Do Friendships Affect Your Bipolar Disorder?

Friendships can be very difficult for people with bipolar. My article from Bp Magazine can help you understand why… and how you can help yourself or a person with bipolar navigate friendships that cause mood swings….

Bipolar Disorder & the End of Friendships

Bipolar can damage, even ruin, a friendship. If it ends badly, both people are hurt—and I might experience a mood episode. So, I discuss this freely with others and acknowledge my imperfections.

Romance Fades, But Friendship Is Forever?

I’ve noticed that, in general, our attitude about and understanding of romantic relationships is quite different from our beliefs and expectations surrounding friendships. For instance, we find it natural that, sometimes, romantic relationships end, and we can usually list the reasons why:

  • We were not compatible.
  • The passion is gone.
  • We grew apart.
  • My partner was not faithful.
  • Our lives moved in different directions.

The ending of a romantic relationship or partnership might be painful and heartbreaking. But, overall, we tend to accept that many romantic relationships have a time limit or a life span.

For some reason, though, we think friendships are supposed to be different! We often have the belief that friendship is forever. When we hear stories of lifelong friends, especially online, it reinforces this ideal:

  • I have the same friends I went to school with!
  • My mates and I have gone on vacation together for the last 20 years, and now we bring our partners and kids!
  • She’s my BFF!
  • My wedding had all of my college buddies and their wives and girlfriends!

Viewing friendships this way can lead to a lot of pain and stress—and possibly trigger bipolar symptoms and/or mood episodes—when our own friendships don’t follow this anticipated lifelong path. As a society, we have created a friendship ideal that simply does not match reality.

Click here to read the rest of the article on the Bp Magazine for Bipolar website www.BPHope.com.

Julie 

Partner with Bipolar? The Duality of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Julie A. Fast is the author of  Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner. Loving was the first book written for the partner of a person with mental health concerns and is now in its second printing,  It teaches partners all over the world how to love someone with bipolar disorder while also getting their personal needs met in the relationship. 

Dual Feelings in Bipolar Disorder Relationships Can be Confusing… but they can also be understood and managed…. 

  • It’s possible to love someone and be upset with someone.
  • It’s possible to love someone and be worried about someone.
  • It’s possible to love someone and be very, very angry at someone.
  • It’s possible (and normal) to be two places at once with your emotions when you love someone with bipolar disorder.

Love is interesting. We can love those who harm us. We can love those who disappear. We can love those who refuse help. And we can love those who are too sick to receive our love.

Seeing the duality of loving someone with bipolar disorder allows you to have conflicting emotions while you learn how to help a partner manage the illness. It lets you know you’re not alone and helps you realize that no…….. other relationships do NOT go through that you go through. Loving someone who has bipolar is a unique experience.  You need help just as the person with bipolar needs help.

  • Loving someone while also setting limits allows you to take care of yourself when a person is ill.
  • Saying no to behaviors that don’t work for you allows you to keep the peace in your own brain when the brain of a loved one is anything but peaceful.
  • Understanding that you don’t save the life of another person doesn’t mean you are abandoning someone you love.

These are just some of the emotions and situations I cover in Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder.

I wrote Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder:Understanding and Helping Your Partner out of a place of love. I wrote it for all of the partners who went through and are going through what I experienced when my partner with bipolar was so sick he said he didn’t love me, had never loved me and didn’t care if he ever saw me again! I wrote this book for all of us who have had health care professionals brush us aside when we voiced concerns about a partner’s health care.

I wrote this for partners all over the world!

You are not alone if today is hard. You are not alone if you love someone who can’t be there for YOU at this time.
I teach the concept that only when your needs are met in a relationship will the relationship find stability. You can start today and get clear on what you need.
  • Decide what you need in your romantic relationships in general.
  • Decide how you want to use your money.    (The article linked here is for parents, but the concept works the same for partners. )
  • Decide the line that you will not cross to help someone who is ill.

 

Bipolar and Children

This is your life. If you have a child with the person who has bipolar, you might have to focus on the child over the needs of the partner. No one told you that relationships would be like this! No one prepared you for what bipolar can do to YOUR world! But you can learn what works and use it daily.  Partners have to make decisions that focus on the children sometimes at the expense of the partner who is ill.  Then, once the child is safe and well cared for, partners have the energy to go back to helping the person with bipolar find stability.

Does this create guilt? Of course it does- Duality means that there are two emotions struggling with each other. Love and guilt. Love and anger. Love and frustration. Love and DONE. Ask yourself:

  1. Who am I in the journey of loving someone with a serious mental health disorder?
  2. What role do I want to play in the life of someone who is ill?
  3. Who can I talk to about this who will actually understand?
  4. What do I need?

