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Old 04-12-2009, 12:33 AM   #1
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kellyn HB User
advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Hi everyone! i'm new to the site. i was just wondering if anyone has any advice about how to tell a potential new partner that i have bipolar disorder. any thoughts? it's really scary given the associated stigma and i'm really nervous about how he'll respond. i haven't told very many people in my life about my diagnosis so i don't really have anyone to ask advice from so i'd really appreciate any support/personal experiences/suggestions that you might have. thanks!

 
Old 04-12-2009, 12:41 AM   #2
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

hi and welcome,

i haven't actually told a new partner but maybe you could wait til you know him well before bringing it up and test the waters to see how he feels about it before then. i can say that i lost what i thought were good friends over it and it hurt a lot. one had been a close friend for thirty years and things changed completely once i told her. just be careful you don't get hurt if you can possibly avoid it.

 
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Old 04-12-2009, 01:14 AM   #3
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caitlin122 HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Hi Kellyn and welcome to the board. You will find so much support and great advice here. About telling your new partner I would wait a little bit just to make sure it's going to be a serious relationship. Let him get to know you for without being able to think about the bp. When you feel it's serious between you two, tell him. If he truly cares about you, he will support you and be there for you. Make sure to tell him to educate himself as much as possible about the disorder because his knowldge will help him accept easier and help you to best of his ability. I know it can be hard to tell someone this, because you right, you never know how someone will react due to the stigma attached to mental illess, But the more comfortable you feel and the more you accept the diagnosis fully, it won't be as hard to talk to people about...those who you trust. I have been dealing with it for so llong now that I don't have a problem telling anyone I'm bp. I feel now that the more I talk about it, the more my family and friends understand what I'm going through and I know no matter what I have those friends and family to help me....Ok...enough from me, sorry for the rant.

 
Old 04-12-2009, 12:25 PM   #4
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Llama HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Hi kellyn. Well I can't say that I've had this problem because I had really no choice but to just come out with it as I was in the hospital at the time and I really didn't want to lose him so I let him come see me in the hospial psych ward.

But I would just say to be honest and sincere and he should take the news ok. I would maybe also give him some sort of print out from the computer about what bipolar disorder is. That way you wont have to explain everything to him and it might make it easier on you. Then you can ask him if he has any questions. I gave my boyfriend that Julie Fast book, "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disoder." I don't think he's read it yet, which kind of frustrates me, but oh well. I don't think he really is going to have a clue as to what bipolar is until he actually starts seeing symptoms in me. Heck, even then I don't know if he'll know what to think because he wont know what to watch out for. I need him to be supportive of me.

 
Old 04-12-2009, 09:39 PM   #5
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katlin09 HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

I have no experience since i was married to my HS sweethear turned evil *******, for 21 yrs. and my DX came about while we were married.

But wanted to say Hi and welcome to the boards! Hope you come back often!!

kat

 
Old 04-12-2009, 11:44 PM   #6
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

btw. would also reiterate what others have said about educating about bp. there are lots of books on the market, you could do the research and find something that works. (or talk to your pdoc about it). let us know how it goes! good luck and enjoy your new relationship!

 
Old 04-13-2009, 02:48 PM   #7
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Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

just wanted to thank everyone for the advice! i have an appointment tomorrow and will definitely bring it up. also, i read this book called "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison. While the parts about her mania made the book really hard to read (it reminded me too much of how it feels), the end of the book has some really good insight and advice. might be worth checking out.

i think that for now i'll just keep my diagnosis to myself and see where the relationship goes. fortunately i haven't had any severe symptoms in a long time, so i'll cross my fingers that it won't become obvious or put me in a situation where i have to tell him. it's just tough to feel like i'm keeping something that really has been a huge influence in my life from him. it's almost like a barrier keeping me from becoming close with him, especially because we are so incredibly open and honest about everything else.

hope you're all doing well and thanks again for the support and advice!

