There was a point during this round of depression where I was facing what seemed to be too much support.
I was getting calls several times a week where I had to repeat anecdotes about how poorly I was doing, what my doctor was doing, and the like, and I admit, I found it all extremely overwhelming.
Sometimes the best way to support someone with bipolar disorder is to be open to talking about their symptoms or situation with them. Other times, the best way to support someone with bipolar disorder is to help them focus on something else.
I know the people calling me had good intentions, and were genuinely concerned about my health. However, I was spending every waking moment trying not to dwell on just how terrible I really felt. Anytime I had to talk about it with someone, it would send me back into this spiral of negative, hopeless thinking.
Yes, I am a woman with bipolar disorder, but sometimes I need to be treated like a woman. Just a woman. Tell me about your day, or your job, or a joke, and allow me to relate to you in any other general human way.
There is a balance when it comes to being open about bipolar disorder. When I feel fine, it isn’t a problem to talk about it or explore peoples ideas and thoughts and whatnot. When I am not doing well, however, dwelling on this stuff really negatively affects my health.
So I admit, a little embarrassed, that yes, I dodged a few phone calls while facing the worst depression I’ve had in months the last few weeks. To some extent, people consider isolation to be a negative thing, but sometimes isolation means avoiding stressors that will ultimately make things worse.
I realize it seems a little backwards to complain about too much support, but I think there are ways of being supportive that don’t include quid pro quo about my health when I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and vulnerable.
Like anything else, the open bipolar relationship is a work in progress. I know that everyone who reached out to me meant well, but we’re all still learning what helps and what doesn’t, where the boundaries are, and how to be supportive, in the best sense of the word.