Real Friendships

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nomorestigma
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 8/6/2007 3:34 PM (GMT -7)   

REAL FRIENDSHIPS

A real friend is one who walks in when others walk out ~~ Walter Winchell

While sitting across from a girlfriend yesterday at our favorite coffee house, having a delicious conversation, I thought to myself, “How lucky you are to have a friend”.

***

Drifting back to 1994.

I’ve become accustomed to having no friendships in my life for many years.  Mental illness robbed me of so much, sitting mostly in solitaire in black mud for many, many years and grieving my losses.

I had four extremely dear friends.  My first few admissions to hospital; the visits were 2 -3 times weekly, spending an hour or so.  Bringing me magazines and diet Cokes, we would stroll the hospital halls together, sit and chat for hours, and when I would have a pass for the weekend, a few of us would get together for lunch or dinner.  As the years passed, and the visits dwindled, I found myself with virtually no friends.  No phone calls returned when I was in the hospital, nor when I was out.  I missed them tremendously.  more....

 

*I wrote this article because it meant so much to have another friend in my life.  I missed the laughter, the shopping trips, the lunches, the coffee chats over the years - and now I have it back.

 

my article continues in my blog: "Living in Stigma"

http://cherished79.wordpress.com/2007/07/22/real-friendships/

Hope you enjoy, Deb


olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 8/7/2007 9:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Deb,

I am so sorry, but these days it has become hard for me to keep friends too. I trully sympatize with you, I don't know what happend, but it seemed like we just kept drifting apart as time passed by. I know for sure I have less friends than I did a year ago. But most of the excuses that I have heard from others is that they are super busy. I on the other hand, even when I was busy I would put time aside for friends. Hang in there!!
Olivia
Moderator, Bipolar
 
Dx:  Bipolar 1, Anxiety-Panic Disorder
Support HealingWell: 
http://www.healingwell.com/donate
"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"


Ellie 1
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 8/7/2007 9:36 PM (GMT -7)   
I have one close friend that has been with me through all of this. Granted she lives out of state, but has spent many hours on the phone with me during some of my worst days and nights. When I was hospitalized the last time, she flew in to take care of my children.
We've been friends since we were kids. Both having nightmare childhoods, and sometimes all we had was each other. Sometimes it's still that way. I don't know what I'd do without her.
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
 
You just have to accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. 
 


Laura2434
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 8/21/2007 4:36 AM (GMT -7)   
I, too, have trouble keeping friends. When I get depressed, I shut the world out, and it's hard for a lot of people to understand. I found once that I opened up and educated people in my life a little more about my illness, that they understood, but these really are only the few close people I feel comfortable enough to open up to.

It's hard to keep friends when your bipolar. The world is still so uneducated about depression and bipolar that they don't understand sometimes even in the slightest what is going on in our heads and what we really need from them.

pinkelephant
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/23/2007 2:45 PM (GMT -7)   
As an outsider looking in (my husband is bipolar), in his situation his loss of friendships aren't because they can't handle that he is bipolar, its because they never knew.  Look, I'm not even going to pretend that there aren't lots of folks out there that have misconceptions or are simply ignorant so I understand his fear.   But to be honest, if he doesn't give them a chance the likelyhood of losing them is greater.  Sure, over time some may have to step away because they get burned out or just can't handle the extremes, but others will stick around.   He can't be angry at the ones who eventually back away, sad of course, but we all have different coping skills and at any given point in time have to juggle a lot of things.  Sometimes they just need to focus on their life and their problems.  
 
We argue about this all the time.  As things have gotten worse for him in resent months, I have reached out to friends and family as I myself am suffering from burnout and need a support system.  Not one person has walked away or freaked out.  They ask questions and ask if there is anything they can do.  And for the most part they are a bit relieved that it isn't something they did or said.   They don't treat him any differently nor do they make it the prime topic of conversation.   He of course ask me if there is anyone else I need to tell that he is crazy (not very happy with me at the moment) to which I reply he isn't crazy...thats his description NOT anyone elses.  I tell people he has a mood disorder and what that means.  I tell them that he is very intelligent, capable at having a successful career etc. but there are times when his mood may affect his behavior.  I tell them to not ever take things personnally as change in attitude towards them (like avoidance) has nothing to do with them and that it'll pass given time. 
 
