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Friendship Exhaustion?

Christi Huff

Recently, I took a huge nose dive in the roller coaster I like to call, My Illness. I thought I had everything under control, but by “under control” I really meant “hidden under the surface festering and stockpiling for the perfect moment to burst and destroy.” Boy did it destroy. I found myself out of work under the Family Medical Leave Act and facing the end of my marriage. I was stuck in the depression hole and barely coasting along with my only grasp on reality being my friends.

After a while, I began to wonder if being my friend, or a friend to someone who has bipolar disorder, was too exhausting or taxing because of the bipolar disorder, or if friends just accept it as part of who we are and don’t see the mood swings as an issue on the relationship as friends. Since I know that if I asked my friends directly, they would definitely not respond honestly, I used Survey Monkey (which allows you to ask the questions and gather the responses anonymously) so all participants would be assured that I would not discover who they were. I posted the survey on my Facebook page and encouraged others in various Facebook groups for those with bipolar disorder, to share the survey link with their friends. Of course this is by no means scientific, but I did get over 20 responses to the question: “What is it like to be friends with me (or your friend with bipolar), or to have been friends with me (or your friend with bipolar), because we have bipolar?”

Before I read the responses I braced myself for the worst. I was prepared to see a whole string of responses that read something along the lines of “I just can’t handle being friends anymore because it is so emotionally draining trying to pull them up,” or “Why can’t they just be happy and stop wallowing. I’m sick of it.” After reading the responses I was actually surprised. Almost half of the responses said that being friends with someone who has bipolar is either no different than any other friendship, or that even though it has its ups and downs, it’s not hard being friends with someone who has bipolar. That actually made me feel a lot better when it came to my own views on how my friends were feeling when I looked at my own situation (although, I could have probably sucked it up and just asked them).

However, there were still a lot of responses that had negative opinions. There were friends who were admitting to being scared of our lows because they don’t know what to do or say because of some of the things we say or do when in our various states, such as withdrawl or talks of suicide. One response even said that we were selfish and we use our illness as an excuse to be ignorant of the world around us. It went on to say that we were self-centered and created a fantasy drama world in our heads, we were impossible to deal with and they wanted to throw in the towel. I understand that sometimes dealing with someone who has bipolar disorder can be exhausting (the whole reason I wanted to investigate this to begin with) so, I can understand someone responding to the question in this manner as well. It appears that not everyone can handle being friends with someone who has bipolar and it could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have their own overwhelming situations or maybe they don’t fully understand bipolar disorder so they don’t know how to handle it and just need education. I could list a plethora of reasons why someone could respond like this, but the fact is that not everyone is equipped to handle a friendship with someone who has bipolar disorder.

When looking for positive support systems, the friends you choose are important. They are the ones who are going to be there when you take the nose dive into the depression hole and the ones who are going to be there to help you in your quest to pull yourself out. Being aware of which friends can handle being there for you in the bad as well as the good is an essential part of your recovery. Relying on those individuals that are not capable of handling you when you are at your low will only cause more strain because you are each trying to give something you don’t have. It doesn’t help either of you. We all don’t need to do surveys to determine who can handle us when we are at our worst, we can simply chat with our friends about it. Many of our friends might be glad that we asked how our episodes make them feel and they may be glad to share with us the ways they can be there for us, which, will benefit both of us in the end! ?



A new found friend that is bipolar and a very stricted religion back ground. I still don't fully understand myself. Being blown off on meetings at the last minute is overly stressful to me. But it always comes with a lie. Why cant she just say I'm not in the mood or I don't feel up to it. I'm trying to understand. Thanks for the post. Helpful

I understand this must be so frustrating for you. As a bipolar sufferer I totally understand why she makes other excuses. I hate to have my illness at the forefront of my mind and I try to use 'it' as little as I can to justify my behaviour because we (bipolar sufferers) are constantly judged if we use it or hide behind it. Also, because we seemingly may not have any external stressors / triggers at the time, if we use how we feel aka our mood as the reason for things, people often don't understand because they can't see 'why'. I found that this happens more and more as time goes by, almost like the further away from your diagnosis, the less people remember you have it, or maybe they just think it was a temporary illness that surely must now be cured. I'm not saying whether these things are all true to your friend and it doesn't make it any less frustrating for you. But it might shed some light. Perhaps ask her?

i am biploar, not so proud to say so. had to deal with my mother's suicide - shot her self when i was about seven years old, removed a friend's body from a citi golf when he was stiff with rigormortis (treated him so badly as he was a drug addict and i got mad with this), and gave CPR to another friend of mine, although he was already probably dead, because the law says you must administer cpr until a paramedic or doctor arrives. my biploar condition paralyses me and i feel worthless. i am on meds, i let my wife and kids down as i am useless as a husband and father.

Hi Frazer, we can imagine how tough this must be for you. We are deeply concerned about you and we want you to know that help is available to get you through this. If you are in a crisis, please call this number which is a crisis line with listeners trained to help you: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), as we are not a crisis center. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741-741. For a list of international crisis centers visit this page:

If you are not in a crisis and would like someone to talk to online, we recommend the It’s a free, anonymous online chat with a trained listener.

I recently used this crisis text line. It was so helpful. I felt peaceful by the time I left it. I would highly recommend it. It is not only for those
Who are suicidal but for the family members who need guidance on how to approach helping the family member who is ill.

