Dating Someone Bipolar

posted 1 month ago in Relationships
Post # 31
Member
10193 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2010

sweetdee89 :  

Again, the biggest issue for me would be whether he is in treatment and faithfully taking his meds.

Many people who struggle with bipolar do very well with symptom management, as long as they are religious about treatment, and that is going to include a lifetime of meds. The same is true with diabetics and other disorders.

 Bipolar is one disorder that we know for sure is all about biochemistry.

Fortunately, we now have 50+ bipolar meds available, with new ones coming down the pipeline.  There is typically a trial and error period, to find the right med and proper dose.  This can be hellish. But, it’s worth it if stabilization can be achieved.

The other tidbit I would really push for is how that diagnosis came to be.  How did he end up in front of a mental health professional qualified to give that diagnosis?  What type of evaluation was done?  Testing?  Recommendations for treatment?

Did he just wake up one day and decide that today is the day to get evaluated?  Or, was it mandated by some authority?  Or mandated by a family member/gf? Employer? At the suggestion of a prior therapist?  This is crucial to know.

It may seem like I’m harping.  I am.  But, only because bipolar is a very serious disorder. It’s potentially quite manageable with proper treatment; but, very serious, nonetheless.

Everything I am suggesting is information that will give you a much clearer picture of who this guy really is before you invest further.

I would not rely 100% on self reporting.  Or the observations of people in his close orbit.

Please do not let anyone minimize the seriousness of this condition. Everyone’s story may be different, but, none of it changes the facts.

For your own peace of mind, be willing to ask the hard questions.

Post # 33
Member
1971 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

Just remember that you are his girlfriend—not his psychiatrist. It isn’t your job to manage his moods. I see some comments from you that you really want to help him when he is struggling; however, it also sounds like you just started dating him! 

My mom has bipolar I, and it was very hard for me growing up. I know I tried to “fix” her way too much. I had to learn to let go. If she’s in danger of hurting herself and others, I call the professionals. Otherwise, I have to step back. I’m not her psychiatrist or therapist. I can’t fix her and I certainly don’t have a magic wand to wave to make everything better for her.

The most important thing if you’re close to someone with a severe mental illness is to take care of yourself. Practice self care. 

 

Post # 35
Member
723 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

I’m glad to see someone like you who is not put off by dating someone with a bipolar diagnosis. I have Bridal Party1 and have been exceptionally stable for years now. I mean, there’s always the chance something can happen, but that’s true for pretty much everyone. You’ve gotten plenty of advice here. I certainly agree with some of it, but for right now you’re at the start of a relationship and seem very self aware. I would worry if you were the type to get wrapped up in a person right away, but you don’t sound like that. My two cents would be to not worry about the diagnosis and just date the person, not the illness. If the illness decides to present itself before you two get serious, make a judgement call based on your comfort level at that time. Down the road, if and when you two consider getting serious, I’d have a much more extensive talk with him about it. 

FWIW, here’s quick answers to your initial questions from a 30 something married with children Bridal Party1 sufferer.

What is it like with the high/lows?

Highs for me are an excess of energy – picture someone slightly tripping on an upper in a movie (fast speech, lots of movement, not much sleep, easily distracted, very purpose driven but maybe without the results you’d expect, fairly spend happy). if it gets bad, particularly the lack of sleep or pressure to keep up with job expectations, I can have psychotic breaks which are a whole different story. I was fortunately able to quit my job to protect my mental health and am a stay at home mom.

Lows for Bridal Party1 tend to follow as the inevitable crash from a high – those lows are the worst and present like bad depression but with huge exhaustion and all the consequences of the mania hitting you in the face which tends to compound things. It can be hard to keep self esteem and escape the low because all of a sudden you’re lucid again and can realize all the things you did. Lows can also surface on their own and those tend to present like more garden variety depression.

What do you do/act differently in each one? I think I answered that.

What do you do/does your partner do for you to help you through the lows? Meets me where I’m at. No pressure to do more than what I feel up to. Celebrate all the successes. Lots of familiar comforting go-tos. Keeps the house running if I slack on my share of the work. Doesn’t comment on the lack of productivity that will inevitably result from very low energy. Says nice things.

