Yesterday, like most Americans home and abroad, I had a little BBQ with friends and family. This was the fifth annual iteration that we’d been doing it with one of my ‘local’ ex-pat friends (she lives a couple of hours away), and at my eldest’s suggestion, we extended the invitation to her best friend’s family. As we match up as well with his parents as we do with my friend R and her husband, we’re always happy to hang out with them. And as the matriarch of that family is my closest local friend (both in physical proximity and friendship ‘importance’), I definitely wanted her and R to meet and make friendly. All in all, all six adults had a great time, all three kiddos had a great time, and my eldest declared it to be the best day ever.
While we were chatting and knitting (because yanno, I have to get everyone in the world hooked on knitting), the subject of having friends who also have mental illnesses came up. And I commented that pretty much the entirety of my inner circle(s) have mental illnesses, and most of them of a chronic nature. It was agreed that having friends who are also living with such made for a more empathetic support group, and on that I agree. I hadn’t intentionally acquired a bunch of bipolar friends on purpose (well, until I set up The Bipolar Blogger Network, ha ha), but it helped me be happier with my diagnosis and what it meant, and it’s helped me since in knowing that friends with similarly broken brains can understand when the brain weasels are being stupid (brain weasels compliments of bat).
But What About ‘Normal’ People?
This came up in a big way when my sister was visiting last month. We haven’t been on the same page as each other in a really freaking long time; I’m pretty sure the last time were was in the 90s. And we totally had a blow out fight. We also finally had a point where we deconstructed it after the fact and managed to make a lot more sense to each other, but it proved a point to me — it is hard to explain things to someone who isn’t mentally/chronically ill. Even if someone is empathetic (and it turned out she was to a much higher degree than I remembered from recent years), there’s so much of the experience and the verbiage and such that goes into clarifying things to someone who lives and speaks a different language, and well… spoons? What spoons? And I did manage to clarify that — that we didn’t speak the same language, so we were just raising our voices at each other trying to make things make sense that way. Yeah, that doesn’t work. But as many of us know — it’s just easier to take those non-existent spoons and stay with people who don’t need extra clarification. That isn’t to say that a normal person is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, obviously — just that there is so much they take for granted in their functionality that they might not be able to easily understand that not everyone can talk so heatedly, or defend their positions deeply.
Anyways, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but my brain needed to noodle over it. *nodnods*
Hope everyone is well.
Great post. Thank you, because I have just been through an episode that triggered my PTSD so badly that I was…gone…for almost 24 hrs, and reverberating for several days after. And the person who was directly in charge of the trigger had SO many ridiculous “suggestions” and “words of wisdom” that I had to just get her out of my face any way I could, which meant I had to disappear. Muggles, ugh.
It is so much less stressful to associate with others of our kind, who aren’t constantly either accusing us of malingering, or touting some miracle treatment that will make you instantly “normal.” (n.b. I have never wanted to be “normal,” whatever that is; simply don’t want to suffer.)
Am I part of the Bipolar Blogger Network?
You are, and have been for some years! 🙂 Slap the badge on if you haven’t yet!
And I’m sorry to hear about your episode and the ‘help’ that followed. That shit is… terrible. *hugs*
Thanks! I kinda thought, ya know, but then The Brain…gotta love it…kinda….Except when….Oh, YOU know!
FYI to Raeyn & Laura, found you both via Bipolar Blogger Network. Thank you, Raeyn, for the work you’ve done to put it in place.
Aha! A little less chaos in the universe…Raeyn gets the Anti-Entropy Award! There are no rules to this Award, unless you happen to be an Astrophysicist, or have the brains and guts to develop a Network that contributes hugely to lessening the native isolation of one very special population, and providing us with a means for connecting and thereby getting to have community, so very important. SO.
My neurosis is so extreme, I even feel like a freak amongst the mental health network. Not because I am special, but because at my best, I am outspoken and brutally honest. Throw in a mood swing or anxiety episode, and what I may spew could be a bridge burner. I know avoidance is the answer, thus I do comments and I do interact with the flesh and blood mundanes when the opportunity arises…I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I want to, I just don’t. I keep trying.