My dearest friend of over 20 years started distancing herself from me some time ago. We are very close, we don’t live in the same state but we used to speak every day. For months she would avoid telling me what’s going on... then one night it all came to a head. She said she was offended by things from a recent trip, but honestly none of it makes sense. And the story changes all the time. I noticed on the trip that she was extremely moody, you’d never know what mood she’d be in. Sadly, she was always at her best while drinking. I would never in a million years judge her, but this is the behavior I noticed after reflecting heavily on the trip after her many accusations. Anyway, I finally decided to distance myself from her and not respond to messages until I was ready. I have now made that attempt and it’s clear she is cutting me off. I’m heart broken and want to be there for her. I worry she has bipolar although she has never admitted this. I do know her mom suffers from the condition. I wanted to share my story in this forum to see if this behavior sounds like someone with this disorder. And I’d like advice on where to go from here? I feel like I’ve tried everything, I can’t keep harassing her but I am very concerned for her.

Sarah, it was a long time before I reunited with my friend (who happens to have bipolar) with whom I had lost touch with. She and I had a falling out of sorts. She was living with me and when I thought that I was just trying to find her somewhere to live that wasn't my extremely small attic apartment with my family of 3 soon to be 4. The only living space had our table in it too and half the apartment was too short to walk in because of the roof shape we lived under. She took it as we not taking care of her like she'd been told I would. I felt blindsided when I came home and she was still very upset about the plans I was trying to make to help her find a healthy situation earlier that day. I never told her she was to leave that day or anytime before we found her place. My husband's very introverted and it was very difficult for him to have another woman living in our living room that was the only place beside the bedroom to be in the apartment. so I was not taking it slow trying to find her a place but I wasn't kicking her out either. She ended up leaving and she was very upset. I felt so worried about her I left her a key and a note to let her know she should come back in if she wanted to because we weren't trying to make her leave right then. When she finally recontacted us she told me her mind and was still very very upset she was saying things that were very hurtful and accusatory. I got so very upset I need her get out of my car and threw her stuff on the sidewalk in front of her apartment where she had been living with her abusive boyfriend. Over three years went by I'd written her letters Facebook personal messages and tried to call her and text her multiple times. I felt awful for what I had done in the end and how I had acted so poorly towards her just because she was upset. I truly did not know how else to respond to her in the moment. I let my pride get the better of me and I didn't handle it the way I should have. I'm pretty sure at the time I really just didn't know how to handle it. That's why I'm at this forum now. A couple months ago I ran into her at a restaurant and we exchanged numbers. I was cautious and worried that she was still upset I got her number I resent the apologies I had tried to send her in the past. She was not responsive to these but she was friendly. I made sure that when we were face to face I would make these apologies Again. I also make sure she heard me say to her that I was so happy that she was back in my life and then I've missed her so much. Despite the way that I feel about her it is sometimes hard to not feel like I'm walking on eggshells but she is one of my dearest friends I fear that she often pushes people away. I don't want to be one of those people anymore. If your friend is, in fact, suffering from bipolar disorder it is possible that she was hurt by something you said or did or do that may even be out of your control. The thing is, people who have bipolar have just as little control in how they feel about what they hear or see. The thing that we realize is that these people are important to us that their disease does not define them in her eyes. We want them and everything that comes with them. You want to buy them for them to realize that we're focusing on the ninety-nine percent of their personality that is not their disease. That's my friend put it recently, she tries her best to focus on people who are willing to work through and handles the way that she is. this is not always easy. It is no easier for us than it is for our dear friends. Try to think back. If there's anything that you can put your finger on that may have caused her distress without you to even. Be open to the possibility that the smallest thing could have triggered her reaction to wanting to distance herself from you. You don't necessarily have to call all your actions. And even telling her that you want to be friends and you want to be close may not drive her back to you. If you can figure it out and you're certain of yourself try it out ask her it may be just the thing to help her realize how much you love her and help her realize that you want to do whatever it takes to be close again. Remember, you may want to be angry you may want to stand up for yourself especially if you've known this person differently. But remember if this is what you think it is there's not something that she has control over especially if she's not admitting it especially if she's not taking medicine. Even those measures will not cure her. But the thing is, she needs you she's even people she'll push away and she may push you away a lot. Are going to be times when she says things but that surprise you. Try not to get upset. Try to navigate instead. remind yourself when you speak to her that you don't know what's going on inside her head. So you don't understand how it feels to not always be able to control how you react when you hear something. Remember to navigate remember to search who she is what she might be really saying. I really hope that you get back in touch with your friend as I did. Is any way to see her face to face it may be the only way to get back with her. if this is new to her, she may be afraid of what you think of her. Always stay calm choose your words carefully and don't accuse. I see my friend weekly now. We find a common ground that we both enjoy and it's helping us to mend. Not everything is fixed yet but I hope in time that things will be the way they were before. I'm willing to wait. Love is the answer. It's what she needs more than anything. Stay patient. God bless you and good luck.

It was so wonderful to read your response, and I'm so thankful you reconciled with your friend who is struggling with BPD. I'm sure you're both feeling thankful and fortunate to be in each other's lives again, and you're lucky to have what you do - few people ever realise their pride can cause the sort of lasting breach or damage that can only and always be repaired with love. I'm bipolar type ll, and I feel like my world and relationships are falling apart around me, but I'm so busy holding onto my pride and keeping it all in that I don't think I can keep it together anymore. I suppose it's important to remember that pride goeth before the fall, and all of that, but 'what will survive of is love'.
A lot of my friends who have tried to reach out, but I haven't responded to their attempts, and sometimes I feel like it might be too late, because I don't know what to tell them, or how or where to start, and it might be better for them to remember the person I used to be, or the relationship we used to share, for better or for worse. I'm so glad you decided never to give up - it takes courage and compassion, and I'm sure your friend values that, even if she wasn't always able to reciprocate every time you tried to re-establish contact, I'm sure she values every valiant attempt, and you both have been rewarded for it because you salvaged a friendship that was so obviously worth saving in the end.

