You Matter: Caring For Yourself
It is sometimes easy to lose yourself in a relationship. While helping your partner deal with their illness, and the consequences it brings with it, you may disregard your own feelings. So, its important to take time for yourself. Do things you love and keep a check on your own mental health.
It might be a good idea to have your own therapist with whom you can discuss your issues. Try to build parts of your life that are separate from your relationship and your partner. This will help you when you are going through any turbulent times in your relationship.
When any situation within such a relationship seems overwhelming, take a step back. Remember that it is the illness that makes your partner behave in such a manner, and it is not who they are. Recall your love for them during the trying times.
All relationships come with their set of challenges. A relationship with a person fighting bipolar disorder certainly has a fair share of them. But with love, communication, collaboration, and determination, people with bipolar disorder can have healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Can Verbal Abuse Cause Bipolar
Experiencing abuse verbally, in isolation to other abuses in children, has a lasting negative effect on the course of bipolar disorder, researchers have found.
Verbal abuse was associated with an earlier onset of bipolar disorder and worse prognosis compared with no abuse in the family or elsewhere. This answer was from a study led by Robert Post .
Their research says, reducing the impact of verbal abuse on the unfolding course of bipolar disorder appears to be an important target of therapeutics and worthy of attempts at primary and secondary prophylaxis.
The effect of verbal abuse on the age of bipolar onset was related to its frequency, with patients reporting having experienced verbal abuse occasionally or frequently developing bipolar disorder earlier than those experiencing it never or rarely.
Given the potential neurobiological effects of verbal abuse of children in the family, the team of researchers recommends interventions such as family-focused treatment. This can help prevent the occurrence of verbal abuse along with other psychotherapies to lessen its effects.
Encourage Your Loved One To Take Bipolar Disorder Medication
Medication is the cornerstone of treatment for bipolar disorder, and most people need it to regulate their moods and avoid relapse. Despite the need for medication, many people with bipolar disorder stop taking it. Some quit because theyre feeling better, others because of side effects, and yet others because they enjoy the symptoms of mania. People who dont think they have a problem are particularly likely to stop taking medication.
You can help your loved one stay on track by emphasizing the importance of medication and making sure they take all prescriptions as directed. Also encourage your loved one to speak to their doctor about any bothersome side effects.
Side effects can be very unpleasant if the dose of the medication is too low or too high, but a change in medication or dosage may solve the problem. Remind your loved one that abruptly stopping medication is dangerous.
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Strategies For Dealing With Bipolar Spouse
If you are living with a bipolar spouse, here are some things to consider when dealing with a bipolar spouse.
The mental illness your spouse suffers with is something that is happening to your entire family. All are affected and it is nobody’s fault. It is not your fault, your spouse’s or your children’s fault. It is an unfortunate illness.
You cannot fix your spouse. There is nothing you can do to make him or her well, so don’t feel compelled to try. What you can do is be supportive, loving and handling the everyday details and practical issues of life that he or she cannot cope with.
All members of the family have a responsibility to cope with the mental illness. Escape is not a helpful way of dealing with crisis. You all need each other.
The ill spouse must recognize and accept the illness, be willing to receive treatment, and if possible, learn to manage the illness. If the mentally ill spouse is not willing to do these things, it may become impossible for the family to continue to support him or her. The family is not required to throw away their own lives for someone who refuses to cooperate. There are limits and they must be enforced without feelings of guilt.
Educate yourself concerning every aspect of the illness. Education brings compassion. Ignorance just encourages anger and fear.
Grieve your loss. It is a great loss. You need to allow yourself the time and energy to experience the entire process of grieving.
Tell Us More About The Circumstances Around Finally Being Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder
Megan**:** I was diagnosed April 7, 2018 in jail. A mental health professional came to my cell and held up her phone which had my Facebook profile pulled up, and she said: You have bipolar I disorder. We are transferring you out of jail to a mental health facility. She had researched my past because I had a successful business, lots of friendsbut had gotten arrested three times in one month and had never been arrested before. They were looking at me like, this girl has no previous record, and then she gets arrested three times in a month?! So, they started doing research on me. They called my family, got in touch with my psychiatrist, who had diagnosed me with depression, and looked through my social media.
