While I was in hospital, my dearest friend Leanne was undergoing chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer. A horrendous journey that she and her family went through, and although she has finished her chemotherapy (and is now cancer free!!) she still walks the tough road every day while she recovers physically and emotionally from the cancer.
For the best part of three months Leanne and I were unable to see each other (the longest time we have ever been separated), and although we had conversations on the phone and by text, we weren’t able to physically be there for each other. The funny thing is, our friendship and our bond has grown stronger by our experiences. As Leanne put it today “no one out there understands what it was like for us to go through hell this year”. And she’s right – they don’t.
I may not understand what it is like to go through chemotherapy, but I do understand what it is like for no one out there to understand what you are going through. She may not understand what it is like to be bipolar, but she knows how it feels to be depressed and alone. We understand each other in a way that others may not.
And now, although the fire has been fought, there is still work to be done for both of us. This is something I think a lot of people tend to forget. Just because you have finished chemotherapy does not automatically mean you are cured. Far from it. The body needs time – a lot of time – to recover from the hell it has endured. The mind needs time to process all that it has been through. Likewise, just because you have been discharged from hospital does not mean that everything is suddenly ok. At the moment I feel I am in a constant juggling act, trying to keep on top of my emotional wellbeing.
But despite the past year, when I get together with Leanne I laugh more than I do with anyone else out there. We have the exact same warped sense of humour that I’m fairly sure nobody out there understands. We bake and we laugh and we watch TV, and yeah we talk about the hard stuff, but we talk about the fun stuff too.
Friends are the family you choose, and I think I have chosen well. Bipolar, and many forms of mental illness, carry such a social stigma. As much as I should be honest and comfortable with what I have been through, when I am faced with someone I’m not sure I trust I find myself telling them that I suffered post natal depression, and conveniently skip over the psychotic, neurotic, manic bits. I don’t want to be remembered as ‘the crazy one’. But with Leanne and her family (who I trust wholeheartedly), I’m not the one who went crazy, I’m just Rachael. Just like Leanne to me is just Leanne – not the girl with Cancer.
What I am trying to say is that one thing that has helped me on this journey is my friendship with Leanne. The road is much less lonely when you have someone to laugh with, talk with and cry with. Life is so much more enjoyable when you are sent amusing texts and facebook posts (or voicemails that merely say “we’re doomed!” ;)) And as Pooh Bear once proclaimed “it’s so much more friendlier with two!”
So thank you Leanne for everything you have done for me, and for all the ways you have helped me. I appreciate it more than I can express. Love you lots my sister from another mister 🙂