Today I met a therapist at my newest place of work. She was nice enough. As we talked she mentioned a new employee at her full-time job and I immediately knew exactly who it was; it was someone I worked with for several years. I really miss her; I doubt I'll ever see her again because I never seem to be more than "work friends" with people, at best. This job I don't really even have work friends, just people I get along with.
The last 15 years of my life have ruined all the friendships I ever had. I haven't kept my part of the bargain most of the time and you can only expect people to be so patient. With some friends I totally disappeared. I did that to every person I grew up with. I haven't been back since I left and I haven't seen any of my old friends since a wedding the year after we graduated from high school. I never even got a thank you note from that wedding. I was very close to people I worked with as a camp counselor, but being with me during my manic episode the last summer ended that. That was the first time I was really severely hurt by this illness, because someone I thought I was close to was not adult enough to tell me she had a problem with me or didn't like me. Instead she left before the summer ended, left a few mean things scattered around for me, and then refused to ever talk to me again. I had been supposed to go to her wedding, it was all planned, so I had all these arrangements made with another friend based on the assumption nothing had changed and I had to cancel that. It hurt, a lot. I still don't really know why she decided I was so bad. I don't remember hurting her.
Most of my college relationships were pretty badly damaged during my last year of college when I was severely depressed. The last semester of college I barely left my room and I cried constantly. I was going through a lot of traumatic stuff and I had pretty much decided people weren't worth trusting so I tried to break a lot of bonds.
That lasted through grad school. I just didn't really make friends there. I did spend a lot of time with one girl, but truthfully we were just competing with each other and it wasn't a healthy relationship. I have never had contact with anyone from grad school since we left 7 years ago.
Since I've been working, as I said, I have not made many friends. When you work the weird hours I do (11-7, with an hour commute each way) you don't have much free time. Add in there weekly psych appointments and monthly all day Saturday psychiatric appointments and you get even less time. Plus I need to sleep a lot on most weekends.
I did have a few friends who made it through for a while. One I managed to probably hurt horribly by being so sick when she got married I lost the invitation and never sent a gift or anything. I was suicidal and I think I threw the invitation away because it was one more thing I felt I would never have and that my thoughts could not make her happy. But really she had been my best friend since kindergarten and I hate so much that I did that to her.
I also had a friend who I thought would be my friend forever who I lost because she became convinced that my illness and my reactions to it demonstrated a lack of faith on my part. It took a long time for me to believe that wasn't true, and when I could believe it and that the things she was telling me over and over were actually harmful I managed to end that relationship. I still think about her nearly every day; for many years she was an integral part of my life and it makes me very sad that she isn't anymore. Losing her was in some ways the most painful loss of this whole illness; so many other losses are abstract. Yet she had varied members of her church essentially vote about whether I was properly handling my illness. These were people who did not know me and who based their opinions on her description and intrepetation. She did this instead of asking a psychologist who knew me well and knew the illness and could have been fair. She also did not read the books I gave her and begged her to read, nor did she agree to go to counseling with me, even when I offered to pay and to go to someone outside of my normal practice so it would be impartial.
When that friendship ended I just never wanted to get hurt like that again. It's ridiculously pathetic but I just gave up on people to some extent. Or at least I gave up on mixing people and bipolar.
Now I have started taking tiny steps into being very matter-of-fact with pretty much everyone about my illness. I am just not covering it anymore; it doesn't work and I'm tired and I need to do things to make my life easier, not harder. This means it's not a secret at work with anyone.
I realized tonight though that I have major issues with this. I have been reading through a lot of bipolar-related blogs and websites lately. Obviously some are more interesting to me than others, but I have to watch myself because I have been so isolated for so long (both out of hurt and because I've been so sick with no break) that I keep wanting to think something is "not the same thing I have" if the person is so lucky to get along with a single other person on earth.
I need to make some friends....