June 13, 2018
Audio version- http://chirb.it/Jemtc5
The term “bipolar” is often used by many people to describe someone whose mood constantly changes between highs and lows. Years ago, the real diagnosis used to be called “manic-depressive disorder.” For the average person it’s just a descriptor of how someone is behaving rather than a true diagnosis. However, it actually is a formal psychological condition and should only be diagnosed by a professional. In the context of this article, I’m referring to the informal use of the term.
A bipolar relationship is much like riding a roller coaster. It’s one that goes up and up, reaches a peak, and then comes screaming down making you almost want to throw up. Then it happens all over again. Interestingly, when we examine the symptoms of true individual bipolar disorder, the bipolar relationship exhibits many of the same things, e.g. the manic behavior and the depressive mood. Just like the actual diagnosis of an individual, this pattern is also toxic to a relationship. It steals the energy out of the relationship by keeping it so unstable.
Particularly after a manic high in which the partners can’t get enough of each other, and when they are together, it is incredibly intense, the “crash” leaves them wondering what went wrong so quickly and drastically. The partners are often left to wonder about their own sanity or the sanity of their partner or both. It can be extremely distressing.
Interestingly, sometimes one of the partners in a relationship is actually truly bipolar. It’s almost as if the condition becomes contagious and infects the relationship. The person with the diagnosis is familiar with the up and down mood changes, but the other person is not. The effect is still the same on the relationship. It’s often disastrous.
Without question, the relationship needs some therapy so that it can become more stabilized and not experience the drastic shift between intense intimacy and rejection. Without help, it becomes impossible to have a healthy, stable relationship.
Until next time, this is Dr. Andrewtelling you to “Be kind to yourself.”