Relationships. Loved ones doing research on bipolar. I think it’s actually an advantage, because there is some baseline, although not always entirely accurate, that they can go on. Believe this, not everything you read, or find on video, is true for every person that explanation speaks of. Disorders are unique to the individual, but if they share a certain amount of common traits, they are catagorized under a blanket label.
According to www.nimh.nih.gov, the Nation Institute of mental health, Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” Okay, yes, I’ve been to those states of mind. What else? Is there anything more specific?
- Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
Nice, at least seven days of mania that leads to hospital care. But does everyone with this disorder end up in a mental health hospital? Nah. At least, I don’t think so, because what if the symptoms are caught and treated before hospitalization?
Anyway, one thing to remember is, the disorder can be controlled. It can be maintained and maintenanced, allowing the person dealing with it, to be sailing on calm waters. And they can even go storm free for a long time, maybe even a lifetime. I guess the cure in this case, is knowing you have the disorder, and being vigilant in maintaining equilibrium, which is also a great movie by the way.
But I started this wanting to talk about relationships. To me, a relationship is like learning in school subject, but the subject is the other person. On a high level, you might feel excited about learning this new subject, and things just click. And the longer you study, the more you find out.
Just like learning a subject, you will encounter difficulties. And wow, are those new difficulties and challenges exciting. Exciting because they can be difficult. But like anything difficult, when you solve the issue at hand, you feel great!
Understanding someone with complex emotions, like we all have (come on people), let’s be real. Understanding a person is one of the greatest feelings. I would even go as far as when I understand an opinion different than mine, it is equally exciting.
My buddy and I have different desires, right now, of where to live. They want to live in a forested area, and I want to live in a condo. And we meet in agreement on so many other things, that are friendship isn’t hindered by the fact that our basic life choices differ.
My wife deals with me, and I her, everyday. Sometimes she is blue, other times I am. It is a joy learning how to support her through those times, as it is a honor to have her support me. Support looks different in different situations. So I like to remember that there isn’t a cure all for emotional struggle.
When a person commits themselves to the other, it is like committing oneself to a life’s work. They agree, sometimes rather explicitly through vows, legally through binding government contracts, and by marriage through god. They commit themselves to each other for life, and that means through sickness and health. Now, being on an emotional roller coaster does not mean you have poor health. It is when it starts ruling your life that matters. And in those times of poor mental health, our partners, no matter how we are bound, do all they can to push us up out of the murky waters we are swimming in.
How? How do we help someone who can’t necessarily help themselves? Step one, be there. Show up, however you can, and remember the empathy to know that, you, may never have been there. Where they are in their unique mindspace, is unique to them. But also remember to use your past experiences and the tools you have built and acquired during the hard times you went through, to help them. Help how you know how, and if that doesn’t work, be there. Listen.
Depending on your commitment to this person, seek out resources for you to understand what they are going through, and resources for them to navigate back to homeostasis of their ideal thought pattern.
Usually when a person is struggling, it is because the ways we think, become practice, and then hardwired. “I am not good at this.” Tell yourself that a hundred times and see how much better you will get at that thing. Also, see how hard it is to start believing the contrary.
I learned about affirmations the time I went to a partial stay treatment at a mental health facility. I drove there, thirty minutes, every morning to take classes on the difficulties of maintaining wellness. We examined hardship, and learned tools to deal with it. Classes like, Emotional Abuse, Anger, Nutrition, Addiction, and others. What was enlightening and hard to see, is that I was on both ends of those subjects with different people during different parts of my life.
But with knowledge comes the power to learn to attempt to end the pattern of misfortune. Radical Acceptance is one tool, that means when you are going through a thing, the first step you may take, is to radically accept what you are going through, and not actively try to change it right away. This looks like, I have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is an experiential disorder that comes with a certain set of traits, a certain set of common experiences. Now, with a clear mind, and a place to start, I was able to start building a path, a road, to where I wanted and needed to get.
Relationships are interesting, because they typically imply two beings. I ponder about that when I think of a relationship with myself, but that is for another day.