I think the problem with being bipolar and dealing with "real life" friends is that it's inconceivable for them to understand what this illness feels like. When I'm depressed, I'm not able to explain it at all. If fact, I can barely speak, and have no desire to. From past posts, I know there are others who feel differently and want to be surrounded by people when they're depressed.
Personally, during my worst depressions, my best companion is my dog Spike. (Yes, my husband is a saint, and he's been totally supportive throughout, which makes me one of the lucky ones, but I truly wouldn't have wanted him to remain by my side for a year.)
During my first year-long depressive episode, which was caused my medication (I know I sound like a broken record but I guess it's my prerogative since it's my blog), Spike never left my side (that's my husband in the background; my digital camera skills still leave something to be desired). And it's now 15 years later, Spike and I both have gray hair (although I dye mine, and thus look younger), and he is still a wonderful companion.
When I'm well, I always felt that I should try not to dwell on my illness because of my long absences. Still, I know that over time, some friends feel I've talked about it too much. Some are more tolerant, but I guess they feel helpless to help me. Some have always been there for me. Others have chosen to keep me in their lives, but they have marginalized me by not sharing their own problems and concerns.
And I guess, when all is said and done, it's difficult for most people to feel I'm trying to get well--when I've remained sick for so long. If they have any questions in that regard, they could always read my blog. Does anyone find it just the least bit odd that we write these public blogs and share our innermost thoughts about this illness and our attempts at wellness, and few of our friends or relatives read them? I guess it's just another indicator of our self-absorbtion...or is it?
Maybe, it would be helpful to write a Bipolar Primer for Friends and Relatives. But again, would we be writing it for an audience who is so sick of this illness that they don't want to hear it mentioned one more time? I'm not sure.
What do you think? How do you deal with your "real life" friends? How many people feel their illness has left them feeling isolated? How many have figured out a way to appear less self-absorbed?