Sunday, April 01, 2007

Commiseration loves company

One of my classmates, Joan, is struggling. She and I have spent a fair amount of time getting to know each other -- we have a lot in common, including but not limited to our age and clinical interests -- and I'd noticed last week that she looked sad and tired. Right now is a busy time for us -- we're applying for our second-year internships and have to put down our four top choices. And it's also time to register for summer classes -- the 16-month program is very tightly scheduled.

So it's no time to be missing classes and drifting off, but she wasn't in Foundations for my stellar performance as an alcoholic lesbian. And she seemed wan and distant in other classes.

I took the bull by the horns in the next Foundations class and asked how she was doing. Not surprisingly, she told me that she hasn't been feeling well and has been very stressed out. I asked if she wanted to have coffee after our last class of the day, and she assented eagerly.

After last class she was hungry -- for once, I wasn't -- so we went to McDonald's where she grabbed a quick (and VERY cheap; it hit me again how expensive kosher food is) bite. And we talked.

She also struggles with depression and is taking medication. She told me there were days she just couldn't get up and go to class. I told her I could relate, and explained a bit about my situation. For some reason, I have an easier time telling people I have depression without including the hypomanic component. Maybe because I've only ever been hypomanic in reaction to antidepressants, and also because the depression is much harder to manage -- I haven't been hypomanic and out of control in many years.

But I understood that some days she just couldn't get out of bed, and I told her that there'd been days this semester when I felt the same way. I also recommended she try some other medications, having tried most of what's out there myself.

She was very confused about the classes we were supposed to register for, and couldn't figure out where to find the curriculum. That wasn't really her fault; there are a lot of things I like about the school's website, but it doesn't have an easy-to-find, intuitive listing of the classes you need to take for each specialization. We went back to school and I found the curriculum for her, and helped her register for the right summer classes. I even showed her my little list of all the courses I plan to take between now and graduation.

It felt great to be there for someone and to let her know that I really understand what she's feeling. She kept thanking me, and I could only tell her that I've gotten this far through the support of my friends and family, so the least I could do was support her in return.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. This experience is just a small sampling of the good you'll ultimately be able to do for other folks. Keep this in mind when the going gets tough.

  2. I know what you's such a good feeling to be able to help another person because you understand where they're coming from because you've been there yourself. It's like, even if life TOTALLY sucked, at least this little little bit of good came out of it.