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.
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
- “What Works”
- 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.
(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.)