Focus on your needs first. Get clear on what you will and will not do. Write this down and plan around this list. If you only have a list of what your partner needs to do and this takes precedence to your needs, frustration and resentment can grow.

Clarity around your needs gives you the strength to handle the multiple emotions all partners feel when bipolar is in the relationship.

If you’re new to my work and need more help on bipolar management in general, read Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder along with loving.

My mottos is TREAT BIPOLAR FIRST.  For people with bipolar, management comes first. When a person manages bipolar, they then have the clear head needed to be a good partner.

This lets you (the partner) focus on yourself while they are focusing on managing bipolar. This might sound like a dream right now, but figuring out what you need and learning the system in Loving  and Take Charge does make this possible. Partners who know what they need have clarity.

Can relationships survive when a partner has bipolar? Of course they can! I did it and you can do it as well, but these two steps are needed:

  • Clarity on your needs.
  • A partner who is moving towards the life motto of Treat Bipolar First.

 

My General Advice if You’re New to this Bipolar World

Read the chapter called The Bipolar Conversation in Loving and Take Charge. Learning about The Bipolar Conversation will give you immediately skills for talking to someone in a mood swing.

  • Ask for help from someone who has been there.
  • Read Loving more than once. It has so much information that each time you read the book, you learn something new.
  • Highlight the ideas in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder that you want to use in your relationships.

Learn all you can and take care of you!

We can live with dual emotions if we know it’s a normal part of loving someone with bipolar disorder.

Julie

My Facebook groups: If you’re a partner, please join me on The Stable Bed. If you’re a parent of a child with bipolar disorder, please join me on The Stable Table.  If you have bipolar and want to learn more about how to help those around you understand what YOU need, join me on my Julie A. Fast Facebook page. I teach bipolar basics on my Instagram. If you want more information on The Bipolar Conversation, this article on the Bp Magazine Website gives more details.

Join Bipolar Disorder Writer, Educator and Researcher Julie A. Fast on Instagram

 

Click here to visit Julie’s Instagram account. 

Julie Fast Talks about Covid Related Depression vs. Genetic Depression and more……

 

Julie A. Fast talks with Linked In Educator Becki Saltzman about depression, bipolar disorder and mental health in general during this lively, intelligent and passionate conversation. Topics include the difference between Covid depression and genetic depression, post partum depression, getting things done when life is tough and more.

Julie’s new book Getting it Done When You’re Depressed is available now.

Bipolar Mood Swings and the Loss of a Beloved Pet

I know. It’s so HARD too think ahead about loss. We want to keep our much loved pets around us forever. Even when we know this is not reality, we tend to avoid the inevitable.  We often live longer than our pets.

It IS difficult to address this topic when life is going well. We don’t want to jinx our future!

Please know that I am sharing the following information with the best intentions. I want you (and all of us) to be ready for the big triggers that can turn our lives upside down, even when we think we have the ability to manage the triggers on our own. The bipolar brain does what it wants. We need to be ready. If you have a beloved pet. Or, if you found this article when searching for help because of the loss of a pet, please know you are not alone. Pets are our companions in life and can make an enormous difference in our bipolar world. I tell the story of my much loved cat Bibi and how I took care of myself while she was ill and after she died. It allowed me to stay stable enough to celebrate her life and go through the normal grieving process. I want the same for you.  This article was originally published in Bp Magazine. I add more information about this wonderful magazine after the article.

 

The Loss of a Beloved Pet: 6 Ways to Stay Stable

At the difficult time of losing a pet, it’s important to have a plan in place to prevent bipolar disorder symptoms from taking hold.

 

My beloved kitty Bibi is gone. I was ready for her death and want to share with you what I’m doing in order to keep myself stable while going through the grief of losing one of my best friends.

Do you have a pet you love? Many of us find such comfort in our wonderful animal companions.

This next question is harder: As a person with bipolar, do you have a plan in place for real loss? In other words, are you ready for the loss of a beloved pet? Especially if this animal helps with your symptoms? I used to call Bibi my depression companion. What a lovely soul in a beautiful body!

Now she is a soul.

The death of a pet is a bipolar disorder trigger. We need a plan in place for when loss of a pet happens. It can be sudden or it can be drawn out as it was with Bibi. We need a plan now that we put into place when the news that a pet is ill or a sudden death happens.

When I heard Bibi had cancer, I had to think of many things outside of my grief. I made sure that I honored her every day she had left. But at the same time, I had to take care of my bipolar disorder. My motto is Treat Bipolar First. It is the only way I can move through life without getting sick.

