How My Sexual Assault Affected My Relationships

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The symptoms of my sexual assault affect my relationships by cropping up in unexpected ways, years after the traumatic event. As I slowly came to terms with what happened to me, these symptoms began to interfere with my romantic relationships in a variety of ways, both subtle and overt. I tried to navigate these symptoms of sexual assault and the further I strived to avoid them, the further they popped up unexpectedly and uninvited. Over the years, I have discovered that there are several things that my partner and I can do to help ease my mind and work towards understanding the aftermath of my assault.

How Symptoms of Sexual Assault Affected My Relationships

The sexual assault affected my relationships from the time it happened forward. When I was assaulted at the age of 16, I blamed myself for what had happened, as so many other survivors do. The situation replayed itself in my nightmares, vivid to the point that I woke up in terror. I internalized this blame for years, yet, five years later, my symptoms were still wreaking havoc on me.

Whenever my partner approached me too quickly, I'd flinch. If a partner used the phrases my abuser had said or moved in a specific way, I would spiral downhill. I had partners call me fidgety and find my high startle response amusing.

At the beginning of college, when my symptoms were at their worst, years after the assault, I never told my partners about what had happened to me. I already blamed myself for what had happened, and I couldn't bear the thought of others blaming me as well. Furthermore, talking about the assault made it feel even more real. As the years progressed and I began to resist physical touch increasingly more, I feared that I would never be able to form a healthy relationship and that the sexual assault would affect my relationships for the rest of my life.

How I Began Controlling How the Sexual Assault Affects Relationships

In college, I went abroad to Amsterdam to study sexuality, and I began delving into courses on feminism. For the first time in my life, I found myself surrounded by women who had experienced the same traumatic events. I joined support groups and began talking about my assault in therapy. Slowly, I began to come to terms with what had happened to me. I realized that although blocking the memory from my mind for years felt better at the moment, it never allowed me to reflect on my assault fully.

When I felt comfortable in relationships, I began to self-disclose about what had happened to me if I felt my symptoms arise. I found that the partners I told were extraordinarily empathetic and attempted to understand where my symptoms may be coming from. My partners were more patient with me and respected my triggers and boundaries and adjusted their actions accordingly. 

Recovery Is Not Linear 

One of the most significant takeaways from dating in the aftermath of my sexual assault is that recovery is not linear, and I need to practice patience with myself. I would go through periods where I felt safe, stable, and trusting in relationships. Yet, when a relationship crumbled,  I would re-experience my symptoms and begin to distrust anyone that remotely looked like my abuser or was of the same gender.

I began to hate myself for not getting over this assault, over half a decade later. Every time I flinched at the slightest movement or changed my route home because I was convinced someone was following me, I'd grow frustrated. However, one remarkable therapist told me that recovery is not linear, and I repeat this mantra to myself daily. Recovery can be hard and take years, and self-love and patience are critical in this journey. 

How has sexual assault affected your relationships?

 

How a Daily Visualization Enhances Your Effectiveness

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I recently read a book on being more effective in which the author discusses the utility of daily visualization. Daily visualization might make us think of guided visualizations or meditation, but the daily visualization method is distinct from that. 

How to Visualize Daily and Be More Effective

A daily visualization involves mentally rehearsing each piece of your day from first waking up in the morning to bedtime. The practice doesn’t require any particular setting or physical action, such as closing the eyes. You can visualize in chunks throughout the day or all at once. Daily visualization may prove challenging if your mind isn’t used to processing in this way, but like other mental and physical practices, the results are worth the strain. 

As an example, while showering you can imagine your breakfast and the rest of your morning routine. Think of what you’ll eat, the order in which you’ll prepare that food, and what you’ll do with any dishes generated. See yourself getting dressed, including the clothes you’ll wear, and leaving the house if that’s part of your day. 

On your way to work or errands, visualize each task. Think of the conversations you’ll have and how you’ll respond to various questions or situations. 

How Can Daily Visualization Make You More Effective?

