When I say friend, he is my best friend and we are closer than an awful lot of best friends out there...
As you will have guessed, he has bipolar disorder. I am the only person who knows, though. He hasn't even told his parents or any of his family; it's between me, him and his doctor.
It's really hard, though. I know it's selfish of me, but I'm finding it really hard to cope with his mood. When he's depressed, he gets bored and sometimes violent. Luckily I've managed to stop him lashing out now, but I'm still always a bit on edge during.
What I'm wondering is if you can go through your life like this without any proper, professional help. I've read up on it and I'm doing all I can possibly do. He always says he feels a lot better after talking to me, which is nice and I'm glad he does and doesn't just shy away. But is there any more I can do? Will he be alright, or does he need professional help? I don't want to tell anyone about it, but should I try to convicne him to see a therapist or something or is it useless?
We're going off to uni next year but I know we'll keep in touch. Can I almost become like a therapist to him or do I need to help him more? I know this is ridiculous asking here, but I'm just wondering if anyone else has a bipolar friend or has bipolar themselves that could give me some personal advice?
Living with bipolar friend Watch
- Thread Starter
- 12-12-2010 19:14
- PS Reviewer
- 12-12-2010 23:50
I really really wouldn't advise you to continue being the sole person he confides in/depends on and trying to be a therapist to him, especially if you're going to different unis. Though actually, being at the same uni would hardly be any better...
My next door neighbour in first year became one of my best friends and we were - still are - pretty close. Quite soon on he confided that his family has a history of bipolar and that he was pretty sure he had it. He'd never gone and seen a doctor about it though and point-blank refused to. I had a vague idea of what bipolar was and obviously self-diagnosing is never great, so I looked it up and tried to support him as best as I could. It was pretty difficult though, coz no one else in uni knew about it, not even our other very close friend. So I was struggling to support him and cover up for his behaviour at times but there wasn't really anyone to support me with that.
Things got worse and worse as he started going downhill. In the spring term, we reached a point where he was in bed for days and couldn't get up. I had no idea how to hide that and begged him to see a doctor or at least tell uni. He tried talking to uni about it but there wasn't huge amounts they could do, given it hadn't been officially diagnosed. So things kept going and he became increasingly dependent upon me. Things came to a head in the weeks before our exams, where he needed me to be physically with him but totally silent for him to be able to do anything. That put huge pressure on me and meant I wasn't really in a position to revise in the way I would have liked.
You really need your friend to get proper professional medical support and get him to tell his family. For both your sakes. My situation was pretty tough and in the end our friendship suffered a bit and I became really ill myself and was no longer in a position to look after him or listen to his life story for hours on end
- 12-12-2010 23:56
Man, that's an awful/nothing to worry about (delete according to current mood).
- 13-12-2010 00:05
I have to agree, don't become anything like his 'therapist'.
Your health is your concern (or should be at least). His health is his. Don't forget that, and don't sacrifice yourself for his sake.
Is he getting any treatment for his moods? It sounds like he could do with it, but he may well feel differently. That might be because he legitimately feels like there's better ways to deal with his moods*, or it might be because he's not aware of how ill he is. I think you mentioned that he's seeing a doctor, it'd be better if that's a proper psychiatrist, and not just a GP.
Therapy can be really useful for some people with bipolar, some manage on just medication. A support system is vital, to my mind.. but that really shouldn't be just the one person.
I think you should probably have a serious talk with this guy, expressing your concern that he's violent at times. He really ought to tell his family, people with bipolar can get themselves into **** that they really need all the support they can get to deal with. Tell him that you're glad that your support helps him, but that it's not healthy for either of you for you to be his only support. Be ruthless about that, if he refuses to widen his support network, and it gets too much for you, then put yourself first.
* Right now, that'd be me. Due to my circumstances, I'm pretty isolated, which is bad for a mood disorder but I'm still functioning pretty damn well right now. I get frustrated, but not depressed, so my psychiatrist agrees that what I actually need is a different situation, not medication (unlike 2008, where despite not being at all isolated, and even though there was stress, my moods were utterly disproportional to that, and I wasn't functioning at all)
- 13-12-2010 00:17
I'd say get him to go and see someone, especially seeing as the change to university will be really difficult - meeting new people when you've got bipolar can be hard. If he's not going to have you there through that, it'll be damn near impossible for him to cope.
This is coming from someone with Bipolar II. When my best friend - the one guy who could deal with me no matter whether I was suicidally depressed or on a hypomanic episode and trying to have sex with him all the time - went off to drama school (couple of years older than me) eeeeverything fell apart. But once I went and sought some help for it, even though it was horrible at first, it made it altogether a lot better.
It's a really difficult thing to cope with without professional help and you never know when it's going to get worse and something awful's going to happen. You and him will feel better if you know there's going to be someone else to deal with him.
I hope it all goes well.