Another Great Divide

divide

 

As I write this post today I’m feeling pretty out of it due to a summer cold that came on strong.  The yucky bug has lingered around our home for almost two weeks!  First it struck Marilla, and then it made mincemeat out of my husband Craig, who doesn’t even usually catch colds.  I stayed healthy while I first cared for Rilla, and then for Craig, but I knew deep down it was only a matter of time until I’d start sniffling.

So here I am, sore-throated, stuffy-nosed and sneezing in mid-eighty degree weather.  For once I am happy that our home is naturally quite cold…it strikes me as similar to a root cellar!  At least I’m able to function enough to take care of the girls even though I become a big baby when I get a cold.  Craig is working at a site with a ninety-minute-long commute each way, which is probably for the best since his bedside manner in regard to the common cold is not his strong point!  To top things off, due to the MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) medication Parnate that I take for bipolar disorder, I can’t consume any over-the-counter cold medications or else I’ll get way sicker than the cold itself. 

As crappy and crabby as I feel, surprisingly I haven’t lost my craving to blog  – at least it gets my mind off my cold for the time being!

My last post covered my social anxiety and Meetup groups.  Ever since I wrote that piece I’ve pondered other subjects to write about, including how friendships are affected by mental illness.  This post only touches on the tip of the friendship/bipolar iceberg.  (Sorry for that sketchy metaphor – I’m going to blame my poor writing on my cold.)

Seriously, I’ve wondered about what I can realistically offer as a friend now.  To be honest, I don’t have that much to give this summer.  It has only been a year since my last hospitalization for bipolar depression.  I’ve had a whopping seven hospitalizations, and it feels much less than a year since my last stay at Chez Hellhole.  My therapist, who doesn’t like to throw out psychiatric labels, recently surprised me when she told me that she believes I suffer with PTSD from my hospital experiences.

In some ways I’m doing great, but in other ways I’m still very fucked-up.    

My friends who I feel most comfortable around are ones who have mood disorders.  One example is “S.”.  A few years ago she was diagnosed with bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified; i.e. symptoms of bipolar disorder exist but not fully for a bipolar I or II diagnosis.).  We met through the “Women with Mood Disorders” DBSA support group I created several years ago.  She is supportive, thoughtful, and funny as hell.  I can be my damaged self around S. without feeling ashamed.  S. is strong enough to be able to deal with my ups and downs, and if for some reason she couldn’t handle them at a given time, I know she would be honest with me and tell me her limits.

I have another friend, “D”, who suffered postpartum depression and she took antidepressant medication for it, which served as a godsend.  While D. doesn’t have a chronic illness like I do, I still feel deeply understood by her.  Unfortunately we don’t see each other in person very often, but she stays in touch with me through the internet.  I’m fortunate to have another friend “M”, a mom who I neglected during my years of hospitalizations.  M reconnected with me recently.  Ssuffers with depression and she’s incredibly compassionate.  I feel at ease in M’s presence – that’s no small thing in my book!  I’m thankful that she chose to reach out to me again.

I have a couple other mom friends who don’t have mood disorders and who I don’t see often.  However, I want to stay connected with them for several reasons, mainly because of our children’s longtime friendships and I also genuinely care about them.  This is not an exhaustive list of my friends, but I don’t have many friends, though.   Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I had twice as many friends as I do now; some of them very close, others more of the acquaintance variety.  

Friendships are precious and they’re also a slippery slope to navigate, especially when living with bipolar disorder.  I know I’m limiting myself by focusing on friends who live with mood disorders, but I really can’t help it!  I feel compelled to spend time with my “tribe” of people who can truly empathize with me, and who don’t harbor stigma.  

This post’s title “Another Great Divide” is the name of one of my favorite Split Enz songs.  The song lyrics brilliantly depict the breakup of a romantic relationship using simple mathematical terms, but for me the title “Another Great Divide” also evokes a rift between any two important subjects, i.e. the divide of a friendship between a “normal” person (if one exists, right?) and a person with serious mental illness.