This type of daily visualization makes you more effective by increasing your decision-making capability and your perception of small changes1. When something goes differently than you’d imagined, you notice those contrasts and adjust accordingly. Note the difference between this method and simply adapting to circumstances as they come: when you’ve imagined an outcome and respond to unexpected circumstances, you’ll naturally pay more attention to the choice you’re making. You avoid simply reacting, and instead consciously choose an alternative. Over time, the conscious choices you make become habits and help with logical decision-making. 

Initially, this level of specificity in a daily visualization seemed to be a situation ripe for overwhelm and irritation, rather than a recipe for being more effective. If I imagine my day, of course I’ll be disappointed or frustrated when things don’t go as I imagined them. It’s impossible to accurately predict what will happen. However, with some practice, I soon realized the daily visualization actually helped avoid overwhelm. If during an unexpected circumstance I made a deliberate choice, I felt immediate relief and empowerment, rather than irritation. Noticing the differences between what I’d expected and what happened also allowed me to see that the contrast was often small. Thus, I could see the similarities in my imagined day and experienced day as well. 

While daily visualization is still a new practice for me, its ability to make people more effective and its accessibility make visualization an easy addition to my life. 

See Also:

Visualization Exercises Can Conquer Anxiety

Visualization for Psychological Disorders

Source

Duhigg, Charles. Smarter Faster Better. p 87-88.

What is Sexual Orientation OCD?

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Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about her relative who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She was worried for her relative because they told her that part of their OCD involved worrying that they were gay. Until then, she'd never heard that rumination about your own sexuality can be an OCD symptom and felt like her relative was probably just part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

As a member of the queer community who has OCD, I had heard of this subset of the mental disorder before and was in a unique position to explain what it involved for her. But until this conversation, I hadn't realized how misunderstood this manifestation of OCD can be. Read on to discover what sexual orientation OCD is and a few key differences between this disorder and LGBT identity.

What is Sexual Orientation OCD?

Sexual orientation OCD is a subset of purely-obsessional OCD, which mostly involves mental rumination instead of outward compulsions. People with sexual orientation OCD have intrusive thoughts about their sexual orientation that cause them to doubt which gender that they're attracted to. Although the most common manifestation is in straight people fearing that they are gay, LGBT people with sexual orientation OCD can worry that they're straight.

A few symptoms of sexual orientation OCD can include:1

  • Constantly observing yourself for evidence that you are gay or straight
  • Analyzing interactions with people of the same or opposite gender to determine if you felt romantic attraction
  • Compulsively asking your significant other or a loved one if they suspect that you're gay or straight
  • Looking at attractive people of the same or opposite gender to "check" if you're attracted to them
  • Reading articles about LGBT or straight people to compare your story to theirs

Unlike sexual orientation OCD, identifying as LGBT is not an illness. Feeling attracted to people of the same gender, in and of itself, isn't unhealthy and doesn't have to cause distress. For an LGBT person, unhappiness about their identity usually comes from discrimination or internalized shame because they've learned to see being gay as inferior to straight people. With time and (in some cases) counseling, many gay people live happy and fulfilling lives dating people who are their same gender.

How to Tell the Difference Between Sexual Orientation OCD and LGBT Identity

The only person who can say whether a person has OCD or is LGBT is a mental health professional. For those who think they may have this subset of OCD, I would highly recommend talking to a counselor who is both LGBT-friendly and familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But as someone with OCD, a litmus test I often use is whether these thoughts truly align with my identity. A person with sexual orientation OCD is fixated on whether or not they are LGBT, whereas gay people are attracted to and genuinely want a relationship with someone of the same gender. Because OCD can be so pervasive and entrenched in doubts, however, the best person to ask is again a mental health professional.

Sources

  1. Frenzel, P. "How Do I Know I’m Not Really Gay?" International OCD Foundation, accessed 22 June 2019.

Slow Down to Reduce Anxiety Fast

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It's important to know how to reduce anxiety fast because sometimes it feels like your anxiety builds up too quickly to do anything about it. Like you were feeling ok one minute and then suddenly felt extremely anxious? This is a common experience, and it often starts with something going just a little bit different than we might like.

