Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem
Bipolar disorder and ghosting is a big problem. I didn’t realize the extent of this problem until I saw the number of comments on my recent YouTube video, "Ghosting and Bipolar Disorder: Why We Do It".
What is Ghosting? The Role It Plays in Bipolar
Ghosting is a contemporary term used for when a person completely cuts off all communication with a friend or romantic partner by not responding to texts, ignoring calls and acting as if the person no longer exists. It is done without a reason or an explanation from the person doing it. One day they are a part of your life, and the next day they disappear from it without warning. It negatively impacts friendships and romantic relationships. Ghosting is done by many of us living with bipolar disorder, especially during bipolar depressive episodes.
"I’m guilty of this when I’m hypomanic and in a negative mood and I’m super sensitive and I get easily hurt or angry at people and instead of confronting them, I just ghost them when they try to contact me." ~Xoxofmw, YouTube commenter
Why Do People with Bipolar Disorder Engage in Ghosting?
Those of us living with bipolar disorder definitely have a problem with ghosting people. It doesn't matter whether it's someone we're dating or friends with. Unfortunately, sometimes we're even ghosting our family members.
I have bipolar II and yes, I've ghosted people. Why? It feels more comfortable for me to cut off all communication with another person when I am struggling with highs and lows. Secondly, when I am dating someone, the fear of being rejected due to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder is always present. That makes me push another person away when they get too close. Thirdly, the stigma of mental illness causes severe anxiety in those of us living with bipolar disorder. Although a person we are romantically involved with may not be showing signs of rejecting us due to bipolar, we feel as though it is inevitable that at some point it will happen.
"I just do this on a low episode. I see it as protecting friends from me dragging them down to my level. Plus, in all honesty, I can’t deal with feeling suffocated whilst in the low and just want to be left on my own. It’s easier that way. ~ Claire, YouTube commenter
Self-stigmatizing is another significant reason for ghosting as well. Those of us with bipolar disorder subconsciously believe that we are unlovable and undeserving of friendships and relationships, which causes us to act on ghosting. The stress and pressure to explain the reasons for pushing away creates anxiety; which is where ghosting comes into play.
"I do this a lot. I stop answering phone calls and texts, and avoiding any form of communication with friends and family. In my mind, I don't stop loving them or care for them. I just feel overwhelmed and I feel the need to create a distance between me and them so I can calm down. Now, unfortunately, this can take from a couple days to a couple weeks." ~ Katia, YouTube commenter
The Affect Ghosting Has on Others
Over the years, I have realized that regardless of what is going on in my life, ghosting is hurtful to another person. I have been on both sides of ghosting, and it is very harmful and causes extreme insecurities.
"I just lost a friend who deals with bipolar. She just cut me off. I tried and tried. Dealt with the ups and downs and dealing with my own depression and insecurity, it was very difficult. ~ Embree, YouTube commenter
Bipolar disorder is not an excuse for hurting another person. Although we deal with anxiety and depression and it leads to many of us isolating ourselves, we are still responsible for the way our behavior negatively affects friends, family, and romantic partners. There are people who care about us, and they deserve a proper response even though it is difficult for those of us living with bipolar disorder to do so at times. This is something I am working on as well because I severely struggle with opening up which leads me to ghosting other individuals.
My ex, who's getting well with depression and very positive about her progress, left me since I have bipolar 2 and I isolate myself every once in a while. She doesn't like it since it triggers her. So she broke up with me and told me I can't give her what she needs. ~ Chaz, YouTube commenter
Self-awareness is essential when it comes to behaviors like ghosting. Many people with bipolar disorder do not even realize that this is a problem. Building strong relationships without openness and communication is impossible. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to self-awareness and learning how to properly communicate with others to prevent anyone getting hurt or feeling ignored by someone they care about.
"When I feel like isolating, I "check on" the people around me, my friends in recovery. This way I am not alone, but I am not talking about ME, I am checking on THEM. Seems to help! ~ BipolarLightningBug, YouTube commenter
What about you? How has being ghosted by someone with bipolar disorder affected you? And if living with bipolar disorder and ghosting others has been part of your life, why do you do it? Also, helpful suggestions on how to end this type of behavior are welcomed.
Blum, H. (2019, January 28). Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2019/1/bipolar-disorder-and-ghosting-its-a-big-problem
Author: Hannah Blum
I was in a relationship with a woman who has bipolar. Towards the end of the relationship she went really cold and eventually we spoke and she ended up leaving me.
She gave me the whole i deserve better and apologised for being an arse to me for the last few weeks. She said she couldn't expect me to wait for her but she wasn't going to cut me out of her life.
I tried reaching out to her as a friend a couple of times after giving her space and didn't get a response. So i then asked her if i could ask her a question, i got a pretty nasty and short response about her needing space, it had been 5 weeks since i heard from here at this point.
So i gave her the option. Asked if she wanted me to be part of her life or if she would rather i disappear, i was hoping to get some form of closure. She just exploded quite offended that i asked and told me i was being selfish and shed speak when shes ready.
