I’ve been blessed in my life with some very wonderful friends. Most of them don’t know about my illness, or if they do, I don’t trouble them with my ups & downs because I don’t wish to invade their lives. Perhaps it’s not fair of me to rob them of the chance to support me, but it’s how I feel about my bipolar. (I can be quite stubborn about suffering alone.) I do allow my friends to support me on other medical issues or when I have a family emergency.
I have one friend who is wonderfully supportive. When my mom had a heart attack and bypass surgery, she picked my husband and I up at the airport and let us stay at her place. She was single at the time and living in a small apartment, so she gave her bedroom to my husband and I, while she slept on the couch. Another time, during a family emergency, she gave me the keys to a spare car in addition to the keys to her house and said, “I’ll see when I see you. Good Luck.” When my mother died, she did the same, except she didn’t have a spare car at that point. She apologized that she couldn’t go to the funeral because she was already committed to a different funeral that day. (Bad time of the year, I guess.) I love this woman more than she will ever know and there is no way I could ever pay her back for her kindness and support.
Another friend texted me the other day and asked if I had some time to talk to her. She was scared because she was being tested for a medical problem that was similar to something I had gone through. We spent two hours on the phone and by the end of it she felt much better, less worried, and we’d even worked out a game plan for how to approach her doctor.
A couple of months ago I spent two hours on the phone listening to a friend who was going through a divorce. I also listened (read?) via IM. He was very grateful and listed my name (along with all the others who supported him) on his Facebook page in a big thank you note.
There have been many times when I’ve listened when someone needed to talk. Friends or even just acquaintances, and of course, there are times when I can’t. Times when I am in a “bad headspace” and need the support myself. I’ve looked for support, but only for more typical things – work relationships, personal relationships, medical issues, etc. But when it comes to my bipolar, I only look for a handful of people: my husband, occasionally a friend, but mostly my therapist, pdoc, and you, dear readers.
I have sort of gotten off track with the last piece, but what I am trying to tell you is this: you can’t always pay it back, but you can always pay it forward.
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