So first of all, housekeeping: I just had my first two pieces published in The Billfold, if you want to read them. (I'd be flattered.) And while I could write more about that/elaborate on what I wrote, I actually had something more time-sensitive to discuss, sort of.
Because I am lucky and have met a lot of very nice people in my life, I've had a tremendous amount of support during the past month or two. I've gotten sweet calls and emails from far-off friends, lots of hugs, etc.; one person even brought me dinner one night, which was awesome. And something I've heard pretty frequently is, "Let me know if there's anything I can do."
And there is, in fact, one thing you can do, and it's so easy that it sounds kind of stupid:
Don't forget me.
I'm totally serious. I don't need food or beer (though I will take them). I don't usually need to talk about it, and if I do I'll let you know; in fact, there were many times when I didn't want to talk about it, because my brain needed a break. But I know that this is a temporary stage, and that eventually things will return to normal. And at that point, having to restart everything - relationships, extracurriculars, habits - is going to be yet another source of stress.
Which is why I've been so grateful to hear from my friends, even when I'm not there and haven't been in contact. My schedule is not regular right now, and my attention is pulled several different ways most of the time, which means that I might not text you back immediately and that I probably can't go to your party (particularly if your party is in another state). But sometime, in the near future, I will be able to call you and talk to you and have dinner with you. And knowing that I can do it, without having to worry about people being mad at me because I've been MIA, is enormously helpful.
I don't want to speak for everyone in this type of situation, because I'm sure that some people need casseroles more. I'd venture to guess, though, that most people don't want a stressful episode to define their lives, that they'll eventually want to return to the things that made them happy before. So if you want to help, keep them tied to their outside lives, even if the connections are tenuous and seemingly one-sided. And a million thanks to all of my friends. Leave a message at the beep; I promise I'll call you back soon.
(Also, life update. Mom is doing really well, and as weird as it sounds, I'm enjoying myself here despite the circumstances: we've made barley scones, learned to play Uno while keeping score [it dramatically changes gameplay], and taught my grandmother how to play Dominion, which she enjoyed. Things could be a lot worse.)