I Had No Friends Back Then

Although I have had several friends throughout my life, there was one particular time when I didn’t have (close) friends, especially when I would have appreciated it the most. My childhood was rough for several reasons, and that led to me feeling so alone in this world at times, even with friends. Luckily, I didn’t have many child experiences of being friendless. It was thanks to my difficult experiences in middle school with bullying and humiliation that taught me to diversify my friend groups in high school and later in college so that I’d be less likely to experience loneliness. But even then, it wouldn’t prepare me for later in my adult life, when I’d be facing health issues.

2017. I’ll never forget that summer. Not only did I fall ill, but all my so-called friends pretty much abandoned me or forgot about me. I didn’t realize it immediately, as I was caught up in the confusion of psychosis. But eventually in 2018 after my final hospitalization, it started to register that I didn’t have friends to call and share my hard times with, or even simply hang out with for a bit. My closest friend at the time called me crazy when I had confided in her, and she continued to verbally harass me as I was going through hospitalizations and treatment. Amid the confusion with my illness, I fell for her gaslighting, and still, I tried to amend things with her. She wanted nothing to do with me anymore. Five years of friendship down the drain. She didn’t even remember all those times I’d let her vent to me about things that honestly, she needed to be talking to a professional about. Hurt and traumatized, I closed myself off to the world. The meds didn’t help either at the time, causing me to feel numb. And the voice I was hearing turned negative and suicidal.

Family. Yeah, a lot of people told me at the time that I was lucky to have my family. But if anything, in that moment, my family were making things worse, stripping me of my autonomy. I could no longer make decisions for myself as a grown adult, being forced to the whims of their opinions. I suddenly had a helicopter mom, and my father was full of his own opinions. He was right of course, simply because he had his PhD. This is not to insult my parents, but that was the reality. They were too scared to let me make my own decisions regarding my treatment, my medications, my life, and more. I felt so alone, that no one understood me, and that somehow I was unfairly being punished or cursed by a higher power. (If you have ever heard a voice or experienced a split personality much later in life, you’d understand, it’s a fucked up situation.)

The worst was that I did have a companion, but not a good one. The “voice” was, as I mentioned, suicidal and negative. It not only appeared in my thoughts, but spoke out loud through my own vocals and would control my body movements and facial expressions. I was highly disturbed and distraught. I remember a whole year or so passed by so slowly, as if I were counting the seconds. The worst period of my life: 2018-2019… Brutal hell. No friends, as I mentioned. No one checking on me. The people that I knew were not close enough to confide in. Or, it had been several years since we had talked. How could I suddenly bring this up? I had already been burned by a supposed best friend…

I wouldn’t know it at the time. Sometime in early 2019, a young lady introduced herself to me and wanted to hang out. Although I was feeling numb, I thought that going out to get food sounded nice. For some reason, and thank goodness for this, food was one of my sources of pleasure. Maybe it wasn’t so great because it was probably my only source of pleasure at the time, but it gave me something to look forward to. Sleep became stressful, as I would experience frequent nightmares, and unfortunately, I was heavily sedated on these medications. I couldn’t even listen to music anymore; I no longer related to the lyrics and the songs would feel pointless or empty. But at least food sounded nice. So, I decided to hang out with her.

The whole time as we were watching a movie together in the theaters, I was distracted by the voice. At dinner, I tried to be social and ask questions. I still felt numb, like I couldn’t feel close to her or express my emotions. Well, I didn’t have any emotions. Again, this was due to my meds… had I known, I would have switched waaay earlier and maybe avoided those years of hell. But back to this person… I wouldn’t know it then, but over time, she would become one of my closest friends.

It took months though. We would hang out sporadically. She’d introduce me to her family. Somehow, I’d introduce her to mine (I typically would separate friendship from family). And honestly, although we were hanging out maybe once a week or so, I couldn’t feel close to her at all… not until later in 2020, when my meds were reduced and I could feel emotions again. And I could feel joy. And cry. The voice was also surprisingly, better. Much better. And I could connect with people again.

But I was nervous. How long would this friendship last? I’ve had so many friends before, and then I had none. And now I had one. One friend. One kind of a close friend. I didn’t want it to be ruined. And then, I started to have random thoughts, like oh, who am I gonna invite as my bridesmaids when and if I get married? And who am I gonna invite for celebrations such as my birthday? I mean honestly, who cares? Well, I cared… I was happy to have made one friend, one I could confide in, one I could hang out with, one who understood me, but… was it so wrong to want even just a few more? After those years of falling ill and having no friends to support me, would it be so horrible to ask for a supportive group of friends? I couldn’t fathom another time of possibly falling ill or facing some hardship, and going through years of it alone again.

Luckily… years later, this young woman is still my friend, and a very close friend at that. We have been friends for five years now. That was the same amount of years of friendship with my ex-best friend. And unlike that friendship, this one is actually healthy. Somehow, we’ve managed to never get into a fight. Maybe we’ve disagreed with each other, but it was always respectful. And, I’ve never felt inferior or put down by her. I’ve come to realize, that this is what a healthy friendship is supposed to be like. It was never supposed to be about unreasonable sacrifices, walking on eggshells, or constantly working to put out fires… And when I had my second psychosis, I was grateful that at least this friend was here for me, truly here for me. Maybe she was more knowledgeable or understanding of my condition than the ex-friend, but I also think she had a lot of maturity, and I was grateful for that.

And today, I can say that although there are varying levels of closeness, I now have several friends. Healthier friendships. Friends that I feel comfortable inviting for a birthday. Or someday a wedding. Or share my music progress with. Or just randomly call. And it feels amazing, because… I remember how toxic some of my previous friendships were. And I’m just glad that not only am I not lonely, which I’ll explain more of in a bit but… I’m glad that I have genuine friends who wish me well. I’m glad I don’t have friends who curse, threaten, or otherwise harm me. I know, that doesn’t sound like a friend at all, one who has negative intent. Yet, that’s what I knew of before. And by lonely, what I mean is… I can enjoy my own company now, sure. And I’m really glad that my treatment is working and that my voice is no longer negative or suicidal. But… I’m also glad that I have friends to turn to, whenever. I’m grateful when we can talk things out without the guilt-tripping, the gaslighting… no toxic behaviors. No toxic positivity either.

In a way, maybe I’m lucky. I’ve been able to rekindle some friendships from school and such. I’ve been able to meet new folks with similar interests. I’m under stable treatment. The voice is usually quiet, or it’s not harmful as it was in the past.

I liken friends to nourishment… We are social beings. There’s a reason we strive for connection. In the same way that we require food daily to sustain ourselves, going without human interaction for a long time is unsustainable. I’m gonna be completely honest with you. The only reason I made it through 2018-2019 without friends supporting me as I was ill, is because I was so fucking stubborn, lol. I refused to believe that my reality would be like this forever. There was just “no fucking way”. 😂 I didn’t believe that the pieces of my life would come back together on their own, but… I knew I was doing something right. And I was. My life was forcing me to take the trash out. I lost everything important to me at the time… and by persevering, I gained so much more.