“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 off, let me start with a resounding NO! It is NOT your fault! You did not ask to be diagnosed Bipolar, nor did you ask to be burdened with all the problems that come along with it. All these problems you encounter and are talking about-they are real. You are not just making excuses.
However, as comforting as it may be to know that you are not alone in all this, it is still difficult to handle it. Just knowing that you are not alone does not make it any easier to get and keep friends.
I know it seems as though Bipolar is controlling your life right now, but hopefully it won’t always be like that. You will probably always have to take your meds, but hopefully you will become more stable and you can decrease your therapy, if possible. The struggles will always come and go. I know that doesn’t sound to encouraging, but it will get easier.
Now, about your friend… It’s actually pretty common for people with Bipolar to have relationships that strengthen, then weaken, then strengthen again. Then weaken again, then… Oh, you get the point! Be straight forward with your friend. Tell him as much of the truth as you can. Explain to him that you will be experiencing mood swings, and that these swings have nothing to do with him. It’s important that your friend knows that he is not the cause of your moods. It’s also important to let your friend know that, while you may push him away at times, you will come back.
Keep your friend informed when you are having a mood swing-be it mania or depression. Let him know as soon as you can what is going on. If you can, voice your thoughts (I know, that can be really hard at times… But it can help a lot to just attempt to put a voice to everything swirling around in your head.)
There are tons of resources out there that your friend could read up on. NAMI has a lot of information about Bipolar on their website (http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Home_-_What_is_Bipolar_Disorder_.htm)
And here’s a post from this website that may assist your friend.
How to Help a Loved One
Also, let your friend know that he can e-mail any questions he has that you are unable to answer to us. We will gladly help yinz out!
So, bottom line here-be as honest with your friend as you possibly can. Keep him up to date with what is going on. And let him know that if you push him away, you will pull him back.