Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem

January 28, 2019 Hannah Blum

Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem

Bipolar disorder and ghosting is a big problem. I didn’t realize the extent of this problem until I saw the number of comments on my recent YouTube video, "Ghosting and Bipolar Disorder: Why We Do It".

What is Ghosting? The Role It Plays in Bipolar

Ghosting is a contemporary term used for when a person completely cuts off all communication with a friend or romantic partner by not responding to texts, ignoring calls and acting as if the person no longer exists. It is done without a reason or an explanation from the person doing it. One day they are a part of your life, and the next day they disappear from it without warning. It negatively impacts friendships and romantic relationships. Ghosting is done by many of us living with bipolar disorder, especially during bipolar depressive episodes.

"I’m guilty of this when I’m hypomanic and in a negative mood and I’m super sensitive and I get easily hurt or angry at people and instead of confronting them, I just ghost them when they try to contact me." ~Xoxofmw, YouTube commenter

Why Do People with Bipolar Disorder Engage in Ghosting?

Those of us living with bipolar disorder definitely have a problem with ghosting people. It doesn't matter whether it's someone we're dating or friends with. Unfortunately, sometimes we're even ghosting our family members.

I have bipolar II and yes, I've ghosted people. Why? It feels more comfortable for me to cut off all communication with another person when I am struggling with highs and lows. Secondly, when I am dating someone, the fear of being rejected due to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder is always present. That makes me push another person away when they get too close. Thirdly, the stigma of mental illness causes severe anxiety in those of us living with bipolar disorder. Although a person we are romantically involved with may not be showing signs of rejecting us due to bipolar, we feel as though it is inevitable that at some point it will happen.

"I just do this on a low episode. I see it as protecting friends from me dragging them down to my level. Plus, in all honesty, I can’t deal with feeling suffocated whilst in the low and just want to be left on my own. It’s easier that way. ~ Claire, YouTube commenter

Self-stigmatizing is another significant reason for ghosting as well. Those of us with bipolar disorder subconsciously believe that we are unlovable and undeserving of friendships and relationships, which causes us to act on ghosting. The stress and pressure to explain the reasons for pushing away creates anxiety; which is where ghosting comes into play.

"I do this a lot. I stop answering phone calls and texts, and avoiding any form of communication with friends and family. In my mind, I don't stop loving them or care for them. I just feel overwhelmed and I feel the need to create a distance between me and them so I can calm down. Now, unfortunately, this can take from a couple days to a couple weeks." ~ Katia, YouTube commenter

The Affect Ghosting Has on Others

Over the years, I have realized that regardless of what is going on in my life, ghosting is hurtful to another person. I have been on both sides of ghosting, and it is very harmful and causes extreme insecurities.

"I just lost a friend who deals with bipolar. She just cut me off. I tried and tried. Dealt with the ups and downs and dealing with my own depression and insecurity, it was very difficult. ~ Embree, YouTube commenter

Bipolar disorder is not an excuse for hurting another person. Although we deal with anxiety and depression and it leads to many of us isolating ourselves, we are still responsible for the way our behavior negatively affects friends, family, and romantic partners. There are people who care about us, and they deserve a proper response even though it is difficult for those of us living with bipolar disorder to do so at times. This is something I am working on as well because I severely struggle with opening up which leads me to ghosting other individuals.

My ex, who's getting well with depression and very positive about her progress, left me since I have bipolar 2 and I isolate myself every once in a while. She doesn't like it since it triggers her. So she broke up with me and told me I can't give her what she needs. ~ Chaz, YouTube commenter

Self-awareness is essential when it comes to behaviors like ghosting. Many people with bipolar disorder do not even realize that this is a problem. Building strong relationships without openness and communication is impossible. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to self-awareness and learning how to properly communicate with others to prevent anyone getting hurt or feeling ignored by someone they care about.

"When I feel like isolating, I "check on" the people around me, my friends in recovery. This way I am not alone, but I am not talking about ME, I am checking on THEM. Seems to help! ~ BipolarLightningBug, YouTube commenter

What about you? How has being ghosted by someone with bipolar disorder affected you? And if living with bipolar disorder and ghosting others has been part of your life, why do you do it? Also, helpful suggestions on how to end this type of behavior are welcomed.

