Managing Close Relationships When Moods Pull Them Apart

Too many times partners and kids have to tiptoe on eggshells around people with bipolar.

“I would get simple texts such as ‘I miss you’ and ‘Hope you’re well’ and ‘I’ve been thinking of you,’ and while those are great, [Hannah] never followed through with anything,” Courtney J. recalls. “I would always think that if she missed us hanging out so much, wouldn’t she make more of an effort to actually see me?”

Feeling that it was a constant battle to get together, and that Hannah’s surface-level interactions were unfair to their friendship, Courtney pulled back and decided to let Hannah reach out when she was ready. Three months later, in early 2018, she did. They met up and Courtney got the chance to talk in detail about how Hannah’s self-isolation makes her feel.

“We are very honest and open with one another, which is key in a friendship like this,” Courtney says.

Hannah says she needs to become more self-aware when it comes to how her behavior has affected those around her.

Julie can relate. She has been working hard to make amends on another relationship front: parenthood.

In the past, she said, her bipolar left her “little time to be a mom” to her three daughters, ages 20, 17 and 10. Her insecurities about socializing with other parents meant she tried to avoid playdates, birthday parties and sports. And she routinely justified hyper-focusing on projects during hypomania by convincing herself that what she was working on was “a positive, life-changing, world-revolutionizing project … What I failed to realize was that the consequences of all my actions could be devastating and have long-term negative effects on my children.”

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