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Bipolar as Love Thief: Discarded Because I Am Bipolar

June 3, 2010 Natasha Tracy

In a world of education and tolerance, bipolar disorder shouldn’t thieve love from my life. But it does. Bipolar disorder slips into everything.

After my last post, where I commented on my fear around being bipolar in public, a discussion came about regarding attitudes, and how I’m the same as everyone else. Well, I beg to disagree. I’m crazy. And the implications of that are undeniable.

In a world of education, political correctness, and tolerance, it seems like the fact that I’m sick shouldn’t rob pieces of me, pieces of my life. It shouldn’t affect my work. It shouldn’t affect my friendships. It shouldn’t affect my lovers. But that, of course, is falderal. Bipolar disorder slips into everything, even when you’re watching and you think you’ve got everything covered, it still manages to steal.

The First Friend I Lost

About a year or two after my bipolar diagnosis, I was still deeply in the throes of being depressed and didn’t know how to really express it. And I had a best friend, Hanna*, who I would talk to about it. She too suffered from depression, and she could understand where I was coming from. We hung out together every day for more than a year, sipping lattes at the university. I saw her through boyfriends, and she saw me through my first girlfriend.

And then one day, she didn’t return my call. Or the next call. Or the one after that.

I finally did pin her down to ask her what was going on. She would only say that because I was bipolar, it was too hard to be my friend, and she didn’t want to do that anymore.

She had never discussed it with me. I had no idea there was a problem. I would have compromised with her. I would have taken her needs into consideration, if only she had asked. I cared for her deeply. But she disappeared. It was as if she had never been there at all.

The Last Friend I Lost

Last year, I had an index series of electroconvulsive therapy (shock therapy, ECT) treatments. In spite of professional, well-meaning medical personnel, I still believe ECT is barbaric and horrific, despite being helpful for some. Jessica*, my love, the person I felt closest to on the planet, agreed to help me through some of them. It was going to be hard for her, I knew, but she agreed to shuttle me back and forth to the hospital, make soup, and feed me meds. I was so utterly terrified that seeing her face was the only thing that allowed me to lie on the table, and let them put me under. Her hugs afterward were all that kept me standing upright.

After the first six treatments, she had to get back to her life, which was to be expected, and another wonderful woman stepped in to help.

But Jessica never talked to me again. I called her and called her. I sent her emails. I left her jokes on her voicemail. But we never had another conversation.

My heart broke. It breaks still. The one person I thought would always be there for me had left. No note. No discussion. No explanation. Nothing. After six years, she just disappeared into the ether.

And, of course, there have been others. Those are but two. It took me years to stop feeling pangs over the first one. I’m still not over the last one. I wish them both well, but despise the way they have treated me. I deserve better than that.

Discarded Because I Am Bipolar

I’m not like everyone else. I am crazy. I am sick. I am bipolar. People abandon me without a word. People think it’s okay to treat me like that. People think it’s okay to use bipolar disorder as an excuse.

I look around, and I see a humanity that I’m not part of, a race that I’m not in, not because I feel that bipolars are intrinsically unequal or divergent, but because the world keeps showing me that I am. It isn’t about what the guy down the street thinks, or about what a columnist opines, or even how my family feels, it’s about these close, personal bonds being destroyed by something over which I have no control.

Yes, I'm crazy, I'm sick, I'm bipolar, I'm different. I know. Life keeps telling me so.

*Names changed

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, June 3). Bipolar as Love Thief: Discarded Because I Am Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/06/bipolar-as-love-thief



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Erica
April, 6 2012 at 5:27 pm

Haven't spoken with manic bp friend since February. Back this past December, she had bipolar episode due to bp insomnia and her driving put us and general public at risk. Was hospitalized afterward and what ticked me off was that after all of the apologies, goes right back to the triggers- the parties, shopping, etc. She doesn't know that I know about her condition. Quite frankly, I don't care, but what's driving me away from her is the lying, hiding, denying ("Oh, it's just insomnia." Yeah, caused by mania! And "It was just a nervous breakdown!" A generic term!) I do not trust that she will accept and admit her biploar, and will not put my life in her hands by getting in her car and hanging out with her. We"ve been friends since we were 15 (we're both 40 now); and I can sympathize with how hard it is to come clean about something like her condition-the stigma keeps alot of people silent. I wasn't trying to hurt her, but my tuning out and dropping off is a last resort of frustration with her behavior and her refusal to accept and take responsibility for her condition. According to a mutual friend of ours, she has said some pretty nasty things in response by calling me the a lazy n-word and that my arthritis is fake and that she's going to get me in trouble with social security. She's seen me over the years with my condition and in fact, she was one of many people telling me to get disability and she says that? Also, her bipolar gets to a place sometimes when she percieves you've done wrong to her, then she pulls the silent treatment and won't speak for months, then she comes back and wants to resume friendship out of the blue like nothings happened! She'll complain about silly irrelevant things about everybody, but won't talk about things that really count. She's texted me twice already asking how I am, but I really don't know where to begin with her with what to say, so I've ignored her. I don't miss her and love the peace and lack of drama and feeling used and drained. I'm not interested in making back up, but would not want to leave her stranded without a word why. What do I say? Thanks!

Beth Klein
April, 25 2012 at 11:08 am

I have been in a relationship with someone who is Bipolar like myself, for eight years. I want to move on, but everytime I tell her, she ropes me back into the relationship with guilt. I used to look up to this person,but now I don't, she keeps saying she's depressed and that's why she doesn't work, or achieve goals, but she doesn't do anything to change her depression, she just sits in it! Life can be hard, but you have to at least try! I want to be around positive people who actually want to do things and have fun, and not just lay around and waste life away. so I understand where you are coming from.

