Falling in love with someone is such a magical and intense feeling. You get butterflies and all tongue tied around the person, and most of all you want to spend every single moment you can with them. You feel incredibly great when you begin a new relationship. It’s the best feeling in the world. The anticipation, the dating, the flirting, the endless phone calls and texts, and so on. It’s all romance. There’s fireworks and sparkles and everything is happiness on wheels. That’s what we call the “honeymoon” stage in a relationship, but having bipolar disorder and starting a relationship can be kind of intimidating. Your first thoughts are, “When should I tell them?”, “How will they react?”, ” Will they still look at me the same way?” etc etc. Yes, it can be totally scary, and most of the time we want to keep it a secret for as long as we can. I would know, I almost always try to hide my status. The negative thoughts pile in and I can’t imagine a happy ending. But we all know that sooner or later we have to face the music. My advise: the best thing to do is be honest from the get-go. It’s your best chance of success in having the right kind of relationship.
Having mood swings can cause extreme changes in behavior (as we all know) lol. When someone is experiencing mania, they usually have an unusual amount of energy and sometimes sleeping isn’t a factor. When someone is depressed, they can seem tired and sad and may not want to go out or do anything. When I first started my relationship, I had cancelled several dates with my significant other, making excuses as to why I couldn’t make it, when really I was just severely depressed.
In any relationship, communication is significantly important. It’s probably the most vital part of any healthy relationship. So, keeping your disorder a secret is not the best idea, especially if you want this to last. Don’t be afraid! If this person really likes you, it probably isn’t just because of one thing. Being vulnerable and open with someone allows someone into your life. I know this is scary as hell, but at least you will have the courage to start your relationship based on honesty. If they don’t want to date you anymore after that, they weren’t for you. Remember having bipolar disorder doesn’t define you as an individual and if someone can’t see past that – well then – it’s their loss. And, I know that all of this seems so much easier to say than to do. I have been there, guilty as charged. I usually want to wait until I know for sure that they are going to stick around before telling them, however like I said before making excuses as to why I couldn’t go on dates caused me to be more depressed and also left my partner in the dark, feeling unwanted.
Having bipolar disorder can take a toll on any relationship, especially a romantic one. Here are a few things you can do so that your relationship starts with a bang and ends with a hit. (Wink, wink.)
First: Tell your partner about your disorder. Get it done before you actually commit to a long term relationship. I’m not saying tell them on the first date, but do it as soon as you can before it gets “serious.” Describe to them in full detail what they can and should expect when you’re experiencing mood shifts. It’s also helpful to tell them what you do to help yourself manage these swings. This helps because your partner won’t be in total shock when you’re actually experiencing a mood episode and maybe they can even help you get through it. In my past relationships, I hid my disorder. I was totally ashamed. I didn’t want anyone to know, not my friends, not my family, and certainly not the person I was dating. It caused major issues in my personal life because no one understood why I was happy one minute and totally miserable the next, or why I cancelled on plans that I was so excited to make. Not having a line of communication failed all of those romantic relationships, some friendships, but my family loved me either way. Regardless, hiding it only made things worse. That I can certainly promise you. Get it over with as soon as you can. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. Just do it!
Second: The best way to reduce your relationship stress is by sticking to your treatment plan. That helps to minimize your symptoms and reduce the severity of your mood swings. You can also discuss your treatment plan with your significant other so they can help keep you on track. For instance, sometimes I forget to take my medications before bed and my girlfriend reminds me. Maybe to some that’s not really a big deal, but missing medications is, so I am thankful for that. She helps me a lot with my treatment plan, like forcing me to go to bed early so I’m not moody the next day. Your partner can help you in so many ways.
Third: Be as open as you can be about your mood shifts. I do not wanna sound like a broken record, but it’s so important to keep a open line of communication with your partner. Communicating can also prevent your partner from not getting so alarmed by the sudden changes in your demeanor. It also helps to have an open mind and listen to their input. They may notice you being “different” even when you don’t notice it. Listen to them. Sometimes we don’t notice that our moods are shifting, we don’t see it, but our loved ones can. Don’t get upset, offended, or feel some type of negative way about this. It’s a good thing. My partner often lets me know when I’m being snappy and have an attitude like I am mad at the world. It gets on my nerves secretly, however it also lets me know to take a step back, breathe, count to three and let go of whatever is nagging at me. Of course I have to inhale a cigarette during this time lol (not advising anyone to smoke, I’m a heavy smoker.)
Last but not least: Honesty is the best policy. Yes, it’s a cliche, but truly one that applies. In our cases we have to be honest about our episodes. Sometimes the episodes are so severe that the struggle may be too much to bear. Don’t shy away from asking your partner for help if you need it. For instance, let’s say you’re extremely depressed and you just don’t want to leave your house, your bed, your comfort zone. Explain to your significant other exactly how you’re feeling, instead of making excuses about needing to stay home. I have done this so many times, honestly I have lost track of how many. Eventually you will run out of excuses and when they notice you’ll have a deal with some type of negative conversation that could have been avoided. So, speak up! Let them know. “I want to stay in bed today love.” Maybe they will offer to come and keep you company and try to make you feel better, if you’re as lucky as I am. My partner just doesn’t leave me alone hahaha (love don’t kill me). Just kidding.
