1. Be Aware.
This comes straight from my experience in my first relationship. When both you and your partner know what to expect from an episode and how it might impact the relationship, it allows you to both be prepared for the consequences and able to handle it better. This is on you, the sufferer, to let your partner know what to expect.
2. Know your warning signs.
And let your partner know when you think an episode is coming. If they haven’t been through an episode with you before, sit them down and talk them through it. Tell them what symptoms you get, how long it usually lasts, what you’ll need from them. Keep talking until they tell you they feel confident.
3. This is not the time to play mind games and be subtle.
This is the time to be completely honest. If you’ve never had psychotic symptoms before, don’t hide it if it starts. If you want to kill yourself but don’t want to worry them, tell them anyway. If there’s something your partner can do to help but you want them to figure it out on their own, just get your head out of your ass. That stuff doesn’t work with sane people so definitely don’t attempt it here.
4. This can be just as difficult for your partner.
People always assume that only the person in the episode is hurting. But when someone you love is hurting, or changes, or does scary things, it can trouble the partner just as much. Try asking them how they feel, try comforting them. After I switched a convo around and made the focus on his feelings, J let me know how scared he was that I would commit suicide. We then spent a while cuddling while I told him I don’t want to leave him. It not only reassured him, but took me out of my head for a while as well.
5. Your partner is not your caregiver.
This is such a difficult one to practise if you rely on others like I do. So trust me, I know the difficulty in this. But your partner needs breaks, needs time away from you, especially if you’re in an episode. Harsh, but true. Respect their time, and don’t come to them with every little thing (even if it all feels like big things). Distract yourself, talk to friends, practise techniques from therapy. And remember to go out of your way to share laughter with them, and the good things that do happen, so it balances.
And here’s a direct message from J for anyone dating someone with Bipolar:
My first piece of advice would be patience. You’re getting involved with someone who requires a bit more getting used to than others. You also have to bear in mind that over time their personality is going to change, sometimes quite drastically. At times this can be confusing, frightening, upsetting even, but you have to learn to stick it out if you really care about them. At their worst, they might not seem to be the same person you feel in love with, but when you get to know them well enough, you learn to see glimpses of it, and when you wait long enough and provide the support they need, they’ll come back to you. Every time.
Being the emotional wreck I am that may have brought tears to my eyes, because he did just that for me over a 2 month long episode and it may not seem like much to some, but it’s a lot.
In the end, I’d say these relationships just come down to being aware and educated; being completely honest and communicating well; and appreciating the good times, whether they be obvious or subtle. After that, just figure out what works best for you and your partner.
Reasons to date us:
– Hyper-sexuality, ‘nough said
– We’ll buy you heaps of gifts, whether we can afford it or not
– When we break up you get to say “My ex was CRAZY” and not be exaggerating
– Our options are limited so we’re less likely to dump you