I would love to know how any of you who live with mental illness regard and handle your friendships with those who aren’t living with bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc.  This is a subject so near and dear to my heart, so please comment away!  Take care and take your vitamins! 😉

Dyane

“Another Great Divide” by Split Enz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmWbVeu-vBM  

 

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47 thoughts on “Another Great Divide

  1. Yes, platonic relationships are tricky buggers. I have friends I keep in touch with, but the ones I make a point of seeing I can count on one hand. You never really think about how difficult yet vital that kind of honesty (the ones who can tell you what they really think of your writing, or if they can/can’t handle being around you, etc.) is in a person, but when you find it, you realize that THIS is a friendship you’re willing to work to keep.

    1. I honestly couldn’t say (or write) it any better, Jean! As you know, I tweeted that you’re quite eloquent!!!! (New blog title for you: “The Eloquent Blogger”! I saw one the other day called “The Eloquent Writer” – I’m dead serious. Talk about hubris…)

  2. I’m bipolar and I have no friends outside of my family. I know people but just to say hi and maybe chat. I am very afraid to let anyone get to know me. I’ve lived in the same area for years but because of what I’ve been through in the past, I keep my mouth shut and try to act “normal” when around others. It has really landed me in a tough spot though. I just gave birth to twins and I have a 6 year old (and a husband who does not understand this disorder AT ALL). It has been so hard because I don’t have some one to lean on (classic song – lean on me bill withers). That’s how I came across your blog. I feel desperate and I’m manic and alone! Everyone’s talking about postpartum depression or psychosis. I’m not finding much info about postpartum mania. The crazy thing is (pun intended) is that I love, love, love this feeling! I feel great (except that I get so aggravated and agitated). I’m extremely productive and very creative right now. But I know myself well enough to know that what goes up must come down and I don’t want my babies to suffer from me crashing. I’m unmedicated (due to marital conflict – long story, includes issues over him wanting to drink alcohol and my past hospitalization). I feel like I’m riding in a car at 95 mph with no seatbelt on.

    1. Dear Supermommyoftwins, I sure hope that you get this reply! I wasn’t able to reply to anyone over the past 10 days due to being out of town, but today I’m finally catching up.

      Your comment really moved me. You and I both know what it’s like to go through postpartum mania. It has been incredibly frustrating for me to see 99.9% of the research and public awareness go to the other postpartum mood disorders (depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis) for the most part. I’ve only found one study that addresses postpartum bipolar disorder-related issues.

      Anyway, I know that you love the feeling of mania, believe me. I miss it sometimes! I want to commend you for being aware enough to recognize there will most likely be a downswing. 😦 I’ve also been unmedicated (it’s long story too!) which was my decision. Despite doing my homework about how to best become med-free, I relapsed & went from mania into suicidal depression. I spent 3 weeks at the hospital last year. I wonder if there’s ANY way you could seek out some professional support (i.e. counselor?) to help you so you don’t have to go this alone….I “leaned on” my counselor (low-cost/sliding scale) many times. It’s *EXTREMELY*hard when your loved one doesn’t understand what you’re going through, and can’t help you the way you need and deserve to be supported.

      Craig & I have had many of those difficult, divisive times due to bipolar disorder, and they almost tore us apart. Counseling and seeing a good psychiatrist is what got me/us through.

      How I wish I had a helpful answer for you. I am so sorry you have to deal with this bipolar crap – being a mom of twins and a six-year-old is hard enough. I hope to hear from you again about how you’re doing, and you’ll be in my thoughts!!!!!

      (((hugs))) Dyane

      1. I dragged my husband with me to see a counselor (low-cost/sliding scale) yesterday and she tried to explain to him that my mind does not work the same as his and that he has got to stop being so hard on me. She also told him that Him drinking is not equal to me taking medications (he thinks that if I’m “taking something” he should be “allowed” to drink b/c that’s HIS medication – even though he’s had big problems with it in the past and we both cut that out years ago). I think it helped because when we got home, he told me to go see my psychiatrist.

