I wish I was, because then I could read people’s minds, understand what they’re thinking, and maybe, just maybe, be able to relate to them in a “normal” fashion.
But, I’m me, and relentlessly non-psychic, so I have not a clue what people are thinking. I’ve tried to make myself conform to the social niceties, I’ve tried to get along, but in the end, I’m just a shade too weird to be able to make and keep friends. But, since I am on the “strange” side of neural functioning and I’ve worked in a mental hospital, too, I can give people a little bit of advice for dealing with their friends who are perhaps also touched with the odd.
- If they don’t call you, don’t assume that they’re angry or that they don’t care. They could be depressed. When you’re depressed, putting your SOCKS on seems like an impossible task. Give them a call, check on them, see if they need help. They might not say it in so many words, but when someone is depressed, they can’t handle the thought of picking up a phone or sending an email, but they definitely need you to care.
- If your friend is hitting the party hard (abusing/over-using alcohol or drugs), don’t encourage them by telling them that you envy them and wish you could have a mojito or four, too. They need your sober advice to take it easy on the substances, and they need your listening ear. Nobody likes hearing a drunk cry, but wouldn’t you rather listen than have them hurting alone?
- If your friend really seems to be suffering from some mental illness like depression, mania, or psychosis (which is a break from reality, irrational thoughts or beliefs, hallucinations, etc), PLEASE don’t back away in fear and leave them to face it alone. Crazy isn’t contagious. Encourage them to get help. Drive them to the hospital, if they need that. If they need phone numbers for assistance, Google it for them. They may not be able to do it alone. Be their friend. Be there for them.
- Don’t dismiss them just because they have a problem. In another hundred years, we might be able to pop a single pill and cure these disorders. They seem overwhelming and terrifying (especially for those afflicted!) . .. but they’re just a biological problem like diabetes or arthritis. It doesn’t make them less of a person, less human, or less in need of a good friend.
If you really want to “celebrate” some kind of friendship week, you should start by realizing that you can only take the measure of yourself as a friend. How good are you at being a friend? Make the first call, and realize that you probably only see a tiny fraction of the reality of your friends’ lives. People try to hide their worst pains. You’ll never know unless you ask.