Sometimes we can’t make amends for burning friendships during the highs and lows of our bipolar illnesses. Several years ago I was energetically “slimed” by an email that was sent to me by my former friend. Here I’ll refer to her as “Simone”. I met her through a mood disorder support group I created, and at first we had a beautiful friendship. She volunteered to help me and I welcomed her assistance. It all seemed good…until it wasn’t.
She started acting very differently towards me. Where we once had related to each other as equals, she began treating me like a child. Her personality became abrupt, bossy, and frightening. It was obvious her mood disorder was to blame, but I wasn’t able to deal with her openly as I was depressed and I felt threatened by her. Our once-joyous relationship soured beyond repair, and we mutually ceased all contact with one another. I mourned the demise of our friendship.
Months later, she emailed me out of the blue because she accused me of “slandering” her. To be told you are slandering someone feels gross. I felt slimed by her email, which dredged up all sorts of awful feelings I thought were gone for the most part. Ewwww – the whole thing was nasty!
What happened was this: Simone received a private email which I wrote to our mutual male friend. I don’t remember why I involved him, but my big mistake was that I criticized her in that email. I mentioned that I felt her behavior towards me near the end of our friendship was totally alarming. I honestly never imagined that Simone would see what I wrote. This man should never have sent her my personal correspondence in the first place. I had trusted him, but I obviously blew it in my judgement! This all seemed like junior-high stuff to me. The man is no longer my friend, by the way. I still have no idea why on Earth he would send her my personal email, especially when it was crystal-clear that my email’s contents would upset her.
I decided to email Simone to attempt to make amends with her somehow. I knew it would take a miracle to do that, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Through my words, I tried very hard to repair the damage I had created. I took a whopping two hours meticulously crafting an apology explaining why I wrote my damning email. I apologized to her for my actions.
I also wrote Simone that since she last saw me in person, my depression had lifted, and that I was my “old self” again – the self she had only seen glimpses of during our friendship. I added that I would be starting a new, free women’s support group to discuss alternative natural treatments for bipolar, anxiety and depression. I invited her to come visit the group any time, as I knew she had trained to be a support group facilitator. I thought the new group might be of interest to her.
I wrote Simone that I wished to heal the damage I had created in our friendship if at all possible, and since we lived only ten minutes away from one another, it would be healing for both of us to rise above our destructive mood disorder behaviors go and start again.
After I sent the email, I knew that she probably wouldn’t forgive me; however, a small part of me thought, “Well, maybe she will! Maybe after we ‘broke up’, her mood disorder stabilized. Maybe she will be able to understand that what happened between was not anyone’s fault, and maybe she now realizes that it is better to forgive and heal than to hold grudges.
The next day I checked my email, and she had sent a curt, nasty two-sentence response.
I felt slimed yet again. My “apology/let’s start over” email didn’t cut it with her. The damage I created was great, but Simone made it clear in her reply that she was still in the throes of mental illness.
Yep, I call it the Ye Olde Bipolar Crash & Burn! I felt terrible about all of it.
After our email exchange, I realized I could not fix everything and everyone, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t fix someone else with a untreated mood disorder – I still can’t do it! I had to forgive myself for burning bridges with this friend the way I did. Heck, even so-called “normal” people do the exact same thing – they ruin friendships, don’t they?
Since this incident with Simone happened, I’ve been more careful about who I surround myself with. I’ve let go of a few other friendships in a less dramatic, non-acrimonious way and I am happy to say that I made the right decision each time. I cut out sending potentially slanderous emails of any kind…I’m not making that mistake again! My inner circle of friends is more precious to me than ever before. I only have a few close friends who I trust, and they are worth their weight in gold, or chocolate!