Natasha Tracy
April, 25 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi Beth,
That sounds tough. I agree, it's best to be around others that share you points of view on goals and the like. But to be fair, depression can zap you of the will to do anything, including fight the depression. Not that that means you should stay, I'm just saying it may be her point of view.
Thanks for your comment. I removed your email address so you don't get unwanted emails and I don't normally contact commenters directly.
- Natasha

Julie
May, 7 2012 at 6:14 am

My experience has been that friends can often be just fine with intellectually knowing you have bipolar and intellectually knowing what that means, but once they actually see you having symptoms and experience being right there in the middle of you having a meltdown, they never, ever look at you the same way again. Ever.
My experience is that if I, as a person with bipolar, want to have and keep friends, then the thing I must do at all costs is never, ever, ever go symptomatic in a big way *in front of them*.
Be in another room, at the minimum. Don't have a friend talk me down from suicide, use a hotline, and so forth. The exception would be friends who have bipolar themselves and have experienced meltdowns or who have very close relatives who have bipolar and who have successfully and compassionately coped with their relative's meltdowns--and you never assume they can cope, you find out. And you're still careful about hiding meltdown moments from other people as much as humanly possible.
Other people can generally deal with knowing about it, not with seeing it. That's my "rule."

Julie
May, 7 2012 at 6:26 am

It'd be nice if people were better than they are, but they're not. They are what they are. And actually seeing us at certain levels of symptomatic is beyond most people's ability to cope. It sucks, but it's reality. So because they can't cope, they rationalize running away without communicating.
Our behavior while we're symptomatic *is* unacceptable. Nobody "gets to" behave like that. Ever. Unfortunately, the nature of the disease is that we can't help it. The nature of their inability to cope is they rationalize that "if only" --- see the list of "if onlies" in the post above --- we were doing better at managing our illness, the episode wouldn't have happened (or another one wouldn't be about to happen). Thus their silent disappearance is justified. Or is justified by, "I just can't deal with it."
It is okay to leave a friendship/relationship with one of us. Just have the grace to say to our face that you've tried to cope with the relationship and our illness and haven't been able to manage it, so you're ending it now.
That's fair, and honest. Just because *we* are stuck with this rotten illness doesn't mean you have to be, too. Just give us the dignity of saying goodbye.

Michelle C.
May, 28 2012 at 2:08 am

I chuckle at the notion of being able to keep your friends by "never, ever, ever going symptomatic in a big way *in front of them*" @Julie, you didn't say how old you are,so maybe you're still too young to have experienced the pattern--(or maybe it's just me?)--of returning over and over again to the status of having no close friends.
I'm 44 so I've watched a lot of friends come, and then go away forever. I'll have one for a short time, but apparently "controlling my symptoms" is next-to impossible: even though I think I am acting fine, most people do not seem to agree; it's as if my energy actually repels them. (Which makes me paranoid like Natasha mentioned). On 3 separate occasions, as a friendship has ended, I was even accused of stealing, which was NEVER the case. Because of weird things like that happening repeatedly, I have become firmly convinced that there is something about my energy that makes people edgy and mistrustful.(I have never been truly manic...but rapid-cycling hypomanic most of the time).
As if that weren't bad enough, it also appears that the only people who DO want to be around me are narcissists (I was raised by narcissist parents)....and I find narcissists so irritating that I'd actually rather be alone most of the time than endure their bull$#*%. I'm not trying to make the situation sound hopeless, but one does get used to it after a few decades.
And no, I do not get much of a seasonal effect, except that the heat is hard to tolerate for the first couple weeks. My second husband did notice a cyclicity to my mood swings, however, he said there were 3-day cycles and then an over-arching 2 week cycle.

Cathyh
May, 28 2012 at 9:34 am

So much anger.
I'm going thru a time right now that I have to stay away from folks. Sometimes I just get weary of trying to keep my self together let alone trying to protect folk friends family from my disease.
I've been blesed to have a husband who stands by me.So I feel I have no room to complain. That said, having someone, a friend I could visit with in my yard when. I can't leave my house might be nice

Nicole
June, 2 2012 at 5:54 am

I was recently diagnosed.My doctor told me I should build a strong support system so I thought telling my friends is what I should do even know my boyfriend thought it wasnt a good idea. Which he was right, they all just stopped talking to me. My parents said I should make the effort,but why? They were the ones that stopped and haven't responded to me.And what makes me the most mad is that over the years, I have not really mad new friends because they didn't like when we were friends with outside people.But of course they all have a ton of other friends. I am VERY lucky my boyfriend of 6 years didn't leave me, think he was happy to finally know what was wrong with me.It just hurts that friends of 15 years have just up and left me,but they all still hang out. They have NO IDEA what im going through,last time I heard from one of them was the day i got out of the hospital and I told her that. Never heard form her again.I get we are older, they have a lot more going on with their lives,maybe all friends aren't meant to last.

Natasha Tracy
June, 3 2012 at 8:08 am

Hi Nicole,
I'm awfully sorry to hear that happened to you. I know how hard it is. Many people have been where you are.
I don't know whether friendships are "meant" to last but I do know, that like your boyfriend, real friends stick with you through the good and the bad moments. Right now you're having a bad moment and you're finding out who your real friends are and it sounds like your boyfriend is one of the good ones. Hopefully he will be an excellent part of your support system.
Keep in mind, over time, you'll find others who won't walk away from you too. But it'll take some time for them to come into your life.
- Natasha Tracy

April D
June, 13 2012 at 1:17 am

Oh how I can relate. And thank you, Natasha for 'penning' this blog! Kudos to you. :-)
I couldn't possibly write EVERYTHING crappy that's happened to me over the past 10 years...mainly w/'friends' walking out on me because I, too, am bi-polar & they "just couldn't handle it." Although I WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR THEM & THEIR PROBLEMS! ?! I believe...NO...I KNOW...that being bi-polar has made me so much more empathetic & compassionate towards my fellow human beings.
Anyhow, my BEST FRIEND (or so I darned well thought after TWENTY YEARS of friendship) literally dropped of of Planet Earth on Feb. 3rd, 2000. She never ever gave me an ANSWER or a RESPONSE or a "WHY?" I definitely deserved a WHY. At the very least. Damn! Pardon my francais. To this day, June of 2012, I haven't forgiven nor forgotten her & why she did what she did. Or DIDN'T DO. I've never understood it & it's made me very untrusting of most people anymore.
I can relate so well to the other ladies on here & their pain & hurt & anger. I completely understand it & empathize w/all of you who are hurting. It's been 12 years since my former best friend (since 5th grade) up & CHOSE to disappear on me.
The rest of my 'friends' turned out to be fair-weather. Instead of trying TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE to deal w/on a daily, weekly, monthly, & yearly basis, they CHOSE to ignore my phone calls, emails, letters, etc., etc. Yet most of them still stick together in groups like we're still in high school! They still GOSSIP...which I can definitely do w/out because those who gossip to you will gossip about you. Most of them are spiled brats who don't have a clue as to what I REAL CHALLENGE/HARDSHIP is.
So...I'm new here (obviously) but the posts hit home so I decided to write a small amount of my own story & pain. Maybe someone has some advice for me because I can't forget the ex best friend. WHY would she do that?! We still have mutual friends from junior high & high school who KNOW where she lives & what's going on in her life...but refuse to let me know. I was her maid of honor in her wedding, too!
In the end...this is how I think now: if she could do that to me then anyone could. It's almost as if I didn't KNOW her?! I haven't trusted many ppl since.
Thanks!
April ~

