Bipolar and Isolation
Being sick, I think with anything, can be extremely isolating. Being sick, you’re not “like everyone else.” Be it cancer, HIV, diabetes or bipolar disorder, there is a moment when you realize that you’re different and that difference is isolating.
This is a form of internal isolation. But, of course, isolation can be external every bit as much as it can be internal. And sadly, most people with bipolar disorder experience heaps of both.
Yes, internal isolation comes from realizing that you’re different, but more importantly, it’s the feeling that this difference puts you on a separate planet than everyone else. It’s true isolation. It’s the feeling that no one else could possibly be sharing your experiences. It’s the feeling that you’re “crazier” than everyone else alive. It’s the feeling that you’re a freak.
And this feeling of crazy freakiness causes people to push others out of their lives. Then they suffer not only from this intrinsic isolation but also the isolation that comes from losing relationships. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the other people in their lives. It’s just that feeling like a freak is so pervasive that they can’t stand to be around people any longer. They don’t feel worthy. They don’t feel worthy of friendship. They don’t feel worthy of love.
Of course, many times the person with bipolar disorder doesn’t push people away – the people walk away all on their very own. People often turn their backs on others with a mental illness, deeming them too “dangerous” to befriend. And, of course, there’s the isolation of losing a job because of bipolar disorder or even being denied housing. These types of things tend not to be overt but absolutely can be caused by a person’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Isolation is Damaging
And there is nothing quite as painful as looking around at your life, and realizing there is nothing in it and you are truly alone. True, part of that might be your own fault, but you’re stuck with it now. You’re stuck with being alone.
And this isolation does horrible things to a person’s head. It causes a worsening of symptoms and can certainly be a major contributing factor to a suicide attempt.
Fighting the Isolation
I think a big part of fighting the isolation is fighting the internal feeling of worthlessness. If you feel like a crazy freak, isolation is likely to happen no matter what so it’s time to give your head a shake and realize there is nothing “freaky” about you. You are simply a person with an illness – an illness than affects thousands of people. And if there’s one thing I can promise you, you are not the “craziest.” You are just a person with unusual experiences and those experiences are shared by others, they just don’t tend to talk about it.
Secondly, it’s important to reach out. Isolation only takes hold when we let it so take some time to reach out to others who will understand – because believe me, they’re out there. If you don’t feel like anyone in your life has a suitable amount of compassion, I’m sorry, but that is not the end. There are support groups both online and in-person that can help you develop real, personal links that will remind you that you are not alone.
Because it is important to fight the isolation. It is important to realize that we’re worthy of love, friendship and support. It is important to remind ourselves how much like others we really are. Because that fight weakens our illness. And the less of a hold our illness has on us, the less isolated we will feel. It’s a positive cycle and one we can start ourselves, any time we choose.
Tracy, N. (2013, September 10). Bipolar and Isolation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, January 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2013/09/bipolar-isolation
Author: Natasha Tracy
I'm so sorry you're in such a dark place. I do know what that's like. But you probably already know that isolation isn't helpful -- it's hurtful when you have too much of it.
You need to reach out to those that love you. This could be something tiny, like a phone call or text, or having someone come over and talk to you. You can work up to something like a coffee date or lunch out. I know it can seem really hard to do this, but it's really important for your mental health. Once you get to this point, you can seek out a support group for additional help and supoort.
You could also call a helpline. That is another way of reaching out: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
If you're in an abusive relationship, it's the reaching out that will help. Talk to someone on the helpline about your relationship. See what your options are to get out. You don't need to endure that.
There are no magic secrets here. You have to find it within yourself to send that first text or make that first phone call. I know you can do this.
- Natasha Tracy
Id like to have more interest in mixing with people,its something to work on to my list of self improvements.
It's all so troublesome since my diagnosis I have felt free when it comes to my craft. But I've begun to isolate myself I don't have as many, If any friends. Whenever I see a girl who's looks interested, I avoid her. I feel as though I don't know how to live anymore more, I feel stuck in every part of life accept my career and now all these social, intimacy problems are making me clinically depressed.
