This evening, as I leaned over to sit on my couch, I received a Twitter message notification. This may seem commonplace, but as a rule I don’t receive Twitter message notifications. So anyway I curiously opened said notification to see a message from a person I went to high school with, we’ll call her Jennifer (because that’s a nice generic name that almost no one my age is named; forgive me college aged Jennifers). Jennifer and I went to the same school for years, we didn’t really talk, but we recognized each other in the hallway, and were always friendly. Slightly more than acquaintances I suppose, we ran in similar circles but rarely offered each other more than a friendly wave or nod. Well today she messaged me upwards of: “hey, how are you doing?”. I was a bit taken aback, our most recent conversation had been a three message long restaurant suggestion. Ever curious and wanting to talk people, I messaged back that I was doing okay, and asked her how she was adjusting to her new life away at college.
Quickly it was determined that she was messaging me to ask for advice in adjusting to college life, all those years I had known her she had had Bipolar Disorder and I never knew. It turns out she reads my blog, this blog, and had been debating messaging me for some time, as she felt I could relate and offer advice pertaining to college and mental illness, particularly Bipolar.
There is a certain camaraderie in having the same illness that I have never found anywhere else. It’s one of the few things I appreciate about having what I have, because there’s not much to appreciate. However, the moment it is revealed that someone you know can relate, because they’ve been there too, that is a beautiful moment of understanding that I doubt can be emulated in many other ways than through shared illness. It’s a sucky understanding, one that neither one appreciates or enjoys, but the ability to share like experiences with someone who truly gets it is relieving.
Jennifer and I had a long conversation relating to our experiences and expressing empathy and sympathy for the other’s unfortunate dealings. I gave the best advice that I could, and got some in return.
And that’s the moment when I thought “this is why I do what I do” – I share all of my weird happenings and inconvenient bipolar dealings so that other people won’t feel so stigmatized and hopeless, and will seek help from one another. Let me tell you, next time I’m feeling alone in my illness, I know who I’m going to talk to. Someone who gets it. Thank you for reaching out and making me feel less alone in bipolar.
(Here’s another picture of high school in honor of today’s happenings)