The Stigma of Bipolar in Relationships
How many times of you heard, "oh, you can't date her, she has bipolar disorder." Well, okay, you might not have heard it, but many of us have been on the business end of that idea. People have advised others never to date us because we have bipolar disorder. In this video I talk about the stigma of dating someone with bipolar disorder and how it's just prejudice that produces statements like the above.
The Stigma of Dating Someone with Bipolar Disorder
It's unfair, but some people treat us like we're lepers. Some people say that you should date us for your own protection. But this is unfair and untrue.
In this video I discuss how ridiculous it is to judge our "date-ability" based on a diagnosis.
Tracy, N. (2013, December 1). The Stigma of Bipolar in Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2013/12/stigma-bipolar-relationships
Author: Natasha Tracy
And because I do love him, because I do know the person inside who is kind, considerate, creative, fun, funny, loving, patient, friendly... I have reunited with him, twice.
The last time, I made him leave our home after several years of drug use which culminated in a months-long bout with severe alcohol abuse and accompanying florid psychosis.
He cleaned up, and tried to find a place to live but the mechanics of doing so were overwhelming to him - he was too paranoid to use the library, too disorganized to complete a rental application. I tried to help, but no place was good enough for his 'needs.'
He begged to come back 5 months after leaving and I relented, thinking that we could go back to being happy together.
He has never been the same since. There is always underlying psychosis regardless of med levels or sleep, diet, exercise, stress...
Having a relationship with him has been hard, I know that having kids with him was even harder for his ex. (They have 5 together.)
When thinking about having a long-term relationship with a person who has BP, think about all the bipolar stuff which is often triggered by daily stressors. Then think about the usual progression of an LTR, which can mean marriage and children. Add the 'normal' stresses of parenting to the bipolar life, and realize that all the troubles that an unstable bipolar person brings to a relationship are the antithesis of characteristics of parents who raise well-adjusted children.
My BP is not, cannot be, consistent: with routines, discipline, promises made to his kids... as a result, my BP cannot be counted on to care for his child who has type 1 diabetes and bipolar, whose needs include a consistent wake time, mealtimes, injection schedule, and bedtime.
My BP often will not or cannot, put his kids needs first to do things that a parent must do whether they like it or not: go to recitals, doctor's appointments, parent-teacher meetings...
My BP is often reckless and irresponsible: driving aggressively and erratically with the kids in the car, using his money for his own 'needs' instead of feeding the kids...
My BP often displays behavior that is toxic to happy children: behaving unpredictably, yelling at all of us, picking fights with me in front of them, involving them in his fights with me and his ex-wife, and disciplining the kids overly harshly for issues that 'normal' parents take in stride.
My BP cannot teach the kids healthy coping behaviors, because he has none. He does not model appropriate adult behaviors, because his ideas of what is appropriate are so skewed. His executive functioning is so poor that he cannot teach or model planning behaviors, predicting cause & effect, logical consequences, or impulse control.
These may not be 'character defects' per se, but these deficits make for a piss-poor parent and partner.
I have to be honest, I don't know how anyone does it, I don't know why anyone should. The spending, the lies, the sexualisation, the nasty, manipulative twisted games, the criticism, the nit picking, the finger pointing, the creating drama to criticise you about the dram they created.................it's just a living hell.
I used to believe in love, that made sure I never would again. So yes, if one of my friends told me they were thinking of dating a bipolar, I would tell them what happened to me, what it really is like and ask if they really think they should give their life to that.
Yes, I am sorry anyone suffers that much that they are that mean, cold, spiteful and critical, thinking they are above everyone else, have higher purposes, elevating themselves when they can barely hold down a part time job washing dishes............but gosh, falling in love with a bipolar, it changed my life. I will never love again, I have become celibate and have been for two and a half years, I will never have a relationship again.
So whilst we focus on bipolars and how they deserve love.............wonder if we are allowed to focus on those that get destroyed too?