Perhaps it's a party you're going to, or even forgetting your keys, but these little instances can have a disproportionate impact on anxiety. Once you notice something that could be a threat, your body kicks into anxiety-mode and gets started identifying additional threats to protect you. Although this isn't a fun experience, it is a protective one, and it's one that we can disrupt and, in so doing, reduce anxiety fast. 

You Have Trouble Reducing Anxiety Fast Because Anxiety Moves Quickly

Anxiety moves quickly because that's how it's kept people alive and well for all of human history -- without a fast response to danger, our ancestors would not have survived. Of course, in our modern world, a lot of the stressors we face are actually not ones that we can overcome in a short period of time. We face many more chronic stressors that can't be dealt with quickly and are unlikely to go away over time. In short, we have a hyper-efficient protective system in place that is actually not well-suited for the challenges we face today. So, reducing anxiety fast is a skill we need to develop.

It Is Possible to Reduce Anxiety Fast

Even though the system we have wants anxiety to move quickly, it's actually possible to slow it down. You can think of it as educating your body about what stressors you're actually facing. Your body only knows when it encounters something that frightens you, but it doesn't know what the best response is.

When you're being attacked by a snake, your body is going to do a great job of keeping you safe this way, but when you have a huge project that's due in 6 months to work on, preparing your body to run away is not going to be so adaptive. So how do we tell our bodies what type of stressor we're facing? Here are three ways you can start communicating more effectively with your anxiety. 

How to Reduce Anxiety Fast 

  1. Say thank you. Your body works really hard to keep you safe, and even when its response isn't appropriate to the challenge you're facing, it still warrants gratitude. By engaging with a sense of gratitude rather than fear, we can disrupt our stress response and initiate a different, more adaptive process. 
  2. Educate your anxiety. Once your body identifies a threat, it's ready to get you away from it immediately. But your body doesn't understand what types of threats need to be run away from and which need to be faced directly. When you start feeling anxious about something, remind yourself that your body isn't necessarily accurate about threats. You understand what kind of threats you're facing better than your body does and you can use that information to educate it. Distrusting your body's response can be a great way to reduce your anxiety fast. 
  3. Breathe slowly. My go-to response to reducing the anxiety that comes on fast is to engage in slow, deep breathing. This engages the parasympathetic nervous system and helps stop your body's stress response. While you're trying to disrupt your anxiety using steps 1 and 2 above, use deep breathing as well to provide further distance between yourself and your stress response. 

The steps described above are all focused on creating distance between yourself and your anxiety. They may sound a little silly, but any step you can take that helps you notice you are not your anxiety is valuable for reducing anxiety quickly and safely. What other tips do you have to reduce anxiety fast? Share below! 

Giving a Gift to Someone With Mental Illness Means a Lot

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There are many ways to show that you love someone who is struggling with a mental health condition, and giving a gift is one very important method. Read this article to learn about the importance of gift giving and how to find one for someone who is struggling. 

Why Gift-Giving Is Important

When was the last time you received a gift? What did it mean to you? For people with anxiety and depression, a gift can mean the world. It does not have to be anything fancy or expensive. It just has to come from the heart. If your loved one is feeling hopeless, a card expressing hope can be nice. A simple gift can distract someone from negative thoughts. In some cases, it can even aid in preventing suicide.

How to Choose a Sentimental Gift for Giving

For some people (myself, included), choosing a sentimental gift can be quite difficult. You might wonder if your loved one will like it. But remember that it is the thought that counts. This does not mean that you choose the first thing you see. Some thought about the other person’s interests is important. If you are giving a sentimental gift, consider the occasion. If you are shopping for a funeral gift, find something that symbolizes condolence. A card with a heartfelt quote would be a nice sentiment. For someone’s birthday, choose something that symbolizes friendship or love. For my birthday this year, my boyfriend gave me a necklace. This is something that I will always treasure.

