Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem
Bipolar disorder and ghosting is a big problem. I didn’t realize the extent of this problem until I saw the number of comments on my recent YouTube video, "Ghosting and Bipolar Disorder: Why We Do It".
What is Ghosting? The Role It Plays in Bipolar
Ghosting is a contemporary term used for when a person completely cuts off all communication with a friend or romantic partner by not responding to texts, ignoring calls and acting as if the person no longer exists. It is done without a reason or an explanation from the person doing it. One day they are a part of your life, and the next day they disappear from it without warning. It negatively impacts friendships and romantic relationships. Ghosting is done by many of us living with bipolar disorder, especially during bipolar depressive episodes.
"I’m guilty of this when I’m hypomanic and in a negative mood and I’m super sensitive and I get easily hurt or angry at people and instead of confronting them, I just ghost them when they try to contact me." ~Xoxofmw, YouTube commenter
Why Do People with Bipolar Disorder Engage in Ghosting?
Those of us living with bipolar disorder definitely have a problem with ghosting people. It doesn't matter whether it's someone we're dating or friends with. Unfortunately, sometimes we're even ghosting our family members.
I have bipolar II and yes, I've ghosted people. Why? It feels more comfortable for me to cut off all communication with another person when I am struggling with highs and lows. Secondly, when I am dating someone, the fear of being rejected due to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder is always present. That makes me push another person away when they get too close. Thirdly, the stigma of mental illness causes severe anxiety in those of us living with bipolar disorder. Although a person we are romantically involved with may not be showing signs of rejecting us due to bipolar, we feel as though it is inevitable that at some point it will happen.
"I just do this on a low episode. I see it as protecting friends from me dragging them down to my level. Plus, in all honesty, I can’t deal with feeling suffocated whilst in the low and just want to be left on my own. It’s easier that way. ~ Claire, YouTube commenter
Self-stigmatizing is another significant reason for ghosting as well. Those of us with bipolar disorder subconsciously believe that we are unlovable and undeserving of friendships and relationships, which causes us to act on ghosting. The stress and pressure to explain the reasons for pushing away creates anxiety; which is where ghosting comes into play.
"I do this a lot. I stop answering phone calls and texts, and avoiding any form of communication with friends and family. In my mind, I don't stop loving them or care for them. I just feel overwhelmed and I feel the need to create a distance between me and them so I can calm down. Now, unfortunately, this can take from a couple days to a couple weeks." ~ Katia, YouTube commenter
The Affect Ghosting Has on Others
Over the years, I have realized that regardless of what is going on in my life, ghosting is hurtful to another person. I have been on both sides of ghosting, and it is very harmful and causes extreme insecurities.
"I just lost a friend who deals with bipolar. She just cut me off. I tried and tried. Dealt with the ups and downs and dealing with my own depression and insecurity, it was very difficult. ~ Embree, YouTube commenter
Bipolar disorder is not an excuse for hurting another person. Although we deal with anxiety and depression and it leads to many of us isolating ourselves, we are still responsible for the way our behavior negatively affects friends, family, and romantic partners. There are people who care about us, and they deserve a proper response even though it is difficult for those of us living with bipolar disorder to do so at times. This is something I am working on as well because I severely struggle with opening up which leads me to ghosting other individuals.
My ex, who's getting well with depression and very positive about her progress, left me since I have bipolar 2 and I isolate myself every once in a while. She doesn't like it since it triggers her. So she broke up with me and told me I can't give her what she needs. ~ Chaz, YouTube commenter
Self-awareness is essential when it comes to behaviors like ghosting. Many people with bipolar disorder do not even realize that this is a problem. Building strong relationships without openness and communication is impossible. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to self-awareness and learning how to properly communicate with others to prevent anyone getting hurt or feeling ignored by someone they care about.