Natasha Tracy
June, 14 2012 at 7:08 am

Hi April,
Trust is a very difficult thing to repair. Once it has been damaged, it hurts so much that we don't wish to risk damaging it again - believe me, I totally get it.
However, I think one must consider the prospect of having a life where we trust no one. Do we want that life? Because certainly, I don't. Trust, unfortunately, will get damaged along the way, but it won't kill us. It will hurt, but we will continue on.
I'm sorry for what you went through, because obviously, it has been painful. But not everyone is the same and not everyone will treat you that way. I think that's the thing to try to remember. We want to be treated like individuals so it's up to us to realize others are individuals too.
- Natasha

Marie M
July, 8 2012 at 3:14 pm

I have a close friend that up and left 90% of his friends and clients and has continued to keep me as a client, but acts like I am a client. He made very impulsive decisions saying he needed to have a life. It seems so selfish to cut people out like he is doing. He had never admitted he is bipolar, but has family members that are diagnosed. I really want to be a friend that supports him but he is choosing to cut everyone out. It is really painful for me. Is there anything you can suggest?

Natasha Tracy
July, 9 2012 at 8:02 am

Hi Marie,
That's an interesting problem, it's sort of the opposite of what I was talking about. It's hard to see someone cut people out of their life, but maybe he does have a good reason. Maybe he is changing his life in some major way?
The only think I can think is to be open with the person with your concerns and let the person know that you'll be there for him. Ultimately there is nothing you can do to change his mind - it's always his choice, but you can be open to the future and that's probably the best thing you can do.
- Natasha

Kaitlin Panda
July, 11 2012 at 4:58 pm

Marie, I can't speak for all bipolars, but I know that I always push people away when I'm feeling poorly. I am scared of others' reactions and don't want to burden people I care about. That could be the case if he is, in fact, bipolar.
Natasha, more great writing. I've lost a lot of friends due to being bipolar. I didn't just assume that was the reason- I was actually told outright they couldn't handle it. I'm so sorry about what happened to you.
I was actually kicked out of my aunt's house where I was staying after a breakup trying to get back on my feet. She told me it made her life stressful and she never knew if she would come home to find me dead. (At that point I was nowhere near suicidal.) Some people are just scared. Maybe I would be had I not experienced it.
As one commented earlier, friends and family seem okay with it as long as it's not "on display". Unfortunately, there's not always a lot of control over that so we can end up friendless.
On a more positive note... though it has taken me years I have found someone who is fine with it. I hope you all do.

Marie M
July, 13 2012 at 1:07 pm

Kaitlin and Natasha thank you for your advice...I did explain my feelings to him and he said he didn't intend to do that...he seems to be stressed about several things but attempting to work with less pain in his eyes...thanks again!

Traci S.
July, 16 2012 at 1:02 pm

I was found to have bipolar about8 mts ago. I have nofriends and my family dosent understand what it is all about. My husband of 13 years is so cold to me. I had 3 suicide attempts in 4 mts and he told me it was not a joke that I was doing this type of behavior. My medications dont help much I still take them every day. I cry every day because I just want things to be normal or happy like they use to be. Not many people understand mental illness. I use to work in a Dr office I lost my job due to taking time off. I feel so alone most of the time. I know the pain that others like me feel.

Maria
August, 21 2012 at 11:44 am

I have had this bipolar depressive before I could even walk or talk......was afraid of never having a boyfriend (real one) or husband...and it happened I'm now 51 never to this day even experienced love....i'm completley alone...no family no friends no husband or boyfriend...how's that

Carlos
October, 15 2012 at 11:13 am

This will hurt to read, but you have the same issue as my bipolar girlfriend, that being that everyone in the world lets them down, be it because of bipolar or something else. Bipolar is malevolent in that it makes the person who has it believe that the world is against them, that the other people are being irrational etc., when the truth is that it's the other way around. The people surrounding the bipolar person are tired of being nit-picked, of being debated, of being made to feel guilty, of excuses, and THAT'S why those things happen. Even saying this to my girlfriend will send her into a furious rage, a rage that she has gone into because I left something in the sink, because I posted something on Facebook, for a million reasons. A bipolar is like a color blind person who refuses to believe that they are color blind. Their friends know it, their family knows it, the world knows it, but they don't believe it and feel indignation when it's brought up. The truth is that you need to re-learn rules that will allow you to interact in a way that will not put you through the pain you are going through (and you don't deserve). Talk therapy, giving in to the process and allowing another philosophy to run the show, whatever it is, less defensiveness, more counting to 10, and more study of and applications of the rules and interactions that non-bipolars share. You can fight it, or you can step back, admit you have an issue to work on (ignore that voice that says everyone is full of shit) and fake it until you make it. Try to go a month without drama, without saying something negative and rather saying positive things, asking for help positively (instead of guilting people), realizing that the condition makes you take things more personally than you should. Do this for a week, concede defeat in the battle to fight the world, be positive, measure the response from people around you as you try this, and you may find that you will begin to see the positive rewards as motivation to change your thinking. I wish you all the luck in the world.

