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Before L had found an effective combination of meds, she drove halfway across the country in a mixed state, buying expensive clothes and jewelry for herself, with the goal of committing suicide when she reached California.
Fortunately, her mania dissipated before she made it there. All relationships suffer from irrationality, which is why they can be particularly susceptible to the ups and downs of bipolar.
"I hope it doesn't scare you off."Panicked thoughts raced through my mind. This was the odd humor Sara and I had already established, but I wasn't entirely joking.
I'd had several close bipolar friends, and had once been in a long-term relationship with a bipolar woman, Nyla, whom I still consider the smartest person I'd ever met.
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She could recount every failed Everest expedition in mesmerizing detail -- the sort of a talent I would expect of a rock climber, not someone who'd never gone camping. Then I found out."There's something you should know about me," she said, a couple of hours into the date. I tried to remember if I'd sipped from her drink."I'm bipolar," she said."Good," I replied.
From a distance, I'd seen how much energy it took Nyla to keep her episodes under control: weekly doctor's visits, blood tests, complicated regimens of medications.
And yet for all their problems, my bipolar buddies had always kept things interesting.
Take my friend Jerome, hired one summer to drive a van full of rich and annoying European teenagers across the country. I didn't hear Sara's story until later, but it didn't have many funny parts.
Somewhere in the Midwest, without telling the kids or his employer or anyone else where he was going, he simply got out at a gas station and walked away. Her condition was rooted in a childhood depression that began when her father died suddenly of stomach cancer. Then came her diagnosis, and years of experimenting with different psychiatric drugs until her doctors found the magic combination.