Eggshells.

I apologize I have been a little MIA lately, I just started up my last semester at college so I’ve been readjusting to that schedule. However, I’ve been asked to write on this subject and I think it could be really beneficial to some people. So you’re loved one has bipolar disorder, and you aren’t sure how to act sometimes, well here are some things to consider.

We’ve discussed before that with bipolar disorder, the person feels and views everything in extremes, even if they are not manic. When the person is manic (or even in a depressive episode) things may be even more intense. But on a general, stable day, things are still looked at differently. It’s all about perception really. Before anything, think about it from their point of view.

Some people have told me they feel like they are walking on eggshells around their loved ones and I understand that can be very difficult for some of you. But in honesty, you don’t have to walk on eggshells. You just need to change your perspective before anything.

Before talking about something with your loved one, take a minute to rehearse what you’d like to say and think if that would sound okay to them. Does it sound harsh? Is what your saying worded selfishly? Is this subject to sensitive for what mood they are in currently?

If the person is going through any type of episode, holding off on certain discussions is probably better. They are most likely not thinking the clearest, so waiting until they are will get you both positive results.

Before even starting the conversation, ask your loved one how they are feeling, or what type of mood they feel like they are in. Then ask if it’s a good time to talk about the subject. If they say yes, go for it. If not, reassure them that you two can discuss things at another time and there isn’t any worries about it.

Having an open, positive, and supportive line of communication is the most important thing.

Don’t ever feel like you can’t discuss with them how their disorder make you feel at times. But always remember to include them in the conversation, they are the one suffering most.

Saying things like, “I know when you went through that episode it was scary for you, it also scared me too. I hope I did what I could for you. Is there something I can improve on next time?” is a great example of being positive and supportive.

If you have any feedback on how to have a more serious conversation with someone that has bipolar disorder, comment down below.

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Don’t fix it, if it isn’t broken.

Since me and my fiancé have been together, I have had a mixed reaction to telling people about his bipolar disorder. There are the people who think how wonderful it is that we work through it together and find me very supportive. Then there are the people who think I am nuts for “putting up” with him. Those people usually tell me, “You can’t fix him,” and I usually laugh right then and there. Because first, he doesn’t need to be fixed (no one does) and second, how dare they assume that by me loving him I am trying to “fix” him.

The people who tell me this usually have no idea what bipolar disorder really is. They mostly likely think he switches moods every hour. But that’s okay if they don’t understand it. What makes it awful is they try to judge our lives from one small portion of it. If they took the chance to know us and our story, they would change their minds.

I never sought out to fix him. I wanted to help him in whatever way I could. If it means looking for a new doctor, looking up research involving his medicine, finding studies that relate to him, then I do it. I study Psychology at university, so I have some great resources. But the one thing I never do is diagnosis him or treat him. Because for starters I literally can’t, I have no license to do so, and second, you shouldn’t ever treat family or loved ones. So by me helping him through this, I’m not fixing him, I’m being the support he has needed.

The things I help him through are things any person would do, regardless of what they study. It benefits that I know more about mental health than the average person, but it doesn’t make me an expert or his doctor. I’m just his educated spouse. The things I study and advocate for, are not only for him, but the whole mental health community. I see it first hand and I know the changes the community needs. That is why I started this blog.

There is a saying, “Don’t fix it, if it isn’t broken.” and I think that applies to this case. My fiancé is not broken, so he doesn’t need to be fixed. To whoever out there thinking I’m wrong, that I’m treating him like a patient, I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry you never took the time to understand our story. Maybe now you will understand

All the seasons.

This post is going to be about why you should stay alive. I know there are many blogs and articles out there like this, but I hope the way I go about it changes your mind. I understand what it is like to want to end your life, and I know that reading posts like this is not always helpful. But like I said, I hope this post will make you see things from a different perspective.

