With Bipolar, You Always Know Who Your Friends Are

September 12, 2011 Tracey Lloyd

I consider myself hard to take, stubborn, I'm an over-talker and I don't know when to keep my mouth shut. And I have bipolar so signing up to be my friend is a commitment of which I expect people to tire rapidly. So when I'm having a bad time and someone expresses concern, I know I have a true friend. Several weeks ago was one such bad time. I had a small bipolar relapse, caused by a reduction in my Effexor dosage. My psychiatrist and I are trying to find the lowest effective dose for me, so I agreed to try a 50mg reduction. However, this reduction in meds was not as successful as past attempts and I began to experience depressive symptoms. At first, I thought my lethargy was caused by a stomach flu that had kept me home from work for a few days. Then a sad, weepy feeling hit me like a ton of bricks, even though my flu symptoms were over. I emailed my boss that I wasn't coming into the office, turned off my phone and mobile devices and wallowed in depression and fear.

friend1I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Fraught with depressive malaise, I pondered whether a bout of mania would soon follow as it usually does for me. I dozed through the workday, more worried about a future of relapse than anything happening at work. Actually, I was afraid to speak to anyone from work, fearing that I'd burst into tears and have to disclose the real reason for my sick day. (Disclosing Mental Illness at Work) At some point, I decided to check my phone and was overwhelmed by the messages from friends, coworkers and family. While I slept, my boss sent up the red flags for people to contact me, not because I was missing work, but because he was concerned about me. My favorite coworker called my cousin, who called some friends, and eventually someone turned up at my apartment door to see what the matter was.

From Tears of Sadness to Tears of Joy

Those of us with mental illness often get so wrapped in negative self-talk that we forget the good things about ourselves. I was honestly shocked that so many people had gone out of their way to check on me. Even at the workplace, where I've historically remained closed-mouthed about my mental illness, I received genuine outpourings of concern over my well-being. My close friends proved yet again why I've trusted them for truth, love and support. They were with me in the hospital, and continue as my primary support system.

At some point, I realized that my medication reduction was possibly to blame for my change in mood, and that my bipolar "relapse" was less dire than I originally thought. However, I'm fairly confident that if I do relapse, my friends will be there.

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APA Reference
Lloyd, T. (2011, September 12). With Bipolar, You Always Know Who Your Friends Are, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Tracey Lloyd

