I learned a lot about being a friend when I was alone

So I’m gonna share a story today.

Back when I was in second year, a shy awkward 14 year old who listened to Bob Dylan and Paramore religiously, I had a bit of a hard time. It’s not a year I look back on fondly. I remember the point that it all started going downhill was around the time we went on a trip to the Gaeltacht for a weekend and I genuinely said about 10 words that whole weekend. The reason for my lack of conversation was that I had gotten some really bad news and was terribly upset about it and when bad things happen to me, I’m one of those people that will not tell you. I will use the old “I’m just tired” excuse and keep it to myself because I have always had the “well my problems aren’t that bad and other people have their own things to be dealing with” kind of mindset.

After we got back from that trip, I started distancing myself more and more from the group of friends I had. I sat alone at lunch and always made myself look really busy so no one would bother me. I usually sat alone in the canteen and if I thought I was starting to draw attention to myself because I was alone at lunchtime, I’d go outside or to the PE hall. One of the places that I ate in a few times was Mr Heveran’s classroom. I remember I asked him could I sit there one day because I ‘had work to catch up on’.  Being the fantastic man he is, he let me sit there whenever I asked. I’m honestly not sure if he’d even remember me coming to him those few lunchtimes but I was always grateful for it.

I can’t remember how long I sat alone at lunch for but I do remember I once called home pretending to be sick because I just did not have the heart to do it that day. That was the same day a girl in my year wrote to me on MSN (back when MSN was all the rage) to make sure I was ok. We had chatted a few times before and somehow the topic got onto how I sat alone at lunch sometimes and she asked me to sit with her and her friends the next day.

I guess the moral of my long winded “I know what being alone is like” story is that the smallest gestures do make a difference. That sounds so incredibly cheesy but I was in such a terrible place until someone reached out and made an effort to make sure I was ok. So just be kind to each other because you don’t know the depth of difference your actions are making, and what better legacy to leave than one of kindness?

My friend Lauren wrote a really excellent piece on the misconceptions about depression (http://ellaur.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/depression/) and it inspired me to write this post, so go check it out if you haven’t already!

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