One of Dean's favorite things to do was watch his students. Not in a creepy way like the physics professor they just hired, but he just liked to get to know his students. By the end of the first class session, he could usually tell you their names, what their major was, and what kind of person they were. As people filed into the classroom, he couldn't help but smile. Things like this, things that brought on memories, were worth so much now.
At 6:05pm, he closed the classroom door and stood in front of the class. He was nervous, to say the least.
"Um," He started, lamely. "This is a support group for Bipolar Disorder. If you have this disease, or if you have a loved one who suffers, you are welcome here. This isn't Math 321, so if you're here for that, you can get out."
His awful joke actually earned a few snickers from the group.
"It's the first meeting, so I figured I'd start with telling you a little about myself. As a rule, if you want to share your story, that's great. If you don't, that's fine too. Support can come from simply being here." A few people nodded. "Well. My name is Dean. I teach literature here at the college. And…uh…five years ago, I met my soul mate. He walked into this very classroom, and I was immediately hooked."
If anyone had any qualms about him being gay, it didn't show. They just listened intently.
"When I found out he was bipolar, I….I went crazy researching. Not that I thought I could fix him or anything. I just…I needed to understand what it was like. I wanted to be with him so badly that I thought if I read everything I could, that I would be prepared. I wasn't."
This earned a few laughs, people understanding what he meant. This felt good. It felt good to talk.
"When we met, he was in a depressive episode. And I learned how to…handle those fairly quickly. But when the mania set in…I had no clue." He paused, eyes misting up. "It was hard. Not being able to help. Seeing someone you love so out of control. You don't know their suffering until…until way after the fact. After they've already crashed. Um. About two years ago, after cycle after cycle, bipolar psychosis set in. Even on good days, he could hardly function properly. One morning I had to keep reminding him how to brush his teeth and…and I did all I could to help him…I did. But…"
Dean trailed off, trying to compose himself.
"He's in a facility now. Something…long term. He has a roommate, even, whose name is Gabriel. Cas says…that's his name…Cas, he says that he's happy. That his meds are working. And that he'll get out soon. But I…I know better. I know that he probably won't be able to fully re-enter society, not completely. He stays there Sunday through Thursday. I visit him during the allowed three hour period. And he stays with me on Fridays and Saturdays. For all intents and purposes, I'm his legal guardian. I'm the only one who's stuck with him through all of this. He…" He pauses, then looks directly into the audience instead of at his hands. "He gave me an option once. He told me that he could feel his meds start to slip. He could feel his brain resisting meds. And he said….and he told me that I could walk away now, with no hard feelings. Or I could stick around and probably get my heart broken. But that's the thing. My heart isn't broken. Yeah, it hurts like hell sometimes. But…it's worth it. Because Cas, he's…he's getting help. That's what matters the most, I think. That I didn't leave him."
Silence filled the room. No one moved. Several people had tears in their eyes. Some were looking down at their shoes. Dean sat down, leaving the floor open for anyone else.
A girl stood up. She was average in all the major respects. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Average build. But Dean could see something in her eyes. It looked like hope.
"Hi…everybody," She started. "I…um…My name is Eden. I'm 19 years old. And I'm…I'm bipolar. I was diagnosed after I…I tried to kill myself."
As the girl spoke, everyone listened intently. Dean could see the passion she had for life, despite all her hang-ups. It made him wonder if Cas looked the same way at that age.
For the next hour, people shared and laughed and cried.
"Dean!" Cas nearly screamed when he saw him in the doorway to his room. "How was the meeting, did you have a good time? Did you talk about me?" He bit his lip nervously. "Did they like me?"
Dean just laughed and pulled Cas into a warm hug. The meeting had reaffirmed something that he had known for a while now. Cas made his life whole. They were made for each other. Of course, it wasn't perfect.
But what's life without a few ups and downs?