        As far as friends go, that’s really looking up too. One of the other moms with whom I had “chatted” at my daughter’s school emailed me to apologize for not visiting us after the babies were born. She said she had been severely depressed. I replied to her stating that I completely understood and thanked her for being so candid. I used to tell everyone, “I’ve been sick.” She seemed genuinely grateful in her second reply to tell me that she too, has Bipolar and feels misunderstood.

        You say you wish you had a helpful answer for me. You do. Just reading what you’ve been writing makes me feel like I’m not alone. You’ve been a blessing. Thank You.

    2. Wow! It’s SO good to get this response from you, Supermommyoftwins!
      I’m so happy for you & proud of you too! That’s huge that your husband went with you to the counselor. (I agree with you that alcohol “medication” is *not* the same as other meds!!!!!) That’s also awesome that he encouraged you to go to the psychiatrist…thtat’s some seriously big progress there.

      It’s wonderful that the mom you chatted with emailed you and not only was thoughtful enough to apologize for not visiting after the babies were born, but ultimately was honest about having bipolar disorder!!! I hope you two form a fantastic friendship!

      Thanks for your kind words about my writing – they made me feel great. Please keep in touch & good luck with the psychiatrist when you go in!

      xoxo
      Dyane

      p.s. I looked to see if you have a blog too, but didn’t spot anything – let me know if you do.

      take care and

    3. Very cool! I just started following your blog & I tweeted/Facebooked about it to my networks! :)) I look forward to reading your posts very much!

  3. Great post and thanks for the insight. My wife is bi-polar and I am always trying to gain insight into what she may be thinking or needing from me. Being able to see things from your perspective is a great help!

    1. Thank you so much, Vic! You sound like a wonderful husband to me – that’s truly great you are making such an effort to understand your wife. It’s an honor to help you in any way! :)))

  4. I try to keep it simple with my friends that don’t have a mental illness. We talk about everything and maybe just a little about my mental illness. I do have some friends that work in suicide prevention, so they understand more than the average person. I can talk more freely with them. I just don’t want to overwhelm anyone, so even they don’t get everything.

    1. I do have friends where I can chitchat about everything but mental illness. Sometimes that’s okay, but other times I feel like I’m being a phony. I think they don’t bring up the subject because they are scared they’ll say the wrong thing and of course there’s the stigma, always lurking. You are very considerate not to want to overwhelm your friends! The only person I can tell almost everything and anything to is my longtime therapist. I have to be careful with my pdoc, as much as I’d like to be honest with him, because of my fear of being 5150’d. On a brighter note, *thanks* for stopping by and reading my blog. It always makes me feel good to see you’ve read a post – take care and I look forward to reading your blog this coming week!

  5. Great post. I have a cold too. I have been pursuing a friend I lost after my first hospitalization. She ended up telling me I couldn’t be around her kids. Well I have stayed away for a year. I texted her a week ago my last try at seeking to spend some time together. She has not responded. I feel like that was my last effort. It hurts every time is see her and her kids. I was an honorary aunt. I have completely been cut off from their second child.
    I knew her all through college. We even shared a flat and lived together in an apartment together after college for a year. I was in her wedding she was in mine. I was at her families house the day her dad died, and took off the first day of school to be at the funeral. I was at the hospital the day her first born was born. We were headed out of town and changed our plans to be there for them.
    Now I am nothing. Not friend jot aunt not nothing. Every time her daughter runs and hugs me and says she misses me I feel a deep pain in my heart.
    She is the only friend I lost. But it hurt tremendously!
    I am just trying to learn not to be hurt. Because this pain isn’t helping anyone.

    1. I hope your cold is better by the time you read this – yuck! Sorry it took me a while to reply. Ever since I got this damn bug last week it has really thrown me off.

      Reading your post I felt so badly for you, my dear. You sure got the rotten end of the stick…my God. I’m shaking my head in disbelief. While it’s obvious that she has a *major* problem of her own in not trusting you to be around her kids, I know that doesn’t make you feel any better.

      You’ve done ***everything*** you can do to reach out to this person, and since she never replied to your text, I would make the same choice as you: stop trying. It’s time. But that’s heartbreaking, I know.