Sarah
October, 15 2012 at 8:37 pm

"The people surrounding the bipolar person are tired of being nit-picked, of being debated, of being made to feel guilty, of excuses, and THAT’S why those things happen"
A lot of my ex-friends (and my ex boyfriend) felt that way during the first storm of my bipolar. That's why they're all ex. I'm much happier without them since all of my friends are friends who really care about me, who value my friendship, and the ex has made way for a wonderful husband who can't live without me.
It's your loss, and if you don't know what you're losing, then I guess you won't care.

Natasha Tracy
October, 16 2012 at 10:42 am

Carlos,
To say you are painting every person with bipolar with the same brush would be an understatement. Simply because you know one person with bipolar disorder doesn't mean you know us all. We are as individual as anyone else and I in no way resemble the person you are describing.
- Natasha

Mary
October, 24 2012 at 1:50 am

I am very lonely and sad. I cut myself off from people because I am afraid that they will see me a bad person.
Some members of my family have hurt me so bad because they see my bipolar disorder as a moral issue. I realize I have done some bad things but I work hard on not doing them anymore.It doesn't matter to them at all.
They see me as completely selfish and devoid of any moral virtue whatsoever. This despite the fact that I gave them my car for free because they needed it. They never asked for it, it was me that offered it to them.
They acknowledge that I don't yell at them anymore but it isn't good enough for them. Blame. blame, blame.
The fact is that I mostly keep to myself in order not to bother them.
I get put down because I am not working. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue in addition to the bipolar. I am not lazy. Right now I am virtually housebound which is why I gave them my car. Why on earth would I give up my most valued possession if I was faking it?
The fact is that having to stop working has been very traumatic for me. Yet they like to rub salt in my wounds.
Because of this and other things I don't trust people very much. I was verbally abused by my mother when I was a child also.
The gist was always, "You are a bad,bad person."
They even see the fact that I have few (right now only one) friends as "proof" that I am a bad person, that I drive people away. The truth is that I hold back from making friends because I am afraid that I will hurt them.
Do I deserve to be alone?
I wish people could see me as I am. I am not an amoral monster. I have a good heart.

LeAnne
December, 7 2012 at 8:11 am

Dear Natasha,
I love your blogs. I am so sorry that happened to you. It makes me sad. I am coming from the standpoint of a spouse of a man with Rapid Cycle Bi-polar. He cycles every 6 weeks. And his mania is the kind where he is suddenly very angry and explosive and yells and talks over me. He calls me names and tears me to pieces. Then goes into a two week funk. So many people tell me to divorce him. But then he pulls out and is the nicest, sweetest man. I truly love him. I have been with him for 35 years. I get that every six weeks he is not the man I love. But now that I understand it is Bi-polar, and have been reading your blogs, I get he deserves a huge support system. I will not leave him. I can't imagine the devastation to someone I love so deeply. He is beginning to understand it too as I point it out to him. He has no memory of his angry bouts. I am sure it would break his heart to understand how he has treated me. But he is now taking things that are supposed to assist the chemicals in his brain. I understand his triggers now and watch out for them and leave the house during an outburst. Thank you for serving me so well. And may you find someone who loves you just as dearly as I love my husband.

J
December, 7 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi All, my wife of 23 years is bipolar, had a huge manic episode just over a year ago at 45. Wasted allot of our money, went about divorcing me and went about having boyfriends but fortunately I found out and interceded before consummating any affairs. Ended up in psych hospital for 5 weeks. With 2 young children, were we traumatized, you bet. But I loved her all the way, and we continue to be happily married. Do I sometimes wish I hadn't stopped the divorce proceeding, you bet. It is difficult with a bipolar spouse, but fortunately, I can provide well on a single income, my wife no longer works, but is relatively stable ( refuses to take the meds - did so only for a week after coming out of hospital), and for the sake of the kids and my loving wife ( most of the time) I suck it up. Does it mean life is different now, and some things I would like to be doing, we don't, yes for sure. My wife has an inability to have and/or maintain any friendships. We have had close friends then my wife drops them and refuses to meet and talk with them (I read here it is usually the other way around). I wish she would/could sustain some friendships because she now has minimal adult interactions (since giving up work when went manic) beyond myself or her mother. And I don't believe that is healthy, but if I bring it up, I get my head taken off or the stone-cold treatment for a day or two. I say to her (and myself) that I signed up for in sickness and in health, and between that and love and for our children's sake, I persevere. I read these blogs so I can gain more of an understanding of what it is like to have bipolar. And I have to say having knowledge on symptoms, triggers, etc of BP goes a long way to helping me cope. All I can say is that I am very lucky to have a wonderful and beautiful wife to love, and it could be much worse. So every day, many times, I tell her I love her deeply, and mostly I get the same response, and that sustains me. I am a lucky man.

Suzanne
December, 11 2012 at 5:47 pm

I read this blog for the same reason J gave--to help me better understand my son's BP I which has caused him and me so much pain for so long. He is 45, single,and suffering from loneliness in spite of being a very handsome man with a good education and the sweetest nature (except when manic). I'm 76 and wish I knew what else I could do to help him. I fear for what will become of him after I'm gone because I think he has not killed himself because of love for me and awareness of what his death would do to me. But I'm getting old and can't live forever. Oh how I wish that there will be someone to love him. I think the loneliness BP imposes is one of the very worst of the effects of this disorder. Best wishes, and thanks for writing, to all of you whose comments I've read this evening.

Brenda Morris
December, 13 2012 at 9:18 am

First of all I want to say I to am a person with BP.
But most of all I'm much more then my diagnosis, I'm a mother, grandmother, sybling, a vertures women. I have had many of the same problems as most of you have shared and it's not a good feeling. In my life I choose to give a problem that I did not choose or could not fix to a power much greater than me. I do take my med's, see a phys. every 3 months and have been doing so since 1992 when I got my bad news of why! Yes I'm disabled but working part time. I work in the Behavioral Health System and doing very well will managing my systems.
I say all this to say it does get better with time for some, just try and find what works for you. I felt eudcation of mental illness for myself as well as family was very helpfull. Oh yea I to lost my very dearest love and many friends. But you know so many came back I just had to give them time also to gather thier thoughts.

