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Topic: Supporting a partner with bipolar 1

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. miss_random
    miss_random avatar
    2 posts
    7 September 2018

    Hi there,

    My boyfriend has bipolar 1 and us currently unwell. I've never dealt with mental illness before and I feel pretty helpless.

    When he's well, he us the happiest and most care-free person I know. But at the moment it can range from agitated, angry, happy, sad or flat and I never know which one I'm going to encounter when he walks in the room.

    Nothing I say or do is right. Nothing I say or do makes anything better. I feel like I have to constantly walk on eggshells so I don't upset him. Every now and then he has lucid moments and we'll talk or listen to music together then he'll go outside for a cigarette or play video games and come back a completely different person.

    I don't know how to be there for him. I want to make it better and I can't. It breaks my heart. I don't normally cry but lately I will randomly break into tears because I'm emotionally exhausted.

  2. quirkywords
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    quirkywords avatar
    8240 posts
    7 September 2018 in reply to miss_random

    Welcome miss_random to the forum,

    thanks for making your first post. You are very caring girlfriend and very kind to want to know how to help him.

    Living with someone with bipolar is tiring and confusing and living with bipolar is exhausting and confusing too.

    When your boyfriend seems angry with you, he is angry with himself and very confused.

    If you can talk to him when he is lucid , that is the best time to ask him how to help him when isn't well.

    I have had bipolar for over 40 years and I know when people asked me questions when I was unwell I can't think properly or I forget.

    There is a thread called This bipolar life , that you are most welcome on. It is a very long thread , and the first post may give you an insight into what having bipolar is like. You can browse the thread and post and ask questions if you like.

    Everyone who has bipolar experiences in a different way.

    I understand you feel like you are walking on eggshells but I guess he really appreciates you are there for him.

    Sometimes all you can do is to sit and listen or hold his hand . Often you don't know what you wnt and everything irritates you. You push away loved ones and that makes you hate yourself.

    You need to look after yourself and get support for yourself. It is not easy. There are threads about living with someone with bipolar which may help you.

    Thanks for reaching out. You are not alone and we are here to support you.

    Quirky

    1 person found this helpful
  3. miss_random
    miss_random avatar
    2 posts
    8 September 2018 in reply to quirkywords

    Thank you Quirky, I'll definitely check out those other threads.

    I think the hardest thing for me is to see him suffering. His family are not particularly supportive so I feel like I'm the only person he can turn to.

    I'm trying to make sure I take care of myself too. It's hard for me at the moment because I broke my arm so my normal social life and hobbies are on hold. I'm sure that's not helping.

    Thanks for your reply. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

  4. hopeful2
    hopeful2  avatar
    1 posts
    12 September 2018 in reply to miss_random

    Im in the same boat as you with my wife of 35 years.

    Hard work for sure. Number one advice from me is to make sure he is taking his meds. Watch out for alcohol also as in my experience its not a good mix. Also good for you to try and keep tabs on what is actually normal behaviour so you can recognise when somethings not right. Not always easy as you tend to get used to the moods and it sometimes takes an onlooker to notice a problem. Helps for me to split the personalities in 2. Im married to and love the good one and dont like the bad one. That way you dont take things personally when you hear how bad you are etc etc etc etc. Its only the bad person saying that. Make sense?

  5. quirkywords
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    quirkywords avatar
    8240 posts
    13 September 2018 in reply to hopeful2

    Hello miss random and hopeful2 and everyone reading,

    Miss random, hopeful2 has given suggestions from his own experience and that is always reassuring to know you are not alone.

    Hopeful2, welcome to the forum and thanks for helping out another person on your first post.

    I think writing down behaviours somyou see a pattern is a good idea and also it is helpful sometimes to get another person’s opinion.

    I can see how see how splitting the personalities in do 2 helps you from taking things personally and being hurt from what your wife is saying to you.

    I suppose I would see the personalities as the well one and the sick one. I know when I was very high or very low I would act in a way that would hurt others and say things but I never did it intentionally and would be very apologetic afterwards when I got better and gained insight.

    I realise that it is very difficult living with someone who has extreme moods and can see how dividing your partner into 2 peronalities helps you.

    hopeful2 you are welcome to post here as much as you like, and also if you want to you can start youor own thread.

    Thanks again for helping miss random.

    Miss random, I wonder how you are going?

    Quirky

  6. SammyD100
    Mentor
    • Masters of Psychology student on placement
    SammyD100 avatar
    49 posts
    13 September 2018 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi everyone

    Miss_random, welcome to Beyond Blue - you've already received lots of helpful and insightful responses so I hope they have helped validate some of your experiences. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job of supporting your partner and doing everything you can to help him and I'm sure he is grateful for it, despite perhaps not being able to show this at times. As you mentioned too, I'm sure at the moment things must feel especially hard with a broken arm and limited social life! I hope you are still able to find some ways of caring for yourself because you need and deserve it!

    There's been a lot of great advice already but there's one thing I thought I'd add, which builds on something quirkywords has mentioned about trying to find a pattern in his behaviours.

    I’ve been reading a bit about Bipolar as part of my Psychology Masters, and one thing I’ve learnt is that there is a lot of evidence that psychological and social factors have an impact on the onset and course of bipolar disorder. There’s good evidence that life events (e.g. stress) can influence the onset, severity and duration of both manic and depressive episodes. So I guess I’m thinking it may be worth trying to monitor your boyfriend’s daily routines and see if there’s any link between certain activities, and his mood. If there does appear to be some sort of pattern, together you could try to address these and reduce his exposure to stresses or events that trigger episodes. Does that sound like something you could try? I imagine your boyfriend would need a lot of your help to do this, as it could be very hard for him to monitor this himself.

    Strategies around promoting good daily routines and helping your boyfriend detect and cope with early warning signs is something a Psychologist would be able to assist with too. Is your boyfriend seeing anyone apart from his prescribing physician? Again there’s great evidence that psychological strategies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can be really helpful with reducing the severity of the mood fluctuations in bipolar disorder.

    Keep up your amazing supportive work as his partner, but make sure you have time to look after yourself too. I hope some of this might be helpful!

    SammyD

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