The Lovely M
September, 25 2011 at 6:33 pm

I understand completely how you feel Donna. What I have gone thru the last 5 + years is -- well -- I have no idea if I should have let it gone as far as it has gone. But, I learned a lessen. I learned one should not tell family members of your mental illness diagnosis when you know you have a dysfunctional family and I will tell you why.
They too were disinterested and not wanting to learn more about bipolar disorder -- even after I offered a book that was for people who had bipolar disorder and/or their families. I offered at least twice and she never would say "Yea, I want to read. Bring it over!" She just acted disinterested.
Even though people (a few family members) tell me to not be ashamed of being bipolar (of which I am not) -- it was not that I was ashamed -- it was that I did not want my most private of medical diagnosis to be put on a platter to be served to my enemies. I now feel that when I step outside my door that possibly all my neighbors know -- and that is not a good feeling because one or two of them are my enemies.
From the moment I told my Sister about my diagnosis long ago -- I truly believe she talked about me behind my back to my aunts, ect. It is because one day I sat outside with an elderly aunt and she leaned over and asked me "Do you hear voices?" I wondered why she would ask such a question. I told her no -- that I did not and asked if she did and she stated she did hear voices. ( : That was in 1998 (I think).
I could have took it better if my Sister would have called me or came to my door to apologize -- but she never did. I believe she did not because she purposely did what she did. And what she did was the following:
She took my 17 year old niece (who told everybody her troubles and told everything because she was an immature little girl who functioned at fifth grade level instead of 11th grade level -- the grade she was in) to a psychartrist because her school thought it a good idea.
The intake person at the medical office called them to a booth. She asked family history questions. Instead of having my niece who had been sexually active since the age of 13 give her medical history -- my Sister gave it. And when it came to the question of "is there any history of mental illness in your family?" My sister states my name and another in front of my immature niece. Someone who has no business knowing my business of that nature. I was livid when I found out.
So, when I took my niece to second visit to doctor and found out that she did -- I called my Sister. My Sister said that she did not tell my niece that. That she told the intake person. Hmmm!
Anyway, I had taken her to the doc the second time and I fussed with him and his staff and how he had his office set up. He states "You know, a lot of people come in her wanting to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder!"
That did not soothe me. I do not care what other people are desiring. So, he calls my niece in and discussed with her how my information was private and how she should know that she should keep it to herself. She agreed -- but I knew better.
My Sister - the one who could never called or come to my door to apologize - or say it was unintentional --I felt she wanted it out there so she could start diagnosing the rest of the family as bipolar too.
I found out later on how she had her son run down to the mental health clinic and tell them that he thought he as bipolar (he was seeking disability) and I was told by him that they questioned him for two hours and told him he was not bipolar.
All of this happened in 2006 and I have not talked to my Sister since. Last year in 2010 -- I found out that my information was shared to my Sister's enemy and she was my enemy at that time because it was my Sister's enemy. This person tells me "I would have never done to my sisters what my Sister did to me!"
I could not believe what I just heard over the phone. So I knew right then and there that this particular person has spread my most private of medical diagnosis to many around town.
I have always read the latest research on Schizophrenia and Bipolar and I happened to come across an article that stated that in the 1960's some patients would get diagnosed wrong and be labeled schizophrenic instead of bipolar and the ones that got diagnosed wrong -- spent the rest of their lives in a nursing facility. That article interested me because I had a brother that was schizophrenic and had since died.
I told another brother how I thought that my brother who was diagnosed schizophenic could have been bipolar instead of the diagnosis he had. This retorts back "NO HE IS NOT!" I was taken aback by the way he stated to me he was not -- as if he knew positive that he was not. He was diagnosed by a state facility -- where I once worked a short while and was unimpressed with the quality of people working there.
This year, I was discussing same with another brother and this is what he says "Well you could be schizophrenic?" I replied to him that maybe I am, but I was diagnosed bipolar from a highly regarded top research hospital in the USA. I feel that was a disparaging statement to me.
The first brother that I had the same discussion with -- I believe he retorted back to me as he did "NO HE IS NOT" -- I believe he had the ideation that he was bipolar and I was putting a needle in his bubble because ONE DOES NOT WANT TO BE SCHIZOPHRENIC -- you see.
I told this brother all that I did about my other mentally ill brother because I felt all of a sudden my whole family was bipolar and I wanted the behavior of someone that is schizophrenic could also be the same behavior of someone bipolar. I purposely did that.
I now hear reports that my Sister starts "I must be a doctor!" It is because of what I stated about my mentally ill brother. And it is also because of my Sister's granddaughter who has been on drugs since she was probably 14 years old and it is reported that she is bipolar.
But, from reports stated to me by other -- this girl is till on drugs -- and I really do not believe the girl took a year off of drugs to get diagnosed. When she was a young girl -- she presented herself to be more ADHD than anything. But then, this year is the first year that I have read that bipolar and ADHD can overlap.
Rsearch is showing how schizophrenia and bipolar are similar disorders and share the same genes almost. Research is showing that it is NOT ONLY GENES -- but that they are thinking environment may have something to do with the GENES mutating.
My Sister's granddaughter may be bipolar. But to convince me, I would have to see some type of paper from her doctor stating that fact. I just think my Sister wanted to use the BIPOLAR DISORDER diagnosis for her because it is just so much better than being a DRUG ADDICT.
Work on your marriage -- avoid family as much as possibly-- develop your own life -- your own success -- your own interests -- become accomplished in something to build confidence because confidence in yourself is all you need to do anything.
Confidence is something I never had in myself -- probably due to having social phobia than anything. I was more ashamed of stating I had that than having bipolar. Infact, when I was diagnosed bipolar -- I thought I was diagnosed wrong because the medicine did not help with the social phobia. I asked the doc what causes it and all he said was that it runs in families.
If you read the new research -- social phobia can overlap bipolar and when I read that -- it was like a burden lifted of why me.
Best Regards -- you get busy building you a good life

Deltra Coyne
September, 19 2011 at 4:51 am

Thanks for sharing your experience, Donna. I think that it depends on the person how you choose to handle the way others treated you, whether you forgive and forget, or cut them out of your life and move on. It also depends on the people in your life what decision is best for you. At the end of the day, dealing with the symptoms of mental illness, and physical illness, on their own are difficult enough without having to worry about how other people around you will react to your disease. I've found that it's possible to put myself and my recovery first and to be a little selfish without being a bad friend/daughter/etc. You have to find that balance as well.
I don't think it's wrong for you to want to cut unsupportive people out of your life, or at least to limit your interaction with them. Think about heart disease: you have to limit or eliminate certain foods that make your condition worse, the same goes for people and relationships and their impact on your mental and emotional health.

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