Ups and downs are a normal part of every relationship. While most couples have their disagreements and rough patches, dating someone who has bipolar disorder can sometimes feel like riding an emotional rollercoaster. In no way does this mean you can’t find happiness together; like any other condition, bipolar disorder is just a part of your partner’s life.
If you’re dating someone with this diagnosis, the strength of your relationship will be built in part on your ability to understand why they may become withdrawn or act out. This is the foundation of being a supportive partner, and it can help the two of you create a bond built on trust and mutual acceptance. To begin, learn exactly what bipolar disorder entails and how it affects the person you love.
A person with bipolar disorder experiences intense changes in mood in two directions: “up”, or manic episodes, and “down”, or depressive episodes. When in a manic state, a person can feel full of energy and enthusiasm. Intense mania can also include aggression and delusion. The depressive side of bipolar appears much like clinical depression and can include symptoms like lethargy, lack of enjoyment in life, despair, isolation, and suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Its origin is unclear, and while genetic factors may play a role, no one gene causes it to appear. While it can’t be cured outright, bipolar disorder can be managed effectively through treatment and care, allowing a person with it to live a healthy, happy life.
There are two major variants of bipolar disorder, referred to as I and II. Bipolar I entails more severe symptoms, particularly in mania, and is defined by manic episodes that last for at least seven days at a time. Manic episodes can include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, impaired judgment, and inflated confidence. Symptoms can become intense enough to warrant hospitalization or psychiatric intervention. A person with bipolar I may be prone to destructive behavior like substance abuse, gambling, or risky sexual activity.
Bipolar II is characterized by hypomania, a less extreme form of the full-blown mania of bipolar I. Hypomania may present more subtly as feeling energetic, mentally quick, and more productive, or it may simply appear as a decidedly good mood. In contrast, both forms of bipolar disorder entail relatively equal degrees of depression. People with bipolar II may not even realize that their hypomania is a symptom, and may only reach out for help because of their depressive episodes. This can cause a person with bipolar II to think they’re just depressed, making it less straightforward to obtain an accurate diagnosis and receive effective treatment.
Bipolar is commonly treated with a combination of medication and therapy, depending on the individual case. Several medication options have proven successful in leveling out the condition’s intense emotions. Treating bipolar disorder can be more difficult if your partner doesn’t want to let go of the increased productivity, creativity, and euphoria that may accompany their hypomanic or manic episodes. While each person is unique, medical knowledge indicates that people with bipolar disorder tend to function best when actively receiving consistent treatment. Even if it seems like an intensely personal decision, consider talking openly with your partner about the level of care they choose to receive. Your support and perspective may help them to make more informed and balanced decisions concerning their long-term wellness.
Like any other medical condition, bipolar disorder may affect the relationship you share with your partner. It can help to understand exactly why your partner’s mood swings occur and how they affect behavior. Communication is key; the more openly you can discuss and address it together, the better. If you’re both comfortable, you might join your partner for their psychiatry or therapy appointments. Gaining a medical perspective of your partner’s internal challenges can help you understand the way they manifest in your relationship. It is important to learn to forgive behavior that stems from an altered mood state and to set boundaries that keep you both feeling safe and respected. Being a part of your loved one’s therapeutic process may even improve their care: as their partner, you are especially close to their mind, so you may be able to help their therapist gain deeper insight into their progress.
No matter how invested you are in your relationship, it’s important to practice self-care. Take advantage of your greater involvement in mental health awareness to look after your own wellness with an equally compassionate eye. Most people can benefit from therapy, so don’t hesitate to care for yourself. Maintaining your mental health will help keep you steady in times of difficulty and let you assist your partner to your fullest abilities.
Like other lifelong conditions, dating someone with bipolar disorder can have an impact on your relationship. The most helpful thing you can do is maintain open, honest communication about any issues that your partner’s condition may cause and how you can work together to address them. Putting in the effort to understand what they’re going through will help you to build a bond of trust and support with the person you love. If you or a loved one are living with bipolar disorder, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Kimberly Center, located in beautiful Fort Myers, Florida, offers comprehensive treatment and resources for those struggling with mental illness, addiction, and personal wellness. Whether you’re getting help for the first time or are simply ready to make a positive change that lasts, powerful professional care can transform your experience and improve your life. To learn more about how our services can help you, call us at (855) 452-3683.