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Avoiding a Tragedy in Love With Bipolar Disorder

As someone with bipolar disorder, heavy on the depression end, there are few things I've thought about more than love and happiness. I'm far from the only one. Everyone does at some point, often when feeling unloved and unhappy.

There's one particularly awful situation I've experienced and witnessed several times over in pursuit of love and happiness with bipolar disorder, and we're going to talk about it now. So, buckle up, this ride can save you years of heartbreak.

You can thank me later by building statues at the four corners of the earth.

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Bipolar disorder and the chemistry of attraction

Once upon a time, I lived with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I met a lovely woman and we hit it off immediately. Y'know, chemistry. Y'know, the flood of feel good chemicals that come with initial attraction.1

It was amazing. Emotions and lust ran hot and heavy sprinkled with wistful conversations of a future together. A fairytale romance! Who could believe that's actually real!?

But I couldn't sleep. As the weeks went on, I couldn't string together thoughts, and words just poured out of my mouth with no filter. My attitude changed, my temper was volatile, and she became very concerned. She would ask what's wrong? How can she help? What could she do?

The start of a romantic relationship

I didn't know because I was undiagnosed and didn't know anything about bipolar escalation. I didn't know that chemical changes in the body could trigger unwellness. Y'know, chemical changes like the tsunami of feel good chemicals that come with "the spark," or initial attraction.

It was only 3 months before I crashed and burned with all of the grace of a train derailment. It was the kind of depression crash where I slept 16 hours a day, lived mostly off of spoonfuls of peanut butter (5 star depression meal), and couldn't do basic math in my head for weeks.

This or That

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Bipolar symptoms vs. "love"

After that, she was essentially a random stranger to me. She was rightfully upset. She accused me of being a manipulative narcissist who love-bombed her, but I'm not, and I didn't do it on purpose. I was acting on emotions that I felt were very real but weren't. They were just a product of mental illness.

The full fallout of that story took over a year to totally resolve. And for some people, it's far worse than that. I've seen people buy or sell houses to move in together, get divorced or married, move across or to different countries, and have kids with people they had only known for a few months because they had met their soulmate.

Managing relationships with bipolar disorder

Does that sound familiar to you? God, I hope not. It's a terrible, heartbreaking experience for everyone involved. So, let me share a few strategies I use so hopefully it never happens again.

  1. What's the rush? If they're the love of my life, then I have the rest of my life to figure that out. There's no reason to rush anything. The best relationships are built on trust and friendship. Those take time to develop.
  2. I do not think about the future much. If I do, I absolutely do not let myself get wrapped up in daydreaming about it at all. That just feeds the unwellness. I focus on the present.
  3. Are there any doubts? Doubt is good. A lack of doubt is usually a bad sign that I'm escalated. I find this also applies to other big situations, like starting a business or selling all of your stuff to travel.
  4. I consider intensity. The healthiest relationships and loves I've had were more like a low campfire on a cold night – warm and comfortable. They weren't raging wildfires that threatened to consume us both.
  5. What about other signs? I look for other symptoms I experience while escalated. If I see other symptoms, I slow things down and explore them with my professionals.

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Do you have a significant other right now?

Can a relationship fueled by bipolar symptoms work?

Probably not. I've never personally seen it work due to one apocalyptic problem. The love was created between one partner and the escalated version of the bipolar partner.

The partner searches for that escalated version because that's who they fell in love with. The couple spends months or even years trying to "get back to normal" and ultimately failing because "you're not the person I fell in love with." And they're right. That "person" was a product of unwellness.

So, in conclusion, the statues don't need to be gold or gold-plated. Copper or bronze is totally fine. After all, I'm not vain.

Be well. And remember – take your meds as directed. If you're having a hard time on them, want to quit or change them, talk to your doctor before you do anything.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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