      Of course you would be hurting enormously given all you have been through with this woman……you have such a history together. Give yourself time for the hurt to lessen – I see it like a death, really, and there hasn’t been much time passed since this death of a friendship.

      You sound like a truly warm, caring person. It is her loss, and her children’s loss not to have you in their lives. (((hugs))) to you and I send you strength to cope with this deeply painful situation.

      1. Thanks! Your advice and comments are very valuable to me. My therapist encourages me to accept the hurt and be ok that is the season I am in now. Like you said it is like a death and it takes time.

  6. My best friend in the whole world is my beloved wife. We share the same constant struggles with our mental (and physical) health, and ‘get’ each other in ways no-one else ever has.

    When we first met I told her that people often see me as ‘odd’. She said the other day that it took years of knowing me to find anything that even could be thought of in that way. We’re both outliers on the curve, and mostly happy that way.

    Most other friendships I’ve had, have broken down because either they don’t ‘get’ me or they stress me to the point that I have to cut them off.

    At work, I make friends with people but rarely if ever socialise outside of the work environment. Where I work currently, there are some cool people. You wouldn’t believe how not boring a build with a thousand statisticians could be!

    Nice Split Enzian ref btw Dyane. 🙂

    Mike Chunn their bass player has publicly talked about his chronic depression.

    1. Hey James, it warms my heart to read your love for your wife! I’m glad that your workplace has some interesting people. (cool photos of that spot, by the way – I saw them on Twitter!)

      Reading your comment makes me feel better about not having an arsenal of fair weather friends…

      I’ve seen the fascinating “Spellbound” documentary and wasn’t that Mike Chunn in it talking at length about his mental suffering? I haven’t seen it in years so I don’t recall. And then there’s Phil Judd having bipolar disorder since it’s public knowledge. (His daughter Amy really was so lovely to me when I met her – can you imagine running into one of your musical idol’s kids on a street on the other side of the world from where you live? That was such a fun moment!)

      Thanks for letting me go on and on about my New Zealand music obsessions, ha ha ha! It’s so nice to know you’ll know what the hell I’m babbling about! 🙂

      Give my best to the missus!

  7. Its funny that relationships are the focus of your most recent blog Dyane. 😥 it seems to be a constant struggle in my life. In fact I am lying here on the couch, just “not feeling right.” In the mean time everyone else is out in the pool; playing, laughing and having a good time. I’ve lost my smile. Friendships and even relationships with family members just aren’t in the cards for me. At least, it feels that way. I’ve learned to protect myself and just keep people at arms length away. Recently, and VERY reluctantly I put myself out there only to get burned. I am scared for so many reasons, especially when I open my home and family. Family members love me, but have NO idea how hard it is. I’m getting older, its not like I need a long list of friends. But someone to confide in, who understands me so I can give my husband a break,😊 once in a while would be nice. I guess that’s part of the reason I like to follow your BBB log. You just seem to get it.

    1. Awwww, thank you for this comment, sweet kdbug12!!! I’ve missed seeing you around the ‘net, and it’s sure nice that you stopped by here.

      I truly relate to everything you wrote. After reading your comment, I wondered…do you have a counselor you could possiblyconfide in? I do have one who is mercifully low-cost, as you may know, but obviously a therapist is different than a non-paid friend! 🙂

      I am SO PROUD of you for putting yourself out there to seek friendship/camaraderie and I’m SO damn sorry you got burned – that SUCKS!

      The feeling of intense fear you describe when you open your home, well, I get that sooooooooo much. 😦 No one should have to go through it! Honestly, I get more from hanging out with Lucy, my four–month-old puppy, than most people. I am glad you have your family who loves you – that’s no small thing – but I hope your smile comes back soon, honey. Sending you love and a big hug!! xoxoxoxo Dyane

    1. Thank you, takingthemaskoff, for validating this – you helped me feel better! I know you’ve worked in the field in different areas, and you definitely know about this topic! I appreciate your stopping by my blog so much – I was blown away while reading your thought-provoking blog last night ,and I look forward to reading more of it.

