Whether you are living with bipolar disorder, or love someone with bipolar disorder, this condition can make it difficult to maintain a successful marriage or romantic relationship. Partnerships already have their natural issues, and many marriages are strained with every day stressors. Adding intense mood swings to the mix can make it that much more challenging. There are some basic guidelines to improve your relationship if you or your partner has bipolar disorder.
1. Honesty. If you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, be honest with yourself about what you need to do in order to stay well. Be honest with your loved ones as well. If you are starting a serious relationship, it is important to let the other person know that you can sometimes experience depression, or become overly energized for periods of time. If your spouse or partner loves you, he or she will love you the way you are, and they need to know that changes in mood or behavior may be a part of living with you. Often people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder attempt to deny the fact that their mood instability is a medical condition that needs treatment. Being open and accepting of yourself, and allowing your loved one to know what you are experiencing, is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship.
2. Mindfulness. Know your triggers. Most people with bipolar disorder have certain seasons, stressors, hormone changes, or situations that tend to set off their moods. By learning and tracking what has tended to cause problems, you can stay ahead of the game and keep yourself stable. The same goes for your spouse or loved ones. If you are in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, you can help your partner to stay more stable by noticing what factors tend to cause mood fluctuations. Keep a mood journal of symptoms to improve awareness. Pay attention to the first signs of mood instability, such as changes in sleep, motivation, or slight energy shifts. Combine honesty with mindfulness by letting your loved ones know that you are noticing changes, and reach out for help.
3. Action. You can go into remission and be symptom-free with the right medicine. There are millions of people living with bipolar disorder and leading happy, productive, normal lives. The key to living well and having successful relationships is getting the support you need. Find out what medications work for you, and use them. Continue your medications as directed even if you feel better, to prevent problems from coming back. Talk with a licensed naturopathic doctor about alternatives or adjuncts to medications that may help you as well. Nourish your body and mind with regularly scheduled nutritious meals. Exercise to improve mood stability and balance energy. Find a therapist who you can connect with and open up to. Be consistent with follow up appointments so that you can improve your chances of remission. You can stay stable, and there is help waiting for you to achieve that goal.
Dr. Tara Peyman is a licensed naturopathic physician with an expertise in the homeopathic and integrative treatment of bipolar disorder and mental illness. She practices at Arizona Natural Health Center in the Phoenix area. 480-456-0402. www.AZNaturalHealth.com.