A question I get asked a lot in relation to this blog is- “Have you made any new friends because of it?”
The rather blunt answer is, “Not really”. There is one actual friend that I have made from this blog, and a few acquaintances who I might be friends with if I was not so notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people. I love my readers and commentees, who are, by turns, hilarious, caustic, sympathetic, helpful and massively intelligent. And are pretty much the reason I continue to write here. I would have stopped a long time ago if not for them.
I do talk to a few people off the site but I am now cautious about such things as, on one hand, a few people have plagiarised me and pissed me off (I’m not linking, but discussions have been had) and on the other, when I publicised my MSN address, I was inundated with people telling me they were going to kill themselves, and I had no way of helping them. Considering I recently lost one of my best friends to suicide, I just can’t cope and I don’t use instant messaging anymore. So I don’t have much opportunity to speak to people off the site, aside from lurking on their Facebook profiles (which I do). So, sometimes, for sake of self preservation I necessarily keep a distance.
The two friends are:
Mental Patient: Or the artist formally known as Tony Nunn. Tony’s forty two, literate, a total lifesaver to me and he has schizoaffective disorder. I haven’t seen Tony in a while but we do keep in touch and very occasionally meet up in various cafés where we eat food, he disapproves of my smoking and we both argue the toss about the joys of being mental. I enjoy being around Tony a lot. He’s similarly mental to me- we’re both frequenters of intense paranoia and have suffered through some similar delusions, therefore we’re both unshockable in regards to each other’s stories. We both have very rapid cycling so there’s no need for hurried explanations on the pitfalls of being a moving target. He has a big laugh and he likes wine. There is something very classy about him, it’s probably his manners. Tony is partly responsible for my continuing existence in London, so blame him.
of Mental Nurse: I’ve known Zarathustra for five years, long before he was a nurse and before I knew I was manic depressive. Faltering communication and very different geographical locations mean that we don’t see or speak to each other often. We met on a Manic Street Preachers forum, back in the days when I was a precocious mentalist. He has had the pleasure of meeting me while I was submerged, or should I say, stratospheric, in a manic episode. We once ran a piss-poor satirical website together which lasted for about five minutes.
And notable acquaintances:
Lou: Lou is one of my readers. She lives in Northern Ireland, not far from my stomping ground. She has been unbelievably supportive and I sometimes read her e-mails when my finger is hovering over the “delete” button of this blog.
Scott: Scott writes Exact Science. We only seem to talk very late at night when we’re both feeling hysterically bad.
Wife of a Schizophrenic: She doesn’t publicise her name so I won’t, either. Not only does she run one of the best mental health blogs there is, she is also an amazingly lovely woman.
There are loads of other people I speak to occasionally, (like Nessa) and a few whom I used to, but have lost touch. There are some blogs I still want to add to my blogroll and there are some people out there I am too shy to speak to. And various people have donated to this blog and helped me continue to live somewhere that isn’t a cardboard box and I’m indebted to them.
I have entertained fantasies about having a Mentalist Meet Up, somewhere posh. (Namely, I was dying to get loads of my readers and fellow bloggers together at the impossibly posh Berkeley for afternoon tea. I just love the idea of a ton of bottom-barrel (by that I mean “perceived as by certain factions”) mentalists like me in fancy clothes mingling with the rich and never had to budget for teabags).
I would love to meet a lot of you in person. And, in my own narcissistic way, I also wonder what you’d think of me in person. I vary wildly depending on what mood I’m in, as most people do. Sometimes I am utterly withdrawn, almost belligerent, tingling with agitation, and sometimes I am forthcoming and funny. However, I am always shy, I just deal with it in different ways.
If I’ve missed you off my list, don’t be offended. It feels rather cruel of me to make the list in the first place. I am getting better at keeping in touch and responding to e-mails so if you ever do want to talk to me, e-mail me and I shall happily respond.