Friday, 19 February 2010

Being Bipolar Part Two – Social Isolation

Social Isolation is probably one of the worst things about living as a “stable” Bipolar sufferer. I am talking about someone whose meds do the job and they have good self management skills. They just want to get on with their life. It is well known that most bipolars will not return to their chosen career. Most of them will find it hard to get any employment. I know this from my own situation. I feel like I was on the scrap heap at 57.

The bottom line is that many bipolars have a lot of time on their hands. Some find meaningful volunteering opportunities. Some have access to resource cafes or drop-in centres. Some spend their time on social networking sites. Some will write or blog. Most activities seem to be ways of killing time.

My perspective is as someone who lives alone. I sometimes go for several days without seeing another person. Sometimes the only person I see is the supermarket checkout lady. I am socially isolated. I can’t blame this on the illness but it certainly reinforces it. I value my weekly Slimming World group. I try hard to make it every week because it one “normal” activity in my life. I was never good at socialisation, even in the years before I was labelled as bipolar. When I was married, it was not so much of a problem. That smacks of codependancy. I have been separated for about 10 years and I am back to living alone. I always relied on my workplaces for my socialisation. In the last ten years, I have hardly worked.

I tend to isolate myself. I am not sure whether it is connected with being bipolar. There might be a subconscious desire not to make new friends. The illness has cost me so many friendships. I got tired of explaining and apologising. It might seem convenient to avoid building new relationships.

I don’t reach out to friends. I don’t even reach out to on-line friends who I have never met face-to-face. That is something I have to work on. I seem to have acquaintances rather than friends. I see a friend as someone you meet occasionally, maybe for a pint or a coffee. A friend will come round to visit, call on the phone or join you for a restaurant meal. I have lots of “friends” on Facebook or Twitter. I would class most of them as acquaintances. 99% of them are too far away for socialising. I have rarely had friends as I described. It doesn’t help that I have an apparent phobia about using the phone. Don’t get me wrong. I like people and I like to be with them. It is possible that my social isolation is more to do with my personal character than it is do with being bipolar. Bipolar just adds a few more challenges to the task.

I would like to hear about other people’s perspective on social isolation. I know it is a big issue for Bipolars. My experience might be different because of my background and life experiences.

I always struggle when I am asked “What do you Like to Do?”. People will suggest that I join a club or something. Maybe I am boring, but I am rarely interested in what is on offer. I am very good at finding excuses not to do certain things. I am so focussed on my weight loss that I avoid activities that involve eating or drinking. That cuts out a lot of social activities. I am in touch with a walking group. I have never gone with them. I have plenty of excuses. The first and valid excuse was that they walk too far. That was true but maybe not any more. I would need a lift to get to most walks. I hate relying on lifts. They usually eat in a pub after the walks. I have so many possible excuses in my head. It is not surprising I haven’t been yet. They do have social activities apart from the walking.

I always like to be open about my illness. I am realizing that it not always the best policy when joining in “normal” activities. Maybe I find it uncomfortable to explain why I don’t work. I tell myself that I have retired early. It was not really by choice and I feel uncomfortable with it. It might be easier now I am sixty and holding Senior Railcard !!

I know that I have to get out more. Making friends might happen from that. I have to use my free bus pass for fun rather than attending appointments. I can now get reduced rail fares. I can swim for free once I get a card. I have started to keep a weekly schedule and I have bought a desk diary. They are helping a lot. I now need to schedule some fun stuff and stick to it.

I guess that I saying that my social isolation was always there. Being Bipolar has added to the mix and created some more challenges. I think I have rambled on enough for one blog.

50 comments:

  1. Oh I hate that question "what do you like to do?" I usually say all the things I used to like to do. I've also been told to volunteer, but since I have difficulty meeting new people that hasn't been very successful. I'm most at ease in my own home by myself. I don't even like to go to the grocery store. I've never really associated it with bipolar disorder, but in retrospect I can see how it could be. I was very outgoing before my brain blew up (that's what I call my breakdown), but often wonder if it's a disorder in and of itself.