"When I feel like isolating, I "check on" the people around me, my friends in recovery. This way I am not alone, but I am not talking about ME, I am checking on THEM. Seems to help! ~ BipolarLightningBug, YouTube commenter
What about you? How has being ghosted by someone with bipolar disorder affected you? And if living with bipolar disorder and ghosting others has been part of your life, why do you do it? Also, helpful suggestions on how to end this type of behavior are welcomed.
Blum, H. (2019, January 28). Bipolar Disorder and Ghosting: It's a Big Problem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2019/1/bipolar-disorder-and-ghosting-its-a-big-problem
Author: Hannah Blum
You're right, the line is fine. What I always recommend to people is that they just be open about it. Say something like, "I want to support you and I know that your silence might be related to your illness. I'm going to keep checking in on you once in a while unless you ask me not to, which I will completely respect."
I think if you're unsure about something, just say that. Give the person the option of saying yes or no and then communicate in the way you want unless they ask you not to.
- Natasha Tracy
- Breaking Bipolar
My boyfriend has kept his disorder from me and won’t talk to me. I did tell him that I’m here for him day or night, that I would text him ever so often to check on him and his son, asked that he would just let me know. He never responded to say yes to letting me know or no, do not.
Do you think I should text, or should I let go?
Hi Aislinn ,
You ask a good question. In my opinion, I would err on the side of more communication, rather than less. This lets your boyfriend know that someone cares. That's a big thing when you're not doing well. And if you feel good about making that connection, then yes, I would say go ahead.
Now, if he asks you to stop, then that's different, but without his input, I say, yes, make contact.
- Natasha Tracy
Hi Aislinn, I’d continue to check in every now & then if you truly care about him & would like a relationship with him. My ex (relationship of 3yrs) has ghosted me in the past & ended our engagement just before Christmas in an angry reaction which I considered to be an overreaction. He has regularly blown normal relationship discord into huge issues & has been unable to acknowledge his over reaction. I do understand this is part of his illness, despite how difficult it is to cope with his behaviour. When he ended our engagement & then quickly bounced into a rebound relationship I found it very difficult to cope with. Got myself into counselling to save my friendships, & I’m still on my healing journey. What I’d like to say to you is that committing to someone with bipolar is an enormous loving & giving thing to do. It is not the persons fault that they behave in challenging ways. It stems from emotional trauma usually. What you need to do, to protect both yourself & him from further emotional harm, is determine whether you think you can cope with the challenges long term xx
You know what would be worse than just ghosting a normal person out of nowhere? When a girl with bipolar ghosts somebody with social anxiety disorder who has hardly ever had a friend in the world before never mind a girl friend. I didn’t know she had bipolar at first I just thought she had some unusual behaviours. But having social anxiety I tried my usual distancing and shying away from her but she tried and tried and tried and she got a job where I work so we would have to spend time together. Having social anxiety disorder I had never felt close to anybody before or imagined that anyone could even like me. Anyway I completely fell for her. My only experience of having somebody in my life to care for. She had been making promises about always being my girl and saying how well I treated her compared to guys she had seen in the past. She was calling me any time I wasn’t with her and made me feel needed. Then out of nowhere texts me we won’t be talking any more. The hurt I felt was like unimaginable as obviously I have social anxiety disorder and no self worth and zero confidence. She blocked my number and everything. I saw her about 6 months later and she was a completely different person, acting like we were strangers. For someone with sad this whole situation just felt like the end of the world. Never had anyone before her in my life and probably will never have anybody again. Don’t know if it was a gift knowing her or not.
