Tonight I wrote a letter to an old friend. She was my best friend, growing up, and I thought back then that we'd be best friends forever. But things did not work out that way. People change. Life gets in the way. I had a serious mental illness which I didn't know I had for about eight years, at least, since it began. Or at least, since the psychosis began. I had the depression half my life before that. So, about twelve years ago, I missed my best friend's wedding. I was supposed to be in it. I was supposed to be a bride's maid.
But I missed it because I was living in Maryland going psychotic. My friend lived here in Florida, and wanted me to travel down for her wedding. I would have done it if things had not been such a mess in my life. At the time, I believed, erroneously, that I had been horribly abused by members of my family as a child and blocked out the memories. I was beginning, also, to have visual and olfactory hallucinations at the time of my friend's wedding plans. I had no money. I would soon be homeless. I had no way of getting to the wedding and no way of making my brain function well enough to get myself there. But how was I supposed to explain this, when I myself, did not know what was wrong? I couldn't explain. I never explained.
Until now. I wrote her a letter, and I told, as briefly as you can explain a decade of your life, my story. I told her about the illness, about how bad it got, and about how sorry I was for missing her wedding. I know from something she said years ago that she never forgave me for it. I know it was a hurtful thing to do - to miss your best friend's wedding and never explain. So I wanted, even so many years later, to give the explanation. And so I did. I don't think she'll really understand. I don't know if she knows anything about mental illness. Most people are very in the dark about serious mental illnesses and have many misconceptions about them. Which is why so many of us do not disclose our illnesses to so many people around us. I know I don't tell everyone, and that is on purpose. I wish that the world was different, and I could be safe in disclosing to everyone. But it isn't, and I'm not.
I don't know how my friend will react to my letter. I don't know if she'll forgive me for missing her wedding, or if she'll understand now why we ended up no longer being friends. I lost many friends to this illness - all my close friends except one. I lost much to this illness. Many homes, many possessions, many relationships in my family, many years. I lost a lot. Losing this friend was just one of my many losses. To her, I'm not sure what it was. I'm not sure how much she cared, or if she was bothered that we lost touch. We're friends on Facebook now, but we no longer have much in common at all. So we don't talk. But I needed to get this off my chest, so to speak. And I felt she deserved an explanation to why I missed her wedding. I felt she deserved to understand my erratic behavior over the years. I do have an explanation for that. It was not just a bizarre personality defect. It was a disease. A disease which I hate, and which I have no choice but to live with as best I can for as long as it stays with me.
Some people, like my old friend, would likely see this as a spiritual problem. She is very religious. But it's not spiritual problem, of course. It's a disease, like any other. A neurological defect. Not a defect of the soul. I do hope she is able to understand that.
When I stopped returning her phone calls about her wedding, her fiance started calling me. He didn't know I was psychotic, and neither did anybody else, because I hid it then, and people just didn't expect that I'd become delusional. And so he called, and I avoided his calls. I was also very physically ill, with what was then diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I was suffering physically and taking a lot of meds. I was not diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder - a major lack of insight on the part of my doctor. I saw a therapist who agreed with me that my problems came from abuse, and another one who suggested that I had Dissociative Identity Disorder - a label that I would believe in for years, even though it was totally off base, because I thought professionals knew what they were talking about. I didn't realize I might be psychotic and people weren't picking up on that fact. I was also manic and depressed, in an alternating fashion, doing crazy things while manic that I still have nightmarish thoughts about, and which I won't even talk about here because they're humiliating. But there were people who knew all this - a doctor, two therapists, and they never picked up on it. Never said, "Schizoaffective", or "Schizophrenic", or even "Bipolar". Just "Dissociative". And how very wrong they were. I suffered for their wrong-ness for years to come.
So I missed my friend's wedding. My best friend. And very shortly after that I was living in a homeless shelter in a city where I have dozens of relatives. I had reported my father to the police when he held his fist to my face during an argument, as I truly believed in my delusional state that he was going to murder me. Of course, he was never going to murder me, but with the delusions that were backed up by therapists' suggestions, I thought he was. So I called, and the police came, along with my uncle, who is my dad's brother, and a long-time police officer. My grandparents, who I was living with, were not exactly happy that I had done this, having the police at their house. They kicked me out. I had nowhere else to go, because I believed my other grandfather would rape me if I was in his house. He wouldn't have, but this is what I believed, so I could not sleep in his house, for more than a few days. I went to a homeless shelter, because I didn't think any of my other relatives would let me stay with them, and they didn't offer, and I didn't ask them.
Things went downhill after that, and then further downhill, and then further still. And this blog tells that whole story, so I don't need to try to sum it all up here in this post. But I wanted to tell you about asking for forgiveness. Even though my disease is not my fault, and the fact I could not get to my friend's wedding was not my fault, I do believe it was my responsibility to give her an explanation as to what happened. So that is what I finally did.
I also told her that I don't know that I'll ever be able to have a wedding. I don't know who would want to marry me. Perhaps someone would, but who knows. I don't think I can have children, even if I want them. I told her that. She has three kids and is adopting two more. I don't have the finances to attempt any of that, even if I wanted to, and I don't have a partner, which I would want before attempting it. Lately, all this is making me very sad. I cried as I wrote the letter to my friend. I sat here, in my messy apartment, which I feel incapable of cleaning due to paralysis I get when I'm overwhelmed, and I just cried. Because all of this, the whole story, and the continuing repercussions of this illness, sometimes makes me very sad.