The Mighty Logo

35 Things People With Bipolar Disorder Want Their Friends to Know

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

For the 5.7 million American adults who live with bipolar disorder, support from family and friends can be crucial. But sometimes through all the ups and downs, miscommunications and misunderstandings can occur on both ends — it can be hard to know what to do or what to say when a friend with bipolar disorder isn’t doing well.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

So, we joined the International Bipolar Foundation to ask people with bipolar disorder to tell us one thing they want their friends to know.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Sometimes I may be more dependent on you, and other times I may really not want to be around you. It doesn’t mean I love you any less.” — Jasmine Lancaster

Quote by Jasmine Lancaster: Sometimes I be more dependent on you, and other times I may not want to be around you. It doesn't mean I love you any less.

2. “It does not define who I am.” — Dorothy Braaten

3. “I’m not using it as an excuse.” — Crystal Saulter

4. “I want them to know I worked hard to survive. Quite literally, it has taken so much effort to accomplish half of what many of my friends and family have. I’m not lazy. But most of all, I want them to know bipolar is more than a catchphrase or a mood swing.” — Julie McSorley

5. “I want my friends to know I love and appreciate them even if I don’t always show it. When I have to cancel or reschedule plans due to this illness, it’s not because I don’t like them or don’t value them. There are just some days where I feel I can’t go out and it’s nothing against them personally. I love spending time with them when I’m feeling well and able. They mean the world to me.” — Kait Weihofen

6. “I love it when you call or text me. Sometimes I don’t reach out. It helps to feel remembered.” — Catherine Mather

Quote from Catherine Mather: I love it when you call or text me, even when sometimes I don't reach out. It helps me feel remembered.

7. “I sometimes shut off because everything is overwhelming; please don’t judge me. I’m not purposely being ignorant or a bad friend; I simply can’t be social when my head is so full.” — Jayde LoveCanoe Potter

8. “I’m truly sorry if I ever upset you when I am unwell.” — Karen Imogen Senior

9. “I’d like my friends and family to know there are days I feel really good with nearly ‘normal’ mood patterns, and other days I’m barely making it and I’m struggling not to let it show. All these days may look the same to you. Please remember they aren’t the same, so help when you can, hug always and stay positive when sometimes I can’t.” — Patti Rowe

10. “It’s just as frustrating for me as it is for you.” — Deanna White

11. “Learn about it.” — Nate Nelson

12. “I already have a therapist and a psychiatrist — from you I just want friendship. ” — Shannon Galpin

Quote from Shannon Galpin: I already have a therapist and a psychiatrist -- from you I just want friendship.

13. “Don’t pity me. It makes it worse.” — Karrah D. Salmons

14. “It’s not anything you did wrong; my moods shift entirely on their own, and it has nothing to do with you.” — Kristin McElligott

15. “You can be a productive person despite having bipolar disorder. I have bipolar, I am not bipolar.” — Catherine Hayes

16. “You can’t catch it.” — Larry Rubenstien

17. “It can be achingly lonely without the support of friends and family.” — Ann Hayes

18. “I want my friends to know how grateful I am for their patience, support and understanding. Even when I’m depressed, my friends keep me in the loop so I don’t feel isolated. When I’m manic, they keep me safe without undermining my freewill. On hard days, they are there for me any time day or night. When I say nasty things about myself, they’re there to build me up. I can be hard to be to love, I know. But the fact that you keep loving me every day makes this big old roller coaster a little less scary.” — Samantha Elizabeth Paardekooper

quote form Elizabeth Paardekooper: I can be hard to love, I know. But the fact that you keep loving me every day makes this big old roller coaster a little less scary.

19. “It’s the same old me under the mania and depression.” — Nick Tewson

20. “I feel everything immensely and with every part of me. Some say it’s a curse, but I’m trying to make it my unique blessing.” — Nikki Childers

21. “I’m so grateful for you. Not just for the big things, but all the small ones. The gentle check ins, reminders and questions that help. Answering the frantic text message. Sending me an unexpected postcard. The celebrations of small victories. All of it adds up.” — Vanessa Kinsey

22. “I don’t call you because I think I’m bothering you, and when you call I think you’re mad at me for not calling. I know it’s silly, so leave me a message or text me. I’m still here.” — Margaret Ritcey

23. “Not everyone with bipolar disorder is the same.” — Jay Hilliker

24. “When I push you away is when I actually need you the most.” — Jennifer Jobe

Quote by Jennifer Jobe: When I push you away is when I actually need you the most.

25. “Having bipolar disorder can be hard. When you’re honest about my behavior, it helps. Thank you. Your ability to love me and focus on my strengths allows me to love and be strong in return. You have never judged me. You’ve loved me through so many challenges. And you’ve accepted my assistance during challenges of your own. You help me feel whole. And I love you for that.” — Sandra Sweeney

26. “Please know I’m doing all I can to be well. Pleasant company, not advice, is what I need.” — Wendy Lewis

27. “I’m sorry I lashed out when you were trying to help. It’s hard when you’re first diagnosed, but with therapy and meds you can grab hold of your life once again and be happy.” — Frances Hnyda

28. “Right now, I’d like my friends to know I love them. I really, really appreciate them being there for me even though I find it  hard to let people in, and even harder to let anyone help me. I really wish I was able to hang out more. I’m looking forward to this current episode ending so I can hang out with you all again. Also, I want them to know they can always talk to me about any problems they have. Other people’s problems don’t make me feel worse, and I like to be there for them, too.” — Becky Elle

29. “My friends help me keep my pieces together.” — Keaton Behrendsen

Quote by Keaton Behrendsen: My friends help me keep my pieces together.

30. “I want my friends to know I can’t always handle life the way they can. I want them to know that a lot of times I wear a mask for their benefit; I smile and laugh on the outside, but on the inside I’m crying or maybe just numb. I would want them to know that if they loved me anyway, that would be the best gift ever.” — Trenda Marie Berryhill

31. “Please be patient.” — Lindsay Barnett

32. “I’m fighting 24/7 to be OK. And when I ‘seem’ OK, it doesn’t mean I’m cured. It means I’m fighting my hardest.” — Sara Kearse

33. “I’m the same person you’ve grown to love, just understand I’m not perfect.” — Debbie Langston Brown

34. “Every day is different for me. Go with the flow with me.” — Angie Leanne Ryan

35. “I am who I am and I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved despite having bipolar and because of having bipolar. I push myself to be perfect, loving, overly helpful and empathetic to make up for the guilt and shame I sometimes feel after an episode. But mostly at the end of the day, I want you to understand me. I can’t break the stigma without you.” — Leah Cameron

Quote by Leah Cameron: I can't break the stigma without you.

*Answers have been edited and shortened.

Originally published: February 27, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home