Repair a Bipolar-Singed Friendship
March 29, 2012 7:43 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to repair a potential relationship that has been damaged by my manic episode?

I had a scary manic episode not so long ago. It took me by surprise, and I'm being treated now for bipolar disorder and am doing great.

My close friends, most of whom learned about it secondhand or through weird phone calls with me, have all been incredibly supportive. But some relationships have suffered. Notably, there is a guy (I'm a girl) I was very interested in. He and I met through our respective work and seemed to really connect over many long and personal emails, but had only hung out by ourselves a couple of times when this all happened.

During the manic episode, I wrote him florid love letters about how incredible I thought he was, and a variety of other inappropriate (but positive) messages. Of course, I'm cringing now, but it's all water under the bridge, right? Nothing can change what's been done.

So far, the only thing I've done is send him (and others who were directly affected), a short apology explaining that I was unwell and sorry for the untoward emails, etc.

The problem is, he hasn't responded. He's a very shy, nerdy kind of guy who's had limited relationship experience (we're both 31). I wonder if I should wait another few weeks (months?) and reach out with a more complete explanation? Or just give it up as dead. Or just wait and see?

I can't read his mind, so I have no idea what he's thinking, or what he would need to hear to want to resume contact with me.

Or maybe the whole thing is just too raw to touch right now?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think your course of action up till now is spot-on. The brief apology was perfect. Leave it alone and see what happens. If nothing happens, it's the dead past at this point: you're seeking help and that is all that you can do to help yourself manage your life now and in the future.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:53 AM on March 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

Don't reach out to him with additional explanations; that will worsen the matter, and further identify you with the episode.

If you reach out to him at all, try to involve him in a group activity and let your "normal" behavior establish a different impression.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:54 AM on March 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure how long "not long ago" was, but I don't think that an invite for coffee would be TOO forward or uncomfortable.
This gets the two of you to a nice public place, where you can hang out, people watch, have a nice - not too heavy - conversation and try to get the train back on the tracks.
Connecting over emails is nice, but connecting in person is really going to let you know where you stand with this gentleman.
Keep the invite light, see what happens.

On preview, I also endorse what Clyde said; you could start with a group outing, see how that goes, then go for the coffee invite.
posted by THAT William Mize at 7:56 AM on March 29, 2012

You know, I have a friend who is bipolar. Also, one of my favorite relatives was bipolar and we only found out due to a serious, stress-induced manic episode. I am a nerdy, shy person with relatively little relationship experience. (Especially compared to kids today, with their hook-ups and their polyamory and their music, it's just noise, noise...)

Anyway. It's possible that this potential relationship is dead - the guy doesn't understand bipolar disorder, he doesn't want to get into a relationship with someone who has it, he has personal history that you're not aware of, etc. Or he's just too dismayed by the letters that you wrote and can't back to his previous mental picture of you.

But I'd still give it another shot. If you don't hear from him in a few weeks, write him a medium-length email explaining in appropriate detail what happened and what's going on with you now. Tell him directly that you wanted to give him more detail, that you like him and would like to be in touch. Keep it sincere and not over-detailed - ie, a sentence explaining what bipolar disorder is rather than several paragraphs; a couple of sentences explaining what happened to you rather than several paragraphs, etc.

I can only speak for myself, but while it was not possible for me to forget per se some of the things that my relative said while manic (some of which were hurtful), I have always viewed those things as artifacts of her illness right along with the delusions that she suffered. She was quite old and died a year or so after recovering from her episode (thank goodness that she had some good times afterward) and I never felt less love for her but was only glad that she no longer had to keep her condition secret.