I'm sorry you all have had such a struggle establishing lasting friendships as they really are so wonderful to have.  Just remember there are an awlful lot of really wonderful folks out there so never stop taking a chance on them.
 
 

Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 8/23/2007 10:04 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi there pink elephant.

I read your post with interest and have got to say that in my own experience and opinion you are one of the very very lucky few if your friends and family have all been sympathetic and not 'freaked out' and that people are not treating your husband any differently.

My hubbie suffers from BP and in our many years together we have experienced much prejudice and even more so in the past couple of years since he was properly diagnosed. Most people really do not have any idea about BP/depression/mental illness unless they have suffered from it or have had a spouse or partner who have suffered. And as a result most just do not want to know, are too self-centred or cannot be bothered being friends with someone who spends most of their time at either end of the BP scale.

I can quite understand why your husband might not want people to know, my hubbie likes to be totally honest with everyone about who he is but it is has backfired so many times in our lives, even his psychiatrist on diagnosis told him not to tell anyone which really surprised me. My hubbie's mum does not speak to him anymore and has not done so since he told her about his diagnosis and many friends just dont want the hassle regardless of how many great and lovely things that are about a person regardless of the BP.

Even a close friend of ours who has actually suffered a mental illness (OCD) and spent a year in a psych hospital said to him yesterday "that it was his own fault he that he felt this way and that he could get over it if he wanted to". I am not sure how much more insulting that could have been but my partner constantly fights the BP with everything he has as do most of the people on this forum on a daily basis. My parents have consistently given us problems for the past 20 years over his BP even though it has been more than obvious on many occasions that I could do with their support, regardless of how they felt about my hubbie.

After a while of losing people you do tend to give up and I can quite understand that now. It is hard to keep taking chances when people have failed you so many times.

But it is good to hear that you have been one of the more fortunate ones.

Honey Bee

wickedlycoolcomfort
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 8/25/2007 11:40 PM (GMT -7)   

Greetings to all of you..

I thought I'd share a few of my own personal experiences; not as someone that suffers from BP, but as the significant other.

My boyfriend suffers from BP and has had it since his ****s.  He;s currently in his mid-30's.  I have known him for many years but only as a friend and our time together was a bit inconsistant so not until we turned the platonic relationship into a romantic one, did I find out about his illness.

It wasn't until I sought to educate myself on the depressive disorders, did all the pieces of the puzzles start to fit.  I had questions about his past; I couldn't understand why he doesn't have any friends from his childhood.  Actually, I couldn't understand why he didn't have any friendships that didn't span over a few years.  I am one of the rare ones I guess since I have known him for going on 8 years now.  He told me that there were some things that happened that severed ties with most friends.  Now I understand what those "things" were.  He also is a loner.  Don't get me wrong, he has friends, but he mostly keeps himself company and this is a learned behavior I guess. 

We have a wicked cazy great relationship.  One that both of us feel we're quite lucky to have, lucky to have the chance to take it to this level; to even have met each other and then become romanticly involved after 7 years of being friends.

When things started going south; when he started with a depressive episode, our relationship changed.  I didn't changed, but knew I loved him and would support him through it.  I can't begin to imagine what it's like for him; in his head, what the illness does to him and the havoc it has caused with many relarionships prior to ours.

In any case, I've experienced; while not an extreme amount, prejudice wih people around me and the encouragement, not to stay, but get out and run the other way.  When he was fine and wasn't experiencing an episode, everyone loved him and thought we were great together, but once the episode hit, my closest friend took every chance she could to tell me to leave and has even put me in some somewhat compromising positions with other , umm gentleman, to try and get me to forget him.

It hurts to see this,  It hurts to experince my closest friend that I normally lean on and count on in tough times,become the one I stand away from now.  She has tried to understand, but just can't.  It took an exchange of words for her to stop her pressuring and accept that this is my decision, and that what is happening to my boyfriend is not anything he can control, only try and work like mad to make the illness more bearable (if that's possible).

