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Started seeing someone who has bipolar - a few questions for anybody in the same position

(16 Posts)
dontrunwithscissors Fri 08-Mar-13 20:24:25

Milrano: I strongly believe that bp1 is not more serious than bp2. They are equally destructive and equally terrifying, but in different ways. There's nothing worse than mental health one-up-man ship.

ScumbagCollegeDropout Fri 08-Mar-13 11:41:05

Oh and in case any of you are wondering. The relationship is going along nicely. In some ways I can't believe that I have met him grin

ScumbagCollegeDropout Fri 08-Mar-13 11:39:06

Thank you mulranno I have wanted to see that due to the Oscar nods but wasn't fully aware what it was about smile

mulranno Thu 07-Mar-13 09:35:00

Go see Silver Linings Playbook - looks at a relationship with more serious BP1 - but the moral of the story is the "normal" behaviour of those surrounding the couple...its all a continuum

ScumbagCollegeDropout Wed 06-Mar-13 03:29:56

Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions.

I already know the feeling of wanting to 'fix' him since reading up on it online. Probably also because I am a mum so that doesn't help! But I won't. I understand that this isn't anything that I can fix.

I go through life with humour and we share a very similar sense of humour so even though we have spoken about it seriously (and he was happy to answer any questions I had) it does get joked about a bit. But I have told him that I will follow his lead as to how he wants me to be/see him during his dark days.

It is early in the relationship but it is really informative to me to read these posts and perhaps, oh I don't know, be sort of prepared on some level.

I'm in another country so not sure on crisis teams and such. He lives with a family member and also has family close by so I guess they know what to do. I will ask him about it when the topic of conversation is convenient.

Thank you again for your insight. Definite food for thought smile

nenevomito Tue 05-Mar-13 16:07:45

I have BP2 with the very low moods. It can be difficult for DH as when I'm ill I don't talk to him about what is going on and I am very distant from him and the rest of my family. The one thing that he doesn't do is try and 'fix' me when I'm ill. He has the number for the crisis team and my care coordinator and knows he can call them if he gets concerned, but he leaves my treatment to the professionals. That would be the best advice I can give - don't try to fix him if he has an episode, be supportive, but leave it to the professionals. I'm grateful that he's supportive.

I'm on medication to stabilise my mood and stop me going too depressed or Manic. I would expect he would be to, but thats a conversation you need to have.

Looking at the positives though, when someone with bipolar is stable, they are no different to anyone else. I've been with my DH for over 10 years, we have children together and I hold down a FT job. I've made a lot of friends who have both kinds of Bipolar and they are all lovely people. They include doctors, managers, volunteers, nurses and everything else you can think of. A lot of them are in loving and long lasting relationships, so its certainly not a bar to holding down a relationship.

Samu2 Tue 05-Mar-13 14:44:38

Ok. My husband is well medicated so he doesn't get many manic moments now and when he does it comes out in racing thoughts and slight agitation but he doesn't have the typical mania that people think of when they hear the word bi-polar. However, he has a lot of lows, very dark lows and no matter what meds he tries he still gets them often.

It can be tough, no doubt about it, you will go through it with him. It is hard to watch someone you love struggle and a lot of the time my husband doesn't come to me for comfort so I have had to learn the hard way that I can't fix it, the only thing I can do to help is listen to him if he wants to talk and try to lower his stress when he is in a low mood.

At the start of our relationship I tried to be the fixer, tried to get him to talk when he didn't want to and it didn't help. Take cues from him, if he doesn't want to talk let it go and let him come to you. Also, it is very common for someone with bipolar to want to be left alone during a low mood so sometimes giving them space really helps.

In the past he suffered with psychosis due to a low period that lasted too long. He hasn't had a psychotic episode for over 10 years since he has been medicated but he can get paranoid tendencies and there are times where I have had to make the call to get a GP or the crisis team round to check on him. Once I had a feeling his low mood was getting dangerously low so got the crisis team round. I told him I was calling them and thankfully he trusts me that I will only do so when I think it is needed. Sometimes he just doesn't realise when he is going downhill fast so I have to be on the ball too.