I hope it helps you if you are going through something similar. And, if you have a pet and want to make sure you stay well enough to grieve and feel the normal sadness we all experience with loss, I hope you will start a plan now that can be in place when the death happens.

The hardest part of this by far was not knowing how her death might affect my bipolar.

On the day she died, I could not sleep. I wanted to write about her in my journal and remember her and cry. All natural behaviors. What was not natural was the fact that it was past midnight. At 1 AM, I realized it could be dangerous for my bipolar as I could easily not sleep at all.

I decided I could love her and think of her the next day. I forced myself to sleep.

I took extra sleep meds and got 8 hours. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I had a plan in place for what I would do if I could tell that my sadness and grief were morphing into mania or depression, and I used it.

Please think ahead….

What is your plan if your kitty gets sick? What is your plan if your best friend who happens to be a dog, simply gets older as all animals do and his time is near?

I want us to prepare for bipolar disorder triggers so that when they arrive, we know what to do.

Here is a short list of what I did to make Bibi’s death as gentle as possible for my brain:

1. When I realized that my sleep would be affected, I asked my mom to help with her care-taking. We were a team in this until the end. I could not stay up at night with Bibi. The guilt was enormous at first, but everyone helped. It also helped that she had a very compassionate vet.

2. I imagined life without her. I thought of what I might feel and opened myself to what might show up in terms of bipolar. Yes, I did this before she died.

3. I regulated my sleep. This meant sleeping in for two more hours than usual the day she died. It would be hard to do this if I were at a work place, but I have my own business, so it is possible. If you need this and do work with set hours, take sick time.

4. I decided to fully feel everything, but gave myself a time limit for grief. If I don’t do this, it will spiral into depression. This means I can cry naturally, but I will not let myself cry for five hours straight for example. When the panic attacks showed up, I felt them, did my breathing, talked to myself and worked through them. It’s so much easier to do this when you plan ahead.

5. I told my friends that Bibi was dying and asked for help.

6. When it was time, I took her to the vet and had a loving goodbye.

I want to learn from this experience so that when another pet or someone I love dies, I will know what works. I am not doing anything to push down my feelings or have less grief. That is normal.

But I am doing everything I can not to get sick. Depression is knocking on the door. I will not let depression in this hotel!

What is your plan? If it is very painful to think about this, I see that as a positive. It means you will need to plan ahead or the grief might be too much if something happens.

Let’s all have a plan ready for when a beloved pet leaves our lives.

When we manage bipolar, we can have the space needed to remember and celebrate all of the joy our beloved pet brought into our lives.

Julie 

If you’re new to my work, please start with Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. It was the first book to talk about bipolar disorder triggers. It has a full chapter on the topic and a plan for managing bipolar in general.

I highly recommend Bp Magazine.

How I Prepare for the Big Bipolar Disorder Triggers

Please know that I never post when I am sick. You NEVER have to worry about me.

I have a story to share. Please know it comes from a place of stability.

Social media is for helping others and to do this, I must be stable. This is why I keep my social media small and manageable. I only post after I have managed my current mood swing.

I lost a loved one to cancer over the holidays. It was not unexpected and he and I planned for the day he would no longer be in physical form.

I still got VERY sick for weeks… first with weepy depression and then a bit of psychosis and then an awful, scary, catatonic depression.

I knew what it was. This was the bipolar. I won’t minimize it and say that managing my mood was easy. It was horrific, but I did it.

I Treat Bipolar First in all areas of life so that I can have real emotions.. such as grief.

Over 30 years ago when my best friend Mia died from cancer, I didn’t know I had bipolar. I was sick for two years due to the shock of her death. It cost me a marriage to a wonderful man. I had no plan.

Now that I have a correct diagnosis and a plan, I can recognize the difference between bipolar symptoms and grief. I can stop everything to manage the bipolar and then move on with grieving.

A bipolar management plan is the only thing that keeps me going. It’s the plan in my books. I use it every day. Bipolar is genetic, but it’s greatly triggered by the environment.

Just as a person with serious asthma needs to always be alert to mold triggers or a person with diabetes must be aware of anything that affects insulin. I, as a person with bipolar must be ready for the big changes that trigger my symptoms.

Treat Bipolar First.

I was too sick to work for a few weeks. I was too sick to do more than function. That is ok. My work was management so that I could then meet my work obligations 2021.

What is your plan for loss? It is ok to be scared about this topic. Talk with others about what you will NEED in terms of bipolar if you lose a pet you love. Or a parent. Or anyone. Talk now and be ready for the world.

I am sending you love if you too are going through loss right now. Ask for help. ❤️❤️❤️

Julie