As to my bipolar friend - who is also on meds and is doing fine; that person had one episode that I know of a few years ago - it's never impacted my feelings about them at all. It just seems like any other illness to me. My friend is fine nearly all the time, and when they are sick they get treatment.
posted by Frowner at 7:58 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give it up as dead. Plenty of fish and all
posted by MangyCarface at 7:58 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Does this person know you have bipolar? If it were me (I have bipolar), and enough time has passed since the first email, I'd straight up say that I had a manic episode, explain what that is, and ask if he wants to talk about it. If you want this person to be a fixture in your life in any permanent way, they're gonna have to know about your bipolar and either deal or not. Now's as good time as any to see if he can be a permanent person in your life.
posted by patheral at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, by "a more complete explanation" do you mean that you didn't tell anyone that you have a diagnosis, much less a biplar diagnosis? I think that if you want to pick back up with people that's an important fact for them to know - otherwise it leaves them with "was this drug-induced? Will it happen again at the drop of a hat? Is this person totally lying and a drama queen?" I think it's totally, totally appropriate to say that you have what is after all an illness and are being treated for it.

Maybe my experiences with bipolar people have been atypical, but based on my friend's experience and my relative's experience, I would not hesitate to date someone who was bipolar and managing their condition. A person with bipolar disorder can be a big weirdo drama queen just like a person without bipolar disorder, of course, but it seems a shame to give up on a potential relationship with someone who likes you just because you have a manageable illness and were sick once. I would think a bit less of a person who actually dropped someone because they were being successfully treated for bipolar disorder (or otherwise managing it), to tell the truth.
posted by Frowner at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

If he can't bring himself to write back to a note where you explained that you just underwent a medical crisis, even if you are doing fine now, I would like to suggest that this is a guy who does not have the sterling character you may imagine he does. Or maybe he's just immature. I don't think shyness factors into it. Perhaps awkwardness? Plenty of shy people still have manners and empathy for others. Regardless, he's not a good guy for you, right now. Try to move on and forget about him. But hold you head high. As embarrassing as those emails you sent might be, he's got more to be ashamed of in not responding to your note with even a quick "So glad to hear that you are feeling better."
posted by tk at 8:07 AM on March 29, 2012 [15 favorites]

Yeah, the ball is definitely out of your court now. You have done all the responsible things and good for you for doing them. Trying to undo what you've done or "make it right" in some way will only make it worse.

Let the past be past: part of being responsible -- and you seem to understand this, I'm not trying to lecture so much as apply -- is living with what you can't change. You can't go back. You can go forward better.

I kind of like the idea of including this guy in normal, group-oriented things, but I'd try to let them occur naturally rather than you, personally, inviting him to a bunch of meetups in the next three weeks or whatever.

If you do see the guy in person at some event, and you get to talking, and it seems to be going okay, it's okay to be a little sheepish and say, "so ... I kind of went a little crazy a couple weeks ago..." [or however you want to say it] just to address the elephant in the room. If you do this, try not to make it a declaration of How You Really Feel Despite How You Said It Before, and please respect whatever boundaries they guy tries to set up.

I also think the guy is communicating through his silence. I'm sorry to say it but there it is. You will be fine. Take care of yourself.

posted by gauche at 8:09 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Let it go. He may have felt extremely uncomfortable, even stalked, by you, and you should not continue pressing him. If genders were switched I seriously doubt people would say this is a matter of his faulty character (?!)
posted by yarly at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

I apologize, but I wasn't sure--do you and this gentleman work at the same place? If so, I'd probably be especially inclined to let it drop after your aforementioned brief, explanatory email.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I firmly disagree that the ball is out of your court. You sent out a blanket apology to a number of people (presumably not personalized). It is perfectly reasonable to send out a more personal apology, explaining why you did what you did, and how you specifically apologize for any discomfort he may have felt personally. You should then add that you would love to meet with him in person to get your friendship back on track, if he is amenable to that. If he does not respond to that apology? Then you have your answer. But I don't think it is fair to say he is no longer interested in you simply because he didn't personally respond to a mass email.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let it go. He may have felt extremely uncomfortable, even stalked, by you, and you should not continue pressing him. If genders were switched I seriously doubt people would say this is a matter of his faulty character (?!)

