3 Advantages of Loving Someone Who Lives with Bipolar
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that loving someone who lives with bipolar disorder is an easy task. It will be very challenging, sometimes you will get hurt, sometimes you will feel angry, frustrated and even borderline hate for the person. You will need to get used to a new way of living, their needs will more often than not come before yours. You may have to compromise on a lot of things, take on the burden of their chores when they can’t function and accept that you will have to time your life around their medication.
“Following a diagnosis, the first and most dominant response from a spouse usually is sympathy”, says David A. Karp, professor of sociology at Boston College and author of The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope with Mental Illness (Oxford University Press, 2002). “But further down the road, a spouse may experience emotions they don’t think they should be having—anger, frustration, and even hate.”
There are lots of down sides to relationships that people always talk about. Google ‘Bipolar Marriage’ and the first thing that will come is a damning statistic from November 2003’s article in Psychology Today called ‘Managing Bipolar Disorder’ that tells you 90% of all marriages where one partner is living with BPD ends in divorce. It’s almost like when you fell ill and you google your symptoms, you suddenly convince yourself you’re about to die based on the results.
What nobody tells you is that loving someone who lives with bipolar and manages their condition well can be the most profound and fulfilling experience of your life.
1. You will get to know yourself better
Loving a person who lives with bipolar will test you in ways you never imagined. Not only will you learn how strong you are and about your own limits, you will also learn to let go of the small stuff. Arguments and little things that may have hurt you in the past will no longer bother you, giving you more time to focus on what really matters. Your temper might improve but more importantly your ability to work out what is important and what is not will develop. You may have to learn to compromise, give in and adapt to the changing situations. The power to adapt to new situations quickly and turn negatives into positives is something that you will definitely learn from your partner. If you have open communication with them, you will learn about how you react to things and why as well as what goes through their head, you will be able to decipher what goes through your own.
Don’t forget, you must learn to take care of yourself before you can take care of others and a bipolar partner can really hit that home.
2. They will motivate you
While it is easy to get sucked into the lows of a partner’s depression, recovery and maintenance can be motivating for both of you. Exercise is a great way to help depression and burn some energy off in mania so use this to your advantage. Go to the gym together, go for a run, swim or a bike ride. Exercise has a massive clinically proven impact on mood both for you and especially for your bipolar partner. While they might not be able to motivate themselves in depression, if you can persuade them to go to the gym with you it will not only help you both keep fit but will vastly improve their dopamine levels. Take the opportunity to eat well also. Bipolar can be greatly affected by what food the person consumes so learn to cook something new and healthy or research what nutrients your partner and yourself should have more of for a happy, healthy life.
3. They Will Change Your Outlook on Life
Loving someone who lives with bipolar is a constant reminder that you are lucky not to have to deal with the frightening highs and crashing lows that they experience. Your values and ideas will naturally change over time with maturity and life experience, but loving a person who lives with bipolar can be a catalyst for this. They will teach you to live in the present, appreciate the good times and learn through the bad times as the future for them can be uncertain in many ways. They will show you that sometimes the little things in life can be the best and how to face challenges instead of running away from them. When you only get a limited amount of ‘good days’ then living by the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ is all that more important.