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  2. There is alway the threat of isolation within the illness. Whether it be from being a part of you are both or the illness. It is hard for me at times when I isolate myself too. I do try to get out when I feel it get to me. This is a really good look at one person's perspective dealing with isolation.

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  3. I too isolate myself. The worst part is I even avoid my family. It's hard watching them watch me, always wonderiig what dad is going to do. Sometimes i feel as if people don't want to be around me when in reality it's me that doesn't want to be around me. Even at my wedding i found a place to hide to avoid the reception. When i do go out to social events or anyplace for all that matters the first thing i do is look for an escape route. I hover near the exit and vanish as soon as I can. I never ever make eye contact with anyone for fear they will see into my soul. I keep all conversations to a minimum and never voice an opinion (unles Im extremely manic). My favorite past time is to sit in the house with everyone gone, no tv or radio on and just listen to the clock tick.

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  4. Great to read these comments guys. I have just been diagnosed as bipolar after suffering (without realising) for 17 years. I'm relieved it's not just me that either feels isolated or deliberately isolates myself. Is this just me or do you guys feel that no one else understands therefore you don't want to talk to people, which actually makes you feel more isolated? I'm finding it a difficult cycle to break (my immediate family don't know about my diagnosis)but I'm hopeful my CPN is provide support, not only for these feelings but someone to share the burden of the diagnosis with

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  5. Thanks for everyone's comments. I'm thinking that in my case isolating is causing a bi-polar situation in me. I had never experienced bi-polar until after I retired and began spending most of my time alone. I was always a very social person and I believe that because I was mixing with others I was literally mixing with others and achieving balance for myself. Now I'm lacking that balance and have become bi-polarish. I'm going to make an effort to socialize and mix more so that I can achieve balance again.

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  6. This has been a bit of a relief to me, even though I feel utterly alone at times now I know I'm not alone in the way I feel!

    I am tired and frustrated by lack of friendships, there are people I see from time to time (a good 6 hour drive away from where I live now) but even when I am with them I never really feel myself, always detached and as though I'm harbouring secrets. Well I am, since they don't know about the bipolar.

    Last time I was on my way up I made a stack of friends, mainly through work, one of them really close. That close friend chose to end the friendship, don't blame him at all since I ended up becoming a complete nightmare; obsessive, paranoid, erratic, overbearing. It's hard to explain to anyone why you're so demanding when it's just that your brain is going a million miles an hour and then crashing. And the other friends I had around that time, I just feel a bit embarrassed, as they witnessed horrible behaviour and even though some of them are still about through social networking I just can't bring myself to be close to them either.

    I miss friendships so much, it makes me sad every day really and I feel like hitting my fists against my head as I just can't seem to figure out how to get around/over/through this.

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  7. I'm up at 3:00 am Pacific Time. I've been in a cycle for 2 days. It is comforting to know that others isolate too. I did a search because I have not been out of the house for almost 2 weeks. This was not my "normal" life. But it seems to be my reality now.
    Like others here, I began this extreme isolating after loosing a very close friend last year after she learned of my condition. My meds were not in order yet, and I had some real strange episodes. She just didn't like having to handle the situations. I have tried to be honest with people around me about what this condition is but there is a lot of stigma, judgment and misunderstandings. I miss her friendship, and have had a hard time letting it go. I feel very vulnerable with making new friendships, and am having a hard time keeping family ties, except with my children. It is so unnerving to not know what my next day will bring, much less next month or year.
    I,too, don't know what to say to those that ask what "I do" -- I tell them I am retired. My journey to Bi-polar-ness has been through cognitive brain dysfunction from bouts of chemotherapy. Saved my life, but it's really a different life for me now. I, too, have even stopped going to my Facebook account or emailing friends. After a while, if your not making an effort -- they stop too. I miss my old life - before cancer, chemotherapy, etc. but know I must learn too adjust to this one. Thanks for letting me have a voice. It has given me a way to express my thoughts and feelings without risking rejection.
    Has anyone ever joined a bi-polar support group? If I wasn't isolating so much -- I think I'd do that :).

