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, December 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2019/1/bipolar-disorder-and-ghosting-its-a-big-problem
Author: Hannah Blum
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.