My friend has recently been diagnosed after a manic episode that has landed her in the psych ward. So many things are coming out of the woodwork- she has been covering up her illness or been misdiagnosed for so many years- her family and friends are learning of a huge intricate web of very hurtful lies and behaviors that we have all been told are related to this disease. I want to support her but I can't do it at the expense of myself. I am willing to start fresh with her as she is now actually being treated for the right illness but when do you know to draw a line between behavior that is unacceptable in anyone else who is your friend and supporting them through their illness?

the fact of the matter is that it IS the illness and NOT the person. You have to be able to seperate the two and have compassion for the sufferer. We know it isn't easy being our friend, but it is a MILLION times worse being us. Believe me. So if you then throw abandonment on top of it, well... It is a life and death situation for the sufferer, so that is worth taking into consideration.

My friend is bipolar and I'm on the verge of unfriending him... my mental health is suffering. ..I'm so down at the moment... apparently I don't click yes on enough of his Facebook stuff... he wants to know every thought and everything about what I'm up and if I don't tell him it's because I'm not a good friend... I know it's partly his illness but Ive been through a bit myself these last few years and he's made some of those bad times even worse... I just don't know where to turn :( x

I see your question was posed in July and it is now October... I hope things have improved between yourself and your friend. I myself am bipolar, and I am going to tell you something that I have a very hard time verbalizing - so much so that I have tears in my eyes as I type: You are correct, you cannot be this person's friend at the expense of yourself. If he/she is toxic to you, you need to, as gently as possible, make yourself unavailable to this person. It's hard for me to be this kind of honest with you, because I myself have done the same thing to a few of my friends as your friend has done to you. And therefore, I have lost some friendships that meant a lot to me. Once bitten, twice shy - even though losing those friendships was entirely my fault, I now fear pursuing new friendships because I am afraid of repeating my mistakes.
Those who have bipolar disorder often do not realize when they are being so obsessive. Seems impossible, but it is true. I say all that to say you need to put space between you, and if you feel you must address the issue with your friend, really think about how you will "let them down". Try to stay away from blaming, and make it about you. "I am not emotionally strong enough to be a good friend to you..." and go from there. It will be VERY painful for your friend, but avoiding the blame game will help. I hope this helps.

Jenny, thank you so much for posting this reply. I'm in a very tough situation with my friend who carries a bipolar I diagnosis. I give so much of myself to our friendship, yet receive nothing in return. I have been considering, for a few weeks now, that for my own mental health, I have to leave this friendship. I recently went through a horrid break-up, a loved one passed away, and am currently battling cancer (amongst a million other little life things, but hey life is life). She has yet to reach out to me regarding any of the above. The other day she called wanting to vent about her marriage. When I explained I could not speak with her at the time because of the items above, she said "Ok" and ended the call. This is a friend who I have extended the most of myself to try and help. I feel like pieces of me have been chipped away trying to help her through the lows and now there is nothing left for me to give. I have been harboring a massive amount of guilt for thinking that I have to get out of this friendship, knowing that she will not have anyone else, but your response has now given me the courage and strength I need to acknowledge that I cannot continue to give myself to her anymore.

Lacey I feel like we are in parallel friendships. My friend & have been friends for over 35 years. She’s always been dramatic, attention seeking & quite frankly bossy. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago she discovered she was no polar. The last 2 years have been severe & I am at the end of my rope. She is newly divorced, getting kicked out of her house in 3 mos (no place to live) and has no job, only lives on disability. She does absolutely nothing to better her situation including any of the advice of her therapist.
I have had many obstacles to conquer myself, including the death of my mom & health scare. Never ever was I asked how I was doing or what can I do for you. NEVER. She has no sense of reality. I need advice desperately or I’m afraid I will have to walk away

I love a friend who knows he is bipolar, has been treated with medication but quit them. I can only say that in our friendship, I try to focus on his intelligence, interests and I listen even when he talks for a long time non stop. I know he is a good man, he knows he needs help, and is coming to terms with it. Even though he has been extremely irritable and really mean to me, I remember he does care about me. I will decide in the future if it becomes too unhealthy for both of us to see each other daily, but right now I'm standing by him. Sometimes it feels awful; when this happens, I take a break and always promise I'll be back and he can call anytime. We also have other close friends so neither of us isolate, as tempting as it is. It would probably help to mention that I have MDD, so we're both struggling. Our goal is peace of mind, whether or not our relationship works out. It's hard, but I do try to change my negative thinking around and it helps. Let's just say, "it's complicated."

A dear, dear person in my life (once in my life) suffers from the illness of bipolar. Our friendship has always been long distance (literally half a world away), but we grew incredibly close, incredibly quick. Then, she peeled away, a bit at first (albeit abruptly enough for me to notice, immediately) but in time to such an extent that all that has remained is a memory. I cannot possibly begin to communicate the pain the experience brought into my life. It's been a long while (years) but to this day I struggle (and hurt, a lot).

