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.