My situation isn't as worse than others I know I have a lot to be thankful. I've just been stuck with this mindset for the past year. I see it affecting any real future for me in the long run. I'm medicated been in search of a therapist but they all want to treat my illness like that a illness i believe in part it's a gift that can turn on you. I need help but the system has been failing me. Treat me like I'm a illness pass me along like it's no big deal. Suicidal thoughts
Was diagnosed Bipolar II in 2005. Spent a week in the hospital and 2 more weeks in intensive outpatient. I struggle more with depression than mania. As long as I take my meds things are pretty stable.
I do find that I do need to recharge with isolation when I've been around a large group of people or situations that over stimulate me.
Needless to to say the fear grew and even though my husband had spoke as though he understood, promised me many times, reassured me any time I had doubt that he would not leave. Promised he would always be supportive and work with me. Months we spoke about it. He knew all I went thru in my previous divorce and in my gut I knew I just could go thru that again. And the first time I had a trust issue that I needed his support very much with he started stepping back. Less than a year after the promises he was stepping back and support became reluctant tolerance which I detected immediately. Then trigger after trigger and the more I needed his reassurance the colder he got. Which became a nearly deadly cycle. First time in my life hospitalized twice. Manic attacks so severe my grown sons where thinking about having me put in a hospital for fear I'd hurt myself. That was at age 48. And I'm where you are now except he decided to walk out after I lost my job and both my sons have moved away for careers and my best friend of ten years also moved then he decided to leave. And never did he follow thru with all the things he told me for over a year. He moved out one month after our 2nd anniversary and my life went with him I just got left here if that makes sense and if I don't get off my couch and find life again my future will be no more than I have now.
But this I know. Don't trust anyone for it, and though some meds may help still it's danger to put too much trust in those as we build tolerance to them. You have your back. You can trust you and with practice our thoughts can be controlled at least enough to push back out at times. I've done it before I will again just gets harder to get up off the ground as we get older but trust you. Wrong dr wrong meds wrong friends it all happens. But it's yourself you have to trust first anyway. Now get off the couch and go buy yourself a donut and new nail polish lol!
Thing is im not sure if he is bipolar because he never shared this with me.I honestly thought that based on his extreme rudeness he just wanted me to go away.My question is,if he is bipolar what should i do now?What would make someone in this situation feel most at ease?Should i just leave it there that i sent him the reassuring message and an apology 3 months ago,or should i try to reach out?Im just scared to reach out because i dont want him to think i want us to have a talk or that im invading his space.In your experience is it better to just let him reach out?
Thing is it never crossed my
When I get home in the evening to my dark filthy rundown little rental apartment the mask comes off and I flop into an exhausted mess on the couch once again still in my work clothes with a blanket over me 'til morning. Alone again as usual. I'll stare blankly at the TV on mute (because I can't stand listening to it anymore) 'til I fall fast asleep (usually before the first show is over) dreaming of what used to be.
Trying to keep up appearances at work is so exhausting. I need all the rest I can get
I never used to be like this. I used to have a life social outside of work and was able to keep my place relatively clean (I wasn't ashamed to have people) over once upon a time. But somewhere along the line I gave up hope of ever having a normal life with this disorder.
The first two times I came out of hospital I was able to bounce back after my release without any medication but these last 2 1/2 years since I've been on medication things have changed and dare I say not entirely for the better.
I can't afford another manic episode or else I will lose my job for sure this time (I'm already skating on thin ice) so I stay on my effin meds that I hate so much.
It's certainly not the quality of life I had envisioned for myself. I've talked to my pdoc about this many times before but he doesn't really see it as a problem because I am considered "high functioning" what because I can hold down damn a job? I am considered a freakin success?
The irony of it all is just too much for me to process.
I will say that being bipolar has it's challenges and yes this week has been a wash, yup, total do nothing week. I do find making a list of things to do is helpful, and crossing them off, but do not throw the list out keep it in a journal, so you can say wow i did the dishes three times today. Yes i love being clean but do i care that i have not vacuumed for a week, no, because i have no friends that come to my 25 foot by 35 foot apartment, I feed my cats, i try to be positive and yes today i cried a whole bunch, who cares...... Yes i am soon to be fifty two have been a lot of different relationships but people for the most part do not understand the genius of our minds.
