The Power of Human Connection

I ran into a bipolar friend as I went to fill my new prescriptions on the day I was diagnosed. “How are you?” he said.

I laughed at the synchronicity of it. “I’m bipolar!”

Cue the secret handshake and unwilling admission into the hellfire club of mental illness.

We talked for a couple of minutes. After expressing worry about the drugs I was going to have to take, he said “The worst thing for me is this persistent tremor in my dominant hand. I don’t know if it’s the bipolar or the lithium.”

As if on cue, a teenage boy in a neon green shirt ducked out of a grocery aisle, held out a slightly unsteady hand, and said “It’s the lithium.”

It was the best possible welcome into a world I never wanted to be part of. A world that contained friends and strangers and now myself. It was the first inkling that I wasn’t as alone as I felt.

Polar Ice detail by Naamah Darling on Flickr, shinies available at Morningstar Hall.

The diagnosis, after a year or two of steadily declining stability, hit me strangely.

The doctor’s agreement was only confirmation of what I’d already figured out for myself. I did feel disoriented, a bit numb, but there was no surprise there, no moment of horrified shock.

The hard part came a few weeks later when the visceral understanding that it was never, ever going away finally settled in.

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