For me, because I've had some experience with people close to me who've had manic episodes (in my relative's case an episode so severe that we had to have the person involuntarily hospitalized - it was pretty horrible and 100% out of character for her) I tend to see a manic episode as an illness, not as a sign of anything about the ill person's character. My impression has always been that a manic episode - while no fun for anyone - is out of the person's control. It's not something that you decide to do; it doesn't necessarily reflect a lot about your underlying character. I do not want to give too many details about my relative's episode (which was protracted due to medical incompetence and very sad to deal with, and occurred when she was not on any medication after years of successful med-lessness) but the things she did and said at that time were not in keeping with her personality at all.

If someone had told me afterward, "I am not comfortable around your sweet, sainted, generous and loving [relative] because she had a serious episode of mental illness during which she acted out of character"...well, we would not be friends anymore. Frankly, I think it is a sign of poor character to judge people for behavior that is out of their control for medical reasons. Now, if the person is unsafe, or can't be persuaded to get treatment, or is simply too demanding on an ongoing basis to deal with - that's always a very sad situation but you do sometimes have to separate yourself. Or if you yourself had some kind of painful history with bipolar disorder, etc. But if someone is all "ooh, mental illness! There must be something wrong with that person even though they seem fine! Can't even talk to them now!!!!". especially at the advanced age of 31...well, yes, I would think less of that person because they're stereotyping in a particularly unpleasant way based on ignorance.
posted by Frowner at 8:33 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

You sent out a blanket apology to a number of people (presumably not personalized). It is perfectly reasonable to send out a more personal apology, explaining why you did what you did, and how you specifically apologize for any discomfort he may have felt personally.

I read the OP's question differently and should point out that my answer is under the assumption that this:

...the only thing I've done is send him (and others who were directly affected), a short apology...

referred to individual emails rather than a mass email. On re-reading, it is not clear whether that is the case.
posted by gauche at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It may be a sign of poor character to judge people over medical diagnosis, but we're talking about romance here, so it's different. OP, I'm going back and forth between contact and don't contact. On one hand, the term "unwell" doesn't sit right with me. It's like Frowner mentioned. The vagueness would worry me and would have me wondering what exactly you meant. That combined with some love letters that were probably left the man going, "Wha...whoa," make me think it would be best just to leave it alone for awhile. But I also can see the virtue in sending him a short, non-romantic, personal letter saying, "Hey, this happened with my bipolar...I was in the hospital for x amount of days where x, y, and z happened. I'm on this medicine now. God, makes me feel tired! Etc, etc..." I would leave romance out of it entirely and just be really friendly. I wouldn't ask him to do anything for awhile because if it were me, I'd be feeling pressured and weirded out. Plus, you have yourself to take care of now. Which is the most important point.
posted by amodelcitizen at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually, after writing that, I really think you should write him a friendly explanation with concrete (but appropriate) details and without expectations regarding a reply.
posted by amodelcitizen at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't read his mind, so I have no idea what he's thinking, or what he would need to hear to want to resume contact with me.

Call him and ask him out. Make it short and open ended, something like this: "Hi, it's anonymous. Listen, I know things seem pretty weird because of that past episode of mine. But I would like to see you again, so if you're interested, feel free to contact me sometime. No need to answer now, but I just wanted to put it out there that I'm interested in seeing you again. That's all I wanted to say, so take care, bye."

That cuts to the chase of what you want, let's him know what you want and puts the ball in his court. Then let it go and leave the next step to him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

gauche: "individual emails rather than a mass email"

That's a fair point -- the Question is a little ambiguous there. I'd still say that one more email requesting a meeting of some kind would not be out of order, but that's as far as the Asker should take it if there is no further response.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hate to bring this up but i think you need to think carefully about telling people who you don't know fairly well your diagnosis.

