How to Love Someone with Bipolar Disorder
I’ve made no secret in my life of my condition, because I don’t believe it’s something I can hide. My mood swings effect every relationship I have. Most friendships and relationships have crumbled because I don’t act like a proper friend, a proper girlfriend or a proper daughter.
I should start by summarising bipolar ii disorder – my diagnosis. It’s not split personality disorder, although sometimes you do feel like you’re battling with two versions of yourself for creative control of your mind. It’s not mood swings every five seconds. Bipolar ii is more like months of a heatwave. Months where you’re full of so much energy you could burst. Months where you feel like nothing could stop you. Pub garden weather. Drinking every night weather. Getting wrecked just because its summer and you can weather. Which is fun, it’s so fun that its a constant high. People think you’re on drugs, you’re talking fast, you have so much energy that you’re shaking.
However, after a while the heat starts to make you exhausted. All the sleep that you missed starts catching up on you. No longer do you have the shakes from adrenaline but now, it’s from anxiety.
Then the rain starts.
You can’t move. You can’t talk. You can’t love.
It’s not just sadness. It’s pure unadulterated depression. You cry eight hours of the day. The voice in your head tells you how much of a cunt you are, and you realise no one will ever love you.
Loving someone with a mental health condition is a full time job.
There will be times when they don’t want help. They don’t want to be with you. But you’ll need to stick it out if you love them, as on the flip side there will be times when you will have to hold them while they cry and try to convince them you’re not going to leave them.
In my own experience, I feel like I am a constant burden on everyone I’m close to. I have laid in bed with my boyfriend, fighting back tears because I don’t want him to know how unstable I am. You see, I’ve been left before because of my mental health issues, and although deep down I realise that I didn’t need them if they couldn’t live with how I am. It knocks me down every single time.
I am constantly reminded that in a world full of misconceptions and stigma towards mental health I may never be truly accepted for how I am. I am reminded of this in the work place, where I am fired for taking time off sick. I am reminded of this when I am told to keep quiet about my condition. I am reminded of this when people tell me to get over it, to “just cheer up”.
In order to love someone with a mental health condition you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. You must be prepared to battle with the mood swings, the anxiety, the psychosis. You will need to be there to reason with the random flights of ideas. Tell them they can’t catch a train to London in the middle of the night. They don’t really want to convert to Buddhism and remind them that, although it really seems logical, they absolutely in no way have magical powers.
Remind them they are loved when they feel they are hated.
Remind them they are wanted when they feel they are worthless.
But most importantly, in order to love someone with bipolar you must always put yourself first.
Yes, I suffer with mental health issues and have always made that clear, but it doesn’t make me any easier to be with. Just because I have bipolar does not mean that my needs and wants come before the needs and wants of those I love. Sometimes the best way to love someone is to make sure you care enough about yourself first.
Because if you don’t love yourself, how on earth are you going to show someone else you love them? How are you going to show someone else how they should love?
There will be days when you feel like giving up, these will be the same days as your loved one feels like giving up. However, some days will be the best. You will enjoy hearing about the random thoughts that pop into their mind. You will love seeing them chat away to you about nothing. And you can always count on them to provide the entertainment at a party.
Loving someone with Bipolar disorder is not a walk in the park.
But wouldn’t it be boring if it was?
Written by Lydia Bowler