By Marybeth Smith
Marybeth Smith was diagnosed with Bipolar II at age 26. Marybeth created the website www.askabipolar.com in hopes of helping others understand what it’s like to suffer from mental illnesses. Marybeth is the author of the Amazon Kindle Best Seller and ABNA quarter-finalist, Fall Girl, and is currently working on the sequel while pursuing a degree in Child Psychology. Additionally, Marybeth designs websites, writes for bpHope Magazine and The International Bipolar Foundation, and serves as a board member for NAMI MI.
There are people in this world who meet their best friend in Kindergarten and are friends forever. Others meet in high school. Some in college. They meet, they click, and the friendship grows, making the term ‘BFF’ an actual thing.
Best Friends Forever.
Not so much in my life.
I met my best friend in Kindergarten. Then I switched schools. The same happened in first grade, and then I went best friendless until the seventh grade. We went to different high schools, and then she went to college. We stayed in touch, but grew apart.
And then … there were the high school BFF’s.
The symptoms of my illness really came to life in high school. Thus my friendships began to take a bit of a bipolar curve of their own. I’d get depressed and suddenly I was like a magnet with the opposite charge … everyone cleared the area and kept clear until I surfaced. Then I’d switch to a little hypomania and suddenly everyone was my friend. I was funny, I was entertaining, I was friendly, I was fun.
Until I’d fall again.
I’d turn into an irritable, depressing monster.
Friends were lost, friends were made, and friends were lost again. Then new friends were made again. I was and am great at making friends … still, they pretty much all ended the same way. I’d get depressed and say or do stupid things and it’s goodbye friendship.
I’d like to say this changed as I got older. I’d like to say it became easier to maintain friendships after my diagnosis. Unfortunately, it actually got a bit worse. There were friends I would stop being friends with and then start being friends with again about a year later only to go through the entire ordeal again.
Now maybe these things happen to everyone. And then again, maybe it’s just a problem I have. But sometimes I wonder if it’s a problem that everyone who struggles with bipolar disorder experiences. Do you have a difficult time maintaining friendships? Do you think it has anything to do with your illness?