There are a lot of people out there who here bipolar and immediately jump to crazy crazy crazy and don't understand the disease very well and there is also a lot of ongoing stigma and as sad as it is its something to keep in mind.

In this case I would put him out of your mind a little bit and focus on yourself and if you do see him i think the best thing to do is to act like your normal self at most i would contact him and ask him to a group event where you can have fun without things being to loaded. Hopefully he'll come around but if he doesn't he probably isn't the right partner for you.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:03 AM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Related anecdata that will hopefully help: I was once in a semi-serious relationship with a guy (I'm a woman) who had fairly severe bipolar and depression. After about...I'd say six or seven months of exclusive dating, he had an extremely severe episode and ended up being hospitalized for three weeks. Seeing him like that was one of the most frightening, distressing things that I've ever gone through, and I was somewhat prepared for it, having known going into the relationship that this was his (involuntary!) condition and that something like this might happen.

I realize the situations here are somewhat different, but I bring this up to make the point that if he and I had been at the very beginning stages of a potential relationship and this had happened, I would have been absolutely freaked out and terrified. "Did I cause this? Might I be in some kind of danger from this person? Are there drugs/alcohol involved? Is there something about me that set this off?" I would have tremendously appreciated some kind of explanation/reassurance that: "No, you are not personally responsible, yes it is under control, here's what 'it' is, I'm willing to talk about it." Hell, I needed that anyway and I actually knew the guy's character and really liked it!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree with the other commenters above who suggested that "unwell" is a bit too vague and could be interpreted in various unflattering lights. Now, you alone can decide what you're comfortable with divulging and how you'll feel if you still get no response, or a colder one than you would like. As others above have also said, and I agree strongly, if after being apprised of what really happened he still doesn't respond or is dismissive, then he just isn't for you and it's time to move on.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 9:05 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I see the point of being straight forward, but I would totally never ask him out. OP sent him long, florid love letters (with no reply, I'm assuming) and also sent him an explanation for the love letters with no reply. I'm guessing that silence doesn't scream, "Please ask me out!"
posted by amodelcitizen at 9:06 AM on March 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Honestly, I think you should really just be focused on yourself and not trying to save this not-quite-a-thing with this guy. However, I think whether it can be saved depends at least partially on what you said in your initial email to him - whether you were more specific than "unwell" and whether it was a mass email or not. I think if you have not, you can ask if repairing/resuming the relationship is a possibility. Ordinarily, I'd think it'd be best to do this on the phone, but if the bulk of your communication has been by email/you don't have his number, I think a short email is fine.

However, my gut reaction (based on my personal experience) is that if I were the guy, I'd want you to leave me alone for a while - for both of our sakes.
posted by sm1tten at 9:11 AM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I read this the same way RockSteady read it, that there was a vague email sent out stating the OP was "unwell" but not giving any specific details explaining that the emails were sent during a manic episode.

Mania is much like being drugged or drunk (God knows I've been there and done that) -- the letters could have been near incoherent, even if they were positive and full of love, leaving the poor guy thinking, "WTF?" Then he gets another email saying the OP was "unwell" which could mean any number of things. It's far better to explain, succinctly, that she's bipolar, what mania is, and that she's now in control of her disorder. This can cause her intended to either understand the situation or remain out of her life. But at least he will be making an informed decision rather than leaving on an assumption.
posted by patheral at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

p.s. I would HIGHLY caution you NOT to mention your exact medical diagnosis to anyone who isn't in your "inner circle" of trust, much less someone who you work with (e.g. this guy). You don't want people at work to think of you in light of a medical diagnosis--it's absolutely none of their business. Your professional reputation is worth much, much more than whatever feeling of being understood may (doubtfully) come by explaining yourself further to this guy.
posted by tk at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Sometimes no answer is an answer. You've apologized, which was your responsibility; he doesn't have a responsibility to follow up on your apology.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:13 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the OP:
to the people who were directly affected, I told them I had a manic episode. I also spoke with several on the phone, and they got the whole story as well. For the people who got a weird email or two, I just said "I was unwell" and left it at that. I also offered to answer any questions or provide more information if anyone wanted to know more.