You Don't Have to Buy a Gift to Give

If shopping really stresses you out, you can also make a gift to give to someone. If you and your loved one share a creative hobby, making a gift can be fun for you and very meaningful for your loved one.

After my father died, a friend made a pillow out of the flannel my father always wore. That pillow holds all of my memories of him. My mom loves to sew, and she knows that I appreciate her work. So she sometimes makes pillowcases and baskets for me. The fact that both my friend and my mother took the time to make these gifts shows love and care.

I challenge you to think about a difficult time in your life when you received a gift. How did it affect you mentally and/or emotionally? Is there any gift you think you could give a loved one right now? If you feel comfortable, share your thoughts about gift giving in the comments.

Self-Acceptance and Complex PTSD

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Self-acceptance isn't easy when you live with complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD makes it easy to continually beat yourself up when you have challenging moments and struggles. This just leads to getting stuck in a trap of self-defeat that falsely makes you believe there is no hope for overcoming PTSD. One of the essential things needed for you not to find yourself stuck, however, is self-acceptance.

I found myself back in that self-defeated space this week. I've come a long way in learning to manage when I am triggered, but this week, I fell short bigtime and had one of the biggest panic attacks I've had in a while. This led to me beating myself up for having panic at all (no self-acceptance), which then led to falling into a depression about how I'm woefully inept I am and that I'll never overcome my complex PSTD. Ah, that lovely downward spiral.

Of course, the extra bonus of having complex PTSD as a result of childhood trauma is once the spiral of self-defeat starts, emotional flashbacks soon follow. The story I start to tell myself is not the true one of a woman who has overcome much and learned to manage complex PTSD. Instead, my inner critic feeds off of the emotional flashback, and my narrative is that I shouldn't bother trying anymore and have no right to think I should even show up in the world. This just leads to me beating myself up even more.

It took my therapist to remind me of something I needed that I had gotten pretty good about remembering during the hard times,  but completely lost sight of this week - self-acceptance.

Defining Self-Acceptance with Complex PTSD

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about suddenly loving yourself and saying, "Okay, I'm over whatever bad thing happened to me."  I'm not asking you to look in a mirror and tell yourself 100 times a day how great you are. Tried that. Didn't work. Subconscious fear responses and shame-based beliefs take some work to overcome. That's why self-acceptance is so important.

Maybe like me, you forget to use self-acceptance in your PTSD recovery. You might beat yourself up for not letting go of the past. Then, when your complex PTSD flares up, you shame yourself for being triggered again or having another panic attack. The more you try to push yourself to move forward and tell yourself that you should just get over it, the more you feel like you're running on a hamster wheel, getting no-where.

We judge ourselves for being stuck, and we want to push ourselves out of the discomfort we feel, but healing from complex PTSD isn't as natural as merely deciding today is the day you're over it. The most important thing is to give yourself compassion during the hard times because when you judge yourself, you then add a level of shame to it by saying you shouldn't be sad or anxious or angry or whatever else shows up for you, which makes it even harder to dig out from those feelings. 

If in the moment of your struggle, when you stop shoulding and shaming yourself and accept that it's okay to feel what you're feeling because you went through some really awful things and now live with complex PTSD, you open yourself up to moving through the feelings, rather than getting stuck in them. Doing this adds self-acceptance to your PTSD recovery. 

Finding Self-Acceptance with Complex PTSD

Self-acceptance is so crucial for healing from complex PTSD. The path can be hard at times. We all will have good and bad days, but when you can start to accept yourself in the moment, and not beat yourself up for being a certain way or for failures you may experience, little by little you will gain more control and continue forward movement.

