*Trigger alert: This post is not about, but refers to suicide*
Last week, a friend of my mom’s showed up at her house, distraught. The friend’s one child, who had been ‘going through something’ had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And thanks to me not shutting up about being bipolar, these lovely, normal people now have other lovely, normal people to talk to. So I made myself available for wine and chats, but will now wait for an invitation. It is an overwhelming business, after all.
It has made me think of what I went through with my own diagnosis and what I would tell this young(er) person should they ask me ‘what the hell now?!’, apart from ‘Seroquel will make you fat’. I realised that what stung the most when I was diagnosed, was how other people reacted. I didn’t have much support because I was far away from home, and my family didn’t really understand. Before my first mental hospital stay, I somehow got myself into the ER with nothing but a few cut-marks, cigarette burns and mild benzo-intoxication, because I was desperate and thought I was literally going BONKERS. I knew depression by then, but nothing of this whirlwind of constant, irrational thoughts, hyper-sexuality, people screaming in my head, inability to sleep, ants crawling under my skin, severe irritability and aggression situation that I was experiencing at that moment. I even have some memory loss. For the life of me I cannot remember ANYTHING about that day apart from getting home in the evening and going on a ‘semi-psychotic’ bender situation.
What I’m saying is that there was a lead-up to my eventual diagnosis and hospitalisation. There always is. You don’t just wake up one morning feeling like the Mad Hatter. So you would imagine that people who know you relatively well, would realise that there is a change in you, and that something is wrong, and that they would lovingly guide you to get help, whether or not you have a diagnosis. Because the bitch about having a mood disorder is that because it makes your mood go weird, it changes your behaviour too. Every single bipolar blog you read will at some point tell you the same thing: If you are bipolar you WILL lose friends and alienate people, more so than stable people. And this is what I will tell this young person first: You will wake up one day, feeling good and ready to go out there and grab the day by the balls and you will realise that you have barely any friends left. This is not me feeling sorry for myself, or being dramatic or negative. It is the simple truth and every bipolar person knows this. It is a lonely road.
People bail for various reasons. I’ll put them in nice bullets:
- ‘I just can’t deal with this drama’
- ‘It’s always about you, this is an unequal friendship/relationship’
- ‘Your CRAZY! I’m out’
- ‘Sometimes you get really mean’
- ‘Our friendship was fun, but now it’s too intense and I can’t deal’
- ‘I can’t be associated with you’
- ‘You’re just too demanding and clingy’
- ‘You are so selfish and such a drama queen’
Of course, most people won’t actually give you the courtesy of telling you that they are walking away or why, but the above is why THEY think they do. Here’s why they really do:
- They don’t want to have to deal with anything that disrupts their uncomplicated, perfect little lives.
- You make things feel out of control, or out of their control, and they can’t deal with uncertainty.
- You scare them. They see things in you that they see in themselves, but where you now have to embrace it, they still prefer to live in denial.
- They can walk away and blame all their shortcomings on you, because YOU’RE the crazy one.
- Your Crazy.
- Sometimes you really are mean and intense and irrational and demanding and clingy.
The last one is the hardest, because while those reasons are legitimate, it’s not something you can always help. Maybe my next post will be on how to take some pressure off your relationships.
Me? I’ve hurt lots of people because there comes a time where I can’t stop myself from saying something mean, or inappropriate, or doing something stupid. After my suicide attempt my sister was furious at me, because how DARE I put the family through this trauma. My brother asked me what the hell I was thinking when I wrote my suicide letter, because it didn’t sound like me at all (which is kind of the point of the ‘why’). They didn’t get that I was pretty pissed myself seeing as how I was suppose to be dead but then wasn’t. At least they said it to my face. After each of my hospitalisations I found things out that people I cared about said behind my back that hurt a lot: I’m manipulative, looking for attention, lazy, mean, self-involved, I cannot be trusted etc. Every time people quietly withdraw or suddenly disappear. And it hurts like a bitch every time. Because I don’t understand how they can’t understand how that person, is not me. But they don’t. And they never will. Mostly not because they don’t want to, but because they just can’t.
But have heart little one. If you have a family who loves you, you already have more than most. You probably still have wonderful friends that WILL stick around no matter what, so treat them nicely. And if you feel like you have nothing and no-one, there is a whole virtual bipolar community out there who sometimes feels the same way.
*What reasons have you gotten for why people walked out of your life?*