I've had this happen to me as well, grew incredibly close so fast to a friend I had never even met. 6-7 years into the friendship now I have no regrets. We crossed paths on the internet at 16 and she lives about 45 min away and we are both 21. We lost touch for 3 years though, it was hard for me to focus on anything because I was constantly worried about her. Plus her life was spiraling down and I didn't want to witness her struggle. I regret not being there for those 3 years because after getting in touch again, she could have used a friend like me. If you put up with them, they will see it and love you more than anything in this world. They will appreciate you. When the lows are low, they will say stuff they don't mean. I often have to convince myself that it isnt her, it's her bipolar. She will be distant at times and It'll bother me, and I confront her about it and she takes it as her not meeting up to my expectations. Which isn't what I'm trying to say. I try and let her know that I want to remain close to her and want to be that friend for her, not make her feel bad for not making time. I have much experience with bipolar disorder because of her. I also took two psych classes so I kind of know what's going on. When I was 16 I didn't really know what to think of it.

I sometimes find it difficult to deal with the lows that come with my friend, I dont know if its the bipolar or a trait of his own personality, but he becomes very sensitive to what is said and will often read it out of context or pick at it until the topic of conversation degenerates into something less friendly. When he's like that, I find it difficult to talk to him because it seems no matter what I say it will be turned around in his mind to be negative or criticising. As much as I love him, I don't know what to do or how to react when he's like that and it hurts me and hurts him equally when we try to talk it out. I'm at my wits end and its getting to the stage where I'm afraid to talk to him for more than a moment at a time for fear the conversation is going to take another emotional nose dive without my even realising it until its too late to turn it back around. I've recently suffered from depression myself and am still working through some things and these conversations are dragging me down and making me reluctant to communicate at all. Any suggestions?

I have a bipolar friend, and I don't know how to deal with him. I'm gay, so I'm scared of the far-right, and he had recently come out as a far right sympathiser. He posts tons and toms of pretty obnoxious posts on Facebook, then tells me not to take it seriously, it's his condition. He always blames the condition and doesn't ever take any responsibility for his behaviour, so he expects me to take all the shit he flings, and then for me to actually pity him for it. If I do this I'm not treating him like an adult. He often tells me I'm his best friend, an accolade I can't reciprocate, but I feel a responsibility to him without liking him that much. Beyond our childhood we have nothing in common, he seems to have no idea of what I'm actually like, doesn't ask me any questions about me or my life, it's just him him him, he lashes out and then instead of apologising expects sympathy. So I'm in this 'friendship' with someone who has no interest in me, frequently offends me and then expects me to not just suck all that up, but to be incredibly sympathetic. This friendship takes place mostly online, but I feel if it had been more 'in real life', it would have ended a long time ago. Any advice?

Hi Will, hope you are well. I am bipolar and I am also bisexual. What you are describing is a hugely toxic relationship. My political views do not move AT ALL because of my illness, I am always and will always be el comunista. They may vary in the severity of my views on the 'right' (as to what should be done with them), but they do not suddenly switch 180 degrees because I am ill. Yes, the illness affects reactions, views and experience and opinions, but not to the degree that I am a completely different person. You need to remove this person from your life. I rarely advise that anyone should give up on someone suffering from bipolar, but this person is obviously a nazi and has deep issues with who you are as a person. He is manipulating you and it could very easily turn into an abusive situation. Also, who does he know in the fascist fraternity? Will THEY be a danger to you? Kick that fud to the kerb. Take care, man.

I'm not completely sure, but I believe a friend of mine is dealing with bipolar disorder. I want to be there for her and be a good friend, but whenever I'm around her, I feel drained both physically and mentally. I'm rather introverted and she is very hyper, easily agitated, and clingy. I'm not saying she's like this all the time; sometimes she's a lot of fun to hang out with, but, to be blunt, most of the time I feel strangled when she's around. I feel awful for saying all this, but I was wondering if others were going through something similar and had some advice. Thank you for reading.

Hi... strangled is exactly how I feel. My friend with bipolar makes me feel suffocated. He's lost other friends and if I'm honest I'm hanging on by a thread. My post is posted above... he tells me on selfish and tells me I'm nasty to him...I'm not I'm just straight, yes he has bipolar but I'm a human and I refused to spoken to like he does. Though he's impossible to argue anything with as it's twisted and turned back on me. His illness now causes me to be depressed...I don't see us being lifelong friends. .:( x

Hi... strangled is exactly how I feel. My friend with bipolar makes me feel suffocated. He's lost other friends and if I'm honest I'm hanging on by a thread. My post is posted above... he tells me on selfish and tells me I'm nasty to him...I'm not I'm just straight, yes he has bipolar but I'm a human and I refused to spoken to like he does. Though he's impossible to argue anything with as it's twisted and turned back on me. His illness now causes me to be depressed...I don't see us being lifelong friends. .:( x

