Friendship Guest Post #1
This week marks the first week of my series of friendship guest posts; this series is going to involve other people writing about how being unwell or disabled, either mentally or physically, has affected the friendships in their lives – either in a positive or negative way. The reason I wanted to get people together to write about this topic is because I have had some really difficult experiences of people turning their backs on me due to my bad health, but I’ve never felt comfortable enough to write about it for my Medical Mondays series… I then thought that there may be other people out there feeling the same way, & by getting together to write about these things it might make it easier for us to deal with the heartaches we may have dealt with. Equally, I’ve met some wonderful people online through my illnesses & I’d like to celebrate those friendships on here.
This week’s post has been written by 25-year-old Megz Jones; Megz has type 2 bipolar disorder, so her post will of course contain discussions of this illness, as well as her difficulties with maintaining friendships because of her manic & depressive episodes. Megz ends her post on a positive note though, so it’s not all “doom & gloom”.
My illnesses have had an effect on a lot of my relationships over the years, good and bad. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2, it was a crucial time for me, as it was during my 2nd year of university. I had a lot of friends at uni as well as at home but the number managed to decrease gradually. As I was coming to terms with my illness, I started to recognise the many hypo-manic episodes and extreme low episodes. Sometimes medication/s work for people, sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, I wasn’t medicated properly to begin with, I thought I knew what was best for me and decided against it.
My hypo-manic episodes meant that I was impulsive, I would find myself in dangerous situations and I was drinking a lot. Sure, I had a lot of company when I was out partying but they weren’t real friends, they just enjoyed the happy, hyperactive, party side to me. Since I’ve been on the right medication, I haven’t seen them because I don’t party often. During my time at university, my ‘real’ friends (or so I thought) began to notice how happy and intense I became, and despite knowing about my mental health condition, they became distant. They became so distant that they began to ignore me whenever I entered the room so I questioned other friends about what I had done to them. Eventually I heard from other people that they had started talking behind my back, which made me feel awful, especially as it was past the point of redeeming myself. I so desperately wanted to sort things but at the same time felt completely betrayed, especially because I’d confided in them about my mental health. I guess they just didn’t understand and I can’t blame them, although the bitchiness was uncalled for.
The same thing happened with a friend at home; someone I had known for years, someone I really depended on, someone I considered a sister, someone I thought would be my friend for life. We had a lot of fun together to begin with, she knew about my mental health and accepted it. In a way, she was just as wild as me and we thrived off one another. It wasn’t until I began to display memory loss that she eventually cut me off. It was a gradual thing, but one specific event changed it all. One night I was house-sitting for her and her rabbit escaped. I’m certain I locked the back door but my forgetfulness took over. I apologised over and over, she found the rabbit but she still cut me off. She ignored my calls and texts, and still to this day I question everything. I know it was my fault but I honestly tried to be a good friend and house-sit for her to the best that I could. Sometimes I miss her and other times I don’t even bat an eyelid anymore.
I never thought I would lose a friend because of my depression, as I found that hypo-mania was more destructive in some ways. On the contrary, I lost a very significant person in my life because of a low episode. Around this time, I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder tendencies therefore I would grow attached to people. I was very attached to this person and still to this day I question myself over what happened to our friendship. She hasn’t blocked me on anything but she definitely hasn’t made an effort to speak to me in a very long time. Unfortunately, she caught me on a bad day, which makes me anxious being around friends during a low episode now, in-case they decide to leave too.
She was holding a leaving party at her house as she was ready to travel and I wasn’t in the partying mood. I was rather quiet but I still felt like I needed to attend because she was one of my best friends and I wouldn’t see her for a while. I was asked a few times by different people if I was OK and of course I lied to keep the peace. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough. A few days later I was told that I ruined the party, that I didn’t care that she was going away and that I was miserable. I had tried SO hard to blend in, keep my emotions to myself and not ruin anything. I often wonder if she’ll ever speak to me again but I don’t hold much hope.
It’s not all been doom and gloom since my diagnosis’ though. I now know who my real friends are because they’ve stuck by me throughout every mood swing, every mistake and every emotion. I do often worry about losing friends again though so sometimes I tend to hide myself away during specific episodes. Not always though, I know how much they’ve tried their best to understand and help me through it all. I have a few best friends that have been there for me for years, some from home and some from university. I feel like I owe them the world for sticking by me. They take me as I am; the good, the bad and the ugly.