I’d like to share a story of a good friend of mine, James (for privacy reasons, this is not his real name). I’m going to go back a few years to when he first began his career in his family’s furniture store. Fresh out of college was perfect timing, his dad needed help at the business and so began his career. James had a good life; good friends, good job, girlfriends, family…everything always seemed to go his way.
10 years into his career James became sales manager at the store and things were going great. He would confide in me that he was getting restless, not with his career but with his single life. James wanted to settle down and start a family of his own. Knowing him as I do, I knew it wouldn’t be long before he set out on his quest. He met a beautiful young lady and within a year they were married and soon after they began a family. Typical with James, things went just as he had planned.
I remember his daughter’s 1st birthday party, he looked very happy. Sometime later I started noticing changes in James, he appeared withdrawn and preoccupied. I would ask if everything was okay and his response was always“of course, everything’s great!” Some time later his wife was in the hospital, she had attempted suicide. I met up with James and he said “I can’t believe it, she finally did it”…Finally did it?!, I said. ”You mean, she has tried this before? ‘Oh yeah, a few times but not like this, she swallowed a whole bottle of her prescription meds.’“ Okay, at this point I needed to sit down. By all accounts James and his wife were the picture of happiness. “Meds? Is she sick James? ‘Yes, she is bipolar.’”
Through the years, James would share stories of what they had gone through. The down times when she would lay in bed and just cry and talk about not wanting to go on. The manic times when she wouldn’t sleep for days (and neither would he). They sought medical help and things got worse before they got better. Everybody’s chemistry make up is different, so there’s a lot of experimenting in determining the correct medication for a person with bipolar. There is no cure for bipolar, only treatments.
Several years have gone by and James and his wife are doing okay but he’s still not the same guy I knew. James told me recently that after his wife’s suicide attempt he became a prisoner to his own fears. He says he’s afraid to be happy, “What if this happens again, what if she gets worse?”
My friend has always been very independent, even through this most difficult part of his life he has tried to go it alone. I am going to introduce James to the wonderful world of social media and the people I have met here. I know it will help. John
“Now, why is it that most of us can talk openly about the illnesses of our bodies, but when it comes to our brain and illnesses of the mind we clam up and because we clam up, people with emotional disorders feel ashamed, stigmatized, and don’t seek the help that can make the difference.” ~Kirk Douglas