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To My Best Friends Who Love Me, Bipolar Disorder and All

Our friendship blossomed during chemistry class in high school. We sat in the back of the class talking about our teenage lives and paying no attention to the lesson. We had some pretty funny conversations back there, some funny enough that one of you kept a notebook full of what we had said. We were young. We were funny, and we built a bond that would withstand anything in that chemistry class.

High school was fun with you but was also a trying time for all of us. You both suffered from loss: a father, a grandparent. Even though I didn’t understand that loss at the time, I did understand you needed me to be there for you through it. All these years later, you’ve repaid me for being there for you during that difficult time by being there for me through my journey with mental illness.

I know you were shocked and a little scared when I was first hospitalized and then diagnosed, but you didn’t let it show. You made sure I was OK and told me you would be there and do anything I needed you to. When I started my medication and became stable again, we were able to hang out like we used to. What I loved about that was you didn’t act like anything had changed, and we went on with our friendship as usual.

Each time I was hospitalized, you were there for me. More importantly, you didn’t treat me differently when I was released. You didn’t baby me or walk on eggshells around me, but you did try to make me laugh more often. I’ll always appreciate that. We continued with our friendship as if I weren’t struggling, having movie marathons, eating crack pretzels and going star tipping. I’ll always love you for making me feel normal when it was difficult for me to feel that way.

I’ve had my ups and downs because of my bipolar disorder, but I’ve always found stability in my friendship with each of you, especially when my moods would fluctuate. You each have your ways of bringing me back to earth and reintroducing me to reality, and I’ll always be thankful for that. You’ve each done your part at pulling me out of depression and easing me out of mania, and the fact that you care enough to do that warms my heart to this day.

I may have my ups and downs, but as best friends, we have not. Even when I’m at my worst, you are patient, understanding and grant me grace when I may not deserve it. Often times, I’ve thought you’re both too kind and too good to be friends with me, a troubled young woman with bipolar disorder. Over the years, I have come to realize I am deserving of your love and friendship, and you are deserving of mine. We are lucky to have each, especially when one of us is struggling because the others of us are always there.

I don’t know anything about my future with bipolar disorder, but I do know this: No matter what happens or how I feel about myself, you will love me anyway, unconditionally. You will always be there for me. I want you to know that I’ll do the same in return, always, no matter what.

When other people in my life have left me because of my bipolar disorder, you have stood by me. I know you will continue to stand by me until we are old enough to be “The Golden Girls.” We will go through much more together: loss, heartbreak and separation, but our bond is strong enough to withstand all of that and more. What we have gone through thus far has made us and our friendship stronger. We can only get stronger still.

You two are my oldest and dearest friends, and are the best part of having bipolar disorder. Because I have this illness, I have your support, which I don’t know what I would do without.

Thank you for being my best friends. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for your unending support. You and your friendship have gotten me through my darkest times. I know with you two, there is only light in my future with bipolar disorder.