Managing Close Relationships When Moods Pull Them Apart

Meanwhile, research at the University of Michigan has shown that those with bipolar incorrectly perceive emotions at a higher rate than those without it.

“People with[bipolar] feel things very intensely, and that can be amplified in a relationship,” says Farrell. “They’re very attuned to how others are responding or not responding to them, and that can carry an air of sensitivity that other people don’t have to deal with.”

Depending on the interaction, and whether symptoms are present, a typical response might be to feel easily overwhelmed, guarded, even paranoid. A next step may be to withdraw, which often gets interpreted as cold and distant behavior, a combination that can push people away.

Despite writing a mental health blog in which she speaks openly about her bipolar II, Hannah B. admits she “struggles to discuss it in my personal life, which causes me to isolate and reject every form of my friends and family reaching out.”

In particular, add Hannah, who lives in North Carolina, “I’ve lost the depth of connection that I used to have with a lot of friends.”

One of them has been more like a sister over the past 14 years, since the women were juniors in high school. Despite living five miles apart, they stop hanging out when Hannah goes through periods of rapid cycling, which has been happening “constantly” over the past year.

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