Jennifer
December, 13 2012 at 10:11 am

My ex-husband was diagnosed bipolar 3 months after our wedding. We tried to hold on but after 11 yrs and 2 weeks of marriage and 1 separation a year earlier he asked for a divorce. I did not and still do not want this divorce. I love my husband and who he is, but he was the one who left. And goes from saying he wants to find someone to spend his life with to saying I know you will be the only one who really knows and loves me.
I pray he is well, and I'm trying to obey his wishes as he said he can't talk or see me anymore because he can't move on if I'm in his life.
There is no arguing, convincing, rationalizing with a bipolar person. Just love them.

Marrianna
December, 16 2012 at 3:46 pm

I have been abandoned by family and friends and my partner drinks and sometimes make my life even more difficult plus my son is schiznophernic and I am home with him alone everyday. I am lonely and I have no where to go . People do not understand why I did the things I did before they just think that I am evil, bad and wicked, but now I believe I was sick and no one tried to help me.I live in a small place and this makes it so much harder to deal with. My only company is the internet.

Marrianna
December, 16 2012 at 3:49 pm

I hope that the terrible tragedy in Newtown will wake up the powers to be to give some meaningful change to those who have mental health issues. Natasha and Healthy Place please continue to lobby for us

Sarah
December, 16 2012 at 8:37 pm

Marianna, mass murder is not generally a side effect of mental illness.

Stacy
December, 19 2012 at 2:42 pm

@Natasha -- Thank you for your post. It reminded me to be thankful for those friends (and family) who have stuck with me through the years, despite the things I've done that might have scared them or pushed them away. It also reminded me how important it is (as you pointed out in another post) to "fake it" when necessary. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts. Sometimes we have to resist them with everything we've got. The trick is knowing which, and that's a struggle.
And @J -- your wife is very lucky to have your unconditional support. I've been married for more than 15 years now, and my husband is the keystone of my support system. He has helped me through every episode, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis. When I'm feeling well I try to do as much as I can to support him. When I'm hypomanic and irritable and annoyed with his leaving stuff in the sink (a common problem, I guess), I try to remind myself that it's a small thing to tolerate when he's had to tolerate so much when I'm cycling one way or the other. Therapy definitely helps. I hope your wife decides to take her meds and cooperate with her treatment.
Grappling with bipolar, for me, has meant meds and therapy and a *lot* of lifestyle shifts, such as exercise and diet and sticking to a schedule and forcing myself to socialize even when I really, really don't feel like it. And having demanding work to do actually is better for me, despite the energy it takes to simply get through the week sometimes (another thing you mentioned recently, Natasha). Everyone's solutions are different, though. Best of luck in finding them.

bublita
January, 22 2013 at 8:36 pm

Wow J - you are an angel! I hope your wife realizes how lucky she is! I'm reading this blog to help get an understanding of my mom and what she's going through and how to help her. She too drops friends right and left - if they bring up a grievance, they are gone. She doesn't handle conflict well. She is subsequently alone, except for 2 friends, a caregiver and me. I used to do cartwheels trying to get her help but I've come to realize she has to decide on her treatment. She's currently off her meds with no intention of going back on them. Everyone is alarmed as she's plunged into the depths of sorrow and barely leaves her bed. I know she'll come back up again, she always does, but it is very painful to watch her struggle. I tell her I love her but I always hang up feeling bad. It doesn't appear to soothe her. She's not necessarily looking to me to fix it, but I wish I could though I know now that I can't.

Monica
January, 31 2013 at 5:45 pm

This is from a NON bipolar with a Bipolar friend.
My Bipolar friend goes maniac and then shuts down, w/o depression.
She is NOT a relaxed or relaxing person.
She is one of the most interesting people I know.
We have been there for each other for many years, she sometimes cannot be there for others at all when in high/low cycle.
I get she is bipolar, I know about it, I don't pretend to know how it feels. But to me she is my friend FIRST, bipolar is secondary and it is not an excuse for everything that goes wrong/she does wrong.
She did hurt me during 4 out 4 vacations we did together. I talked her about it, how that mad me feel, that I was not fine with it. She would say she was stressed out, that I did not understand..
So I decided to try one more time.
And once more I got bitten and the blame is on me.
I am now taking time off from this friendship because I fell I need it, and I did tell her so.
So I think that in every friendship/relationship there is work to do, but being friend with a bipolar requires more work+ a tuff skin +a lot of balance.

Michelle
February, 2 2013 at 8:12 am

First, can I just say that reading through many of your blog posts is literally making me cry.
I've lost many friends. Actually, darn near all of them. (I'm 30 now and have been dealing with bipolar since high school.) They'll stick around for maybe a couple of years at most. I'll tell them all my secrets, be there for them when they need me, try to be a good friend, but they always inevitably leave. To be honest, I thought it was just something wrong with me.
I try to "break" in front of them. But really, that's pretty impossible. I imagine it must be very confusing to them. When only the week earlier I was saying how amazing everything is, how I can get so excited, positively elated, at the thought of shopping, or be the most outgoing, social, adventurous person to be around. To the very next week, being absolutely shattered. Feeling like my world is falling apart. Being, what I call, "ambushed by negativity". It confuses even me, so I can imagine how disconnected this behavior must seem from the outside.
I've always said that it's easier to not have friends, and to some extent this is true. It's easier. But in the depressive times, temporary friends or not, they are good to have. And in this process you find a few good ones. There's always a few... a very few... that won't be scared away.

Tom
February, 13 2013 at 4:12 am

I am in a relationship with someone who is bi-polar. I have an extremely high cache of patience, even though there are times where it becomes like she's a totally different human being.
Love her to death, I AM MARRYING HER, I know the risks, yet I stay by her side. Bi-polar is a sickness, but that doesn't mean anybody has to love these people any less. I myself have been prone to sudden extreme emotional changes, but I can control my emotions significantly better in public or around "friends" as my fiancee'.
I have my own unique strategies that I have come up with over the years to deal with this issue. I have challenged her directly during an episode, which taught me that no matter what I say, nothing will work until the feelings pass.
I usually get extremely quiet and remove her from the scene if she is around people. I can have a tiny bit of a temper when certain things are said to me while she is in her down swing. I usually give up fighting, or just go lay down and let her have her space.
Being patient and then being there for the upswing back to normal is critical. She needs the strength to fight what this is, and no matter what medicine she takes, nothing will never truly help her more than being loved. Love in and of itself is a choice, and if you love someone you will stick through it with them through sickness and through health.
Trust me, I understand you were abandoned (to the author of this article), but you have to tell yourself this: If all the times this woman said she loved you, she shouldn't have had a life to go back to, since you should've been her life.
I wouldn't disappear, especially when someone is trying new and scary treatments to help better themselves. There is nobility in admitting you need help, and there is a lot to be said about it.
My fiancee' was abused, beaten, and treated like s**t for something outside of her control (for the most part). I feel sympathy and I hope that the author of this article finds someone who can treat her with the respect she deserves.

