Friendships With Bipolar
This article is intended to carry on from my previous article on managing friendships with bipolar disorder. Like the other article, I have structured this to offer tips for both a person with bipolar and the friend of a person with bipolar.
For the Bipolar Individual
One thing I always try to bear in mind when I'm talking to my friends about my bipolar, or even privately assessing how things have been, is that I may at times not have the best perception of my illness.
If I'm hypomanic I might think that there is nothing wrong with me, that everything is going really well and everyone is just trying to spoil my fun. It is important to try to remember that there is a chance you could be heading for a crisis in this scenario, and you should try and listen to your friends if they raise concerns.
Another thing that can be a huge sticking point if you have bipolar disorder is memory, especially remembering episodes once you have come out of the other side. I found talking to my friends to be vital in helping me piece things back together post crisis, as they could explain to me what had happened and help me look out for future warning signs.
Try to talk things through with your friends. You may have said some hurtful things or done something that you regret, but it is important to do what you can to build bridges – it will likely result in stronger relationships.
For the Friend
Friends are people we should be able to rely on in times of need, and during a bipolar episode this should be no different. Unfortunately during a bipolar episode there may be a chance that your friend is insensitive, hurtful, or even downright rude – this is not a reflection on you, or your relationship, but is rather the illness talking.
Try and have patience during these difficult times, and bear in mind we may need a while to lick our wounds before coming to you and apologizing. After a big manic episode there is every chance that we will experience a crash of sorts, and we may need extra support during that time as we feel exposed and humiliated by what we might have done.
For the Bipolar Individual
Hospital can at times be the only option in order to keep us safe and help us to get the best treatment we can. Being an inpatient is a scary prospect but it is important to try and remember that a hospital will provide a safe and stable environment to try and get back on track, and then further care can be provided out in the community.
You may feel embarrassed about your friends visiting, or may not want to see them at all. This is completely your choice, but seeing familiar faces can give hope, distract you slightly, and be a really helpful thing in your recovery.
It might be hard for people to visit you, and they may not know how to act at first but given time this will change.