      Take good care of yourself!

      your new follower, Dy 🙂

  8. Honestly, I think that my role as a mother and wife as well as my family’s moves have affected how I relate to friends as much as my diagnosis. Aside from my diagnosis, I have a personality, a fairly unique one, never had much patience or interest in the mundane, prefer outsiders, artists and thinkers. My best friends were often quite different than I (I believe that’s grammatically correct), often a different generation. Two of my best friends are significantly older than I am.

    Most importantly, I thank WordPress for bring you, Dyane, into my life. Although we haven’t met (and you didn’t list me among your consonants), I count you as one of my close friends. Friendship can take many shapes and sizes.

    1. this is a quickie, because I need to let you rest and watch SNL, and I feel like gruesome puppy poo, but I feel the same way as you mentioned above about *you*! Forgive my brain fuzz for not listing you among the consonants, I should have! You are a lovely presence in my days, and I have been a truly happier person since “meeting” you and knowing there’s a Kitt in my world! :))

      1. I was just giving you a hard time. I know that you are EXTREMELY active online (hint, hint to BOTH of us), and that I am not your one and only bipolar blogging friend. At the same time, I realize that we share a special bond. We’ve “clicked.”

    2. P.S. I lied – here’s a last remark – the consonants were specifically chosen as gals I know in the real, scary world! I left out my internet kindred spirits, i.e. you, but I’ve written so much about you elsewhere in this blog, other blogs, Freakbook, Twitter….all in glowing terms, of course! 😉 I don’t offer a free sushi dinner and dark chocolate to just anyone!!!

  9. When unmedicated most of my then friends drifted away. I did nothing to maintain their friendships of course. And my sexual obsessions became the all over riding focus of my life. The random connections that never developed into friendhsips, even though some tried to take things to the next level. My two best friends in Melbourne, both of whom I have known for 20 plus years were the only ones who made the effort to stay connected. Maybe the distance helped maintain those relationships? Maj has since commented how hard it was, but she persevered. Thew few Sydney friends I had became things of the past. I have since connected with them but there is a distance between us now. It’s hard to get a real understanding of what it is like to live with mental illness. Others sometimes miss a the mark and project on to me things that are not correct. It can be frustrating. But then psychs can do this as well! That’s where the meetup groups have been so good for me. Having something in common and being able to truly connect with a least a few people. Some even have their own mental illness issues and we can openly talk about our experiences and compare notes. It’s good to get that real understanding from a peer who has been through similar things and knows from experience what i am talking about; rather than from a merely medicallly “educated” position.
    As I have written before, I hope to move some of these friendships to be outside of the group environment. This does look good for the future.
    Friendship is such an important thing to us all. Isolation is not a good thing. I repaired my relationship with my Mum shortly after starting on the seroquel and she says she likes her own company, but then is happy if I talk to her for a few hours on the phone whilst we do some tv quiz shows. She only has a few friends and with rare exception, it extends beyond going to coffee a few times a week. That is great in itself but I think she would benefit from more people around her. More conversations and less “her” time. She perks up when I ring her or when she has been with her carer/driver for her 2 hours a week.
    But she is adamant that she likes her own company. She has never had many friends and most of those were relatives. Some of whom have long since died and others who don’t seem top have the time to connect with her the way they used to; having their own many friends and family to organise.
    Not working adds to the isolation. No daily chats with work colleagues about tv shows or what is in the news or what is happening with their friends and families.
    And wouldn’t it be great to be able to connect with fellow bloggers in person: how awesome that would be!
    One of my friends I have reconnected seems obsessed with her divorce and settlement. What is going on with me is the much lesser secondary conversation. It’s a bit odd as she is a social worker but seems uncomfortable talking about my issues. I do get a little tired hearing the same complaints about her ex. She is suing him and will most likely be well out of pocket at the end but it is something she feels she needs to do. The initial write-off of $30,000 that she could have taken now seems minute when compared to the legal bills she has received. I think she has little chance of receiving her costs back from her ex. But I continue to push for the friendship. She used to invite me to many places with her but that is all in the past. So I take what I can get as a starting point and hope to rebuild the friendship over time.
    Friends who are peers are vital to the recovery process as only peers can give your that “I know what you are saying” and mean it; as they have lived it too.
    True friendships take time to foster and develop and now that I have the time I am putting in the effort.
    And to my blogging friends, I thank you for the support and words of encouragement. They will always mean a lot to me.
    hugs and cheers to you Dy, Glenn.

