Married to someone with bipolar disorder
Bipolar Relationships: What to Expect
Ups and downs are natural in any romantic relationship, but when your partner has bipolar disorder it can feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Not knowing what to expect each day is stressful and tiring. Over time, it wears on the relationship.
Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship. Learn exactly what a bipolar diagnosis means, how it could affect your partner’s behavior and what you can do to foster a healthy, stable relationship.
What does it mean if your partner is bipolar?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by intense mood changes. People with the illness switch back and forth from mania or hypomania (an emotional state of being energetic and gleeful or sometimes aggressive or delusional) to having episodes of depression.
The lifelong condition tends to run in families, although the cause of bipolar disease is unknown. However, it can often be successfully managed through treatment. There are two primary types of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar 1 is a more severe form of the illness and is defined by manic episodes that have one of these characteristics:
- Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia
- Hospitalization required for safety
- Impulsive behavior with significant consequences
“When people are manic, they pursue pleasurable activities with great enthusiasm and with no regard for the consequences,” says Jennifer Payne, M.D., psychiatrist and director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “They may gamble, spend excessive amounts of money, use drugs or become promiscuous.”
People with bipolar 2 experience hypomanic episodes, which still include out-of-character behavior but aren’t as extreme as those with bipolar 1. Hypomanic episodes may include:
- Increased energy and drive.
- Rapid speech.
- Decreased need for sleep.
“During hypomanic episodes, a partner with bipolar 2 may obsessively pursue sex with you or others,” says Payne. “They may stay up all night and have lots of wonderful ideas they want to tell you about at 3 a.m.”
Bipolar disorder is usually treated with a combination of medications and therapy. However, successful treatment can be a challenge since many people miss the euphoria and energy of manic episodes.
Often people with bipolar disorder view these elevated mood states as their best selves — when they’re the most productive or creative — and will stop treatment in order to experience that again. Sometimes those with bipolar disorder will even intentionally trigger a manic episode.
“Lack of sleep is a trigger of manic episodes for a lot of people,” says Payne. “Sometimes patients with bipolar disorder will deliberately skip getting the sleep they need in order to initiate an elevated mood state. For example, a person might want the high energy that comes with a manic episode to get a project done.”
The key to your partner’s successful management of the illness is a commitment to continuing treatment and ongoing communication with their psychiatrist. This can take place at therapy sessions, during regular checkups or whenever necessary to discuss troubling symptoms.
Many people with bipolar 1 do well on lithium, a mood-stabilizing drug. Those with bipolar 2 may not fully respond to medications often used to treat bipolar disorder. If that’s the case for your partner, it’s important for them to continue to work with their psychiatrist to find an effective treatment.
Being in a Relationship with Someone Who Is Bipolar
There are certainly challenges in any romantic relationship, but bipolar disorder can make things especially difficult in various aspects of life:
It’s common for people with bipolar disorder to desire frequent sex during manic or hypomanic phases. Your partner may initiate intimacy much more than normal, or masturbate or use pornography more frequently than usual. Those with bipolar disorder may also engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or extramarital affairs while manic.
During episodes of depression, your partner may avoid sexual contact altogether. This can be confusing or feel like rejection, especially if your partner recently desired lots of sexual activity during a manic or hypomanic period. Many medications for bipolar disorder can also lower sex drive.
Your partner’s ability to perform well at work can be affected by bipolar disorder. Severe mood swings, along with manic symptoms such as poor judgement and impulsivity, or depressive symptoms such as low energy and disinterest make it tough to find and maintain a job. Stressors at work may also trigger or exacerbate your partner’s symptoms. If your partner can’t hold down a job, this could put more pressure on you to provide financial support until their illness is well-managed.
Many people consider parenting the most stressful (albeit rewarding) job of their lives. But any kind of stressor — good or bad — has potential to trigger manic or depressive episodes for people with bipolar disorder.
In addition, the erratic behavior associated with bipolar disorder can be confusing and scary to children, who look to parents to provide stability. Helping your partner get and maintain treatment to control symptoms is crucial for providing a safe and secure home for children.
How to Make a Bipolar Relationship Work
It takes effort to keep any relationship strong, but it can be especially challenging when your partner has bipolar disorder. Payne offers these recommendations:
Go to Couples Counseling
Couples counseling is essential for working through upset over a bipolar partner’s actions. It’s common for someone with bipolar disorder to hurt and offend their partner. When someone is first diagnosed, there are often relationship issues that need to be addressed. Couples counseling can help you:
- Understand that there’s an illness involved in the hurtful behavior.
