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A loved one has suddenly changed behavior

B

BobTheTavernMan

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Hey everyone!

I'm here to reach out for input and possible advice regarding a loved one of mine! I've known her for just over a year and a few months ago she opened up to me about being bipolar. She mentioned how I was the second person, besides immediate family, she ever told about her being bipolar - the first being a bad experience hence she pulled back from telling others. She told me I made her feel appreciated and wanted, for who she is, including her flaws, and through mutual trust she decided to open up to me. I immediately went to educate myself but she had some major changes coming up in her life so she got busy before I could ask more personal questions regarding bipolar for her specifically.

Now because none of our mutual friends know about her being bipolar, and even though they might be familiar with it, it's not up to me to tell them about things. Hence I can't ask them whether they've noticed things, so I decided to come onto these forums and share my experience here :)

Like I said, I met her just over a year ago and the first few months there was barely any communication between us - when we eventually started talking properly, about 9 months ago, we clicked immediately. The same interests, similar mindsets, similar goals and dreams in life, every time we'd hang out it'd be all over the place, laughs and giggles (in a way her mutual friends had never seen/heard her laugh/giggle before she met me) to intellectual conversation about politics, the world and the future. About depression too - we both had experiences with depression so we had some deep talks about this, too.

At some point she suddenly became incredibly active socially, while before that we'd have a few words exchanged a day - hanging out a couple (2-3) times a week. She'd be texting me almost all day, sending me good nights when going to sleep, good mornings when she woke up and we'd continue right where we left off. During this period she also had many, many ideas of things she'd want to do, projects, she even wanted to start a business and unaware of what was going on I discussed the things she had in mind with her, we talked about them, made lists, fantasized. When we weren't together we'd be on voice chats drinking wine, watching shows together. I had to get used to this for a bit, cause it didn't seem like the woman I'd got to know before, but I did appreciate and enjoy it.

Suddenly her behavior changed. All the things she wanted to do somehow she wasn't interest in any longer, she was no longer as socially active as before and the plans we made for activities we'd do together - she neglected them. She didn't seem depressed to me, so I mentioned I was confused and how I didn't understand what happened with our plans. This is when she opened up about being bipolar. She had been in a hypo(manic) episode and ended up crashing down. She did mention the crash was nowhere near as bad as she's had before, she said I helped her stay grounded during her episode and it felt like I guided her through this safely. Initially she was afraid I'd be mad at her. I was not. At no point was I mad. Instead, knowing this is the woman I really appreciate and who I want to keep in my life, I decided to educate myself on bipolar. I googled for days, asked questions on reddit.

Eventually, she came back to what I learned is considered a baseline and we started hanging out again. We'd meet up for drinks and watch movies. We went playing pinball. Not as actively as we did during her manic episode, obviously, but I loved every moment of it and to me, everything was perfect. Throughout this all we went along as friends, but I decided to break the ice and ask her on an actual date. She told me how happy she was I actually asked and exclaimed that of course she'd go on a date with me.

However, things did get busy, it was during the middle of the summer break and she was getting ready for a big move across the country to start studying there. This is when things massively changed, and where I ended up being incredibly confused. At the start of her new university semester she was incredibly anxious and she started drinking more wine. A few times she showed me pictures of things she bought, claiming she didn't really have the money for it but bought it anyway. She then also had a massive fight with a family member, which broke her quite a bit. I comforted her and she thanked me for validating her, reminded me how I always manage to make her feel wanted and loved. She reminded me how amazing she thinks I am and how glad she is to have me in her life. The next day she suddenly goes on and on about all the projects she wants to get going, all the ideas she has.

A couple of days later she suddenly decides she does not want to go on that date with me anymore. I notice she'd hardly been sleeping, from what I gather she spent a few nights staying up all night. If she does sleep it'd only be a couple of hours. Her contact with me has basically died and I feel like I don't even exist to her anymore. It's hard to get any information out of her cause she's basically unresponsive, but a mutual friend mentioned that they did speak with her and she has mentioned she's "going to save the world".

