THE FRIEND WHO WENT TO PRISON – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Many of my friends over the years have had psychological issues. My friend Nanc took the prize in that category.

I met Nanc at a book club at my town library. She was well read and interesting, which is what attracted me to her in the first place. She was also opinionated, pushy and talked all the time. She had no filter or mute button. It always seemed like she was on uppers.

As I got to know her, I realized that she was often irrational and out of control. She could not control her own behavior or her mouth. She had poor judgment and little understanding of the consequences of her actions or words. At this point, I felt sorry for her and was trying to help her stay out of trouble. I am intimately familiar with Bipolar Disorder and in my lay opinion, that’s what was at the root of Nanc’s problems.

Nanc had a messy divorce and was very bitter about her ex. She was obsessed with this man. At one point, she grabbed his phone and threw it in the toilet. That was called an ‘assault’ when the ex reported her to the police.

Nanc texted him and called him constantly, leaving inflammatory messages. She was often strident, attacking and unhinged. Her ex got a restraining order against her, prohibiting her from communicating with him in any way. They still had to co-parent their four daughters together, so she basically ignored the restraining order.

The police came to her door late one night. Nanc fought with one officer and cursed at another at top volume. I think she also spat at one of them. She was carted off to jail in her nightgown, without her purse. It took her two days to contact her lawyer and her daughter to come and get her out.

This is when I came into the picture. Nanc had a court date regarding her attack on the police and her violations of the restraining order. She was frantic and hysterical — was alienating her lawyer. She somehow ended up at my house the night before the hearing. She also somehow didn’t have her car and had to borrow our spare car to get to court.

I went to court with her, along with another friend. We were there for moral support, but also to try to get her to behave calmly and reasonably in front of the judge. That didn’t happen. She went on a tirade in the courtroom and was ordered to prison. Immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars! I didn’t know they could even do that.

My first thought as she was being carted off, screaming, was that I had no idea where she had parked my car. Nanc managed to get me the keys and told her lawyer where the car was. All I had to do was find the lawyer, who left the courtroom with Nanc. And get someone to drive my car home while I drove the car Nanc had driven. OY! A minister and his wife who had also come to court for Nanc helped me and I got both cars home.

Nanc was sentenced to seven months in prison! One of her daughters had to come to my house to collect the stuff that Nanc had left there.

I visited Nanc twice in prison. That was an experience! She had no horror stories to tell about her stay in prison. Just sad stories about the women she met there. She took it upon herself to try to convince two women to get straight and get a job when they got out. She was one of the few middle class white women there and she became something of a guru to some of the down and out women there.

I stayed friends with Nanc for a while after she got out of prison. But she cycled hot and cold with me. She loved me one minute and I was the best friend she had ever had. Then, every few months, she’d turn on me and rant at me about not being there for her and for not treating her like I treated my other friends. Which wasn’t true.

After the third time this happened, I sent her copies of the identical negative, critical, attacking emails she had sent me the two previous times. I told her this was a clear pattern and that she needed to get psychiatric help.

I ended the friendship. I just couldn’t deal with the drama anymore. Her ups and downs and her hostility and paranoia was getting to me. I had too much of this Bipolar type behavior with my first husband and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. That may have been selfish of me, but she was not my responsibility.

Also, my husband said it would be grounds for divorce if he ever had to see her again or hear about her crazy life again.

Nanc actually thanked me for my email. It showed her, in black and white, for the first time, how she came across to others. She was grateful. She finally understood why she had so many problems in her relationships. She was also finally motivated to get proper medical help. I’m glad I was instrumental in helping her take the first steps toward getting herself and her life together, but I still didn’t want her in my life anymore. So I have no idea what happened to her.

This story has no ending. Sorry!

5 thoughts on “THE FRIEND WHO WENT TO PRISON – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. Actually it did have an ending. You did what you had to for your own mental health and sanity, and got rid of a toxin in your life. Sounds harsh, but who needs that kind of drama? I hope the woman got help and got the meds that mostly control bipolar disorder these days (as I understand it anyway). I worked with a woman who was bipolar and you could immediately tell if she hadn’t taken her meds..the contrast was striking. You also made me wonder, with your description of the woman’s hot and cold behavior and unprovoked ranting if my mother didn’t have a touch of that…she was never diagnosed, but privately I’ve come to believe she had borderline personality disorder. She had a difficult time keeping friends because she’d do exactly what your acquaintance did…blow hot and cold and sometimes attack those who had gone out of their way to help her. Things to ponder certainly. Great post! 🙂

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    • I think lots of people walk around with undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses. What you describe in your mother, the blowing hot and cold, usually indicates a cyclical disorder, like bipolar disorder. People who are just rotten human beings are rotten all the time. They don’t cycle in and out of being rotten. I’m glad that you see that I had to get this woman out of my life. You called her a ‘toxin’ and that’s exactly what she was, to everyone in her life. Her kids were trying to distance themselves from her and she gave them a very hard time. I sometimes wonder if she got the help she needed. But I tend to doubt that she would listen to doctors and stay on her meds.

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  2. Oh my, Ellin, what a situation! I’m surprised that they put her in prison when she clearly had mental health issues. There are some people that are just too taxing on us and it part of our self preservation to limit our exposure to them.
    Leslie

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    • If you didn’t put people with mental illnesses in prison, the prisons would be empty! The justice system will send you to a mental institution rather than a prison only for true insanity, like not knowing right from wrong, hearing and doing the bidding of voices in your head, thinking you’ve been abducted by aliens, etc.You have to be totally disconnected from reality. I’m glad you understand my decision to get this woman out of my life. I sometimes feel guilty about it, but I know I had to do it for my sanity and for my marriage. Tom was truly afraid of her and what she could do to our lives.

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