I think everyone should have a friend like Raz.
Well, perhaps not everyone. Not everyone would be prepared to put up with his eccentricities, but I think many of us would appreciate someone who challenges us, almost daily, to reach, to strive, to give more than we think we can and to achieve what we never would have considered for ourselves; someone who shifts us outside our comfort zone into strange territory.
We had a strange and silly conversation last year; a competition to see who could come up with the most "twelves". Twelve Days of Christmas, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Twelve Disciples and so on. Out of this, came my challenge: I was to write a series of twelve short stories, one for each month of the year. I took on for myself – or perhaps the stories dictated it to me - the themes of death and rebirth; endings and beginnings. Each story is exactly a thousand words, meaning the writing is succinct and tight and it's some of the best work I've ever done.
He's got me writing poetry again; he's got me reading Middle-Welsh Arthurian legends as I try to solve a certain puzzle; he's got me designing and drawing and painting. I even dressed up as the octopus witch Ursula from the Little Mermaid and filmed myself singing along to the song "Poor Unfortunate Souls!" Now, that bit of video footage will never be shown to a public audience!
Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I tear my hair out and yell at him. "Why can't you be like normal people? Why can't we have a normal friendship?"
And the answer to that is, even if there were such a thing as "normal", Raz could not fit in that box, and I would not love him as I do if he did. Raz is not "normal". But then, neither am I – and neither are you.
People are just – people. We can categorise ourselves into Introverts and extroverts, hunters or gatherers, an ESTJ on the Myers Briggs scale, or a Type 9 on the Enneagram; but with each categorisation we merely further confirm our uniqueness.
You are here, reading this, probably because you self-identify as having depression, or bipolar disorder. But you are unique in the way you exhibit that depression or bipolar disorder – and unique in ways far beyond that.
We all want our "tribe", the people who are "just like us", the people we can identify with, who share the same interests and values, but we cannot expect the people in our tribe to be our identical twins.
Sometimes it is good to look beyond our immediate horizons and engage with the strangers out there. There are people out there we might view as very strange indeed; we might be nervous or even fear them, but they are just - people.
A stranger might not be a friend you have not yet met, but they might just, maybe, perhaps, become a very strange friend indeed.
A Moodscope member.