She IS on medication, but I'm not quite sure which one. I'm also not sure if she's still taking them.

Now I don't want to assume things when it comes to bipolar so my question to all of you really is: does any of you recognize this latest behavior of hers? If it does seem recognizable, would you say I have reasons to be concerned? And if my concerns are rational, do any of you have any suggestions/advice on how to move ahead/how to help her?

Thank you :)
 
Tawny

Tawny

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Do you think she avoids you when unwell because she knows you will know she is unwell?

Maybe she is picking you up and dropping you as and when she fancies?

I don't even know if she knows what she wants or is doing.

Say hi now and then, once a fortnight, and leave the rest to her, is what i would do
 
B

BobTheTavernMan

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Do you think she avoids you when unwell because she knows you will know she is unwell?

Maybe she is picking you up and dropping you as and when she fancies?

I don't even know if she knows what she wants or is doing.

Say hi now and then, once a fortnight, and leave the rest to her, is what i would do
Thanks for the quick reply!

The first question, I have honestly no idea. Knowing I'm the only one who knows she's bipolar, I'm most likely the only one who'd notice a possible episode, to others she'd just be having a good time, perhaps. I also felt that perhaps, after she said things such as how I made her feel things again, perhaps being in touch with me is too overwhelming for her right now, cause emotions. (She did tell mutual friends she's constantly overwhelmed and her head's weird.)

I don't feel like she's picking me up and dropping me as she fancies, cause ever since we actively started chatting our communication has been basically constant, besides the part where she had the hypomanic episode, where we had way more contact.

It does seem like she doesn't know what she wants or what she's doing, but with all the other behavioral changes after a huge life change and a lot of stress, I wonder if those things are possibly related.

Thanks for the advice! I'll try and stay in touch. The hardest part really is that every time she does quickly reply she wants to schedule hanging out (either virtually or in real life), but then she doesn't show up nor answer a call on the day we agreed only for me not to hear from her for another 5-7 days. It's, just... confusing and weird, really!
 
Tawny

Tawny

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She does seem to be struggling with her illness at the moment. Some people relapse every year, some every five years, some take medication and some are able to come off of it and remain well. Some people have more depression as they get older. Some have psychosis with their severe episodes. Suicide is a high risk with bipolar disorder also.

Do you want a serious relationship with her? This erratic behaviour may be a sign of things to come.

Most people know of mania and depression nowadays and there will nearly always be someone around who works in mental health or has a relative with an illness.
 
B

BobTheTavernMan

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She does seem to be struggling with her illness at the moment. Some people relapse every year, some every five years, some take medication and some are able to come off of it and remain well. Some people have more depression as they get older. Some have psychosis with their severe episodes. Suicide is a high risk with bipolar disorder also.

Do you want a serious relationship with her? This erratic behaviour may be a sign of things to come.

Most people know of mania and depression nowadays and there will nearly always be someone around who works in mental health or has a relative with an illness.
It does seem like she's struggling indeed. The things that she recently went through are supposedly triggers for an episode, too, but I didn't yet get the chance to ask her if these are also triggers to her.

I would be open to a serious relationship with her. I'm working on educating myself and I'm hoping that once she is back in touch with me, I get to ask her questions regarding bipolar for her personally. Right after she made the big move she also told me she wants to look for a therapist and we agreed that I'd help her look for one. But her behavior changed before we got to that point.

And you're right, most people are aware of these symptoms, at least you'd think. Yet when I contacted a mutual friend who is near where she moved to, the mutual friend told me she's just having the time of her life - she doesn't see the spending, the "saving the world" attitude, and the lack of sleep as a problem. I feel that considering they're unaware of her having bipolar, they see things differently.

I'm just concerned of the chance that this IS an episode that might run out of hand, or perhaps once this runs over, she crashes down massively.
 
