To say that living with a loved one who has bipolar disorder can be challenging is putting it mildly; however there are times that it can be rewarding as well.  Although you do have to deal with times when your loved one is in bipolar episodes, there are also times when your loved one has normal periods.

 

Many people think that someone with bipolar disorder goes from episode to episode without a break in between, but that isn't true.  As long as they are taking their medication, they can go long periods of time between episodes, during which time you can enjoy as "normal" a life as anyone else.

 

There may be times when you feel "blue" or even a few days when you don't "feel right."  If you are a woman, this might happen when you are menstruating or, if you are older, when you go through menopause.  When after having a baby, it is called "post-partum depression."

 

However, a bipolar depression is different than just the "blues," or any of the other types of depression named above.  It has its own set of symptoms, such as: loss of interest in things which used to interest them; withdrawal from friends and family; decreased sex drive; increased sleep; feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; possible suicidal thoughts; etc.

 

During a manic episode, on the other hand, your loved one may act unpredictably, exhibiting such behaviors as: risky sexual behavior; excessive spending; increased energy; increased sex drive; decreased sleep; excessive talking; distractibility; risk-taking behavior; impulsivity; anger/rage; irritability; delusions; hallucinations; etc.

 

Many supporters of a loved one with bipolar disorder say that bipolar mania is harder to deal with than bipolar depression because of the behaviors involved.  Perhaps this is because so many of the manic behaviors involve consequences.

 

For example, risky sexual behavior may mean bringing home a sexually transmitted disease.  Excessive spending may mean financial consequences for your family.  Speeding could mean an accident.  Other behaviors, such as substance abuse, could mean legal consequences.

 

Some supporters complain that their loved one even lies to them, because they have no memory of what they do during a manic episode which, for a supporter, is hard to believe.

 

Usually, someone with bipolar disorder will "crash" from a manic episode down into a depressed episode before they go back to a normal period.

 

When a supporter can stick with their loved one through all of this, however, and still love and care for their loved one, they have rewards that have no monetary value.  Between episodes, when their loved one is stable again, they are appreciative of your support and understanding.  Many supporters say it is worth the trials they have to go through.