Partners and Bipolar
I would like to welcome the newest member of our writing team, Kale Likover. In their first post with us, they discuss the issues that come with trying to maintain a relationship with a partner when one has bipolar disorder. Thanks for sharing with us, Kale!
It’s happened to me twice, getting serious with a partner like “forever” serious, and then we move in together and I have a breakdown. Is it possible for me, a two-spirited person with bipolar and depression to maintain a serious intimate relationship? If I attribute my downfalls to my mania or depression am I not taking responsibility for them.
I have to let my diagnoses take the blame or else I’d never get out of bed because of the guilt of what I put my partners through. I was suicidal for seven months toward the end of my last relationship. My partner became my care-taker. They felt their personality melding with my illness to the point where they felt like they couldn’t be themselves anymore. Like they’d lost themselves in my disease.
I thought for sure I didn’t need medication anymore… I was doing so well. The withdrawal was so bad when I quit my meds cold turkey that I thought I was pregnant, and the mania insured that I let everyone know, even my coworkers and some of the parents at the school that I worked at.
And then the mania subsided and quickly spiralled into a deeply suicidal depression. How I managed to hold onto my jobs was a miracle. Then finally after seven months and medication changes I started to feel like myself again. My partner was extremely anxious about a job they were doing for the transgender community and so I decided to help them out. I didn’t realize that not getting enough sleep also sends me into mania. All of a sudden the world seemed unjust and I was so righteous. I told off my boss and was fired from my job. My partner told me that I yelled at them and I didn’t even remember doing so. I decided to check myself into a psyche ward.
In the psych ward I ended up caring for my fellow hospitalized folk instead to working on myself. I was appalled when the meds nurse would give the girls in the eating disorder program priority over the people with mental illness. I told him so and he retaliated by not giving me my meds but marking down that he had. My medication makes me sleep so I was up till 2 am letting anyone who would listen know what happened. Finally they gave me my medication but I had finagled my way out of the hospital the next day.
It’s hard for me to remember what happened next. My partner who had visited me every day of my four day hospital stay was drained and anxious. Over the span of my suicidal months they had had sex with me when they didn’t really want to because they thought it would make me feel better. It was a tangled up mess. I had been non-functional for so long and they had been trying to tiptoe around my depression.
We decided to take some space from each other. That space turned into a gaping hole that I knew could never be filled. I didn’t want to be with someone who was scared of me. But I wonder what would had happened if I had stuck it out. I still feel like I gave up too quickly. After all, my partner had stuck it out for much longer.
I ended up moving up north back into my parent’s house. I was hospitalized again, this time for three weeks. Every day since is a battle upwards. I am trying to fill the hole in my heart with painting, exercising and building my spirituality.
I have found first for me that learning to be alone was important. But I am also somewhat “chronically” independent. I am not great at accepting help from anyone in general as I don’t want anyone taking care of me again. What I have found works for me is sticking with other crazy folk like myself. We understand each other, help each other, and can talk about how not to take on each others shit while also knowing how to be there for each other when we need it. That has worked for me a lot. I understand your experiences and frustrations. Thank you for sharing them.