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  8. Hi anonymous. Sorry to hear about your trouble with isolation. I am not doing much better since I wrote the blog, even though my situation is a lot different. Medication changes have stirred things up. I can just about get out if I have an appointment or I am running out of food for example. I do try to keep up with on-line friends, especially on Facebook. If you feel up to trying FB again, let me know and I will give you my details. I am in some good supportive groups on FB. I have attended a Bipolar support group over the years but I have missed a lot of meetings recently. I do find it useful when I am well enough. Thanks for leaving the comment... Clive

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  9. All I do is isolate my self from people and the world

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  10. These are some of my isolation experiences:
    -hate getting on elevator in my building because I have nothing to say to others
    -when I am walking my dog or outside I feel as if people know that there is something "wrong" with me
    -I feel that there is something "wrong" with me and I have to hide it all the time (depression, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc.)
    -I have lost or pushed away friends
    -others seem to have things to do, places to be. I have to wrestle with loneliness and a lack of plans for the future
    -I am afraid to attempt to socialize, because I have nothing to say, and I am preoccupied with my torment
    -all in all things are going great (sarcasm)

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    1. I know exactly how you feel. I have same obsessions and anxieties and im supposedly an extrovert, upper 20% attractive, thin well-educated, articulate creative expansive thinker funny witty can hold conversations about zillions of things with all kinds of people, not shy, impressive but spotty career thanks to impulsive bipolar and add social/political faux pas, missteps, and outright self-sabotaging fits.. im also a great mom. The kids adore me, at least.. but i live alone and have no close friends and a mostly alienated family. I alienate people via extremes of neediness, odd lack of boundaries, insensitivity, judgments, and/or lack of emotional control. I'm inconsistent and unreliable with few friends I make, isolating for period due to extreme depression and insecurity. I get desperate and deeply depressed by loneliness and feelings of worthlessness on a regular basis, despite some help from medication. I believe im one of those easy to hate people, perceived as a lost cause, even though I can also often be kind compassionate and generous in all senses. I truly love helping others. I guess volunteer situations might put up with my quirks... I try and try... it's been a worsening struggle as I get older stuck in suburbs got unemployed and as a woman uncomfortable going places alone at night, even just tp see a cpncert ... I worry quite seriously about ending up a homeless cute MBA, foraging trash and risking rape. That's some positive thinking right there! Being a woman in a woman-hating culture has its bothers, too (eg increased popularity of and universal access to violent degrading woman-HATING rape porn and even mainstream media opjectifying pretty ones and dismissing the rest as invisible and second class in realms of power... more positives...

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  11. Things are different now. I used to be free from self-consciousness. I used to walk outside without feeling that people were staring at me. That was before bipolar. That was before I had been hospitalized. I thought that the pills would fix everything. "Thank God I had been diagnosed and finally I would get better, get back to life." Well, things didn't work out as I had hoped. Now there is loneliness, there is an inability to socialize; there is the examination..."did I cause this myself?" So the days of freedom have ended, but you are still here, and that is a good thing. The world needs people to be sad. What with all the war and dying and people crying, why would one not just sit alone in a corner? Why would one not be afraid to go outside? But it is not all sadness, even for we who suffer from bipolar disorder. Another part of our problem is not knowing how happy we were before we were stuck with this illness. We don't remember the frustrations, and fears, and loneliness we experienced before. So don't blame yourself or the illness for all of your real pain and suffering. By this I mean if you take away the normal amount of suffering that you would've had without bipolar disorder perhaps the heap of added suffering is not quite as big. Also this allows us to realize that other people suffer too...we are not alone even among the "healthy". This is not to try to take away any of the isolation and loneliness that we bipolars feel. But to suggest that if we feel like going for a walk, or going to get groceries, there are a great number of normal people who are too busy freaking out themselves to think that we are crazy. Just some thoughts.

