How Bipolar Has Influenced My Cycle of Friendships
Every new bipolar cycle introduces me to a new set of friends––and a new disconnect from society.
I used to have a lot of friends. I was sociable, outgoing, and loved being around people. But then I graduated high school, and my moods started to shift dramatically. I was behaving in uncharacteristic ways and hanging out with unsavory people. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was experiencing my first bipolar manic episode. And when the first depression set in, I cut off all my friends. Not only the unsavory people I had been hanging around, but also my dearest friends whom I had known since I was a child. I was too embarrassed by all that had happened and the changes I had made in my personality, clothing, hair, everything, to even face the people I knew who really loved me.
After that first cycle, I eventually made more friends and moved on with my life. But the bipolar cycles kept coming, and along with each new mania came a new set of friends. Each new depression drove them away.
Finally, about four years ago I experienced my deepest depression ever. That depression left me with a few scars that I’m afraid will never fully heal. Those scars are my general desire to be alone, and an unnerving feeling of being disconnected from society. During that depression I could barely leave my house, let alone see anyone—strangers or friends. I also began to feel like I was the only one in the world who didn’t care about living. I couldn’t understand what motivated people to do anything—put on jewelry, do their hair, follow a trend, or even the big things like support a cause or worry about politics.
Thankfully, I came out of that depression, and after a few more cycles I am finally enjoying a period of stability. I am happy, thankful, and I care about life.
But every once in awhile, particularly when I’m with a group of people, that dark little nihilistic voice comes back…”What’s the point?” it asks me.
I have counteracted the voice by deepening my relationship with God. Believing in something more than myself makes it easier to see the big picture and believe there is a point.
Now I only have a few close people in my life, including my partner, my sister, my best friend (whom I reconciled with several years ago), and my parents. I have also reached out to a few of my other close friends from school and we generally keep in touch through Facebook. I am trying to make new friends where I live now—over 700 miles from where I grew up. I’ve never really felt a part of my community in my new home, and due to bipolar cycles, I’ve had a hard time making and keeping friends. So while I can see that bipolar has influenced my ability to keep many friends, I’m wondering why I still struggle with socialization now that I am stable.
Will that nihilistic voice ever go away? Or is it simply a part of me now? Going through bipolar cycles is like traveling to other dimensions and I can’t expect people without bipolar to understand it. So maybe I’ll always feel a little bit disconnected from society, but maybe I can use that to teach people something new. I’ve been to the other side, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. I’ll be the grandma who can say, “Pull up a chair and let me tell you a story…”