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May 21

Friends: Who to Tell and Who to Keep – Lyndsey

friendsIf you are like me, the life you created for yourself pre-diagnosis is probably not going to be the healthiest influence during this time of transition.  Remember that old adage about birds flocking together? Now is the time to be aware of which birds you are flying with.

Family. So you can’t do anything about who you’re stuck with in terms of relatives, but you can change the ways you engage with anyone in your family who causes you mental stress.  This is the time to treat yourself with kindness. You have been and are going through a trauma, and you need to be proactive about keeping clear of topics and people who push your buttons. This is about keeping yourself mentally comfortable. Since no one can protect your bipolar hypersensitivity better than you, take the onus of steering clear from situations that will be upsetting to you.

Colleagues. Like family, you probably don’t have a lot of choice about who you have to deal with in the workplace. I found I was suddenly shy, and that the ever-changing cocktail of medications in the first years made me feel wobbly and disoriented a lot of the time. Everyone at my office knew about my psychotic break and hospitalization, so the situation forced my disorder into the public domain. In many ways this was lucky because I found many open-minded helpers in the workplace, and more than a few people pulled me aside to share  private information about their own mental health struggles. If you’re feeling brave and safe enough, share what you are going through with colleagues. It can relieve the burden and make you feel less alone.reassessing what will work in your new life.  I had to eliminate friends that I had formerly partied with so I wouldn’t be exposed to choices that weren’t good for my head. Instead I opted to support relationships with my stable friends, which in turn supported my healing.

This is the time to evaluate your closet full of people and start the process of cleaning out the ones that no longer fit who you are trying to be. In other words, this is the time to create and nourish healthy circles of support, to eliminate friendships that feel more like charity and be a bit selfish in who you keep in your circle of trust.

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– Lyndsey

This is one of a series of posts by Lyndsey, a professional writer who has been wrestling with the question of how to live creatively with moods for more than a decade. 

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