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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, June 25 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.

Just Diagnosed Bipolar 2
June, 6 2014 at 4:02 pm

Another great read. Also speaks to me, I have always had a hard time maintaining friendships, especially with other women, I always knew it was me, but I could never figure out why.

Born This Way
July, 11 2014 at 7:38 pm

This resonates, but also reminds me of how I've run, run, run...and sabotaged a relationship out of fear. Fear that my crazier self would eventually ruin it and who wants to watch that happen?

moonpie
July, 12 2014 at 8:37 am

it really hurts me when bipolar people use the term "crazy" because we are not. We are proud, Loving, strong people. I do relate to what you wrote so many people vanished from my life when they found out I was Bipolar - like it was leprosy or something. Newsflash it's not the cooties you can't catch it.

JB
August, 8 2014 at 1:57 pm

Okay, I feel like I need to post something after months of reading. I am a 38-year old man who was diagnosed with BP while in college. I hated leaving my house, always broke dates/plans, couldn't stand the thought of committing to anything. I lost most of my friends except one who gave me what I needed but most are willing to offer...tough love. He explained to me that he knew I must have been struggling with something and asked if I would share. I don't know why, because I'm a very private person, even to this day, but I did. I told him that I was BP and told him how I felt when I was going through my lows. He help me realize that all the thoughts I was feeling were thoughts that I materialized in my own mind that had no basis or reason behind them. All the anxiety, feelings of being judged, scrutinized, etc were in my mind, not in my life. I trusted him and would text him (because calling was still to hard) when these feelings arose. He would reassure me over and over that they were in my head and that I needed to reteach myself to think positively and to learn how to live happy again. I try to correlate it to being temporarily paralyzed and having to learn how to walk all over again. Well this went on for 6 years. I don't know why he stuck by me or felt the need to help me but seeing this unconditional friendship made me realize that happiness was attainable. It honestly took 5 years for me to start actually feeling that things were changing, but once that clicked, life looked completely different. I wanted to go out, I wanted a girlfriend and ultimately a wife and kids, I just wanted to be happy and finally start living my life that I was given so many years earlier. Every day, I would wake up and focus on the blessings in my life...my family, friends, health, etc. I learned to realize that everyone has negative thoughts, anxieties, insecurities, fears, etc, but found a way to harness those and enjoy the good things. I am proud to say that I live BP free now and have been for almost 10 years. I go out, have friends, have an amazing girlfriend who i can't wait to make my wife. I don't know how many people make it though BP, but I wanted to share my story and reassure whomever reads this that it is possible and you can live a happy life. I wish you all had the same great friendship I was so blessed to have and I owe my life to him because I wasn't living before. Please don't give up hope, believe you can overcome BP and always remember that being happy is a choice you need to make everyday.

monica lovseth
August, 22 2014 at 12:19 am

I hate when you use the word crazy Good lord why do you even use that word in these blogs? Like its not rough on us already .

Camille
September, 30 2014 at 6:23 am

I'm sitting here bawling after reading Bipolar as love thief, cause it hit so close to home. Sad now, (sadder than I was) and the worst part missing the people that have abandoned me, but willing to forgive and forget just to have them back in my life.............

Camille
September, 30 2014 at 6:32 am

Oh....... And yes, I'm crazy, I'm sick. I'm bipolar and I am different. Life also, keeps telling me so........ Funny when I was younger, I believe it was those SAME qualities in me that attracted people to me.

Atom Girl
October, 5 2014 at 4:22 am

This post really highlights what I've been going through for the past year and a half. I had a friend last year who was so supportive of me until she wasn't. She began to think I was faking it and abused me, cursed m until i broke down.
I began to hear nasty things about myself from other people, things she told them but I stayed with her because I thought this toxic love was all I deserved, all I would ever receive.
Eventually she left me but I'm better now, everything is more bearable but I still hear the occasional whisper, passed through many a soul, from her.
She still maintains that she was the victim an people believe her.

Jon
October, 13 2014 at 12:38 am

@Camille , Listen to yourself. You want these people to be sorry they abandoned you so you can forgive them?? You selfish bipole, have you EVER thought for one minute how much pain and hurt YOU directly caused them, possibly for years due to bipoles' innate manipulative nature, and maybe how a person who isn't constantly high on mania feels when you verbally assault them? There is a reason they "abandoned" you, because you stick a knife into them every chance you get. Here's the thing: bipoles are complaining about how much hurt and pain they feel, yet will NEVER hone up to the massive amounts of damage they cause onto other people, not without some kind of backhanded "but" scenario included in fake apologies. If a bipole apologizes to you, please know that he/she has an agenda and is only doing it to further his/her own steam train ego.