I truly feel your pain I am going through something very similar and it's so hard cause like you I suffer from social anxiety ,,,I lost my life partner years ago and she was the very first one since then I let into my world and my heart and I loved taking care of her and pampering and spoiling her I am a lesbian out and proud and I think she has deep feelings as well but to afraid to let go and take a chance I have been consistent in my actions and anything she's ever wanted or needed I have backed completely with no questions asked I've even told her she was my best friend she was my calm to my storm and when my anxiety is through the roof she is the only one that can talk me away from the ledge she said I was the same way towards her that nobody gets her like I do I have been very patient very caring and kind truly accepting of her unconditionally and then on this roller coaster mood swing ride with her ups and downs highs and lows for four years now and recently out of the blue she text me and said I was no better than a man that she was angry that I cut her off and not doing anything for her anymore that she was going to go her way and I needed to go mine then she waited text me again 2 minutes later and said she was seeing someone so now since we work together she ghost me every time and it hurts it's like everything we shared and done and experience together is gone erased never existed she is friendly with everybody else at work but if looks could kill when she sees me I would be dead ten times over I have not done anything so that's where I'm at now hurt lost and very confused part of me wants to walk away the other part cares too much and needs to stay because she suffers from bipolar so when I read your article I really really can relate with how you feeling at this time doesn't get any better will she try to reach out and reconnect like you I'm just confused so thank you for sharing your painful story with everybody it makes me feel I'm not alone
That’s very bad for you that she still works with you. It must be awful, the girl I was talking about left my work immediately after ditching me. From seeing her every day most of the day to just gone. It felt like someone I loved had died. I don’t know how you can be coping still seeing her at work talking and laughing with everyone else and just ignoring you. It sounds so cruel like the last way you should ever treat anybody. I’m pretty sure she would’ve treated me just like that if she’d stayed working where I work. I would’ve felt even worse than I did when she just left and blocked my number I reckon. I said I didn’t know if it was a gift knowing her or not on my last post but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen or heard from her now and I’m starting to cope better and it’s not that I don’t still care about her or not hope she’s doing okay but I would have to say knowing her was definitely not a gift. I thought I’d found someone as warm and kind as me. She was seemingly the sweetest girl in the world but for her to treat me how she did in the end I suppose it was all an act and that she’s actually just a very cold young woman who just goes through life hurting one person after another. It finally feels like the hurt is dying away and I’m just left with bitterness now. The only way I think I’m lucky in this is my SAD is pretty extreme so I don’t have accounts on social media as I don’t like people looking at me or judging me or knowing anything about my desperate lonely life, so at least I don’t have to see all her posts she probably puts up with boyfriends and stuff. I think if I ever saw her around with someone else, just acting like she never knew me all the hurt would come flooding back and my anxiety would sky rocket. Anyway I think it sounds like your girl is also a very cold person.. possibly capable of feeling loved and enjoying being loved but just not able to feel love so can only hurt people in the end. If I was you I would leave work and get a different job. You don’t deserve the hurt she will put you through.
Im knew to all this but I’m 100% committed to learn more about this mental illness. I’ve dated and been friends with this person for a very long time... but due to us being unable to commit and also trying to keep the friendship safe plus being immature... we finally have found ourselves in a good place in our life’s. I know what I want in a man and he “ felt “ at the moment that he knew what he wanted also. We talked about your life goals are fears and sexual needs and marriage and family goals one night. But with no sex for the first time. And he asked me out. I told him finally? Can we make this clear this time... reason for that said was because he fell In love and never told me. I thought we were f buddies and got into a serious relationship after him not expressing his feelings of what “
We had “ at that moment. So he said YES together and seriously committed.
A week before that he had made plans and disappeared and ghosted me . He came back and apologized. “ due to crazy stuff and busy “ not as a couple he did it again... made plans with me of coming over to see me and then he’s been ghosting me for four days now . The night we committed to each other we talked about his bipolar and how he was taking meds and how he felt like I was ready and that’s why he committed to me. And also how he felt ready. He asked if I would break it off right after he mentioned it. And I said NO, why would I ? I love him for him and also not just the sex. But this whole ghosting Is scary and I’ve been reading and learning as much as I can. But I’m worried he will run and not come back around ? I’m also worried that made was it just a manic moment? And I’m scared that he doesn’t feel the same afterwards.... are this signs common? It’s hard to tell since we’ve known each other for so long. And been friends and more. But also worried. He sounded like he was having a great week. And I definitely didn’t think that I did something wrong.