APA Reference
Blum, H. (2019, January 28). Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2019/1/bipolar-disorder-and-ghosting-its-a-big-problem



Author: Hannah Blum

Hannah Blum is the HealthyPlace YouTube bipolar disorder vlogger. Check out her I'm Hannah. I Have Bipolar 2 playlist and subscribe to the HealthyPlace YouTube channel. You can also find Hannah on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Rod
November, 3 2022 at 10:06 am

I would say to give her space and not push too hard. I know it's hard, but the more you push someone who has bi-polar, the more you'll push them away I fear. I'm no expert on this by any means, but it's what I've kindof realised after having been ghosted myself this year.
I have a friend who I suspect has bi-polar. She's told me in the past that she suffers from depression, etc. And after having a great year-long relationship (mainly online due to distance) back in April, she just disappeared. Our relationship wasn't romantic, but there might have been a tinge of that from both sides. Still a bit confused about that!
But yeah, out of the blue, she blocked me from social media, etc. Everywhere! Seven months down the line, I've tried to contact her multiple times and ways, but with no responses. So I've decided to let things lie for now as I don't want to push it and be that 'annoying person' who keeps popping up...
Good luck with your daughter. I would just say take things very slowly and let her come around in her own time :)

Phoenix
October, 26 2022 at 9:14 pm

I have been ghosted twice in my life, by two different people. The first lasted around 5 years, the second is ongoing, but has been several months, with declining contact and then complete ghosting. I believe both were due to a person's system being overwhelmed and shutting down of emotions. It is unknown if mental health issues were formally diagnosed, but through actions, it seems they were likely present in at least one.
I can say that the pain and psychological harm that ghosting causes to the ghosted (and likely the ghoster as well), is significant.
I am a person that has very few close friends/relationships, so to lose people in this way is devastating, and really impacts self esteem in a negative way. I am a person who values people I am close to tremendously, and loves deeply.
In both instances, each person had said that there would never be a time when we weren't in each other's lives, and at a minimum, we would never be less than friends. There was strong connection at all levels and it was a total shock to lose each of these relationships.
In the first relationship, the person did come back to the extent they could, after a period of about 5 years of silence, despite me reaching out in positive ways periodically, over that timeframe.
They only came back when I was finally able to release all expectations and let them go completely.
Haunted by the question: If I let them go, do I lose my ability to love?
To let them go completely, does not mean I stopped loving them, or myself. It means I learned to adapt to the unknown, develop faith and to love them unconditionally, no matter what the outcome was. I learned forgiveness and compassion for them and myself, and focused on all the things that knowing them and our connection gifted me with.
What was this ghoster feeling when they disappeared from my life?
They confirmed that as I was suffering all along, so were they. They confirmed that they loved me deeply all along, just as I loved them, even though they acted as if they hated me. They had to shut down their emotions and put them in a box on a shelf, in order to function and move forward on a chosen path. The emotions were never processed and finally 5 years later, they were opening the box to start processing them in a healthy way. Prior to their return, I did not tell them I had let them go, so I assume they felt a shift when I did, and then felt safe enough to make contact and to start opening the box of their packed up emotions. I welcomed them back with love and compassion, as I knew to open the box again took great courage. In the box lies all the difficulty of their own deeper issues, (things that may have nothing to do with the other person, things from childhood etc.), that were brought to the surface and overwhelmed them when we got too close. Now we are working to resolve past issues as they come up, in a health way. We are able to do this as friends, and it is a relief and blessing to have them in my life again. There are not words to describe it, yet there are still no expectations.
Getting here was a long and lonely road, but was I really alone? How did I get to this new place, when 5 years prior, when the ghosting first happened, I found myself in a place I swore I would never be in (one of complete despair and hopelessness)?
When you're going through hell, keep on going.
I did everything I could to keep myself alive, even though at times, I felt like a shell of who I once was. I hid my suffering from as many of my loved ones, co-workers and friends as I could, as they did not understand, and wanted me to be angry with this person. I was hanging on by a thread for so long, struggling to remain positive and remember all of the gifts. I kept the higher perspective that yes, they destroyed my life, but only to bring out the person I truly am; one that can and does love unconditionally. I focused on all that I needed to heal, partly because I needed to remain focused in order to survive, and partly because I was not going to ever come so close to giving up again.
A new beginning.
I had overcome so much and made so much progress, rebuilding my self esteem and recognizing my self worth. I knew if I could get through this, that I could get through anything. I knew that I would not be afraid ever again to love completely... And so I did.
When person 2 ghosted me, I could once again not believe it, and again was in shock. I had a love for this person I could not explain, loved them unconditionally. That this abrupt ending was only an illusion, because it didn't feel as though it had ended. This person still feels as close to me as they ever have, even though they act now as though I never existed. So again, I let them go and love unconditionally. Maintaining hope, with no expectations.
When I take a closer look in the rearview mirror, I saw warning signs that something else was happening to this person behind the scenes, and there was anxiety and depression having a negative impact on them. Over what I recall to be a very rapid timeframe, they suddenly lost feelings for me. They became seemingly cold and uncaring, when once so understanding, loving and warm. The person I trusted with my life became harsh and pushed me away hard. Periodically, my mind unconsciously wanders to thoughts of those instances, and it hits so hard. The way things happened does not make sense, as everything seemed to be going so well and we were still in the process of getting to know each other and enjoying each other's company. The bond seemed unbreakable. Even though I was in shock, and feel bad that I didn't know enough about the illness at the time to be more supportive, I thought back to the commitment we made to each other to always be in each other's lives. I found comfort in this, knowing that we would always have a close friendship, and maybe one day more. Sadly, they began to not answer my calls very often. We went from daily communication and texts, to almost nothing, over a period of months. I would check in periodically to see if they were ok and also let them know I'm still here for them, no matter what. I would also send pictures and events in my life that I would send to other loved ones as well. First they seemed to value that, but little by little, the responses got shorter and shorter, until they stopped responding completely. Though I am working hard to stay positive during this process, I recognize I love and miss this person very much.
Loving them is the easy part.
Letting them go is the hard part.
I want very much to spend time with them again, talking, laughing, doing things we enjoy and showing them how much they are loved and valued. Yet I have to let all of that go and trust the unknown. I don't know if person 2 will ever come back into my life, but I have hope they will. I have hope they can overcome their illness and learn to love themselves. I have hope that I can survive the pain the ghosting has caused, the waking up at 1:30am and realizing again and again that they chose me out of their life. I have at times even wished that I could blame myself, as maybe there was something I said or did, or maybe I was too intense and it triggered them... but there is no logical explanation to why a person who loves you could ghost you and pretend you don't exist, because it is not logical; it's an illness that presents itself periodically.
When all of the difficulty on both sides is stripped away, I wish I could tell you, that the illness is not who you are, who you are is your soul, and nothing can take that away from you.
I wish I could tell you how much you are loved, no matter what.
To those who suffer from being ghosted, please take care of yourself.
It's ok to love unconditionally and hold space for your loved one. Equally, tell them gently and honestly that shutting down and ghosting hurts you and set loving boundaries.
To help you through this trauma, make a plan with things that keep you alive through the pain you feel. Basic things like exercise, eating healthy, sleeping when you can, writing, and doing things that make you feel a little better, and do these things religiously every day. Focus on what the separation is showing you, that needs healing in yourself, because perhaps it is a gift. Through it, you will become more of who you truly are.
To both the ghoster and the ghosted, please remember who you truly are, and remember that no matter if it feels that all is lost; in this life, we are never truly alone. Even in the illusion of separation, and in the shadow of an illness, we are not alone. This too shall pass.
Remember to be the light that you are.

