I am lucky. A few weeks ago someone stumbled across this blog via a local Meetup group profile. She thought it was weird to contact me, but felt we had a lot in common so did anyway. After much back and forth through email and one failed attempt at meeting, we met yesterday at a coffee shop in our favorite area. Think a mismatch of chairs, window seats, man playing the mandolin, treats made by the owner’s wife, and the kind of lattes that have decorative foam. Yeah. A treasure.
I was early, she was excusably late. I felt like I was on a first date – you know, online dating sites with their pictures and back and forth messaging. I wondered whether my harassing ex-boyfriend had set all this up or if I was being catfished (especially as I waited alone). But then she showed up and she was all she had said she was.
We talked diagnoses. We talked hospital visits. We talked side effects. We talked about ourselves and, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel so “different.” I wasn’t the “crazy” friend. I wasn’t the friend with “problems” or “issues.” I was the same. I was an equal. And you know what? It was really, really nice.
This is why I encourage you to attend support groups. There is something peaceful about meeting people who share your illness. They GET IT! They understand the mood swings, the depression, the mania, the trouble you can get yourself into because of the bad wiring in your brain. You can compare prescriptions – what works, what doesn’t and why. There are also a plethora of online chat communities and Facebook pages, but I urge you to steer clear of the ones where people are always in crisis or negative. Nobody needs that pressure. Your health is of the utmost importance.
So, today I am thankful for a potentially new friend who understands the plight of the mentally ill. Search for one of your own, even if it is a virtual friend (of which I also have and treasure). There is something nice about sharing a coffee and a similar history that makes you feel good. Promise.
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