It is possible to be friends with someone suffering from bipolar disorder. I did. I must admit that it did not come without a challenge, but a friend is a friend no matter what. Knowing about the disorder helped me to understand why my friend behaves a certain way. At first, I found it weird, but the more I get to know her, the more I understand her condition.
I met Tricia at work. We were working for a company handling pest treatment services in Columbus. Tricia is very warm and friendly that is why I was surprised to find out that she is suffering from bipolar disorder.
I discovered about her disorder from our colleagues. They were saying unpleasant things about her. Perhaps, they were just warning me. I felt compassion in her situation. It is never easy for me to see someone being singled-out.
Since then, I consciously become more understanding of Tricia. She was withdrawing from me, but I genuinely wanted to be her friend, so I persisted. Little by little, she accepted my friendship. Soon, we were doing things together.
It was great when she is in her happy, almost giddy mood. It helps that our work environment in the office is not that stressful. However, random things that can turn her smile to extreme depression in one snap. At first, I just walk-away and give her space. Then, I noticed that it upsets her even more. It takes a lot of kindness to be around her in those moments. I just remind myself that it is in those sad times that she needs me to be her friend.
In her calm moment, she explained to me that her emotions are the same emotions that normal people experience. Sadness is sadness. Happiness is happiness. But in her case, she feels these emotions as if it is all that’s left to feel. These mood shifts can happen without warning over extended periods of time.
I remember that one time we saw a homeless guy on our way home. She cried as if someone dear to her died. She was inconsolable. Two days later, she is still feeling the same. This is just one instance. Imagine cycling through these intense feelings in a lifetime!
I eventually got used to her mood shifts. There are still days that I can’t keep up with her roller coaster of emotions. I get tired, too. But whenever I remember who she really is, I come back to her ready to ride the waves again. She is not the illness. She is my friend. A kind, compassionate and wonderful person. This is the friend I see regardless of her mood.
Acceptance and love can break all barriers. If I listened to office gossip, I wouldn’t have known my best friend, Tricia. She told me that she was lucky to find me. But I must say, I am luckier.
Watch this video to better understand what it feels like having a Bipolar Disorder