I am in a serious relationship with a bipolar girl. She’s the one. Shes had attacks before, Ive been through 4. Each time I maintained communication as best I could and supported her. Shes having what seems to be an episode now. This time as before she says shes want to be single for the rest of her life. She’s under stress. So she’s pushed me away. However, this time she’s cut every line of communication except for the most tenuous line.
There have not been any major changes in our relationship. She just said she wanted to be single out of the blue.
Whats the right thing to do? Does she really not want to be with me? Is this an episode talking? What are the coping strategies? How do I get her to open back up? How do I walk the line between giving her space and giving her support?
I love her so its worth it. I am in fear of screwing it up.
Sadly, there doesn’t need to be any problems in a relationship for problems to be seen by someone with bipolar disorder. Things are taken the wrong way … when your girlfriend is down, she’s absolutely going to be more sensitive. When she’s up, things might roll off her back a bit easier.
You can go over and over what’s happened in the relationship, trying to find a solution and a way to get her back, but that won’t help because your reality is, most likely, much different than hers. Simply because of emotions.
I can’t speak for her other than in these generalities, but I can say that I’ve gone from thinking a relationship is the greatest thing in the world to *realizing* I’m great and wanting to go off and see how I can conquer the world on my own. And back and forth and up and down. But when I think I’m fabulous, as opposed the relationship being the world’s best, I’m definitely in a manic/hypomanic state.
Another situation I’ve found myself in, where I give the same “speech” to the person I’m with, is when I’m depressed. This reason for this is two-fold.
- One, when someone with bipolar disorder is down, he or she tends to think. A lot. It’s a one-eighty from the irrationality that occurs with mania – the lack of thinking things through. Personally, I’ll lie in bed and entertain thoughts about how worthless and hopeless I am. I desperately want to be a good person in some way, and the only way to do that is to let the person I love … go. Let him live a normal life with a “normal” girlfriend or wife, and allow him the happiness I can’t provide. And so I say to him the same thing I would in the opposite situation … “I’d be better off single.” My reasoning for it is all that’s different.
- But, the second part of this equation/situation is I don’t just say these things for selfless reasons. In fact, even the selfless part is, in reality, pure selfishness (once I can look back at it and see it for what it is). While thinking about what a great thing I’d be doing for the guy I love, before my speech is given, I can’t get too far past the thought that I’d be doing him some good. Once I venture into the realm of imagining “him-with-someone-else,” I freak out and tell myself I cannot lose him. Then the crying starts. Soon after is some sort of communication that a *talk* is needed, unless he’s already there, and then I just begin spewing my thoughts. I use my “poor-me” attitude to get him to feel sorry enough to stay with me until I can figure myself out and get back on track and then I will be worth something and I won’t have to fight to get him to stay.
Yeah, not exactly the healthiest of thinking (or actions – it shows the manipulative side of bipolar disorder), but … it is what it is. Unfortunately.
There are things that can be done, though – or at least one can attempt them.
You say you don’t want to lose her, yet she’s pulling away more than ever before.
Just like I can’t speak for why she’s acting this way – I can only give you why I act (and act and act … this has happened to me in many relationships) the same way she is, I also can only give you my views on how to *fix* the situation and keep her in your life, as your girlfriend … but I have also done research on these types of problems, so this isn’t just one person with bipolar speaking here.
Sympathy only goes so far.
- If we (loose term for one with bipolar disorder, for this explanation) are feeling down, having someone pity us is only going to make us feel worse and, therefore, more worthless – see above to find out what that can cause…
- If we’re up, most likely we’re going to feel a bit of disdain. Who are you to feel sorry for us? We’re awesome and amazing.
- So the key is empathy. Which is hard since, by definition, you have to have felt the same things before, but … you have to try. Put yourself in our shoes. Think what it would be like to worry, become angry at the drop of a hat, want to cry over the most mundane thing, and be jealous of every girl and, therefore, scared – and pretty much all of this on a constant basis. Even during a middle-ground, or neutral, time. Once you’ve accomplished that, then you can approach us and try talking.
Get in touch with your inner zen. Because without it, all you might manage to do is add fuel to the fire.
- We can’t always be calm or rational. You need to do that for us. If a conversation becomes escalated, do whatever you can to bring it down a notch. Make sure to talk about the little things – just regular, everyday conversation. This can help us remember what the good times were like and, possibly, realize we might want them (and you) back.
- Also, it’s going to not let us get out of control. If we’re talking about (OK, I’m going to admit right here that I’m having a hard time thinking of something because whatever enters my head, like work, for example, I think: “are there any hot, new co-workers?” If I think of grocery shopping: “was the cashier flirting with you” or “did you get into a cute, little conversation with someone about which produce looked better?” If I think of talking about dinner at your parents’ house: “you didn’t bring someone with you, did you?”).
But admitting this, and not leaving it out of the post like I really want to, can help show just how hard it can be for us and how level-headed you need to be, as unfair as it seems.
We don’t want to feel this way (hence, me wanting to delete all I just wrote because it’s embarrassing!), but we do. And I’m betting it’s even less fun for us than it is for you.
On the flip-side of all that … if we’re manic, we could easily make you upset by telling you about going out with friends or all the other great things we’re doing – without you. And you might have a million-and-a-half things to say. If you do, though, or show it in any way, it could put us off and make us think you’re the needy one. We’re better than that and may be reassured we’re making the right decision by doing our own thing.
The silver lining, though, is that she is leaving the lines of communication open with you. That says something right there. If she wanted you gone, you’d probably be gone. At least that’s what I’d do.
It’s a day-at-at-time, minute-at-a-time, Breath-At-A-Time sort of situation and you have to take it for what it is. But if you don’t give up and she’s still around, just be you and try your hardest to understand and not rock the boat. Give her time and let’s hope she comes back, like when she has done this before.
But be prepared for it happen again because, even with medication and therapy, these things occur.
I wish you luck and, even though I don’t have all the answers, I hope just seeing a tiny bit of it from the eyes of a female with bipolar disorder helps you in even some small way.
I also want to say that I am beyond grateful for people like you who can see through the illness to the person and love someone for just being … them. The world could use more people like you!