I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I was having trouble coping.
I’d hear an upsetting news story on the radio and my heart would start racing. I’d feel a surge of adrenaline that told me to run away or fight to save my life, but of course there was no one actually there threatening me. I was just in my car driving my kids to a play date, and I needed to somehow hold it together. Or maybe I’d see the wrong thing on TV, and be nearly incapacitated for the rest of the day. Rather than doing the things I needed to do, I’d binge-watch some sitcom to escape my overwhelming feelings of sadness.
When I first started my healing journey, I received counseling, and it was incredibly helpful. Maybe I needed to go again. I had gotten as far as scrolling through some possible therapists in my area when something in my life changed. My best friend moved to town, and in fact, moved into the same apartment building as me.
I invited her to have supper with us every night. I needed to cook for my family anyway, so what was one more? It was nice having her there, and instead of cleaning up after supper all by myself in my kitchen, she’d offer her help, and we’d chat all the while. Sometimes we’d talk about deeper things, our past hurts and traumas, but most of the time we’d talk about the everyday events of our lives. We’d talk about silly things or even boring things. We talked about our joys and the things that worried us. We talked about everything and nothing.
Being in the same building, we could pop in to see each other frequently and unannounced. Once in awhile, we’d have late night gab sessions in her quiet apartment. If the baby was hungry or wanted me, my husband would just text me and 60 seconds later I was home.
It wasn’t until a few months later that I noticed it. I was coping better with life. I could recall a few instances when I had seen or heard news stories that normally would have triggered me, but they didn’t. While I found them sad, my heart didn’t race, my adrenaline didn’t surge, and I learned how to cope.
I considered how difficult life seemed just a short time ago, and wondered to myself what was different. Then I realized I started coping better when my friend moved in. I had other friends of course, but not the kind of friend that I felt I could share everything with. And no one who lived in such close proximity to me that we could see each other every day and walk in unannounced.
Her simple presence had somehow given me the ability to handle life better. In fact, her presence helped me to thrive. Even though I’ve always felt I could share anything with my husband, I had been hoping for a close girl friend. I realized we all need a small circle of such friends for support.
This experience convinced me all the more of the importance of relationships—and not just Internet friendships—close, genuine, in-real-life friendships, because it’s impossible for us to thrive without them.
I had been grateful for my friend’s presence in my life before, but now I realized the true power of friendship. It doesn’t replace therapy, but I know now it is an essential part of healing.