The beginning of a new relationship, meanwhile, triggers hypomania, decreasing her inhibitions, increasing libido and leading her to spend all night drinking, dancing and writing love letters to her new flame. Now a business writer in Orlando, Florida, she was 17 when she was diagnosed with bipolar.As an adult, she has struggled to find a partner who understands her mood shifts.Having bipolar disorder adds layers of complication: Should I trust this new love interest with my diagnosis? If we do move forward, how will the new relationship weather my mood shifts?“It brings up a lot of fears and those fears ignite the temptation not to talk about it,” acknowledges Lisa Little, MSc, a chartered psychologist in Calgary, Alberta.“Pretending [the illness] doesn’t exist is more likely to cause problems in the relationship.” When telling a prospective partner that you have bipolar, Little suggests sharing details about how the illness affects your behavior, including symptoms of mania, hypomania and depression, as well as emphasizing how you manage the disorder.
Ken Johnson (not his real name), a non-profit administrator in Calgary, Alberta, suspects his illness lies behind many of his breakups.
One girlfriend tried to be compassionate, she recalls, but attributed all of their arguments to the disorder, making Victoria feel discounted as a person.
When Victoria met an artist who also has bipolar disorder, she thought it would be the perfect match.
“Both ends of the spectrum cause problems in relationships.” In a manic state, Chris can become volatile and unreliable, arguing with girlfriends over trivial matters and canceling plans with little regard to their feelings.
In contrast, he says, depression leads him to withdraw and avoid girlfriends. The moment something goes wrong in a relationship, she pulls away and turns inward, deepening the rift.
“When she was depressed, I was manic; the whole relationship was a disaster, but it did make me more compassionate and understanding of what my partners go through.” For some couples, says Jon P.