Table of Contents
Bipolar disorder is surprisingly common. Chances are you know someone at work or the gym or the neighborhood where you grew up that has it. It can be made manageable through medicine and therapy. If you happen to be dating someone with bipolar disorder here are some tips to help you.
1. Notice their strengths.
The intense zeal for life or passion of your significant other may be what attracted you to them. You may have been drawn to their sensitive and caring heart. These may be the strengths of the disorder that they suffer. Many mental health clinicians have the opinion that Bipolar Disorder is over diagnosed when often major life stressors or past events that need to be addressed in therapy play a bigger role than we know in the disease; do not dismiss them for their weaknesses if you are captivated by their strengths.
Another common positive trait among those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder which is depicted in many books is how gifted they are and how strong their imaginations are. The last thing you want to do is put a label on someone you really enjoy when they tell you they have bipolar disorder. Although you do need to be realistic, especially if you consider marrying this person. There is a balance in all things.
2. Utilize a therapist if you are considering marriage.
If you find that your significant other leans too much on you between the high highs and low lows that characterize Bipolar Disorder you may want to suggest that they see their therapist more often. If you have been in a relationship for a long time or have been considering making the commitment to marriage you may even want to go with them to their counseling sometime. There is a lot you can learn from this person and if they have a great therapist with whom they meet weekly it is not always hard for the significant other to manage. Another option is also considering couples counseling or marriage counseling to work on the foundation of your relationship.
3. Have an open conversation with them without judgment.
As stated before, people with Bipolar Disorder can be some of the most sensitive and fun people alive. If they are comfortable talking to you about the condition, and if you are comfortable listening, it could solidify your relationship. If you are not comfortable with that type of thing, that’s okay also. It’s also important not to go into diagnosing your partner with bipolar disorder if they have not told you they have it. If they are sad one week because they lost their cat and on a high another week because they have gone skydiving, that does not necessarily mean they have bipolar disorder. Sufferers of Bipolar Disorder do tend to swing between these two extremes of mania and depression spells but those are typically more severe. An example of mania would be going a few days without sleep and a depressive spell may mirror depression you have only seen in the movies, not just being disheartened.
4. Be hopeful but realistic.
There is hope for people with Bipolar Disorder. It can be treated effectively through counseling and sometimes goes away. I have a friend who used to have it and does not have it anymore. It can often be controlled by a healthful lifestyle including healthy exercise, sleep, nutrition, and supportive relationships. Your boyfriend or girlfriend is lucky to have you in his or her life and chances are you are lucky to have them too. Clearly, there are some extreme examples where you may feel the need to end the relationship and that you cannot deal with this, but these types of things can happen to anyone. None of us are completely immune.
5. Read and stay informed.
If you would like more extensive information on this topic, especially if you are considering marriage, Cynthia Last has some great books on bipolar disorder. Premarital counseling is recommended if you are considering marriage, as committed relationships with individuals who truly do have bipolar disorder can be challenging. As mentioned above, they must have a true diagnosis of Bipolar. People with bipolar are known to self-harm and may test your patience. You may not be able to “fix” the problem and there may be more drama than normal; this is not to say that you should not marry someone with Bipolar Disorder or that if you have Bipolar Disorder you should not get married. It just opens up a space where premarital counseling would often be considered helpful. You may be drawn to the strengths of your partner and find you are willing to support them in their struggles and hopeful healing through therapy.
The diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder has increased greatly over the past ten years. Being informed about the disease is a good idea for the general public and especially those dating someone with this disorder. If you find you are madly in love with someone who tells you they have this disorder and you are considering a more serious relationship you can even attend therapy with them and talk to their therapist. Keeping informed through reading, keeping a non-judgmental tone when conversing with them about the disorder, and remaining hopeful yet realistic are all key. Their strengths may mesmerize you so much that you cannot find another individual by whom you are so captivated. You may decide you don’t mind being around their struggle if they have a good therapist who they see weekly.