Based on your reports, the only confusing thing I see is that he mentions he has been up for 8 months now?(!) Yowza. That’s a long time to be riding a high – unless that’s how he describes his baseline state and has a different term for mania. If he isn’t currently at a baseline state, be aware that he will likely present as a fairly different person in a lot of ways (humor, energy, drive, chosen activities, attention span, etc.) when he does come off this high. 

Post # 37
Member
723 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

sweetdee89 :  Absolutely! https://www.heraldnet.com/life/she-destigmatizes-bipolar-disorder-with-her-graphic-nonfiction/ The merry go round illustration is really helpful to understand things. Most people hover around a safe middle baseline, they have ups and downs, but there’s no real significant deviation from the mean and there’s always that basic sense of self telling them that bad days have sunny tomorrows and so on and so forth. People with bipolar 1 absolutely have that happy medium and it can last for years, even decades without an “episode”. An episode is when we lose that sense of normalcy and either ramp up and have a manic episode (3 months is considered a common maximum length of time, but only one week or hospitalization is required to actually define a manic episode) or crash down and suffer from a depressive episode (can last much much longer, but doesn’t have to). The crux of bipolar is that manic episodes tend to crash into depressive episodes which can then rebound into manic episodes – that ping pong effect can be fairly devastating without intervention which hopefully gradually reduces the intensity of the episodes so that that middle ground can be found again. The fallout of manic episodes tends to last longer than the episodes themselves because we can make a lot of bad choices during this time that then have to be recovered from (generally while depressed). This makes spotting warning signs that the middle ground is being compromised beyond crucial, because people with bipolar tend to be a bit blind in respect to these things. My husband will check in on things like sleep and diet, because any significant upset in those patterns can be a potential warning sign. In turn, if those warning signs persist or either of us is worried that something is off, I will immediately go see my psychologist (and psychiatrist if I’m currently medicated). 

Post # 39
Member
10193 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2010

sweetdee89 :  

Ok, if they put him on lithium, a reluctance to take meds might make some sense.  That was the first mood stabilization drug for bipolar; but, the side effects were crappy. It also requires a lot of precision in dosing; so there was a wretched trial and error phase for most patients. It actually has lethal overdose potential.

As I mentioned, we’re up to 50+ meds for bipolar today. They are so much more targeted and easier to tolerate. There is still often a trial and error phase, but we have come a long, long way since lithium salt alone, though it’s still in use.

What made things bad enough to drive him to pick up the phone and schedule a therapy appointment?  Keep in mind that this kind of reaching out is much harder for men than it is for us.

Try not to buy into anything he tells you about how he can manage his bipolar. This just isn’t true.  Sooner or later, it erupts.  Understand that it is not unusual to be asymptomatic for long stretches of time. That may very well be where he is right now.

Suggestions about nutrition, supplements, etc are all well and good as adjuncts to, not replacements for proper treatment.  And the current protocols define correct treatment as medication supplemented with talk therapy.

The biggest issue in the treatment of bipolar is, by far, getting the patient to take and stay on their meds. The trial and error times can be pretty uncomfortable.  During manic phases, they can be absolutely sure they have no need for meds and refuse to take them.

In a manic state, a bipolar can be a high risk for self harm, even suicide. In a depressed state, the patient may have lacked the energy to carry out the self injury, despite the desire.

Bee, I do hope you are expanding your research outside of the limits of your bf’s self reports and the Bee.  Did you ever watch Katy Morton’s video?

Post # 42
Member
470 posts
Helper bee

sweetdee89 :  

I think it’s great that you are being proactive and taking such an interest in his condition – this can only stand you in good stead.

However, just be sure to remember that this is still an incredibly new relationship, and it must be given time to unfold. As much as it might be tempting to fire questions at him about his condition, I think that might be a little premature, and you’d be better served going slowly in this relationship and taking it on its merits… Remember that many, many relationships fizzle out before they go anywhere and the early stages of dating are just about getting to know someone and seeing if there is enough of a connection/compatibility to continue.

Just pace yourself, is all I’m saying. 

Post # 44
Member
169 posts
Blushing bee

I just wanted to post to say how rad you are for really looking at this and not running or trying to be a savior. 

Seriously super rad. 

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