You can definitely have a happy relationship with a partner who has bipolar. Although it can bring about certain challenges, it can also be rewarding as you support your partner to battle their symptoms.
This post will look at some of the potential problems in a bipolar relationship and look at effective ways of managing them successfully.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a common mental illness marked by swings between depression and mania. There are two types of bipolar disorder, creatively called bipolar 1 and bipolar 2.
The more extreme type of bipolar is bipolar 1. The manic episodes can sometimes require hospitalization for safety. Often these manic episodes will lead to impulsive behaviors such as gambling, excessive spending, drug use and being promiscuous and having unprotected sex.
People with bipolar 2 also experience manic episodes, however they are less extreme than those with bipolar 1. They still experience increased energy and drive from the mania, and they can also engage in risky behaviors just like with bipolar 1. As noted, these behaviors are usually less extreme than those with bipolar 1.
Why Bipolar Relationships Fail
It can be very difficult to maintain a happy and healthy relationship when one partner has bipolar. When depressed, the partner can often withdraw from the relationship and communicate less with the other person.
When manic, it can lead to other problems such as excessive spending or gambling which can put a strain on the relationship. It can even lead to cheating, which is detailed further down the page, which can be the cause of the relationship ending altogether.
The good news is that with the right treatment, a solid relationship can still be maintained. It just requires more work and also requires the person with bipolar to stick to their treatment plan, including staying on their prescribed medication such as mood stabilizers.
How To Deal With Someone Who Is Bipolar And Angry
Anger is a common symptom associated with the mood swings of bipolar. If your partner is bipolar and is having anger issues you can follow these tips:
Stay calm and talk slowly and clearly to your partner
Do not argue when they are being irrational
Try to stay in control and not respond emotionally
Establish your boundaries and limits calmly and do not give in to all of their demands
Make sure they have a clear exit or way of escaping if they need to
Acknowledge their feelings and express your willingness to understand them
Do not touch them without their permission as this may trigger an angry response
Help them. If they are not sure what to do then help them to figure it out. You may also have a plan in place beforehand for when these situations arise.
What To Do When Bipolar Partner Ignores You
It is not uncommon for a person with bipolar disorder to shut off all communication with people as they struggle with their mood swings. This includes the people who are closest to them.
It is important to remember that this is usually a symptom of the bipolar rather than a sign that something is wrong with you or your relationship. Sometimes, the person with bipolar will close off to their loved ones in order to protect them from having to experience the ups and downs of bipolar.
When it does happen, it may be a sign that something is changing in their mood cycle and may be an indication that mania or depression is beginning. Be aware of the symptoms they normally show and watch out for the warning signs.
Make sure you allow your partner the space for them to process their feelings. Usually, them ignoring you is just a temporary phase, so it is important to be patient with them. Surround them with a positive attitude and make sure they know that as soon as they are ready you are available to talk about things with them.
Bipolar And Cheating
During periods of mania, a person with bipolar will often experience a significant increase in sex drive called hypersexuality. This may extend to cheating and engaging in risky behaviors like unprotected sex.
It is important to note that being bipolar does not mean that person will cheat. The bipolar just makes them more likely to do it. It is also important for the person with bipolar to take responsibility for their actions, even if they were driven by the symptoms of their illness. Being bipolar does not give you an excuse to cheat on your partner and it is difficult to remain in a relationship with someone who engages in this behavior while manic and hypersexual. It is especially difficult if the person refuses to accept responsibility and only blames their illness for what they have done.
It is also important for the partner to understand that the cheating was not a sign that something is wrong in their relationship. It is a common symptom for those with bipolar, however that does not mean that you should excuse the behavior altogether and blame it on the illness.
Help is always available from your doctor or medical professional where you can openly discuss things like this and look at ways to avoid it happening again.
Bipolar Disorder Saying Hurtful Things
When someone is struggling with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, it is common for them to have angry outbursts and say hurtful things. But just because it is a common symptom, does not mean it is an acceptable behavior or should be excused as part of the bipolar. It is important to understand that is where it is coming from, but it in no way excuses the behavior, the same as cheating should not be excused because of bipolar.
While it can be hard to do, it is important to try not to take it personally when the person with bipolar is saying hurtful things. You need to recognize it as part of their bipolar, and help them to get the proper treatment for what is going on.
Help For Both Partners In A Bipolar Relationship
I was misdiagnosed with bipolar several years ago. I had a reaction to a medication that made me slightly manic, so my psychiatrist diagnosed me as bipolar and put me on mood stabilizers. The truth of it is, I am not and have never been bipolar. I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but not bipolar. I have been in a bipolar relationship which ultimately didn’t work out, but we have remained friends to this day. I learned a lot about living in a bipolar relationship from that experience.
In order to survive bipolar together, it means you should have a treatment plan in place together. Don’t wait for symptoms to start appearing and then trying to treat them as they come up. This is likely to fail. Instead, and with the help of your doctor, have a plan in place for what you will do if various symptoms start appearing. It may mean frequent hospital stays and constant medication, but if you have already determined that is what is needed beforehand, then you must stick to that plan.
The good thing is that it is not all doom and gloom with bipolar. There will be plenty of time spent when the bipolar partner is not overwhelmed by their symptoms. It is at these stages that you can work on your relationship and your mental health together.
I have personally used a technique called CBT a lot to help with my mental health and I also try to teach it to my kids as often as I can. It is great not just for dealing with depression, but improving the way anyone thinks and processes things, whether they have a mental illness or not. It can certainly help the partner of someone with bipolar to think and process their thoughts and feelings in a much healthier way that can only help their relationship further.
My preferred resource for CBT is a product called Destroy Depression. It contains 7 steps for treating depression, but also has a large part of it dedicated to learning and putting into practice CBT. If you use the link below to purchase, I will make a small commission from it, which helps to keep the website running. I only recommend 2 products on my website, and that is because I need to have bought them and used them successfully in order to recommend them.