In my article “Living with Bipolar Disorder” I neglected to mention how difficult it is to live with a person suffering from the disorder. This is just a short article discussing this matter. If you have a spouse/family member suffering from bipolar, I hope this article can give you some clarity on how to deal with it.
Have you ever heard the saying “The hardest person to love is the person who needs love the most”? I often think of it because I believe that it is difficult for people to love me – I can be, to put it simply, impossible!
For someone living with a bipolar sufferer there are often relationship problems caused by the sufferer’s acute intense mood swings which lead to misunderstandings and arguments. It is difficult for family and friends to cope with a person who is “on top of the world” one day and unbearably depressed the next. The sufferer goes from being the life and soul of the party to completely withdrawing into themselves. Family members need to understand that they have not done anything wrong and that they are not to blame for the depression as these feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and depression are not only irrational but the bipolar sufferer cannot control them.
The spouse of someone with bipolar has a lot to cope with. They are often expected to hold the family unit together when emotional upheavals hit their families. It can be emotionally and physically draining dealing with all the “drama” and in some cases the spouse becomes resentful of the bipolar sufferer and the relationship fails.
If you are married to a bipolar sufferer or have a family member suffering from the illness please understand that they cannot simply “snap out of it”. This has been said to me in the past and it does not help me at all, in fact it just makes me feel a lot worse as it is not possible for me to “snap out of it”.
Pointers helping you cope with a bipolar sufferer
Bipolar people have triggers which can set off an episode of depression, mania or other mood swings. Try and learn what these triggers are in your spouse.
Many triggers are caused by arguments (especially true in my case!)
When your bipolar spouse has a mood altering event due to an argument with you it is best to stop fighting and sometimes just agree with them. This may not seem fair (especially if you do not agree with them) but is actually the best way to handle the situation.
Try to remember that if you have triggered a mood altering event with your spouse it is not necessarily your fault. They have an illness. They are unable to control it when it happens and they cannot put a stop to it.
Take an interest in your spouse’s medication
Try to be patient and understanding
At times you may feel as though you are unappreciated by your spouse who has the illness. However, your support and love are crucial to their wellbeing. In my case, I could not survive without the love, care and understanding my husband gives me regarding the illness. I know he has a difficult role to play and I appreciate everything he does for me.