If I might make a suggestion - I'm bipolar type ll, and I feel myself wearing out my friends in much the same way. I'm conscious of it, but it's very difficult to stop. I feel dejected and rejected by them, but I'm often the one who pushed them away to begin with. I don't answer calls and texts for months, causing them to worry about me, during some depressive states, and I think it seems to them like I just bounce back, and come back into their lives like nothing had ever happened, calling and texting incessantly. Again, they're often the ones who might try desperately hard to re-establish contact, which makes me feel guilty for not responding, and then I overcompensate, but feel rejected by them in turn. It seems like they try a little less hard each time, and I don't know whether that's true, or it's just me - or my 'illness'. I have no way of knowing how my friends feel dealing with someone who is struggling with BPD, and no idea how your friend feels about her dealings with you,because she might be facing the same struggles in terms of BPD, but she's a different person with a different life. I suggest that you tell her when and why you can't devote your full time and attention to her (something brief and simple, like you're helping your husband with some work around the house, or kids with homework, or you have work of your own to attend to), and set a date for a future meeting, so it doesn't seem like you're avoiding her altogether. If she understands that you have other demands on your time (you don't even have to be 100% committed in making these excuses - you're also allowed to 'not feel like it' on an off-day, so you can be honest and say as much, and no one will understand that the way someone with BPD does) and then ignore her for a brief while, recharge, and reconnect when you're ready,by repeating the explanation, and not offering too many excuses or apologies so that she doesn't expect too much and it becomes a routine thing. It'll be better for you both in the long-term, because you can make sure you don't feel too drained, and she doesn't feel too dejected, because if a pattern of unhealthy behaviour persists on both sides, and you feel like you're forced to deal with her but you just can't anymore, you might be forced to cut her off completely. You'll both feel badly about it, and shell feel even worse, because I'm sure you won't be the only one abandoning her when she gets to be too much to handle, so it will get to be too much to handle for her all alone - the little things can break you, and make a big difference when you're bipolar. it doesn't matter if you understand something intellectually. It might even be worse, because you can't seem to stop yourself. Don't leave her hanging too abruptly, but take a break when you need to - easier said than done, I know, but I believe it will work best for the both of you. Maybe also add that virtual communication is too taxing for you sometimes, and you're not using your phone as much, but you will get back to her when you are able to. Check in on her occasionally, but don't prompt or promite long conversations. Say you're putting the phone down, for whatever reason, do it, and don't feel guilty about getting back to her until you can. It might help if you're the first to pick it up again sometimes just to say hi. It's about building and managing expectations placed on you by someone who demands time you don't have in a way that won't make you resent her, or reject her eventually, because she will feel that burden even more accutely, in all likelihood. Remind yourself that you love her, but you have your own life to lead, and you can only be there to help her deal with hers if you continue to do that successfully. Remind yourself, and her, that you love her for who she is, and not always who she let's herself be. The cycles will pass, but you will be able to remain by her side, and she won't be a thorn in yours. Be a constant, but let her know that you can't always be a confidante. The best of friends don't need to talk to each other everyday, but they never abandon each other in a time of need. Cheers, and good luck!

I have a good friend with bi polar. When she is well, I enjoy her company and a normal friendship. When she is ill, her demands on me are exhausting. She will call and text constantly, day and night and up to 100 times a day. She knows I am at work and have a family but if I ignore her calls, she continues until I pick up or answer. Also, I worry that she will put herself in vulnerable situations so I feel obliged to answer to make sure she is ok. When she is well, I can explain to her how her behaviours impact on me and she understands, but we fall back to the same pattern on each instance of high/low. I have no intention of 'unfriending' her because of this but just wanted to share my experience. She is ill at the moment - I'm exhausted from calls all through the day and night for the last week.

I have a friend that I have known for 20 years. Most of the people we have in common stopped dealing with her years ago. I ignored what others said & we became close. However, she becomes angry with me because I can't spend all of my time with her. I am married & have kids. If I can not attend an event or go out because I have family obligations she gets upset. Recently, she told me about how a man she likes borrowed a great deal of money from her & days later insulted her. I told her that she deserves better & cut her losses. She screamed that she would never tell me to leave my spouse. She has never even been a date with the guy....
Right now no one has heard from her in months. I see her posts in social media do assume she is ok...I want to check in on her, but I don't want to be pulled back in

After reading these comments I can take a tid bit from each of them and apply it to my relationship with someone who is bi-polar. I have become very hard towards her because of the excuses she makes for everything. She said they are reasons not excuses. I believe there's a solution to every problem and she hates that. Ha. She accuses me of being rude and negative. That I think she is lazy and worthless. I tried to explain that it something I have learned from her. So of course I think that and she has said it herself. I'm introvert as well so the clinginess is hard at times. She says I'm a dream crusher as well. She said if I understood the pieces would fit together. I'm just at my wits end.

So, you can choose to associate with this person or not but if you honestly think she is "lazy and worthless" that is not something you learned from her. That is hateful and cruel thing to say.

I dated this girl for 5 years and she had told me from the start that she was bipolar. The first couple years were good and then it all changed. I became her punching bag. I know she didn't mean some of the things she said but how is a person supposed to just carry on like nothing is wrong. I would try to talk to her but then I was just negative and being "mean". I left her a year ago but we have tried to remain friends as we share 2 dogs together. But it has not gotten any easier. I am dating a new girl now and she has been very understanding with the multiple phone calls or text messages from my ex. However my ex has no consideration for time of day. She says "I am her person" so any time she has something to tell me she calls or text whether its 2 AM or 2 PM. I am trying to be a supportive friend, but I am losing my mind. It's like I am dating 2 girls. I want to ignore her most of the time but am afraid of how she will react or what she will do. I am her only friend but I know that is not my problem. She pushed everyone away. I am a "try and help everyone" person and I just cant in this situation. My girlfriend keeps telling my its not my responsibly to take care of her any more. Helping, losing it...

I have a bipolar friend who doesn't exhaust me, but, uses me as he pleases then back i go on a shelf until next time. Everything is his way or the highway. For awhile I thought I need patience and should be more giving but now I'm just so angry at him for using me again - this is the third time, previously I ended things x2. He either makes a convincing argument or it's me being ridiculous so I've stuck around.

My bff calls him a con man, promises but no reward.

