I’m lucky to have people in my life who care about me. Some are friends, and some are professionals. I have not always been the best friend I could have been. It’s strange, but I’m almost more trusting of the professional caregivers in my life than the others. Do I give more weight to the fact that the professionals have credentials? I’m not sure of the answer to that.
When I was first diagnosed bipolar ten years ago, I was in a terrible state. I had an awful time of it for quite a few months, and I had one caseworker for that initial period who was a godsend. He helped me get the necessary paperwork filled out for medical help where I live. He listened to my concerns and fears and reassured me. He helped me obtain food assistance and other charities. He got me plugged into the system, and he got me help that I needed to live.
My current caseworker is also a hard worker who listens when I need to talk. He helps me keep my priorities straight about some of the mundane things in my life. He helps me order my life in such a way that I know what to take care of when. I listen to him. He looks out for me.
I know for sure that I treat my psychiatric prescribing nurse with respect, because she has a great deal of knowledge about the medicine that keeps me stable. I can’t imagine where I’d be without medication. I don’t take a lot of different things. I have in the past had to take many kinds of pills, but it’s narrowed down to four at present. The nurse is my doorkeeper to what is working and what’s not. I report to her what’s going on with me, and she evaluates it according to the criteria that she’s devoted long hours to studying.
I can’t talk about caregivers without talking about my therapist. I’ve been her patient since 1997. She’s guided me through coming to terms with my alcoholism, my homosexuality, and my mental illness. She’s helped me see my issues by allowing me the time to develop the ideas on my own. Over the years, she’s seen me laugh and cry, get angry and be calm, and a myriad other emotions. She’s been a rock when I’ve been desperately depressed. She’s been a help when I’ve been over the top with mania. She’s a close ally in all ways.
I have a few friends who know everything about me and stay close. Those friends I hold dear to my heart. Some are close at hand, and some are far away. I try to keep in touch with all of them as best I can. It’s more difficult to say how friends have affected me and my mental illness. They have often simply been present when I’ve needed an ear to hear whatever it is I have to say. Most importantly, the close ones give me nonjudgmental love. It’s like breathing. They are that important.