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  12. Thanks for all the comments. I am pleased my blog has generated some interest. We are not alone and that is important. On a personal level, I am still struggling. Maybe I find it harder than ever to get out and about. I have realized that is mostly due a loss of confidence. I thought that getting my sleep back on track would be a magic bullet but it wasn't. I am just hoping time will be a healer. Good luck to you all and big {{{hugs}}}
    Clive

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  13. This is SO perfect!! I'm Bipolar and I've been dealing with this ALL my life! It's like I just cannot relate to people! This guy in my class asked me that horrid question today about what I like to do....I wanted to just cry.

    I'm going thru a depressive episode right now. I guess.

    I really do like ppl but it's so weird that when I get around other ppl I can't wait to be by myself again. Im not even in my 30s yet and I suffer with this isolation issue. But relationships of all sorts give me great anxiety.

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  14. good support. Any specific ideas for reentering life? I'm on disability and find my isolation allows me to save money. When I'm out in the world my SS money is spent before the month is out....I am in my 50s now, and also live alone. Family has abandoned me, as have partners...

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  15. Hello, I would love to be your friend on Facebook. I have no bipolar friends and today the thought occurred to me that maybe I'd feel more like socializing if some of my friends were bipolar. So, here I am trying to make bipolar friends. :) Please send me a friend invite. My name links to my Facebook page. Misery loves company and birds of a feather flock together.

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  16. My husband is bi-polar. I'm the only person he is currently in communication with, because he has said very hurtful things to family. He does actually have one friend that he sees from time to time. (not often, but he has made this friend recently.) We could always have good conversation, and a laugh every now and then. I could finish his sentences; that is if he wouldn't get ticked off that I was interrupting him...We've been living apart. We haven't been able to see each other more than a half dozen times a month. He is now leaving me. For a person who prefers to be alone, six times a month is unacceptable. Our intimate time was phenomenal. We talked every day. I know it is not an ideal situation, but I think the guy that's driving this ship is Isolation Man.....

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  17. Hi anonymous. Thanks for your reply. The comments on this post seems to to have taken on a life of their own. As a long term sufferer, I can understand a lot of what you say. If you do need any support or a listening ear, please get back in touch. A lot of us are sensitive to the needs of loved ones and family, even though the illness may mask that.... Regards, Clive

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  18. Thank you for this, I thought it was just me and my lack of social skills, I'm 21 and I'm constantly isolating myself, my boyfriend tries to keep me in check and I do work...customer service (go figure). But I have no friends anymore and it's hard for me to hang out with people. I just don't like talking with people anymore, I used to love people that's why I was good at customer service, but now my social skills seem to be diminishing :(
    Meg

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  19. God this is so true, I have isolated myself, my partner left and after a very bad 3 years I have managed to alienate all friends, sooner or later I am having an up and someone upsets me and I go nuts and have a real go, the english don't tolerate any kinds of outbursts and friends don't understand, I then hate myself even more and feel even less lovable. I live in a remote spot, and my life has almost disappeared. Suicide seems easiest. I cannot believe how people just don't understand that I don't want to feel like this. If it was a tumour or cancer people would be so understanding but with mental health people have no tolerance. I have had a full life and a business and now my life is disintegrating. I have no support network and am horrified at how few people are now left in my life.

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  20. Thank you all so much for sharing. It is 3am and I am wide awake looking for answers to this isolation problem. You have mostly described exactly how I feel and what I am experiencing. It helps to know that i'm not alone even though I feel it.

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  21. One of the things doctors say you need to successfully deal with bd is a support group. How does one have that when they've alienated friends/family by past conduct? And who wants to be around someone who feels so negative about themselves? I am overwhelmed by feelings of guilt/despair/self-loathing/loneliness. I stopped taking meds because they were not helping & even making some problems worse! Especially social anxiety which I definitely did not have during manic episodes. But now I mainly have severe depressed episodes. I miss the mania even though I've done some shockingly bad things. I am seeing my pdoc on Tuesday because I can't go on like this.I am 56 years old & don't want this to be what the rest of my life is.