I did an epic ghosting in college when I left school and moved across the state without a word to anyone, not to any friend I had made there, not giving any explanation at all. I cringe looking back at it, but at the time it felt like I was casting off this shell of a person that I was pretending to be.
I felt like they weren't really my friends because they never knew the real me. They only knew the fake me that was smiling and laughing and pretending that I wasn't horribly depressed and hanging on by a thin thread. I was in a dark place, the closest I've ever come to wanting to die.
Maybe it was like a "screw you" to them for not seeing that I was hurting inside? I don't know. It was pretty messed up. At the time it felt good though, poetic somehow, for me to just disappear.
This is identical to my story.
Your story resonates so much with me. Seriously, it's like reading my past.
maybe you could have let them know the real you? I know, it was college...I dont want to think about the decisions I made either
About two months ago,my ex girlfriend had bipolar 2..and I met her when she was going through hypomania. Keep in mind,I had no idea at the time and neither did she. A month and a half passed by,best month of my life,but she would eventually have to move back to North Carolina with her parents only for 4 months since she was having financial issues in keeping her apartment. Once she moved,we talked for almost a month doing facetime etc. What all long distance relationships do to survive. We would get into ridiculous arguments and her personality had shifted from being kind and empathetic, to being completely void - a bit heartless and cold. After one day,we got into an unnecessary arguement,she claimed I was guilt tripping her by saying "its says you're online babe, i guess you're still mad because you haven't replied,feelsbadman" the only reason I said that was because earlier she was mad that I had waken up really late in the day. After that arguement she said "look you're annoying and I don't want to deal with you at the end of my day - fuck,look I'm just going to smoke some weed and watch some animie and cool off,I'll call you after. That night she blocked me on everything, facebook,youtube,and my number...she GHOSTED. I tried reaching out to her by other means,out of sheer panic because I was deeply in love with her,she had promised even If we did break up,we would keep in contact, she made alot of empty promises,I confided and trusted in her - but personality changed almost 180 degrees that the promises she made,meant absolutely nothing. When I did contact her, I asked my friends to ask her what had happened and if she could at least give me some closure. She replied with "This insane,Antonio's family and now his friends are contacting me,that's insane,I want nothing to do with Antonio,I am 100% sure I won't deal with a microm of his melodrama, he'll be fine." That was her reply...I had fallen into a deep depression,I was in love with her,eventually the pain was to much that I attempted suicide.
After recovery,I made an attempt to contact her,and she finally agreed to give me closure,but she made rules beforehand that I would have to agree on:Timed phone call, she put an alarm to give me only 45minutes and then she would hang up. We eventually talked and the call went past an hour,she said the timer didnt matter now,because she was enjoying the phone call. She made it clear that she didnt love me anymore midway through our relationship, but I was confused because she had been leaving me lovely voicemails and expressed her love to me a few days before she ghosted..I didnt understand. She said we would eventually talk again, I told her I needed to work on myself anything. The next morning,she had blocked me again...like our conversation on the phone was all a farse..
This hurt very much.
How do you know if it's bp? I'm never one to assume and always giving the other party benefit of the doubt
However my partner went from being super attached to a point where she would cry as I was working interstate but would come down every week to see her and breakdown into tears the day I had to leave to go interstate again, I could not stand see how upset it made her ultimately she kept begging I leave my job and move back to the same state
When this happen she had a really important exam coming, I knew how much she was stressing and how much it meant to her so I chose to give in my resignation and support her, I made the move for her she was very grateful at the time and she asked me to accompany her to her exam which ofcourse I did, she began to get negative thoughts that she had failed the exam she worked so hard for I tried to change the topic by saying "by saying it's ok another reason to spend the day together, we will try again"
4 days later she ghosted me, now in the past she had told me about a traumatic event but was very vaig in what happen I had just asked her if she was ok and here if she wanted to talk about it
Tried be as descriptive as possible hoping someone can relate and tell me if it's bp or maybe just a mental breakdown
Oh Hannah! Dang girl, what a good topic! I never really took a deep look at it but I totally "ghost" when I go into a depressive state. I thought of it as isolation but it's like ghosting is the fall out that those around us have to suffer through when we isolate. Wow. Really gave me some perspective to work with here. I'll probably do my own post about this in the future. I'll be sure to reference you. Thanks for shining your light sister.
