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Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

I have not done a book review on here but that’s because I don’t tend to read help books on bipolar disorder – I write that material, not read it. But recently one such book has landed in my possession and I’d like to take the time to recommend it: Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder – Understanding and Helping Your Partner (second edition) by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, PsyD.

People often ask me how to help others with bipolar disorder and I believe this book could help partners answer that question.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

The reason this book works, I think, is because the authors have been there. They write in kind language, in an approachable style that I believe is readily accessible to people. There are chapters on:

  • Treatment plans
  • Moods
  • “What Works”
  • Triggers
  • Sex
  • Work and Money

And others. These are things that every couple battling bipolar disorder needs to know.

Moreover, the book includes exercises the loved one can do to tailor information to them. For example, there is an exercise: “Break Down You Partner’s Bipolar Disorder into Specific Symptom Categories.” This exercise includes:

  • Finding the consistent problems
  • Interviewing your partner
  • Listing the mood categories in your journal

In other words, this is an exercise designed to help you get a handle on the moods your partner really has and not just the moods listed in a textbook.

The Good About the Book

This book actively involves the partner of a person with bipolar disorder in the treatment process and helps them to understand all aspects of the disease, treatment and recovery. This book talks about hard truths and gives examples of people who have been through it. This book provides a structure for a useful dialogue between the person with bipolar disorder and their partner. This book makes no judgement about bipolar disorder or treatment plans but just lays out the information in a plain way. This book gives facts that are grounded in psychology and psychiatry.

The Bad About the Book

Clearly, I like the book but that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect. The one part I really don’t like is the appendix on medications. I don’t think it’s overly accurate and that’s because in order to be fully accurate about the drugs they mention would take up a whole book. I don’t believe that people should get “overview” information about a drug because it glosses over all the possible impacts of the drug. I think including this appendix is akin to giving someone an overview of a handgun and not an in-depth course – you could save your life, or you could shoot yourself in the foot.

In short, I don’t think the medication appendix should be there.

Final Opinion About the Book

Obviously, I feel the good far outweighs the bad in this book. While I, personally, would like to have seen more references to scientific literature and I don’t think the medication appendix is appropriate, I do think the rest of the book stands on solid ground and would be a huge help to partners of people with bipolar disorder. I think that whether your partner has just been diagnosed or whether you have been battling this illness for years, there is knowledge to be gained from this book. I definitely give the book a buy recommendation.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

(Disclosure: no one is paying me for my opinion, but my copy of the book was given to me by the publisher (without expectation of review). I have no financial interest in this book.)

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

11 thoughts on “Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder”

  1. My girlfriend just bought this book, took a picture of it, and send it saying she was committed And started reading it today. It made me furious, embarrassed, guilty, and ashamed of myself. I mean what the hell? Do y’all really need a damn “owner’s manual” to learn to deal with this? I know information is important but damn, I feel like a freak knowing that someone needs instructions on how to love me because I’m BP. This is insulting and if you have to read a book to love your partner that is BP, it makes the “normal” lover look like a complete moron. This book is a piece of crap and no book could ever cover all dynamics of this disorder. That’s like reading Oliver Twist and pretending you know all about orphans. Generalizing this disease in book format is completely idiotic. They actually have activities for couples to do together? Lmao. Yea….I haven’t even read a page and would burn every copy I see because the authors (Big time “doctors”, although just trying to help, obviously think we are all the same and you can read a book and significantly improve a relationship with someone that’s BP. I know many people with BPD, and I might not be a doctor but am an LPC, and I’ve never met two people with BPD that are even close to being similar in thoughts, actions, or emotions. Everyone is unique and while there are some true stereotypes, you gotta go through the gauntlet to learn how to love someone with BPD. Buy the book, waste your money, do your “homework” with your partner, and I guarantee you will still be struggling with his or her disorder on a daily basis. Guarantee it! Also…there is no way in hell that you will ever beat this disorder, and there is definitely no cure. It’s so complex that a psychiatrist can’t even prescribe the right medicine the first time. I’ve been searching 10 years for the right meds and STILL can’t find one that really helps. This book is insulting and the author should meet more people with BPD…Especially me. Sounds like a generic mold that she’s trying to fit everyone into. Yea yea yea….”Read the book before you judge it AJ.” Well…when the ignorant title pisses me off…there’s a slim chance I’d even give it a glance. How much more guilt do we need on top of what we already have because of this disorder? I agree with that previous post by Lisa…I’d rather be single for the rest of my life and die alone than present this embarrassing book into a relationship. Instead of buying the damn thing, do a google search. Its cheaper and I’m sure you’d find testimonials that could teach you more. Or just be normal and see a therapist with plenty of experience. Simply put….this book may help somebody, but like I said….no way in hell it will allow the non-afflicted to love their partner more or better. Either you can handle it and stick by their side, learning as you go, or you need to run for the hills because this brain disease is so complicated, you could write volumes of books and STILL not completely explain your afflicted lover’s ailment. Rant over. Do yourselves a favor and google the info on this disorder. You can do it privately so you don’t make your lover feel alienated and like a highschooler. Activities/Homework…..give me a break.

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