Britta Hallberg
October, 28 2022 at 1:24 am

i dont know who you are but I AM GOING THROUGH THIS RIGHT NOW ITS SO HEARTBREAKING I NEED HELP

Phoenix
October, 28 2022 at 8:31 pm

I am so sorry Britta. I know it is heartbreaking. Sometimes it helps to share your story, if you feel comfortable doing so.
Wishing you peace during this difficult time.

Klm
November, 12 2022 at 11:06 pm

Wish I could get back the strength to have your optimism, trying so hard now again.. but I feel so trapped and my ex won’t let me go. Had to keep some tether to me for this sick sense of power and control they seem to need

Bob
December, 14 2022 at 4:53 am

I would love your advice. I had been texting someone I met on a dating app, we moved to instagram and talked all day everyday for 2 weeks, she told me about having Bipolar Disorder. When I shared some of my struggles she would reply in the sweetest, understanding ways. We had really good, deep talks and started talking about meeting up. I liked her a lot, I feel like we really connected.
On the day we agreed to videochat to make things less awkward IRL she woke up with a migraine so we rescheduled to the day after, I made sure to assure her that it was okay and to take her time. Later that day, in the late evening we had a nice chat but suddenly she stopped replying, even though nothing had happened. The day after I texted her good morning and said I hope she was feeling a little better. she wouldn't open my texts.
A couple days after I sent her a longer text saying that even though I had only known her for a short time I care a lot for her and would like to know how she are doing, telling her I'm there for her, assuring her I'm not going anywhere even though things might not be very easy. She wouldn't open it.
A week later I sent a text saying not to feel bad about not answering and that I will be there when she is able to answer again. It's been two weeks since this and she still hasn't opened my texts. She hasn't been active at all.
I don't know what else I can do. I assumed she might have fallen into a depression. I have tried to just not think about it anymore, and I haven't that much but when I do it sort of kills me inside...

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