Two Weddings A Brunch And A Savage Beating

“Before I started my Recovery 3.5 years ago I watched, and helped, several friends try to recover from addiction. What I found by watching them and listening to them was there’s one essential tool needed to recover from an addiction and it’s the same thing we need as we recover from Mental Illness… what we need is Touch.”
“Maybe It’s Time For A Manic Depressive Anonymous”, Me; Feb. 28, 2008.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, but every inaction has an equal and often undeserved punishment.

There was a wedding this past weekend. It made sense I wasn’t invited because I haven’t spoken to the groom in over a year, and I’ve never met the bride. But not too long ago, and for a few years, he and I were really close and we shared a large pool of friends. Most of whom I haven’t spoken to since I started my recovery. All of whom were back here in our little village for the wedding.

I found out by mistake. A friend wrote and asked if I was going. The initial shock hurt for a little while, but I rationalized it pretty quickly… we were friends, now we’re acquaintances and there’s only so many spaces available at a wedding. So not being at the wedding isn’t what still hurts. What still hurts is being reminded again that I’ve lost touch with almost everyone I’ve cared about and now I’m not even on the Reception lists.

I’ve thought about this before… a few weeks ago there was an unofficial College reunion that I also found out about by mistake, and more recently I found a Facebook group set up by the people I actually graduated with that had my name attached to it.


But this past week was like someone decided I hadn’t sufficiently understood my lesson so they shoved my face directly into the horse’s ass so I can get a better look at where my life is going.

This piece of my recovery feels very much like I’ve put my head down and typed out five thousand words and when I finally look at the screen all of the text is in capital letters because midway through the first sentence I hit the all-caps key instead of shift. Everything’s there, I just have to go back and rewrite it all.

Just like all the people I care about are there, all I have to do now is start making phone calls and inviting people out for coffee. But the first conversation with Everyone will be all about how sane I am now. Which bothers me. It bothers me, a lot, that my friends haven’t taken any time to understand what I’ve been going through.

So, do I drop all of them and start all over? Do I weed through the list and pick the really interesting ones to have that coffee with? Where does my responsibility to our friendships begin and end? When we were living in Toronto I was the one who moved away first… but only a few miles.

What was their responsibility to me when I lost my mind after confronting various father/abandonment issues, and then when I moved further away and became homeless, living on $120/month? A few of my work friends kept in touch for a few months, but none of my core group.

I feel like I did after my girlfriend broke up with me in 1993. She had left for university near Toronto in September and came back at Christmas to tell me she had a new boyfriend. There was all the same expectations then — her coming back for Christmas sex, that there are now — I’m recovered, lets get back to where we were. But everyone has moved on.

She gave it up to some other guy, while over the past four years my friends have been getting along together just fine.

My brother is also getting married in a few months. We hardly ever talk anymore either. So far this year there have been a couple of emails and he was up here for a day back in April. He’s having my step-father plan out the bachelor party.

Since I was a part of The Group my friends have become, for the most part, very successful at what they do. There’s an award-winning micro-brewery, a bunch of them now have kids, a couple own condos, a few more own houses. My brother is managing a couple of high end coffee places and is planning to buy a house or condo next year.

This isn’t the way I had it worked out in my head when I first started my recovery. I don’t know what “normal” is when it comes to recovering from manic depression. I barely even understand my own recovery. I don’t know if starting over, pretty much from scratch, is something we should expect.

And I think there’s a chance, right now, that I’m pushing myself to move faster than I can. But I think I’m starting to really understand what I’ve given up by waiting so long to start my recovery, to start taking the medications. At least it’s being shown to me again, but this time in more graphic detail.

I’m not sure we should be made responsible for making the first moves back into the lives of the people we remember having cared for. But outside of skywriting I’m not sure how to make it clear to people that I’m ready, almost anyway, to start accepting reservations. The Catch-22, as I see it, is that to find out how far along the scale of sanity we are we need people in our lives as measuring sticks.

But finding those people willing to sit through a test-drive of our shiny, newly restored brains we already need to be acting sane as to not be scaring them off…


Speaking of touching… I nearly slapped my grandmother last week. In fairy tales the step-mother is generally the evil witch, but in my family it’s my moms mother who, when she’s bored, will stick the tip of a knife into your stomach just to see your expression change.

It was my step-grandmother’s birthday and we all gathered at a local restaurant for brunch, I ended up at my grandmother’s end of the table along with my step-sister — who is also lucky enough to have manic depression. Over the past few months my sister has lost some weight, but in a very healthy way and she looks totally healthy. So, of course, my grandmother started asking if she had an eating disorder.

…actually, I guess to my step-sister my grandmother is a step-grandmother, so maybe in this case the fairy tale would be accurate.

In the space of less than three minutes my passive aggressive queen of a grandmother asked my step-sister about her weight no less than six times. She actually said “oh no, you don’t look healthy at all”, even though my sister hasn’t looked better in ten years.

So I leaned over and told my grandmother “hey, shut the fuk up” and was in the process of aiming my large hand in her direction to make the point but my mother grabbed my wrist at the last second. At the same time my sister, who doesn’t have an ounce of deviousness or dishonesty in her body, asked my grandmother a question that shut her up for the rest of the meal. It was beautiful.

