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Carly's avatar

(To Jellies who consider themselves "bi-polar") Is it difficult for you to stay in a serious relationship?

Asked by Carly (4555points) August 10th, 2011

I have never been medically diagnosed as Bi-polar, but I think this is only because I have never been medically examined (because of the religion I grew up in). My close friends and a lot of my family have all wondered if I might be bi-polar because of multiple reasons, but the thing I’m most concerned about is my difficulty to have a strong, serious relationship with someone.

It might just be that I’m dating the wrong men (and sometimes women), but none of them have horrible qualities. They all have good values, and I am always attractive emotionally and physically to them, but it’s me who feels unbalanced at times. The highs and lows eventually tire my s/o, and even though they don’t break our relationship off, I feel so stressed from the back and forth of my own mental state that I end the relationship in hopes that I can try to be more balanced.

Right now it seems to me that being alone is easier to handle, mainly because life is more simple, but I’m worried that I’ll never be able to have a serious relationship lasting more than a year, let alone be married unless I take drugs to keep me happy/balanced.

So I guess my questions to you are, do you, or have you had similar issues? Should I treat dating differently because of this problem, or should I not date for a while, or not at all? Is being medicated really that helpful?

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8 Answers

lemming's avatar

Alot of people who go on medication for mental illness that isn’t very very severe end up coming off it. Because yes, it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes it can kill your sex drive (often I think), it can make you emotionally distant, and lots of other things, like making you sleep half the day. I was on medication there for a few years, don’t want to say for what, but I’m almost totally off it now. I needed it at the time, but now, I don’t, because of:
*Exercise: I go for a 15 minute run every second day, and I’m gradually increasing it. Feel great afterwards.
*Mindfullness meditation: Experiencing the moment instead of worrying about the past or future…I’m still working at it, but it’s good to know that when you feel yourself run down with thoughts of God knows what, you can just stop and not think of anything.
*Self-help books: Some of them are really good, mostly they teach that worrying about rubbish that doesn’t concern you is a complete and utter waste of time and energy. and secondly, you should focus on thinking good thoughts.
* Vitamins and cod-liver oil are important when you suffer from any kind of depression.
....these are just a few tips that I found most helpful, but it is mostly about looking after yourself, in every way.

P.S. If you find relationships are all a hastle, you obviously haven’t been in love.

Hibernate's avatar

Yeah I had similar issues. [especially the feeling emotionally attracted to those with problems].

I can’t recommend continue or stop dating because I don’t know you very well and the advice will be based only on this question which doesn’t have a lot of information and the one here is vague only.

There one thing I can say but it’s you are not gonna like it very much. The more you remain single the more you will accommodate to that sort of life and the harder is gonna be for you to be involved in a relationship. If it’s hard now later is going to be even more harder.

Carly's avatar

@Hibernate that’s very true, and I’ve thought about that a lot. It seems to me that each relationship works out a little more than the one before. So maybe I’ll just remain casually open to dating. Thank you. :)

wundayatta's avatar

Why don’t you get diagnosed and treated? Then you won’t have all these ups and downs and you won’t feel a need to break it off. Why don’t you make a commitment to yourself and to your health?

The usual reason that people don’t get treated is that they don’t think they deserve to be well. They also often break off relationships with people they love because they don’t think they deserve to be loved, especially since they’ve caused so many problems for their SO.

Bipolar disorder changes the way you think. Unless you study yourself carefully and track your moods and other things you do and discuss these things with a therapist, it is highly unlikely that you will know how the disorder changes the way you think. If you don’t know how it affects you, there’s nothing you can do about it, and your problems will go on and on.

I guess you don’t need a shrink. You could read a lot of books and go to a lot of meetings for people with the disorder. You can learn a lot and maybe even learn how to cope without using meds or a therapist. If you want to treat yourself while you have an iron ball chained to your ankle, feel free. But if you’re unwilling to seriously learn about the disorder and to learn techniques to help you cope, then there’s no point. You have to want to change.

When I was sick, I had relationship after relationship. Once a month, at times. My mood would soar and crash with the course of the relationship. That was no way to keep any happy relationship going.

Once I was treated, things calmed down a lot and I was able to rebuild things with my wife. My life became more stable, and things were calmer. If I were ever to lose control of my disorder again, I’m sure my relationships will go up in flames. When I’m sick, I know I don’t deserve to be loved, yet love is the only thing that makes my life worth living.

So, yes. When I’m having an episode, you can forget it, in terms of relationships. But you knew that.

Carly's avatar

@wundayatta I agree with you that I’d like to take steps towards treating whatever it is about me that needs to be, but I’m concerned about taking the medical route, mainly because I’ve never been exposed to anything like that before. It’s kind of hard to explain, but also, as @lemming said, “Sometimes [meds] can kill your sex drive (often I think), it can make you emotionally distant, and lots of other things, like making you sleep half the day.” I don’t know if those effects outweigh my current problems.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m bipolar. I was diagnosed 10 years ago after a particularly horrible manic phase. Over the years, I have been on dozens of different medications, but about 3.5 years ago, we discovered a drug regimen that works for me. I very thankful for it.

Your very last question in your details asks if it’s really that helpful. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. YES. And finally, yes!

If you are bipolar—and that’s a strong “if” since you haven’t been diagnosed—then your brain needs outside help to function correctly. If you were diabetic, would you refuse insulin? If you had cancer, would you refuse treatment?

Treating mental illness means treating the whole person. The nonphysical parts can be treated quite effectively through meditation and talk therapy, and the physical parts need their treatment, too, through exercise and medication.

I hear your reluctance to medication. I understand it, but I disagree with it. I’m medicated, but I’m not emotionally distant. I don’t sleep half the day away. I have a healthy sex drive. Those things don’t have to be the results of taking properly prescribed medication.

I realize that I haven’t answered your question about dating, because I honestly see this other point as a more important issue. In my opinion, getting effective treatment for a chronic condition for something like bipolar disorder far outweighs dating. A person would not be able to have a steady relationship without such treatment.

wundayatta's avatar

@Carly If you ever do go in to be diagnosed, and it turns out that you do have bipolar, then it is important to tell your psychiatrist that you are really concerned about losing your sex drive, or feeling sleepy all the time or being emotionally distant, or whatever it is you don’t want. Your psychiatrist should work with you on this, and should appreciate your directions.

The psychiatrist knows that the biggest reason for noncompliance is side effects. They’ll want to make sure you are comfortable.

The other thing you should know, as a good consumer of medical care, is that you have every right to report a bad side effect as soon as you feel it. This doesn’t mean you’ll change the drug right away. Your psychiatrist may say that you should stick with it another week because often the side effect goes away once you get the drug in your system.

It often takes as much as a month before a drug can reach therapeutic dosage in your system. So don’t expect immediate change. Educate yourself about every drug before you start taking it. Research it online.

You wouldn’t be thinking about this stuff if you weren’t bothered by what is happening to you. You have to balance the effect of the meds against the problems the disorder is causing you. You need to communicate your calculation to your shrink. You need to be completely honest about your thinking. Tell them you don’t want drugs, if that’s what you want. They will ask you why. They may try to suggest otherwise. But they should try to help you without drugs if that’s what you want. If not, find another psychiatrist who will treat you like a human being.

lemming's avatar

@Carly maybe you should try them for a while and then see. I’m glad I went on them, but now I’m glad to be coming off them. Maybe you only need a little, and a little won’t disrupt you much.

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