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We Don't Always Know. Wednesday June 4, 2014

I don't refer to her as my oldest friend. There comes a point in a girl's life (some time after she has reluctantly accepted that she's not a girl any longer) when such descriptions are less than kind. She is instead my friend of longest standing.

We met on our second day at senior school when we literally bumped into each other in the dinner queue. The reason we bumped into each other was that we both had our noses in a book instead of looking where we were going. In the moment of discovery that we were both reading a Captain W E Johns' Biggles Book, was our friendship formed; a friendship still strong after – well, perhaps I had better not say after how many years.

She was the first person to know I was bi-polar. I only wish she'd thought to tell me at the time.

It was only when we watched the Stephen Fry documentary together more than thirty years later that she realised that I still didn't know.

Of course, it wasn't called bi-polar back when we were at school.

"I knew you were a manic depressive when you were thirteen." She said (shockingly). My mouth open, I just stared at her. "Yes" she said, "I read Spike Milligan's autobiography and thought "Ah, now that explains Mary.""

So my best friend has always known, has always accepted it and has just given me all the space I needed to be both the life and soul of the party and to withdraw totally for weeks or months at a time. It has never affected our friendship in the smallest degree.

Now that we both know a lot more about the condition, she's also invaluable for telling me when I'm going down and need to make an appointment to see the doctor. Because I don't always know.

It's not just my lovely friend (of longest standing) who assists me in managing things. I have a couple of book club friends who keep an eye on me, my husband always knows better than I do what's happening and gradually a few of my business networking friends are becoming close enough to know.

No – I have no idea how they know. They just say they can see it in my face.

These days, Moodscope is invaluable. I look at the pattern over the last three months, with all the yellow dots for the comments and can see the point at which I said "Oops – better start the fluoxetine again". I can fool myself into thinking I'm better, but then I play those cards and know better. Still down: still need to take it easy. Grrr.

So when we say of someone "They know me better than I know myself" – yes, we're probably right. It's not just mother knows best; it's our friends and family probably know best. But we do need to trust them. They're right. We know they're right. Blast it!

A Moodscope member.

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Lex McKee Wed, Jun 4th 2014 @ 7:56am

Wow, Mary, you are blessed.
Aside from a beautiful story of friendship, you have friends with benefits!
What a wonderfully 'spooky' way to begin a life-long connection.
Love it.

Diana Wed, Jun 4th 2014 @ 7:57am

You're a gem Mary ( you make me smile so much ... )

Anonymous Wed, Jun 4th 2014 @ 8:48am

The reference to the Spike Milligan biography was a clue - I've read a lot about how his moods would vary wildly, and I have this to a degree. David Walliams' autobiography 'Camp David' has a lot about how down he was at university (the Beatles' Good Night became a soundtrack to a suicide attempt) and even when Little Britain became a success he was still having these massive downs.

It doesn't say how he came to fall out with Matt Lucas, but I got the feeling that Walliams was very dedicated (like Milligan) to script writing and Lucas just breezed in way after the allotted time to help.

swimmer Wed, Jun 4th 2014 @ 10:03am

I wish people could read me like that. I have a good defence face!! It always surprises people close to me when l have an episode. They tell me l was ok! Well, actually, l wasn't, and l don't know how to tell you!!!!

Richard Harrison Wed, Jun 4th 2014 @ 12:44pm

Some years ago, an ex-girlfriend and I spotted Mark E. Smith having a quiet pint alone in a Brixton pub. Now, swimmer. He had a defense shield around him, not just a face. Singers like Nick Drake lost their battle. We will carry on and tell our stories. Why? Because we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams. Love, Rich x

Anonymous Thu, Jun 5th 2014 @ 9:51am

A blast from the past! A Biggles-reading coeval! Thank you, Mary, as ever for sharing your insights into bipolar. You continue to teach me much, including self-acceptance. Your recent post on depression and faith was timely and also much appreciated. Wishing you well. One of your big fans.

Mary Fri, Jun 6th 2014 @ 7:24pm

Ah, thank you and bless you!

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