When you’re living with a bipolar partner, you know how difficult it is to cope. What’s worse, though, is that so few other people will be able to understand and help you with this hardship. This can become even more challenging depending on whether your loved one is diagnosed with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder, as both variants involve different degrees of intensity in mood and manic episodes. And, without any reliable support, trying to manage a marriage to a mentally unstable partner is near impossible.
But don’t worry. We’re here, and qualified, to help.
The good news is that mental health professionals like us understand your situation fully. In fact, our psychological training has equipped us with in-depth insight that you and your partner may not have. And today, we want to share this insight with you.
Below are 10 crucial tips for coping in a marriage to a bipolar person. If you even suspect that your partner has an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, talk to your spouse about these 10 points.
Set Up Professional Help
The very first step you must take is to set up professional help. For one thing, you need to receive a proper diagnosis of your spouse’s bipolar disorder. This includes knowing the severity of their condition.
Next, you need a mental health professional to draw up a treatment plan. This will most likely involve medication, counseling, and additional resources and instructions.
Furthermore, the remaining tips on this list are general guidelines. But they can’t offer any specific, personalized instructions to help with your unique situation. Only medical/mental health professionals can provide this guidance.
Next, ask yourself, what do you know about bipolar disorder? You can neither help nor cope with your bipolar spouse if you don’t understand the nature of their condition.
You need to research bipolar disorder fully and learn what to expect concerning symptoms and treatment. Besides that, you need to understand your spouse’s point of view so that you won’t get offended or angry about their symptoms.
However, you must also know that this research will take time. So, the other thing you must do is to be gentle and supportive in your reactions.
Act with love and understanding, even if you truly don’t comprehend why your spouse is behaving the way he/she is. Responding harshly to your spouse’s symptomatic behavior will exacerbate his/her condition.
To follow up on that last point, always react with patience to your spouse’s mood swings. Don’t be overly sensitive and take nothing they say or do personally. Never get defensive with your spouse.
Obviously, this advice is extremely easier said than done. After all, your spouse’s condition is hard on you, too. It’s difficult to remain calm, collected, and rational when your spouse’s erratic behavior is so troubling.
In other words, you’ll have to work very hard on improving your own patience and resilience. It helps, though, to remember that your spouse is also working very hard to get through this.
Step Back When You Need To
It’s better to say nothing than to issue a harsh reply, especially to a mentally unstable individual. Learn the powerful art of keeping your mouth shut until you can think of an appropriate reply.
If you need to take a moment to calm down and think, say so. Tell your spouse that you want to help, so you need a moment to think about what to say. Then, take some deep breaths and come back to the conversation once you’ve collected yourself.
Another part of stepping back is knowing when to literally walk away. Sometimes, your spouse’s symptoms aren’t looking for help. Sometimes, they’re just looking for someone to hurt.
So watch out for moments when your spouse is being hurtful and your attempts to help are making no progress. When these moments happen, tell your spouse that you need to go for a walk and that you’ll be back in a while.
Keep Communication Strong
While it’s true that you sometimes need a break from unproductive conversations, these breaks should last no more than a few hours. You never want to leave an unstable mind to its own devices. Mental disorders thrive in isolation like wildfires in a dry forest.
Make sure you always stay in communication with your spouse. This minimizes the severity of their episodes by keeping them tethered to rationality.
Follow the Doctor’s Orders
As mentioned, your doctor should have a treatment plan outlined for you. Know that this commitment is easier for you to keep than it is for your spouse. So, make sure that your spouse doesn’t miss any appointments and that he/she takes the prescribed medication(s) when necessary.
Know When to Call 911
Severe manic or depressive episodes can become an emergency. As such, your doctor should also explain to your the situations in which you need to check your spouse into a hospital/recovery center. For instance, you should call 911 if your spouse:
- Threatens self-harm or harm to another
- Is hallucinating or severely paranoid
- Displays severe compulsive behavior or other psychoses
Speak to your doctor for more information about emergency preparedness.
Danger-Proof your Home
As a precaution against emergent bipolar episodes, danger-proof your home. As scary as it is, acknowledge that you’re housing a potential suicide risk and take the proper precautions.
Namely, remove/lock up any obvious weapons, weaponizable objects, and medications that could lead to overdose. Have all appropriate emergency numbers set to speed dial.
Involve Friends and Family For Support
Don’t deal with this alone. Share this guide with your friends and family to educate them, too. Recruit any willing persons as support partners on whom you can rely when you need help.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
Take very good care of yourself so that you remain strong enough to help your partner. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and exercise, and take vacations when you need to.
Help Your Partner Seek Bipolar Treatment In Orange County
If you or others you know have spouses with bipolar disorder and wish to seek treatment, contact First Light Recovery in San Juan Capistrano to verify your insurance and set up a consultation.