“you are crazy”
My friend is spending another two days on the psych ward, we will call him Bob. It is the second time he has been committed in the last three weeks and it has been something of a mix of him going voluntarily and him being committed against his will. And while UVa 5 East is the best psych ward i have ever visited (so far just as a guest), it is still no picnic. Another patient had to be removed from the ward when he attacked Bob a second time without provocation.
It has been quite something of a rough ride with me and Bob’s partner, who called the police on him with this most recent restraint. Our basic desires are the same, we want Bob to be safe and not make stupid mistakes. And Bob has what some might call a borderline personality to start with, amped up, gregarious, high energy. Being clever, Bob has turned this structural low-level mania into a top-level sales job where he has been quite successful.
Bob’s partner and i have been in a disagreement about how to interact with him when he is “up”. Bob’s partner has called in many of his friends to try to explain to him that he is manic and that he needs to do various things about it. Bob has been generally pretty responsive to these suggestions, including a period of “house arrest” where he was not drinking, not driving, not leaving the property and taking his new anti-mania medicines, which he has obtained therapeutic levels at for a while now. During this period i organized several house visits, which felt helpful.
Over time i have acquired quite a few friends and intimates who have occasional manic episodes. After repeatedly trying to “talk sense” to crazy people, i have ditched this approach. What i find instead is that they want to be listened to, respected and often laughed with. So that is what i have been doing every evening visitor period for the last three days.
My experience with supporting folx with mental health challenges is that they are generally a combination of lots of painful guessing, unclear shades of gray, navigating conflicts of rights and riding things out.
i’ve got your back my friend. Hang in there.