Flashbacks, anxiety, and depression can suck you into getting stuck. Thanks to my therapist's reminder, I changed my attitude from one of self-defeat to one of self-acceptance. The truth is, the past few weeks have been crazy busy for me in my business, plus I'm working a full-time job. Those two things alone can stress a person out, and when you add the level of complex PTSD, it makes perfect sense that I was starting to lose it. Once I gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling and took a little bit of time for myself to acknowledge I have a right to feel like I do, I was able to see my circumstance more objectively and stop self-judging.

Getting unstuck from the past takes time, but the good news is that it's entirely possible. The unhealthy subconscious habits and thought patterns that we developed as childhood abuse survivors are entirely possible to change, but it starts with self-acceptance, even with PTSD. When you begin to you accept yourself as you are in the moment, scars and all, you can start making better choices for coping and begin to find healing from the past.

Introduction to Amanda Richardson, Author of ‘Debunking Addiction’

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My name is Amanda Richardson and I am a new author for Debunking Addiction at HealthyPlace. For as long as I can remember, addiction has been a part of my life. Addiction and substance abuse have occurred in my family for at least the last five generations, so I was no stranger to it when it first took hold of my life. Read on to learn more about my experiences with addiction and why I want to write for Debunking Addiction.

Amanda Richardson’s Sex Addiction

The primary drug of choice in my family has always been alcohol and prescription pills, but my compulsive patterns presented themselves in a different way. Instead of being crippled by a substance, my addiction is behavioral. Some people crave the high they get from pills or powders, but I crave the high I get from unhealthy sexual behaviors. 

My name is Amanda and I am a sex addict.

I became aware of my sex addiction when I was 21 years old during a very dark season in my life. In the process of trying to cope with an abusive relationship and numerous traumatizing events, I began using sex and pornography to numb my emotional pain and isolate myself from everyone around me.

My seemingly minor unhealthy coping skill soon became my biggest crutch and, eventually, it became the most daunting and life-altering demon I’d ever known. After a few years in active addiction and a couple hundred therapy sessions later, I realized that my sex addiction began much younger than I remembered.

I didn’t fully understand my addiction until I was 21 years old, but my unhealthy sexual patterns and behaviors began developing the moment I lost my virginity at age 15. My habits shifted periodically over the years, but my poison was always the same. In a feeble attempt to manage my brokenness, I consistently used sex to block out all my emotions and shut out the people I loved.

Amanda Richardson Goes from Sex Addict to ‘Debunking Addiction’

Over time, with faith, determination, a ton of hard work, and the support of my amazing husband, I eventually broke the chains of this addiction and gained a lifetime of insight and wisdom along the way. I’m still navigating through this crazy life and continually learning what it means to be a married woman in recovery from sex addiction.

My greatest hope as a writer for Debunking Addiction is to be a voice of unconditional encouragement and a profound educational resource for all individuals who suffer from sex addiction. After working as a recovery coach for the last few years, it has become a true passion of mine to empower, educate, ignite, and advocate for the people who need it most. Sex addicts have been shamed, stigmatized, and scrutinized for far too long. I am here to bring light, hope, and joy to the addict who still suffers by using my voice and my story to show you that recovery is still possible.

More on Amanda Richardson and What She Wants for 'Debunking Addiction'

Watch this for more about Amanda Richardson and what she hopes you'll get out of Debunking Addiction:

Overcoming Anxiety Is Like Learning to Tie Your Shoelaces

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Overcoming anxiety is a lot like learning how to tie shoelaces. Both are frustrating. Both require patience and perseverance. Accomplishing them feels triumphant. Once you've largely overcome anxiety, put on your shoes and tied your shoelaces, you're ready to go places. Grab your shoes, and let's look at how overcoming anxiety is like learning how to tie your shoes. 

When asked the first step in shoe tying, many people respond confidently, saying "cross the laces." However. two things must happen before reaching that stage. The real first step is to put on your shoes. The next one is to pick up the laces. You can't cross the laces or do anything else until you're wearing your shoes and have the laces in your hands. This is much like overcoming anxiety.

