• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

stargazer

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Shortly after I moved to this new town for the new job, it seemed as though all my longtime friends from the Valley suddenly stopped contacting me, or returning phone calls and emails. It didn't bother me too much for a while, because I had to zero in on my job anyway. Also, I figured I had pestered them all with incessant "buzzes" when I wasn't doing so well, and so I had probably annoyed and alienated them, at least for the time being.

Here I'm back in the Bay Area, and I have three pretty good male friends here, and somehow we never see each other. I get tired of calling them, hitting them up on Yahoo Messenger, and so forth. It's not working, and I don't want to be a pest. I have had exactly one meaningful phone conversation with one of them, exactly once.

My weekend begins Saturday evening and ends Sunday evening. After church on Sundays, I go into a state of total ennui, seemingly paralyzed, unable to find anything to do that will not leave me feeling as though I wasted my entire weekend.

I did see my daughter last weekend, however. That is the best it's been. She loves me, and does not seem bothered by my intensity, but I do notice that many of my friends find me exhausting because of my high and often scattered energy level. Somehow this does not interfere with my work, and I am acquiring more and more positive work connections all the time. Maybe it's because they're not around me often enough to be exhausted, or because I am more in tune with work mores and boundaries than I am with social/personal boundaries. Or some combination of both.

I wonder if I should be trying to make friends, and if so, where do I find these people? And, upon finding them, how do I keep from alienating them? What would happen if I had a hypomanic episode? Would they, too, abandon me?

I belong to two Internet sites -- PsychLinks and this other blog site where I've made some friends. But all that does is affix me to my computer on a beautiful sunny day. I guess I could set forth alone, go window shopping, bus-riding, and so forth -- I just wish I were able to get together with a friend, because I know that I wouldn't feel so alone afterward, and my life would feel as though it had more balance by the time I show up for work tomorrow.
 

Daniel

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After church on Sundays, I go into a state of total ennui, seemingly paralyzed, unable to find do that will not leave me feeling as though I wasted my entire weekend.

Besides church, maybe there are other social groups like book clubs, such as those mentioned at Meetup.com? Personally, one of my favorite -- though not social -- ways of staying occupied:

UC Berkeley Webcasts | Video and Podcasts: Fall 2007 Courses
 

stargazer

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I meant to mention that I've slipped a little bit lately regarding the consistency of my exercise regimen. For several weeks, I was running four times a week, and always in the mornings: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then last week I skipped Tuesday, did run Thursday, but did not run yesterday. I'm starting to feel the kind of depression that hits when I'm not being regularly "elevated" by these regular runs. (They are usually three to four miles in length.)

It's already 5:30pm in California, but I might be able to make myself go out now, if I can overcome my lethargic state of non-motivation. I don't have to work till 4pm tomorrow because my boss has some special thing going on with his other company until 3pm. So even if running later in the evening meant getting to bed later, and getting up later in the morning, it might still be a good thing to do.

Or, I could just wind down, and run tomorrow morning as usual, and get back on track. I'm not sure which will be better. My temptation is to use the running as an anti-depressant, and that strikes me somewhat like self-medicating.
 

ladylore

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Since running is a part of your routine Stargazer, are there running groups in your area? Another idea is to look on sites like Craigslist and Meetup.com to see what type of groups are going on in your area.

I am so happy you have seen your daughter. :)
 
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i find the worst thing for my down moods is to have an unstructured day, which typically are the weekends. it sounds like you need your routine to keep you in a more even mood as well.

i'm not sure what to advise you regarding friendships. as ladylore said, joining a running organization might be good. i think that would work in two ways, first, you run off all your excess energy, second, afterwards you may feel more even and you can socialize without the excess energy getting in the way.

would you care at all for meeting other people with bipolar? if so, you might find a group and maybe meet up with one or two people with whom you might hit it off.