With the guy, my email was *very* short. I was mortified with every finger-tap, so it just said I was very unwell and am now better and sorry. Perhaps providing a short, technical explanation of what happened electrophysiologically (if that explanation exists somwhere?) in a few weeks would be a good idea. I'd like very much to know what he's thinking-- if he's thinking of me at all.
posted by jessamyn at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2012

If you feel you owe him an apology/explanation, then by all means send him one. If he's not asked for one, though, maybe that is a sign that he's not interested.

What I would do is let him know specifically what was wrong, with some links in the email to some resources that explain what happened to you in terms that a layperson could understand, and offer to chat if he was interested. Then I'd leave it at that, and accept that if he didn't respond, that that was my answer.

Bipolar aside, when you're into someone, it's easy to read way too much into their behaviour. If your contact with him so far consists of emails and meeting up twice, it just seems to me that he's just not that into you. If he's had plenty of opportunity to get closer to you, and hasn't taken advantage of that, then it just seems like he doesn't care that much.
posted by Solomon at 10:58 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not contact him again. There is nothing good that could come of it.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Perhaps providing a short, technical explanation of what happened electrophysiologically (if that explanation exists somwhere?) in a few weeks would be a good idea.

Jesus, no, that would be a terrible idea.

He is clearly aware that by "unwell" you didn't mean that you had the flu, but that you were talking about a psychological and/or neurological crisis.

Let him have whatever reaction he's going to have. Your not being able to leave this alone is a bit concerning, to be honest; I would talk about this with your therapist or psychiatrist.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

And I want to say that I have tremendous empathy for you, because I have been in a very similar situation--I had an electrolyte imbalance that eventually put me in the hospital, but not before I had some kind of psychotic break, acted like a demented Fury, and alienated my then-housemates and the very nice man I had just started dating.

I was able to repair the relationships with the housemates to a pretty good extent, because they had the context of knowing me when I wasn't a fiend, but the best I could do with the very nice man was to apologize and let him move on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Honey, you need to forget about this guy and focus on yourself. NOW.

Also, upon your update... This relationship is dead. It is not coming back. I'm so sorry. I understand how embarrassed you feel.

Work this out in therapy, not with this guy. Leave him out of it. That ship has sailed.

It's wrong to pursue this, especially since it sounds like you have a lot of self-work to be doing right now.
posted by jbenben at 12:27 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Let it go and move on. It is too bad he did not know you better before this happened like your close friends, but at this point it would only make things worse and him more uncomfortable to reach out to him again. You will meet other guys and start with a clean slate, but this one is a loss. Like Sidhedevil, you have apologized and now must move on to the rest of your life.
posted by mermayd at 12:32 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

With the guy, my email was *very* short. I was mortified with every finger-tap, so it just said I was very unwell and am now better and sorry. Perhaps providing a short, technical explanation of what happened electrophysiologically (if that explanation exists somwhere?) in a few weeks would be a good idea. I'd like very much to know what he's thinking-- if he's thinking of me at all.

You just have to move on from this one. If he wants to get in touch with you, he has your email. You have handled the situation perfectly so far; any more would be too much.

It sucks because your actions were out of your control and you feel like it wasn't your fault so why does it have to be broken? Of course it wasn't your fault, but it's still broken. Some things just break and this was one of them. Be sad but move on.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:02 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have been on the receiving end of inappropriate “love” e-mails and texts from a guy who is mentally ill. It’s a cyclical thing where out of the blue I get some random contact with him that is really inappropriate, followed in a few weeks by an apology. This has happened three times. Like you have, all of his messages to me are what he would probably categorize as “positive.” They still make he incredibly uncomfortable and nervous.

I would strongly recommend that you do not initiate any further contact with him. Don’t send another e-mail explaining yourself and definitely do not call him.