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  22. I'm so happy that I found this blog. I've never blogged before. However I've never been this desperate before. Meds, their are our life w/o them we r screwed. W/out them we do crazy uncontroll things. Last time I stopped I tried to kill myself. Now for my family I live a life of mental isolation and loneliness like nobody else I thought could understand. That is until I read this. Thanks to all of you I don't feel as lonely -just crazy and out of my mind.

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  23. I too am isolated. I just was diagnosed with BP 2 and I work alone and I just happen to be a psychogist, so even professionals are just human.I was not isolated when I had my family, but that is gone. I have never been a "joiner" and it is hard for me to make friends. I think it has always been about me. I have been stuck like this for years but my family filled the void. I have rapid cycling BPD so when I am rarely "normal" I am more content. I want to find deep friendships but it is hard. I am so lonely that sometimes I just don't want to go on. The only thing that keeps me alive is my children. I feel like my life is over at 60.

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  24. Some of these entries are so sad and my heart goes out to all of us. I had a friend text me this morning that I behaved as a bitch and a snob at a small get together last night. I had no clue and am saddened by my inability to gauge my own impact socially. I was feeling so terrible about myself after this incident that I felt I needed a new strategy for socializing. Found this blog and feel so much less alone in all this. I have reduced my socializing in the 3 years since being diagnosed but I still run into problems with family and or friends. has anyone tried a friend disclaimer ie. I have bipolar (or mental health issue) and if I say or do something inappropriate please lets discuss it and see if we can still be friends.

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  25. Hi everyone. My boyfriend of the last year and a 1/2 is bipolar. I really love him, and most of the time we have a fantastic time talking and spending time together when we can. However, because of his limited opportunities for work where I live, he had to move back home after we had lived together for 3 months. We've been doing the long distance relationship thing now for over a year, and we only see each other every 3 months or so when we can afford the trip. But, I am really struggling with consistant communication from him. Sometimes he calls once a day for just a few minutes. Sometimes I only head from him every few days, because we both have very busy conflicting workschedules. But we normally stay in touch very regularly. However, right before the holidays he stopped answering calls, texts and emails from me. He has been very short with me saying that I call to often, even though I contact him only once or twice a day to try to chat with him. He gets mad and says he's to busy to talk etc, and it's just not like him to do this. We've only spoken once in the last 3 weeks, and it was at like 4 in the morning. He has really withdrawn from me, and I am hearing that his extended family is not able to get in touch with him. I am very worried that he may be in that pre-manic state. He is embarassed about talking about his disorder, and I don't always know if he is taking meds. I know he goes on them when things get really messed up, but generally he does better off meds for and even for several months at a time. I just feel really confused, because he says he loves me, and wants to stay together, but he absolutely won't communicate right now. I am wondering if you all think it might be better to just leave him alone until he is ready to contact me, or should I still try to stay in touch, but maybe just less often, like only calling him on the weekends, at least until he becomes more open to talk to. This is a very frustrating situation, because he's actually a wonderful, smart, funny, and caring man, who loves me very much, but when he stops communicating like this, its really rough on me. Please help me with some advice. I would love to hear your perspective on this, especially if you are someone who suffers from bipolar disorder.

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  26. Run in the opposite direction and do not look back. Bipolars r emotionally selfish people to be involved with. He will emotionally drain you and you will become his caregiver. PERIOD! I can say this for I am bipolar and I have been told this by my husband. So what are you waiting for RUN!

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  27. I did a really stupid thing last night. I went to one of those "parties" with a lot of women I know. People who I used to work with and are suppose to still be " friends"... drank too wine, spoke my mind before the wine, spent too much $$$ on products I don't need. But didn't want to be the one who didn't make a purchase.
    Then I drove home like a bat out of hell. Driving really really fast, then slamming onthe brakes over and over again. Up to 85 miles/hr. on slippery roads.
    Get home confront my husband telling him everything I did, then continue to blame him for what's wrong in my life, our marriage, the world. etc. etc. etc.
    Again the crazy life of a bipolar woman. Thank god I see my Dr. Next week and bless my crazy husband who for some reason can love me thru all of this shit.
    For I woke up this am with him on one side holding me and my dog on the other.