As hard as it all may be for us who have bipolar disorder we also have to acknowledge how hard it is for our significant other. We can’t only think about our feelings, because theirs matter too, and being with someone with a mood disorder can’t be a walk in the park. I sometimes think “Alisa I wouldn’t be able to handle you, not for a second.” And, unfortunately it’s true, it’s not easy for them either.
Here’s some tips for your partner:
1. Educate yourself. The very first thing they should do is do some research. Reading about the condition so that they can have a better understanding with what they will actually be dealing with, and what we will be dealing with as well. They need to know. It was the very first thing my partner did when I told her. She went out and brought about five books on bipolar disorder and how to love someone with the disorder. She prepared herself and knew exactly what she was getting herself into. And even though it’s tough to grasp the concept of the situation, she wanted to be with me, so she read all she could and it helped me, just as much as her, in more than one way. She is probably the main reason I became so open about bipolar disorder and why I still till this very day do so much research on it. Even though I know the disorder like the back of my hand, science is always advancing, like anything else in life… it’s important to stay updated.
Next: It’s okay for your partner to ask about your experiences. They can ask questions like how we act during certain episodes and what we do to manage our moods. It’s also beneficial for them to ask us what they can do for us. If they can help in any way during an episode. It shows us that they really care about us first and foremost, and it teaches them how to act and react to our moods that way we don’t clash and have a nasty argument. Those are the worst. Even today, sometimes my partner and I just clash because of my mood swings and it’s not her fault, but sometimes I wish she would speak to me differently knowing certain things trigger me. Anyways, we are working on it, not everything is perfect and I’m not out here trying to make it seem like it is. (Though she will say I am perfect to her).
Third: It’s important for your partner to learn to be patient. Dealing with mood swings can be highly frustrating. Sometimes they can and will interfere with your dating plans and that alone can upset anyone, but they have to remember it’s the condition – not their partner that’s causing these frustrations. It’s alright if they take a break away if they need one. For instance, take a walk around the block or spend a weekend with their friends. Personally, if my love one needed it, I would understand and support her decision, after all she has to deal with my shit on a daily basis. Let them have some fun with their friends and take a breather.
This is important: Your partner needs to be open. Speaking openly and honestly with us is a must. Telling us how they feel, whatever that may be, as long as they never blame us or make us feel bad about our disorder. Supporting us is just as important as communication. It comes hand in hand. We need the support of our partner. Their support can help us stick to our treatment plan, and that to us is crucial. I honestly love having support from my partner. It makes me feel like I am not alone in this. It’s a hard disorder, and sometimes I have really hard days and the little things she does for me go a long way. Like she will bring me my favorite flowers to make me smile, or order me Carvel ice cream so we can have it in bed while watching movies. Distracting me from an episode of my depression makes my day easier. There is nothing like support. Whether it’s from family, friends, or lovers… as human beings we need it and I am grateful to have It.
Last but not least: Your partner also needs support. Like I mentioned previously dealing with our disorder isn’t a walk in the park. It can actually feel like you’re on an frantic rollercoaster and you’re about to fly out of your seat. It’s scary, frustrating, and can take a toll on them emotionally if not mentally. They need their family, friends, and loved ones just as much as we do. They need a way to cope with our condition and the effect it may have on the relationship. Getting encouragement and advice can help your partner feel better. And you should remember for yourself – they love you no matter what! Because, they do! Sometimes they just need a little reminder, especially during the hard times.
Love, relationships, and bipolar disorder is one giant glass of chaos and indescribable life. It is full of light and darkness. It’s full of ups and downs. It’s full of crazy, impossible, and intense feelings, but with the right partner, it’s impeccable and worth it. I don’t know everything about love or relationships, but i know this disorder and I know it is not easy. I also know that with the right partner it can be a Disney princess movie. I am her Belle and she is my Beast (sometimes mid week – depending on my mood – we will change roles lol). I have had a lot of failed relationships because they didn’t take initiative to learn about this disorder and how to support me. I failed as well because I couldn’t control my moods, but I realized those people weren’t for me. The moment you meet someone and tell them you have bipolar disorder and they actually read up about it and communicate with you on how you will move forward together as a team – you’ll know you found the one. At least that’s how I knew.
Remember, this disorder doesn’t just affect you, it affects your partner, so meet them halfway, be just as patient, just as loving and you will be a Disney princess and have a fairytale ending.
That’s all for tonight folks, thanks for reading! Comments are welcomed as always. Have a blessed night everyone, including all you lovers.