In a previous post, “Should I Go or Should I Stay?” I discuss the dilemma that many people face when living with someone who has bipolar disorder.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about relationship dynamics and how these dynamics can trigger confrontations. I’m one of those people, for example, who really needs to please others. I’ll clean the house, cook dinner, do laundry, plant flowers, and so forth, just to see her happy. (According to the book The Five Love Languages, my “love language” would be “acts of service.”)
Joe Kraynak has been writing and editing training manuals and computer books for over fifteen years. His long list of computer books include Internet: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks, Google: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Computer Basics. Joe has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Creative Writing from Purdue University.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Unfortunately, when my partner is manic or in some mixed state (of hypomania and depression), nothing I do pleases her. She seems on edge – irritated by my mere presence.
Sometimes, I take it personally. Then I get angry. Then, I spend a good deal of time justifying my anger. Here are some of the thoughts that go through my head during these times:
- “With all I do around here, the least she can do is be happy!”
- “If anyone has a right to be irritable, it’s me – I’m working harder!”
- “What did I do so bad this time?”
- “I didn’t do anything to deserve to be treated like this!”
I would venture to guess that most people who are married have had similar thoughts. I would also bet that people who have close relationships with someone who has bipolar disorder have these thoughts much more frequently. Our partners, I think, may be so busy fighting their own inner demons that they have little time or energy to give us the positive strokes we expect to get for all we do.
If my partner’s irritability continues much longer, I have a tendency to lash out. Somehow, frustration and anger always seem to find a way to express themselves. These negative emotions and expressions, however, simply feed the problem and further raise the level of stress and conflict.
The worse I treat my partner, the worse her moods become, and if this goes on long enough and intensifies, it almost always leads to my partner experiencing a major mood episode. And if we thought we weren’t getting along before, now we’re in a real mess.
The reason I write about this, is that I feel the need to be honest about how bipolar disorder affects me as a loved one and to show that even the guy who co-authored a book on bipolar disorder can have a tough time dealing with it. People with bipolar disorder often lack the “insight” to recognize when they’re slipping into mania or depression. Sometimes, I think loved ones can lack that insight, too – we miss the early warning signs and become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Hopefully, someone reading this may learn something from my mistakes.