How to "Do" Friendship

Lynne Taetzsch Health Guide
  • At our bipolar support group meeting last night, the topic of friendship came up, and it seemed that most of us had a hard time doing it “right,” or doing it at all. I used to think it was just my own personal handicap, but now I wonder if it isn’t a byproduct of being bipolar?

    I don’t have a problem with people I’ve known since childhood and kept up with throughout the years. They already know me well, and we are also miles apart now, so an occasional phone call or letter and rare visits keep the friendship going. When I was younger, friendship seemed easier.

    I notice I’m having trouble even writing about friendship, no less making new friends. I’ve just written and erased a dozen lines. I guess it really is a hot topic for me.
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    Let me try again and just list my fears:

    a) No one will want to be my friend.

    b) If I’m too friendly with someone too quickly, I’ll get “stuck” and not be able to get rid of them.

    c) Making dates to do things with people who might become my friends will be too stressful and make me anxious.

    d) My husband, Adrian, will not like my new friend, or my new friend won’t like him.

    e) I don’t have time for friends.

    f) If my new friend says something I disagree with, I’ll just go along because I can’t stand conflict unless I know someone really, really well, and then I’ll just dig myself into a hole by saying what the friend wants to hear instead of what I feel and believe.

    Whew! That’s some list. In spite of it, I am slowly getting to know a few women in my community, and getting together with them occasionally. It’s great when we have an interest in common, like hiking or both being artists. Often the initial effort is not comfortable for me, and I still have anxiety prior to getting together. But as I get to know these women better, it gets easier. Friendship is worth the effort, after all.

Published On: August 01, 2006