"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Love is An Old Friend

What was it that drew us to each other?
We were juniors in high school when we met. We lived in the same suburban houses... she on the northeastern end and I on the west. We went to different elementary schools and finally met in high school because of a mutual acquaintance.
What drew me to this life long friend in the beginning? Common interests or a need for contrast to my undeveloped and blossoming persona? The wanting of a friend with uncommon and interesting beauty in a world of conformity? Maybe it was her beautiful red hair, but I think it was more her energy of thought to my laid back, introspective, poetry writing self. She was an exciting gift of talent and creativity.
But, like a flower that unexpectedly appears in the winter and doesn't have enough sun to develop, she struggled. She would go from totally focused positive energy to anger at stupidity, and the injustices of the world. She was the spirit of protest in the 60's at Berkeley.
She was, and is, a uncommon flower in the storm of life.

This was a flower that struggled. Having been through many harsh winters even before I knew her.
My friend suffers from Bipolar Disorder. Possibly because of some DNA passed down from a loved parent who suffered too. She has struggled most of her life to maintain a balance... to look at life in a positive way and to be happy.
She is a brilliant, complex woman who is amazingly gifted. But, as a result of the drugs that give her stability, she frequently finds life flat and disconnected . The drugs take her creativity and interest away.
My friend was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder almost 15 years ago. She is a survivor. But it's not like being a cancer survivor. It's not about getting the tumor out and taking the treatments. It's not about seeing the end of the tunnel and moving on with hope and reassurance.
This is Bipolar Disorder and no matter what drugs you take, no matter how many therapist you talk to, it's an on going battle. Then, there are the scary moments when you realize that the drugs aren't working and the horror of knowing that, without constant monitoring of this insidious disorder, you might never find relief.
You want clarity. You want peace of mind.

The fence gate you see as a new direction might only lead to another set of ups and downs that are almost impossible to navigate and life becomes a series of potholes to fall into.
She dodged the land minds, running uphill until finally coming to a complete standstill, because being out of breath was as much about fear as it was about health.
I have walked this friend's road, off and on, for many years. I've seen her manic, brave, crazy in love, raising a daughter, very happy and very, very sad. I have watched her struggle with anger and be amazed by happy moments  and now I see her, as an older woman, still fighting for a balance.
She is my friend and I can only give her vegetable soup and hugs as if she had a cold or the flu.
I can only give her a place to stay, and comfort... a little laughter and listening.
It never seems enough.
Why does she have to struggle this much?
Where is the god of "Give me a frigging break!" ?

I love this old friend. She knows I do.
We talked about a puppy. She says maybe a Dachshund. She loves Carl and Cutter.
I think this would be a good idea, my friend. Let's do it.
I will be down there soon...

13 comments:

Brian Miller said...

aww what a cool friend you are to her as well...i hear your love in the story...i am glad you are there for her...

Nancy K. said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend! I love that you've written it while she is alive ~ instead of as a eulogy. Most of us don't articulate what we love about our friends until we lose them.

Madeline's Album said...

A very touching post, I do not know this person but I want you to know that I will put her on my prayer list. Have a blessed day. Madeline

Rubye Jack said...

She is very fortunate to have such a good friend in you.

jojo said...

I was so afraid this post was going to go in a different direction as often happens with BP. She is fortunate to have the blessings of a true friend in her life..I am sure you have been a life saver to her all this many years. You are a great friend.

Denise S. said...

I understand,believe me I do. Just continue your caring as you always have and know most times it is enough.

Midcenturymadam said...

I am far too familiar with the ravages of bi-polar disease. My mother-in-law suffered with this debilitating disease for most of her life. She wasn't diagnosed until she was well into her sixties. The medication helped her but eventually took her life. She was brilliant and one of the wisest women I have ever known. I feel very fortunate that she was apart of my life. She was an amazing grandma, mother, mother-in-law and human being. Just be there for your friend...that's all you can do.

Charming Baglady said...

I want so badly to leave a post today but don't quite know what to say. My heart aches for this woman. I know (first hand) a lot about depression but have no personal experience with bi-polar. I only know what I read and it is, to me, a most wretched place to be. I love you more today than ever for your strength and compassion. I don't know whether your friend is ever in a place where she's able to express to you how important you are in her life but if she isn't, please KNOW that she recognizes and appreciates the love you have given and will, undoubtedly, continue to give her. Thank you for being the kind of person who not only can, but DOES, give love and support. That clears the road and lets in HOPE. It's when we lose the ability to hope that life ends.
Blessings to you my friend. ~Dawn

Teri said...

Lucky you to have a person like that in your life. She has been a gift to you as well and you to her. Funny how we find each other, isn't it? It makes me sad for my friend of 40 years who still, after almost 2 years now, will not speak to me. Truly sad. How lucky YOU ARE!!

Jan Ely said...

You are a friend to the heart as the spoon is to the soup you offer.

Sue said...

You've been with her through thick and thin, I'm sure. It is unfortunate that meds stifle her creativity. It would seem that you are one of her saving graces and I hope she continues to find peace in her relationship with you. :-) Sue

Chef E said...

A very compelling and truthful post.

I have seen my own loved ones go through these ups and downs. Most meds are temporary and finding solutions like stability in routine really help, they have for me.

I also understand about the gods of 'give me a freaking break'...well put Mrs. C. Thanks for this...

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Mental illness is an invisible disease and takes so much courage to confront. Your friend is so lucky to have a person like you in her life.