Every time I post something related to anxiety/depression on Instagram, either a friend or acquaintance checks up on me and says that I can always talk to them if I ever wanted to. Sometimes I almost do. Sometimes I say a polite thank you and let it be. Sometimes I do talk but panic and never open up again. All of me wants to talk, wants to just have pointless discussions, wants to just spill out everything brewing in my heart. But I never do. Why? Because though a rational part of me says that they are offering to listen with a good intention, the other part of me refuses to believe so. Because information is power and spilling my thoughts and worries out to them gives them immense power over me, over my vulnerable side. If you think I’m being paranoid, I’m not, I’ve just learnt from experience to stop trusting people.
A few years ago I had a friend. Let’s call her Dora for convenience’s sake. It was a friendship I clung on to despite the fact that there were multiple instances when I felt very much uncomfortable in that bond and yet I continued being friends with her for the fear of being friendless or an outcast if I did take the necessary steps to end the friendship that was causing my misery to rapidly increase with every passing day. Oh, how much I wish I could tell that younger version of myself that it’s okay to be friendless, actually it’s so much better to have no friends than have fake and toxic friends. But that’s a discussion for a different day.
Back to the point. We had a misunderstanding, again, I had done nothing wrong and yet it was all my fault. Whilst trying to explain myself, I let the fact that I was depressed slip into the conversation. Not only that, but I also mistakenly mentioned my suicidal thoughts and that was the biggest mistake ever. Dora took advantage of that and blackmailed me saying that she would tell my parents about my suicidal thoughts and what not if I didn’t do and say as she wanted.
I clearly remember that day. It was a cold day but to anyone within the confines of a warm room, it would have seemed to be a lovely, sunny day. She made me walk a long distance despite my protests as I was already exhausted and drained after that long day I had had. She told me to keep talking whilst she walked around, doing her chores, and it was pretty obvious that she had zero interest in listening to my sad stories and yet, like a fool I kept talking. In a way, it felt so good to just let it all out, though a tiny voice at the back of my mind kept telling me to walk away and stop feeding her more information.
I don’t remember what exactly happened next, since my brain has resorted to blocking out all the painful & miserable memories of my life. But I do recall certain bits and parts. The part where she blackmailed me. The part where I helplessly begged her. The part where my body was physically exhausted and I couldn’t walk anymore. The part where she yelled and insulted me. The part where I felt pathetic & was disgusted at myself for being so spineless and not standing up for myself. The part where she gave me an ultimatum and thankfully my senses kicked in and I turned around and walked away, back to my apartment. The part where I was a broken mess on the floor of my room and just couldn’t stop crying and began hyperventilating. The part where my useless flatmate back then who was also Dora’s friend was just of no help whatsoever. The part where my tears were not for the broken friendship, but solely due to the fear that she might actually call and tell my parents.
When that friendship ended, I was a train wreck. I skipped lectures. I genuinely ended up falling ill. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t stop crying and my eyes were just swollen and painful to touch. I remember barely eating anything and just staying inside my room. Dora had been the only friend I had back then and everyone else I knew had been through Dora. So when that bond with her ended, it did so with everyone else as well. I was alienated. But this is the thing, those endless tears were never for the broken bond and lost friends. No. To be honest, even during those dark days, I felt so relieved to not have to talk to her anymore, to not have to succumb to her manipulations, to not have to say yes despite the fact that I wanted to say no, to just not be around her anymore. Those endless tears were out of fear because of what she blackmailed me with. It may not seem like a big of a deal, but if my parents ever knew about my suicidal state of mind, it would just open up another unwanted portal of issues that I never want to face. This fear was what ate me away day and night.
Though it’s been almost three years now, and thankfully she never followed through with her blackmail, the fear of someone else using my vulnerabilities against me is very much alive in the deep crevices of my heart. So when a stranger, or acquaintance or a friend asks what’s wrong or tells me that I can always talk to them, despite the fact that my heart actually yearns to do so, I hold myself back because never can I let myself go through such kind of an ordeal ever again.