- Forgive the behavior that happened during an altered mood state.
- Set boundaries with a partner about maintaining treatment.
Get Involved with Treatment
Ask if you can be involved with your partner’s treatment, which may include occasionally going to the psychiatrist together. Being a part of your partner’s treatment has multiple benefits, including:
- Gaining a better understanding of the illness.
- Providing additional insight for the psychiatrist.
- Learning to spot signs of impending episodes.
- Alerting the psychiatrist about mood changes.
Even if your partner hasn’t signed off on you exchanging information with their psychiatrist, you can still report worrisome signs (the doctor just won’t be able to tell you anything). This gives the doctor a chance to make quick medication changes that may help your partner avoid being hospitalized.
Self-care gets a lot of buzz these days, but nowhere is it more important than when you’re caring for someone with a serious illness such as bipolar disorder. It’s essential to dedicate time to your own physical and mental health, whether that’s going to a support group, talking to a therapist or attending a yoga class.
Being in a healthy relationship with someone with bipolar disorder requires not only careful management of their illness, but also setting aside time to take good care of yourself.
You, Me & Bipolar Disorder Makes 3: Marriage Tips
In sickness and in health, right? Well, mania and maybe episodes of depression, too, are putting your vows to the test. With the right tools, you can cope with whatever comes your way.
You and your spouse may have knock-down, drag-out verbal matches. They might go from feeling sad to feeling elated; from wanting loads of sex to having none; from having fun times filled with energetic activities to being unable to take out the trash.
Maybe they talk your ear off at one point, yet don’t speak to you for days at other times. Or perhaps they go from saving money to wild spending sprees.
This is what a marriage to someone living with bipolar disorder can look like.
Or, with transparency, strong mutual intimacy, and having routines and a solid treatment plan, it could look like a smooth-running train: Yes, there are departures and arrivals, but you’ll both know the signs, act accordingly, and keep things moving forward.
Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is a mental health condition known for sudden or intense changes in mood.
Someone with bipolar disorder may experience highs — mania or hypomania — that involve high energy, an increased sex drive, impulsivity, agitation, and even anger or irritability. Some people may also have lows, known as depressive episodes.
There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Each type comes with its own set of similar symptoms, patterns, and cycling phases. A diagnosis may also include features or additional specifiers to better describe your spouse’s condition.
What might bipolar disorder look like? In an episode of mania, your partner may drive too fast or recklessly, overspend, act out sexually, or even become emotionally or physically abusive. On the other end, in a depressive episode they may be too depressed to get out of bed, work, or just perform everyday tasks around the house.
A small study in 2019 found a significant increase in marital distress among partners of people with bipolar disorder, including issues like:
- family finances
- career or job decisions
- household tasks
The good news is that if your partner is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and moves forward with treatment, you can work together to make your marriage healthy and successful.
Since people with bipolar disorder may have different types, severity, and particular features, each person’s condition will be unique.
For example, an analysis in 2009 observed how someone’s symptoms and condition can change in type and the length of episodes as they age.
Educating yourself on bipolar disorder can help you learn what to expect from your relationship and your partner’s mood episodes.
Being in contact with your spouse’s healthcare team is also a great idea, according to Nicole Nina, a therapist in Aurora, Colorado.
If your partner agrees to include you as a contact on their medical release forms and share information access, it can:
- provide 2-way communication between you and their treatment team, in case of emergency
- help you know their particular diagnosis so you know what to expect in general
- keep you in the loop on their treatment plan, therapy, and medication routine so you can be an advocate in their journey
Sasha Jackson, therapist in Brooklyn, New York, says that psychoeducation is crucial to helping your marriage.
Other ways you can help your spouse, yourself, and your marriage
Make a plan together
As a spouse, you may be the most in tune with how symptoms occur in your loved one. “Over time, you will likely be able to pinpoint when your spouse is getting ready to enter either a cycle of mania or a cycle of depression,” says Nina.
You may not be able to stop the cycle, but you can develop plans to ride them out together.
For instance, you can have a plan in place to prevent your partner from making large purchases or engaging in harmful behaviors when they’re having a manic episode.
You can also weather depressive episodes by helping them get their tasks completed or giving them a pass on the garbage or yard work when you know they’re not up for it.
