Relationships are difficult for everyone, but they can be even tougher when you have a mental illness. Each relationship I had before my diagnosis of bipolar suffered as partners found it difficult to be around me; they never knew which Katie they were going to be greeted with.
I didn’t have a serious relationship until I was twenty. I met someone on a night out and we instantly clicked. At first it was fun and we both looked forward to seeing one another. We went out for meals and nights out dancing together. We went on trips away to places like the Cotswolds. We were happy, but it didn’t last. She told me she could no longer cope with my unpredictable moods. She had enjoyed spending time with me she said, and could look past the bursts of anger and paranoia I had often displayed. But that now I had changed. I was no longer fun to be around and it was bringing her down. She had wanted an easy going relationship, but had realised now that I was too intense, too high maintenance.
I quickly found another partner, and we formed a bond online. It was a long distance relationship, with her in Manchester and me in Reading. We made it work and I admired her sense of humour and vibrant personality. Suddenly though, to me, she expressed an exasperation over my constant talking, my fits of rage, and my lack of concentration or planning that was needed to see her. My inability to listen to her concerns about my behaviour didn’t help, and she felt it was best to just be friends.
After two failed relationships in a row, that both ended because of my behaviour, I began to see my personality as flawed. I felt I was doomed to short term relationships, that sputtered out when they realised just how difficult I was to be around.
Then I met Jimi. We met online, then chatting occasionally on the phone when we decided to meet in person. We ended up having two dates in one day. We bonded over our love of all things nerdy, and our similar tastes in music and literature. Our personalities were very different, but it worked. He was a calming influence on me and taught me to be more patient. I taught him to have more confidence in himself and to be less socially awkward. He has stuck by me through some of the most difficult times in my life. When I had a breakdown and had to leave my dream job. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When I’ve been manic and unpredictable and angry. When I’ve been suicidal. He has taken it all in his stride and remained his compassionate, caring self.
We’ve now been together for eight and a half years and two and a half years ago we married. My Dad summed him up in his speech when he called Jimi “a true gentle man.” I’m proud to say he his my husband.
It is possible to have a healthy, long term relationship with someone when you have a mental illness. I am proof of that. It’s not easy, but never settle for someone that doesn’t understand your illness. You deserve to be loved and cared for.
4 thoughts on “Relationships and Bipolar”
Hi Katie. I’m just now finding your blog and I’m happy I did. It’s inspirational and relatable. This post is true to heart. A lot of people don’t understand that the complexities that come with mental illnesses are exponential. As a suicide survivor and being diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses, I never thought I’d be happily married and accomplishing so many goals. Like you said, it takes a strong and loving partner to walk with through the ups and downs. I look forward to reading more. Thanks – Heidi
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and your kind words, I appreciate it so much x
You’re welcome and thanks for sharing 😊
Thanks again, this is very helpful and inspirational