Because of his bipolar I'm afraid to be rightfully angry or to hurt him - even though I'm not convinced he even has feelings (he has said as much). I often wonder if I'm the crazy one here, and I hate that. Last time he hurt me severely he just whined how the loss of me affected HIM, not Gee I'm sorry I'm a jerk.

I'm just conflicted today. He's a liar and the evidence today, I'm just upset for being fooled AGAIN. And I don't know if it's his illness or he's just a jerk. (He has many wonderful qualities too). He claims he's not a jerk, he's just self absorbed and I shouldn't take things in a way that it isnt intended.

I'm just so frustrated! I wish he would just never contact me again.

You and I must know the same person. He's the most narcissistic person I've ever met yet he's also the most charming and convincing when he wants something. It's hard not to take being treated so crappy time after time personally, but can he help it? He can say the most hateful words that cut your soul in pieces but he'll make your crumble by his appreciation of having you around once he calms down and the phase passes. Which part is him (a huge jerk) and which part is the illness? Are we simply gullible or trying really hard to be a friend? I have a picture in my head that I'm standing in quick sand while trying to help him over a wall and his weight is sinking me in deeper.

I recently reconnected with a friend from elementary school, three decades later. During the first month, she was exuberant, enthusiastic, and witty when we saw each other.

Then she became depressed and suddenly the amount of contact she wants has increased to an overwhelming level. She sends me messages and audio messages on Whatsapp constantly. I checked the number of messages received in the past two months and it was around 2,000 compared to around 300 of my replies. My friend starts sending messages around 7am each day and carries on until she goes to sleep, and if she sees me on Whatsapp typing, she will call so that I have no choice but to answer.

The exuberant friend she was in the beginning must have been when she was going through a manic phase. During the current depressed cycle, I don't really know how to help her because nothing I say or suggest seems to make any difference. So I just listen and try to be supportive, but it's draining me and seriously affecting my work (I'm self employed and need uninterrupted time to focus). When my friend was a child, she didn't have bipolar or any of the many, many physical health issues that she has now. I want to be supportive, and I've come to realize that the only way I can sustain this friendship with her is if I set firm boundaries.

I'm starting to put the boundaries in place by first deciding what I can handle and then trying to move the friendship towards those parameters. The main boundary is reducing the constant contact to a manageable amount. I want to move toward only replying to text or calls within a certain 1-hour time frame in the evening after my young child is in bed. So far, I have started only returning her calls in that window and have told that time is the best time to call so that I won't miss her call. Next, I'm going to message back that I really need to work, but will respond to her in more detail that evening. I'm sure that setting boundaries is the way to go with her!

I read through all the above comments and two things happened; I care for my friend so much, then he says I have no idea how he feels and goes on a verbal rampage about things I don't comment on. He then furthers the conversation by not being acknowledged enough. His intellect is off the scale, but so are assumptions he comes up with. I cannot show intimacy he says it disgusts him. Seven months of never Knowing how to behave is taking it's toll. I have had issues of depression...when something positive happens in my life he complains about how little I care...This is so imbalanced. Yet I am attracted to his humour and intellect. I need input please!

Not someone you need in your life. I was best friends with someone who emotionally manipulated me and belittled my character and accused me of being selfish and unsupportive. I have witnessed her losing friends over the years and blame everyone but herself. Nothing can go right and every slight microaggression is a testament to how wrongly they've been treated. They claim to give so much yet expect too much in return, fueling their perceived feelings of Injustice. You and you alone are responsible for your own happiness and if someone can't celebrate with you then they can't be happy at all. Say goodbye and never look back.

Been going through a very similar experience and your words are very true and direct now if I can just perform it!

"They claim to give so much yet expect too much in return, fueling their perceived feelings of injustice" Say goodbye if they don't let you do what is important to you!

Thanks for everyone's comments on this thread. I have had a bipolar friend in and out of my life for the last 2 years--we were very close for a few months and I got fed up and we didn't talk for over a year. We have been casual friends since, but we just had a moment where we reconnected on a deep level and it spiraled VERY fast. I know they really respect me and what I have to say, but I can't be that constant person in their life without making it my full time job--which I am not willing to do. My goal is to be a person who is always as postive as possible when they need it, but I never know if I am doing it right and that has taken a toll on me in the past. I feel like I have to not care about how they think of me, which is a lot of work. I don't have any advice on this, but I know that for me I have set my boundaries, stick to them, and understand that if this person get upset and truly hurts me, I might have to remove myself from their life again. Which sucks, cause they really are a great person--they are smart, funny, incredibly talented, and share almost all of my interests. Thanks for this thread and letting me have a chance to get this out--people in my life just don't understand.

