Tuesday, 20 August 2002

August 20th, 2002

It's the height of summer here in Cromer, although, by looking out of the window, you'd hardly have noticed it. It's grey and windy, not like summer at all.

    Tomorrow is Cromer Carnival Day. Cromer Carnival is the second biggest in the country, second only to Notting Hill, although, sadly, it looks like I won't be making it to the precession in the evening. This past weekend I suffered a minor setback. Many of you reading this will probably  know that I've been suffering from severe depression recently. My medication was changed to won that would help me sleep at night. One of the side effects was that my white blood cell count was lowered, which made me prone to infection. So, low and behold, in August, normally the hottest month of the year, and I catch a damn cold! The first time I have ever caught a summer cold.

    Still, it could be a lot worse, I suppose. If it wasn't for these tablets, mirtazapine, I would probably be a lot worse. Hang on a minute. I'm being a little bit unfair here. The last statement makes it sounds like I'm on some sort of wonder pill. Okay, let's try this again. If it wasn't for these tablets - AND MY FRIENDS, I would probably be a lot worse.

    There's no such thing as a miracle cure for depression. There's no such thing as a wonder pill that you can take and, low and behold, suddenly all is well. It just doesn't work like that. Drugs do help you. They help restore the chemical balances in your brain, and they also help you sleep, but it's your friends that can really help you in a situation like this.

    From the day I first became ill, I've learned that I can put my friends into two groups - friends and true friends. Friends are people you know, who you can talk to, who you normally only really pass the time of day with.

    True friends, though, are the ones that really care. These are the people who approach you, and not vice versa. These are the people who, even if they are going through some pretty heavy shit themselves, still listen to your problems, even if they seem incredibly small.

    You also learn who your true friends are in other situations. I had a perfect example of this a few weeks ago. Before my medication was changed, I had been getting, on average, two hours sleep a night for about four months. Even a dimwit would tell you that this isn't good for the old noggin. Things started to get gradually worse and worse, so much so that I was acting like a real asshole, and I began to take things out on someone I considered a very close friend. (I'm not going to name them, because I don't want to embarrass them.)

    I literally threw a ton of shit at them for days, and this person could have done the easy thing and simply turned their back on me, and left me to it. But they didn't. They knew what was wrong with me. They knew that it wasn't the "real" me they were dealing with, more a product of my illness. It was as if they were saying "Okay, Julian. I know this isn't the real you talking. Put me through hell. At the end, I'll still be there for you." A few days later, realizing what I had done, I felt like I had lost that friend forever. The fact that I had upset my friend upset me even more.

    But I soon found out what true friendship was. I hadn't lost that friend. Our friendship is as strong, if not stronger, for what happened between us. I consider myself truly fortunate to have a friend like this, because if it wasn't for them, I would probably still be where I was at the beginning of June. I owe this person a debt I can never fully repay. I can only repay them in one way - by being a friend.

    After all, isn't that what it's all about?