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Someone Who Understands

Jane and her fiance, Dana, each wrote about their relationship for our couples series. 

Jane

Writing a blog set together is both an awesome and odd experience. I write without outlines, and pour everything out – much like I deal with my moods. My fiance Dana needed a list of questions to try and answer. He approached the article the same way he approaches my bipolar disorder and symptoms. He asked for specifics on what to write about – just like he asked and has learned my individual coping techniques. Even though writing a blog terrified him and was way out of his comfort zone, he remained calm and participated to show his support of both my writing and my bipolar disorder. 

One of the biggest things that we had to overcome in our relationship – or at the start was the subject of children. For me, biological children was the scariest thing. Entering into a relationship with someone where our combined DNA would most likely result in a child with mental illness to me meant giving up on having children. Knowing that our combined illnesses would mean an almost certain rejection for being foster parents or adoption (knowing private adoption would never be a financial option) and not wanting to give birth to children who would suffer like we did from stigma and from the illness itself, no children was the only way I could see us together. 

There were many arguments back and forth, ranging from heated arguments with no real logic, to well-thought out discussions using scientific evidence or statistics. 

In the end, he won by telling me one thing:

If we did have children with bipolar or illness, who would be better parents for them? Who would love them more or understand them more than we could, and help them through it? 

When I gave him a list of questions to answer, I asked how bipolar affects our relationship, how he felt when he learned about it, advice he would give etc. And I asked “Does her bipolar affect your goals for family (ie. Children)?”

Not in any way. If there is a chance our children would have it, I would love them all the same. 

We get through the affects my bipolar has on our relationship the same way we get through anything else – with love and understanding. 

Dana

The first time I saw my future wife (not knowing that at the time of course) was at my brother's wedding in October 2012. She caught the bouquet, so I made a play to catch the garter. At the last second I dove in front of everyone and caught it, ensuring we would have our first dance. From that moment on I knew I wanted to be with this girl. As the months went on I learned she was going through a bit of a depression period due to her grandma passing away and other things going on in her life. We became friends and got to know each other more intimately and later began dating.

Not long after I learned that she had bipolar disorder. When I found out, I did not have any hesitations towards dating her, likely due to the fact I myself have a mental disability (schizoaffective disorder). We worked through a few early relationship pitfalls and I learned her triggers and ways she handled her bipolar disorder.

Now, I try not to do things that upset her, and I do my best to not let any unresolved issue go unresolved, ie any fights or misdeeds on my part. That is the biggest advice I can give to someone who is starting a romantic relationship with a person living with bipolar disorder – try not to take a fight or argument too seriously and always try to be peaceful and accept it if your significant other dwells on things that can't be changed (Jane has anxiety too.)

It does not have a big effect on our day to day life, other then being quick to anger I can't say there is anything I hate or cannot stand about her having bipolar. It does not change any long-term goals as a couple; if there is a chance our children would have I would love them all the same. I like and find it endearing that my Jane will always let me know exactly what is what.

On Valentine's Day 2015 I asked for Jane's hand in marriage. She said “Yes,” making that day the second best day of my life – the first being the day we met. 

Comments

I decided I wanted to really try to meet a kind special man on a dating site. I am very old fashioned got more turned off with so many hits from scammers and players. When you are an older woman and someone who has to continue her medication for anxiety and depression and manic depression. My question is: When does one make the decision to talk to others when you either work for them or when you have started dating them?
I have no idea about this ... Perhaps, you all could share some of your insights.
TY,
M

TBH, I'm usually just very blunt with people. You can also "test the waters" to see how receptive they would be by talking about mental health in general or a current case in the media.

Thank you for this piece. It's so great to see other spouses who are so supportive of their SO with bipolar disorder! I have Type I Bipolar Disorder, and my husband has been nothing but understanding and loving from the beginning. He has now supported me through two hospitalizations, and now shock therapy treatments. I remember being terrified, when we first started dating in 2010, to tell him about my illness. But when I finally did, he didn't even flinch. Instead, he researched everything he could about it. He read An Unquiet Mind -- we still have that same copy, all marked up and highlighted, pages dog-eared where he had found passages that helped him understand.

So again, thank you both for this piece. It's wonderful to see others who also have supportive loved ones.

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