Diana
March, 22 2013 at 3:41 pm

I was in a relationship for a couple of years with a Dr. (psychiatrist) who is bipolar. I appreciate the perspective of those of you that know, I did not. He choose to keep the fact he was sick form me and all his friends. He was heavily medicated, drank excessively and still treated extremely ill mental patients. This is wrong.
After 6 months being wooed by a charming and smart man we moved in together. The day this happened I noticed something was different, he had a look in his eyes that scared me. After a couple of months the relationship changed, his behavior became erratic, unpredictable and inappropriate. Numerous incidents led me to believe I was loosing my mind, I sought help. It was apparent he took a lot of medication, I wrote down all the meds in this drawer and gave them to my therapist. He recognized many of them as bipolar meds but protected his colleague saying nothing to me.
After the situation became unbearable, I snooped, email, files and drawers... I found meds, booze and sex toys. I read emails to lawyers about DUIs, sexual assault lawsuits filed by coworkers and his laughing off his disease saying he can't remember anything since he was over medicated.
I reported him to the state Impaired Physician program, after leaving him, hoping they would help him and keep him from treating equally sick patients. They did nothing, after 6 months he continues to treat seriously ill mental patients. He can "hot shot" them, put them in restraints and keep them locked up at whim. I also want to add, I was not aware of the sex toys until I snooped, clearly they were not for me. Perhaps his female patients are aware of them... but, no one would believe a psychotic homeless woman... right?
If only he had told me something, I am compassionate but I do not have compassion for lying predators!

Christy
March, 29 2013 at 1:55 pm

I am lucky to be married to a wonderful man. He is supportive and compassionate and treats me with respect. I know I can be a handful at times but he still stands right by my side! My son is also teriffic, he has a good understanding of bipolar and helps me as much as possible. All my friends and family are supportive and have been there in my time of need so it is difficult to relate to most of these posts. I am pretty even tempered and when I'm not I am told that I am not being myself thru it all my friends and family have stuck right by my side. I am truly sorry that everyone does not have the same support system as I do, I wish you all the best!

judy
June, 30 2013 at 12:57 pm

This is interesting. I was just thinking of this issue.
The issue I have with my friends and family is their inability to view things in the proper perspective. For instance, they IMMEDIATELY attribute things that happened during an episode to a moral failing, a weakness, a character defect, a lack of spirituality, etc. on my part. Those are some rather huge accusations. Nevermind that these people have known me for YEARS and they have seen many other aspects of me that are not my disorder. GOOD aspects. And I know they know this deep down inside.
Bipolar recovery is tough - especially when hypomanic/manic episodes were particularly distressing, or depressive episodes are so deep and dark it literally changes the way the world looks. However, the most insidious and painful aspects of having this disorder is the stigma coming from those closest to you. This was just such a shock to me and something I was not prepared for. I am reading up on it to try to understand this. Thought some of the info I found might help those struggling with this issue as well:
"Friends and relatives’ interactions also may be influenced by something called “attribution theory.According to the concept, those who view people with bipolar disorder as responsible for their symptoms and disabilities tend to react angrily and behave punitively. On the flip side, those who view bipolar patients as victims and therefore blameless are more likely to react with pity and offer help. Then there are those who view people with bipolar as dangerous and react with fear; they are likely to avoid the person with bipolar entirely.
When faced with symptoms such as hypersexuality, verbal abuse or persistent depression, relatives may strike out due to anger or emotional overload. In addition, relatives and friends must cope with the same kinds of feelings the person with bipolar experiences toward the condition, such as grief, hopelessness and resentment.
At the other extreme, overprotective relatives may make inappropriate or misguided comments that trigger verbal confrontations.
Experts agree that education to correct the myths surrounding bipolar plays a vital role in improving matters. Better information and awareness helps family members regard bipolar more calmly and transforms it from a taboo subject to a problem-solving opportunity."
This has been helpful to me. As far as educating those close to me, I've come to the conclusion that this will not happen if they are not receptive to the info so I have to let it go. Pushing the issue is just an exercise in frustration. So I just ignore the people who judge me.
I just hope that one day they can remember ME again, the ME separate from my episodes because I KNOW that I am a good person, with a great big heart. AND I KNOW THEY KNOW THIS otherwise, why stick around for years? I know that my episodes are a pretty small aspect of who I am when I take into consideration the big picture. It took me a long time to remember this again as I struggled to deal with a seriously crippling depression that lasted a year, and I imagine it might be the same for them. I'm okay with that.

dawn
August, 13 2013 at 3:42 pm

I have Bi-polar I and PTSD. I have lost a lot of friends over the last 15 yrs and I have now got on the right meds so to speck or am on at the right ones and able to learn what is what in life and take care of me. I have friends that are mentally ill and have Bi-polar now too. I have had to let one go because her behavior was unhealthy for me. Not only do I understand why people left my life I understand the behavior and how it affects me and how My behavior must have affected my friends that left my life. I get it because I have been on both ends now. I left this friends life to protect myself because she did not respect my boundaries, nor could she, she was and is ill, so I was the one that chose to leave to better myself. When people(friends, family) left me before I used to think it was something I did wrong, but now I know it is about me and what I need to do to stay healthy for me. Sometimes it's not about US always when we are in the mist of our Bi-polar moment

Donna
August, 13 2013 at 4:21 pm

I am bipolar and I am the one who did all the leaving/divorcing in ALL my relationships. sure i wasn't diagnosed until 8months ago and have unknowingly lived with it for over 30yrs. Looking at the train wreck that has been my life (which I thought was normal lol) is sobering. the relationships that have lasted the longest are the friends and family that have said NO!!! I will not let you go! they may give me time away from them but eventually something brings us back to each other. Of course there are some that all the NO's in the world won't work, because I see things differently then they do and feel it so much more intensely then they do. Facebook believe it or not has been one of the ice breakers that gets me talking to them again and visa versa. I'm still learning to live with the knowledge of being bipolar. I've come along way in these few months and Healthy place bloggers have helped and are inspiring . thanks for being here.

