I never speak for all alcoholics or people with bipolar illness. My experiences are not the same. My thoughts are not the same. But, there is enough similarity that we who identify ourselves with one another can help each other. For addicts in particular, there is an uncanny ability to read one another. There is a desire to disengage and isolate.
I think people who haven’t had life changing suffering, cannot relate as well to those who suffer. I wonder if that is why addicts and those with mentally ill scorn the church. I don’t know. It’s hard to be friends with someone who never spent a night puking up their guts, arose with misery and started the whole thing over again…over and over with the minutes, day and years being consumed with it all.
Further, I don’t understand others, their own trials. On some level I have empathy and I know my empathy is not as great as the ones who are suffering in ways I haven’t suffered. I’m aware enough to say that people don’t understand without judging them for not understanding. Francis I. Anderston – “true words can be thin medicine for a man in the depths.’
When my former husband had an occasion to be hospital overnight, there was a man in his room who was just completely out of it, dying, not understanding where he was. He kept yelling out for help all day and all night. I was there for a visit and he asked me over and begged me to help him get out of there. ‘Throw my legs over the bed, I’ll do the rest!’
You see, if I could throw my legs over the bed, wouldn’t I have done it by now?