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  28. Nobody... nobody wants to reply to my completely manic then depressive state. I. Have not done anything. Anything at all. Stayed at home and have felt completely sorry for me. The only thing I can do to redeem my wild behavior is to get to hell out of town for a couple of weeks. For I aml literally going "mad" here" with our winter weather. So I'm off for some Warner weather, family and some fun. Hopefully that will help with the circling at least for a while. Their know and understand me so I can let my guard down and not pretend to be someone I'm not. Well... for the most part. Someone please resplnd . I'm' off til the end of Feb. Be brave and put it out there!!!

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    1. Hey Jack. People might not have replied because this isn't a forum (message board). People sometimes reply to other people in comments but a lot of times they don't. I know a couple good forums for bipolar people. www.depressionforums.org has a bipolar forum, and www.crazymeds.us has lots of good information and a forum with a bipolar section. There are great people to talk to in either of those places. Good luck, hope you are well!

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  29. I would like to thank everyone for sharing their experiences. I have been bipolar since I was a teenager. I am 34 years old now. I often wonder whether I am the 'only' person out there who has to deal with problems like rapid cycling and paranoia. It often feels like I am. Reading your stories reminds me once again that there others who have to deal with similar problems. I wish all of you strength and courage.

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  30. I was dating a doctor that was bipolar. He also has an eating disorder (anorexia). He would have flare-ups and yell at me for no apparent reason. I felt it was my fault. He also isolated and did not want to participate in social things with my family and friends. Eventually, he just kept pushing me away and I broke it off. It has been tough as I did love him and I keep wishing I could have helped him have a better life. He said many times that he likes to be alone.

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    1. If he kept pushing you away, you did the right thing to break it off. His life is his own responsibility. You should not make it yours, even if you love him. It sounds like you did for him what you could. You shouldn't feel bad about it.

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  31. Btw, if anyone would like to add me on Facebook, just click my name and follow the link.

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  32. This is such a relief to see that it is not only myself that is so isolated due to pushing people away through crazy behaviour and rapid cycling. Although I still cannot see any way out. My life 2 years ago was perfect. Loving boyfriend, close group of friends, supportive family and I was an university. I would be out doing things every moment of the day. Now, I am back at home after quitting uni, single, no friends (only aquaintances)and even my wider family members feel uneasy about talking to me as they do not know how I'll react. I know I have done some awful things, but I'm supposedly 'stable' now, and yet I sit at home on my own wishing I had someone, anyone, to just have a chat with and get out for an hour or so. My parents have told me that I need to make friens, and I know that I do, but how am I supposed to do that when I cannot communicate confidently without having a drink? and even if I could, where do you just go and find friends on your own? If anyone has any answers, ideas or just wants to chat, add Hollie Fleming on facebook.

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  33. Hi Hollie,

    My name is Lisa. I tried to add you on Facebook but there were a lot of Hollie Flemings.... so which one are you?

    Or you could try adding me instead:

    https://www.facebook.com/lisa.yap.188

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  34. I'm a 24 year old soldier who has always had social issues. I thought it was just due to my childhood and past, but my brother who is just over a year older than me is very social. I began thinking it was something just wrong with me. I was self diagnosed with bipolar disorder, due to hours of research (my hobby I tend to do to kill time). After my emotions, thoughts and even actions really started to worry me, I went into mental health to confirm what I knew, but I learned a lot as well. It was very helpful. I took medication for a while but then stopped. I felt better, as far as my anxiety went, but I also didn't feel like myself and I didn't like it. The more stories I read and the more I research on bipolar disorder, the more I feel like I'm accurate about being messed up mentally. I make millions of excuses not to go out and even convince myself of the excuse, I hate it because I really want to be a social person but it eats me up inside and I get panic attacks when I try.. I'm the same way with the phone. I couldn't even bring myself to call my father on his birthday. It gets really difficult for me to be social and I will go weeks with being social only when I absolutely have to be. Being military has helped, because I'm forced to constantly meet new people and spens time with them. I have made some good friends, but as soon as I hit a low, I disappear. I'm currently trying to learn more about how bipolar disorder affects us mentally. A lot I have read is like I wrote about myself and in all honesty it kind of scares me, maybe I'm not as important or unique as I thought.

