dear HO, I really think you got away lightly with that 'squeeze'....she may have turned out to be so unsympathetic as to make you feel worse than you do already. The fact that she had told you about her divorce and the cause could have meant she might have been more careful with you...not that you had to tread carefully, after all, she isn't the one suffering inside. She obviously wasn't meant to be with you. Maybe not mentioning your depression with the new 'squeeze' is a good idea, until you have seen how the and lies. But how exciting and good luck! Karen x

Anonymous Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 3:02pm

Dear Mary, Mary,
It IS one of the hardest things to share with a new/old friend that you have depression. I have many friends and family who know nothing about my depression and I think I should have been an actress in another life...some of my closest friends have no idea because I am usually the one they come to for advice and to bemoan their lives that seem to them, to be crumbling all about them. I think one friend in particular, would be horrified if she knew, because she would feel she couldn't 'put on me' as I may not be able to handle her news....but quite often I feel better for being able to work things out/help her in her problems and it makes my bad day better. I would like to tell her some days because there are times when I could actually do with the help from her for a change...but I can see she is more in need of help than me, so I say nothing. And funnily enough, I think she is more anxious and depressed than me and I think she would keep referring to MY illness and that we'd end up not helping either one of us!!

Others who I have told have either ignored the information or cannot deal with it so they do what a lot of peeps do....shrug and tell me I'll be ok.

The best of friends are just there - and as I have got better, I think its sometimes a shock to them, if I have a blip...perhaps not dealing with a mini crisis as well as they would, but they just accept me for who I am....I think! Love Karen x

Anonymous Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 3:07pm

Hi Anon,
Would it help you both to find time to sit down and discuss this together? Tell him that you can't help how you feel and that it isn't him, but it's this wretched illness that makes you irritable and that you don't mean to take it out on him. Perhaps if you could include him as your Moodscope buddy too, he would be able to see when your score is low/too high (for you) and you could work out a liddle system together? If he doesn't understand, then perhaps he could read some of the great Moodscope blogs that have been written, so he can see different points of view, from different types of depressed people? Hoping this helps. Karen x

Julia Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 5:08pm

I could have written most if not all of this Karen. It's me/my experience to the letter! (My two close friends seem to accept me for who I am too which is wonderful. I value them greatly but I haven't told them I suffer from depression. It just doesn't seem necessary)

Hopeful One Wed, Jul 8th 2015 @ 8:29pm

Hi Karen- thanks for that insight.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Jul 9th 2015 @ 11:09am

Hello Susan, so sorry for not replying yesterday. In answer to your question, I think it's impatience and frustration that not everyone can keep up with me or see as clearly as I do when in this state. I do feel good about myself, but I don't think it's arrogance, it's just bubbliness - like an irrepressible fountain. And yes - it sounds nice, doesn't it - but strong water pressure can be destructive. I am scared of the harm I do, but not scared in the way you mean as being the flip side of arrogance.... I think..... Sorry - this is rather confused, isn't it. I'll stop now!

Anonymous Thu, Jul 9th 2015 @ 11:31am

My partner and I have had many attempts, mainly by me, though, to get down to talk things over, but it never happened. So we have this unspoken agreement, to let things rest and deal with our problems ourselves, every one on his or her own. As my "shrink" (OK, I probably should not use this term here, but let it stand) once said to me about partnership: Yes, there are cooling off periods. And also: Everyone it responsible for his or her own feelings. Plus, there is still this "Sticks and stones ..." thing. For us it works, not exactly fine, but well enough. But I am not sure whether I would recommend it to anyone.

Anonymous Thu, Jul 9th 2015 @ 5:05pm

Hi Mary and thanks....i kept checking to see if you'd been able to respond. I understand your answer -- not quite what i expected....but very helpful and i do get it! It sounds like you're right outside yourself with all the energy pumping. Thanks again. susan

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