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My friend is finally out of a mental health clinic, and she barely remembers anything.

romantic_thi3f
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi,

One of my closest friends has Bipolar and I've known her for years and years. For the first time, it got really bad and she was so manic she was hallucinating things. She told me people were watching her from the air vent in the bathroom, and the nurses were drugging her through her meals, and there were private rooms she wasn't allowed to see. I'm grateful that she wasn't scared, but it was the hardest thing to watch.

At the time, I was kinda struggling a little bit, but I'd visit her on weekends and sit with her. Every time I went she'd share the same things and asked the same questions that she did the time before. Even if there was a part of her that was here, there was so much of her that wasn't. She ended up staying there for a while.

Now, she's out, and she's asking the same questions, but remembering the answers. She doesn't remember much and I know she doesn't really remember me coming along. It's almost like it's 'normal' and 'all good now' but for me, she has no idea how hard it's been. I did try talking to her about it, but she (understandably) doesn't really get it.

Is there anyone else that's kind of experienced anything like this?

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

7 Replies 7

sbella02
Community Champion
Community Champion

Romantic_thi3f,

Thank you for opening up in your post. I'm so sorry to hear about your experience with your friend, it sounds like such an incredibly tough situation to be in. Your words really sat with me, "even if there was a part of her that was here, there was so much of her that wasn't". I know how heartbreaking it can be to see somebody you're close with in a bad place mentally, they may seem like in some way they've lost their identity.

While I can't necessarily relate, hopefully I may be able to offer a little pearl of advice. Have you considered when may be the right time to talk to her about it, if at all? How would it affect her emotionally to hear of your experience with her during this time? If you do choose to share your experience with her, I would approach it with as much compassion and understanding as you can.

Does she remember anything from her period of mania/hallucinations, do you know?

Take care, SB

Hi SB,

Thank you so much for getting back to me! That was really hard to share, this is why I reply and not post haha

Definitely. I started talking to her about it once she was feeling better. She seems to remember bits and pieces- she remembers thinking she could see the future, but not that there were people in the vents, and remembers me coming but not coming often or what we talked about. She did say sorry and thank you which was very sweet but yeah, it's something I have to somehow tackle on my own.

After I shared this post I talked to someone else about it who said it's all kind of universal when someone we care about is unwell, because we've kind of lost them a little bit their illness.

Is this the same for you too?

Thank you again for your reply; it meant a lot to me 🙂

rt

Hi romantic thi3f,

I can relate a bit to what you’ve described as I was caring for a parent with mental health issues from an early age who would have episodes she had no recollection of. As a child this was extremely confusing and disconcerting. As an adult I slowly came to terms with it, though it affected me right up till the end of her life and even now when I’m processing grief.

It seems to be a kind of dissociative amnesia. I can relate to what you mention about losing them a little bit to their illness. This is so hard, and I realise it’s particularly hard right now as your friend’s symptoms have gotten worse and it can feel like the person you’ve known isn’t quite as they used to be.

With my Mum these episodes were transient and I learned to focus on and remember the parts of her that were connected and grounded when she was doing well, remembering the person you love is still there, even if at times it feels like you’ve lost them to a degree to the mental health stuff they’re going through.

I found coming back to the things that connected my Mum and me, such as shared interests and things we liked to talk about, was grounding for both her and me. I never lost sight of the person I knew she was under the mental illness and that helped sustain me in caring for her.

But at the same time it’s very important for you to take care of yourself as being a caring friend in that situation can be really hard emotionally and take a lot of energy, especially when the other person has periods of unawareness where they are not present let alone aware of how that may be affecting you.

So I think it helps to stay in touch with others you can talk to and get support from (like you are doing posting here), as it helps balance out the challenges of the caring you are doing for your friend.

Take care and I hope things start to go better for your friend too.

Hi Eagle Ray,

Thank you thank you; this is so kind and your reply means a lot to me too.

It almost feels a little bittersweet being on these forums, because I feel less alone relating to everything you're writing about, while also feeling sad that this is something you can relate to!

It does also remind me of my Poppa who had dementia too, when you say remembering what's still there and coming back to shared interests too. I also really resonated with the grief, for my family but then also for my friend, because isn't it kind of a loss in those times too? It's funny to me how grief shows up in all the ways.

I hope you're finding lots of support in these forums too, thanks again 🙂

rt

I think you are right rt, that your situation with your friend is a kind of loss too, seeing her go through difficulty while also having her disconnected from you for a period of time. You are a very good, kind friend. Sometimes there is a grieving and accepting of the way things are, but I hope things can improve for her and that you can navigate being there for her but taking care of yourself too.

And thank you, yes, I am finding the forums here supportive 🙂

Hello romantic thi3f, when I was put into a private health clinic (Workcover paid) the settling was completely different than being at home.

There were no phones to ring and annoy us and the home atmosphere wasn't there, we had 3 meals cooked, talked with other patients we became fond of and were able to laugh at situations we wouldn't do at home.

Only people we wanted to visit us were allowed in, so any pressure was taken off us.

One reason we may forget about happened is because we push those thoughts away because if we say to people 'it was a good time' then they may presume that finally we are cured and if asked we don't want to remember, because being back home all those problems come back and disappoints those who ask.

This is similar when you're in rehab where any thoughts of your addiction are taken away from you, but as soon as you get home, then there's the possibility of those you were involved with come back and suggest you have 'just one drink', sort of the same principle.

My best.

Geoff. x

Romantic_thi3f,

I totally understand, it must've taken a lot of courage to share your story.

It's good that you're able to talk with her about this, and probably best that there are some things she doesn't remember, I suppose.

Yes, that's very normal. I've had several people close to me who I've seen struggle with mental illness, and it does feel like they lose part of themselves, whether temporarily or otherwise. This is where services like therapy and counselling can be life-changing, for restoring self-identity and motivation.

Please feel free to chat some more if you feel comfortable, and I wish you all the best with your friend.

SB