Glad you and your grown up and kiddie people had a good time for the 4th. It’s those things that mean so much.
I love your honesty and spew, even if I’m not commenting all the time. I’m also charmed to have seen Spook and the kittens.
One thing that I personally hide like a mofo is the fact I am ridiculously paranoid and have been as far back as I remember. Like, I remember being 4 and trying to figure out how I could cheat out of a nap or something without getting caught, and I couldn’t see how that was possible. But like, I almost never mention it because I am TERRIFIED someone is going to take advantage of it somehow. Like that makes sense. Fucking brains, eh? Stab ’em with Q-Tips.
For me, holidays are exhausting. Social interaction itself depletes me. I become anxious, worrying now about health needs of my parents and my in-laws on top of my own and my family’s needs. Just become paralyzed and want to hide. Must recover when I return home.
I can empathise on needing recovery time from vacations. I am not looking forward to the advent of family vacations in our life because I will probably be out on my backside for weeks after. ><
Yes. My son has been in bed, both during and now after the trip.
That’s one good thing about not having a family: no compulsory group events. I spent the 4th weekend on a high mesa in the middle of the Southern New Mexico desert, with my dog for company. The highest stress event was pulling cactus spines out of noses and paws! I feel very blessed to have this privilege.
Prayers for your son and everybody else who needs healing <3
Poor doggie. Those cactus spines hurt.
At least he lets me haul them out!
Clearly he trusts you. Those suckers have nasty barbs.
Yeah, almost as bad as porcupine quills. Now those suckers hurt! Today he ripped a piece of paw pad off chasing a horrible pickup truck that obviously had evil intentions. We have to work on that one…
Ouch! Poor thing. I cannot let my dogs off leash. Too great a liability.
It may sound narrow-minded, but I don’t want to be close friends with anyone normal. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. I’m too anxious and exhausted and norms don’t get it. To each her own and all that. Honestly I connect more with my dog than with most people. I probably connect more with sea monkeys and skeins of yarn for that matter.
Speaking of knitting, an old memory just surfaced. I used to be friends with a woman who ran her own knitting store. I really liked her, but we parted ways when she said to me with venom in her voice, “You only call me when you’re manic.” It was true, but shit, I was fucking depressed for months on end – it wasn’t something I did deliberately, ya know? After our breakup I noticed she started a Meetup group for extraordinarily gifted toddlers (it did not last long). Spotting that confirmed my intuition, for I always got the feeling she thought my children weren’t gifted enough for her two-year-old’s company. Sigh.
So, after that I started a support group for women with mood disorders to find some new friends! (And of course I created it for noble reasons too, i.e. to give other women a chance to network!) Anyway, loved this post! I’m quite glad you wrote it! The other comments are insightful as well.
I don’t find it a close-minded sentiment because I can completely understand the impetus behind it. Part of keeping sane enough to function is to set some pretty strict conditions for balancing socialisation and self-preservation. I can even have a tiny smidge of empathy for the normal folk who think we’re being unfair or mean because we can’t explain in depth to them what the deal is, but also, there’s a huge freaking internet out there to educate oneself with, so. I’m all about expecting people to do their own groundwork before rolling up to me.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but i have 2 (out of 3 children) who were diagnosed (by doctors) to have mental issues. My oldest daughter is Bipolar, and my son is Aspie. They both have different fathers, so, I assume it’s me. The youngest has issues, but those haven’t been confirmed, only a 200 question eval that was sent home when she was little. Almost every question i tried to answer about my child I could see myself in. I never returned it because the school system at that time (less than 20 years ago) was still not treating kids with issues (what I thought) as properly. So, I can relate to people with mental issues much clearer than “normal” and I’m not even sure what that means anymore. Both of the older two gravitated to, and married people with some serious intellect, but also, depression, anxiety, and Bipolar. So, it’s not news that the issues attract others of affinity. I don’t even know if i *have* normal people around me. It may be a case of “if you have to ask, the answer’s probably no.”
I still had quite a few leftover from my Air Force days, and some are still around, but man like. Different worlds.