 
Old 04-14-2009, 12:22 AM   #8
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellyn View Post
just wanted to thank everyone for the advice! i have an appointment tomorrow and will definitely bring it up. also, i read this book called "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison. While the parts about her mania made the book really hard to read (it reminded me too much of how it feels), the end of the book has some really good insight and advice. might be worth checking out.

i think that for now i'll just keep my diagnosis to myself and see where the relationship goes. fortunately i haven't had any severe symptoms in a long time, so i'll cross my fingers that it won't become obvious or put me in a situation where i have to tell him. it's just tough to feel like i'm keeping something that really has been a huge influence in my life from him. it's almost like a barrier keeping me from becoming close with him, especially because we are so incredibly open and honest about everything else.

hope you're all doing well and thanks again for the support and advice!
Kellyn,
\
i found 'an unquiet mind' really excellent, then 'a savage god' then 'the mindful way through depression' the latter mostly for the relaxation methods and also for the fact that the negative thoughts are particular to people with the disease and symptoms like having the 'flu. i wouldn't worry about telling parner, he sounds like a good guy and you will know when the time is right.

iw

 
Old 04-19-2009, 07:48 PM   #9
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lindy77077 HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

My psychiatrist recommended An Unquiet Mind to me and I am half way through it, I find it hard to read at times and can only read about 10 pages at a sitting if it hits "close to home" for me but it's wonderful. Regarding your initial question, my advice would be to tell people when you personally are comfortable whether it is a boyfriend, friend, family member or colleague. Some people may not understand but I truly do believe the people who really care about us will stick by us (and by you) and help you. Here's an interesting story FYI - my ex best friend was diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, I was one of her only friends that stood by her at the time (her fiance even dumped her after a few months) but I didn't care about the diagnosis, after all, she was still my best friend wasn't she? When she found out about me having a mental illness, she stopped communicating, we would set up dinner dates and she would always have a conflict at the last minute. We haven't spoken for a few years. I was sad about it for a while but I talk about with more and more people now, am comfortable about it and figure if people will stand by me with an illness with such a stigma associated with it, they are the salt of the earth.

 
Old 04-20-2009, 12:00 AM   #10
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindy77077 View Post
My psychiatrist recommended An Unquiet Mind to me and I am half way through it, I find it hard to read at times and can only read about 10 pages at a sitting if it hits "close to home" for me but it's wonderful. Regarding your initial question, my advice would be to tell people when you personally are comfortable whether it is a boyfriend, friend, family member or colleague. Some people may not understand but I truly do believe the people who really care about us will stick by us (and by you) and help you. Here's an interesting story FYI - my ex best friend was diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, I was one of her only friends that stood by her at the time (her fiance even dumped her after a few months) but I didn't care about the diagnosis, after all, she was still my best friend wasn't she? When she found out about me having a mental illness, she stopped communicating, we would set up dinner dates and she would always have a conflict at the last minute. We haven't spoken for a few years. I was sad about it for a while but I talk about with more and more people now, am comfortable about it and figure if people will stand by me with an illness with such a stigma associated with it, they are the salt of the earth.
HI Lindy and welcome. it is difficult to lose friends due to this illness when they cannot understand that it is an illness and expect us to just 'cheer up'. you are right, the ones who do support (few though they are) are worth their weight in gold. hope you are doing ok?

iw

 
Old 04-21-2009, 01:53 PM   #11
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Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishwriter View Post
HI Lindy and welcome. it is difficult to lose friends due to this illness when they cannot understand that it is an illness and expect us to just 'cheer up'. you are right, the ones who do support (few though they are) are worth their weight in gold. hope you are doing ok?

iw
It certainly is a struggle but my mind is feeling better and now dealing with the side effects of medications. I am going to try a different approach starting Monday and feel luck to have a good psychiatrist who is very accessible... the positive side of me says people (us) who deal with mental health issues are actually stronger mentally than most...

 
Old 04-21-2009, 03:45 PM   #12
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caitlin122 HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishwriter View Post
HI Lindy and welcome. it is difficult to lose friends due to this illness when they cannot understand that it is an illness and expect us to just 'cheer up'. you are right, the ones who do support (few though they are) are worth their weight in gold. hope you are doing ok?

iw
iw,
you are so right about how hard it is to lose a friend to this disease, let alone a partner. my boyfriend of 5 years walked out on me last week. he left without saying a thing to me, left nothing resolved. when we were together he always told me he didn't care if i had bipolar, he loved me anyway. then he had the nerve to send me a text this week, when i asked him if this is truly what he wants, is to leave me, and he said yes, it's mostly his fault(his words, not mine, although I agree at this point)he can't handle my bipolar fits and telling how i really feel about him. he said he couldn't distinguish between the two. What a ba*****. I'm a complete mess over this. I can't stop crying. I'm not accpeting the end of this relationship very well at all. I don't know what to do at this point.

