I have a friend that struggles with depression. She recently had to take a leave of absence from work because of it. A recent text message exchange with her reveled that she has mixed state bipolar. I hardly understand bipolar and definitely do not understand mixed state bipolar. From what I’ve found on Wikipedia it sounds heartbreaking. I know she’s getting great medical care and has a very supportive husband…thank God.
Today she was supposed to meet me at Starbucks. She didn’t show up. I texted her and could tell by her responses that she felt horrible for standing me up. She had forgotten it was today and she isn’t feeling well due to her the medication she is on. My immediate response was to try to calm her. It wasn’t a big deal to me. We had not confirmed earlier today, so I kind of expected her to not show up. But, what hit me hard was the thought “oh my gosh…I don’t want to add to her stress right now”. After repeated texts back and forth and think she felt better.
While this was going on I was IM’ing with another mutual friend who is more experienced with issues like this. She had the wisest advice for me…”remember, her path is her responsibility and I don’t believe that she’s so fragile to take it too badly”. It is her path and she needs to travel it. I will be there for her as much as I can, but I can’t be responsible if she reacts to something differently that someone else would.
So that I understand what’s going on with her, I have decided to do a little bit of research on mixed state bipolar. I figure knowing what she’s going through will make me a better friend to her and a more understanding citizen to others with mental illness.
Do you have a friend with a mental illness? How do you offer support?