The Power of Friendship

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal thoughts focus

friendship

I recently got my school tuck box, full of treasures i’ve collected over the years, back from my mother’s house and inside was a card. A fairy on the front and the most loving message inside.

Upon receiving it, reading it and taking it in, I put a stop to my final plan.

Friendships can come and go, flitter in and out, can simply feel like an instant connection and/or develop into a deep relationship over time. The friend this message was from was of the latter two, and she doesn’t know that she saved my life.

I wasn’t long out of a psychiatric hospital when I received the card and I had concocted a final design to relieve myself from the pain of living and to end the daily battle of staying alive. Keeping up the pretence of happiness was impossible when all I wanted to do was sink into a hole and remove myself from existence.

But I didn’t go through with it. I bowed out. This one card reminded me of the lasting love and cherishing nature of this friendship and it made me realise that if I were to leave the world, I would be leaving her.

A friend who cared so deeply about me, was inspired by me, even though I was literally psychotic at the time, could not be ignored. I had to keep going. No matter how much I disagreed with the beautiful things she wrote about me, the respect I had for her opinions and the love I felt in return, altered my perspective, took me out of my own head and gave me a shred of hope.

If she saw these qualities in me, perhaps deep down there was something there that in time I could claw back. If I died, it would truly be the end and she would lose a relationship she had put so much energy into. Did I really have the right to take that away from her?

Sometimes trying to step out of how you feel and step into how you make someone else feel can change and lighten your perspective of yourself. I recently had a phone call with a friend who was uttering his distress at being undeserving of the love he receives from his friends. I said to him quite firmly, that this feeling was almost disrespectful to those people.

If you respect and have love for someone there comes a time when, even if you don’t see it in yourself, you must accept their opinion of you. I believe this change of focus from the self-critical to the objective can really help. It can help you learn to have love for yourself, which we all need and it can help you stick it out and stay alive.

Death is the end. The end of the pain, yes, but also the end of love. I believe love is what makes life worth living. It’s incredible that a simple piece of paper with a few words inscribed upon it can save a life. I wish we could go back in time and write letters again.

Don’t get me wrong, I still write letters, always have, but most people don’t.

With technology, messages are instant and edited and you don’t really have to think much as you write as you can always hit the delete key and start again. With pen and paper more thought is needed. You don’t want scribbles and tip-pex (who remembers that awful stuff?) all over your page so you must consider what you really want to say before you start. I like this way of writing.

I joke about setting myself up with a typewriter and giving up technology completely, but then I remember I have deadlines to meet and my spelling is atrocious! Perhaps one day I’ll get my grandfather’s typewriter out, head to a seaside hut or forest, perhaps the South of France, and type out a book. But that’s a dreamy retirement plan and unfortunately has no place in the fast paced life I currently lead.

A friendship as deep as the one this article is about lasts a lifetime and I’m so glad I live to see another day of it. I hope to see another year of it, hopefully decades! We’ve now been friends for 20 years. This friendship is so special to me that I want to be alive just to show her how beautiful she is. For that is what her friendship shows me. That someone thinks I’m beautiful.