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I Left Them, They Didn’t Leave Me

When I was young I had many close friends. They were the kind of friends that could talk about anything, or spend long hours without saying anything at all.

When I became ill they seemed to all fall away. I attributed this to stigma and have harbored hard feelings for a very, very long time. I think a lot of folks living with serious mental illness have felt this way.

Since I became ill I have spent a lot of time alone. I seemed to have forgotten how to feel lonely.

Often I spend long hours lost in my own, sometimes flawed, thoughts.

Recently, I got to thinking about my old friends. I found myself missing them, yet, at the same time, angry at them for leaving me.

Then it occurred to me. My friends did not leave me. I left them. Further, it occurred to me that I not only left them once, but twice. First, the uncontrolled symptoms of mental illness obscured the person they knew. Then, when my symptoms cleared, I chose a life of seclusion. After awhile the phone stopped ringing and the mail box was chronically empty.

I wanted to share this so others like myself will not make the same mistake. I think my life would have been much richer if I had recognized my error sooner.

I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to reconnect with the world I would have to make the first move. I have made a start. I sent an e-mail to one of my old friends I had not seen for twenty years. My old friend immediately responded and the twenty years that had passed seem to be melting away with each letter.

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