Even just having plans in place for when an episode comes on can give you a sense of control and help you prepare.
Talk about impulsive and reckless behaviors
Since impulsivity and reckless behaviors can be symptoms of bipolar disorder that affect marital life, addressing them openly when your partner is in a stable state — called euthymia (you-thigh-me-uh) — can make a difference.
“Create a plan with your partner to help reduce damage from behaviors,” says Jackson. An example would be agreeing to limit access to credit cards if they have a history of impulsive spending or gambling when experiencing mania or hypomania.
Likewise, agree to opt for the passenger seat or a rideshare, or reschedule a long road trip if they have trouble with speeding or reckless driving during mania.
Don’t take mood changes personally
“It’s difficult to not take your partner’s mood dysregulation (depression, irritability, anger, or [ill-timed] happiness) as a personal attack,” says Jackson. “However, mood swings are a symptom of bipolar disorder and have to do with a chemical imbalance.”
Even though it’s hard, instead of taking it personally, communicate with your partner about ways you can help them cope and ways you’d like them to try and communicate their needs so they can avoid escalations like raised voices, the silent treatment, or personal attacks.
Ensure they have the resources they need
“Bipolar disorder is primarily managed through medication to stabilize the [mood],” says Nina.
If they ask you to hold them accountable, you can remind your partner to take their meds, keep their supply current, attend their therapy and medication appointments, and prioritize their health — eating right, exercising, and sleeping well. Lifestyle habits are known to help reduce severity of episodes.
Psychotherapy can also be a vital tool for managing the emotions that come with the condition.
Nina says helping your partner find the right therapist for them can ensure they have a trusted relationship with an objective party to help maintain and build on their progress.
Remember to enjoy time with each other
It’s easy to forget the pleasurable memories you’ve had with your spouse when managing health conditions takes so much of your time and energy. But it’s important to stay present, create space to enjoy each other’s company, have fun together, and continue to build your life.
“Every couple experiences highs and lows — spouses of those with bipolar disorder just get more heights and canyons to see,” says Nina.
Take care of yourself
Whether it’s a mental health or physical condition, taking care of a spouse, parent, or child can be taxing.
When supporting someone, you’ll want to have a self-care plan in place, where you put yourself first and make sure you get proper sleep, exercise, and downtime you need. Otherwise, you’ll burn out — or worse, feel resentful.
Choose activities that increase your energy and calm your emotions:
- Do an exercise you love like hiking, swimming, meditation.
- Find a hobby like reading or doing puzzles.
- Get away for me-time.
- Spend time in nature or with friends.
Ask for help when you need it
“Being in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder may be overwhelming at times,” says Nina. It’s OK — scratch that — vital to get an assist from online support groups, a therapist, or your spouse’s family if they’re privy to the diagnosis, whenever needed.
You may even consider marriage counseling to help you two meet the challenges and rise above them.
Marriage is less of a static institution and more of a living, breathing, organism: It grows healthy when we nourish and nurture it.
There may come a time when you need similar support, grace, and a proactive investment from your partner who’s also managing a chronic condition. Stay encouraged. A healthy bond is adaptable — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Don't Go Crazy: How Treatment Partners Help People with Bipolar Disorder
March 30 is celebrated as Bipolar Day around the world. With this disease, it is important to monitor mood changes, which can be difficult to do alone. The founder of the Bipolar Association, Masha Pushkina, has collected stories of people who are helped by treatment partners.
At the initiative of public organizations bringing together scientists, doctors and activists, every year on March 30, World Bipolar Day is celebrated. The date chosen was the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, an artist who, according to researchers, was the embodiment of a "bipolar genius."
With bipolar disorder, a person lives either in a state of high emotional uplift and excitement (mania), or in depression. According to world statistics, about 2% of people suffer from bipolar disorder in various forms. This means that in Russia there are at least three million bipolar people - this is about half of St. Petersburg.
In most cases, this condition responds well to medication. But, unfortunately, many do not seek help or do not know how to find it. Without treatment, the disease progresses and ultimately leads to sad consequences: loss of family, job, disability in general, and in almost every seventh case, suicide.