The First Steps in Overcoming Anxiety

Reducing and overcoming anxiety is a methodical process. An important first step is akin to putting on your shoes. With purpose, decide that you want to overcome it. 

To be meaningful and lead somewhere positive, decision must be coupled with commitment. Vow to yourself that you will support your decision and work to overcome anxiety. In committing to action, you are picking up your laces.

Once you've decided that you want to overcome anxiety (you've put on your shoes) and made a commitment to yourself to break free from anxiety through action (picked up the laces), you're ready to progress. 

To Overcome Anxiety, Take More Steps

Now you're ready to dig into the work. Chances are, when you learned to tie your shoes as a young child, you encountered frustrations and setbacks. You probably had to repeat steps ad nauseam. Reducing anxiety is similar.  

When fulfilling your commitment to actively deal with anxiety, it's normal to feel like you're getting nowhere. It might seem that you keep dropping and fumbling clumsily with the laces and that you'll never be able to do it. 

Small victories and the elation that comes with them will sustain you. Revel in doing something without overthinking it or find yourself enjoying something rather than worrying about it. Celebrate these victories. Return to them when you need reminding that you are indeed overcoming anxiety despite the fact that it's a slow process. 

Typical Steps in Overcoming Anxiety

Just like tying shoes, overcoming anxiety is a skillset. Remembering these steps and information will help you put on your shoes, pick up the laces, and keep walking forward:

  • Know what's bothering you the most and officially decide to fix it.  
  • Know where you want to go and commit to acting on it. 
  • Develop goals and create a plan of action. 
  • Accept that there are steps involved--it's a climb, not a saunter across flat terrain.
  • Be mindful of each new step you reach. Think not of past frustrations nor of those that lie ahead. Be fully present with each step and you'll master it well.
  • When you become frustrated, take a break. Breathe. Meditate. Do something fun. Laugh. Resume.

Perhaps the most important part of the learning and doing process is to resist throwing away your shoes. Don't ask for Velcro. Don't resign yourself to a lifetime of anxiety. Do keep in mind your decision, purpose, and commitment to act. Walk ahead, leaving anxiety behind as you overcome it. 

Is Depression the Reason You Can't Work Full-Time?

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I can't work full time, but I do work. Here’s the thing: I am an entrepreneur for the usual reasons, like passion and flexibility. But I am also an entrepreneur because I struggle to hold down a full-time job. Yes, you read that right. I am an entrepreneur because I cannot work full-time. And the reason I cannot work full-time is that I have major depression. Let me explain.

Working in an office, although relatively stable, comes with its fair share of cons. One has to be on talking terms with their colleagues and seniors, which means they have to interact with them on a regular basis. Then, one has to work in a rigid, structured way, which basically boils down to eight to nine hours of work. Worse, all of this is done while sitting in the same place, usually in front of a computer screen. Add to that unpleasant coworkers, micromanaging bosses, lack of privacy, and the pressure of constant productivity, and you end up with a daily ordeal -- and the reasons why I can't work full-time.

9-5 working conditions can be exhausting to deal with even for “normal” people. Can you imagine the kind of damage they inflict on someone with a debilitating mental illness like depression?

On the other hand, as a solo entrepreneur, my work life is a whole lot better. First off, I do not have to put up with the mental strain of forcing myself to interact with other people. Being an introvert, not being compelled to socialize helps me breathe easy.

Then, I can plan my schedule for the day in a way that does not intensify my depression. For example, I can take as many mini breaks as I need without feeling like I am being watched by a superior. If need be, I can even take a long lunch without having to answer to anyone. The best part is, I get to decide how many hours I will work every day. On bad days, I can leave work early or on time, whereas on good or better days, I can make up for the lost time by working overtime. Even though I can't work full-time, I still work full-time.

Entrepreneurship ensures that I can manage my depression the best way I know how.

While I would love to be able to work full-time for the security and financial benefits, entrepreneurship isn’t such a bad deal. Even though it involves a lot more work, it’s what I need to do to take care of my mental health.

