Friends & Bipolar Disorder
I like to think that I am fiercely independent and do not require friends. Acquaintances on social media are as close as I get. Most people believe that is sad, and I guess in some ways it could be, but I have never felt the loss.
However, I have recently been leafing through the pages of my life and highlighting moments of significant change or impact. Therapy is responsible, but I also want to see where I have been. In particular, I want to see the people who have passed through. So, this article is going to examine a few of the friendships that I have made.
In one of my many attempts to finish college, I attended East Tennessee State University. At best, I was an average student but was prone to extreme shifts in behavior due to my undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I missed class a lot and argued with the teachers. Unfortunately, this kept me pretty lonely and isolated. That was until I took a French course and sat next to Kamille (name changed). This girl took no time to introduce herself and declared that I would be her partner in all group activities.
I don’t know how to describe her except that she was “country,” a horse girl if you can imagine what I mean. She wore plaid, ripped jeans, and a cross around her neck. I was taken aback at first. Her heart seemed in the right place, but I was gay, strange, and knew nothing about life in the country. She didn’t seem to mind and eventually invited me to hang out with her and her friends.
Over the next few months, it became a regular event to hang out with Kamille and her friends. She would listen to me whine and complain about life. She did not run away the first time my anger or depression reared its ugly head. We played spoons, ran around the dark campus at night, and went to haunted houses in the winter.
I dropped out of college, but our friendship stayed the same for a while. I ran off to England for a few months. We talked some, but when I came back, I noticed a difference. I introduced her to my girlfriend (who later became my wife). She approved, and I was happy about that. Then life got hectic. We saw each other less and less. Then I moved again. I’ve moved several times since then, but we’ve kept in touch.
Kamille was there for a reason. She helped me feel included and cared for genuinely. I learned that I did not have to be isolated and that there were people in the world worth getting to know. They might be different or work alternative angles, but you can still benefit from having them in your life. If only for a short while.
I worked at Apple for several years, both in Texas and in South Carolina. In that time, I met so many weirdos and wonderful people. One, in particular, stands out because we only worked together for a few seasons. I’ll call her Jacklynn. Jacklynn was a married woman, just a few years younger than me. She was trying desperately to start a family with her husband, but they were having trouble. I won’t go into details, but I will say she has two beautiful children now who have been spoiled rotten and deserved every minute of it.
This friendship was the first grownup friendship that I think that I had. We talked about life, death, babies, taxes, theatre, and even made dinner for one another. Her cooking was above and beyond, while she always seemed to be helping me rescue mine. We had adult conversations and laughed. Then I left Apple to work a new job.
Our friendship faded to conversations on social media and the random text here and there. Her life got complicated, and I followed along, trying to wish her and her family the best. Now, I glance at pictures as I scroll, glad to see her family smile. The friendship we had helped me understand that people come into your life, sometimes for a season. I started having more adult conversations in that season, and I gave a kid a giant chocolate bunny.
This section will be short and sweet. Not counting family that will always be there, there is one person who stands out. Her name is Amy. She loves me unconditionally and has been there through all the tough times. Amy has been there through all the great times too. She is my best friend for a lifetime. I owe her so many more words, but she has taught me that actions speak louder than words ever will.
I hope you find this helpful. I hope you know that having bipolar disorder does not prevent you from having relationships like these. Keep trying, talk to your therapist, and never give up. People are there for you whether you realize it or not. You will find love in unsuspecting places.