My temptation is to use the running as an anti-depressant, and that strikes me somewhat like self-medicating.
but this is exactly what is recommended to people who get depressed - to get moving to lift those spirits. this hardly is self-medicating :)
 

stargazer

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I agree about the running, come to think of it. When I ran yesterday morning, I hadn't gone for a few days, and I was slow and awkward. This morning I felt better, and I got through the whole 3.2 miles without stopping.

I also slept better last night, and didn't get up till 6:30 in the morning, instead of at around 5:30am. (By the way, I don't use an alarm clock, as I find the very notion alarming. I invariably arise before everyone else in my profession does anyway.)

Seeking friendship continues to be a theme these days. I hope I don't have another weekend like last weekend. This coming weekend, assuming I haven't found someone to visit with on Sunday, I better have some personal activities planned, at least on the computer if nowhere else. Or, I could take the train up to San Francisco and go to cafes with pen and paper. There are places I know where I just might happen to run into an old friend.

In fact, there's one cafe in a neighborhood where I used to live, and I used to play piano there every Tuesday. It's a neighborhood hangout, and I'd least I'd run into old friends. Some interesting people, too.

My daughter also called me yesterday, and that was a turnaround in my mood. After that, work went well, and I slept well last night. My boss was also in a good mood, and that helped.

I have to also say that I've been having manic or hypomanic sensations lately. Even today, feeling good, I called my therapist, and I was obviously all sped up. Yesterday I called the local Mental Health Center, but they were closed because it was a national holiday in America.

I don't have time in my schedule today, but tomorrow morning I am going to go there and sign the release to get my records transferred from one County to another, and get the ball rolling. I have had some reservations, partly because I wasn't sure I would be staying here, and partly for other reasons. But this is the best decision, and it's something I definitely will do.

It is better that I have a doctor and a therapist in the County in which I live, rather than in a County which is an hour and a half away by car. (This is especially true, as I don't have a car, and don't drive. It is impossible to get from here to there and back in a single day on public transit, so it leaves me having to find a place to stay the night.)

Hopefully I'll get a doctor and a therapist whom I like as much as I liked the ones I had in the Valley.
 
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that's a good solution to go spend some time in your old neighbourhood hangouts. hopefully you'll bump into some old friends, and also, this would be a great place to make new ones.

i think switching your therapy and medication to your local county probably is a good idea from a practical standpoint, although i can totally understand why you may have had reservations. it's not easy to let go of a good therapist and doctor whom you know. i do hope you'll find some equally as compatible replacements locally. do you think your therapist and doctor would be able to make recommendations for local counterparts? it might make the switch a bit easier.
 

stargazer

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do you think your therapist and doctor would be able to make recommendations for local counterparts? it might make the switch a bit easier.

The people at the previous clinic have no idea who the doctors are here, and are in fact not legally permitted to talk with them until I've signed the release. I've already spoken with them about this. So they're not in the position to make recommendations, unfortunately.

I think this subject came up earlier here on PsychLinks. The two counties are really quite separated from each other, geographically as well as in terms of any connection between the two agencies.

However, when I was here 3 1/2 years ago, after I'd already lost my Kaiser, I saw a therapist here for a single visit before I returned to the Valley. She was very conscientious, and I liked her very much. She told me she thought I was bipolar, but since I was in the midst of a very severe first-time manic episode, I didn't believe her. The mania didn't allow my mind to accept the diagnosis.

I might be able to enquire about seeing her again, and that might make a difference. I think she'll remember me because of certain data, and because we exchanged emails for a time thereafter.
 

