As I analyze the events leading up to the break, I come to understand, more and more, why my big implosion pushed so many people away. There was a lot of lying going on, mostly by me. I was having a manic episode that lasted quite some time. I alienated a lot of people that used to be my friends. I was doing what I thought I needed to do to stay afloat. Everything I was doing was lighting little fuses which would inevitably combine into one gigantic one. Then there was the break and I imploded on myself, the manic episode turned into a Psychotic Break. Everyone else saw that they had something in common, my lies, and started comparing notes. When they did that they discovered that I was different to everyone, that no one knew who I really was. That was when they all moved away. It was my doing. It was my disease’s doing. I really had no control over it. I’m not using this as an excuse, I’m simply stating a fact. This disease I have, Bipolar Disorder (BPD), played a large role in the loss of friends and career. Any forgiveness I ask for or give, in that part of my life, must be seen in that light. But, I am ultimately responsible for my actions.
How do we start to make friends?
Do we put ourselves out there?
Just enough, not too much…
We don’t want anyone to know
How does it work?
If we open ourselves,
Why does it chase them off?
What kind of monsters are we,
That simple compassion is denied?
We learn to make personas,
That show just enough.
We have to lie about ourselves,
To gain the companionship we desire.
How do we keep that relationship intact,
When it’s time to tell the truth?
We will know the friendship is right,
If they do not turn away from us.
“you mean we actually are all one” — Alanis
If we are one…
When I stumble
When I cut
When I’m sad
When I’m boisterous
When I’m high
You go to jail
When I get arrested
You spend time in that room
When they can’t find another way
Your hands get the tremors
At random times during the day
You always find me
No matter where I am
If we are one…
I enjoy the quiet
That helps you read
I listen to the love songs
That bring tears to your eyes
I make any new friends
When you’ve got one every week
I hold down a job
You get promoted all the time
I take my medication
When you don’t take any at all
If we are one…
Why aren’t we together more often?
Is it because I stress you out?
Is it all the talk about love and forever?
Does that stuff make it hard for you to be my best friend?
Why do you stop me from going on rooftops?
Do you think I don’t know I can’t fly?
Don’t you know it’s a trick to see how far I can go?
Why do you cover your eyes?
Why aren’t you down here with me?
Are you afraid of the dark?
Do you imagine something down here will hurt you?
Why would I let that happen?
If we are one…
You should be everything I am
And I should be everything you are
If we can’t be one together
What’s the point of this whole thing?
Discussion at the NAMI peer support group today got me thinking about how important friendship is to virtually every aspect of my life. A friend asked me to a movie last Sunday when I was just sitting home alone watching football. I have a friend who calls me every three months to give me an update on how his life is going and check up on mine. I text message almost every day with my best friend who lives in another state and when we get together it’s as if we had never been apart. I’ve chatted with several friends on Facebook over the past week. I have a strong support structure in place and my friends are a part of that whether I’m in touch with them every day or every three months.
I had the same feelings when I was living in San Diego. I had built a group of four or five good friends that were all pretty close. It seemed to me as if we could talk about anything and count on each other to be there when necessary.
When I had the psychotic episode, those friendships broke down. It was like I ceased to exist. I had expected something from someone but they disappeared. Every single one of them! After a few weeks, after I had some time to recuperate and gather myself, I called and wrote e-mails. I stopped short of going my their houses and apartments. If they weren’t answering or returning my calls or responding to my e-mails who knows how they would have reacted to me showing up at their door? I wanted to avoid an encounter with the police.
But why should I be put in that situation in the first place? What did I do that was so…. heinous, as to cause five people to act as though I never existed? These were people I had grown to trust and to count on and I was experiencing none of that.
So, on top of the most traumatic event of my life, I find that the people that I expected to be there for me and to support me aren’t there. They aren’t anywhere. In addition to feeling scared because of what I’ve just been through, and confused as to what my life is going to turn in to, I started to get mad, really, really, really, mad. The thing is…. I had no energy to express my anger. I don’t even know what shape it would have taken. I just had to take my anger and turn it inward. I had to shove it down deep inside so it would be out of sight.
That anger is still inside me, but it is in a different form. It’s no longer the negative energy that it used to be. I try to use it in my every day life. When I see something, or hear a familiar song, or even enter a situation that I recognize as something I had shared with one of those friends I say to myself “X would have enjoyed this” or “Y would have done this or that”. I treat my memories of those people as happy ones. I figure that Bipolar is going to come up with ways to attack me with enough negative shit, there’s no reason to add to it with something I have control over.
Friend in Exile
My friend in exile
My fellow desert dweller
We pass occasionally
Little gifts of
Thoughts and feelings
Scooping them up
As fuel for our journey
They are not a burden to us
But of incredible value
In our voyage
The time is drawing near
When our paths won’t cross
For quite some time
These little gifts will
Keep us going
Until the desert sees fit
To bring us together again
“The most important of life’s battles is the one we fight daily
in the silent chambers of the soul.”
– David O. McKay
I had my first visit with a mental health professional in the fall of 1997. I had been having a hard time, I was full of rage and depression. I had changed jobs and the new job wasn’t going well. It wasn’t what had been advertised, it wasn’t what I had expected. I had also started a consulting business with one of my old co-workers and a friend of his. Employment related stress was not helping my situation.
Then there was my best friend at the time, M. She and I had become close when we worked for the old company. Even though I had moved on, it was like I had never left. Sure we didn’t see each other every day but there was an almost constant stream of e-mail messages that seemed to keep us together throughout the day. We also saw each other on a regular basis for dinners, movies the occasional concert. She was my biggest supporter when things started to go downhill. After I wrote her a ranting/raging e-mail, she was the one who suggested and pushed me to seek professional help.
I remember this like it was yesterday: I called to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. He answered the phone. I didn’t know how to start. Finally I said, “I’ve been talking to a friend and she thinks that I need help and now I think that I do so now I’m talking to you.” There was a silence that lasted for about 3 months; he didn’t push me. Then he said “It’s hard, isn’t it?” I knew I had called the right place.
He didn’t prescribe any medication, I just went and talked to him every week for six months. When I was done with that, I thought I was cured. Looking back. That was the first instance of Bipolar raising it’s evil head.