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    Old 06-10-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
    MKate's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2007
    Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
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    MKate HB User
    boyfriend with bipolar disorder

    Hey everybody!
    My boyfriend (17 years old) has bipolar disorder.
    I know that it must be very hard for him, but I donít really know how to help him. He knows that I worry a lot about him when he drinks caffeine (too much caffeine makes him have panic attacks) or drinks alcohol. The thing is, that the more I try to tell him not to do things like that, the less he tells me about his problems with the illness, and tells me that he has total control over his bipolar disorder.
    The other day, when there was again a situation where he was manic and didnít know the boarder lines of socially acceptable behavior, he admitted that he lied to me and that he doesnít have himself under control, that he just doesnít want me to worry about him and he doesnít want me to think heís a freak. He also told me, nobody who doesnít have bipolar disorder could understand him, so there is not even a sense in telling me about his feelings.
    I was pretty hurt when he told me all that, because he should know that I love him far too much to ever think heís a freak, and I feel excluded of his life when he tells me that I wonít understand him. Sometimes, when he seems to be mad for no reason, I know from experience that he doesnít mean it like that, and that he also feels terrible in a situation like that. Anyway, it hurts when he is so rude to me sometimes. I canít be angry with him, because itís not his fault, but it makes me sad.
    I noticed, that whenever he is going through an emotionally unstable time, it affects my mood very negatively as well. It is a horrible feeling for me, when I know that he is feeling bad, I donít know how to help him, and when he seems to be mad at me for no reason.
    I would be glad if some of you could give me opinions or advice.

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    Old 06-10-2007, 10:09 PM   #2
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    Re: boyfriend with bipolar disorder

    Hi MK and welcome to the boards.

    I'm seventeen and also bipolar. I understand where your boyfriend is coming from when he says no one but bp people can understand what a bp'er goes is possible, but it's hard. The way our minds work is...complicated at best. If you haven't, you might want to look at a book on bipolar to show you DO want to understand him. I understand that it hurts when he pushes you away...especially since many times I'm doing the pushing. :S When he's in an episode, try to back off and let him have his space AND letting you have your own space. When he has calmed down, talk to him about what was going through his head so you better understand it. Is his mania euphoric or angry? What about his depression? Severe or mild? Sorry about the questions...just trying to get a better idea as to what you're dealing with. Also, if you don't mind me asking, how old are you?

    Bipolar Ultradian Cycler
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    Old 06-11-2007, 06:24 AM   #3
    Join Date: Jun 2006
    Location: Brisbane
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    AussieTam HB User
    Re: boyfriend with bipolar disorder

    Wow Paige, your answer was very wise - and it sure sounds like you are coping with your illness well, kudos to you!!

    MKate ... I wasn't diagnosed until recently, but I believe I've had the illness since I was the same age (or younger) as Paige and your boyfriend. It *is* a really hard place to be in - being an adolescent is hard enough, without whacked out chemical imbalances added to the mix. I definitely felt, at that time, that there was NO way in hell that anyone would understand my suffering, and remember was dead surprised when my Mum did seem to understand. Even now, when I'm in the throes of depression or mania, I just feel so remote from everyone else that I can't fathom them understanding what it's like to be me.

    And yet, as Paige was saying, it is possible for loved ones to understand it to an extent. Taking an informed interest is a really good way of showing that you are willing to put effort into learning about bipolar disorder, and even teaching your boyfriend things he didn't know about it as well. My partner has been excellent, he knows he doesn't fully understand the disorder because his highly mathematical mind finds it hard processing the chaotic nature and unpredictable course of the illness, but he has latched on to what he can predict - how I act when I'm in a certain mood, and he can even read the signs of an approaching depression or mania. Which is impressive, he even does this despite us currently being in different cities! He has also learnt to separate Bipolar Tam from Tam, and knows what not to take personally. This is hard to do, and takes time, but it is an important skill that is needed to love someone with bipolar disorder.

    As for dealing with your partner:

    1) Be careful in the way you say things - simple word choice can make all the difference. Here are some suggestions: Instead of saying things like "why do you keep drinking coffee when you know it makes you feel unwell?" or "You drank alcohol again! Why did you do it? That's really stupid!" phrase it like "It really hurts me when you do that, I care about you and want the best for you." In your particular situation you might want to add "Please be honest with me about what's going on, nothing you say is going to make me love you any less. We can work on this together." Reassuring them that you love them regardless of the illness is vital.