Bipolar in Marriage: Can It Work?

Can bipolar in marriage ever work? The odds can seem stacked against bipolar in relationships, but is that the whole truth? Find out here at HealthyPlace.

When it comes to bipolar in marriage, you might ask the question: can it ever work? All marriages present challenges, but the issues faced by someone with bipolar disorder and the knock-on effects on their spouse can be especially hard to deal with. Having bipolar in a marriage does not mean the bipolar-affected relationship is doomed to fail, but it does mean you need to take care to protect the partnership. With this in mind, here are some of the common challenges faced by bipolar people in marriage, along with some coping strategies.

Bipolar in Marriage: Common Issues and Challenges

People who are bipolar in marriage have many issues to contend with. Not only do they have to manage their own bipolar symptoms and triggers, but they also have to navigate their spouse’s reactions and feelings. Being married to someone who has bipolar also has its challenges, especially during episodes of mania or depression, where the person may act out of character or engage in risky behavior.

Challenges for people who have bipolar in marriage include:

  • Not feeling their partner understands: Having a chronic mental illness can be lonely, and many people with bipolar disorder feel at the mercy of their symptoms. This can be hard to explain to someone who doesn't have the disorder.
  • Detachment from the relationship: Mania and hypomania in bipolar disorder can cause excessive spending, hypersexuality, risk-taking, drug or alcohol abuse and, in some cases, delusional thinking. All of these symptoms can cause the sufferer to feel detached from their relationship while leading to long-term problems such as debt, addiction, and infidelity due to bipolar symptoms.

Challenges faced by partners of people with bipolar include:

  • Communication problems: During depressive episodes, people who are bipolar may struggle to communicate, or they may not feel like talking at all. When manic, however, that same partner might talk impossibly fast or be difficult to calm down. For all of these reasons, communication can easily break down when there's bipolar in a marriage.
  • Exhaustion and stress: Living with someone who has bipolar disorder can be exhausting, and there may be times when you feel worried about your spouse.

It's important to remember that people who are bipolar are not ill all the time. In between episodes, there may be periods of stability, when a person's mood is neither "up" nor "down." Bipolar also exists on a spectrum, and many people manage life and relationships just fine when they're engaging in treatment.

What Are the Bipolar Marriage Divorce Rates?

Divorce rates in a bipolar marriage are sobering to read, but it's important to remember that the statistics don't apply to everyone. There are exceptions to the rule, and if you're getting treatment for your illness and being open and honest with your spouse, your marriage has every chance of succeeding.

According to a 2003 study, it is estimated that around 90% of marriages where one person has bipolar disorder end in divorce.  That doesn’t always mean that bipolar disorder is the cause of the marriage breakdown, but it does indicate that bipolar is a factor.

Bipolar and Marriage: Can It Ever Work?

Bipolar and marriage can work, and there are plenty of couples who can attest to this. However, all relationships are fragile, and the challenges can be severe when one partner has bipolar disorder. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you navigate bipolar in marriage:

Set boundaries: The rules of marriage don’t change because one of you has bipolar disorder. Both of you need to set boundaries around what you’re willing to deal with.

Be supportive: Your support doesn’t have to be unconditional, and you have a right to draw lines around what you deem acceptable. However, you do still need to be supportive and compassionate towards one another. If your spouse has bipolar disorder, encourage them to seek further help or treatment when appropriate, but don’t push them.

Don’t place blame: Whether it’s you or your partner who has bipolar in the marriage, the illness is just that – an illness. It’s nobody’s fault.

Encourage honesty: No matter what, honesty is an important quality of any marriage, and this is especially important when one of you has bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar, make a pact with your partner that although you may need to deny your symptoms or the severity of your illness to others, you will be honest within your marriage. Your partner should be your ally and the best advocate for your mental and physical wellbeing, so they need to know the truth – however hard it may be to hear.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Bipolar in Marriage: Can It Work?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/bipolar-in-marriage-can-it-work

Last Updated: June 25, 2019