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Mental Health Use this forum to share your mental health concerns and to seek advice.

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JustSomeone Offline
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How to help a friend with bipolar disorder? - January 22nd 2019, 10:27 PM

Hi, i haven't posted on this site in quite a long time, but i need some advice.


Ok, so i have a friend who has confided in me that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 13 years ago. In many ways she has created a good life for herself, she's married to a good guy who has been with her through everything, she's formed a good career for herself, etc. She recently got a big promotion at work and she's a damn hard worker. However this promotion has caused a lot of stress too, she's always at work anymore. She's stopped doing other activities that she once enjoyed. However, she can be one of the best friends you could ever ask for, she can be the type to talk to you at 2 in the morning to make sure you're ok. She will be there to help in any situation.


Other times she can be the total opposite and will shut down on you. Sometimes she will fly off the handle in a situation where i'm just trying to help. I've never been diagnosed with anything because i've never had the money to, or been too afraid to, go see anyone to talk about it, but I definitely have social anxiety. I've never had a lot of friends and i constantly worry about everything i say being taken the wrong way, and i feel like i push everyone away. If anyone says one perceived negative thing to me, i take it as "they hate me".


My question to you all is, what do i do in these situations? Last night, my friend got a little mad at me over something and told me she didn't need the drama because she's barely holding it together right now. I told her I was sorry, I didn't mean to bother her. At this point I was already upset, she then said she hoped I was ok but just needed alone time. I replied and said I understood but that i just wanted her to know that i do care and to please take some time to take care of herself. She never answered me.


My brother has never liked her and told me that she's using me, that she's selfish, etc. He says that the problem is that I care more about her than she does about me, because he thinks I consider her more of a best friend than she does to me. I don't believe this at all. She's still my friend, it takes more than this for me to stop being friends with someone, but i have been upset since last night and keep crying over it.


Should I back off and let her have space? Or should I check in on her and make sure she's ok? If I contact her too much I feel like i'm being annoying. But I don't want her to feel alone either.
   
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Re: How to help a friend with bipolar disorder? - January 23rd 2019, 01:57 AM

Hey there,

Having a friend that struggles with mental health issues can be challenging to deal with for you, but it also sounds like she's trying the best she can to make your friendship work, while also dealing with other areas of her life.

Firstly, I'm just going to touch on what your brother has said. I do agree that you shouldn't believe him, having someone say that about your best friend can be hurtful, to both you and her. You mentioned that when she is in the right headspace, she is willing to stay up past 2 in the morning to make sure you are okay, and doing that for someone wouldn't make them selfish at all. It sounds unfair of him to judge her so harshly, however you also shouldn't take notice of what he said. The thing is, you know her better than he does and you would know if she was a good friend whereas he would not.

When you text someone and they don't reply it can feel like they are ignoring you especially to someone with anxiety, however I know when I'm not doing well if someone sends me a text I won't reply but I will still feel grateful for the message and a bit better knowing that they still care about me, despite having just snapped at them. It could be the same for her, she just might not be feeling up to replying which is a common thing for people with mental illnesses. As you had just gotten into an argument, it does seem like her trying to just get away from the situation so she can get into a better headspace, staying and replying might have just made her snap more.

I know when I don't know how to reassure someone that I'm there for them, I will just send them one message telling them that I'm there if they need me. If they ever respond I'll obviously reply, however I won't send any more than that if they don't. However seeing as you do know this person quite well, it would just be a good idea to ask her how she wants you to respond when she isn't doing well. You could talk to her when she's doing well and just ask, "Hey, I know that sometimes I upset you and I was wondering how you would like me to contact you past that, is sending just one message sufficient, should I message you at all, or should I just keep checking in periodically?" Every person is different and what works for someone else might not work for her, that's why I can't just give you a cut out of all the right things to do. It just doesn't exist for me.

I also want you to remember that just because she is mad at you, it doesn't mean she hates you or is going to be permanently mad at you. I know I snap at people quite a lot, which I'm working on as I'm sure she is, and even though I'm mad at them in the moment I also know deep down that I'm not actually mad at them I'm just mad at their actions which I will get over. So if she isn't replying, or she snaps at you, remember she doesn't hate you. It's hard to control emotions especially when your brain is fighting against you, but it really does sound like she's doing the best she can. Being stressed from work definitely wouldn't be helping her, and while you don't have to help her I'm sure she would appreciate it.

I hope things work out for both of you.


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Re: How to help a friend with bipolar disorder? - January 23rd 2019, 05:27 PM

Thank you so much for the reply, Sophrosyne. That makes me feel a lot better, and Good news. We're ok.


Last night, she posted on FB saying that she needed more positivity in her life, and gave an update on all the good going on right now. She thanked everyone who has been there for her lately and said she appreciated it more than we ever know. We've talked a little bit today too (just facebook comments but it reassured me that we're still good).


I probably overreacted too, i know i get paranoid about people "hating" me, like i said.


It's going to take a lot more than this for us to stop being friends.
   
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