Romantic relationships are difficult to manage when you have bipolar disorder. There’s no doubt about that. It is bad enough keeping relationships going when you don’t have bipolar, but much more difficult when you have the illness.
There are normal ups and downs in any relationship but people with bipolar have problems with mood swings and that can make for a very rocky ride. When you are depressed, you may well want nothing to do with your partner, or you just want to be left alone because you feel guilty for causing problems. Then when you are manic or hypomanic, you can say or do things that genuinely upset your partner which puts another strain on the relationship. If there are children involved, it can be even more difficult to cope. Children can find it very confusing and stressful when their parent’s behavior is out of control.
The main thing to bear in mind is that your partner needs to know as much as possible about your illness. Education is key. If they are going to be able to help you, they will need to read as much as they can about bipolar disorder. It may help if you find a suitable website and print out something that is easily understood. With knowledge comes power. You want your partner to be able to help you in any way they can.
Taking your medication is very important if you want your bipolar to improve. It is no use taking it irregularly, or not taking it at all. Medication is the number one thing that will help you get well and stay well.
If you can get your partner to go to couples therapy with you, that can help a lot. The purpose of therapy is to help your partner understand what is happening in the relationship. They will know what to expect and be able to help you when times get tough. They will also need to learn forgiveness for the things that are out of your control. You may well be able to complete a crisis plan with a therapist which will give you and your partner a clear idea of what to do in a crisis when you are unable to help yourself.
Intimacy can pose its own special problems as bipolar tends to have a big influence on whether you want to have sex or not. When you are manic, you are likely to feel hypersexual and want to have sex all the time, whereas when you are depressed sex may be the last thing on your mind. It is wise to explain this to your partner so that they understand that it has no bearing on them and you are not trying to reject them when you are depressed.
The most important thing is to take care of yourself despite how you are feeling. This means concentrating on good sleep hygiene so that you are getting enough sleep at night. Also, you need to make sure that you eat a wholesome diet with lots of protein to keep you healthy. Exercise is really good for you, as well, so strive to exercise regularly during the week. You may like to do mood charts, too, which will help you control your mood swings.
If all goes well, you can pat yourself on the back as coping with romantic relationships is hard when you have bipolar disorder.