I'm new here. I've been looking for a place to vent. Just need to "bend an ear" or two.
Side note, I'm bipolar, but on the depressive side. Haven't been manic for as long as I can remember.
I take 2 mood stabilizers, and as of yesterday, I started Wellbutrin after successfully being off anti-depressants since Feb 2009 (was on them since 1993). I'm nervous about
it, too, because the moment I got off the other antidepressants last year I started dropping weight, about
50 pounds in 7 months, and I don't want to gain any back. Anyway, I digress. Here's the reason I had to get back on an antidepressant:
I have a toxic friend. I've never had many friends in my life to begin with. When I was young we moved a lot and I was teased and bullied constantly - a big problem when you're 11, 12, 13 years old. Kids are evil to the "new kid" (didn't help that I was depressed, either - later diagnosed in my early 20's - incorrectly; it was actually bipolar disorder, diagnosed about
10 years later). Later in life it was hard to keep friends; either I alienated them when I was sick, or I didn't put enough effort in keeping them.
When I moved across the country about
12 years ago I started dating this guy (a "Mr Right Now") after my marriage fell apart. He introduced me to his next door neighbor and her husband. The guy didn't last of course but my relationship with the neighbor (mainly the wife) did. I'll call her "Karen" and her husband "Jack". They are loud, tacky Brooklynites. (No, I have no problem with NY. I'm from upstate, love NYC, have close family friends there, some family in the suburbs on my late mother's side, and have met lots of great people from there.)
Karen and Jack and I partied hard. We drank a lot and did I did a lot of stupid things that one would consider manic behavior during this period. Neither one of these people stepped in to help me. Finally I crashed and burned, literally shaking in my office at work one day. I had to go on disability. I was diagnosed as bipolar at that time and went through intensive therapy. Shortly after I returned to work I lost my job. But I had kicked forever and was on the path to getting better. I landed a new job and met a wonderful, drug-free man (I'll call him "Elliot") a few months after that. We married a year and a half later and are still together. During all these positive changes things seemed to be fine with Karen; in fact, she kicked coke too and she and Jack had a baby, and another followed shortly after. I know I had a lot of 'gossip material' for her during my rough times. I know she had told her friends about
my shenanigans. I expected that. Whatever. I'm not close to her other friends. I rarely see them.
Several years ago Elliot's parents put one of their houses up for rent (Elliot's childhood home) in their upscale neighborhood with the eventual intention to sell. They hadn't completely moved all their things out, and it still had the shag carpeting, you know, the whole 70's works (they were the first owners of the house, had it built). I offered to have Karen and Jack speak with Elliot's parents (of course I asked his parents first) about
renting the house while Karen and her family had their house renovated. I was a little taken aback to learn that Karen had managed to lower the rent pretty far, but at least my in-laws were getting a little income and they didn't have to rush to get started on their own renovations on the house. Plus, they were living in another house that they owned outright. They are, after all, in their seventies, they worked their entire lives to pay this house off, and the rent is financing their retirement. But, I pushed it aside in my mind.
Karen and Jack's house took a little longer than expected, so they needed the house for an extended period. No problem with my in-laws. When Karen's family's house was done, it was amazing how much money they sunk into it; I didn't expect marble counters (or granite, whatever the heck it is) and all that kind of stuff. It really flaunted their materialistic personalities, and I suspected they really couldn't afford this. One day Karen had expressed to me her disgust with the condition of my in-laws' house: as I mentioned, the ancient shag carpeting, the old, thick curtains, the cat dander, the live mouse that jumped out of the long-unused BBQ. I told her that I thought it was quite generous that the entire family got the chance to even live there, how the timing was perfect for them while they were getting their own house worked on, and the flexibility of the months my in-laws allowed them to stay. It really hurt my feelings. To top it all off, according to my mother-in-law, a couple of things ended up broken. I was absolutely mortified upon learning this. And I know the religious next-door neighbors must have had multiple coronaries with Karen & Co as neighbors with their loud talk, constant bickering and, oh, the cursing. And the neighborhood is very quiet in general to begin with. Can't speak for everyone else, but I was so glad when they moved out. At this point, Elliot's parents fixed the place up with new carpeting, paint, blinds and light fixtures. They proceeded to put it up for sale or rent.