Rosa

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Sounds like you've had some good suggestions. Just wanted to add a couple of things. I don't think its that uncommon to have just a few close friends. I think the media leads us to believe that we all must have tons of friends and stresses too much emphasis on 'being popular'. I have four close friends. I have many aquantances (sp?) but only four close friends. I don't in any way feel deprived or less popular than anyone else. I do think its important to not depend on our friends for all of our mental health needs, especially when we have issues. Thats not to say we have to put on a different face, but at the same time I think we need to be aware that these are our friends and not our therapists.
I think friendship happens over time and as you settle down again in the Bay Area you'll be able to develop new friendships. There is an organization-I think its called Compserve-don't quote me on that, but its here in the Bay Area that matches people with mental health issues with 'friends'-people that just care and want to be a friend. If you want information about that just let me know and I can find out more for you.
I realize it can be lonely at times but invest in the friend that you have and make sure that person is able to see both the good as well as the bad times for you.
Be well
Rosa
 

stargazer

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You know, it's funny, I just got off the phone from one of my longtime friends who lives here in the Bay Area; and he and I both agreed that we don't need to have *that* many friends, and as for what friends we *do* have, we don't really need to get together with them *that* often. When we were younger -- in high school or college, perhaps -- we wanted to hang out with each other all the time, see each other every day, tell each other the latest, and so forth. But now things are different. A lot of us have wives or husbands and children, demanding work schedules, and an overall routine that really doesn't make for a whole lot of socializing.

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that when I am feeling a desperate need for the company of friends is when I will have the least to offer them, because I am feeling so needy and dependent; but when I'm feeling all right with myself (like now, as opposed to much of last week), I have more to offer, although I don't feel a great need to offer it.
I'm not sure I said that right, but I think you get the meaning.
 

Rosa

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What you've said makes alot of sinse and I think were all like that. Needing people when we are lonely or feeling needy is natural and that's a good time to have a friend. I think its all kind of a balancing game. For the most part our friends see us during the good times but there are difficult times when its nice to be able to lean on someone. The most important thing I was trying to express is that our friends are our friends and not our therapists. While they may want to help us they just aren't experienced with some of the issues we might have. And if we consistanly go to them during the bad times you could see what a drain this would put on that person.
Your right, times have changed. As adults we have so many more responsiblities and less time for socializing. If anything though, I think that makes those few friends we have even more cherished.
I hope that has helped. Don't be down on yourself for not having tons of friends.
As always
Rosa
 
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It strikes me as somewhat ironic that when I am feeling a desperate need for the company of friends is when I will have the least to offer them, because I am feeling so needy and dependent; but when I'm feeling all right with myself (like now, as opposed to much of last week), I have more to offer, although I don't feel a great need to offer it.
it's the same way for me. i can really relate.
 

ladylore

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You may want to turn that around Stargazer - offer support...when your feeling strong and can hold your own. This way you are giving back support, a helping hand for the same people that have been there for you. Its a two way street.
 

stargazer

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You may want to turn that around Stargazer - offer support...when your feeling strong and can hold your own. This way you are giving back support, a helping hand for the same people that have been there for you. Its a two way street.

That's something I already do, ladlyore. I was referring to my natural inclinations, not to my actions.
 

stargazer

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Hmm, I was being a little defensive in that last post. But I do make an effort to help my friends, and be supportive of them. It's just hard to do that when they're avoiding me. But, as I'd just been writing, we (Alex and I) decided that we really don't need to see each other talk to each other ALL that often anymore. After all, we're grown men, with responsibilities -- we're not a couple of kids anymore.

I've been feeling really stressed lately, and sort of neurotic. Oh, but I meant to write here: my daughter called today and invited me over for Thanksgiving (which is this Thursday here in the States), which will be the first time I've spent Thanksgiving with family since 2002. My stepdaughter will also be there, who hasn't talked to me or answered an email or phone call since 2004. I must be doing something right to have regained their confidence.

My brother and I are also planning to get together on either Dec. 2nd or Dec. 9th. He closed his email by saying "it will be a good thing." He very often has not wanted to see me or associate with me. His wife hasn't talked to me since the day my Mom died.

But, trying to focus on the positive (which I better do -- maybe make a gratitude list or something -- my brain just keeps shooting off onto the negative for some reason), the general perception of my family members is that I am doing a lot better, and they say they are proud of me now.

And, to reiterate, one does not need THAT many friends, or THAT much contact with the friends one has. Alone time is a good thing, if one can figure out what to do with it.
 

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