Years ago, I dated a guy with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. When low, his habit of stumbling out of bed to browse porn as the kettle boiled, or spending hours trawling the profile pictures of escorts had me convinced he had some sort of addiction issues.A few months into our relationship, I dragged him off to sex therapy because of his seemingly uncontrollable behaviour. Up until the escort point, I’d thought that the other signs – the spending sprees, sporadic drug-taking, or staying up all night to work - were nothing more than foils to his ample creativity.In both cases, ‘up states’ are usually followed by down or depressive periods, although the balance of up to down varies from each individual.
Sometimes the best support you can offer is just being there.
By the end of our relationship, I’d learned to ask him if there was anything I could do for him. For a while, I was offended because I felt like as his partner, I should be able to fix things.
I write it with the assumption that the Survivor will inevitably do incredible damage to their relationship; if it hasn’t happened yet, it will at some point.
Therefore, we want to minimize the potential damage by developing an understanding of ourselves and how we affect our loved ones.
Bipolar is essentially a mood disorder which causes an individual to swing between depressed and elevated states.
Some 2.4 million people are thought to be affected in the UK, with most diagnosed with either bipolar 1 -characterised by the most severe ‘up’ states, known as mania (which can also lead to hallucinations), or bipolar 2: the less severe form - defined by hypomania, a milder elevated state.Type 1 bipolar disorder means you have more extreme mood swings with longer periods of mania. Of course, neither type is necessarily ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another and everyone with the disorder will have experience what they deem to be the ‘worst part’ of the disorder at some point or another.However, while everyone with the disorder knows what to expect, those close to them may not be as familiar with how they might act during a time of mania or depression.A person that lives with Bipolar Disorder or Depression comes to learn loss intimately.It is a constant battle in our mind to try and avoid tearing our lives, loves, and friendships down to the foundation. We will periodically lose that battle and burn bridges.Here are just a few of the lessons I carry with me: You can’t make someone happy.