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    1. Actually you might be surprised how many people have the same problems as you do. I started joining support groups only several months ago. I was shocked to find there are many thousands of other people who struggle with the same problems I have struggled with all of my life. It also made it easier for me to separate the illness from my true personality.

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  35. I have similar problems. My boyfriend does not understand and even seeing him is starting to be a thing I want to avoid. I feel so safe anf quiet just tugging up in bed curtains closed. I sometimes feel I am in an ”outside world” watching the others. In short, apart from going to work where interaction with people is unavoidable, but thankfully not a key part of my work I just want to avoid people. I find them irrtitating. I used to be treated as just depression but recently as a bipolar.

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  36. It has taken me so long to even research the feelings of isolation that I feel. I am so happy to have found a place to put my feelings into words. I have bipolar and suffer more from depression and anxiety than manic episodes. I am 48 years old and live alone. My children are grown and live out of town. My father is the only one who lives in my town and he has his own live too. I don't go anywhere unless it's the grocery or library. I have only a couple of friends that I may see once a week at my house. I am a Christian so I have become very picky about my friends. This also causes a problem because I haven't been able to attend church in some while because of panic attacks.
    I am on disability so it is very hard to even go out for meals. I am afraid to even begin to look for a relationship with a man because of the past relationships.
    Where do I go from here?

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  37. W.L.Floriano 18 December
    I've been diagnosed bipolar at the age of 28 and now I am 47yrld. It's a relief to see that so many people suffer from this illness and the ways each one o us are finding to cope with it. I can't pay for counselling ( ideally I'd like to find a bipolar professional), but thinking about joining a support group. Thanks for sharing!

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  38. Thank-you for this interesting and insightful post, you are optimistic in some ways despite all the challenges thrown at you :)

    I "isolate" frequently. Before I was diagnosed I'd oscillate between phases of constant socialising in large, varied friend groups. Then I would come down and cut everyone out. I now recognize that I was cycling between mania and depression, usually at 3-6 month intervals.
    I have just started seroquel. I was ambilavent about taking medications as I have suffered bad side effects on them. I was also mistakenly prescribed sertraline. It propelled me into a mania, and then, a nervous break. Coming off it was hell.

    Making me feel really low at the moment. Just hoping the storm passes, so to speak.

    I have hope for things though. They'll get better.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  39. Wow, I'm sorry to be late to the isolation party. I just googled bipolar isolation and found this and a bunch of garbage from sites that give "tips" on coming out of isolation, join book clubs, volunteer, etc. Great advice but it's not that we don't know what to do. We want to do things, we want to hang with friends, we want to leave the house and smell the roses but we can't. Or at least, we can't be consistent due to cycling.

    I was diagnosed with BP1 10 years ago. I'm on meds and disability. I thought that once i was on disability, i'd be able to do all of those things the websites suggest but I'm more isolated now than I've ever been. But I choose to isolate because it's what I want. I journaled tonight and realized that I'm ok with it. If I want to communicate, I'll talk to a friend on facebook or text someone. (I never call anyone for obvious reasons.)

    So...I guess what I'm trying to say here is, I've accepted isolation as part of who I am. I like hanging with my cats, watching tv, listening to music, journaling and when I'm manic, I go full force into writing stories, writing songs and playing guitar.

    So, I was insecure and sad that I choose to isolate myself from friends and the world. Until I read this blog. So...I'm going to stop crying about it and accept that it's part of bipolar disorder or frankly, any mental illness. I hope everyone can feel secure like me in isolation. It's only bad if it gets to where you FEEL lonely or suicidal.

    Thanks for starting this blog...4 years ago lol and thanks for everyone else's stories as well.