Its been over 2 months since i heard anything from her. At this point i have no idea what to do. I have no idea what she wants from me but i genuinely want her to be ok.
I suffer from anxiety and the ghosting without a real answer is killing me. She turned from being loving and needy into something really cold, that hurts, but the not speaking is doing farvmore damage than the breakup. I've really tried to give her space, but i'm at a stage where i dont know if should ask her outright what she wants from me.
I'm genuinely at a stage where i can feel myself breaking down. I've not told her this because she's under enough stress, but like i said, the ghosting is eating me alive.
Any advice would be amazing.
You're right, the line is fine. What I always recommend to people is that they just be open about it. Say something like, "I want to support you and I know that your silence might be related to your illness. I'm going to keep checking in on you once in a while unless you ask me not to, which I will completely respect."
I think if you're unsure about something, just say that. Give the person the option of saying yes or no and then communicate in the way you want unless they ask you not to.
- Natasha Tracy
- Breaking Bipolar
We had “ at that moment. So he said YES together and seriously committed.
A week before that he had made plans and disappeared and ghosted me . He came back and apologized. “ due to crazy stuff and busy “ not as a couple he did it again... made plans with me of coming over to see me and then he’s been ghosting me for four days now . The night we committed to each other we talked about his bipolar and how he was taking meds and how he felt like I was ready and that’s why he committed to me. And also how he felt ready. He asked if I would break it off right after he mentioned it. And I said NO, why would I ? I love him for him and also not just the sex. But this whole ghosting Is scary and I’ve been reading and learning as much as I can. But I’m worried he will run and not come back around ? I’m also worried that made was it just a manic moment? And I’m scared that he doesn’t feel the same afterwards.... are this signs common? It’s hard to tell since we’ve known each other for so long. And been friends and more. But also worried. He sounded like he was having a great week. And I definitely didn’t think that I did something wrong.
I felt like they weren't really my friends because they never knew the real me. They only knew the fake me that was smiling and laughing and pretending that I wasn't horribly depressed and hanging on by a thin thread. I was in a dark place, the closest I've ever come to wanting to die.
Maybe it was like a "screw you" to them for not seeing that I was hurting inside? I don't know. It was pretty messed up. At the time it felt good though, poetic somehow, for me to just disappear.
After recovery,I made an attempt to contact her,and she finally agreed to give me closure,but she made rules beforehand that I would have to agree on:Timed phone call, she put an alarm to give me only 45minutes and then she would hang up. We eventually talked and the call went past an hour,she said the timer didnt matter now,because she was enjoying the phone call. She made it clear that she didnt love me anymore midway through our relationship, but I was confused because she had been leaving me lovely voicemails and expressed her love to me a few days before she ghosted..I didnt understand. She said we would eventually talk again, I told her I needed to work on myself anything. The next morning,she had blocked me again...like our conversation on the phone was all a farse..
This hurt very much.
However my partner went from being super attached to a point where she would cry as I was working interstate but would come down every week to see her and breakdown into tears the day I had to leave to go interstate again, I could not stand see how upset it made her ultimately she kept begging I leave my job and move back to the same state
When this happen she had a really important exam coming, I knew how much she was stressing and how much it meant to her so I chose to give in my resignation and support her, I made the move for her she was very grateful at the time and she asked me to accompany her to her exam which ofcourse I did, she began to get negative thoughts that she had failed the exam she worked so hard for I tried to change the topic by saying "by saying it's ok another reason to spend the day together, we will try again"
4 days later she ghosted me, now in the past she had told me about a traumatic event but was very vaig in what happen I had just asked her if she was ok and here if she wanted to talk about it
Tried be as descriptive as possible hoping someone can relate and tell me if it's bp or maybe just a mental breakdown
So it's my flight or.flight reaction triggering anxiety panic depression for me simply not knowing. I'm trying to look for different patterns, only difference is, he.was awared a large settlement.before he left, so.this.time he has money to play and spend.
It’s hard to say, if that truly is “exclusive to bp” or if it’s a commonality for other residual-issues in development with relations...ie: family, friends.
Ex: Early-Childhood Neglect, abuses etc.
But .. when you say, have narcissistic-relatives, who only emerge, when they need you.....and you tried to communicate, as best you can for years (ie: addressing issues, finding your voice, boundaries etc.)
When all that fails/falls on deaf ears...
Yes, choosing to walk-away.... Making a clean start. Going no-contact. Can be the healthy/safest thing to do!
Many use it as last resort. In some cases, it’s an outright BLESSING!
“Ghosting/Doorslamming/No-Contact” doesn’t need to be a negative.
In mental-health, you need to know your triggers/boundaries/balances.. it’s critical!
Some personalities are known for the “Doorslamming”. Ex: INFJ’s (me) are known for it.
My boyfriend has ghosted me a few time now, anywhere from 2 days to 7days. He asked me to marry him and told me how much he wants to spend his life with me then and I haven't heard from him for over a week again. Would you suggest its best to just give up on him? He also has had a lot of past trauma and has PTSD. I would like to hear from someone like yourself to what goes through your mind about the other person that loves you so much?