I would go as far from removing him from your e-mail and phone contacts so that you are not tempted to make further contact.

On preview, this: It sucks because your actions were out of your control and you feel like it wasn't your fault so why does it have to be broken? Of course it wasn't your fault, but it's still broken. Some things just break and this was one of them. Be sad but move on.
posted by OsoMeaty at 1:12 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

No seriously, it's fine to contact him and make your intentions plain.

I say that as guy married to a bipolar woman. You had an episode. Maybe it freaked him out and he doesn't want anything to do with you. Maybe it didn't and he's wondering. Maybe he's just confused. But you can't read his mind and there's not wrong with trying.

Just because you're sick doesn't mean you can't be human and ask for what you want or need. Clear the air, make your desires known, then let him make the next move.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's entirely possible that while you couldn't have controlled what happened, he's simply not prepared to deal with being in any sort of a relationship (friends or otherwise) with someone that *could* have an episode like yours at any time.

Many people seem to be talking down at the guy because he hasn't written back. And, really, he should at least let you know he's not interested. However, there's a large possibility that there's something he's dealt with previously that would make him not want to get involved. A severely bipolar parent, sibling, or previous relationship of some kind that's scared him bad enough to limit involvement with someone who's bipolar.

It sucks to lose out like this, but it happens. Move on, and concentrate on being well and trying to work on the relationships that have survived this event.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 1:19 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

IMO he probably has no idea you're pining for him. If he did/does have any feelings for you, there's a good chance he figures, "oh well it turns out she only expressed those feelings for me because she was 'unwell'". Your last contact only apologizes for the lapse. It did not indicate whether you wanted further contact or to be left alone in your recovery. In the path of least resistance he's probably going to assume the latter.

If I were you, I would write out (journal) a few times what you would like to say to him. Write a good copy, then let it sit for a couple days and see how you feel about it. If this is your last chance to express yourself to him on this matter, then does it sufficiently and concisely express what your wishes are? Be specific. State clearly, "If possible, I would like to continue being friends again and know how you are doing. ...[filler]... However, I understand if you would prefer to leave this alone. Take care, OP."

THEN be prepared to drop it, knowing you genuinely did your best, and that you're an awesome person for respecting the boundaries of someone you care about -- even if that has to mean letting them go from your life.

It's not fair -- definitely be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that. Nobody asks to have mental health issues and sometimes the price of coming to terms with them becomes ridiculously inflated because other people can't deal with anything too intense or unusual (and thus, cut your from their life). If that's the case with this guy, then he's not a good idea for your ongoing support and recovery anyway. However, call me a hopeless romantic... I like to think a person can be loved in spite of imperfect mental health performance. You are lovable and at this point, it's not going to be any reflection on you if he can't hack it. Best of luck, OP!
posted by human ecologist at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Let it go.
posted by mleigh at 3:17 PM on March 29, 2012

Just because you're sick doesn't mean you can't be human and ask for what you want or need.

There's a difference between "ask this guy you're interested in, and hardly know, out" and "attempt to apologize and explain yet again to someone to whom you behaved badly while in a bipolar episode to whom you have already apologized and who has not responded to your apology."

She already apologized and explained, and he hasn't responded. Apologizing and explaining again isn't appropriate, especially since the way in which she behaved badly during the manic episode to him was to send inappropriately intimate and emotional emails.

If she feels like she shouldn't ask him out given the current state of play between them, I think she should trust that instinct rather than send another apology.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:44 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

OP: {Florid love letters to relative stranger}

Guy : o_O

OP: I'm sorry. Those letters were inappropriate. I was ill at the time. I apologize.

Guy: ....

That's the state of play. The OP contacting the guy again at this point is much more likely to freak him out than any other result.