These consequences can be avoided. The peculiarity of bipolar disorder is that the onset of remission depends not only on the doctor and medications, but also on the behavior of the patient himself. Very often, bipolar people provoke seizures "with their own hands. " The mood of people with BAD (bipolar affective disorder. - Note ed. ) is very unstable, the balance is fragile, and mania or depression can be “started” in dozens of ways: the psyche is easily shaken by psychoactive substances, alcohol, lack of sleep, too intense work, travel and even love. So, a short time after the next course of treatment with powerful drugs, the person again ends up in the hospital. And each new attack reduces the chances of a long remission, affects social status, and even more painfully - self-esteem.
The experience of people with mental disorders around the world has proven that you are much more likely to cope with difficulties when you are supported by people who understand your problems and condition, but do not look at you as a patient. As practice shows, such a person can be not only a partner or close relative. An old friend, and even a person with whom you have never met in person, can help you get through the darkest times. Masha Pushkina, especially for Afisha Daily, spoke with several bipolar people about those in whom they found their support. The result is a story not about illness, but about friendship and trust, which can defeat even madness.
Yana, 31 years old
Housewife, collects books and is fond of confectionery
Purposefully, I didn't find out about the ways of support anywhere, everything turned out quite naturally. I have been sick for 15 years. The first person who looked after me was my best friend, and now it's my husband.
When my hypomania (a mild degree of mania, which is characterized by a constantly high mood. - Approx. ed. ) accelerated into a full-fledged mania (this state is also characterized by a one-sided attraction to some topic, sometimes accompanied by delirium. - Note ed. ), it became clear that I needed to be looked after. A friend began to pay attention to repetitive patterns of behavior in one phase or another, and we decided together to find out what helps in such cases. I think my friend was afraid to take responsibility for my condition, but she turned out to be generous and selfless. When I got married, a friend passed this knowledge on to her husband, and he already supplemented it, based on his own experience. The husband initially knew with whom he connects his life. He says it didn't scare him.
I have obsessions during my manic episodes. My husband does not argue with me at this time, but he also does not feed them, trying to redirect my stormy energy in a different direction. You can’t argue, because the result will be the opposite: I will finally get stuck on the idea, I will consider that I must prove it at all costs, even if the whole world is against me, and there are enemies and conspiracies around. If this does not help, the husband agrees to discuss all these things, but at the same time tries to slow down their implementation by offering to draw up a specific and detailed plan. Sometimes it takes me a long time.
For example, I always want to move somewhere. Right now, and why aren't we packing our things yet? My husband tries to make me write down what are the pros and cons of different cities, what attracts us to them. As a result, I sit for hours on different forums, make lists, think about how we will arrange our life, calculate the budget for different countries of the world. There is also a manic passion for travel, but after preparation, we usually implement these plans. And many years ago, in a fit of mania, I bought an apartment - with a mortgage, with hellish payments. Then it took a long time to resolve this situation, but, fortunately, everything worked out well.
My husband began to chart my mood. I also manage it, and we check the results so that they are objective. Quarrels due to the fact that the husband takes on the role of the elder often arise in the manic phase (never in depression). Then I become very suspicious, any attempts at control cause rage. But now the husband has learned from experience, so he does not react to attempts to unleash a conflict. With obvious attacks of rage and auto-aggression, he uses holding therapy (long strong hugs. - Note ed. ). We have seen this in autistic children, this is how their parents influence them.
When I'm depressed, he doesn't comfort me because it's pointless, but he tries to give reasonable arguments that this period has always ended and this time will also pass soon. We look at mood charts for the past months, discuss the duration of the attacks: two weeks have already passed and, judging by past experience, it should get better in a couple of weeks.
Such support from the husband helps in many ways. When I was being treated by two doctors, taking all the medicines, I didn’t have such support, everything was very bad. Over time, I stopped disappearing from home in a manic state and inflicting serious injuries on myself. All my super-ideas remain on paper in the form of graphs and tables, I don’t even have time to start putting them into practice, so that later I don’t have to deal with the consequences with the whole family.
Alisa, 27 years old
To be honest, I don't always find understanding from my healthy environment, I often faced condemnation, devaluation of problems. But from a person who has a similar experience, you won’t hear “don’t invent”, “you can’t feel so bad”, “take a walk and it will pass”.
It just so happens that my best friend also suffers from bipolar disorder. I did not look for support in specialized communities where patients communicate, we met by chance. My friend is much older, he has much more life experience, and he was able to become a real mentor for me. Not once did his actions worsen my condition - I hope that he can say the same about me.