Tawny

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You know quite a lot about bipolar disorder already.

Don't spend too much time researching more, don't forget to live your own life too.
 
JessisMe

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It does seem like she's struggling indeed. The things that she recently went through are supposedly triggers for an episode, too, but I didn't yet get the chance to ask her if these are also triggers to her.

I would be open to a serious relationship with her. I'm working on educating myself and I'm hoping that once she is back in touch with me, I get to ask her questions regarding bipolar for her personally. Right after she made the big move she also told me she wants to look for a therapist and we agreed that I'd help her look for one. But her behavior changed before we got to that point.

And you're right, most people are aware of these symptoms, at least you'd think. Yet when I contacted a mutual friend who is near where she moved to, the mutual friend told me she's just having the time of her life - she doesn't see the spending, the "saving the world" attitude, and the lack of sleep as a problem. I feel that considering they're unaware of her having bipolar, they see things differently.

I'm just concerned of the chance that this IS an episode that might run out of hand, or perhaps once this runs over, she crashes down massively.
It sounds like it is an episode to me. I’m Bipolar 1 and have had overspending and grandiose save the world ambitions as part of my mania. Lack of sleep also so all of that sounded familiar to me. At the time I was very caught up in the excitement of it all and did not know that I had a problem. Even after when I knew I had Bipolar my episodes were not clear to me...until after when I crashed and had to face the damage. Even if you are on medication there is still always the possibility of mania. When someone is spinning out of control as you have described your friend is, sometimes stopping them is not an option. Sometimes if they prefer to be left alone you just have to leave them to their own devices and watch them tread their path of destruction. I think the best thing you can do for her now is to back away. Maybe drop her a line once a week or so to see how she is doing. If she would like you to be part of her life just prepare to be there for the crash that will likely follow this high point. Because she wants to be on her own now that is really the most/best that you can do. xo, j
 
B

BobTheTavernMan

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You know quite a lot about bipolar disorder already.

Don't spend too much time researching more, don't forget to live your own life too.
That's a good point! I should definitely not forget about my own life, haha. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it a lot!

It sounds like it is an episode to me. I’m Bipolar 1 and have had overspending and grandiose save the world ambitions as part of my mania. Lack of sleep also so all of that sounded familiar to me. At the time I was very caught up in the excitement of it all and did not know that I had a problem. Even after when I knew I had Bipolar my episodes were not clear to me...until after when I crashed and had to face the damage. Even if you are on medication there is still always the possibility of mania. When someone is spinning out of control as you have described your friend is, sometimes stopping them is not an option. Sometimes if they prefer to be left alone you just have to leave them to their own devices and watch them tread their path of destruction. I think the best thing you can do for her now is to back away. Maybe drop her a line once a week or so to see how she is doing. If she would like you to be part of her life just prepare to be there for the crash that will likely follow this high point. Because she wants to be on her own now that is really the most/best that you can do. xo, j
I really appreciate this insight! I can't even imagine what it must feel like to go through an episode like that!
But yea, I'm pretty sure she's avoiding me, unfortunately. I wasn't planning on "stopping" her, or halting her, I understood that that's generally not a good thing to do. But I do wish other friends would stop encouraging her behavior (excessive drinking, staying up late every night, buying things), but considering they don't know about her situation; they don't know any better.

I do believe she's honest about wanting me in her life and I'm pretty sure she was baseline when she said such things. If/when she crashes, I'll be there for her.

If you don't mind, I had a couple of questions too. Would you say your mindset could possibly change during a mania? For example, your opinion on things? (For example, corona regulations, but also friendship). And I mainly read about how people get pushed away by not being able to keep up with someone during a manic episode, does it ever happen that someone, while manic, pushes someone away more directly?
 