I won't lie and say it has been easy. It hasn't. There has been times where I have even felt resentment for not being able to lead a "normal" life, it has been hard when he can't attend a family party or spend time with me or something because he is too depressed. That might sound selfish but I am not at all, it simply does affect my life too and while I am very loving and patient there are a lot of normal activities that we haven't been able to do together and it can get lonely.

However, he is the most loving and caring man ever. I adore him and he treats me wonderfully. I am very happy and we are great together but it can be tough.

I would be concerned that your partner isn't medicated. He may genuinely be able to manage without medication but IME plenty of people with mental illness don't take meds thinking they can manage without them and bipolar is a very serious condition so I hope he regularly sees his doctor so they can keep an eye on how well he is doing? Obviously everyone with bipolar is different but if my husband didn't take meds he would not be able to function.

Anyway good luck to you and I hoped this helped a bit.

Samu2 Tue 05-Mar-13 10:38:49

I am married to a man with bipolar.

I have to go out but didn't want to forget this thread so watching this to reply later.

FairyJen Tue 05-Mar-13 10:26:08

I have bipolar. I can be extremely difficult to deal with when in either phase of mania or depression. If the relationship becomes serious then it will impact on you even if he doesn't mean it to.

I would say for now the best thing to do is talk about it if you can so you know exactly what you may have to deal with.

ScumbagCollegeDropout Tue 05-Mar-13 10:18:05

Anyone else?

I should add that he has told me that he has had it under control for a year.

ScumbagCollegeDropout Tue 05-Mar-13 06:58:53

selks He has told me that he has it under control. In that he knows the signs for when a low will be imminent and takes all the precautions that he can. I don't think that he is on any medication. But as I have only seen him as him so far (it's been about a month although I first met him late last year) I obviously don't know how bad he gets. Just his word. He works and operates fine and he has family very close by.

Thank you for your insight and kjnd words mrs wolowitz. I have the patience of a saint so hopefully that shall work in my favour then

MrsWolowitz Tue 05-Mar-13 06:50:26

I have bipolar. It's a very strangest sorter and can leave you feeling very embarrassed after a manic or depressive episode.

I think you sound very supportive and grounded.

It's a difficult illness but just by caring, asking questions, listening and being a bit patient will mean so much to him I'm sure.

You sound lovely thanks

Selks Tue 05-Mar-13 06:50:05

If it was me I would want to know how stable the bipolar is - is he on any medication or accessing support from any services, does the BP seem 'under control'.
He would need to have a lot of insight into his BP including the highs. Do not underestimate the impact of an un controlled high or manic period.
I would also be very careful not to position myself as 'helper', that's not your role and to take that on would distort the relationship. Plus it's his illness that he needs to take ownership and assume control of.

I would ask him how the lows and the highs affect him and how they have affected his life and what he does to manage them.

ScumbagCollegeDropout Tue 05-Mar-13 06:38:11

Thank you NandH smile

NandH Tue 05-Mar-13 05:47:40

I've read, have no experience or advise, but couldnt not say anything ...

so I wish you all the happiness in your new relationship, you sound very grounded so I'm sure whatever you do to help, it will help!! smile

ScumbagCollegeDropout Tue 05-Mar-13 04:48:56

Thought I would put this here rather than in Relationships.

And any advice with those with bipolar will be valuable too.

Okay. So it is early days in the relationship. He is a funny, smart, sweet bloke and we get on very well.

He has always been upfront with his bipolar diagnosis. It is BPD2.

He hasn't had his 'dark days' (his words) for a while but has told me exactly how it is for him and what he goes through during this time. He knows when it is going to happen so I have asked him if he prefers to be alone during his dark days. He replied with 'Yes and no. It can be incredilbly lonley but I hate people seeing me like it' sad He says that when people have seen him during those times then that is all they see from then on. Like he ceases to exists as his normal self in their eyes. I have told him that I am of the belief that he is a person first. That he is a man with bipolar not a bipolar man.

So I was just wondering if there is anything I can do or help (not sure if that is the right word) when he has his dark days. Are there any do's and don'ts so to speak? Or is it a case of waiting it out? I don't want it to become an elephant in the room and I want to be able to say the right things.

I have googled about the condition and it sounds awful sad but actual real life experiences will be extremely helpful if you have the time.

Thanks.

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