When I'm on the rise, I feel uncomfortable when he tries to slow me down and reduce my passions. But as soon as this state passes and I again take a sober look at the situation, each time I thank him for trying to stop the revelry and disgrace. My friend himself is currently not being treated, but he never imposed his position on me, and when I turn to doctors, he supports me in this.
I told the doctor about this source of support - he is all for it. Before meeting a friend, I had suicidal attempts, but during the entire time of our communication I never tried to say goodbye to life. When you know that there is a person who will understand everything and share warmth (while even my own family repels me), that there is a place where you can come in any condition and where they will accept me without unnecessary questions and teachings, this is a source of great strength. and hope.
When I was expecting my second child, I was depressed. My husband did not yet fully understand the features of the disease and did not want to admit obvious things - this added problems, and my emotional state became extremely difficult. It seems that only thanks to the participation of my friend, I did not do anything to myself and successfully endured the pregnancy. The child was named after him.
Sergey, 49 years old
At the height of the depression, I was looking for any available support and ended up in an online group of anonymous debtors (people who have taken on large loans). One of the participants drew attention to my condition and said that I urgently need medical help. Despite the fact that she lives in the USA, we began to communicate regularly via Skype. Olga literally brought me to the hospital and helped me prepare for the treatment.
Americans are a pragmatic people, many young and healthy people have folders with wills and instructions in case of their death. They also approach mental difficulties calmly and thoroughly. It is common practice for the patient to draw up detailed instructions in advance. In the United States, there is a practice of issuing Treatment Agreements for people with mental illness (Treatment Contract). This document is needed so that family, friends and doctors recognize the symptoms of deterioration in time and take into account your experience and wishes in the treatment. Typically, such a document contains: a list of trusted people; signs of a normal state; signs of an approaching episode; symptoms of mania and depression; actions that trusted people should take to help a person get better and keep him from destructive acts; plan of action in case of an emergency (for example, a suicide attempt). who and what will be done in case of his hospitalization, so that he can be treated without anxiety for household chores.
In a period of severe depression, there is a struggle inside a person between the craving for death and the desire to live - and many external things can outweigh in one direction or another. Every clue is important to help you get out. It is very difficult for one to cope with all this.
I madly didn’t want to go to the hospital and wouldn’t have made up my mind myself, until the last I hoped that somehow everything would go away on its own. But under the supervision of a friend, I drew up a preparation plan: warn the customer at work, arrange to look after my cats. Reported to her about every step. But then he could no longer simply “escape” [from hospitalization], because he felt obliged to both her and the doctor. During depression, one's own life has no value, but the people dear to me, the promises made to them, do.
At the most difficult moment, Olga became my “outer brain”, which told me what to do when I didn’t understand anything myself. After I was discharged from the hospital, I turned to four friends for support. Usually we call each other once a week, I tell what my condition is. It is important not only to chat online, but also to hear the voice, you can understand a lot from it. Friends immediately pay attention, if I suddenly disappear and stop calling, then something is wrong.
I think it is possible to find such a person if you set yourself such a goal. Take a closer look at people in support groups, religious or other communities - those who understand what compassion and mutual assistance are. This must be an internally mature person, ready to take responsibility for you in a difficult situation. If this person has similar problems, then he will better understand your experiences. For this reason, relatives are far from always suitable: they themselves can panic, seeing how bad you feel, choke you with their anxiety, overprotection.
It is necessary to establish the frequency of communication and observe it. And of course, in no case should you parasitize on someone else's kindness. The support system works when you yourself take responsibility for your life, and do not outweigh it completely on another.
Anna and Valeriya, 21 years old
Anna: After a major depressive episode four years ago that almost ended in a suicide attempt, I started looking for information on [support]. I managed to find a guide in English for relatives and friends on how to behave with such a person. I have sent this list to all my friends so that they have an idea of what is happening to me. For the past few years, Lera has been monitoring my emotional state on a daily basis, and if, in her opinion, it goes beyond the norm, she tells me about it. Lera just asks every day how I'm doing, and if she sees that I'm reacting strangely, she wonders if something happened. At first, it was very difficult, because, in principle, I did not like to regularly share personal experiences. But by regularly receiving feedback, I can imagine the dynamics: do the pills help, how long do the side effects last, does the depressive phase go into a moderate and severe degree, do I lose my critical thinking during hypomania.