If the OP wants to pursue him in the fullness of time, she needs to let this all settle for a bit so that he can get to know her when her brain is working properly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:47 PM on March 29, 2012

I can't read his mind, so I have no idea what he's thinking, or what he would need to hear to want to resume contact with me.

OP,My advice for calling him was based on what worked between my bipolar wife and I. She made her interest plain and left the ball in my court. In time I decided I liked her and had fun with her and called. It wasn't an immediate thing and may not happen in your case. But I liked the fact that she was honest and clear to my shy and somewhat freaked-out-about-the-bipolar-chick self.

That fact that she gave me space after making her interest plain and clear resonated well with me. The most admirable part was that she didn't wait around for me, she went on with her life and we worked things out when I looked up her again.

So give it a shot, but don't wait around for him to call.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hey OP? Are you sure he found your florid emails to be off-putting? You know, manic people are sometimes really thrilling and intoxicating to be around, and sometimes it's really easy to be swept off your feet by someone in that state. Are you sure he didn't find your florid emails to be really thrilling, especially considering as you say he's kind of a shy guy who hasn't really dated before.

I know for me, if I had been kind of caught up in this whirlwind of excitement and was really into it, and then the person came out of it and was basically like, "sorry, I only said those things because I was unwell," I would feel really stupid. And embarrassed. And I would feel like, okay, they didn't really like me after all, and they are not that into me, they just thought they were because they were unwell.

If I were you I would wait a couple weeks, email him again, let him know that you still really like him and would still really like to continue getting to know him, and also let him know that if his feelings have changed you accept that and wish him the best.
posted by cairdeas at 8:11 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sounds like what you did was exactly right. As you mentioned, you don't know what he is thinking, and I think you should just leave him some space right now. The ball is in his court, but feel free to send another friendly "Want to get coffee?" text or email later.

I am glad that you got the medical attention that you needed, for what sounds like a first-time manic episode. They can really ruin one's day/week/quarter, can't they? It's hard to process the diagnosis, to understand that you were not yourself. You are on a journey of self-knowledge now, and I strongly suggest you keep taking your medications.

I had a manic episode, and I too made strange phone calls (this happened during the 90's, so text/email/twitter didn't exist yet). And I called a male co-worker (I am female) and professed my love to him. The embarrassment was brutal initially, but I got over it, just like you will too. It was kind of easy to normalize it, because it was as if someone else (certainly not me!) make the love-professing phone call.

In the next weeks/months/years you will decide whether or not to disclose your mental health status, and if so, how much detail. Some people will immediately respond with their own stories, or of close relatives, and you will become closer and have a connection with them that you wouldn't otherwise for the disclosure. Others won't respond at all, ever again. That's fine, the non-responders self-selected themselves out of your life, which probably ends up being a net positive for you.

As with much in life, you don't have any control over many things, and one of them is how a person feels about you. It could be because of your skin tone, your regional speech cadence/accent, or because you had a manic episode. There isn't much in the way of changing the past, so be prepared to let this one go if necessary.

Please let this manic episode remind you to take good care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. These are just common sense behaviors everyone should do, but for a person who has had a manic episode, it's a little more urgent.

Good luck, & please mefi mail me if you need more info, etc
posted by Pocahontas at 11:30 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is it possible, sort of along the lines of Cairdeas' suggestion, that he read your e-mail as a 'take-back' and could be plausibly thinking your interest in him was due to being unwell, and now you're better?

For that one reason, I like the suggestion of reaching out to him with group activities, as suggested. It's a way to see whether he's open to hanging out with you, and if he is, it gives him the chance to see you healthy, without pressuring him to make a decision on where he stands on love letters/mental illness/relationship with a person he barely knows.

It also puts the potential relationship with him back into a more general context of taking care of you, which I think is also great advice from people here.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:06 AM on March 30, 2012

Definitely do NOT send him any other messages. If he wants to get in touch with you, he will. Otherwise, forget about it and assume everything will be OK eventually.
posted by lotusmish at 11:40 PM on April 26, 2012

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