Friday, July 13, 2007

Hypomania and Friendship

As most of you who have been reading my blog these last few weeks know, I've been hypomanic. The worst symptom has been "talking too much," and I've got to admit that although I try to control it, I'm not always successful.

The most surefire way to control it is to refrain from being with people. But after spending months alone during a depression, the last thing I want to do is to be alone just because I'm a bit too talkative.

In a way, I think it's just one of those symptoms that people may not like, but there's a part of me who truly doesn't think it's all that bad. When I'm depressed, I may not see my friends for five or six months. So...when I'm hypomanic, I don't see that it's all that terrible if I talk a bit too much.

For a few years, when I noticed I was talking too much, usually after the fact, I would call and apologize. I'd say something like, "When I thought about our lunch together, I realize that I dominated the conversation. It's a sign of hypomania and I'm sorry. Next time we're together, you can talk the entire time."

But one day I realized that rarely, if ever, have other people apologized to me. I can't remember the last time a friend said, "Gee, I'm sorry that I'm never there for you during your depressions." Or "I'm sorry that I never invited your husband and son over during your depressive episodes because that would probably have made you feel better."

Or "I'm sorry I never asked you how I might help you." Or "I'm sorry I never volunteered to drive you to the doctor." Or "I'm sorry that when I knew you needed freelance work, I never hired you to do a project (two good friends always were there for me and they know who they are)."

So, while I have been sensitive about my own behavior and I used to make a special point of apologizing when I felt I was a "little over the top," or possibly offended someone in some way. I don't anymore (well, at least with most people).

The people who are truly my friends know that hypomania is just a phase and I'm doing the best I can. They realize that I truly can't help talking a bit too much or being a bit too enthusiastic. At best, they find me amusing. At worst, they tolerate my behavior because they love me.

Or maybe they realize that they, too, have personality traits that I probably don't like but that I tolerate because I love them.

Thus, I'm done apologizing for my behavior--possibly forever. If you want to be my friend, you'll have to accept me for who I am, warts and all.



An excellent decision to come to. I never apologize unless I hurt someone in some way.

Howard said...

True, those who are "truly friends" will understand.

I remember one hypomanic time - before I really knew the signs - I had found some old wilted flowers on the sidewalk in New York City when we lived there... "weeds" is what Karen called them... and I thought they would look so attractive in our studio apartment that I put them in a vase and called my mother-in-law and talked for, like...forever...before we had unlimited long distance. My mother-in-law understood. She loved me. And I never apologized, because frankly she kind of got a kick out of the phone call.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks Staggo and Howard. Great story Howard!


marja said...

I remember an occasion when a friend and the rest of her family were visiting. I totally dominated the evening, told her the truth about something I felt about her that embarrassed her (in a fun way, not vindictive), and generally was pretty silly.

The next day I went to her house and apologized. She helped me feel better about it by telling me it only looked like I'd been drinking a bit too much. Perhaps this shouldn't have made me feel better? Anyway, she accepted me the way I was - even though I DID feel quite foolish.

I can also remember hypomanic times with my son and his wife, where I was outrageously funny. But there's no need to feel embarrassed around them - no need to apologize. They're fully aware of what my moods can do to me and just seem to enjoy me that way. (I think so, anyway)