Valeria: We gradually established a very trusting relationship. Anya studied the topic of bipolar disorder up and down, and I read the articles that she sent me. The diagnosis did not change anything for me, because it remained the same. After that, we already discussed some formalities (for example, who to call in case of an emergency).
Anna: I asked Lera to watch for hypomanic manifestations in which I lose an adequate assessment of my actions: impulsive night walks, alcohol begin.
Valeria: My friend is a very responsible and conscious girl who takes care of herself, her health and her wallet. Before buying something expensive, she asks for my advice - and then we are already sorting out the situation. We can entrust accounts to each other and not worry. I also know where and to whom to run in cases of exacerbation.
Anna: I react badly to prohibitions and reminders of illness. Yes, I periodically have to turn to relatives for help, change treatment or take long breaks, but I expect mutual respect so that they don’t look at me through the prism of the disease.
When the mood is unstable, harsh phrases like “the disease speaks in you”, “these are not your real emotions” cause persistent rejection, even when they are true. The line between accepting a loved one's illness and identifying him with a diagnosis for healthy people is extremely thin. Therefore, those who were able to grope it deserve great respect.
Anna: In the last year, I go to see the doctor with my parents. When the doctor notices that I may not be able to do it alone, she duplicates the instructions and advice for them. I, in turn, am a friend. The doctor has repeatedly emphasized that the change of episodes is more noticeable from the outside.
Valeria: We don't have any kind of hierarchy in relationships, so there is no pressure when one makes decisions for another. This is not eating each other's emotional resources, but complementing and supporting.
Anna: The main danger in a relationship with a person with a serious illness is to fall into codependency. This format is equally bad for both the "controller" and the "subordinate". Unfortunately, I have been in such relationships before. It is worth maintaining mutual respect and treating each other as equals. Illness should not dominate a relationship. In difficult episodes, it temporarily comes to the fore, but you should always remember that you are not a disease.
Anna: I have memory problems: I don't remember some episodes. In such cases, I can ask Lera for help. If you remember the last weeks, then these are regular reminders to call the doctor. In mixed episodes, this becomes an acute problem, because I can suddenly change my mind or forget. Against the backdrop of a severe episode, I may develop psychosis, and this is the most dangerous thing in the disease. Thanks to our format, I manage to avoid such exacerbations almost always.
The advantages of observation from a loved one are an early response and the fact that he knows the patient's usual behavior very well and can notice even small changes. The main disadvantage is that normal friendly communication risks turning into constant monitoring of symptoms. Not every mentally healthy person is able to remain within the boundaries of reason.
It is important to agree in advance, before an attack, what is an undoubted sign of a worsening condition (for example, persistent insomnia), and what you do not need to pay special attention to (for example, loud indignation at something that you do not like). In a difficult situation, often a loved one begins to behave not as an equal, but as a “healthy” and “knowledgeable”. Not all relationships stand this test.
There is also a variant of "buddy" (when two people with mental disorders look after each other. - Note ed. ) - it is good precisely because it is the true request of the patient and more equal relations without mixing roles. But I don't know the buddy support system.
To choose a person you can rely on in a critical situation, take a closer look at your surroundings. Above all, a high level of trust is needed. Your assistant should be open to nonjudgmental and open dialogue and at the same time emotionally stable and resistant to stress.
Support is essential for every person - very often we as mental health professionals need it. And with bipolar disorder, this problem is especially acute. At the initial stages, those closest to you often ignore the presence of the disease, and friends advise you to either "pull yourself together" or, conversely, "relax", sometimes with the help of alcohol. When it becomes obvious to everyone that the “condition” will not go away on its own, urgent hospitalization is already required. The saved patient receives the "stigma".
Psychiatrists then make it the responsibility of the uninitiated next of kin (parent or spouse) to monitor any changes in the patient, and they really try to do so. At the level of "laughing out loud - hypomania has begun, upset - depression." As a result, psychiatrists begin to treat quite normal human emotions based on complaints from relatives... and the circle closes.
For this to change, mental health literacy must play a major role. Relatives, in order to be able to help, need to understand well what is happening with a loved one. In many, including state clinics, groups for training relatives either already exist or are being created.
The support of loved ones in case of emergency is especially important. In deep depression or mania, a person is not able to independently control his behavior, this decision is made by relatives, sometimes without his consent. In the case of bipolar disorder, this should be the last option when all others have been exhausted.
Love and bipolar disorder - Bipolar.su
How to maintain a relationship with a patient with bipolar disorder?
