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Dec 3, 2007

Hello Fellow Bipolar "Saints",

My name is Bob Semk ("prowling_wolf" on Care 2).  I was diagnosed with bipolar/anxiety in 1990 even though I knew smething wasn't quite right with me as long as I can remember.

I have been through many meds, many pdocs, and quite a few therapists.  Every time I think I have this disease down, I fall into a depression or hike up into mania.  My current therapist told me I should be couseling him!

Recently a friend of mine, Jim, who I had known for about 6 months flipped out on me.  We were close in age and had quite a bit in common.  I even told him that he was the best friend I ever had (I'm 50).  One night he went "crazy" and did a complete 180.  He ordered me around like a soldier would order a prisoner.  He called me offensive names, threw me around like a rag doll, and eventually had a knife at my neck along with a choke hold. He would then pause, cry and apologize.  When I addressed him he would hit or kick me.  This happened on 2 occassions and both times I was able to get to my neighbor's house to call 911.

I recently took the stand to testify against him.  He's facing up to 7 years in prison.  I'M HAVING A HARD TIME!! I try to tell friends and family that I know who Jim realy is and he's suffereing from some sort of mental Illness.  NO ONE will listen.  They all want him to go to prison.

I was told by the DA that I may go before the judge and give my opinion of what should happen to Jim.  I'll tell the judge NOT to put him in prison but, rather, a psychiatric hospital so he can get well.

Yes, he hurt me BADLY.  Most of the time he treated me as his best friend -- even calling me "Brother".  I don't feel like abandoning him in a time a desperate need.  I, as you, know what it's like to have a mental illness.  I believe Jim is suffering from a mental illness also.  Although he assaulted me twice, he wrote painful poetry of wanting out of the "prison" in his mind.  He confided in me about about childhood abuse and often just put his head on my shoulder and sobbed.

Does this make sense to anyone?  I'd welcome your feedback!  I'm hurting badly.  I don't want to send my friend to prison.


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Posted: Monday December 3, 2007, 6:03 am
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Elizabeth Irving-Waddleton (4)
Saturday January 5, 2008, 1:39 pm
Dear Bob,
He probably is mentally ill, maybe even bipolar like you... He might even be a rapid cycler, someone whose emotions hop up and down constantly, so he loses control. Another possibility could be that he's taking drugs which are causing his emotions to swing. Do you know him well enough to be certain he's not?
I think I know how you feel because I have several friends who are mentally ill who sometimes "lose it." (One pushed me off my seat to the floor in a restaurant and went running off. My father often hit me when I was small; he, too, is mentally ill.)
As a bipolar, you yourself are vulnerable, so your first priority is to protect yourself. Unless you are stable, you can't help your friend.
Right now, it sounds like he's dangerous. If he is violent, maybe he should be in jail. When you testify, try to be clear that you think his behavior was an abberation and that you're worried about him. Lying about what happened won't help him, however: he needs to learn to take responsibility for his own behavior, even if it means being jailed so he can start to admit he has a problem and can start helping himself.
As much as it hurts, avoid him for a while. You need to care for yourself first--this is not a betrayal, but rather a necessary priority.
When he's able to be a true friend again, let him know what you can and cannot tolerate. Explain why you may have to withdraw from him sometimes. Do your best to always be clear with him.
As a loyal and supportive person, you deserve someone who can appreciate and return your friendship.
'Hope everything works out for both of you.
Be content. **E

Judy M. (0)
Wednesday June 23, 2010, 1:10 pm
Hi Bb, It's good of you to share your story and I know exactly what you're going through. My brother was the same way, one day my best friend and the next day yelling at me and crying for no reason. It has nothing to do with you in the least, so don't take his outbursts personally. It took a few years, in and out of jail and mental health centers, but my brother did get treatment for schizophrenia and is quite stable now. My belief is that your friend will be seen by a psych. and get the meds he needs. As long as he hasn't killed anyone yet, he should be able to stay out of prison on grounds of insanity. But he will have to cooperate with the medical staff and possibly stay at a treatment center, then a group home or assisted living situation. Meds take a while to adjust and reassess, so you'll have to be very patient with him. Don't try to argue with him, just tell him you know how he feels, etc. I hear ya' is all you have to say. Write down everything you remember about strange behaviors including dates. This will help the lawyer a great deal. Good luck, and keep us posted as life unfolds. Your friend, Judy (MyGeneration)


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