Thank you for all of your posts. My son is bipolar. today he was happy I was coming over for a bit, then when came back later to ask a question he acted like I was trying to put him away somewhere. it was a simple question and in the end he just told me to get out. all he had to do was say yes or no. I left. I apologized for upsetting him and left. I fear for him. but this is helping me, to read these posts, to let it go and try not to worry what he's capable of. I will try to go when he wants me to. he stays in the house staring and crying a lot and I am afraid. thanks for any advise.
I'm in the process of trying to figure out, how do we know this is the end or another episode? Will I just get a knock on the door and served with divorce papers? Would he text me I filed? He's not only ghosted before but.stated were done.
So it's my flight or.flight reaction triggering anxiety panic depression for me simply not knowing. I'm trying to look for different patterns, only difference is, he.was awared a large settlement.before he left, so.this.time he has money to play and spend.
Do bp ghosters ever come back? What actions can I take to make them see reason and contact me again?
HI Ann, I don't have this answer I to am waiting to see of someone with BP response. my husband and I have been married for three years he has bipolar 1 he has ghosted me almost seven or eight times never staying away for as long as he has this time which is now going on 2 weeks I have tried texting him telling him that I love him that I will help him that I'm not mad at him nothing seems to really help all I could do is pray cry and try to keep my own mental health together which is difficult and I do have three children not with him I have tried support groups I have tried online support this is the most painful experience I've ever felt in my life to be ghosted by somebody who I adore so much and I know he's not happy and I don't know how to make him happy I don't think he really knows and I believe he thinks that my children are his triggers which is even extremely harder as a mother especially since he met me knowing I had children so and I just want you to know I'm also praying for you and it really is not our fault stay strong. fake it until we can make it right?
Kim.. is there an email I can reach you at? Its nice to read that someone else out there is experiencing these bipolar episodes with their husband, i feel not alone in trying to understand!
When your down in that deep Bipolar low, your sensitivity is turned up and you just want quiet and be alone.,
Your also probably suffering from anxiety as well and there’s no off switch
..It may appear to be ghosting but you feel so low you just don’t want others to see you that way....eventually it will pass and you can move on again.
The danger when your high your prone to excessive spending, things seem funnier than they are, you may suffer from ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorder, like I do. You feel great and others probably think your on some illicit drug.
The biggest problem with BP people is if they are undiagnosed, in denial about their condition and not taking their medication.
I just wanted to say ❤️ I love you thank you for sharing
If they ever did come back could anything ever really justify how they treated you? I’m still dealing with the reality of living with a sociopath that targeted me as a source of supply and knew before we ever got serious how she would leave me and hurt me in all the ways she was supposedly hurt, it’s messed up to think about… you live with a person and spend so much time together and realize they were lying to you every step of the way. They promise you everything you ever wanted only to dangle affection, promises and fake wanting a future when they know you are only temporary and they will eventually use everything you ever cherished or confided in them to hurt you as deeply as possible so they can say you’re crazy and somehow justify years of lies, secret phone numbers and emails and randevous, when you look back at all the things you never bothered to question it’s disgusting and just soul crushing to learn they lied and cheated and basically showed you proof… but I mean you have no reason to examine pics or look at the location or anything because you just trust them and never imaged a person could lie about who they are from day 1… she sent all these cute first trip alone pics I never even questioned we were just falling in love, now it’s obvious she was lying the things in the background guy behind her… it’s so mind boggling… another time visiting a friend you can literally see in locations she switched houses her clothes are thrown around the room and she’s under s blanket smiling…. Little did I know there’s s reflection of a guy clearly with his head under the blanket like wtf,,,, it makes my skin crawl. She never went to work snd would come home reeking if oil, so bad she had to scrub it off her naked body, I was such s fool to believe her but they are so insidious it all made sense at the time.. she didn’t even go there or to her doctors or moms most of the time she ran off to do go knows what.. she spied on me and smoked and did all these things I can’t even imagine her doing, even loud noises, she was terrified of them now I know it’s because her other pals had motorcycles and loud cars and she was probably afraid they showed up while I was home… I could go on and and but it’s all the same and all the Marc abuse stories run together… I never imagined the sweetness person I’d ever known would be the worst abuser and do more damage than anyone ever has or could to my life but here we are… ptsd sucks, love stinks, I’m going to bed
This is an interesting. The associating “Ghosting” with bipolar.
