My cousin – let’s call her Nelly – has always been very outgoing. I would describe her as a classic extrovert, with a solid dose of self-awareness to temper the parade of sociable energy that’s forever streaming out of her. We went to the same primary school, and I remember her being known throughout the whole school for her loud, fun-loving personality.
Nelly has carried these positive personality traits into adulthood, and now has a great job managing an international NGO. So I was surprised to learn, recently, that she has not been doing so well. It was actually her sister who passed on to me that Nelly is receiving treatment for depression and anxiety at a Mornington Peninsula psychiatry clinic.
When I reflected on it, I realised that I had been aware of Nelly’s propensity toward excessive stress and worry. Despite her class clown persona, she was always a bit of a perfectionist with schoolwork. At uni, she never allowed fun with friends to take priority over studying, which meant she did insanely well at the expense of other things that have always been very important to her – primarily, having a social life.
I remember her health going a bit haywire at that time, too, mostly due to sleep problems that developed into insomnia. According to her sister, that’s been a recurring problem, especially since she got this job. It’s kind of her dream position, which I guess is making her put an unreasonable amount of stock in doing it flawlessly.
Anyway, I think I might ask her over for dinner and see if she wants to talk about it. I know tons of people who’ve been through similar things, so talking about it doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all. I mean, honestly – who hasn’t had a brush with some form psychological service, Mornington? Part of me wonders why Nelly didn’t tell me herself.
Then again, it’s been a while since we had a proper catch-up… has it really been over a year? That’s on both of us, but it’s clearly time to get back in touch.