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Friendship Affidavit - Michele Parker Randall

We, the undersigned, hereby stipulate

to the fact that all brains contain tricky

wiring, can shut down or short-circuit

at any time. We stipulate to the fact

said friendship is null and void, retroactive

to the onset of any mental episode.*

In case it’s catchy.

*(episode herein defined as—breakdown, downturn, defect, error, reboot, short-circuit, psychotic break, reinvention, rewriting, re-inventorying, revision, crash, system failure, collapse, crisis, crack-up, fit, outburst, outbreak, outcry, explosion, eruption, frenzy, frailty, flaw, lunacy, limitation, attack, infirmity, disease, dis-ease, disability, weakness, witchery, debility, affliction, ambiguity, malady, infection, incapacity, ailment, disorder, bug, complaint, syndrome, sickness, illness, setback, hitch, glitch, snag, fault, failing, flailing, condition, challenge, problem, concern, difficulty, suffering, misfortune, trouble, malady, malaise, trouble, mischief, misery, injury, quandary, predicament, drawback, disarray, disarrangement, arrangement, muddle, turmoil, mess, mayhem, bedlam, behavior, unrest, disturbance, condition, imperfection, weakness)


“Friendship Affidavit” was inspired by a conversation about which friends (and family) stuck around and which ones ran for the hills after the first mental episode. I joked that maybe we need something like a pre-nup that gives people an “out,” and after thinking on this a few days, this poem began to take shape.

I thought about what a friendship affidavit would look like and what language to include. Truthfully though, it doesn’t matter how we redefine mental illness, or what language we find to soften or hide the diagnosis given, life with us can get hard and friends—and family—will disappear like it’s contagious. One person told us, “it’s just too real.” Yes, and?

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