Relationships while bipolar are tricky. For everyone involved. The bipolar person is constantly double-checking to make sure his/her feelings are appropriate, that they’re not rushing things, that they are not overreacting to perceived injury, etc.
The non-bipolar person is in a position of having to navigate the emotional and (sometimes) intellectual volatility that comes along with the disorder. Sometimes the stable partner will need to help the bipolar person hold themselves together. This can be very difficult and demanding triggering caregiver fatigue and often frustration and occasionally, even resentment.
I know it’s very difficult in our house because my memory is terrible due to all the medications I’ve taken over the years. This makes it very challenging for me to remember discussions much less agreements I’ve made and I often find myself apologizing for forgetting something. I swear I say the words “I’m sorry” more frequently than I ever thought I would.
It’s hard for me to know at any given time whether or not what I say and feel today will be what I feel tomorrow or the next day. I’m not sure what triggers it but imagine what that’s like for the person who lives with that day in and day out.
Some days I struggle with some of the basics, like getting out of bed and functioning like a normal person, but on another day I can accomplish at least a dozen small tasks. It’s difficult for me to know what I’m waking up as. The same has got to be true for the people who are in relationships with me. I can’t imagine it’s easy.
However, I’m frequently having to try to go back and “fix” mistakes I’ve made in anger or frustration or even during periods of mania. This is a painful process and one that’s not easily understood or appreciated by the stable partner. It’s very difficult for us to 1) see what we’ve done 2) figure out a way to apologize and 3) determine a way to make amends and try to repair the damage we may have done.
There’s a saying in the BP world that you’re never sure if you’re going to wake up feeling like Tigger or feeling like Eeyore. As childish as that may sound it also holds true in my experience. I can literally go to sleep feeling drained and small only to wake up feeling ready to take on the world.
While it may be easy to love someone with bipolar it’s hard to live with us sometimes.