How Do I Make My Friend Understand?

I’m a 21 year old female. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years back, and it still seems to control my life. I take medication, I go to therapy, but I still struggle. I have a relatively new friend and he really seems to care about me, but I can’t help but pull him closer and then push him away. I don’t know why I do this, and I know it’s directly related to me being bipolar. I want to tell him this and want him to understand that when I act in ways that make no sense, it’s usually because I’m bipolar. I would tell him this, but I feel that he will think it’s just a cop out and that I’m using my disorder as an excuse. So, I’m posting this question in hopes that other bipolar people might be able to give me the words to explain who and how I am. I want this friendship to work, but it won’t if I keep acting like I do. Is this all my fault? Am I just using my disorder as an excuse? I need friends… I can’t seem to keep them around!
First thank you for the question. I would say you were lucky to be diagnosed so early as many people don’t realize or get diagnosed until they have spent years searching for an answer. It sounds like you have a good grasp on BP and your actions when you go on the highs and the lows. I will tell you that normally the people that I’m closest to are the ones that see my changes – others on the outside normally never do unless they just notice that I’m withdrawn and quiet. I do this so I don’t take someones head off. As to how to help your boyfriend and for the two of you to make this work it will take some work on both of your parts. He needs to understand what bipolar is and why you react like you do at times. My wife and I have been married going on 26 years and have been together for going on 28 years and at first it was the same as what you are describing. I had not been diagnosed yet and I sat down with her and explained what my feelings were and how things changed quickly for me. As far as I knew this was just normal for everyone and she was the one that pointed me in the right direction for help. She came with me to some of my doctor appointments and though it was years later before I finally got a diagnosis she started to understand that this is part of who I am. She made the decision to stick it out and God bless her for doing it because the good Lord knows that any other woman would have strangled me by now. LOL

So my suggestion here is that you sit him down and tell him first how much you care about him and give him a little overview of what bipolar is for you. You may want to start the conversation by asking what he knows about BP since there are so many misconceptions about the illness. I say this because you don’t want to try to explain it all at once or any guy is going to say “Oh God what have I gotten myself into.” Then tell him that you have an appointment with your Doc and you would like it if he would come along to get his input. I don’t mean this as a trick but to be 100% truthful you want his input to the Doc to help with your treatment. Let’s face it, others that are close to us see things that we either don’t, or won’t, admit to ourselves. My Doc always laughs when I tell him my wife told me I had to come because I was being such an asshole lately. While with the Doc, have your Doc give him some information on what BP is and how it effects people. You will find one of two things. One he steps us and says yes I can deal with this and I love you. This is part of you and part of who you are and I’m willing to do what I need to, to help and be there for you. Or two he is going to run in the other direction. If he does, he isn’t the guy for you. Being someone that still wakes up every morning and loves his wife more than the day before, if someone doesn’t accept you 100% for who and what you are, you need to keep looking. My parents always told me marry your best friend so that you can discuss anything with them and it still holds true today for everyone.

 I will wish you the best of luck with this and hopefully you have a keeper, but if not don’t take it to hard and remember there is a guy out there that is going to love you for each and every part of you no matter what and when you find him he will work with you on your BP and try to help you to stay stable and happy. Good luck!!!!

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