Dating Someone with Bipolar Disorder
Mental illness can be challenging not only for the person experiencing it but also for the people in their lives. Family members, friends and even romantic partners can all be affected by a person’s struggles with their mental health. Bipolar disorder is one of the most complex and difficult illnesses for people to understand and live with.
If you are romantically involved with someone who has bipolar disorder you may not know how to navigate the situation. It can be hard to support someone with a complicated problem if you are not well-informed about the illness and or the best ways to handle it. Dating someone with bipolar disorder means educating yourself about how you can be there for them and provide the care that can help them remain stable.
Any time you are in a relationship with someone you need to work toward finding the balance to keep both individuals healthy and happy. This may be especially challenging when one partner has a mental illness like bipolar disorder but it does not mean you can’t have a normal and fulfilling relationship. Find ways to support them and get help for yourself so that you can enjoy a healthy and meaningful connection.
Learning About and Discussing the Illness
An important part of dating someone with bipolar disorder is gaining as much knowledge as possible about the illness so that you aren’t confused or hurt by their behavior. If you don’t know much about bipolar disorder then you may find yourself overwhelmed by your partner’s actions that you don’t understand. Learning to recognize their symptoms and how they affect them can help you gain more insight into how they live with the illness.
Educating yourself about bipolar disorder can mean reading books, articles or even talking to a therapist about the relationship. However, some of the best knowledge can come directly from your partner in finding out about how their illness affects them. It can be helpful for the relationship to discuss their past experiences with bipolar disorder including when they were diagnosed and how they are managing it through treatment or therapy.
Talking about the illness can make it easier for both partners to feel comfortable with the situation. Avoiding the subject will only cause more problems even if you feel that it’s taboo or too sensitive to discuss. Being open about discussing major issues can help you understand them better and help keep free up communication so they don’t feel they have to hide their problems.
Providing Support and Care
A key thing to remember when dating someone with bipolar disorder is that they need your support. Even though it can be stressful at times to have to witness and become involved in a person’s more difficult symptoms, you need to be able to provide help. Without your support and love, the person’s illness can hinder the relationship and they may experience more episodes.
In order to provide support and love to someone it can be helpful to try to think of the person you are dating as separate from their illness. Even though they have a serious disorder, it is only one aspect of their life and does not represent them as a whole. That being said, it is also important to accept the illness as part of the package of dating this person since it is something that they may never be fully cured of.
Providing help for this person can mean making sure that they are receiving the treatment they need and are actively taking care of themselves. Are they seeing a regular therapist or attending support group meetings? Are they taking their medication on a daily basis and following doctor recommendations?
Making sure that your partner is taking all the necessary steps for their health can be a useful way to support them. You will eventually learn to recognize their symptoms, triggers or anticipate an oncoming episode. You can also learn what actions to take when an episode occurs and what to do to help minimize the damage.
Supporting someone with bipolar disorder means doing all you can to advocate for their health and well-being. However, it is important to also take care of yourself and make sure that you are handling the situation and the stress the best that you can. Seeing a therapist for yourself or going to support group meetings can help you manage the emotional struggles that you experience as a result of this person’s illness.
It is crucial to be aware of when a relationship is healthy and when it is becoming problematic. If your partner becomes dangerous, unstable or hurtful to you then you may need to set some boundaries and step away until they are in a better place. If you need support for your relationship consider attending couples therapy or a support meeting together.