It was around this point that my relationship with Karen was getting sketchy - but I didn't feel it yet. Now I'm verrrrry slow; it takes me a long time - a year or two, even, because I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and/or I ignore red flags - to realize that I am probably getting taken advantage of. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Karen's parents both died, and I don't think their deaths even occurred a year apart; I can't remember if her father had a heart attack, but her mother had lung cancer, Stage 4 when it was discovered, so she died only a couple months after the diagnosis. Karen inherited the house and a nice chunk of money. Shortly thereafter, Karen herself was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. It was discovered during a routine mammo while dealing with her parents' estate; an extremely stressful time for her. She had decided that she would start a tradition of a handful of us girls traveling on her birthday and make a big celebration of it. I agreed.
So that very year, for her birthday, several of us went to Vegas, where I'd never been. It set me back hundreds of dollars, and we treated Karen to a really expensive dinner. But, hey, she was really sick, and she is my best friend. Elliot didn't complain about
my spending. At the time, we both had jobs, though I had switched careers, so I was back on the bottom rung as far as the paycheck situation, but he has always made good money. The funny thing was (sorta), I was literally at the airport, waiting for our flight home from this darn trip, when I learned that the company I worked for had shut down. I had to find a job immediately. After 3 weeks of one that I ended up hating, I found another.
While going through the above-mentioned job situation, Elliot's parents had told us they were still having a lot of trouble unloading the house, and had mentioned the possibility of renting it to us. Elliot and I never even gave the house a thought once Karen's family moved out, so this was interesting news. Xmas time 2006 rolled around and they handed us the keys. We absolutely couldn't believe what was happening. Do I need to tell you our decision? We moved in a couple days before the New Year, 2007. (Shortly thereafter, I had a brief stint in the hospital, but pulled myself together - but that's another story.)
But, after that Vegas trip, I found myself paying for a lot of things when Karen and I went out, mainly lunch and bar tabs (she got really drunk pretty often, and that's pricey, particularly at the places she chose to go). It never occurred to me that I may be going overboard. But, she's going through a lot, with chemo, hair loss, the whole thing. I made breast cancer awareness jewelry, sold it on ebay, and gave some of the proceeds to a well-known cancer foundation in her honor. I was there for her when she wanted to let loose.
For Karen's following birthday, same thing. We went to Vegas again. This time I lost my darn wallet (something about
Vegas!) when getting out of the cab. Depression hit me hard, and I had to use Karen's credit card the entire weekend - including borrowing money for another lavish birthday meal for her. I actually spent one entire day alone in the hotel room, completely miserable. Incredibly, 2 or 3 weeks later, I got the wallet back, fully intact. Why the stupid cab driver didn't turn the wallet into the hotel concierge is beyond me (!!), but the stupid cab company shipped the thing to me. And Elliot paid Karen back, and was kind enough to add $100 for the trouble. Am I (actually Elliot in this situation, he was raised right) a good friend to her, or what?
Now I don't remember when this occurred exactly, but at some point, Karen suggested that we take turns covering the lunch/bar tabs when we go out. Took me awhile to fully realize it, but I found myself automatically picking up the check a majority of the time. And when a lot of alcohol is involved, it adds up. (I may have been stuck on the "She has cancer" thing in my mind - but actually, she had beat it at this point! She was done with chemo, her hair grew back, and she is now on year 5 being cancer-free.) I wish I never agreed to this stupid arrangement.
Folks, this gets worse, and I've already written a book here. Shall I continue?
Post Edited By Moderator (getting by) : 7/14/2010 5:09:17 PM (GMT-6)