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How I Found True Friendship Because of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Carlsbad, CA: 6:00 a.m. I’m up earlier than normal. The house is empty except for my dog. I creep downstairs and sit on the couch in my garage. I reach above for a large black case and open it. I stare at what’s inside. I set it down and stare. My dog is looking at me with her tail wagging. I smile.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

“Not this time; not like this.”

“I need help, and I’m going to get it.”

It was a warm afternoon on October 7th, if I remember correctly, and I was walking outside of a “behavioral health facility” in San Diego. I checked myself in after an episode. I survived perhaps the worst three days of my life — I imagine purgatory might feel like that hospital.

It was hell on earth. I was dry heaving cries to where my whole body hurt because there was no more tears to come out, I locked myself in my room and stopped eating, stayed awake in shock all night. I was just beginning to process what happened to me. I become a prisoner of my own mind, consumed by all of my perceived failures when I was alone. Being confused and alone is a terrible feeling I wish nobody would have to experience.

I lost one of the best friends of my life to something I did, an emotion I couldn’t control, and in that moment I lost myself as well. I had nobody. Gone was the angel who gave me an answer to my troubles, a rock who kept me grounded during my worst times and gave me a sun to look up to in the sky even when the sky was dark.

The shame of suicide and the guilt one carries with bipolar disorder is an all-consuming affair. Every day, anxiety seems to catch up with you, never letting go of your actions.

“Why did I break? Why did I do this to myself? Will she ever forgive me? Is she gone forever?”

These were the thoughts that went through my head as I lay on a very uncomfortable mattress, in a room that felt more like a prison cell than an actual room. On the third day, I rose up and finally started to socialize. These were people just like me. I went outside and got some sunlight, and finally started to feel a little bit alive. A doctor prescribed me with medication.

At last, I had my answer: bipolar, type I. The meds took a little while to kick in, but once they did I had a new set of legs and the fire lit within me. I felt awfully disillusioned, albeit trying to pick up the pieces.

What did this diagnosis mean? Would my friends still accept me? How would my family deal with this? Was I going to be on these meds for life?

I had support and I had my friends. I was at a music store in San Marcos, CA when two random people I never met before approached me and asked if I’d like to join their band. I said yes. I made a close friend from what I attribute to destiny playing its cards. In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck. Everything has a reason.

It was November, fall had just begun, and it started to get a bit colder outside. It wasn’t like before, though; I wasn’t beat down, always staring at the ground. The chills didn’t go straight to my bones. Here’s the thing: When you’re depressed, the whole world feels a bit colder. The skies are darker, and all you want to do is sleep and wait for the day to be over.

But this time, it was different. I opened up Facebook and saw an article from a mental health organization in San Diego I had never heard of before. They were looking for volunteers for a marathon that was coming up.

“Maybe it’s time to pay my dues. Maybe it’s time to do something right, and take a leap into the unknown.”

Destiny played its cards again, and I wound up at the marathon, casually late. I made some conversations and agreed to come into their office in Del Mar and do whatever they needed me to.

By late January, I had begun a journey that is still ongoing — a very fulfilling one, at that. I found purpose, and I found friends. I found people who care about me, and people I care about like they’re my sisters and brothers.

I found a new friend, and I found someone to love. I no longer felt alone.

Like family, your close friends are the ones who come to you like flames, who surround you with warmth when you need it. We call it unconditional love. That’s what I feel when I think about it. Ringo Starr said it best — “You get by with a little help from your friends, mmm… I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

Even when I’m feeling down, I am greeted with the same beautiful smiles of my friends — friends I see every week, friends I haven’t seen in years. Friendship is a bond people share with one another. It’s more than a term to describe a relationship; it is love personified. I want to ask — who is this person to you?

It’s your friends who get you going, and it is unconditional love that will save you when you can’t go any further. Someone is always watching from afar, or very closely. Just keep your eyes peeled for who those people are, and hold them close.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Getty Images photo via Ridofranz

Originally published: February 12, 2018
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