I once went to a forum that is on a popular free dating site, looking for an answer to ..something. Probably related to what is the proper dating etiquette if you have a Serious Mental Illness…when are you obligated / expected to tell the person you meet and date.
Well according to a few of the threads there, it isn’t even an issue because there are warnings all over the place, on threads that were started by someone asking what to do with someone they are dating that they just found out is bipolar, they like them a lot by the way but … BUT…
RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN… THEY ARE EMPTY AND SOULESS AND WILL SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU… THEY DON’T DESERVE CONSIDERATION OR LOVE…
Yea… I can’t wait to get out there and date… NOT.
Never again. For more reasons than that, but I don’t want to talk about that anymore right now.
Now, I want to say that these threads that I read this stuff on were obviously written by ignoramus pezheads who can’t keep their mental disorders straight (no one deserves those kinds of comments but the jerkfaces had all kinds of misinformation) Unfortunately, there were hundreds of them… hundreds that I saw before I gave up reading.
That is one reason I am a little hesitant at times. And I have been really truly blessed to have found people here who are not ignorant and judgmental to counter the ones who are. Slowly but surely, I am learning to trust and believe ….
Sometimes, I think that the people who care about, care for, and love someone with bipolar disorder actually have it harder. Mental illness doesn’t just affect the people who have it, it effects the ones who love them.
Sometimes the effects are devastating, at the very least confusing, but the one big difference is that the friends / significant other / care giver can choose to walk away. The person with bipolar doesn’t have any such choice. There is only one way out for them.
They certainly don’t get enough attention or recognition. It’s not easy to stay in a relationship of any type with a someone who is mentally ..ill, Sometimes there are 1000 reasons to cut the ties and only one to stay.
But that is why it must be really hard to be involved in any capacity. It’s a choice, and if it ever does become unbearable, unsafe or something you can just no longer do, the thought of having to make that choice, and the actual leaving, must be excruciatingly painful.
It’s a touchy subject for both those of us who have this illness, through no fault of our own, and those that love us. in whatever capacity. There usually ends up being a lot of finger-pointing and blame. The disordered, hurt and upset that someone would leave them because of an illness, the leavers, hurt because they can’t make their point without looking like insensitive jerks faces.
But I tell you this, and I am pretty sure of myself on it, those of us who have bipolar disorder, are well aware the effect our illness can have on our relationships.
I think that it is only at the point that we accept and begin to live with our illness rather than deny and fight it, that we are able to let go of the blaming and understand that the people who truly love us… the ones that really truly care and want to be part of our lives and have us in their lives… those people, do not want to leave, and they especially don’t want to leave because of us being bipolar.
But sometimes, it really is the best thing
Its unfair. But is it any different really than leaving someone because …(insert any old reason here)
See the thing is, in my mind, it’s not really about bipolar disorder. Ok it is but here is what I am getting at,
A relationship of any kind with someone who is bipolar is the same as a relationship with someone who isn’t, just…more.
All of the above apply to any relationship. Relationships aren’t easy anyways.
In my mind, what it is really about is … communication.
Yup, and of course, that means MORE communication.
Think about how many times you have seen it happen, or maybe it has happened to you. Someone changes a habit or all of sudden withdraws, or gets snarky and short with a friend, lover, significant other and this is different then the way the person normally acts.
If it’s the first time that a bipolar person is having an episode around someone who cares about them, it can be really truly hurtful and confusing.
Forget the bipolar for a second though. What is the first impulse or thought of many people?
What did I do wrong? They are mad at me? or maybe…
Wow what a jerk face.
Not everybody, obviously will assume they have done something wrong or that the person in question is mad at them, but a majority will start there.
And then, they won’t ask. They will assume. Once someone assumes they know your motives or your problems, especially if they assume its about them, the wall goes up and eventually… the relationship crumbles.
And the sad reality is, that the person with bipolar, needed that person more than ever but didn’t know how to ask, or even tell them what was going on.
Speaking from personal experience, if you are lucky enough (using the term loosely) to catch the full brunt of what I have going on … I trust you enough to ask for help, I just don;t know how to say it. And if I get snarky and short with a friend, someone I love, there is a little voice somewhere in me that says, don;t do this, it’s not their fault. TELL THEM.
I am learning .. to ask for help, and to …share.
Or, speaking again from experience, once I have been in a rut too long, my brain starts to tell me things that aren’t really true. About myself, and the people who I care about and care about me.
A good example, or explanation… HERE in the Unbearable Darkness of the Blessed Light Bringer. If I can;t bring myself to ask, I will eventually convince myself, or rather my brain will that I have been cast out and turned on.
It takes a huge effort to not give in to irrational and illogical thoughts after a while. And all it takes is one little change in ..mannerisms, or habits from someone to have me thinking I am no longer of any use …. it doesn’t bear a continuing explanation because it’s not a thought I want well-formed pinging around my brain anymore.
My point. is that all this can be avoided with communication. Just like a normal relationship of any kind. Just um….more.
The burden does sometimes fall more on the person who isn’t disordered. Much of the time. At times, it gives an uneveness of contribution to the relationship, with the bipolar person seeming needy and the non seeming to be a care giver. But ..ahem.. it isn’t always like that.
A relationship in any capacity with a someone who has bipolar can be as they are, unpredictable, highs and lows, ups and downs…fierce, loving, passionate, fun, spontaneous…all that goes with that person.
If the lines of communication are kept open, and assumptions are put aside, if doubt and fear of rejection are not given a place of primary concern, a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder, be it a friendship, or more, can be one of the most rewarding in your life.
I am not just saying that because I am bipolar.
I would also note that change, and relationships and that kind of stuff can be a trigger for bipolar episodes and again, in my experience, there is a period of adjustment where things may be worse, and those that aren’t up to it will leave then, but once there is a level of comfort, stability is again possible.
It takes a special kind of person to love or care about someone with bipolar disorder and to stick it out through the highs and lows. That’s not to say that those who can’t or won’t are not special.
We are all special in our own way. We all want, and deserve love and friendship.
What more is there to say?
- Are People With Bipolar Disorder Dangerous? (everydayhealth.com)
- Bipolar Disorder – What to Say, What Not to Say (everydayhealth.com)
- Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (everydayhealth.com)