I just found out my best friend has bipolar

I just found out my best fried is bipolar. She was the one who told me. I am fearful that this may be the end of our friendship. What are the signs that she will give me to say that our friendship is over? Should i continue if she does not want to be best friends anymore or should i just quit? Can i get some more scope on how to maintain our friend? I really love her.

Let me begin by saying, it shows how much you really care about your friend by being concerned about this.  Having bipolar is very difficult at times and being friends with someone who has bipolar can be almost as difficult.  Having bipolar means there are going to be times your friend is going to feel really happy and energetic (manic).  She may feel on top of the world, like she can conquer the most difficult task.  These are times it may be easiest to be her friend.  She will want to be out in the world, doing things, socializing, talking to all hours of the morning.  However, there are also little demons that come with mania such as rage and agitation.  It is easy to go into a rage fit when you are manic if you are not on proper medication.  Agitation and irritability are even easier and more common than rage.  Or at least that has been my own personal experience.  When and/if your friend is feeling these things she may lash out at you and say things she doesn’t mean.  She may even tell you at some point during these times that she doesn’t want to be friends anymore.  Just give her some space and hang in there.  Let her know you are still there for her if she needs you.  When we’re in a certain mood we may say something we regret later and it may be hard for us to admit, but we feel terrible about it.

Another mood swing to watch out for is the lows (depression).  When your friend is going thru a low cycle she may not want to socialize very much.  She may not want to go out much, maybe not at all.  She may not want to talk much either, then again if you’re the one friend she can depend on; you may be the one person she does want to talk to.

I had quite a few friends when I found out I was bipolar.  Because of my mood swings I ended up alienating them and most of them disappeared.  I have maybe five people who are still my friends after five years of being diagnosed, only one of them I am really close to and talk to frequently.  I talk to her whether I’m manic or low.  She has rode out many mood storms with me and took a few verbal beatings that I have later reluctantly apologized for.  There have been times I have pushed her away put she has always stood by me.  She gets me and she has learned to read my moods.  When I came to the conclusion that I could no longer handle being in crowds so we could no longer frequent night clubs, she stood by me.  When I bailed on her and wouldn’t attend her parties for fear of the other people there, she stood by me.  These are possible things your friend may experience at some point.  She may not, bipolar affects each of us differently, but if you are going to stand beside her thru this tough time in her life you must be willing to walk down the rough, thorny, overgrown path with her.

One thing to take into consideration is medication. Once your friend is on the proper medication cocktail that makes her fairly stable, her mood swings should get fewer and less often.  She should be more leveled out and it would be easier to be around her.  It takes a little while to find that “just right” med cocktail however.  It took about 6 months for me I believe.  It takes longer for some, shorter for others.  Its very rare that the very first medicine they put you one is the right one that works for you and even if it does work, it takes time to work up to the right dosage.  So just have patience with your friend while she tries to figure out her new lifestyle.  Bipolar takes a lot of getting used to.

I’m sure there may come a time your friend may try to push you away during one of her mood swings.  But if you care as much as I’m sure you do, just give her a little space and ride it out.  If you learn to read her moods (be able to tell what kind of mood she is in) it will be a big help to your friendship and probably save a lot of arguments and stress.  It will also help you to know how to help her better because it will let you know what she needs from you, whether she needs a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or a little space.  Just because your friend has been diagnosed with bipolar doesn’t mean you have to lose her.  I’ve got one of the best friends in the world and she has been my friend since way before I found out I had bipolar.  It is possible to salvage friendships thru this disease if the friendship is strong enough.

Thanks for the great question.  I hope things work out with you and your friend.  If you have any more questions in the future about bipolar please don’t hesitate to contact us again here at www.askabipolar.com

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