I love someone who has Biplolar II. Yes there is more than one kind. My sister has a friend with Biplolar I. You can learn a lot about this disorder if you read Bp Hope magazine. This writer does an exceptional job of telling you what it is like to live with this disorder: https://www.bphope.com/blog/whats-living-with-bipolar-disorder-like/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hh-headlines&utm_content=Best+-+Jan12+-+BPLike+-+LATUDA
I would like to just touch on what it is like to love someone with this disorder. Bipolar was formerly called manic-depression for a while. It is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration and just being able to live “normally” day by day. For the longest time people thought there was only one kind of Biplolar. Me too. Then someone I love was diagnosed with Bipolar II. I have since then learned there is also one called Cyclothymia. I’ll let you Google all those for yourself. It is a hellish disorder and a terrible thing to inherit genetically. Loving someone with any of these disorders is tough. I am no hero for loving this person – it is a conscious choice. Plenty of family estrangement, divorce, abandonment, alienation, disownment and abandonment of adopted children happen because of this very complicated disorder. I do not judge anyone that has participated in any sort of separation because of Bipolar. Everyone has to make his/her own decisions about who is allowed in their lives.
When you first meet someone you do not know the baggage they carry. You sometimes get a glimpse but many times you don’t find out until you are deeply in a relationship as the parent, child or spouse. What can one do then? Yes, you can abandon them, you can let them know you can not be a part of their lives or you can stay with them. Not one decision is the best for everyone. It is truly a case by case scenario. For instance, in my case because the person I love is in “recovery” I can still love and be around this person. The scariest time to be around a Bipolar is when he/she is in crisis. It looks exactly like being around an abusive person. Once he/she is diagnosed and is willing to seek psychotherapy, medication and/or other therapies you can have a wonderful relationship with that person. These treatments and other things like regular exercise, a healthy diet and journaling can “normalize” a person who suffers from this treacherous disorder. They will never be normal but really who is? LOL
While loving someone with Bipolar is difficult it can also be rewarding. These very people are brilliant, creative, funny (or think they are), talented, loving and interesting. They are more likely to seek help when they are depressed which means when they are in mania they are harder to tolerate as they will feel like they are more important than they are and they are right about everything and you are just standing in their way. This stage is temporary. If they are properly diagnosed, medicated and seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist all their stages are shorter. If you can make it through these times, you can still love a person with Bipolar. It is hard work though.
You have to decide for yourself if you want to be in the life of a Biplolar person. No one can tell you if it is right for you. Do not feel guilty if you have left a Bipolar wife or if you have broken up with a Bipolar boyfriend. If you felt that the safest thing for your family was to not invite your Bipolar Uncle to any holidays it is okay. Everyone must do what they can to live their healthiest lifestyles. I am no saint for choosing to continue to love someone with Bipolar. I am no hero. I’m just me. It took many years for me to come to the decision. I toyed with the idea of distancing myself as well. It is HARD to love someone with this disorder. In the end though, I decided as long as there is work being done in recovery, medication is being taken, therapy is attended and there is obvious attempts at self improvement I could have this person be a part of my life. I do stand up for myself and will take time away alone to strengthen. I go to therapy as well. I have a wonderful group of friends who know this person and are supportive.
Bipolar sufferers deserve and need love. However, you must protect your own heart first. Remember that communication is essential in your relationship. You must realize your person has a brain-based disorder but is also an equal and not someone to pity. Try to have shared goals and talk openly about coping strategies. It is absolutely acceptable to tell your Bipolar person that you need some time to yourself or that their BEHAVIOR is unacceptable. You must be patient however as you may have to wait as their particular phase may need time to pass. You must be able to accept a new “normal” if you love a Bipolar someone. The loss of a life imagined is one to be mourned – life is not going to be like tv shows for you. You will have to make adjustments and make sure you have other people who can care for you in your circle. Mental illness is draining for the sufferer and the caretaker. You may feel like your own identity is being forgotten. You may feel like your own health is declining because of the one you love. Self care is key when you love a Bipolar. While it will be hard, you have to manage your care even more diligently. When I was caring for my father who had Stage 4 lung cancer it was a particularly difficult time. When he passed away I experienced my first bout of real depression. I had to be medicated to pull out of the funk. After a few months I was able to come back to myself and I found I could have much more empathy for my Bipolar person. My depression was temporary and it was painful. I could not imagine having this depression for all of my life. I feel I am much more patient now about it. I hate that it took something like this for me to “get” it but it did and I am better for it.
Bipolar is manageable but it takes work – hard work from the sufferer and the caretaker and anyone who loves that person. All loving relationships take time and effort – we know this. However, Bipolar relationships are extra tough. Find a good therapist and have friends who understand you are not going to leave your person and they are going to hear about some of the same problems over and over. Make sure they understand you are CHOOSING to love your Bipolar person and that you are not “stuck” in the relationship. Together, you can have a happy successful relationship. So if you love a Bipolar person, know that I get it and reach out to me if you want to share. If you have left a Bipolar person, know that it was the best decision for you and for that person ultimately – do not live in guilt but move on and have a happy heart. Whatever situation you are in, I hope you are safe and content.