I have this friend of mine, he was a former course mate and we can call him J.
J called a week ago saying he wanted to come stay with me for a few days and I said no problem buddy come home I'm always around.

When he came around he sounded quite different than the J I used to know. The first thing he said when I opened the door for him was "Do you know God?" and I was like "Hunh... Is that the latest javascript framework?". With my reply I was expecting laughter as a response but seems like buddy is serious.

J: Are you ashamed of him?
Me: What's up man? Jesus ain't coming anytime soon *still joking*.
J: Yes, he is. And we...
Me: Okay. Cut the crap man.

That night was quite long as we argued religious stuff front, back and center. I asked him why he became so religious but his response wasn't really clear. What I could sense from the discussion was "he's in it for the money" because while we were arguing he mentioned that God spoke to him that he would own a Mercedes Benz this year, so for that he created a WhatsApp group luring people to join to receive gospel messages and in turn ask them to sow seeds and make offerings all in the name of God. I was both pissed and perplexed by such an act of selfishness. Why don't you just get a real job, I asked J, and he said the jobs he could find doesn't match his taste :/

The religious argument continued to day 3 and I wasn't feeling it because it has affected my work as I couldn't even concentrate on most task that was supposed to be completed that week. I called him the next day and told him he shouldn't come to my place if he won't boycott the religious arguments we normally have at night because those are my working hours and the arguments wasn't helping matters. I ended the call when I got no response.

Throughout the rest of that day I felt guilt for what I had said to him, maybe there would have been a better way of putting out my reasons to him or atleast allow him arrive home before telling him what I just told him. I felt really bad that night, so the next day I tried to reach so he could come around when he's available but his line wasn't going through.

Few hours later I got a call from another friend we can call E.
--- E: Hey, have you seen J lately.
Me: Yes, he has been with me for few days now.
--- E: Is he there now.
-- Me: No he's not.
--- E: I need to let you know what's up. J isn't feeling okay. He has been with me for quite a while but recently this year he started acting strange. I think he has some mental issues.
-- Me: Mental what?
--- E: Yes. One time he pulled of his shirt running towards the street. I asked him where he was going and he said "they're calling me... they're calling me".
-- Me: That must be serious, I never paid attention I just noticed he was acting too religious.
--- E: Yes man. It took some time before I myself realised what was going on.
--- Me: So what do we do?
--- E: I've spoken to his brother and we also informed the police he was missing, I never knew he was with you.
--- Me: I'll try reaching out if I find him I'll get in touch.
--- E: Okay.

Hanging up the phone, I have never felt so broken in my entire life. All through those time I was arguing with someone in need of help.
How could I not have known. I'm stupid... I'm stupid... I'm stupid! I kept stumping my palm on my head. Shame unto me.
There were moments in our arguments with signs of clear red flags, some things he said wasn't just right but I ignored just to win the arguments. At one point he claimed he was God, at another point he said he doesn't need to work to become rich that money will visit him, he said some really bizarre things if I was observant enough I would have noticed but fuck me I didn't.

Next day, I got a call that he has been found and has been taken to a psychiatric hospital. He was suffering from bipolar disorder. When I got there, he no longer recognises me. This was the same person we both argued few nights ago.
This short experience was devastating for me. I cried like a baby right there in room filled with his family and some other friends.

No one knew why I was crying, it was just me and my guilty conscience. This would have been prevented atleast a little if I had acted differently. I can't hug him now... It's of no use. I can't tell him how great a friend he is and and how much he deserves the world now because it would be useless.

I pray day and night that he gets well soon and I could tell him how sorry I am for not realising he had a condition unknown to me.
I get to visit him twice a week and hope he gets back to the J I've always known, my buddy for life 💑

For anyone reading this:
Sometimes the people around you might look okay from the outside but I promise you there is a lot going in on the inside. Show love to whoever call you their friend and also don't take arguments personally (I failed this test), some people uses arguments to validate theirselves and some might not be as sane as you think.

  • 3
    Well, your actions couldn’t prevent his illness.
  • 0
    @aviophile I think I could have helped in some ways had I have known earlier.
  • 5
    You don't need to feel guilty for what you've done, looking back you've taken the most sensible and rational decision you could make at each step. Even though the culmination of those steps didn't end up being helpful for your friend J, no one should blame your past self for doing what you felt was right.
  • 1
    Adding to everything said above, it's weird that you act totally different just because he's not a jerk but a mad man. It does not make him a good friend either way.
  • 3
    He's damaged. You're not a trained mental health counselor, that's why you didn't twig to what was happening. You approached it as a friend, because that's what you are. And chances are you're suffering from some form of Stockholm Syndrome. Give it time, and you will stop feeling the guilt.
    He didn't intend to rope you in, remember, he's not well. And remember, you ARE well...
  • 4
    There's no way you could've known. You can see and hear sane people say some crazy shit all the time, and we are all trained from a young age to accept religion as something normal. So no one could be sure if he had problems or were actually converted like that.

    Loosing someone to a mental illness is in some regards worse than loosing them to death... You can still see the person, but you know he's not there anymore... It's rough...

    Not sure about bipolar disorder, maybe there's a way to get that under control? I don't know, but I wish you and your friend tons of luck with this :/ you're a good friend
  • 2
    You are too precious 🥺 It's unknown how your arguments with J affected him, but I'd also consider a possibility that they actually *prevented* this ill buddy getting himself in more trouble.
  • 1
    In fact, what if your time is helpful? You've bought it by engaging in argument, so J didn't go to some overly religious freak in his weak state. I'd imagine it would be worse if you just ignored his need. You did just good!
  • 2
    Unless you knew about the signs of a bipolar disorder or similar ones, there's no way you'd have been able to see he was mentally ill and just saw that he had unusual behaviour.

    Now, you could have possibly taken a step back, not had tunnel vision on religion and tried to put yourself in his shoes.
  • 1
    @Hazarth some of your statement actually depends on how you define a "person" 🤔
  • 1
    So now you pray?
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