Managing any kind of romantic relationship, whether it be courtship or marriage, can be a very difficult task. And if bipolar disorder is also involved in the relationship, with its roller coaster mood swings, the relationship will become even more problematic and require a certain amount of tension.
Jim McNulty, 58, married in 1970. According to him, at first everything was just fine. The courtship looked absolutely normal, Jim and his wife got along very well. Then the mood swings started. During the manic phase of the illness, he could spend much more than he could afford. Then Jim's mood changed dramatically, and he was drowning in the abyss of depression. Such wild leaps had a negative effect on marriage and, moreover, began to threaten the complete ruin of the family.
In the end, Jim signed the house over to his wife to financially protect her and their two young children. The result of the struggle between love and illness was the victory of bipolar disorder. Jim's wife asked him to leave as she could no longer cope with her illness.
Relationships and Bipolar Disorder
When people decide to start a relationship, they hope for stability. But the manic-depressive psychosis of one of the partners can destroy such expectations and seriously complicate the relationship. A person, especially not treated, is prone not only to mood swings, but also to changes in personal qualities, relationships, which can jeopardize the constancy that is the basis of relationships.
In addition, not all sufferers of manic-depressive illness show distinct phases of mania and depression. But when such episodes occur, sufferers can give vent to their feelings and destroy relationships.
During a manic state, a person can lose his common sense, which will entail unreasonable spending, infidelity, alcohol and drug abuse, and even problems with the law are not ruled out. Therefore, the phase of mania in one of the spouses can be extremely detrimental to relationships, since the patient is capable of actions that threaten the financial condition of his partner and personally him and his health.
The other pole is depression. This state makes a person withdraw, abandon everyone and everything around him. Such moods are very upsetting for the partner, because he is trying to pull the patient out of his shell, but has practically no chance of doing so.
For those who have a partner with bipolar disorder, we recommend reading the book “Why is it so difficult to be with you. How to love people with neurosis, depression and bipolar disorder.
Dating, love and bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder can be a problem early in a relationship. When you first meet someone you like, it's natural to want to make a good impression. Therefore, immediately reporting an existing illness will not be the best solution for a favorable start to a relationship. There is always a fear that by such a confession you can scare a person away and lose the opportunity to meet someone else. On the other hand, you still have to let your partner know about your illness.
Doctors advise not to talk about your psychiatric problems on the first date. But if you feel that the attraction is mutual, you want a serious relationship with this particular person, you need to dot the i's.
Knowing what can trigger cycles of hypomania, mania, and depression, and paying attention to warning signs that you are entering a new phase of your cycle can go a long way in helping you avoid unpleasant situations in new relationships. After all, the more the patient is aware of the features of the manifestation of his cycles, the greater the responsibility he will be able to take on. Some common symptoms of upcoming changes in mood include restless sleep and increased or decreased activity levels.
Marriage and Bipolar Disorder
Events ranging from work stress to financial problems can lead to strife and friction in a marriage. But when one of the spouses has a manic-depressive psychosis, minor stress factors become enormous. This explains why at least 90% of marriages where one of the partners suffers from bipolar disorder eventually break up.
Jim McNulty witnessed the destruction of not only his own marriage, but also the marriages of many other patients. He led a cheerleading team for almost 19years. During this period, he met a dozen couples who came to the meetings of a group of people whose relationships were torn to shreds. Jim believes that bipolar disorder puts a lot of extra strain on a relationship, especially if the person is unaware of their condition and has not been diagnosed.
How to make relationships better?
It's really hard to have a love relationship when you're suffering from bipolar disorder. But not impossible. To save a relationship, and subsequently marriage, requires constant work on yourself by both partners.
The first step to take is to see a doctor and treat the disease. Your doctor may prescribe mood-stabilizing drugs, such as lithium medications and antidepressants, to help relieve your symptoms. Therapy with a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker is also important. Thanks to this treatment, you can learn to control your behavior, which brings stress to your partner. If your spouse agrees to go through the entire course of treatment with you, this will help him or her better understand the reasons for your actions and learn how to respond to mood swings in the right way.
In addition, if your spouse is directly involved in your treatment, this will bring the couple even closer.
Although you may want to climb into your cocoon when you are depressed, and when you are manic you feel like the king of the world, it is important to be able to accept help when it is offered. It can be useful to draw up a contract that states in advance under what circumstances and in what condition you will agree to help from your partner.