Bipolar disorder is notorious for leaving broken relationships in its wake – both intimate relationships and close friendships. Bipolar can be a double-edged sword – driving away the very people we rely on to maintain our mental health.
However, from my experience, I can rarely blame the loss of a friendship on bipolar or the friends who’ve drifted away. I think my wife and I have lost more friends not because they have rejected us, but because we failed to make an effort at becoming better friends – especially during times of crises (theirs and ours), when true bonds of friendship are forged. In these times, in our moments of weakness, we often try to hide our vulnerabilities instead of asking for help and seeking understanding. As a result, we have missed golden opportunities to deepen our friendships and have actually, on several occasions, distanced ourselves from others. We still have plenty of good friends, but we’ve let far too many potentially good friendships wither.
On the flip side, bipolar disorder has exposed us to more friends – people who already understand the ups and downs of living with bipolar. Through these friendships, we have been able to expand our support network and develop a deeper understanding and acceptance of bipolar.
Please share your experiences and insights on bipolar disorder and friendships. Has bipolar disorder damaged or destroyed any friendships? Has it introduced you to new friends? How specifically has a friend helped you in the midst of a mood episode? Do you feel that bipolar has gotten in the way of any friendships? If so, how? If you’re a friend of someone with bipolar, what are some of the unique challenges you face in maintaining and deepening your relationship?