August 26, 2019:

My friend is defeated.

She's unable to take care of herself. Major depression, anxiety, alcoholism. She's been fired for drinking on the job, evicted from her room. She's homeless and broke and her meds are running out, so that with exhausted options her father collects her, takes her home to her childhood room, where at age twenty-six she permanently surrenders all hope of adult independence.

I'm sorry that we've seen each other so infrequently. We'd schedule often, but she'd no-show, so that I learned not to leave my house unless we explicitly re-confirm shortly before I have to get into my car. We'd arrange lunch, I'd text to reconfirm, she'd reply in the evening: "I'm sorry I'm hungover I slept all day."

But when we did manage to meet we'd have hilarious, self-deprecating heart-to-hearts on our favorite three topics: sex, drugs, and depression. She'd tell me who she's crushing on this week, I'd tell her I'm taking a break from dating. We'd share uproarious stories about weed, psychedelics, alcohol. Then the ugly details of depression: the weeks in bed, the months without showering or taking out the garbage. With a shudder she says, "I hate depression," where that shudder comes from bones and blood and all the deepest of the depths. Lore: treatment strategies, experiences with particular meds, how to find therapists you're comfortable with. Without her job she's uninsured; I try to help with information about COBRA. Although napkins are covered with budget ideas, without work she can't afford it.

Rachel Held Evans wrote, "People bond more over shared brokenness than shared beliefs." That's been us, in our loopy lopsided confidences. She shares so freely, that's one of the things I most love about her. That her inner life is so open to those she loves in return. I wrote this vignette describing her and the feelings she evokes.

I want to offer her my guest room, where I can look after her. I realize I've done that before, twice. Each time an absolute disaster for everyone involved.

As she tells me she's leaving I see the fear and defeat in her eyes.

I can't protect her. I couldn't protect my exes, I can't protect anyone. I'm barely taking care of myself.

She's so lovely. I picture her beauty and the fear and defeat in her eyes and cry for forty-eight hours.

Depression is brittleness. Even in relative recovery I lack the stamina to handle setbacks. Where the setbacks of my friends can be more difficult for me than those I experience myself.