Being bipolar means answering the question, “Do you have support?” You’re told that support means someone or a group of someones around you that understand you and will be there for you. What they don’t tell you is this is a lot more tricky to navigate than just someone being there or having someone to take you to the hospital. Having relationships with other people is important for anyone and picking the right people for your tribe is important for anyone. It’s even more important when you are affected by the people you surround yourself to the point of getting sick. I surrounded myself for a long time with people who wanted to take care of me and do everything for me. I thought, “this must be support” I was wrong because I overlooked the possessiveness and control these people had over me by doing everything for me. It takes two I don’t blame them 100% and I blame myself for allowing these relationships to take me over. I’m letting go of those who feel the need to take care of me in ways that perpetuate my sickness. I didn’t drive myself for over a year and it made driving a much worse experience when I had to. I never made myself food and it made me not know how to take care of myself when I had to. I never slept alone so on nights when I had to I never slept. I can see there good intentions and I’m sure you can too. It wasn’t until I said enough, I need to do all these things on my own when I realized the control and manipulation. People were quick to tell me “You can’t take care of yourself” and downright refusing my new boundaries. This of course made me more anxious. I had felt bad about myself for so long because I felt like a burden to those around me and now that I was taking control back they were more angry than ever. How could I win? Here’s what I’ve found. Surround yourself with people who believe you are strong and capable, not those who view you as weak. Understanding being there for you is not being there all the time. Understanding being there is not just being there when things are bad and they can feel important but when things are good and they celebrate with you. Learn the difference between real love and control. You may think, I don’t have anyone in my life like this. You do they are just more independent and you may feel like you would burden them. You won’t. My brothers have always been a part of my life but they are busy a lot. They have different lifestyles than I do. I didn’t want to intrude on their party. I did though and I found that when you are around people who see you for you and not your illness they encourage you they don’t pander to your anxieties. Example. My younger brother and I drove to my grandparent’s house the other day. It’s a few hours from where we lived and we split the drive. He drives a lot faster than I would. I have anxiety around this and instead of stopping how he drives he just says to me, “It’s okay take some deep breaths” This allows me the space to learn to calm myself and not expect the world to bend to my illness. This is what allows you to grow. He wasn’t angry with me, he was understanding but he also did not pander to me. These are the people you need in your life. They allow you space, they aren’t afraid of you, and they trust in your strength. Go out and find your people.