It’s hard to say, if that truly is “exclusive to bp” or if it’s a commonality for other residual-issues in development with relations...ie: family, friends.
Ex: Early-Childhood Neglect, abuses etc.
But .. when you say, have narcissistic-relatives, who only emerge, when they need you.....and you tried to communicate, as best you can for years (ie: addressing issues, finding your voice, boundaries etc.)
When all that fails/falls on deaf ears...
Yes, choosing to walk-away.... Making a clean start. Going no-contact. Can be the healthy/safest thing to do!
Many use it as last resort. In some cases, it’s an outright BLESSING!
“Ghosting/Doorslamming/No-Contact” doesn’t need to be a negative.
In mental-health, you need to know your triggers/boundaries/balances.. it’s critical!
Some personalities are known for the “Doorslamming”. Ex: INFJ’s (me) are known for it.
Excellent.This exact journey of my life with bipolar disorder.It has really been so challenging but due to the moral support i get from my beloved immediate Family am living so positive with it.Thank you so much for this enlight.
I don't have bipolar disorder, but I have ghosted people after severe emotional trauma. I felt extreme anxiety towards them, but had repressed the memory of why.
My boyfriend has ghosted me a few time now, anywhere from 2 days to 7days. He asked me to marry him and told me how much he wants to spend his life with me then and I haven't heard from him for over a week again. Would you suggest its best to just give up on him? He also has had a lot of past trauma and has PTSD. I would like to hear from someone like yourself to what goes through your mind about the other person that loves you so much?
Gone thro' the matter. I like to know whether bipolar disorder can be cured with medication, counseling and proper homecare.
Bipolar Disorder cannot be cured but it can be treated and to some degree controlled with medication, counseling and good self care. I am living proof of this. Once I had the right medication combination, I stopped cycling and experience a normal mood. I also avoid triggers as best I can, go to sleep the same time every night with very few exceptions, don't drink alcohol (especially a bad thing with meds & not good for bipolar anyway), and control my thought life. I also got counseling when the cycles were most active. My husband got educated about bipolar and is very supportive and a great help to me. I no longer have hypomania and have only a slight dip in mood every few months which is probably normal for most people anyway and only lasts about 3 days. My thought life is a large part of my recovery along with the meds. If I allow myself to ruminate negative thoughts, I get pulled down into a depression. The more I focus on the negative things about myself and/or situations the worse I get. So now I have become very self aware and as soon as negative thoughts come I distract myself. If it's a situation I must take care of I do so as quickly as possible and don't dwell on the negative feelings. I give myself a reality check. Depression tells me I am unloveable and worthless but in reality I know I have family and friends who love me dearly so I work on telling myself the truth about that. I also have a deep faith in God so I focus on what the Bible tells me God thinks about His people (me included) and what He's done for me and my worth to Him no matter if I think or feel I'm a total mess. So this is how I get through my bipolar life. Self awareness and thought life are key along with meds and a good support system (counseling, family, friends who work at understanding bipolar), sleeping and eating right. I hope this helps. It took me a long time to find the right combination of meds with my psychiatrist (about 5 1/2 years) so don't get discouraged and don't give up.