lisa. mcpherson
February, 27 2015 at 2:56 pm

Well I was 50 confirmed diagnosed bipolar three years after the sudden death of my husband. It was a hard diagnosis to take, didn't know what it was at all but cried as I called work and said won't be back for awhile. Here it is over two years later on disability now, not sure if or when I will or can return to work. This whole thing they have to find our chemical inbalance through drugs just seems so ridiculous. I have been on so many already, they say there is no cure but psychiatrist says to me yesterday my insurance will eventually cut me off and can I live on just cop in my early 50's? For me my closest and dearest friends are still in my life been passed when I Don't call in depression and last one was a year. When I am manic they are happy because that's the closest to there friend they remember. I was adopted and that family all passed by the time I was 30. No medical history which this is a in the family desease for some reason causes the doctor distress cause they can't say well your just like so and so. Am I the first in the family who knows, please lord if an don't burden my children with bipolar. In closing its really hard to live with bipolar, when quiet and shut down the kids want me to talk. In the other phase they want me to shut up, let them finish as sentence and not be all about me. Darn do you know how hard it is to follow those simple rules I try and of course think I have something better to say and cut in yet again. I know my friends like to hear from me, but understand when they say I have to go to bed I accept, hang up and think of something else lonely to do for the rest of that sleepless not required sleep night.

Joanna
June, 1 2015 at 8:15 am

This post is now 5 years in the past, but for anyone else reading it and feeling "yes, this is me too", I have news for you. The problem is not with other people. It is with you. Yes, its with you, but that's OK!
I also have bipolar disorder and struggle with the exact same things as all others with bp do. HOWEVER, I understand, as an OP stated, that often thoughts I have are not based on reality. Its been my experience that people leave, because others are emotional vortexes, and energy depleters. No one, not even a sufferer, wants an endless stream of boohoos, poor me's, I'm sick, i'm damaged, blah blah blah......etc...... Its draining on them. Shut your mouth for a change and focus outside yourself. You may, just like me, be constantly swimming in a sea of discomfort, thoughts, anxieties and feelings. However you are still in touch with reality and therefore RESPONSIBLE for YOUR ACTIONS. Over time, ive learned to ignore the "voices" and thoughts and focus on what a non-sufferer would be DOING. Then I DO that thing. I am finally okay enough with the understanding that I can't control the emotions and thoughts 100% of the time. But its amazing how much control you can have when you make a conscious decision to try.
People will leave you when you drain the life out of them. Take the maximum amount of responsibility for yourself. Don't call yourself insane, sick, and most of all, you are NOT BIPOLAR, you HAVE bipolar disorder. As long as you allow the disease to DEFINE you, you will find yourself alone and miserable.
Take charge yourself, because sadly perhaps, others will not do it. Stop expecting them to. Stand up, and take the best hold you can of your life and you'll be amazed at what you get.
Nothing else should be acceptable.

sally
October, 7 2015 at 7:02 am

I felt very sad to read this article. Being discarded over and over again has had a devastating effect on my life. I have written about this before, and you may remember my posts in other forums, but I still want to try to get this pain out of my system. You could say my whole family has discarded me, all except for my brother who has stuck by me through thick and thin even though I have on occasion written some appalling letters to him. Once he did get really offended, and I don't blame him, but he forgave me and we both got over it. As for my sister who hasn't had any contact with me for seven years, my other brother who ignored me before he died, my sister-in-law who says she understands but never speaks to me, my niece who ignores me, my three cousins who will not answer letters, emails or phone calls, and my nephew who called once to ask me what it felt like to have bipolar, I feel like a freak of nature. As for so-called friends, they have all fallen by the wayside. The very worst thing that has happened to me was when I gave a talk on bipolar to my church. Twenty people came out of nosiness , then nobody in the congregation spoke to me again. In fact, they all went out of their way to ignore me and to turn their backs on me when I passed by. I can hardly believe this myself, but on two occasions I sat down next to a someone, and they got up and walked away. The last time this happened I told the Rev. that I had had enough of this stigma from church members, and she asked me what stigma was!!!!! I left, and have never looked back. Unfortunately, I am totally off the wall when Bipolar 1 mania strikes, and I do and say the most awful things. In a way, it's not hard to understand why people run away from me. They just don't know how to cope with such outlandish behavior. Better stop here. I hope others have got their illness more under control than I have. Good luck.

amanda
October, 7 2015 at 3:21 pm

So sorry to the author of this article for losing those relationships. I am Bipolar and have lost tons of relationships. I don't think Bipolars are the only ones that suffer these losses. I try not to let breakups drag me down though. Its a wonderful world whether we are alone or connected. I do wish people weren't still so judgemental about people living with mental illness. There is still so much work to do in removing the stigma.

