“A struggle for diagnosed individuals with symptoms that cultivate feelings of isolation or, even worse, delusional content or hallucinations activating displays or bizarre behavior” (Maxwell Guttman, The Role of the Support System in Improving Mental Health Prognosis) 2018
The hardest goodbye was still to come. Early on in my recovery, I would see Cynthia quite often.
But as time unfolded, less and less. I started to get angry, not just with her, but everyone who stopped cheering me on in my recovery. When you have a chronic illness, the fight never stops. And yet, people lose interest, and over time, your recovery seems to them less in need of their support. This couldn’t be more true of a lot of my friendships, especially with Cynthia, who really pulled back the support after a year or so.
I finally lashed out at Cynthia during a cruise. My ship was stationed in port at San Juan. I was talking with Cynthnia through the ship’s Wifi. Already angry, Cynthnia cited my recent behavior as manic. Not at all manic, but very much passionate about a work situation I was reporting to her about in great detail, I was even more upset my enthusiasm to do right by my client was interpreted as a symptom of an illness. Then, when I tried to explain myself further, Cynthia gestured to the idea I might be slightly delusional about the work situation we were talking about. I was livid.
So, I began reporting additional symptoms, in great concerning detail.
“I’m just feeling extremely out of it..” I said to her. “You know, just generally confused. I think I’m hearing voices too..”
“Go on…” she said. And, I did. I held nothing back. “The voices are saying I’m already dead and that I should go for a drive in my car”. I said to her. Not revealing that I was thousands of miles away enjoying myself on a cruise ship. I inferred I was at home, listening to the voices in my head, now commanding me to drive my car around the neighborhood.
“Don’t do it, Jacques!” She stated in all capitals via google chat. She was really nervous now. She always seemed to hold herself personally responsible for my behavior and welfare, but never seemed to really be there when I was doing okay, feeling fine, or just needing a person to speak with about the day-to-day. But when I was in crisis, or needing saving, Cynthia was prepared and ready to go into action. Ruminating about all of this in my head I began to boil over. I had enough!
“Actually, Cynthia, I’m on a cruise ship in Puerto Rico right now having a blast. I’m NOT SICK!” I volleyed back in all capital letters. She never responded to that last message. In fact, like her husband Patrick before her, I never heard from either of them again. Nothing I could do would be successful in revising this unfortunate outcome.
For me this really goes back to the fact that we need to surround ourselves with people that are their in good times and bad.