Maintaining Friendships and Relationships With Bipolar Disorder

Friendships play an important role in a person’s life. It is crucial for humans to have friends as it is extremely beneficial to their overall health and well-being. Friends are definitely a necessity. They are an extension of ourselves, like family. They are there to encourage us, love us, accept us, and support us. They are one of life’s most special and precious gifts.

Photo by Ambro

Photo by Ambro

For a person who lives with bipolar disorder, it can be rather difficult for them to maintain and have success in their friendships and relationships. Some with bipolar disorder have trouble relating to their peers. Due to low self-esteem and other factors, they may automatically feel “different” or like an outsider which can make it complicated to pursue a friendship. There are also days or times where those who live with this condition don’t wish to associate with anyone at all. They may be experiencing bouts of depression and want time to themselves until they feel well again. When bipolar individuals are depressed, they often push others away in ways that don’t always seem to make sense – especially if they are pushing away the people they care about the most. They may even say or do hurtful things that they later feel terrible about. It is not always known why those with bipolar push the ones they love away, but it almost seems as if it’s a type of defense or protection.

Additionally, in times of despair, it isn’t easy for a person with bipolar to keep in contact or feel up to hanging out with friends. This is one of the most common ways that some with bipolar have managed to lose friendships over time. It is common for them to call off plans or reschedule due to how they are feeling on a certain day. They may not even contact anyone for a few days or weeks depending on their health and mindset. Keeping in contact with friends can be tough even for those who don’t live with a mental illness though. Relationships in general can be strenuous to manage at times. It’s never super easy no matter who you are.

For a friend of someone who lives with bipolar:

It is important to try to understand, give them space if needed, and try not to take what they may say or do personally even though it can be incredibly difficult. If they cancel plans, know that they may need to take a day to recuperate and that it isn’t anything personal. It can be hard to understand and process that this person is truly not themselves during times like these. It can take a lot of patience, understanding, and a strong, loyal person to be a good friend to them during the rough moments.

Tips on how to succeed in friendships when you live with bipolar disorder:

  • Be upfront, honest, and inform your friends of how this illness can affect you and the relationship. Make sure they understand and are open to helping in any way they can.
  • Explain to them clearly how they can help you when you need it so there isn’t any guessing or confusion.
  • Pick and associate with the right people. Look for those who possess positive qualities. Not everyone will be a positive influence or understanding and patient. If this is the case, you may be better off in the long run so it doesn’t end up adding more stress to your plate.

Be good to yourself and try not to beat yourself up for not always being reliable. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad friend by any means. It’s not your fault… It will be alright. :)

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this! My boyfriends has bipolar disorder.

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