I now know being clean and sober my mind is clear so things are just there, I can choose to let them grab me or not, i find writing in a journal, sleeping and eating good helpful.
I am hoping that one day someone will see me for the beautiful person that i am, 30 years in construction that i had to quit because there was not a 40 hour week usually 90 hours extreme.
my sisters tell me if we could harness your energy when you are happy we could light up half of U.S.A
funny. Thank you for having a awesome blog , i am glad to have found this sincerely Gregg sorry for the long writing
I also suffer from isolation and depending how I am feeling, I atribute this feeling to my personality traits while other times I really think that is to do with my Biolar symptoms. Sometimes I lock myself in this sad, lonely world where I don't Interact with almost no one: Family mmbers, friends,etc. I became impatient and frustrated with people, the government, the culture and basically didn't trust anybody. Does anyone feel like that? For years I used alcohol to self-medicate and this went on for almost nine years and the result of this was deeper depressions,several maniac episodes and longer psychotic states. Now I have joined the A.A and in some respects has helped me to become more aware of my mental and physical health. Don't know much about its phylosophy and group meetings can be hard going at times. A big salad of sócio-economical backgrounds, educational levels, real poverty and people with little or no social communication skills at all. A real challenge!
Isolate myself during the evenings..in order to wind slowly down before bed.
Don't think that form of isolation is bad I think it's smart!
Keeps me out of trouble,ie.being in loud over stimulating places,non conductive to
Quiet evenings reading or working on my writing/ or/poetry.
However,my BFF lives 3 h away,we live in Canada,lots of bad driving.
I have no car,no lisence,she won't drive in bad snowy roads.
Plus I've many trust issues,now my only friend in my hometown was my ex bf.
So I'm very isolated,though I try & get out in the day by myself for groceries,shopping,
Medical appts.plus the odd visit here there w my sister,mostly we meet at her work near my GPs office for tea & sweets.
I'm mixed up re isolation,weather here too,all the snow & cold,etc plus I have SAD plus
Bipolar rapid cycling,PTSD.
When weathers bad I don't care much,other times I cry and wish my BFF gal pal lived
In my town.
When I'm low it's extreme,isolating is the norm,due to the trust issues,I'm kinda stuck.
I'd like friends,but after the bf crisis,I'm still getting used to being single again,and Christmas so near..not so sure I'd be the best friend to have..I cycle so quick,even w meds there's many triggers in this town..don't wanna move,my sister lives a 1/2 h away
She's always busy & works full-time plus has her own health issues( medical)
I'm like the good witch/ bad witch.
That's hard for most everyone incl me,to deal with.
Anyway,finding this writing triggering my depression,so..that said & over with.
Feel empathy for those in a similar position .......maybe one day
Regarding people "lightening up on their attitude towards the disabled", I think most people just go with the general consensus of not caring. It's easy and doesn't stretch their minds and hearts too much. It definitely takes a certain kind of person to abuse, though. Case of the victim turning into a bully, or bullying to work out some sort of insecurity or rage, overactive hormones, group think and deindividuation, or any combination of these, I suppose.
Who does one turn to when a professional is telling another patient "your business" which is suppose to be covered by HIPPA? Why are some individuals listened to and not others when they file a grievance about their providers?
It is good that some celebrities speak out about their own mental health conditions; but I sure was a little miffed when I heard that LeBron James, the Miami Heat Basketball player had used the word "retarded" in a press footage. He later was asked to apologize and did; but if asking people to not put people down who are considered different does not work well, then our world needs to come up with some very strong supportive avenues for "all" disabled individuals to be able to access in their moments of fear, trepidation, abuse, etc. Maybe then, the rest of the world will lighten up and change their attitudes to any disabled individual. This is just my own opinion and not meant to be upset anyone else.
That's the thing. I can really say that some of the people in my life at that time are NOT cruel. They are good folks that are mostly kind and generous. I've known some of these people for years, we have been mutually helpful and supportive to each other, then all of a sudden, they are calling me things that are so completely untrue that I thought I was dreaming. There was probably one (or two) people who probably are inherently cruel that instigated things and everyone else just followed suit.
I suppose I could look at it that way, but if you see essentially decent people participating in something terrible, it doesn't give you much faith in the goodness of others.
