How Do I Help Him Help Himself?

I have Borderline Personality Disorder and am in a new relationship with someone having Bipolar Disorder. We started dating only a few weeks ago, officially. Its been very hard for me to find myself interested in any one…then I found him and I am crazy infatuated. He’s incredibly passionate, caring, understanding, protective, and affirming…everything I feel I need right now and I feel we have a VERY loving relationship.At first I was worried because we both have pretty awful (and somewhat similar) disorders. I have learned to manage mine on my own, without meds. I know how to step outside of myself and analyze what I am doing from a clear perspective. I know what my triggers are and what to do in most situations.  He, however, is not on any meds or seeking treatment of any kind.I have tried to talk to him about how I can help him when he is angry.

 I have tried to tell him to give me a structured, clear explanation of what I did to make him angry, why it makes him angry, and how we can work on it in the future. He agreed to do this, but then had another moment and did not do this. I want to help him help himself and him to step outside of himself and become aware of his actions, triggers, cycle, etc. He seems like he knows he has bipolar disorder (since he told me) but is in denial that when he has these moments, it’s correlated with his bipolar. (When I say moments I mean the dramatic twists 

in my words to make them sound offensive, proceeding to become very cold and standoffish, irrational, over dramatic, and suicidal. I have BPD so I know what its like to seem “over dramatic” when in reality we really feel exactly what we are saying. So I know he feels what he says.)

I love the person that he is and I see a ridiculous amount of potential between us. He is supportive of me and I am trying to be supportive of him…I am NOT quick to give up on relationships like this.  So basically my question is, how can I guide him to becoming aware of what he is doing and how its related to his BD? How can I say “Its okay, this is your cycle, we will get through it together.”  ?

I cant do anything for him until he is willing to do something for himself.

I congratulate you for wanting to help your boyfriend. And you are right-you can’t do anything for him until he is willing to do something for himself. That being said, it won’t hurt to give a slight push in the direction of self-help.

Your boyfriend may know in his head that he has bipolar disorder. He may be cognitively aware of the fact. But he may not truly know it in his heart. It could be that the fact never really sunk in, and he doesn’t believe that there is anything really wrong. Or he doesn’t realize how serious bipolar can be. These are just suggestions, I don’t know for sure that he feels this way.

You said that you have been able to manage your borderline personality disorder without meds, and that’s great! That has to be very difficult at times. Not everyone is going to be able to manage as well, though (quite unfortunate, really…) You could tell your boyfriend the ways in which you have handled your mood swings. Give him some pointers on what to do when he gets angry or really depressed or whatever. He may not listen at first, though. Especially if he’s still trying to deny the fact that he even has a problem. Maybe the two of you could sit down together when you are both at an even keeled mood, and calmly discuss your options. You can come up with action plans for whenever either one of you has a mood swing or something else happens. It’s important to write down your action plans, step by step. It may seem stupid at the time, but trust me, when one of you flies into a rage, it will help to see written down on a piece of paper, ‘Ok, this is what I have to do. This is what’s going to help me get through this.’ And it will help the other person know how to help, too. You both need to work together to come up with each and every step. And write them all down, even the smallest seemingly insignificant steps. And post your action plans where they will be easily seen when they are needed. It will help greatly to be able to refer to the sheets of paper.

Give your boyfriend some time. Keep reminding him that you care for him, and you want to be with him for the long haul. Remind him that you are willing to help him in whatever ways you can. It may take some time for this to all really sink in, but hopefully in will in due time. Hopefully he will one day be able to control his anger and mood swings to some degree. Until that time, just love and care for him.

God bless!!!

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