I'm nineteen, almost twenty. My best friend just turned eighteen and she has bipolar disorder. We have been best friends since middle school, and I've adored our friendship more than anything else in the world, but I often felt that I cared more than she did. There were multiple times that she would cancel plans on me at the last second or not respond to messages for weeks, then return with an apology. Over the years I've done a lot of research on bipolar disorder and she has been very open with me about her own experiences, so I excused a lot of behavior that I never would have accepted from any other friend, but I did it because the good times with her were the best I've ever had, and she was the first and only friend I ever had who made me feel understood. Now we are in summer after our first year of college at different schools on either side of the country, but for the summer are in the same town. She met up with me ONCE at the beginning of summer after all this time and unloaded a massive amount of shocking traumatic things she endured while away (from discovering her former love interest was addicted to drugs to her friend trying to commit suicide to being physically ill from a gradual change in medication). I was shocked and a little hurt that she was only telling me these things then, but I did my best to be supportive and let her know I would be there no matter what and do whatever I could to help. We left off saying she wanted to hang out a lot the rest of the summer. It hasn't happened, but suddenly there were plenty of social media posts of her out with friends who also struggle with mental illness. I started hearing less and less over text, then nothing at all. Tonight I confronted her about it over text, telling her how hurt I was. She said that I am "unable to empathize" and she "doesn't have room" for me "in her life right now". I feel so broken. Yes, I don't have a mental illness myself so I can't talk about bipolar with her the same way one of her other friends would, but it doesn't mean I have less of a caring heart or patience or an honest desire to learn. When I got that message I crumpled to the floor and I haven't stopped crying all day. My heart hurts. I don't know how to differentiate her actions between being a result of her illness or not. I don't know what to make excuses for. I don't want to lose my best friend, but I feel fmso pathetic begging for the care and attention of someone that I love unconditionally.

I want to say a couple of things to you. First off, I'm so sorry you've been hurt by someone who has BPD. I have it, too.

It hurts me more than anything to know that it hurts the people I love most, but I just don't know how to be around them sometimes. I don't want to blame my 'illness' for my behaviour, and I can't speak for your friend, but you say she seems to spend time around other friends. I know it's easy enough to say 'don't take it personally', but perhaps you shouldn't, and I'll tell you why.

I don't have a good excuse, but I have some sort of explanation for you, if you'd like to hear it. It's almost impossible sometimes to sit across from someone who is so fully functional, and make small talk about what the weather was like last week, when you couldn't even haul yourself out of bed last week. My friends are getting married, and I can't even go out on a date. I feel like they might be better off without me around, but it might also be selfish of me to stay away just because I don't seem to know how to be or act around them, for all that we've been through together. I am so happy for my friends who are happy, but I don't always know how to be supportive.

I love my friends dearly, and I would never resent them for finding success or happiness. It's not that I don't believe they're good people - they're the best sort of people, and the best sort of friends. If your friend stays away, it might reflect more on her than it does on you, is all I'm saying. If she says you can't empathise, it doesn't mean she's saying you're not a good person or friend. Now you say you were hurt that she seems to have this life with other friends in it, but you should be glad, and maybe you wouldn't be hurt if you truly understood what that feels like. It's just that there are some people who can't be expected to understand, for better or worse - do you know what that's like, lying in bed for weeks on end, for no reason at all, with no excuse or explanation to offer for your behaviour? Do you know what it's like to feel like you can't get up, or get out of the room, or the house, or into the world - not for one split second, but all the time, everyday - and every other day, you just can't seem to fight it?

You're crying because you were hurt by your friend with BPD, and I'm so sorry for that, but her BPD hurts her in other ways that she seems to think you don't understand - do you really know what it's like for her to cry all the time, and be unable to identify a single cause for it? It might be why she can't see you, or cancels on you at the last minute - but how can she tell you why, if she doesn't know why, and you don't know what that's like already?? Do you understand? I hope you don't. It's an awful feeling, and sometimes I'd rather be around awful people than the ones who do love and care for me, because I'm just too exhausted sitting across from them, pretending to be normal.

I reconnected with a girl that I had gone to elementary school with, as we are both mothers of very young children around the same age and we both really needed a mom friend and someone to relate too. We hit it off right away as well as our kids and we have been inseparable ever since. She even lives down the road maybe 2 minutes away. One day I asked her if I could stop by and she said yeah; when I arrived I could tell right away she was irritible. It was like she didn't want me there, though she didn't say so. I was only there for a short time and then went on my way again. After that I didn't hear a peep from her for days (not being like herself that I had known at all, though I had yet to experience her low lows of her bipolar disorder.) She said that she didn't reply to any of my calls or texts because she was just working on herself and spending time with her SO and her children. She even apologized for shutting me out. But then she did it again! Days later I finally got a reply (she had been reading my messages but not replying) she said that she was focusing on herself and her kids and I should be doing the same and that it's not that we aren't friends who just needs some space is all. I just didn't get a why she could t save my feelings and say it like that immediately. I don't even kno what space means, like whether or not hanging out for a while or no talking either . I'm so confused and sad because I really don't want to lose this friendship when they mean so much to me

Have experienced a 40+ year relationship with a friend that has been diagnosed with bipolar for 10+ years. Many of the comments posted by various individuals has been applicable to my situation starting with exhibition of self-centeredness, refusing to respect my wishes, interfering with my relationships with others including my husband, possessiveness, one up manship, etc. The list goes on and on since the diagnosis of my friend...being on and off the medication to the point of not following Drs orders. Am really getting worn down with this situation compounded by my own personal problems. Have gotten to the point where I'm not initiating contact unless absolutely necessary. Has anyone found a way to address issues with them and having them adhere to the solution cooperatively? Friendship may soon be over since I am getting to the point where I cannot tolerate the behaviors at is too short to have to deal with this.