Hope K
August, 13 2013 at 5:17 pm

I hate to say this, but you might need to look at your own part in these ended friendships. Because if you don't, you will keep on making the same mistakes. Being bipolar is not an excuse to be rude or negative to other people. I had to learn this the hard way myself. After dozens of going-nowhere relationships, I had to start thinking of how the other person feels, not just the way I feel. And my relationships improved dramatically because of this.

Dawn
October, 27 2013 at 7:44 am

I too remember the first friend that I lost to my Bipolar diagnosis along with severe impairments due to other physical problems. I thought our friendship could whether any storm, but I was wrong. However, I remember the ONE friend that has stood by me through it all and for him I will be forever grateful. No more fair weather friends for me. I deserve better.

Amber
October, 28 2013 at 2:46 am

I would very much like to stand by my bipolar friend - but I'm not sure he wants me to. We used to be close. Then he wanted space which I accepted. Then he started pushing me away more and more. It's difficult at times to do the right thing - I want him to know that I'm there for him but at the same time don't want to intrude. For a person without bipolar it can be hard to understand at times how the illness manifests itself and how to much to communicate, and when it would be better to just leave that person alone for a bit. I can accept "space" but at the same time I worry that too much space might make it difficult for him to come back when he feels he wants to. I'm sure I annoy him at times although I don't mean to do anything wrong. And he does have a tendency to interpret things in the worst possible manner. Sometimes the problems might well be communication difficulties and insecurities on both sides. Unfortunately there are also a lot of people around who do not understand the illness at all and tell the non-bipolar person not to bother with the bipolar person because it's "too much drama". I've certainly heard that comment before and it hurts me because my friend does not deserve that.

sandracobban
November, 29 2013 at 7:45 am

I've lost many friends...even alienated my own family for awhile.
People fear this disease,even I do..
But in my experience family always ( sometimes takes some time) are there ALWAYS.
If friends only want to be round you say,when your manic ( men,DUH)
It's simply not acceptable nor should it be..
For the downs come,then,oops?
Where's these fun guys now?
Still think some of the old sayings hold true on this topic too..
It just wasn't meant to be.
You can't force people to love / like you.
They have to accept us,first as humans.
Then as severely ill humans,struggling thru each day to the best of our ability.
I used to feel men in my life would make things easier....sooooo wrong.
It's easier,less complicated single.
But I still have triggers,but somehow muddle thru.
Knowing the alternative is no longer a realistic option for ME,in my disorder.
Plus not everyone w a partner is happy 24/7... That's fantasy,not reality.

