Laurie: my best friend when I was going through severe depression (before the perfect storm of my euphoric manic psychoses). He turned out to be a tried and true friend who stuck with me even as I went through the psychoses and into the emergency ward (several times). Besides my parents he was my only visitor to the psych ward, even brought me a card and flowers. Laurie: with his tie-dyed shirts, soft pudgy belly and eye brows too bushy for his face.

When I got out of the hospital I’d drive across town every day to his place. He served me his Baba’s famous borscht with fat dollops of sour cream. We slurped soup and munched on these heavenly white doughy buns and we’d have these deceptively uneventful conversations.

He’d gulped down a spoonful of soup and say “I saw this documentary last night on Stonehenge. Did you see it?” I’d keep my head down and barely nod.

“Amazing, huh? Built by aliens! Hmm! Soup good?” coaxing a word or two from me.

I’d offer a half smile and get back to mindlessly stirring my soup.

He never expected me to say much, was happy to share the silence. And then despite the comfort of the quiet or maybe because of it, I offered up small confessions. Simple but revealing quips like: “I’m not sleeping much” maybe or “I’m ashamed to be on medication”. He’d look at me, spoon in hand, nod and say “Oh,” and let me continue – if I wanted to. No judgement, no worried looks, just a quiet thoughtfulness and ease. He had a preternatural way of making feel normal, even though it had only been two weeks since I had run down the street naked in a psychosis babbling about God and the alien mother ship and then eventually picked up by police.

My biggest fear, I would eventually share with him, “I don’t know if things are ever going to get better.”

“They will,” he’d tell me, “but it’ll take time.” He knew I was going to be okay. How I don’t know, but he did.

The reassurances he gave me, the fact that he was happy to be with me, was the beginning of my own acceptance. Any of my other friends had been whittled away over the course of several psychotic breaks and the relentless depressions I endured. And the manias that may have made me the life of a party were the death of my friendships.

Friends like Laurie don’t come along very frequently, if at all. I was lucky. He was in my life for a reason and for no other reason than he wanted to be, even when I could barely tolerate my own company. Laurie, this blog is for you! 

© Victoria Maxwell 2012  Excerpted from the play 'That's Just Crazy Talk'

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