The Strong Friend

In the last 24 hours, I feel like I can’t go anywhere on the internet without a meme telling me to check in with my “strong” friend.

Well, Zuckerberg’s algorithms, I am currently unable to check in with my strong friend because I am the strong friend. And it’s not going so well.

I’ve taken my meds. I took my emergency meds. I did the yoga breathing. And it still feels like the whole world is caving in on top of me, while alternately I am full of a rage that burns so hot my bones are vibrating. I can’t sit still, but I don’t have the energy to move. My whole body is heavy yet my head feels as though it’s above me somehow, like I’m outside of myself and I’ll never find a way back.

Mental illness sucks. It is a chronic disease that must be managed daily. It’s not just something we should talk about when celebrities succumb to their illness. This week we saw two high profile deaths and we need to remember that both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died of a chronic brain disease.

We don’t know their treatment plans or how well they did or did not manage their illness. And it’s none of our business.

But do check in with your strong friends. Instead of checking in when an instagram post from that girl you sat behind in lit class in college pops up in your feed, check in with your friends more often.

If their like me, they may isolate themselves. I do it because everyone I talk to always vents to me and how I’m feeling or doing is an after thought. Sometimes, it’s easier to not pick up the phone than it is to ask how someone is doing, especially when you know they won’t return the favor.

As the strong friend, I just want someone to ask me how I’m doing, and when I lie and say I’m ok, to dig a little deeper. Ask your strong friend what’s really going on. If you have a close enough relationship, ask if they’re going to therapy. Ask if they’re taking their meds. Ask if they need to talk to someone more qualified.

Or simply let them talk. I know when I am in the void, where nothing makes sense, I just want someone to listen. Really listen. I don’t want unsolicited advice. I don’t even want someone to tell me it will get better. Because I know, that while I’ll come up from the void again and find some stability, it won’t be long before the world closes in around me. That’s the nature of my disease. Bipolar disorder means you swing from high to low – some times rapidly, other times it’s a longer experience that builds up higher and higher before crashing down.

I also know, that the voices in my head that tell me I should kill myself and leave the world will be back. I know that because they have always been there. And they most likely always will.

I am not suicidal. And I haven’t been in awhile. But the voices are there.
So please, do call your strong friends. But listen. And don’t just call them right now, because we had two famous people die. Call them on a random Tuesday afternoon.  Call them when your dog does something stupid and made you laugh.

Remember to listen.

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Am I doing this right?

Hey, it’s Anna.

I attempted to start this blog, 2 fucking years ago.

And it sat, collecting internet detritus from the world shaking loose all that dusty Russian Facebook debacle. Doing nothing.

I also attempted to start an online zine.

Which once again, amounted to nothing. #mania. Is that how the kids are saying it these days? Also – how is finstagram even a thing? I’m getting so old.

Anyhow, originally, I thought I would review books and it would be so cute, because I would call romance novels literature. And then Terri Gross would find out about me and we’d chat and I’d write a column reviewing garbage “literature” for the New York Times.

But here I sit, dog sitting, still making minimum wage.

No Fresh Air for me.

Now, I’ve got a year old master’s degree from Big Green and it feels like I’m writing even less. The whole point of asking Barack Obama for all that money for graduate school was to write, right?

Hence the old bloggy blog. And the two unfinished novels I’m attempting to finish. And that play that only exists in my head in that weird intermittent dream space when I get distracted by a smell and am overcome by a memory. And all those Modern Love columns on my desktop.

If I monetize the ads,  does that means I can still lie and tell people I freelance?  Who am I kidding, I’ll lie about freelancing whether or not this blog makes me diddly.

p.s. whenever I write the word whether, I’m instantly transported back to the SMS library and spell bowl practice with Mrs. Clemons. She told us there were three of those homonyms – whether, weather and wether. She also taught me how to spell Cincinnati and a capella.