1stPrime
December, 15 2015 at 1:23 pm

I have to apologize. I live with a person who has BPD. I have been living with the person for 28 difficult years. I hate to say this...she is plain and simply crazy. One can deny it all one wants. We can try to be politically correct all we want. The fact is the person with BPD typically believes he or she is normal and everyone else is crazy.
It's very difficult to deal with someone who is one momen sweet as can be, and then the next moment a nightmare. Jekyll/Hyde types keep those of us who are more balanced walking constantly on eggshells and. Land mines. This is not a fun experience and no joke. My heart goes out to those with BPD and HPD, but even more so for those who have to deal with such people on a daily basis. I love my wife dearly, but now as a result of constant combat communications., I am now tainted and crazy.
To deal with such people, those of us who are more balanced have to do crazy things to interact with them and shock them into a since of normalcy.
I understand people don't like the term crazy or insane, but in truth the stuf that these people do is craziness and insanity at times. Forgive me for saying this. I've been dealing with the challenges of BPD type or HPD type of person for so long that truth is truth. People who have this must get help for his or herself and in order for love ones to cope with their behavior.
Mine refuses to do anything about her illness...this is becoming a hopeless relationship to live in where my world is full of constant craziness.
To make things worse, I've been diagnosed with depression and PTSD. I'm not in the military. Now this is craziness. I messed my mind up by staying involved with a BP or HP person. Sheer craziness.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hidden_colors
July, 11 2020 at 11:23 pm

Thank you so much for this post and for your honesty. I am newly on the road to discovering my husband of 12 years also has BPD and narcissistic personality disorder. Everything that you said about them is so true. When I told him he has a mental disorder, he says I'm the one with the disorder and it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. They really don't get it. The disorder runs in his family and I am finding that their support is slipping from my grasp. I left him six months ago and he has scape goated me ever since to friends and family. How are you currently dealing with this disorder? Is she still refusing to get help? Myself and my oldest daughter started seeing a therapist about 9 months ago before we ever left and now that my therapist has been able to diagnose my spouse, he is saying that it's almost impossible to maintain a relationship with a bipolar and also their bipolar families. It's sickening to think you could spend so much time and invest so much in someone only to come out with battle scars. I myself am also suffering with anxiety and what I think is PTSD. I had to get out when I did because my fight or flight instincts were kicking in so intensely living with him due to the erie off the wall inconsistent behavior.

Chris
February, 11 2016 at 8:37 am

I've experienced precisely the same, that of being cut off, completely, by one so dear, no warning, no explanation (except, in my case it was the the possessor of bipolar who cut and ran...I, the other, the non-bipolar in the equation left behind to contemplate what was, and is, and do my damnest to recover, to move on).

Leigh
February, 24 2016 at 1:48 pm

I so relate to this as I have BPD and my Bipolar II boyfriend basically doesn't want to deal with me even though I've been in therapy and improved a lot. I understand how I can be a difficult person to live with, but I think if you love someone you don't just up and leave them when things aren't all peachy. You should stand by them if you are truly committed. I have never understood why some people just ghost on others and disappear. It is the most insensitive, cruel way to treat someone. Just understand that this is a reflection of their weakness as a person, not yours. And perhaps you are dodging a bullet discovering early on that this is their true character.

Jennie M.
December, 24 2017 at 11:53 am

I am commenting because my BP close friend discarded me. I had really been there for her and then out of the blue, I am basically cut. I asked her about it and she retreated even more. We no longer have a close relationship which saddens me to this day. I reach out to her only to get little if any responses and I am avoided at all costs. I've done nothing but try to be there for her. I know I have been on the defensive a few times but I had to set boundaries. I miss my friend--and yes in the high and in lows. I am so hurt over this.

Maggie
April, 2 2018 at 2:51 pm

I dumped my bipolar friend because he didn't value me. It didn't matter the few times we tried to discuss it, everything was all about HIM every second of the day. And when I almost died then needed cancer treatments welp, I wasn't giving him any attention because I'm selfish. Yep, I'm selfish. He doesn't even know what I do for a living because he has no interest in anything but himself. I was thrown away again.
I really tried to be a friend and I am a complete idiot for forgiving him twice before. Thing is, he's a total user but for wacky people who take advantage of him - he bends over backwards. Ticks me off.
Because of things in my my history I try extra hard to be kind and giving to ill people, especially if they have trouble making/keeping friends. This case has scared me away from caring from anyone with bipolar again. It isn't just me, how he endangers his own children is when I really know I had to be gone.
Keep up your good blog work Ms. Tracy.

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