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  40. Felt depressed due to isolation, Googled bipolar isolation, clicked on this link read all of the posts then voila, learned a lot, found some resources and don't feel so isolated. Thank you to all that shared, and man I'm so grateful for my internet connection :)

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  41. People with bipolar disorder, like myself, do feel isolation from others including family. Since I run a dialogue in my head about how to function constantly to the point of further insanity, I have come up with two reasons. The first one is that as a bipolar person, I personally have no idea what I am doing when it comes to relating appropriately to others nor do I understand AT ALL when my emotions, especially anger or sadness, are justified. I am baffled by it to the point that I frequently get my feelings hurt by it and, at the same time, offend other people. They avoid me because I am annoying; I avoid them because my feelings get hurt. The other reason for isolation for me is that I am not understood, no matter how close I am to someone such as my own husband, parents, etc. You have to live it to know it. People close to you will talk the talk: "Hey, it's a disease, no different than heart disease, etc," but when bipolar rears its ugly head, they frequently react in a hostile way, and the disease suddenly becomes a personality flaw, a weakness that could be corrected. I totally understand how this happens, but I wish with all my heart that just one person would not do this, that one person would just calmly say: "Hey, you know I think you might be struggling here. I am so sorry. Do you need space? Tell me what you need, so I can help. Anything like that would be better than having to constantly think about everything that you say when you can do that than being reacted to with hostility. I understand. I am just waiting for someone to understand. Until then, I am alone, and it may be forever, so I avoid all social interaction as much as possible. When I do have to, I slip into my "pseudo" personality which can work relatively well for the most part, but it is a complete sham. I am a walking secret. Years of pain.

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  42. I have been bipolar2 for about 30 yrs. I am 49 now. I have always isolated because of my rapid cycling unpredictably . I never married or had children because of the isolation. I feel like being bp has taken away my life. I feel so much guilt over the manic things I have done that it is better to be alone. I am tired of missing commitments, It has become the better option to just stay home and accept that as my way of life. Thanks for helping me not feel alone in that decision.

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  43. One advantage of social isolation/detachment I think is you can be more creative. I think most social people pay a horrific moral price in terms of uncritical regimented conformity in order to fit in. Creative people are often socially detached, it has it's pluses, people are always interested in my latest artwork or experiments. But for getting a little balance n life, more socializing I'd suggest the recently blooming science of self-control/willpower maybe, books by Kelly McGonigal, Roy Baumeister & others helped me with other problems, plan to try them with this.

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  44. wow. thanks for this blog. i " used" to be an extrovert, but over the years with BP i isolate more and more. i have no close personal relationships. i am now 59, and have been considering just accepting of this situation. i am tired of fighting. i have to some way figure out how to be ok with who i am, not what i am supposed to be, or used to be. i isolate for weeks at a time seeing only my husband. when i isolate, i do not have to worry about getting back to others, missing lunches, being ill received, people not understanding, and most of all just having the feeling that i am not normal when i talk to people who have a "normal" life. i constantly compare myself to others. this is something i have REALLY worked on in my life. i have tried to be social and fit in, but in my mind it is complete misery. holidays are the worst. i am not shy, and if i am in a crowd i will talk to everyone there. it is the close personal relationships that i have the problem with. i worry constantly about this and how lonely i feel. than you for your comments here. i knew i could not be alone....... this seems to get worse as i get older.

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  45. Unknown, I sometimes wonder if I keep my distance from people because I don't want to tell them about my bipolar and I'm uncomfortable about lying about not having it. But lying, or not mentioning it, is probably what most people would prefer, it's a bit much for most people to deal with, most are up to their ears in their own problems anyway.

    Remember other people aren't more "normal" overall just because they're not bipolar. I think there's benefits & costs with all types of people.

    Also seems there's a chance you're depressed, that could explain social withdrawal especially since you used to be extroverted, perhaps you should look into that if you haven't already

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  46. I like to be alone, but I would like friends. I just seem to end up making them angry by the way I am and then I give a lot of apologies and go back to doubt, self hate and chose to be alone again. I feel safe and happy. I won't screw up. I fantasize about living alone in the mountains somewhere.

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