Coping with a Bipolar Relationship

My fiancee and I believe she is bipolar from her symptoms and from what we have read. How do I get her help without causing a trigger ?I, myself, have been treated for psychosis and depression. How do I cope with being in this relationship? I am very much in love with her.

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It really is hard when someone you love is experiencing something such as a mental illness.  When things are going on internally, as you already know from your own struggles, it can be hard for someone outside of your own self to figure out what to do or how to help.  The first step would be to get your fiancee help from a trained professional.  It seems you want to and are willing to do that, but are unsure of how she might respond, which is completely understandable.  There can be many responses in a situation like this and a lot depends on how your fiancee is currently viewing her own situation.  You mentioned, “we have read,” so I am going to assume that your fiancee acknowledges that there is something that isn’t feeling quite right within herself.  If she already feels that way, then encourage her to go see a doctor (psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist) to begin the process of obtaining a diagnosis.  While everything you read may point to bipolar, there are also many other mood disorders that can manifest similar symptoms.  The goal is to get her diagnosed by a professional because that is truly the start of getting her the correct treatment.

Without knowing for sure if your fiancee is bipolar, and without knowing her personally, it is hard to determine what her triggers might be.  That is something only you, being someone close to her, can determine.  Generally speaking though, approaching topics such as seeing a doctor, should usually be done in a casual way.  If you make it sound like it is an order, or demand, that she see a doctor, or if you put her in a situation that makes her feel trapped, she will probably be less receptive to the idea than if you casually mention something such as, “Hey, remember how we were looking at all those books and you seemed to show similarities for being bipolar?  Maybe we should see about getting some more information about it from a doctor, or someone who has more experience?”  Offering to go with her may also help because she might be scared by this whole process and your support could reassure her a bit.

As far as coping strategies, it is hard to say because you don’t know exactly what her diagnosis is.  The best thing you can do for HER is to encourage her to seek treatment.  The best thing you can do for YOURSELF is to continue to take care of yourself and continue with your own treatments.  If you are not taking care of yourself, then you are not going to be in any condition to help your fiancee or the relationship.  If you are taking care of yourself, then that is one example that your fiancee can see before her own eyes on how the correct treatment can make a huge difference in someones life and could help her greatly!  A lot of people are reluctant to seek treatment, so it will take patience on your part, which is definitely no easy task.  Again, this is probably quite a confusing time in her life (as you can recall from your own experience) so make sure that you are encouraging and not forcing or pressuring her.  People tend to shut down when they feel forced or pressured.  Prior to my own diagnosis, my fiancee would get upset with my moods, we would fight, and I would end up more frustrated because not only was he angry with me for things I didn’t understand, but I still didn’t understand them myself!!! We would both shut down, he would walk away angry and I would walk away angry, confused, and defeated.

I don’t want to get into too many specifics dealing with bipolar because we don’t know for sure if she truly is bipolar, but if she does display symptoms of mania, then chaos, confusion, and disorganization can feed mania.  Yelling and making one feel bad about themselves can feed into depression.  That said, encouragement to seek professional treatment, taking care of your own self, and love and patience seem to be the best things for you in this situation.

If you have any more specific questions or need more information, feel free to email me.  In the meantime, best of luck!!!

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