Wednesday, October 17, 2007

She gets me

Had lunch with Claudia -- actually, she had lunch and I had coffee. (Prosciutto looks really, really good.) I showed her last year's midterm from social welfare policy, which she faced this afternoon.

It was so amazing to be able to talk with her about living with this disease, being locked up in the hospital (even when you're glad to be there, it's nice to be able to go outside once in a while, just for some fresh air), terminal insomnia -- to know she understands everything I'm feeling. I can't say I do exactly the same for her, because I don't have borderline personality disorder (no matter what my silly classmates think). But it's good support for both of us.

Claudia's a very quiet, low-key person -- at least, she appears to be, the few times I've seen her. It's hard to believe that she has borderline and bipolar. But toward the end of lunch, she started getting more and more nervous about the exam. She got very quiet and looked away from me, then... she wasn't there. Her gaze focused on the distance. I wasn't sure if she was dissociating, or self-soothing.

I let her be and just sat quietly. It's important to be comfortable with silences; that gives other people the chance to think and process. I'm not so good and sitting with silences, so I decided to practice.

She came back to herself, and we paid the bill and walked back to school. We commiserated about the urge to shop when you're bipolar, and the corresponding inability to shop when you're depressed.

"Duane Reade is like Disneyworld when you're manic," I said. "You want one of everything. When I was depressed, I used to go to the drugstore to buy toothpaste and look at all the boxes stacked on the shelves. I thought of how someone spent hours stacking the toothpaste, and I didn't deserve to have someone go to all that effort for me. So I couldn't buy toothpaste and I got gum disease!" She laughed. We laughed.

After lunch and dealing with Prof. Worried's email, I found Jerry in the hall to tell him the ridiculous story. Claudia came out from the midterm, a little pale, and quiet as usual.

"Want to go for ice cream?" I asked. I thought it might buck her up; she wasn't thrilled with her performance.

She considered for a moment. "Sure," she said. We spoke, and we were quiet, for about half an hour, getting and consuming the ice cream.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. I have the cure for bi-polar shopping. Marry a guy that gives you NO spending money...have NO credit cards and be a "stay at home mom" for like 12 years! When I worked...I could not STOP shopping for ONE SINGLE DAY! It is amazing...what being CONTROLLED will do for your issues! I am more manic than very FEW days of that...can NOT bring yourself to EVEN go to the store to buy a necessity. I never had a problem finding an excuse to go shopping!