The Value Of A Good Friend
I have learned to pick up the phone when in ‘crisis’ and call a trusted friend. I am very fortunate to have a handful of reliable “go-to” gals . We have practiced the art of talking each other ‘down off the ledge’ for years. Through much trial and sore “toes being stepped on” errors, we finally gave one another permission to start the conversation by skipping the pleasantries, by-pass the monotone greeting and go straight into a primal scream when time is of the essence and one of our lives (or sanity) is at stake.
Yesterday, I called my trusted pal in a full blown panic attack. The tiny frazzled wire to my mania (bipolar) had been tripped and was gaining momentum flying around unsupervised in my head and vying for a socket. The night before , the neighbor from Hell had been blasting a “concert” in his backyard with acoustic guitar through an amplifier with Karaoke machine for a few dozen drunk navy buddies . I had spent the day in debt collection offices defending one of my kids from having his credit ruined, I had then rushed to pick up my (newly neutered) puppy. He in turn became the Tasmanian Devil when I tried to make him wear his protective collar, otherwise known as “the cone of shame “. I had no energy left…or sanity…or patience. My thinking was already skewed, and caught in a warped negativity loop. ”Uh-Oh” I saw an image dash across my mind. Not unlike that of a tropical storm warning. “Flash Flood Warning! Bipolar Alert! Seek Shelter Immediately! ”
I called for help. I called one of my “rescue team member” friends. If you’re bipolar, like me, it helps to have at least 3–5 girlfriends on speed-dial who can “talk you down off the ledge.” Call until you get a hold of someone.
She listened and listened and listened and today I found a Groupon gift for something to help. She signed me up for an Online Yoga class. Simultaneously, I burst out laughing and crying. You can do things like this if you are bipolar like me. Although, I believe this particular super-power is called “rapid cycling”. We have all sorts of talents. My patient friend was aware I couldn’t get out of the house as much as I needed, because having a new puppy is like having a new born baby .She also knew I had a surplus of stored up anxiety/ stress/energy that was about to explode /implode. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of exercise. It really does take a village to stabilize my bipolar. Right combination of medication, therapy, diet, support groups, keeping a journal and yes, exercise! It took primal screaming (well, mildly pathetic whining and moderately annoying moaning) to a good friend to remember this because, when I’m in the rapid cycles of my illness I can’t remember simple solutions by myself.
That’s why I need friends to remind me of stuff I already know but can’t access. It’s like you forgot your password and guessed too many times, so now you’ve been locked out of your own web site. It helps to have a backup plan knowing this may happen. I have a tough time ‘problem solving’ with 17 hamsters doing spin class in my brain. Welcome to bipolar!
It’s taken me years to put together a few good friends who also act as “emergency standby”. They are not always available and sometimes I just piss people off and we don’t speak for awhile. Shit happens. It’s not easy being my friend when I’m manic.(Dysphoric) I am bipolar 2 (the crappy kind) I don’t get euphoric I get dysphoric. (irritable, enraged, volatile, about to chew the leather off your new pair of loafers kind of moody) Yeah, I know…my poor friends right? However, folks that mind don’t matter, folks that matter don’t mind, because they know I have an illness NOT a character defect.
So, if you haven’t found a team yet, keep looking, don’t give up until you find what you need! Even when you do find friends you can talk to- folks can’t be there 100% ALL the time. Hell, neither can you! Life’s hard. Bipolar ,without a team, is harder. Some days it’s going to feel like nobody’s there. Keep going anyway, because your bipolar head is going to lie to you. Oh, by the way you don’t have to believe every friggin’ thing your head tells you. “Nobody cares” “Life sucks” etc. So,if yours is telling you right now that it’s too hard to make the kind of friends who give a damn…thank your bipolar brain very much for sharing that extremely helpful (cough) information and now it can sit down and shut the Hell up!
Just for today I have someone who really cares and listened. Just for today. If I can focus on just today, that also helps me from becoming overwhelmed. Then again, that’s all we really have, isn’t it? Just today? So just for today, I have a friend who cared enough to listen and talk me down off the ledge and bonus…surprise me today with a gift membership to Online Yoga so I can blow off a lil steam or stretch off a lil tension. It is the payoff from investing years of searching for the team I knew I’d need….because if you have a severe mental condition like I do, “Mama said there’d be days like this..there’d be days like this my Mama said…..”
If you don’t have a “tribe” I’ll share an Online link to one I use. Just to give you an idea what’s available. No, I don’t market this site. It was a gift from one of my Tribeswomen. I’ll share as many gifts as I can. That’s why I started this blog; to share what works for me. I hope you find what works for you!