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Senior Contributor

Living with MI and Making friends

Do you find it hard to connect with others or have you lost friends due to having a MI? How do you broach this topic with new friends? How do you know when to open up? I read this insightful article by Michael Hedrick and would love to hear your thoughts about it.

 Here's a snippet:

"I have a hard time making friends.

Getting to trust people well enough to call them a friend takes a lot of work. It’s especially hard when you are living with schizophrenia and think everyone is making fun of you.

Schizophrenia is the devil on your shoulder that keeps whispering in your ear and, no matter what you try, the little demon won’t stop. He hasn’t stopped in the almost nine years I’ve lived with the illness, and he’s not about to stop now. He’s just quieted down a bit. I’d call him my companion but that would imply a degree of friendship, and there’s no way in hell I’m the little devil’s friend." (For full article by Michael Hedrick, click here).



Re: Living with MI and Making friends

I wouldn't say thatn I have lost friends, but I have missed opportunities to make new ones?
When my daughter started kindergarten I was quite depressed so didn't have the energy or inclination for the school gate banter. It's very hard to pick that up again everyone is sorted into their little groups.
Because I hate "play dates" and find them super stressful at times, it's difficult to reciprocate when someone invites my kid etc.
I think people who don't know me are put off by my on and off again attitude, so that makes maintaining new friendships hard.
My old friends? Nah we go way way back and they all know about bipolar and so understand my behaviour.

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

I must admit having without knowingly doing it have managed to close out all my old friends, I don't have the little demon whispering in my ear..... well not that I know of..... 

my reason looking back at my actions in the last 2 years when I thought I was ok when I was really untreated was my way of protecting myself from getting hurt emotionally ie. Severing the friendship before they could get in first

I have tried reconnecting with a couple of friends, I explained to him the situation and he took it well, but I haven't heard from him since so I think it was too much for him

the other friend knows and understands me extremely well he is very supportive

I think I am scared of friends rejecting me and my illness....

it is early stages of me getting proper treatment and hopefully in the near future I can have the guts to catch up with more of my old friends but I feel like it will be different and not the same as it used to be.



Re: Living with MI and Making friends

CherryBomb, all I can say is that it is hard to comprehend what you are going through, but you have my heart felt thoughts.

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

@kato  you raise an insightful point: feeling scared that your friends might reject you and/or your illness is something that I think many people with MI can relate to. You can never really tell how someone is going to react when you reveal that you have an M, all you can know are your reactions. In the end, I think it's our own acceptance of ourselves first that matters. The friends that stick around MI or not are gifts. 

I had a friend who once described friendships like a bus ride. Some will stick with you throughout the journey, while other will head off in different directions. It hurts to loose friends, and it's painful to feel rejected but I think acknowledging that you've shared part of your journeys together is something. 

 @Uggbootdiva, it's great to hear that your friends are so supportive and accepting of you. Can ask if your old friends knew you before you were diagnosed with bipolar? 

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

I relate completely to this story.  I've never in all my life considered myself to have many friends and whilst I know I get on with most people I don't make 'friends' easily because I don't trust people.  I also didn't know what to consider a friend or simply an aquaintance until someone told me to look at my friends and decide who I could call on for help.  End result is I have a couple of friends who I consider friends and the rest are just people I come in contact with.  Whether that has anything at all to my with my MI I will never know.  

Did I lose any friends because of my MI?  Who knows.  One might say they weren't really friends if they aren't still around.  Again I've never really had long term friends that I've kept in continual contact with.  Most tend to revolve with what ever interests me at the time.  

How do I broach it?  As some have found already on here my MI and I are a package deal.  I don't get hung up on being politically correct and there is no separation of person and illness.  I am open, honest and up front.  Like me, like my MI otherwise keep walking.

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

@CherryBomb I got diagnosed very late in life, at 27 with depression which has been correctly diagnosed as bipolar only in the last 4 years (I am 40)

Yes most of my close friends today knew me before we knew I had depression or then bipolar. These are the people I have known for about 20 years. (Aside depression seems to be much more socially accepted than bipolar)
I have asked them including my husband why they stayed friends with me, but they all said that there was a consistency there through both manic and depressive episodes that "rang" true? Most were relieved with the diagnosis as it has opened up conversation around MI. I guess on the outside I look like a happy successful person with a great family, great home etc. and it's educating to see that MI hits anyone. It has allowed all of us to let down the facade and be real. A lot of them saw me struggle through horrific pnd and then they knew what was happening when some of them went through it. They also know about depression as quite a few of them have anxiety and depression. We all understand it's not a weakness.
The new friends I struggle with the most. I make new friends when I am on an up or tending towards mania, so come across as this hilarious, bright friendly (Loud) person who says yes to everything. And I over share etc.
Then my other side appears, I don't return their calls, can't carry through on what I have promised stop turning up to things, embarrassed about what I did or said when I was manic, all of which really confuses people. And they get really hurt.
Whereas my old friends understand this is me, if I don't call you I don't call you. If I am the life of the party being hilarious and witty and dancing till dawn - all of it is still me.

I was reflecting on this and I did lose a lot of friends when I first had my major major breakdown/manifestation of illness. They were hurt I didn't call them etc. but we were only 20 and I had forgotten about them till now.

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

Hmmm. Friendship is different things to different people. It is for me, the special key to mental health! Like @jt, my friends know of my mh issues and have continued to be my friends. I am fortunate to have such tolerant and patient friends. I try to be consistent in my friendships, my friends are my family.
That said, there are different types of friendship as @CherryBomb suggests, some for different routes of our life and some who come along g the way, or at least take calls whilst we're travelling!
I think sometimes it is hard to accept new friendships because some if may be like Seinfeld, and stop hiring in our 30's or 40's.
The good news is, we can all be friends here on this Forum, without judgement or expectation and soak up each other's wise words! What do you think @kristin, @loopy, @uggbootdiva,@cherrybomb, @chemonro,@kato,@justanother47yr,@Ma60?
Here's a safe space for us to grow new friendships!

Re: Living with MI and Making friends

JT, I have found, over a long period, you will know a lot of people but if you have 2-3 people that are true friends you will be extremely lucky. Sorry



Re: Living with MI and Making friends

Sandy, I whole heartedly agree with your words of wisdom especially in respect of this forum. It is very important they all members feel free to express their feelings without fear of negativety.


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