I think that this person may be bipolar. She has a lot of this issues that I have read about that people that are bipolar has. She has a family history, Mother and Brother both are bipolar. She has many up and down days. She can be crying in the morning and really happy in the afternoon for example. I have known her for 10 years and she has been foreclosed on twice and evicted three times. She has had utilities shut off more times than I can remember. She had stomach bypass surgery and lost a lot of weight and is now gaining it back. She tells everyone that she has different medical conditions and then in a month she forgets about the previous one and has another. She does harmful things such as taking to many sleeping pills. She has told me that she wakes up in places other than her bed in the morning. She told me that she woke up in the middle of the night naked, in a room where her teenage sons and their friends were sleeping. She is “in love” with a guy that has no interest in her what so ever and has been for years, and insists that they have a relationship. This guy is my cousin and we share a house and I know this isn’t true. She uses him as an excuse when she is sad or crying. There is so much more but this space is limited. Her grown children are getting to the point that they won’t have much to do with her. She tells me things that she forgets that she told me and then gets upset with me when I remind her what she said to me. She admits to depression and taking “happy” pills sometimes that her family doctor has prescribed for her. I have gently suggested to her that she talk to a professional that is qualified to help her, and not her family doctor…she will have no part of it, always saying that she is not bipolar like her brother. I would like to know how to help her get professional help. I have recently had to back away from our friendship because her problems were taking over my happy, peaceful life. She goes from being sad to extremely angry with me because of it. (age 57, from US)Help for a Coworker/Friend
Help for a Coworker/Friend
This is a difficult situation because as you have discovered, you can’t make someone get help if they don’t want it. From what you have described here, your friend does exhibit symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and does have family history, but she could also have a personality disorder, such as Borderline, which might make it even more difficult for her to see that she needs help.
The best that you can do is to continue to suggest that she get more help than she is getting. You could also give her very honest feedback that you are beginning to feel drained by the friendship and that in order for it to last, you hope she will seek help. You could stage an intervention of sorts by enlisting the help of her adult children or other friends or coworkers that might be willing to help. Finally, her doctor cannot give you information about her care but nothing is stopping you from giving her doctor information. You could call the office or even write a letter and just explain that you are a concerned friend and you want to share some observations. However, you don’t have to go to these lengths and no matter what route you choose, you have to understand that she may still not seek more treatment, and even if she does, she may continue a fairly self-destructive path.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts