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Posted on 7. January 2021

Friend Check

By Abbie Cornett

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On New Year's Day, I called one of my dearest friends. She is a smart, fun, quirky person who always sees the bright side of things. I have always enjoyed talking to her and love her dearly. But, with everything going on, we had not talked in a few months so I was eager to catch up. A few minutes into our conversation, the topic turned to COVID.

I live in Los Angeles, and I mentioned to my friend how high the numbers are here and what my family is doing to protect ourselves. I know she also lives in an area that has a high number of cases. When I asked how she was handling it, her response surprised me. She said to me, "It's out of my hands; we just have to let evolution take its course." In other words, she wasn't doing anything, including wearing a mask, unless it was required.

At first, I was really irritated! Not only was I mad she didn't seem to care about the lives lost to COVID or the risk the disease poses to me and my family. But, I was also mad because this was not a statement the woman I have known and loved for years would normally make. I was so angry, I told her one of the kids needed something and I had to ring off.

After I hung up, I grew even more angry thinking about her response. Fortunately, I had enough sense not to call her back when I was mad. I waited a couple of days and called her back to try to understand why she felt that way. I am glad I did! The first thing she said to me was she was sorry. She knew she had upset me and hadn't meant to. She explained to me that she can't seem to find the energy to cope with the pandemic any longer; she is burned out and depressed. Her husband lost his very good job in the tourism industry and has been unable to find another, and she is working double shifts to make ends meet. We discussed her speaking to someone about her depression and anxiety.

This time when I hung up, instead of being angry, I was sad. I was sad I had not been a better friend and reached out sooner. I was sad my friend who had always been a source of inspiration was hurting. And, I was sad to realize she is only one of many who are hurting.

I could have easily lost a very good friend if I had called back when I was angry. What's worse is I would have kicked a friend when she was already down. Remember, this year has been tough on everyone. Even those who seem invincible can be suffering from depression. I encourage everyone to reach out and conduct a friend check. Be there for the people you care about, and be ready to listen without getting angry. You can make a real difference in someone's life!

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