Friendship with a Person Who Has Bipolar Disorder

Posted on March 27, 2018

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It can be challenging to be a friend of a person with bipolar disorder. I freely admit this. I know that my life is difficult for me to deal with and, certainly, it can be difficult for anyone else. Nevertheless, friendship with a person who has bipolar disorder can be just as rewarding as any other friendship.

I Have Bipolar Disorder — I Love and Appreciate My Friends

There is a myth people with bipolar disorder use and abuse their friends. While I have no doubt that there are people out there who fall into that group, certainly, that isn’t all of us and I know it isn’t me. I love and appreciate my friends and I am cognizant of the fact that dealing with my bipolar has challenges for them, too.

And I work as hard at being a good friend to them as I hope they will be to me. I don’t believe in one-way friendships.

Why Friendship with a Person Who Has Bipolar Disorder Can Be Hard

I know the bipolar disorder is my problem and not that of my friends. However, something that affects me so profoundly naturally seeps into close relationships. I know that my friends “feel” my bipolar disorder in ways because of how much I am affected.

For example, some friends with bipolar disorder:

  • May pull away and isolate when severe depression is present
  • May experience anger with which they have trouble dealing
  • May have unusual affect and beliefs if major mania/hypomania is present
  • May cry and express very sad and negative emotions
  • May need help with everyday chores more than other people

And, of course, as we’re all different, bipolar disorder can affect our friendships in different ways. The point is this: my bipolar disorder affects my friendships, period. I get that.

The Good Parts of Friendship with a Person Who Has Bipolar Disorder

And while I absolutely admit we can be challenging at times, there are also good bits about us that are bipolar-related too.

Friendship with a person who has bipolar disorder can often be affected by the individual’s increased creativity. That can be great and inspiring. Also, many with bipolar disorder are empathetic thanks to their bipolar experiences, making them great listeners.

And again, because we’re all different, there are always wonderful and unique characteristics that make us who we are (just like everyone else).

Can Just Anyone Be a Friend to a Person with Bipolar Disorder?

In recognizing there is both good and bad in a friendship that includes bipolar disorder, and knowing there is good and bad in every relationship, can anyway enjoy a friendship with a person who has bipolar disorder?

Watch this video where I discuss how different friends deal with bipolar disorder differently.

My answer is, unfortunately, no, not everyone can handle a friendship with a person who has bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is tough, emotional stuff and not everyone can handle that.

But in the end, that’s okay. No matter who we are, not all friendships would fit. So sometimes bipolar stands in the way of a friendship — that could happen to anyone for a myriad of reasons.

So this means two things:

  1. Friendships may not always work and it isn’t necessarily our fault. Sometimes bipolar disorder is a roadblock that people can’t overcome.
  2. The friends we do have are absolute gems.

It really pays for us to remember both.

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Author: Natasha Tracy

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