Strangers In The Night

….actually, it was two older women, both of whom happened to be in the same store doing a little retail therapy during the early evening hours, when most of the harried moms and their screaming kids had gone home.

Having lost a rather significant amount of weight, I’ve found myself in desperate need of some pants that fit me. Everything I own is two or three sizes too big, and some of my work pants are so huge I could almost turn around in them. So I was browsing the plus-sizes and had gotten distracted by some very attractive tops, when a woman who looked to be a decade or so older than I gestured to me and pointed out a couple that she thought went well with my skin color.

Oddly enough, one of the tops she chose for me was a BRIGHT orange. I’m talking tangerine orange—no, I mean traffic-cone orange. It was so orange that if I’d fallen on my knees I’d have looked like the sun setting over the hills.

Still, she persisted in discussing the virtues of the orange top even as I demurred, and then I finally decided to throw in a little ha-ha about how my psychiatrist would probably commit me if I wore that color to his office (or anywhere else for that matter). I then explained that I was bipolar and wore really bright colors only when I was manic, to which she replied, “Oh my gosh, I’m bipolar too! Well, only a little, but I take meds and everything……..”

We proceeded to have a very nice conversation, admiring the vibrant colors of the leftover summer clothes and bemoaning the impending arrival of the colder months. She finally gave up on selling me the orange top and switched to a similar style in a pretty violet shade (I don’t really do purple either) which I also politely declined, but this time she gave up quickly and I picked out a couple of others that were a little more flattering.

She told me that her ex-husband was also BP, and that she’d had to walk on eggshells around him all the time because he could be nasty to deal with during his mood swings. Of course, I marveled at the fact that they were married for nineteen years, because I cannot even imagine being wed to someone like me—I’m afraid we’d kill each other! Then I told her my story about that hideous toucan-splashed tank top I bought during last summer’s crazy spell, and the way my doctor judges how manic I am at a given time (“Have you bought another yellow shirt yet?”)

Pretty soon her cell phone rang, and I used the opportunity to head for the checkout since I’d found four pairs of pants and two tops. But the incident got me to thinking: is there some kind of bipolar radar? I mean, I run into fellow BPers all the time…and it’s seldom I who initiates the dialogue.

What IS that?? It’s like we have magnets that attract others like ourselves…..otherwise, how do you explain the recurring situations in which there are two bipolars in a large crowded place, and the other one always seems to find me? It’s not like I walk up to people and say “Hi, my name is bpnurse and I’m manic-depressive”. But they always manage to sniff me out somehow, and I’m beginning to wonder if I give off some kind of vibes. (The term “flypaper for freaks” comes to mind, but not all mentally ill people are freaks. I’M certainly not a freak. And if you don’t believe that, just ask me.)

Just another somewhat amusing observation on a sultry summer night with the windows and screen door wide open to let in the breeze, and our 15-pound Pug mix dog on duty to warn off any marauders. Good times!

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

3 thoughts on “Strangers In The Night

  1. Hon, I used to think that I “attracted” mental illness too, but I keep thinking more that it’s just I’m more sensitive to people on the spectrum of mental illness. I often joke that DH is the only sane person I have in my life – almost all of my friends either have a diagnosed mental illness or have anxiety issues or family problems. I liken it to the idea that I’m easier to talk to and more perceptive than the average bumble bee.


  2. I totally agree with you. If there were one bp’er in one hundred people that one person
    Would manage to seek me out and talk my ear off. This is the reason. I will not go to groups.

    Funny thing is now that i am not able to walk without walker, Bp is no longer discussed!! Sorta like people can not be handicapped mentally if they ‘re handicapped physically. People are So nice to me now. It is amazing. I can be sitting here in wheelchair and having melt down over one of grands behavior and people do not blame me, they give the grand a. Look like how could you act out while your grandma is in wheelchair.
    Maybe i should not be trying so hard to be walking on my own?! Nah, i am very happy being Bipolar. That’s my story and i am ticking to it!

    Liked by 1 person

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