A Bipolar Love Story - Yes, It's Really True
Yikes Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. This hardly ever poses a problem for me, as I tend not to have someone to celebrate it with. This year is different. Allow me to backtrack:
A day or two prior to Valentine’s Day last year, I hit it off with a very lovely didgeridoo player. Let me explain. Back in December, I had attended my first didgeridoo gathering. There she was, by the outdoor fire, merrily honking away. I honked back, I’m not making this up.
We talked. She asked me what I did for a living. "If I tell you," I replied, "I will have to kill you." I was stalling for time. I couldn’t just say, I’m crazy and I write about being crazy.
"I - uh - am a writer," I began. "I - uh - write about mental illness. I - uh - have a depression and bipolar website. I - uh - have a blog."
There, I had barely revealed my name and already she knew I was crazy. No hope in hell she would be interested to me. i didn’t ask for her number.
Now here it was, two months later, different gathering, different fire. We found ourselves hovering around one another the entire evening. This time, I was smart enough to get her number. You know, uh, in case we wanted to practice didgeridoo together.
I planned on calling her Tuesday. On Monday, I discovered one of my revenue streams was about to dry up. This meant that I spent the next two days contemplating my future eating out of dumpsters. I could just imagine myself giving her a call:
"Hi, I’m the crazy didgeridoo guy. I’m a little short on funds right now, but I’ve got this Subway coupon that hasn’t expired and the Coke is on me. You doing anything on Saturday?"
On Wednesday - the day after Valentine’s Day - I was sort of pulling out of my funk. Time to give her a call. Her voicemail picked up. Crap! What do I say?
There is this very strange social custom that has to do with men taking the lead in initiating relationships. Not only that, we must do it displaying the same confidence as Custer checking out the neighborhood at Little Big Horn. Who made this rule? Keep in mind that as a species, we are too afraid to even ask for directions. So here I was, having to deliver a unrehearsed soliloquy, without so much as an empathetic prompt. Maybe it would have been different had her message gone something like this:
"Hello, Handsome. If you are the fascinating crazy guy I met at the didgeridoo gathering, yes, of course I would love to go out with you. Just say something wholly inarticulate and clumsy, which I will interpret as endearing and funny, and I will get right back to you."
Thank heaven I can’t recall the message I left. But, then to my horror, I realized I couldn’t remember if I said I would call her the next evening or whether I had left off with the suggestion that she get back to me. What was the etiquette for leaving messages, anyway? What if I called again and she thought I was stalking her? What if I didn’t call and she thought I was being a cad?
Decisions, decisions …
I called. A friendly voice answered. Instantly, the two of us fell into an easy conversational flow. We yakked and yakked. Then she came up with the suggestion of getting together on the weekend. Actually, it had been my suggestion. As I now recalled, my voicemail babble to her had mentioned the possibility of an afternoon walk in the park. You know, a good place to play didgeridoo.
I put down the phone. She said yes! I exulted. By now, I had totally forgotten I had ever been in a funk.
We met in the park. This is San Diego’s magnificent Balboa Park, with great gardens and museums. We walked around and took in the scenery, then I suggested checking out the Museum of Man. Looking back, I now realize I had stumbled upon the perfect litmus test. Two minutes inside would tell me whether our interests were compatible or not.
We lit upon a display case of shrunken heads. "Look!" she exclaimed with the right combination of enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity, pointing out the fine stitching and perfect proportions of the display items.
Good sign, thought I.
We spent a good ten minutes in front of the shrunken heads, admiring the handiwork, talking about everything under the sun, carrying on as if we had known each other for years. All too soon, it was closing time. Moment of truth. "Are you hungry? I asked. "Do you want to grab a bite to eat?"
This was her chance to tell me that she needed to hunt for a sock she had lost in the dryer.
Yes, of course, she replied. Where shall we go?
That was when I knew I would be seeing her a second time. Now, here we are, nearly a year later, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.
As I like to tell her: You had me at the shrunken heads.
Further reading: 5 Rules for Bipolar Relationships
John is an author and advocate for Mental Health. He wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Depression and Bipolar Disorder.