BP is often misdiagnosed with depressionand while depression is serious, its very different from bipolar disorder. You cant take the same meds for depression if you have BP. A few years earlier, I was put on an SSRI, which if you have BP can be extremely dangerous. Two months after taking them, I had my first manic episode. It crept up slowly, but surely. I became more and more manic and my family, close friends, Kyle, no one understood why I was acting the way I was.
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Watch For Warning Signs Of Bipolar Disorder Relapse
Even if your loved one with bipolar disorder is committed to treatment, there may be times when their symptoms get worse. Take action right away if you notice any troubling symptoms or mood changes. Point out the emerging bipolar symptoms to your loved one and alert the doctor. With swift intervention, you may be able to prevent an episode of mania or depression from developing fully.
If Your Spouse Has Diagnosed Bipolar Disorder
Recurrent or extreme changes in mood can have a significant impact on the spouses of people living with bipolar disorder. There can be a level of unpredictability in the relationship that causes distress.
On the one hand, the partner experiencing the mood episode is affected by their symptoms, leading to changes in behavior and level of functioning. On the other hand, their spouse may feel responsible for their partner and the family, and may begin to feel burnt out.
These dynamics create challenges in marriages that can be difficult to overcome. Research indicates divorce rates are higher in couples in which one partner has the condition.
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Living With A Bipolar Spouse
Taking medication is a bit like having a tumor removed. You get the tumor, but you have to cut away more of yourself to be sure because the procedure is imprecise. Except instead of tissue, you lose parts of who you are. That is the exchange. Those are the terms, and there are no others. Also there is the added complication of an almost 100% chance of the ‘procedure’ accidentally helping the tumor grow, or giving you problems elsewhere in your body, and etc.
It is awful but again, those are the terms. There is no other deal for anyone to offer.
There will be a drug for her. It takes time and pain and mistakes and it’s really about managing loss – ie losing as little of who you are as possible – but it is better than bipolar, which takes a great deal of you to begin with.
I know theres the stigma around the numb feeling, however I wound up giving the meds a try after a particular round of hysterical anger that wound up turning really nasty. and I really started forcing myself to take the medication. The numb feeling really goes away after a week. Since then my anger has been a lot easier to control, to be honest any and all dark thoughts have become easier to combat and honestly the meds bring me down to earth and relax a-lot more. I never deal with weight gain however it takes time to find the right meds and trust me theres plenty.
TLDR: you can overcome the numb feeling even after a week, I had similar issues. Triggers are so hard to track.
Considering Your Spouses Feelings
Compassion from both partners toward each other can go a long way in a marriage in which one spouse has bipolar disorder.
The partner with the condition may have feelings of guilt, shame, and fear because of the impact of a mood episode on the relationship. Meanwhile, the spouses partner may experience a range of emotions, including anxiety, resentment, loneliness, or feeling stuck.
Learning how to take care of themselves and support each other can strengthen the relationship.
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Managing Your Husbands Bipolar Disorder Together
Come Up With A Contract
Dont wait until your loved one becomes symptomatic to talk to them. Mania can reduce his self-awareness, and depression can impair their ability to take action as well as make him more likely to feel that he is being criticized. Instead, approach them during one of the in-between states, when they are most stable.
Remind your loved one that you support him, and while you may not understand what they are going through, youre here and want to help.
Essentially, you want to create a contract with your loved one. You will agree together that if a certain warning sign appears, its time to take a certain action. It may be symptom-specific, such as locking away firearms if suicidal feelings appear, or agreeing to hand over car keys if impulsivity worsens. Or, you may work out a colored light system, with each color corresponding to a level of concern. For example:
- Green light: All is well.
- Yellow light: Im seeing a few small signs of mania or depression. Try to keep this in mind and be particularly careful.
- Amber light: Im seeing worrisome warning signs. Its time for you to go in and see your doctor.
- Red light: Im extremely worried that something bad will happen, right now. Youre coming with me to the emergency room and/or Im calling 911. Dont hesitate. Studies report that 25-50 percent of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.