I'm sorry to hear about the nasty people in your life. I had cruel, nasty, and self-centred people in my life at the time I became ill. I lost one friend because she was under so much strain trying to be supportive. It wasn't fun. But now, they're not in my life any more. Only nice people are in my life.
Think of it as a spring cleaning process.
It's harder when it's your family.
@sheri. Make sure lexapro is being used in conjunction with a stabilizer. Some pdocs may say lexapro does not carry a risk of switching, but a growing number also says that they recommend the stabilizer/anti-D combo, or avoiding anti-Ds altogether. I've also read/heard of accounts of switching so if the risk is there, beware!
She may be an alcoholic or she may simply be self-medicating. It can be hard to see the difference initially. It sounds like you are frustrated with her. In many resources, caretakers are advised to join a support group to help you deal when the going gets rough. If resentments are allowed to build, it is really no good for everyone involved because a toxic situation is simply not productive. Good luck.
I think if your experience has been particularly negative, you may isolate because you cannot trust people to do the right thing. Mental illness seems to incite something awful in people, especially in groups. When I was younger, I saw a group of young boys picking on this kid who suffered from MH. I even asked the boys what the hell they were doing. One replied that he did not know, which is quite telling. I think people just get swept away in the moment and do things that they probably wouldn't do if they were alone.
Because I've witnessed this type of callousness, I may have had some dark observations about humanity in the past, but experiencing it has definitely confirmed it. It is sad because we should always have some hope for the plight of humanity.
Good on you for trying to get help. It seems like where you are at is that you mother is an evil demon, according to you and everyone else and that she is to blame for everything.
What is more likely is that she is rapidly losing the fight against her drinking and her bipolar.
So I would suggest (now, I'm not a professional, just a person with bipolar)
Firstly try to understand what it might be like to be your mother, and what it feels like constantly to have bipolar, and to be in the grip of an addiction. You won't fully be able to understand, unless you have it yourself, such as it is an experience unlike any other.
The main point with that is that her behaviour is springing from the disease and addiction, and not because of any other reason.
Secondly, A lot of blaming goes on, because it's hard to accept the fact of the disorder. She will blame others because she can't see what the disease is doing to her. And you will blame her because her behaviour is so incomprehensible to you that it seems like she is doing it on purpose. You'll just have to take my word that it's not purposeful.
Thirdly, the addiction must be treated as well as the bipolar. As you mentioned, she won't comply with treatment while she can still drink. But the bipolar must also be taken into an account while treating the addiction. I don't know so much about that, so maybe someone else knows something.
Best of luck with the healing process.
Isolation is the story of my life. I definitely isolate myself and push people away. People don't get it. I look very healthy on the outside so they assume I'm ok. I do withdraw sometimes, and I don't get many invitations. They assume I'm disinterested. I wish people would just ask rather than make assumptions.
It makes a huge difference when someone says hi and notices that I'm alive. I avoid face to face and phone contact sometimes. However, even an SMS or email message makes a huge difference. It costs nothing, takes up little time but means a lot.
I try hard every day to not isolate but it is so hard and then the weather often does not help.
Thanks for your insight into this.
I'm not sure if this is the good news or the bad news but finding successful treatment, especially in children, can take a long time. That is the bad news, in that it can take a lot of suffering to get there. But that is also the good news because it means that what you're going through is "normal" and you shouldn't give up. And, keep in mind, any good doctor is going to be cautious when trying to help a child through bipolar disorder and this is good - we don't want over-medicated children.
Try to keep the faith. It's actually good that your child has been diagnosed now as she can get the help she needs early which will create a better outcome in the long run.
I just found your blog today and I want to offer you my sincerest thanks for your bravery in chronicling your struggle with bipolar. My daughter is 12 and suffering immensely from bipolar I. We are struggling to find the right meds for her with no much success in the past year. Right now she's in a severely depressed and hopeless episode and your post really helped give me some insight into how she might be feeling right now. I've been working my way back through your posts and bookmarked some I hope I can get her to read. She feels so alone and helpless right now and I latch onto anything that might give her some hope, at least that there are others out there who do understand how she feels. Thank you again!!!
Great luck to you.