Z

Zoe1

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I would be careful
it sounds like she is pushing you away
even if she says to the contrary
that might be that she is not very assertive

her actual behaviour sounds like a rejection of you
 
B

BobTheTavernMan

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I would be careful
it sounds like she is pushing you away
even if she says to the contrary
that might be that she is not very assertive

her actual behaviour sounds like a rejection of you
Thanks for the concerns!

I did consider this point idea too, but it doesn't make sense to me. Her making plans and not showing up happened multiple times before, she always explained it to be an energy thing and I respected that. I know she's struggling and doing her best ans I value that a lot.

But if she was really rejecting me it wouldn't make sense for her to keep bringing up things we need to schedule to do together, and when she went on about all of the projects she wanted to do; some of them included me, as in she wanted to do them with me. I think it's important to keep in mind that there's a lot of signs pointing towards an episode and from what I understood people with bipolar sometimes say and do things they don't really mean during those.
 
Z

Zoe1

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yes but you are assuming she has deep feelings for you
when she might be just using you
shes not thinking of you is she

and if you are hoping to continue a romance with her
you may not be entirely objective about it yourself

ive used people when I was unwell
there was one guy I actually said to him
im not in love with you I'm just using you
and he took no notice
 
JessisMe

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That's a good point! I should definitely not forget about my own life, haha. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it a lot!



I really appreciate this insight! I can't even imagine what it must feel like to go through an episode like that!
But yea, I'm pretty sure she's avoiding me, unfortunately. I wasn't planning on "stopping" her, or halting her, I understood that that's generally not a good thing to do. But I do wish other friends would stop encouraging her behavior (excessive drinking, staying up late every night, buying things), but considering they don't know about her situation; they don't know any better.

I do believe she's honest about wanting me in her life and I'm pretty sure she was baseline when she said such things. If/when she crashes, I'll be there for her.

If you don't mind, I had a couple of questions too. Would you say your mindset could possibly change during a mania? For example, your opinion on things? (For example, corona regulations, but also friendship). And I mainly read about how people get pushed away by not being able to keep up with someone during a manic episode, does it ever happen that someone, while manic, pushes someone away more directly?
I have never been in a relationship when I have been manic so I can’t speak to that experience. I can say that I have been highly focused on all the many things that begin to take up all my time and attention. It is possible that your friend has become absorbed in her excessive activity and ambition. It is also possible that you seem in the way of or an afterthought to all of the things she would like to accomplish right now. It was not unusual for me to bail out on people and situations when manic because I had too much goin on. For that reason I really was sometimes too tired or overwhelmed to show up for something or somebody. I don’t know that my feelings for anyone ever changed when I was manic because I was not in a relationship during them. I would say just give her a lot of wiggle room right now, try not to read anything into it. Let your friend know that you are there for her and brace yourself for the likely crash to come. xo, j
 
B

BobTheTavernMan

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yes but you are assuming she has deep feelings for you
when she might be just using you
shes not thinking of you is she

and if you are hoping to continue a romance with her
you may not be entirely objective about it yourself

ive used people when I was unwell
there was one guy I actually said to him
im not in love with you I'm just using you
and he took no notice
It's true that this might be the case, but as I said, I am OPEN to something serious, it's not a goal, though. I am perfectly fine being friends, too! :)

The thing is, she spent nearly a year reaching out to me, including me in her daily life. I've met her parents, her grandparents, she introduces me to all of her friends, and I'm usually the first one who gets invited when she plans something. Not to forget, I'm often the first one to receive a phone call when good news arrives, too! All of these things have been going on for nearly a year, and while there is a possibility she might've just been using me, I'd like to believe she put in a little too much effort and got me a little bit too much into her life to just be using me.

But in the end, this thread I didn't make to discuss my friendship with her, I mainly made this to find whether people can relate to her behavior and see if my concerns are valid - and if yes, what people would recommend me to do.
 
Z

Zoe1

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well Bob from reading the replies on this thread
we are all picking up the same vibe
and urging you to back away and protect yourself
you're not married or a relative
and are probably on a roller coaster to heart break
 
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