I honestly don't know what the future holds for us..and honestly, does anyone really?  But I can say that even if our romantic feelings run out, he will always be in my life as a true friend.  I love him on both levels because I know his heart; I know who he is and try and see through the illness.  I'll wait patiently for it to pass so I can be with my bud once again.

He is still having the episode; still depressed. It's two months now and will be three months since the last time I saw him (we live in different states..LDR) when I see him again (I see him end of Sept) and I'm counting the days.  He may still be depressed or it may lift, I'm noit sure how he'll be when I see him next, but I accept what life gives us and will get through it.

Like your husband, and many other people on here, he tried to break it off with me when the episode just hit.  He expressed his unworthiness for me; tried to push me away and went on to say that I needed someone that can give me what I need in a relationship and that he knew the depression was hitting him; he would close up and close out the rest of the world.  It was the only way he could deal with it. He didn't know how long it'll last and was afraid it would burn our relationship out if he didn't say something to me; afraid it would ruin our friendship as well.  I refused a break-up but told him that I was going to wait it out, whether he liked it or not.  Once I said this, he accepted it.  We're still together and hopefully will be for many years to come. 

I hope in some odd way, my rambling has helped you, comforted you or possibly let you know that many of us on here relate quite well to your situation.

Please continue to check back here as oftern as you can and open up to us when you feel comfortable.  I know this forum has given me a world of strength when I needed it, when I felt alone and feel myself weak. Reaching out to the people on here is really a very positive thing to do and will bear great results from those that have gone through it and are here to comfort and be informative for you.

Peace and chocolate,

WCC


After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, "No hablo ingles."


pinkelephant
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/26/2007 10:52 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Honeybee,

  I agree we have been pretty lucky.  I'm sure acceptance it has alot to do with the individuals who know.  There are certainly some folks in our lives that I wouldn't tell but fortunately those folks are not work peers of family members we interact with on any real regular basis.   One thing I have tried very hard to do when speaking with people is try to provide information without getting into all the personal issues (does that make sense).  Obviously there may be one or 2 people I share more with but that tends to keep some of the judgement stuff in check.  Now I do have some folks that when they see me just a mess, like now, that tell me I should leave etc.  but they are doing it out of concern for me, not out of dislike over my husband.  Its a fairly normal reaction.  Now if they were to say "you really need to divorce that so-and-so"...you know with all the negative chatter, then I learn very quickly they are not the folks I should turn to in these situations.  

I totally understand the "why bother" attitude.  Its easier to avoid then risking getting hurt.  I just know that nobody can survive this life alone and that there are people out there who care.

N

 


pouli
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 9/3/2007 5:38 PM (GMT -7)   
hello, my name is sarah and i have a bipolar friend and have been friends for about 7 years now...we are both middle aged women and have had a really great frienship in the past.. although we had our ups and downs, we always worked it out. .but this last episode..she texted me on my phone and said it was over..just like that..i have tried calling her to get some kind of explanation and she wont answer my calls ,emails... nothing...i dont understand why she wants this sudden break  up when we have been freiends for so so long and now this.. its crazy and it hurts to think she could be so cruel to my feelings. what could she possibly be thinking.. the only thing i can think of is that i wasnt given her enough attention .. ??? any words of wisdom.. from anyone would be appreciated. we really did have a great and very close tie.thanks.

olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 9/3/2007 5:58 PM (GMT -7)   
pouli,

Welcome to the HW family, I am glad that you found us. I hope you find the support you are looking for here.

I am so sorry that you are going through a rough patch. To be honest with you, I am guilty of dropping friends from time to time too. I guess it was an move impulsive move on my part. It mostly happened when I thought I needed more space, oe when my moods were unstable. I am so sorry about losing a friend.
Olivia
Moderator, Bipolar
 
Dx:  Bipolar 1, Anxiety-Panic Disorder
Support HealingWell: 
http://www.healingwell.com/donate
"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"


pouli
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 9/3/2007 6:12 PM (GMT -7)   
thanks for your response...but how does she just decide that fast that she wont talk to me and that our freindship is over..it makes me very angry and very sad at the same time..
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