    1. Wow, Glenn, what a detailed and open response. You should copy this and use it as a blog post. Thanks, btw, for being one of my blogging friends, too. I appreciate your support.

    2. Thank you, Glenn, for opening up and giving me a glimpse of the friendships in your life and your Mom’s life as well. You are such a great role model to me in terms of your overall philosophy about friendship and also you inspire me so with your Meetup adventures!

      Your friends and potential friends are lucky to have you in their lives. Here you are, stating that you’re willing to put in the effort to be a good friend. Not many people are willing and/or able to do that. Friendship isn’t easy; it takes work even in the happiest, most “equal” of friendships.

      That’s too bad about the friend you reconnected with who isn’t able to practice the give & take between friends in a balanced way. I guess I could understand how the bitter divorce could take over her life; despite the fact she’s a social worker she can’t see clearly what she is doing during your talks. Hopefully in the future when that situation evens out into a resolution she can be more of a real friend to you again.

      I am so thrilled to have found you through the internet and I consider you a friend even though I just realized I don’t even know your last name. (maybe it’s on your blog but I’m spacing out) No matter!

      I value each and every one of your comments. It makes me happy knowing you’re out there and faithfully keeping in touch with your blogging pals. I wish you happiness and blossoming friendships (and more, ooh, la la!) in the years to come, Glenn.

      your friend,
      Dy

  10. I loved read this comment, Barbara, and I totally giggled over the “pretty wide pool to chose from” part. You’re so right! I was hoping you’d read the blog today. That is awesome that you and the other mom who has depression were able to be truthful about something so important in your lives. I know that the malady of the “Black Dog” commonality brought you together.

    Thank you for the compliment about being honest, authentic & humorous – I could say the exact same thing about you. Mood disorders do seem to foster depth, but of course not always, and those without all the mental crapola aren’t always people who are healthy for us to be around. There are no simple answers, are there?

    I am just glad to know you! I am really lucky – more lucky than I realize regarding the friends I have. And now I must go wipe my ever-flowing nose but I PROMISE I’ll get better over the weekend! I’m pounding the orange juice and water. :)))))))))))))))))))))) looking forward to seeing you at “our” spot! xoxoxoxox

  11. hey same soul, I was thinking about the same thing. I was going to write about how lonely I am here. I have zero friends here. Its a new place I dont know anyone. I dont go to the community center cz of my anxiety. All old friends from facebook are gone cz there is no facebook for me any more. People I get in touch with already have groups that are so solid I cant fit. The only people I know are you and Kitt. Thank God for you guys or I would be dead !

    1. I wish I could import you, Kitt, and a few other of my WordPress blogging magicians into my town and we could open up a Mental Health Center! (Kitt has the license, I’ll be office manager and you could be a group leader! :))) Seriously, I’d do it. It could be called “Zephyr & Co.’s Healing Haven”!

      My heart aches to read that you feel so isolated in terms of friends. To be in a new place with a young son is just incredibly tough. I hope you can discuss these feelings with your new pdoc. Have you ever looked on Meetup.com? If you haven’t, check it out just for fun. I mention that because if any cool-sounding group appealed to you, you would not be alone in being a “newbie” member. It’s just a thought!

      I like to browse Meetup.com with the key words “anxiety”, and “bipolar” of course, plus there’s also “mental wellness”. For the heck of it I opened up the search to any group with those subjects and there are so many fantastic, optimistic groups out there. Please tell me if you ever decide to check out Meetup online! 🙂

      At least you have your angel of a husband. I love my husband so much, but he is not the same as a woman friend. (Thank God, right? 😉 I must say that I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to the community center due to anxiety – you and I both know that horrid debilitating feeling all too well! I completely understand how you feel. I wonder what groups they offer there where you live….my closest community center is for seniors!!