    2) Paige is right - sometimes bipolar people do need a little bit of emotional distance while they are manic. Physically, you'll need to be there to ensure they don't hurt themselves or anyone else, but emotionally, you need to put on your Thick Skin Armour and not try and talk to them about issues relating to a) your relationship b) their illness or c) anything of a serious nature because their answers will be skewed and/or ones you DON'T want to hear (then retracted once the mania has subsided but by this point, the damage is done).

    3) Anger is a common symptom, usually associated with manic or mixed episodes. As above, definitely take emotional distance from your partner's anger. Definitely give them their space, and do not provoke any further anger. In less severe mania, it will burn out in its own course, if it doesn't - seek medical attention. Also (when he's not angry) talk to him about anger management techniques that he can prepare for when he is angry. For me, number one - I isolate myself so that I can't be tempted to say terrible things. I hide in my room and just scream inside my head at whoever or whatever has made me angry until it dies down, or I write it on a piece of paper in BIG HUGE LETTERS WITH LOTS OF EXPLETIVES. That helps too.

    Well, enough rambling from me, hope this has helped!! Best of luck, and if you have any questions at all, we are here to help!

    Old 06-11-2007, 11:54 AM   #4
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    Re: boyfriend with bipolar disorder

    Thank you so much for your advice, it really helped me!

    @ paige: you asked me how old I am, so yeah I'm also 17. I already read a lot about bipolar disorder,but I didn't really tell him, because I have the feeling he doesn't want to talk about anything that has to do with his illness except if he starts talking about it.
    His mania is angry more than euphoric, he told me that for other bipolar people mania may feel good, but for him it is a horrible feeling. I don't really know how severe his depression is nowadays, it used to be really bad, until a year ago he cut himself a lot and his arms are still full of scars, and he was hospitalized twice because of that.
    Now he is in a much better shape, but he told me, that he feels emotionally unstable in 75% of the time, so not necessarily only when he has episodes. That's why I'm sometimes extremely insecure what actions have something to do with his illness.I don't know, that probably can't be considered an episode, but sometimes he just does things that other people wouldn't do, he just takes a step to far, and afterwards he is emberrassed about what he did. He is usually a very very nice and kind person, but f. e. 2 days ago, he didn't take his medicine because he drank alcohol, and the next morning he totally ignored me,without any reason. I tried to talk to him (but thank you for your advice, I'll try to give him his space and wait till he wants to talk to me) but then he was annoyed and shouted at me. I had the feeling I was talking to a totally different person.
    Thanks for your answer to my thread, i think it is good to talk to another 17 year old bipolar person, who can maybe understand my boyfriend in some things better than I can (even though I really try to understand him

    @ AussieTam: Also thanks to you for taking the time to write such a long text in order to help me! Okay, so I already wrote a lot of general to paige. You said you also felt like nobody could understand you and then your mom did. What did she do that showed you that she understood you?
    What you told me about your partner is really impressive, and I hope that some day I will understand my boyfriend as well as he understands you. Unlike your partner, I have big trouble separating jesse from the bipolar jesse, especially because his illness influences him even when he doesn't have real episodes, and he is always extremely insecure in how to behave. How I already wrote paige, he told me that he feels emotionally unstable in 75% of his everyday life, so it is really hard for me to separate jesse from the bipolar jesse. So sometimes, when I'm mad at him for something he did, I don't really know if it was just him behaving stupid (which every person does, and I certainly do too sometimes) or if it has something to do with his bipolar disorder and I don't really have the right to be mad at him.I just don't know, I can be wrong, but sometimes I have the feeling that he uses his illness as an excuse for every mistake he makes.
    I really try to be careful in how I say things, for example with drinking alcohol, but when I tell him that I care about him and want the best for him and that's the reason why I don't want him to drink alcohol, then he is annoyed and tells me that he knows better what is good for him than I do. It is really difficult. I told him that I love him regardless of his bipolar disorder, and I hope that he believes that and doesn't still think he has to impress me by telling me how he has himself under control.

    Thanks to both of you again that you are there for me.


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