 
Old 04-21-2009, 08:04 PM   #13
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lindy77077 HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by caitlin122 View Post
iw,
you are so right about how hard it is to lose a friend to this disease, let alone a partner. my boyfriend of 5 years walked out on me last week. he left without saying a thing to me, left nothing resolved. when we were together he always told me he didn't care if i had bipolar, he loved me anyway. then he had the nerve to send me a text this week, when i asked him if this is truly what he wants, is to leave me, and he said yes, it's mostly his fault(his words, not mine, although I agree at this point)he can't handle my bipolar fits and telling how i really feel about him. he said he couldn't distinguish between the two. What a ba*****. I'm a complete mess over this. I can't stop crying. I'm not accpeting the end of this relationship very well at all. I don't know what to do at this point.
I am so sorry to hear that, I can't think of a worse way to break up with someone but through text, that's cowardly. My friend, not even a boyfriend, just cancelled on me all the time and we never got together and she didn't return my calls or e-mails. On the personal front, I haven't had a boyfriend in almost 15 years, my university broke up with me when we graduated because he wanted "space" and I was devastated and went into a deep depression since we were planning on getting married and there were many ups and downs with him after that. That was one of my breaking points. Prior to being diagnosed, I didn't "do" relationships, I was too busy going out and getting completely loaded and taking home strangers. I'm very luck I came out of all that healthy and safe. Since becoming more stable, I had a 6-week relationship I ended because I couldn't handle it. I think more than the weight gain, not having a partner in life is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I cry a lot about it in psycho and group therapy. Do you talk to someone like that? It doesn't solve the problem but helps for a bit....

 
Old 04-22-2009, 12:00 AM   #14
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by caitlin122 View Post
iw,
you are so right about how hard it is to lose a friend to this disease, let alone a partner. my boyfriend of 5 years walked out on me last week. he left without saying a thing to me, left nothing resolved. when we were together he always told me he didn't care if i had bipolar, he loved me anyway. then he had the nerve to send me a text this week, when i asked him if this is truly what he wants, is to leave me, and he said yes, it's mostly his fault(his words, not mine, although I agree at this point)he can't handle my bipolar fits and telling how i really feel about him. he said he couldn't distinguish between the two. What a ba*****. I'm a complete mess over this. I can't stop crying. I'm not accpeting the end of this relationship very well at all. I don't know what to do at this point.
Caitlin,

my heart goes out to you. my last guy was similiar in that even though i found out about his other woman he somehow made it 'my fault' telling me i was not 'normal' and do things that 'normal people don't do' but never clarified what he meant leaving those words to haunt me even now and he was a gp! that was about nov 07 and i still feel bad about it but it took months and lots of sessions with my pdoc to even get remotely past it. i'm glad i had my daughter because she wanted to 'kill him'! and i had to keep it somewhat together for her. it is awful though not to have any close adult in my life and sometimes making all decisions alone is tough. write about your thoughts and feelings here and pm me any time you need. take baby steps to get through the day. can't believe he's being such a d**k about it all.

 
Old 04-22-2009, 12:04 AM   #15
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irishwriter HB User
Re: advice about telling people that you have bipolar disorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindy77077 View Post
I am so sorry to hear that, I can't think of a worse way to break up with someone but through text, that's cowardly. My friend, not even a boyfriend, just cancelled on me all the time and we never got together and she didn't return my calls or e-mails. On the personal front, I haven't had a boyfriend in almost 15 years, my university broke up with me when we graduated because he wanted "space" and I was devastated and went into a deep depression since we were planning on getting married and there were many ups and downs with him after that. That was one of my breaking points. Prior to being diagnosed, I didn't "do" relationships, I was too busy going out and getting completely loaded and taking home strangers. I'm very luck I came out of all that healthy and safe. Since becoming more stable, I had a 6-week relationship I ended because I couldn't handle it. I think more than the weight gain, not having a partner in life is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I cry a lot about it in psycho and group therapy. Do you talk to someone like that? It doesn't solve the problem but helps for a bit....
hi lindy,

sorry to hear that you too have been through this crap with men. not having a partner is also one of the things i find hardest to deal with, just the comfort of it and having someone to bounce ideas off. my pdoc is good though so am lucky there. did the getting loaded and sex thing too but like you thankfully came through it healthy too. i would love to meet someone but living as i do in fairly complete isolation that is not v. likely though i am trying to leave the house at least once every day and trying not to sh at the moment too. just starting fifth day and feeling more positive about it this time though it is v. difficult. also pm me anytime you need to vent about it, the lonliness is hard to deal with.

iw.

 
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