Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Partner Who Understands Bipolar Disorder

My husband went with me to see my therapist the other day. (Sometimes it is good to take someone close to you with you so they can bring another viewpoint into the conversation.) We were talking about how one of the worst times of day for me is at night. That is when I typically get very angry and irritated. I will stay up most of the night and often wake my husband up and talk to him, and even argue sometimes. My therapist asked him: "So, you bear the brunt of the effects of this?" I immedatly thought that yes, he does. He is the one I talk to all the time and he sees me at my worst. To my surprise though he immediately said "No, I think Katie bears the brunt of it."
My Amazing Husband, Jeff

I am continually reminded of how great my husband is and I beleive his answer was far different than what most partners of someone with bipolar disorder would say. Jeff understands that while it is hard for him to be married to me at times, bipolar is a horrible illness and I am the one who deals with it the most.

Jeff and I have been together for 17 years and most people tell me that since he is the one who has to deal with me the most, he is the one who is most affected by my illness. Most people do not think about what it is like for the actual person with bipolar disorder. Fortunatly, my husband does know that in the end, the disease affects me the most. His answer to my therapist allowed me to let go of some of the guilt I have over this illness and it helped me have more self respect. His immense love for me has helped me love myself. It also reminded me that Jeff really does understand what I am going through.

It can take a while for our partner to understand our illness. Jeff did not immediately know what bipolar disorder was all about. He did a lot of work, a lot of reading, and he has gone to many doctors and therapists with me. Since mental illness affects everyone in the family, it is extremely important that your partner is involved in the treatment of your illness. It is very important that they know how your bipolar disorder manifests itself so they can understand that what is going on is not you trying to be mean, it is a disease. It is important that they learn ways to help you.

Two books we have liked which can help you and your partner are Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston Psy.D., and When Someone You Love is Bipolar by Cynthia G. Last, PhD.

I am grateful for all that my husband has done to understand bipolar disorder and how it affects me in particular. This means we can work together to manage this illness.


Rev. Katie


  1. What a gem :) In many ways, mental illness is a very lonely thing. Having a supportive and understanding partner makes all the difference.