Randy M
January, 6 2014 at 9:38 am

Hello all, I am the beaten down, discarded, shell of a man that loves a bipolar woman... We meet in Oct. 2012' we were both married, but fell in love instantly. In Jan. of 2013' her and her husband separated and he moved back home about 6 hours away (where they had originally come from, he moved her away from all of her family and friend because he is very manipulative and controlling. she stayed behind because of me she said. But by the end of Jan. she moved back home as well, her and her husband were staying at his parents house. We talked every day, she would tell me how much she loved me and wanted to spend her life with me. well in March she moved back and got an apt. I finally left in Aug. and we moved in together, but I had been noticing that the closer we got to actually moving in and being together the more nervous and anxious she got, almost manic!!! (at this time, she had not been diagnosed as having bipolar II).
Anyways, about two weeks after moving in together, (early Sept.), she woke up one morning and told me she was moving back to her hometown, (meaning her estranged husband). Once again telling me she wasnt in love with her husband but that she had been feeling increasingly depressed with thoughts of suicide and that she needed to get some help. She said she had to move in with her husband because it was the only place she could go. By now her husband had moved into his own place. She also said that she was moving back in with him because she felt that he was the one that had "screwed her up and he should be the one to fix her". Well two weeks later she told me that she was coming back to me and that she was already packing her belongings and that she would be leaving the next day. We hung up and everything was fine, (I thought), well about an hour later, I get a txt msg from her daughter telling me that her mom was in Lakeside Mental Hosp. in Memphis, Tn. Her daughter said that her moms husband said that apparently he had called her after I had gotten off with her. He said that she just started crying and talking about killing herself, so he committed her that day. She spent 9 days in the hospital, after getting out she stayed at her husbands house for another six weeks, all the while, I was living at our place going freaking nuts. She finally came home to me, but within a month, she woke up one morning absolutely manic. I knew instantly something wasnt right that morning, the way she looked at me like I wasnt even there. So she packed up her car and her kids and took off back to her home town, Within two weeks she was back again. Everything was going fine, she was taking her meds and things seemed ok. Then one night while she was taking a bath, she changed into someone I didnt even know...It was like she was in another world!!! By noon the next day, she was gone again!!! And once again, she was back in her husbands house!!! We talked and txtd each other multiple times everyday and it was always the same thing; She would tell me she doesnt love him, was not having sex with him and would make fun of him and tell me what a crappy person he was... Well 4 weeks later (Oct. 14th) I picked her up and brought her back home to E. Tn. Things were fantastic, we were getting along great, made love all the time and told each other how much we loved each other... (and as always, she would swear to me that she would never leave me again). On Dec. 27th me, her and her children headed back to Memphis for the weekend so she could see her mom and her oldest daughter. The entire trip to Memphis, I felt that things were just not right, (they hadnt felt right in over a week) while there at her mothers she was very stand-off'ish), on that Saturday, her and I went out shopping and going to the wolfchase mall. Things were kinda weird but I didnt say anything. With bipolar folks, sometimes its just better not to "rock the boat", antways, we went out shopping and even bought some items for our house, (her idea), she even talked about some of the things that she wanted us to do after the new year, once we got back to E. Tn. We went out Saturday night, partyed on Beale St till 2am. We woke up the next morning and "fooled around" and besides her acting a little strange I thought everything was getting better. We got up, her mom made everyone breakfast, she made me coffee, like she would always do. Well as the day went on, she told me that her mom and oldest daughter had been giving her a hell of a time... they would tell her that she abandoned them and that she didnt love them anymore, among other things. Around 2pm that afternoon her and her daughter started putting their coats on because they were gonna go out in town and spend some time together before we had to leave to come back home. About an hour later her daughter comes in all crying hyserically telling me that her mom went back to Lakeside, she told me that they had been in the store when all of a sudden her mom started having a kind of break-down. They go back out to the vehicle and her daughter said that she started crying talking about ruining everybodys life and that she had ruined my life (because my two daughters have hardly been speaking to me, they didnt approve of her) and how she always wanted to kill herself. She told her daughter that she didnt want to come back to E. Tn with me because she couldnt be happy here because her family was putting so much pressure on her!!! and that I should just go back home to my family and be happy!!! I was standing there trying to take it all in, I was numb, kinda like an out-of-body experience. Here I am, in a strange place, with people that I hardly knew and I had to be back at work the next morning and have the rental car back by 8am. Im asking all of these questions but not able to make sense of any of it. My babys gone back into Lakeside again, and now I dont know what to do!!! I knew full well that by her going into lakeside again, the first person they call is her husband and I know that means that hes gonaa be going back to his house when she finally gets out... IM IN HELL at this point, absolutely going out of my mind, on the verge of breakdown myself and Ive got nowhere to turn !!! After talking to her mom and her oldest daughters I have no other choice but to leave and drive six hours back home, I will tell you that, that was the hardest thing Ive ever done, leaving my sweet, precious, perfect, fragile baby there in Memphis. It was the worst drive ever and yet I cant seem to recall much of the drive back... I came home and for the next four days Im losing my mind. I cant eat, I cant sleep, I cant keep my mind on my work. Im trying to contact everyone on that side of Tn to find out all I can about how she is and what shes doing. Im sitting on the couch in deep thought and I get an email from her husband saying that hes gonna come and get all her and the kids belongings in a few days. I respond by saying that I didnt believe him, that my baby was coming home when she got out of Lakeside. He then sent me screen shots of his phone where she had ben txting him since at least Dec. 22nd, 2013. She was saying how much she missed him and how much she wanted to work things out, how lonely she was here in E. Tn and how empty her heart was without him. It was absolutely devastating to actually see those words coming from her. All the while she was here in E. Tn with me, making love to me everyday and night. Telling me how much she loved me and wanted to be my wife. She even told me Christmas day that this was the happiest Christmas she had had since her childhood. Ive been here alone in this apartment since Dec.30th. Going out of my mind. How could she been so cruel to me? Ive had time to replay everything in my head a million times. That day she left to "go shopping" with her daughter, she knew what she was about to do. She never even told me goodbye or hugged me or looked me in my eyes or nothing. She just turned around and walked out of my life and never even said goodbye to me,like I never meant anything to her!!! :((( Thats the hardest thing Im trying to deal with. Why did she do this, did she really ever love me or was I just a "fling", "something to get out of her system"?? I cant believe in my heart that she didnt love me, I looked her in her eyes and I know that somewhere in her heart that she loves me... PLease help I dont know what to do,.... Brokenhearted!!!!

george
January, 7 2014 at 1:34 am

hi randy,hope you are doing a little better today, i can"t say much on this site because i feel or for me i read here to get a better understanding of a person with bipolar and if i can help them,from reading your post i would try this site.... BPDfamily.... it was even writen here that some people have both disorders,just check out the site and see what you think,it could help you,easy does it.

colleen
January, 11 2014 at 10:19 pm

Well, I can relate to what everyone is saying I have dumped by the last 4 potential SO because of my illness and hell it is pretty under control. I take my meds I do have trouble sleeping and with depression but I really try…..they all say you are a "great women " but never call again
going trough a very bad time now and really think of ending it all. I am just too dam tired. the only thing that stops me are my 3 cats which also has guys running…..I just don't see any future

colleen
January, 11 2014 at 10:22 pm

I am in a very dark place and wish I could just feel like I have ONE person that would stand by me….I have no family, never did, and having trouble trusting and developing close relationships. I am told I am pretty, great, am a respected professional….so what the hell is the problem…..oh right, my brian. Well sorry can't get a transplant...

george
January, 13 2014 at 1:31 am

I would try to hang in there Colleen sometimes we just have to, and i don"t have bipolar, but i know things can change with time, i hope you respond here and maybe you can get some good feedback ,best wishes to you.

Randy M
January, 13 2014 at 12:33 pm

Hi Colleen, Im very sorry you feel so alone, me too!!
Ive never been so heartbroken and helpless before in my life. This bipolar relationship has left me questioning everything,... Including my sanity. Im still so lost and confused and dont know what to do. I never tried so hard in a relationship as I tried with this one. When she left, she ripped out my heart and left a gaping hole, I dont know that Ill ever be the same again!!! She has cut off all communications with me, she changed her emails and fb accts. Her kids wont even answer my txts anymore. Its as if she never loved me or had any feelings for me at all. I was totally expendable. The loss and the heartbreak is unbearable!!! Its been 15 days of pure hell, I dont want to be here anymore!! While my baby was the one with bp and I suspect BPD, I find that I the one who needs help. She always told me that she was "broken", but Im the one whos broken now. Im just a shell of anything that I used to be. I dont guess that Ill ever get any kind of closure from her. I cant understand what I did to make her hate me enough to be this cruel to me. I would gladly give anything just to hear her perfect beautiful little voice, eve if it was just to hear her tell me why she did what she did. Ill never be able to carry on without it... :( I feel like bp is a relationship death sentence, I wouldnt wish this on anybody!!!

mary
February, 26 2014 at 12:12 pm

What a poignant post. Normal people do not understand how devastating it is to have friends for many years, and at the sight of mania,they run as if you are not the same dear friend that was there for them through their trials. I lost 5 close,friends. When I confronted one years later,her curt answer was that she didn't know about bipolar then. What about asking me, my mom, my brother? People are cruel and gutless.

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