      Please hang in there. I hope that a friend serendipitously comes into your life in the coming year. In the meantime, internet friendships are beautiful, powerful and precious. To me they are real. You and Kitt are total beacons of light in my life and I treasure you both.

      Oh, one last thought….are you still 100% against ever doing Facebook personally? I stayed off Facebook a year and then I tried it again and I’m glad I did, although once in a while I think “Hmmmm, maybe I should take a break.” I know how Facebook can backfire big-time.

      So be extra-good to yourself this weekend, okay?
      Love,
      Your same soul sis…
      (I love “same soul”!!! You have such a way with words, Zeph!)
      xoxoxo
      Dyane

    2. Well then, Zephyr, I’m glad that I read your comment. Hello from Southern California!

      It is hard when you are new to a community, especially when you come from a different culture. I moved a lot as a child and as an adult, living in Saudia Arabia, the East Coast US (MA & PA) and the West Coast US (OR & CA). Even in CA, living in Orange County is much different than living in San Francisco or Berkeley. Being married is different than being single. Being a mother, especially of a very young child, can be isolating. On top of that, you are struggling with mental illness. I don’t want to make it seem impossible, though.

      Mother’s groups can help. Your religious community can help. Does your mosque offer Quran study for women? Many Christian churches offer Bible study and child care for mothers of young children. Religious study is a way to use your brain and to support one another as women (God is love after all). Then, too, there are mental health resources. I just started to go to a NAMI Peer-to-Peer training. Check out your local NAMI resources at NAMI.org.

      Maybe because you are anxious, I am throwing too many ideas at you. Just let them float around in your mind as options, and maybe some day choose just one.

      1. These are *great* suggestions and I agree with Kitt to start with just one…you never know what will happen. You could just try one activity, and if you don’t like it, you don’t ever have to go back! I like how Kitt suggests to “let them float around your mind as options” so there is no immediate pressure.

        Love to you, Z!

    1. Oh my dear, if you moved alllllllll the way here, you wouldn’t be able to get rid of me!!! :)))))

      And come to think of it, you are SUPER-young (I won’t ever reveal your identity, don’t worry) but I think you’re almost an entire decade younger than wrinkled me, so never say never when it comes to a friend entering your life, beautiful!

      You might wind up being really surprised in the decade to come & you very well may find yourself trusting someone cool and making a real, honest-to-God friend. I’ll bet you $ on it! You are amazing, brilliant, and one-of-a-kind You have so much to offer any friend. I know I’m pouring on the cliches but I can’t help it when it comes to you: you are special!!!!!

      much love, Dyane

  12. I have very very few friends who too suffer with a mental illness. My ‘best friend’ (I quote it cause I know it sounds cheesy but she is) her parents suffer so she understands entirely, but she’s surprisingly so upbeat, positive and strong that I find her refreshing to be around I forget my woes and internal issues when I’m with her. Then I have one friend who is suffering with depression, like myself, too and we like to bounce positive things off one another, and support one another when we’re feeling down. The moment we sense the other one is down we’re at each others side in a second, whether that’s via call, text, email, whatever. Then the rest of my friends are all well they don’t suffer but my one friend wants to be a psychiatrist so she finds my experiences really interesting and I’ve taught her a lot. I’m like her own little case study. But she’s completely understanding and thoughtful and gentle. She’s refreshingly positive too so she constantly reminds me of the facts when my depression or anxiety spirals. Everyone else just understands that I have good days and I have bad days and they know what to do and say to help me gain focus and not get lost in my depressed reality. They’re all wonderful. I do have times where I distance myself away from them all, and I don’t talk to anyone, I do feel guilty doing this but the moment they sense it they don’t get angry they just invite me out, or call me and make sure everything is okay, they’re really understanding because I just said ‘hey I’ve got this issue and I’m dealing with it. If you can’t then I don’t need you.’