My grandmother’s favourite thing in the world is to compare her daughter-in-law to her daughter. My mom can do no right, the daughter-in-law can do no wrong… except she does have a very real and sometimes very noticeable eating disorder. I really don’t think my sister understood the family dynamics when she brought that up, but it was funny to the rest of us.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Friends, Granny, Health, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Two Weddings A Brunch And A Savage Beating

  1. thordora says:

    I’m having the karma of who I’ve been thrown in my face lately, and it’s not nice. I’m playing a game with rules I don’t know with pieces that move on their own and everything just spins. I want to reach out to other people so someone else is there but I just can’t…I can’t keep everything in and stable and then try and explain years to someone…

    so I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, other than in my fucked up way, I get what you’re saying.

    And good on your sis… 🙂

  2. bromac says:

    Your grandmother sounds like a wench. Sorry.

    The friends situation is a tough one. I think my gut reaction would be to let it go, let them go. To start anew. But that would probably be spurned by the pain of being left behind.

  3. markps2 says:

    Over time we all change, reasons and circumstance for friendships change. Things grow , things die. I would say start over.

  4. nursemyra says:

    i like the idea of starting over too. but you could also try approaching one or two of your old friends. don’t want to sound like I’m sitting on the fence but people deserve a second chance.

    hope someone touches you soon xx

  5. giannakali says:

    my attitude is no one owes us anything…if you are interested in any of these people from your past….approach them…

    they will either reciprocate interest or not…you don’t have to go in with any expectations…maybe that’s easier said than done…I don’t know…

  6. voodoo says:

    When I was struck by depression after a neck injury that turned out to be more than that. Who I thought were friends turned out not to want to understand. I needed people in my life that would not judge me. So I stared over and I have fewer so called friends. I just don’t expect much of people. most are too caught up in themselves. Good luck in what ever you decide to do. Hugs

  7. Soire says:

    I have a poem around here somewhere written by a friend that’s all about not looking back, and moving forward.

    You seem like a nifty person. Would you enjoy a coffee meeting with a crazy pregnant lady?

  8. Gabriel... says:

    There are a couple of problems… one, I’m not very social as I am an introvert. And two, there are only so many opportunities for a social life in a village. Since I wrote this piece I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ve been waiting for something to happen. Like there was some group of old friends out there preparing a surprise party for me and all I had to do was check my answering machine twice a day.

    When I write these posts it’s mostly to work stuff out, and by the time I publish it I’ve managed to come to some kind of… not ‘solution’ but at least I’ve recognized what the problem is and now I can start moving past it. And I think I’ve managed to put some of the people I’ve known behind me by writing this one.

    It’s a very difficult thing to let go of people we care about, even if most of them aren’t even the same person anymore. Most of the people I care about I lost touch with four and five years ago. So they’re… not new people, but changed people. I’m sure if circumstances arose we’d slip back into old patterns, but the chances for those circumstances to come about are slim and nil… and that’s something I’m just starting to realize or acknowledge. I just hate feeling vulnerable and I think it’ll take a while to get free of that…

    Hi Thor… I’ve got three sisters and I’m constantly thrilled that all of them are seriously intelligent and not afraid to use it. This particular one is just coming out of her own fight with manic depression and she’s having the same kinds of problems proving to people she’s not liable anymore to go screaming down the street in her underwear that I’ve had. She’s doing fantastic.

    Hi Bromac, it’s great to have you back. I hope you don’t get rained away. My grandmother is that and a lot more, so apologies are definitely not warranted.

    Thanks Mark. I think that’ll end up being the plan.

    G’day Nurse Myra, and thanks… I’m kind of hoping someone does that as well. Maybe lots of someones and in groups.

    Hi Gianna… I think when we’re in a relationship there is something owed to each other, like respect and caring enough to make a phone call at the right time. I think some of this (some) is me putting emphasis on relationships in ways where I might be making a larger deal out of a smaller deal. This is something I think I’ll write more about, but just based on how I grew up I think I’ve thrown myself into relationships — friendly and sexual — faster and with more attachment than was reciprocated.

    Thanks, and thanks for the hugs voodoo

    Hi Soire… is that a trick question? Like, do you have some stack of crazy pregnant women you’re trying to push into society? I guess my answer would be based mostly on how far I would have to travel…

  9. exactscience says:

    I’d say go for what feels right. If you think you gave them reason to back away then maybe you show them the reasons are gone. If they did it of their own accord then it is prolly time for more new friends

  10. bipolarlife says:

    Interesting conundrum. It seems that many of us who are mentally interesting feel like we have been left behind by former friends who have advanced in their careers and relationships while we spend time popping pills and talking in therapy. I think that it is important to remember that this time of healing and recovery is also a period of growth which is as valid an experience to us as a promotion is to others. It may not be recognized as such by society but it should be. Maybe we need some kind of ritual to show the world that we are ready to be re-integrated back into society? Since we don’t why not make up your own? Going out to coffee with an old friend might be all it is.

    All the best.

  11. headbang8 says:

    Remember step 9. Be prepared to make amends to the people you have hurt.

    That also means being prepared to forgive them.

    Love, HB8

    P.S. Your step-grandmother is toxic. Stop drinking her.

  12. Soire says:

    No, not a stack. Just me.. I don’t think I’m a full stack’s worth of crazy.

    Travel – psh. I have zee wheels, and enjoy zee driving. I can come to a coffee shop near pretty much anything in our lovely metropolis.

    hit me with an email, and maybe we can come to an arrangement 😉

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