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I could not have never survived the beginning years with my illness (bipolar disorder) if it hadn’t have been for Jessica, a woman with whom I taught.

She was my best friend in Pennsylvania.

We made dinner together every night. We spent our free time together. My boyfriend had copied all of the Mary Tyler Moore episodes onto videotape, and we watched every single episode together.

Jessica was my confidant, the person to whom I expressed all my new-found paranoia and bitterness over this bitch of a disease.

In short, we were inseparable.

When I couldn’t sleep, she’d run her fingers through my hair to relax me. She’d remind me to take my medicine. She’d laugh with me.

Still in our twenties, we were the youngest people in the English Department. We loved to make jokes about the odd group with whom we taught.

If you’ve got this disease, and you want to get through it alive, get a friend. You’ll need a friend. Someone you can count on.

I was lucky. I also had my family. And my psychiatrist. I wasn’t seeing a psychologist at that time, but if I had been, I would have relied on her too.

You will definitely need a support system to see you through.

I sent Jessica a Christmas card this year, and she sent one to me. Still in touch, we’re still close. You don’t go through what we went through and not remain close.

We’ll probably always be friends.

I owe her a lot.

My life, in fact.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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