I was in a relationship with this guy for a year. He told me from the beginning about his bipolar and his past. He was concerned how this would affect the way I viewed him. As far as I was concerned, it didn't change how I felt about him. In fact, I was impressed by his honesty.
I read everything I could about the illness, and we discussed it very openly. He was on medication, and whilst he was struggling at times, he was not doing badly. I loved him very much and we were very close. He kept telling me he felt the same about me. It wasn't always easy but I couldn't see myself walking away from the relationship. He was the person I wanted to be with.
He then turned from hot to cold within a very short space of time. I tried to work out what was happening. He kept telling me everything was fine and he loved me. he just needed some space. And then he ended it. He did not have an episode. He was not aggressive or rude. But he was cold- as if it hadn't meant anything. I was desperate to find out what happened. I had no idea what I'd done. His only explanation was that he had too many "crazy" thoughts, and how it had nothing to do with me.
I was pretty shattered. After a few months of a rather awkward relationship we are now at a point at which we are, at least, relatively close friends. It's not what I had envisaged, but it's better than not having him in my life at all. Also, due to work we see each other all the time anyway. He says he is glad I'm in his life. But quite frankly I'm worried all the time that he'll cut me loose as a friend as well.
I have never been in a situation like this before, ie gone from hot to cold so rapidly for no apparent reason. And it's been quite hurtful. Of course not everyone who has bipolar is the same. And I certainly wouldn't tell anyone not to date such-and-such because that person has bipolar. I have, however, now come across two people in my circle of friends who had very similar experiences with bipolar partners, and were just as bewildered as me. I would not not date someone because of a mental illness, but I would now probably be much more guarded.
I hope this makes sense and I haven't stepped on anyone's toes. I just wanted to explain the other side. And I will never think ill of my ex- partner, he is a great person and his frienship means a lot to me.
@Ingrid. Totally understand. I knew someone who went through a seriously bad period of depression, suicide attempt and all. Plus, truthfully, he was an a**hole for quite some time - horribly irritable, irreverent (in a bad way), sloppy, filthy and inconsiderate. He really tested people's patience, that's for sure. However, despite this, I still think of him as a very intelligent, funny and witty guy. And helpful. He really did me a major favor once upon a time that I will never forget it. The point is, there is so much more to a person than their illness. You can certainly judge one on behavior alone (and very understandable if they did something major, like ruin your life) but the picture will be so one-dimensional and a true disservice to the individual as a human being. There may be so many positive past behaviors and future ones to come. Why cement your focus on a period that is only a drop in time in the long view? The hollywood ending to this story is he is doing well and indeed very lucky that he has people around him who accept him as he is now. If only we were all as lucky.
I hope everyone finds the happiness that they deserve.
I don't make judgments against people for their illness. Everyone deserves a fair chance. However, when bipolar rears it's head, life isn't easy. The "mean" part of bipolar disorder with mixed mania in a depressive state can be the ugliest thing ever seen.
I don't think it's reasonable to tell someone they can or can't date another, but if the bipolar has been shown to create a hostile environment or violence in the past, it will again.
I've been married to a bipolar man for 11 years and lived with him for 12. It took countless doctors and medications to get to a stable place after 2 years of pure hell.
I've heard the kind of statements you refer to more times than I can count, but I'm still here. You're asking that each person be judged on his or her merit, but that merit changes with bipolar. Opinions are developed based on behavior. So, it depends on what that family member or friend has seen from the person whether their warnings should be taken seriously or not.
By the way, I think the braids are a great look for you. Very cute.
The first time my husband experienced me going to hospital, he was out of his mind with worry. And, he had no support from anyone. People were telling him to break up with me or have a lifetime of misery. People who knew me well and who even encouraged the relationship in the first place.
This was not helpful. He loved me dearly. Nobody was there to reassure him things were going to be alright.
But they were alright. And we are happy.