The Passed Note Issue 6 February 2018 - Page 29

me. I didn’t want her to see me as a victim.

How real were any of my friendships, given that I hid such a large part of myself? Was my reluctant relationship with my medicine bud all those years ago, in fact, more honest than my relationship with my best friend?

A year later, my friendship with Alex had recovered from its uneasiness, and I finally asked whether she knew about my anxiety, depression, and medication.

“I inferred,” she said, “from the pills I saw one time on your dresser.”

***

At the beginning of my first semester of graduate school, I met a new friend, Theresa, for dinner on campus. We were both coming from meetings with professors about our writing. My introduction to the program was uncomfortable, and I feared I’d made a mistake coming to Sarah Lawrence. Almost everyone in my classes was writing a memoir about their darkest moments; I categorically refused to write about myself. How could I? Everyone would, you know, know things about me.

I’d also just completed an assignment writing an article about the stigma surrounding mental health and medication. I asked friends, friends of friends, and total strangers to share their experiences but conveniently kept my history out of it. I was not only a fraud now, but a hypocrite as well.

“How was your conference?” Theresa asked, as we settled at outdoor picnic tables.

About to erupt from self-doubt, anxiety, and shame, I decided, for once, to be honest.