    1. I enjoyed reading your comment, Your Inner Happiness, very much. I wish I was rich because if I was wealthy I’d send each of you commenters a spa weekend at the very least! Plus a lot of chocolate.

      I got a BIG kick out of reading about your friend who wants to be a psychiatrist and regards you (in a way) as a case study. That is SO cool! I want a friend like that! 🙂

      I loved how you described the kindred spirit friends you *do* have in your life and you are one lucky person, let me tell ya! And these friends of yours are lucky to have someone so insightful, kind and loving as you in their lives.

      I believe that you have a healthy perspective on the whole friendship issue. “Best friend” is not cheesy, by the way, at least to me. BFF is cheesy, but I allow it too. It is pretty incredible to find those who are positive – it’s rare, it really is. So when you find someone like that (and goodness gracious, it sounds like you’ve found at least two friends with that outlook) grab on tight but not so tight that you asphyxiate the person, ha ha! 🙂 thanks again and have a wonderful weekend!!! I’ll be commenting on your blog real soon – I’m behind on my beloved blogs this week!
      (((hugs))))
      Dyane

      1. Awh! I wouldn’t mind just a bit of chocolate! 🙂

        I guess I used to surround myself around very negative people and it used to drain the energy from me. It used to make me feel worse and that’s not what friends are supposed to do so I just became a lot better and judging character and surrounding myself with more positive people! I wish I lived a lot closer to you I think I could consider you a good friend! (Haha cheesy I know) but you too seem like a refreshingly real and honest person! Thank you, have a lovely weekend yourself (I’ll just be working to earn money for university),

        Thank you, you’re so kind 🙂

  13. I totally relate to this! When I talk with “normal” women about my history with such severe emotional problems, I usually get the “oh my god, I’m gonna catch it” look. So I have learned to not bring it up with those people. It definitely limits these relationships. I have one person in my life that “gets it” because she’s been through it, and I feel a bond with her that cannot be broken. Another life long friend gets it to such a huge degree that she must be an incredibly old soul because I can talk at length with her about my struggles and she is accepting and compassionate. My husband and my mother “get it” too because they have suffered with mild depression–they admit, though, their past pain has never been as extreme as what they have watched me go through, but they do not judge. You wrote earlier about feeling like damaged goods and I think I will always struggle with the “less than” feeling this disorder brings. Thank god I even have one person in my life who accepts me and I can be intimate with about my experiences.

    1. Love love love this comment, Sara! Thank you! These groovy comments that I’m getting are making me feel better with my evil cold.

      I got one of those “Oh my God” looks from a neighbor I met on a walk with Lucy. We were chatting and she first told me her son has bipolar & autism, and then I thought, “Oh, it’s okay for me to share about my bp”. I briefly mentioned it and after I did I felt a weird vibe. I could have been completely wrong, of course, since I’m too sensitive *and* I didn’t look at her facial expression, but I think I was right about my intuition nonetheless. I wasn’t trying to make her my BFF, but in the future I think I’d wait a little longer to disclose the scarlet “B”.

      How wonderful that you have the lifelong friend you write of, not to mention your husband and mom. The fact that you’re grateful for even having one person in your life who you can be authentic with is a gift, and it’s particularly significant & positive that you recognize that. 🙂 xo

      Dy

      p.s. your god puppy sends you a few slobbery kisses – you won’t believe how big she is now!

      1. Dyane, I LOVE that …” The scarlet B” it totally feels like one is outcast because of an illness that completely takes over our lives and we have absolutely no control. 😥

  14. Even if one wishes to limit her friends to those with mood disorders, that is still a pretty wide pool to choose from! Mental health issues effect so many of us. I recently formed a friendship with another Mom, and it was only after a few months that we revealed to each other that we struggle with depression. It was an “aha” moment for me–no wonder I felt understood by her! I don’t need my friends to have a mood disorder (gosh, don’t we wish none of us had one), but I do want a friend to have a level of self-awareness and insight, and a commitment to personal growth. Often those traits develop alongside struggles with depression. Not always. I value honesty, authenticity, and humor–qualities I see in you, Dyane!

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