My friend The Veteran has been giving me a kinda spooky vibe lately, mental-health-wise. And a while back when I was over there, she casually mentioned that she’s gone off her mood stabilizers.
I think she really needs to go back on them again. But I don’t know how to tell her. I’m afraid she’ll get angry at me if I tell her, or think I’m picking on her or something. I mean the fact that she’s off her meds in the first place implies that she doesn’t think she needs them, so…
But I’m afraid she’ll (eventually) get angry if I don’t point out that she’s going off the rails, too. She’s been making a bunch of posts on Facebook today. Like, a bunnnnch. Long, rambling, borderline conspiracy-theory type posts, to which she (and usually only she) replies multiple times because apparently she realized she had more to say. Some of the posts are about art modelling, and really stress the awful parts of the job and how hard it is and stuff. And she’s Facebook friends with some work people so I worry that her disparaging rambling might cost her some work.
The Veteran is bipolar (and I suspect what’s going on here is mania). Mine is also bipolar (and managing it with medication), and I texted him a few weeks back asking him what I should do. He said if I confront her, I need to have actual evidence to present – that just saying “you seem weird” probably won’t be an effective argument. He makes a good point, but I don’t know what to say.
What first tipped me off about a possible issue is the way The Veteran would talk about her apartment when I was over. She lives in a studio/loft type space, and when I first met her it was fully of interesting, salvaged old furniture and knicknacks but basically tidy. At some point over the last few months it’s turned into that garbage dump from the movie Labyrinth. It’s not clear to me whether The Veteran had accumulated new stuff or taken pre-existing belongings out of a bunch of trunks and nooks and hidey-holes and laid them out to take stock of them, but the entire apartment is just piles of stuff. Piles on every table, every chair. Piles on the couch. Piles on the floor. Literally as high as my shoulder, and I am six feet tall.
Recently, her landlord popped by and saw the state of the place. He told her the place was a fire hazard and she needed to do something about it ASAP. He gave her a weekend. She enlisted me (and some other friends) to help. She had me flattening out a bunch of cardboard boxes and lining them up neatly in a bigger box, filing cabinet style. As I did this, she spoke to me rapid-fire about how the landlord thinks she’s a hoarder but she’s not and just you wait, when she’s done with the studio and has it the way she wants it, everyone will know that she’s actually a genius and that they should never have doubted her. She kept talking about some big plan that was coming together. Maybe you had to be there but the way she talked was making the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
When I finished breaking down the huge pile of packaging she’d given me, I assumed she would want me to put it out with the recycling. I asked her where her building keeps that stuff and she said no, none of that stuff was being recycled, it was being upcycled. She gave me a speech about how we should all reuse things, and how objects with a history to them are so much cooler than brand new consumer goods and she was on a campaign to teach people this. She said she was going to use these packages to make stationery and she’d sell the stationery and that would be her ticket out of poverty. Most of what I broke down was cigarette packages. I can only guess that she is planning on trying to sell people used, cut-apart cigarette boxes so they can write on the blank side. Also she had me save all the cellophane from outside the cigarette boxes and the paper from inside because “it might be useful for something.”
So, y’know…I’d say her landlord is right and she is a hoarder. In that she is literally keeping bags and boxes of trash in her living space. But a) she genuinely sees this as an awesome commercial venture and b) she was already a bit of a hoarder even at the best of times (she has three broken sewing machines, for instance, and she doesn’t even know how to sew…when free shit is available she’s powerless not to take it). So I don’t know how to cite the hoarding thing as evidence of a manic episode.
I’m not sure how to cite her torrent of Facebook posts as evidence, either. “So heyyy…you’ve been making a lot of Facebook posts within a very short time and they’re all very very long and barely comprehensible and then on top of that you reply to them with more rantings and ummmmmm that’s…not normal…” just makes it sound like I’m gaslighting or something. And I can’t be like “compare your posts now to your posts from a year ago” because she’s only just now started using Facebook again after a long hiatus.
How do you convince a malfunctioning brain that it’s malfunctioning when part of the malfunction is that it convinces itself that everything is normal when it’s not?
Maybe she’s self-aware enough that if I point this shit out she’ll be like “Ohhhh shit, yeah, I’ve gotten off-track. Thanks for pointing that out.” But I somewhat doubt it.