I have read all of these comments with great interest and I too have had a friendship with a person suffering from bi polar disorder. I have now terminated that friendship and I feel absolutely free. I could no longer endure the vile way in which she spoke to me, the mood swings and the complete disrespect. I put a tremendous amount of effort into the friendship but in the end she wore me out, the stress of walking on egg shells was something that I could no longer take. Relieve yourselves from these toxic relationships, these individuals have no care in the world for you, you are merely there when they need you for the rest they have no care in the world

Thank you to everyone for sharing so freely and honestly. I think having a bipolar diagnosed business partner is the best and the worst of the situation. More challenging than an intimate relationship perhaps. I love the work we do together, he's a genius, loyal, creative. But the refusal to listen, the micromanaging, the belittling, the bridge burning, the number of people who have walked away, the number of my friends and acquaintances he has hurt, and who tell me I am insane to stay. I refuse to hurt him and I always try to see the person versus the illness. But I am being worn down. I would appreciate hearing from those who live with this illness how they expect their friends to deal. BTW in my family I have BPD, severe narcissism, PTSD, chronic depression - so I'm not inexperienced or a wimp when it comes to dealing with loved ones with mental health diagnoses. But truly, I find Bipolar the most challenging of all. Thanks for listening.

These relationships are complex- and to maintain them, you HAVE to create boundaries - or you will burn out in frustration.
For example: a bipolar friend of mine calls me daily and this can consume too much of my time and energy that I need to be directing towards my job and family. I have started designating times I will answer- and if she calls at another time- I don’t. And- under no circumstances do I answer a call in the middle of the night- unless I believe she is in danger (which has happened—drunk driving, jail, etc) it’s so hard. But I know you care- or you wouldn’t be seeking help.

If you want the relationship to continue- you need to be direct and firm with your boundaries and if they won’t comply- it isn’t probably a healthy relationship to have in your life

Boundaries are made and agreed upon only to be broken "before the ink is dry" time and again. There is always a reason, forcefully argued, why my BP partner's actions are correct. Its is NEVER his fault for breaking an agreement or overstepping a boundary, even when it is clearly his actions and decisions. Its not a healthy relationship perhaps, but the cost of extricating myself financially, logistically, emotionally, is HUGE. I am being worn down. BTW I find the mania just as difficult if not more difficult than the "not getting out of bed depressions." The mania is like watching a 250 mph train go off the rails. It seems impossible to know how to help and I can tell I'm getting tired of feeling used and abused. Thanks for listening.

Being a friend of a bipolar individual is complex. They are of course more than their disorder. My bipolar friends are each unique- they are larger than life- life of the party- charming- and I love them dearly.
The friendships,however, can be draining. They do want to talk through their struggles-but rarely receive my counsel-and often interrupt me mid-sentence. If you are bipolar- be mindful that it can be exhausting for your friends to listen to you for hours and then not be allowed to speak into your life at all.
Often times they will not acknowledge the problem, and declare they will fix it themselves. They will not take their medication properly- and are very non compliant with their psychologists.
I am not trying to be unloving. But honest- as I think this is the purpose of this board.
Friendships require mutual sacrifice- and for my bipolar friends I promise to be there for them- but would ask in return that they consider my time, and let me help them if they chose to involve me in a crisis situation.

Hi. I have recently had a two and a half year complex friendship with a person who has bipolar abruptly end. All of these posts are helpful in seeing the pattern. Does anyone h@ve a letter they have used in this situation to reach out? How long would you wait before sending it? Is this a good way to see if I can repair the relationship? Thanks.

I met a friend a few months back and he started opening up about his BP condition and he couldn't hold his tears. My heart immediately went out to him and I offered my support. We are both men, and him being so vulnerable and pouring out his heart in the first few weeks allowed us a form of closeness and emotional intimacy that our society doesn't often allow two men to experience. I genuinely care for this friend and I am often worried about him, esp when he sends a message saying he's hurting. But often he would not talk about it in detail, citing lack of energy to talk, etc. I genuinely love this man as a brother and want to help him but often feel incapable because I think he holds back what's really going on inside of him. Not sure why he does that. This man is polite, sensitive, funny, and everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I know I developed a form of codependency on him as well, because I feel down when he withdraws. I know I have my own issues, but also want to genuinely help him. He's been let down by his family and closest friends and his girlfriend left him so I fear being another let down in his life, if I start feeling the friendship is affecting me and I decide to withdraw. Because of my own past rejection issues, it is hard for me not to feel hurt when he withdraws or when he doesn't want to talk about his feelings and thoughts (it's the opposite of what some folks described above, where the BP friend wants to talk too much), and I start thinking he is rejecting me. I know we have two sets of issues mixed up here, his and mine, but I try to acknowledge my own neediness to his friendship and enjoying his presence in my life - I have no illusion about that - yet don't want to make that a reason for abandoning him. I feel like he's forcing me to face my own issues. He's broken. But I know I am broken in my own way too. He often thanks me for my friendship and being a shoulder to lean on in this season of his life, but I'm feeling an unhealthy attachment from my side. Any insights would be appreciated. Can we help each other here? or is going to be counterproductive?

I have a good friend (the friendship is 2.5 years old) who I suspect is bipolar and is also grieving the loss of her spouse 2 years ago. I want to be a good friend to her, but she has pushed me away and has avoided me for almost 9 months now. I have tried talking to her, offered my support etc. I too feel hurt. And, I also feel selfish that I am hurt by this distance. She talks with others at times, but has distanced herself from me. One of our mutual friends asked her what was going on with us and she told her that she doesn’t to hurt me during this bad time she in. I have been there for her during her down times before so I do not know why this is happening now. I am starting to get a bad attitude about it and I don’t want to be like that. I really love my friend and I have no idea why she would purposely avoid me and basically go silent on me. I don’t want our friendship to end. Our families have been close as well. Please advise.

Hi Emma, have you tried to speak with her openly about your feelings and ask why she's pushing you away? I know for men it may be awkward to talk about this openly, but I'm hoping women can have more of a liberty to discuss matters of the heart, than we do with each other.


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