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Watch For Triggers And Behavior Changes
Watch for clues or telltales of changes in your partners mood or frame of mind. As a partner or loved one, you are in the best position to recognize the signs and help him or her identify and understand them. Keep a notebook and chart moods and episodes to identify a pattern your partner can use during his journey back to wellness.
Boost Your Partners Confidence
According to a study in Bipolar Disorders, people with bipolar disorder have unstable self-esteems grandiose self-esteem in mania and low self-esteem in periods of depression. This is true to some extent even during remission. Thats why its especially important to make your partner or loved one feel good about him or herself whenever and however you can. Something as simple as regular text messages throughout the day will bolster confidence.
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Have Your Own Support System
Human beings are social animals. We have all learned this in school, but it is especially relevant here. Sustaining a relationship with someone who is bipolar is not easy, and you too will need your support systems. This could be your family, friends, a mental health professional, or anyone you feel comfortable opening up to. A study of caregivers of individuals fighting bipolar disorder found that 86% of the caregivers felt that they experienced major stress due to their partners illness, and almost 90% said they found it difficult to keep the relationship alive.
So, take support and help. There are bipolar support groups specifically for caregivers as well. These could be helpful in sharing experiences and understanding how to manage your own loved one better. All of this helps and keeps you emotionally healthy as well.
Explicitation Of The Data
We analysed the data by employing the steps outlined by Hycner . This explicitation process includes five steps or phases as follows
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The First Signs Of Trouble
Its hard to pinpoint just when Jeff started displaying symptoms of bipolar disorder. In late 2010, he took early retirement and we moved to a different state the type of major life changes that may have a role in triggering bipolar disorder.
Throughout 2011, Jeff became increasingly lethargic and began drinking heavily. I grew frustrated with his inability to be social or make even basic decisions, but didnt recognize that alcohol was the problem. By the summer of 2013, however, we both knew his drinking was out of control. He immediately signed up for an outpatient alcohol treatment program and has not had a drink since.
Initially, sobriety seemed to make a huge difference for the better. Jeff had boundless energy and tons of enthusiasm. He became more social and involved in activities. But he also began to be very self-absorbed. Looking back, the need to be on the go all the time, irrational ideas, and apparent inability to think of anyone but himself may well have been the first signs of mania. The lethargy and drinking also could have been related to bipolar disorder.
There’s No Shame In Getting Help
Meanwhile, both you and your spouse need to understand that there is nothing sinful or shameful about seeking professional psychological and medical assistance in cases of genuine bipolar disorder. Its an affliction that arises directly from an imbalance between three important chemical neurotransmitters which function to control depression and euphoria within the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. As such, its a problem that can and should be dealt with medically. There are many other diseases associated with similar chemical imbalances for example, diabetes, migraine headaches, cancer and thyroid disease but few carry the social stigma that is often attached to bipolar disorder. As youre probably aware, many uninformed people draw a connection between this particular disorder and the sufferers moral and spiritual character. This is a dangerous misunderstanding that needs to be corrected. Here again Dr. Meier has written a book that can be extremely helpful in dispelling some of the more common myths and misconceptions about bipolar disorder. Its called Blue Genes and it can be ordered via Focus on the Family Canadas online store.
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Effectiveness Of Medication Could Be Extremely Unpredictable
Got a med regime that works? Great!
But make sure youve got a good plan B and a plan C for when it doesnt.
Living with bipolar may require and endless tweaking of medication to avoid twerking your mood swings in your partners face. It might involve a seemingly endless process of adjustments.
But taking meds faithfully is the holy of holies. Couples who are struggling to manage bipolar need sacred agreements to faithfully abide by their current treatment regime.
Two couples can have completely different agreements around helping or not helping with medication. There is no right way. Dont enter into an agreement that leaves you stressed or resentful.
Avoid the Temptation to Become a 24/7 Psychiatric Nurse.
Try not to let BPD be the centerpiece of your bipolar marriage. You dont want to become more of a nurse than a spouse. Take care of yourself, read relax, indulge in your hobbies.
Preserve your mental and emotional capacities for yourself and others. Your marriage is not only about managing bipolar disorder. If you find that preventing bipolar marriage breakdown is hogging your resources, find a way to seek balance. Avoid burning out.