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Friends-A Bipolar Perspective

Although I put family and my beloved spouse in a different place, I was just thinking of all my varied friendships so I thought I would comment on them and show how a bipolar lifestyle works in:

Being a good Catholic boy, serving on the altar until eighteen, I looked on nuns and priests as authority figures and was happy to see them on the friendly edges of my relationship with God. Religion was a best friend to me when I was young. I lost it in my active bipolar years; I guess I should have saved those Hail Marys for later in life when they were not needed by an innocent time, but that is a lost opportunity. I respected religion as my family had respected it for generations before me. I knew and liked and visited with the priest who presided over my marriage. In those days he was a good friend. He told me I was too young to get married. He was right. I respected him because he was a man of the cloth. I was his friend because he was a good man. But I have lost touch with my old friend, both man and religion, after a few decades of not trying. Maybe meditation and real love have taken religions place. But maybe I would have done better with that good base of religious friendship in my later life. I needed as many rocks to lean on as I could find in my true bipolar years.

My adult friends went into many categories. A lot involved a recreation in a drinking atmosphere..

I liked my golf buddies who were lawyers and we had all gone back to similar school days. They were aware of my bipolar problems. They helped me a lot with bipolar mistakes I would make. When low I would avoid court, but when manic I was talkative. Often one friend would come and whisper in my ear to slow down, the judge had lost the point with my quantum leap. They were fully aware of my bipolar tendencies. But we didn't often socialize as families. I think it was because I was the wild man, drinking to excess, last at the party, taking a cab. I often didn't make sense in one of what they called, my strange moods. When the crap hit the fan they had no base to share with me, nor me with them. I no longer had the law. They naturally floated away to their careers and their judgeships. I never saw them again. But I had a couple of decades of life experience of their peer to peer friendship so I knew what it was and now can determine whether I miss it or not.

Many of my other friends were people from non-profit organizations. Friends who participated in events or conventions, and people from charitable groups I had joined, many who considered themselves to be part of a family unit in that organization. I joined these groups as a mover and shaker but one who got easily on with all. I helped some grow both internally and externally as an organization. I could run ball tournaments, casinos and house draws. I saved the organization legal fees. I helped the individuals with personal and family problems. All had free wills. I met them all and drank with them all in the bars, their office, their homes and conventions. I attended the conventions as organizer, as ordinary Joe, a president and even as district governor. But when the crap hit the fan they withdrew behind their familiar club house "moats". I certainly no longer fit in with them. I was probably a legend of sorts for sheer capacity of action but no longer a friend.

Work associates. I was never comfortable here with my bipolar disorder. There was too much testosterone and bravado. I had my own racing thoughts that didn’t fit in with their type of active recreation. I went drinking and partying with them but left when it was obvious it was pick up time for the young women. I am glad that sexual trend didn't become part of my bipolar makeup. I could get into enough trouble in my own mind. At crap fan hitting time I came out worse because I made a complex mess of the working situation, completely my bipolar fault. Earlier the firm tolerated the illness and I even got the " pull up your socks" speech. But they liked the fact I more than carried my share of the work even if they were to ignore the bipolar problems. It was a professional friendship doomed from the onset because of my bipolar disorder. No-one took my work place bipolar symptom talks to heart. Even though I warned them, no one listened. Hospitalized three times I never heard a word of bipolar concern for me, the known suicide. Those friends dissipated because maybe they were never really there in the first place.

Meet a friend who has "abandoned" me and their head goes down, the mumbling starts and a hand snakes out to shake. I always try a revitalizing robust "hello" but I still move on. They were all aware of the bipolar issues but didn't understand them. I was coping and excelling in high gear with them so I just had an idiosyncrasy of some sort. People ignore what they can't, won't or don't understand. Those friends just don't have the ability to jump in and help.

True friend. For fifty years one of my many friends stuck with me. We live six hours apart. He visited me in prison. Each year we cottaged at their rental. We have camped together in a national park. We plan to visit them in Florida. They have visited us here for the Stage play productions. But we can laugh, we can joke, we like each others family, we meet for suppers when they are close by. We Skype often. I am his computer guru, and we talk of moods, of suicides, of jail, of bankruptcy, of places he has been in the world and he gives good advice . I trust him. I guess he is a bipolar friend. By being there he has remained my friend.

I am thinking maybe I should see the local mental health association to see if there are at least casual friends there. But I am content and I do have a three year old lab cross dog-man's best friend!

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