my significant other and I are reading the book “Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder” and it has journaling exercises in each chapter. We have just barely begun reading up to chapter three and are doing the journaling exercises separately, and will soon do some of them together. I’ve added a link to amazon above because I recommend reading this book as I found it helpful instantly as soon as I read the first paragraph. I decided to blog about how Bipolar disorder has effected my relationship.
Within months of us becoming a couple the future of our relationship was questionable due to the fact that I have acted hurtfully in part due to symptoms of my bipolar disorder. I have lashed out in a way that has caused me to lose the trust of my fiancé and my own self. In an angry rage I flipped over an outdoor fire pit in our backyard and said hurtful things. At this point we are both unsure if I am going to lash out again. I have been manic for months now (and increasing my dose of medications) and I am sometimes unable to respond to simple requests, questions, or comments in a rational way. I am snappy and impulsive and seemingly unpredictable. I am constantly trying to avoid triggers and when they set off trying to hold my tongue or my body language every moment of the day whether I am at work, the gym, on the road, or at home.
I have had days of depression where I reach out and when I feel as if she is not being caring and supportive enough I lash out and say punishing things make her feel guilty and inadequate. Sometimes my view of caring and supportive are unrealistic and/or difficult to fulfill. If I am going through an episode of depression I can be bedridden for hours and just want her to lay with me. The reality is that she can’t always take hours of her day to lay with me as she has other important things to do such as homework.
It is difficult at many times when I am manic and I feel a sensory overload, a sense of crawling out of my skin. The most easily accessed reprieve is to be touched, hugged, and basically loved on. This is difficult when I am manic, its 3:00 and want my significant other to rub my back until I fall asleep. Its the only way I can fall asleep quickly, but is a daunting task for her. It is VERY difficult to ask someone to join in my suffering. It also feels selfish to ask her to be attentive during times that are super inconvenient.
During an episode of mania, which can last for weeks and months, simple tasks such as grocery shopping or running errands can be daunting. All of the sudden, seemingly out of nowhere I will begin to shut down and light hurts my eyes, my body starts to shake, sound pierces my ears, and i am instantly overwhelmed with racing thoughts that have no real content. If my significant other asks a simple question I am unable to process it slow enough to comprehend and I have several answers but none of them come out of my mouth and I feel confused and extremely irritated by my thoughts and bodily sensation. My emotions become completely out of whack and my internal processing of emotions is grossly out of proportion to the situation. Recently I walked out of the grocery store because I was too overwhelmed with hearing conversations of other people and processing their emotions on their faces and trying to pay attention to my significant other while trying to pick out food and finding the best deals and I became so overwhelmed with a simple question I had to walk away without even being able to fully explain why. Nothing would come out of my mouth, nor did I trust my words and actions to be socially acceptable. I was not fit for human consumption and had to be alone, regardless of her confusion of what was happening. I would rather her be confused and even have her feelings hurt than me having another episode in the grocery store. Is this fair to ask? The answer is that either one is shitty, its a dilemma and I am literally sick in the head and trying to do my best with a shitty circumstance. I am not trusting of myself with my most current manic episode and need to “abort the mission” even if it is seemingly a simple task.
There is also self doubt about being in a relationship at all. I go through times where I feel like to most people if they knew how sick I was that my good qualities wouldn’t be worth it to them. If on our first few dates I could show her a crystal ball of all the terrible shit she’ll go through with me I doubt anyone would ever say “yeah sign me up for that”. I have a lot of talents and a fun personality and I strive relentlessly for my goals, but sometimes this stuff seems like it is outweighed by the symptoms of my bipolar, and remnant bits of physical abuse when I was a child and abandonment when I was in my young teenaged year. I can only be enjoyed so much when I am depressed or manic. My fun and outgoing personality is non existent when I am completely silent and catatonic and unable to move or speak. At times that I have been single I have thought that I should not go into a long term relationship for the rest of my life because no one would want to share my disorder with me. No one, if they really knew all the bad stuff that was going to come with me would actually love me forever.