I am currently dating someone who has bipolar disorder. He's been honest since the beginning about everything. Something, that to me, means a lot. I was just wondering, though, how do I show him I accept him and his disease, that I support him and care about him? Does anyone have any tips? ~ from Sarah
Insights from Real Personal Experiences
- The easy answer is just to love him - it's all one package. I'm not saying you have to love the disease - and there may be times when you hate it - but he is who he is because he has bipolar disorder. There are several people here who would disagree with that, but I, for one, cannot winnow out which traits I was born with and which I can attribute to this disorder.
- Be sure about you are in agreement on children - that can definitely be a deal-breaker.
- If you really want to see him blossom and your relationship deepen, you need to convince him that you consciously chose to be with him knowing full-well his affliction and that the good stuff he brings to your life far outweighs the baggage of his disorder. When my wife did this with me it changed everything.
- Continue to study bipolar disorder.
- Offer to join in his counseling or attend a support group for families/lovers with BP in your area...if he wants you to. Don't be pushy about that. Just a casual but sincere, "Hey, just so you know...if you ever want me to join you at counseling or join a support group with you, I'd be happy to do. It might help me to understand and love you better."
- When you see progress, praise it. When he has a victory, celebrate it. Self-image is a bigger issue with most beepers than we could ever admit to a "normie." And, people love to be around people who make them feel good.
- Sit down with him when he's most balanced and establish some warning words/phrases. He needs one for mania and one for depression. Our loved-ones can see the warning signs before we can. This way, if he's going manic, you can say the agreed upon word/phrase to him lovingly, and it is very likely to cause him to bust out of the fog temporarily and perhaps seek professional assistance immediately or make a few changes in the daily routine, etc. If not so severe and caught early enough, this can be an extremely effective management tool - a very concrete way you can be of great value to him in managing his condition. It will also help you feel more empowered against the disease.