Relationships are particularly difficult when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder. Personally, I struggle when it comes to reaching out to those I care about. I prefer having just a couple close friends that I can trust, than having a large group of friends. It takes a lot of work to remember to reach out to friends and family. In fact, if I want to reach out to someone, I have to put it on my to-do list. Currently, I have a couple of close friends that I try to reach out to on a regular basis, and thankfully, they also reach out to me. My family members are not diagnosed with bipolar disorder, although my friends are almost all diagnosed with some type of mental health illness.
Having friends that also battle with mental health disorders is both positive and negative. It’s wonderful to have friends that understand what I’m going through, but that also means that these individuals deal with the same things that I struggle with, and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. I have had several friends of the past decade that I became close with; I will always be grateful for those relationships; however, I may be doing okay and my friend begins to go through an episode and distances themselves from me. This is difficult to handle, but I understand how and why it happens. It’s important to remember that when this happens, it’s usually due to their bipolar and mental health episodes and not because of me. I have had this happen to me several times, and I have also done this to others many times depending on state of mind. When someone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder backs away from you, it is important to know that it is most likely because they are struggling, it’s not personal.
I’m currently attempting to reach out more to my family. I believe that family is the most important thing in life; no one will ever love and support you like your family does, at least that is my experience. Someone recently asked me how my relationship was going with one of my family members. I told him that it was improving; I have decided to reach out to them more often. The conclusion I have come to is that I cannot expect others to put forth any effort in our relationship unless I am willing to do the same. If I want to have a relationship with anyone, I need to work at it. Surprisingly, it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. Even just a text message to say hello can mean a great deal to another person.
I’m working on reach out to my friends and family in many ways. Most of it is because of the support I receive. I use the following methods to help maintain my relationships:
- I write on my to-do list who to call or text that day so I make sure it gets done.
- I put things in my phone’s calendar as another reminder.
- I listen to my husband; he often suggests appropriate things for me to do.
- I make ‘dates’ with friends and family. Once something is scheduled, I’m very unlikely to cancel it.
- I tell my loved ones how much they mean to me. I go through periods where I can’t express this at all, so I make sure to do so when I can.
- I try to support and encourage my friends. Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Relationships are hard for me; they’re also hard for others. I have to remember to cut others some slack; keep the expectations to a minimum.
Using these techniques, I have been able to maintain friendships, and I am happy to say that I have become closer with my family. Friends and family provide support, which is vital to my mental health.