Bridges; To Burn or Not To Burn

If there is one ultimate truth regarding those of us with bipolar disorder, it is this: we are emotional. Granted, humans generally are, but we are more so.

Because of this it isn’t uncommon for us to find ourselves in situations where we need to, want to, or are being forced to sever ties with not only the people around us, but the communities we find ourselves in or the jobs we hold.

I’ve burned a lot of bridges at jobs I’ve held, and even some in communities, but the bridges I’d like to focus on today are ones of friendship.

In the past, friendships were very difficult for me. As I mentioned, I’m a tad emotional, and there has been more than one occasion where I have exploded in a fiery cataclysm, denouncing all ties of friendship and loyalty.

The trouble with bipolar disorder is that I can have feelings for hate for something or someone one day, and feel reasonably loving toward them the next. Before I realized this, there were a lot of friendship bridges burnt, so I started a new methodology. That, and, I realized that my actions were hurting people… which isn’t really fun for them (and, you know, were apparently even a bit emotionally scarring). That’s not the sort of person I want to be, so I implemented the new plan.

Don’t burn the bridge.

I’m sure you’re thinking that this might sound easy but we both know that acting it out can be quite difficult. That’s why I developed a strategy to help.

Ignore the friggen’ bridge.

There have been several friends in my life that I found myself growing apart from. Sometimes that is just the way life works, people head off in different directions. After finding myself in situations where we’d both sit and awkwardly stare at our drinks without really talking for our usual social time, I could tell it was time to part ways.

And that’s when I’d start to get the itch. The bridge burning itch. The aggressive, intrusive, I’m going to call them and tell them never to talk to me again itch.

For a while the friendships in my life were neatly book-ended. There was a clear beginning and a clear end of each one (thanks, in part, to my bridge-burning). What I discovered in my adult life was that friends would sort of just start to fade away. I’d see less and less of them (and inevitably want to friend-dump them).

Let’s not forget, I didn’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person. Instead of burning the bridge, I work very hard to ignore it. I let it fade away until it seems to be gone, and in one situation I was even rewarded for this. A few years later my friend came back into my life and our friendship was suddenly better than it had been before.

This hasn’t happened with the others, but that one successful re-friendship has taught me that people learn and grow at different speeds. Sometimes when we aren’t synced up, we lose touch and part ways, but that isn’t a good reason to cut off all ties with that person forever. They could always have a life event that brings them closer to you than ever somewhere down the line!

On top of that, I’ve learned that what I say (and don’t say) to other people is really important to me. It’s true that some people have pushed my buttons on purpose, or given me the ol’ friendship backstab move, but that probably isn’t a good reason to unleash the raging, fiery cataclysmic beast that dwells inside of me. As it turns out, when people hurt me, I am often capable of hurting them ten fold. After all, I never do anything half-assed.

7 responses to “Bridges; To Burn or Not To Burn

  1. so relevant to me, and so well written! xx

  2. i totally relate. why “half-ass” it when you can light it up like the fireworks shot off on new years eve right? great, relevant post

  3. I can really relate to this. I get that feeling as well, where one day I love somebody and the next day something small can happen and I hate them, and want to immediately cut them out of my life. I will admit that it’s kept my social circle quite small, and it’s frustrating because I don’t want to be like that. But it’s definitely the emotional intensity that I experience that leads to this. Great post.

  4. Oh my gosh, I am such a bridge burner. I’ve always felt like a friendship needed a clear ending – a break up of sorts. That has not served me well and so at this point in my life I’m more inclined to let it die a slow and painful death, and if it comes back around – great. No need to make it official and be the asshole. It’s a hard lesson, but I think I finally got the message. No more friend breakups. Well…maybe in a rare instance 🙂

  5. This was incredible as I have been contemplating this very issue. You have given me so much more to think about. Relationships are very difficult when you have a mood disorder. We truly are constantly on a balance beam trying to stay even

  6. I am sooooo happy I found this website! This post is extremely helpful! I’ve recently been diagnosed with Bipolar 1…. After a lonnnnnnggggg journey with multiple psychiatrists and counselors (at first they said I was depressed, then I had aniexty issues, then they claimed I was bipolar type II, then to spice things up, I had a gran mal seizure a couple months ago in my sleep and I found out I had been having seizures since I was ~12 (I’m 21), and now I’ve been officially diagnosed with Bipolar type I)
    ….Back to this post. I’ve found myself burning a lot of bridges with my friends lately. My main thing is I burn the bridges because of lack of support. But then I feel bad bc I feel as if I’m forcing my problems onto them (my friends) and I get mad when they don’t respond the way I want them to, then I get mad at myself for making excuses for them being bad friends thennnn I ponder on whether they are really being bad friends or am I just being a needy friend. It sucks. So. Much.

    There are some bridges I burnt for a good reason. Ex. Beginning of this year I was in a MAJOR manic depressed stage. I couldn’t even get out the bed. It became so bad I had to medically withdraw from school. Like, one time I was in bed from Thursday until Saturday and I had no recollection of the days or lost time. I would cry randomly and uncontrollably. My closest guy friend, who I thought cared about me, would just text or look uninterestly at me while I would tell him my plans of killing myself or my disdain with life and my concerns of being a lab rat bc of all the medicines my doctors had my trying. (Trileptal, Lamictal, Celxea and antivan).

    But your post really helped me to stop worrying so much about burning bridges that are meant to be burnt and it gave me insight on how prevent myself from burning bridges that shouldn’t be burnt.

  7. One thing that I have learned is hurting people hurt people. Realizing that is so many steps forward so I praise you in that you recognize that and sincerely working on it. When I was struggling a couple of years ago, I was so upset with people for not reaching out to me that (in my mind) I cut them off not once considering what was going on in their lives. Now, when I don’t hear from someone, I call them to make sure they are alright to diffuse any negative thinking I may have. I encourage you to keep at it. You’re doing great so far 🙂

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