“My boy friend is sometimes really hard to communicate with. He has a tendency to jump subjects.. Is this part of bipolar or something else?”
There are many reasons that your boyfriend may be difficult to communicate with, and tends to jump subjects. Yes, it could have to do with his bipolar. Do you notice anything else going on with him when he is having trouble communicating? Is he more erratic in his thinking, or does he have more energy? Does he get happier, maybe even elated? In other words, is he in a manic state? Sometimes, when a person is manic, they have a lot more difficulty staying on task and keeping a single train of thought going. For example, with me lately, I noticed that I have been having some major manicky moments, and when I am talking to someone, I will go off on random tangents about nothing at all. I will start on one subject, and end up ranting about something else a thousand miles away from where I started. I will pick up on a single word out of a couple of sentences and go off on that word, even if it has very little to do with the actual subject of the conversation. It’s been pretty hard to follow some of my thought processes lately. There are also times where I will start a conversation with someone, and in the middle of the conversation, I will just walk away. The other person may be in the middle of a sentence, and I will see or hear something else. I will think that other thing deserves my attention at that exact moment. Whatever seems shinier at that moment will spark an interest. Not to say your conversations aren’t “shiny” enough, or that you can’t hold his attention… I’m just saying that when manic, minds tend to wander quite a bit and are easily distracted.
Being manic is only one reason that your boyfriend may sometimes have difficulty conversing with you. Has he ever been checked for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)? Sometimes the illnesses overlap. The symptoms for ADD and ADHD tend to coincide with bipolar. It can be difficult to determine whether a person that is diagnosed with bipolar has ADD or ADHD, and vice versa. Difficulty paying attention and staying on task, as well as impulsivity and restlessness, are symptoms of all three of these illnesses.
There are some things you can attempt in order to keep your boyfriend’s attention and to help him stay on task. You can giving him something to do with his hands or some way to keep busy-something that won’t completely hold his attention, but will help him to focus more on the present. They have those stress relief balls he can squeeze, or maybe coloring (I love to color!!!) I also find that wearing a rubber band on my wrist comes in handy quite often. If I find myself drifting away, a quick snap of the rubber band on my wrist brings me back to focus. If you are trying to have a serious conversation that requires complete attention and no distractions, try going someplace quiet. Go to a room with little or no clutter, and few pictures and other ornament s on the walls. You may have to remind him now and then to focus and pay attention, but the fewer distractions he has around him, the better he will able to pay attention (hopefully!!!)
If you haven’t already, bring it to his attention that he can be difficult to communicate with. Let him know that it hurts you, and that it is something he needs to work on. Let him know that you are willing to help him with it.
I know there are other people out there that often have difficulties paying attention. So enlighten us some-what skills or techniques do you have to offer that assist you in focusing on something?