This morning, I was awoken at 4.50am by the sound of my sister finally making her way upstairs and to bed (I have a downstairs bedroom and, since her job finished, she’s become ‘nocturnal’ again). As much as I tried though, I couldn’t quite fall back to sleep. I was awoken but more alert than tired. I was excited, for this was due to be the day where I would see my best friend for the first time in three months.
It all started with a phone call on Wednesday evening, straight after work. We’d not previously spoken on the phone in the six-months we’ve known each other but, I was delighted when she made the suggestion and, even more so, when she switched the green light on.
Hearing her voice for the first time in what had felt like such an age… I’d almost forgotten her sweet, innocent tones and the laughter. It’s faster and more instant than sending texts or e-mails, as much as I do find my attention drifting some times (during any phone call), without a physical focal point. Does anyone else find that?
I hadn’t been this nervous about picking up the phone in a long while. My anxiety levels were higher than I’d hope; I was physically shaking, if only a little bit. It was a joyous moment when she picked up and we began to talk and catch up. It turns out that she’d been in some physical pain that was restricting her movement and making every day activities (even work) very difficult, to say the least. She was talking to me hands-free, while the phone was on charge, which I always find difficult as a listener and I do miss things (I just don’t like to say it for risk or upsetting or unsettling someone).
I going to skim over the general subject of the conversation to first mention that we were talking about meeting up on Saturday (today), which was first discussed very briefly by text over the previous weekend. We shared some ideas but what really hit me about this conversation was her apparent desire to do more to help herself.
She was asking me about counselling and whether or not she should finally consider it. I told her the honest truth of my experiences and also threw in both mentions of writing and art therapy (she sounded excited about the prospect of the latter). At one point, that she told me she was stroking my face (she has my photo saved to her phone, apparently). I didn’t know how to react to this, coming from someone who’s recently engaged but, I’m trying not to think about it too much. She did say at the start that she’d ‘been better’ recently although, it wasn’t showing through her voice. She sounded very upbeat, we joked and laughed until it almost physically hurt.
You could say that she was almost hysterical at times. But then, when mentioning that word and associating that with her bipolar disorder, I began to wonder whether she may have been in a ‘hypomanic‘ state. That, to me, is wrong. I accept her condition but, if we’re encouraged to consider that someone with bipolar could be either manic or depressed then, at what point are we ‘allowed’ to accept when they might be ‘normal’? (Am I making sense?)
I started reading one of my new books today, titled When Someone You Love is Bipolar (again, that should be “Has Bipolar“) and the first few pages explore the differences between various mental states with sufferers of this condition.
Fast forward and, today, we were due to meet up either late morning or early afternoon to spend the day together. I sent her a text around 9.15am, knowing full well that she intended to have a deserved lie-in on this Saturday but, I’d been awake for several hours already and I was struggling to contain my excitement.
I hung around, went online a couple of times and tidied up a bit before texting another message two-hours later. A response came through, instigating that we’d be looking at an afternoon meet but, long before this, my anxiety had already kicked in and I felt as though something was wrong. If I’m totally honest, I knew that she was a bit ‘off’ with her texts last night. She told me she’d be busy and unable to respond to phone calls (which I accept) but, when I said I was looking forward to seeing her, I didn’t get the same in return. It didn’t seem right. I could see it, in her messages, that something in her mind had changed within forty-eight hours.
Another wait ensued for her to let me know when she was up and ready but, I knew what was coming. I kind of wish she’d just come out with it there and then, instead of leaving me to wait for over an hour. It’s not as if I had any other plans for the day; the sustained period of not-knowing just increased my doubt. When it came through, she told me that her pain was too strong and that she didn’t even have the strength or energy to get up and out of bed. Tears began to fall from my eyes, as I wished her well with an understanding of how she might need to rest.
Knowing that she was all alone for the day (like every Saturday), I offered to go over and sit with her but, she declined, stating that her fiancé (his new title; no longer referred to by name alone) would be home in a few hours. I wouldn’t have felt any more comfortable stepping in to his home while he’s absent than I would be if I come to meet him in person, knowing how he treats her sometimes. But, the sentiment was there. I tried. I guess I’m just not that guy.
I’m not sure how she reacted but my tears came a lot easier than they have done for a long time. At first, it must have been a good fifteen-to-twenty minutes; trying to remain discreet with my mum on the other side of the door. Several times and later throughout the afternoon, I found myself just able to ‘let go’ a bit more. I feel low but not depressed and I put that down to the meditations I’ve been doing recently. She did also state that she would try to get a day of this week, as she’s aware I also have some time off. I’m holding on.
If I was to look at our conversations and activity in the last twenty-four hours then, it might be fair to say that she’s closer to a manic depressive state, particularly with her lack of energy earlier today (I stress ‘earlier’, having recently seen her Facebook status update…). Again, that feels like making a judgement of someone, even though I understand the importance of having to be aware of how someone like this can think and act. I guess it’s just more complicated than I thought (although, she has only just started taking lithium again after a break, which can affect things). It’s not the only Saturday where this has happened and, again, it’s on a day where we had talked about meeting (plans were far more ‘concrete’ on this day, though).
While shedding tears, I realised that it was my lack of a ‘back-up plan’ that really hurt. I’m not angry or upset with her; I never am. The thought of spending another Saturday stuck indoors, when the sun decided to shine; watching the clock until my dad would decide to pop in for his routine weekend visit – the last person I want around when all I want to do is cry. I didn’t feel like heading off to our intended destinations without her (I’ve been there before) and, while I do feel as though I’ve wasted another Saturday, letting out those tears has helped.
I don’t know what I intend to achieve from reading the book. Will it strengthen our friendship? If I can get my own head on straight, perhaps I’ll even offer it to the groom as a gift, if I finish reading it for myself in time. It’s starting to hit me that I’ve lost someone I never really had. We’re still friends and there is that connection; we just won’t be anything more.
Tomorrow should be a better day and, the disappointment I experienced earlier, well, that shouldn’t be hard to beat. I’m set to go on my first walk with a local group I recently joined. I know (but have never met) one person who should be there and I look forward to finally meeting them (don’t worry, L, I know you can’t make it).
There may be more but, I feel like this is enough for now. If nothing develops for either Monday or Tuesday then, I’ll try harder to plan my own day(s) out, alone. Earlier in the week, it felt as though my support was really helping. Maybe it still is… I just hope she doesn’t become sidetracked from the things we began talking about. I was hoping we could continue those discussions today.
I shouldn’t over-react because she found the time to share one of her poems with me last night and that clearly meant something to her. Maybe I didn’t give the response that she was looking for? That message ‘seen‘ confirmation has since disappeared from our long-running Facebook conversation…
(Sorry, I wanted to add some photos and images to this help break this post up but, I’m lacking in inspiration.)
- Going ‘Marbles’: From Manic Highs To Oceanic Lows (npr.org)
- Recognizing Bipolar Disorder Triggers (everydayhealth.com)
- Bipolar Disorder and Memory Loss (everydayhealth.com)
- Catherine Zeta-Jones speaks out about her battle with manic depression (telegraph.co.uk)
- 5 Persistent Myths About Bipolar Disorder (psychcentral.com)