It is hard, I know. I get it, I really do. If you’ve never read any of my other blog posts, know this; I know what it is like to feel such overwhelming pain that you don’t want to continue anymore. I have seen it with my own eyes and felt it with my own heart. And it sucks. Most of all, it is okay to feel down and upset and depressed. Feelings like this are okay, it means you are human. But most importantly, I want you to know that just because you feel like this, it doesn’t mean you should disappear. Because your life is so precious. It is so meaningful. And even though I do not know you personally, I promise I am telling you the truth when I say that. You matter.

Think about this, if you were to die, you would miss out so much. I know everyone says that, but seriously I want you to think about that deeper. You would miss your birthday, getting to grow another year older and wiser. You would miss your loved ones growing and becoming the person you believed they would be. You would miss out reading the books you’ve had on your bucket list. You would miss the new Netflix series that everyone is raving about. You would miss each season change, all the new fall leaves, the beautiful winter snow, the new spring flowers, and the warm sun on your skin.

I want you to know that your have purpose, potential, and power. You are smarter than you think you are, and you are beautiful in every single way. You are special, kind, loving, brave, and strong. You are so much more than your mental illness. You are so much more than those who try to bring you down. Because you are you.

I don’t know if I could change your mind, but I sure hope I made you think about your life. I hope you think really long about how meaningful you are to this world. Because even though I don’t know, and may never know you, I do know how much purpose you have for this world. And it’s a lot. So I hope you changed your mind. I hope you decided to see all the seasons change.

When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this; you haven’t.

I want to start off by saying, wow thank you all for reading my posts. When I started this blog, I did not expect to get the feedback I have so quickly. I’m honestly so humbled by so many of your responses and couldn’t be more grateful that you guys enjoy my content.

This post and my next one will not be specific to bipolar disorder, but to mental illness as a whole. I hope you enjoy.

Back in October 2018 I decided to get a small tattoo behind my left ear. It was kind of spontaneous, but at the same time, I knew it was what I needed. That sounds weird, “needing” a tattoo. I don’t know how else to explain it other than this simple tattoo I got really made me who I am. Or at least showed the world who I am. So you’re probably like, “okay what is it? Let’s see it already.”

This is it. It’s tiny, I know. But its impact is far from tiny. I had discovered the quote in which this post in entitled a few weeks before I got this tattoo. For some reason those two just went together in my head. If you don’t know, the semicolon tattoo represents suicide awareness. It is supposed to mean that your life is like a semicolon, it doesn’t end just yet, you’ve got more to say.

Both the quote and the semi colon really reached out and spoke to me. For a big part of my life, mental illness and suicide have been a part of it. I struggled with my own demons, and I watched the love of my life struggle too. I watched several famous people struggle. I watched kids from all around the world struggle, and the world didn’t do anything. The world broadcasted their death and said how sorry they were. And it broke my heart. Because suicide is something preventable, but we turn a blind eye to it all the time.

That was a big reason I majored in Psychology. I needed to change the world. I needed to be that change.

So I got this little tattoo to try to change it. I know a tattoo isn’t going to magically change everything, but it’s a conversation starter for sure. I wanted to be able to show people it, so maybe if they needed someone, they’d know I could help. I wanted to show the world where I stand.

I have watched the person I love this most be in so much pain and it is the hardest thing to see. Especially if you know that feeling yourself. If I could take all the pain away from everyone in the world, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Because no one deserves to feel that way.

To whoever is reading this, I hope you understand that. While the pain you may feel today makes you feel alone and hopeless, I promise it is temporary. When you think there are no more options for you, I know that there is. While the feelings you feel are real, it doesn’t mean you should end your life. There are so many more amazing opportunities and options out there for you, I promise. You’ve got this.

On giving advice.

I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it a million more times; if you don’t know someone with bipolar disorder, you may not get everything. And sometimes, even if you do know someone with it, it may be hard to understand things you would never think affect their life. Things like their job, their sleep schedule, their availability to hang out, or the reason they don’t drink alcohol.

Let’s start with their job. Sometimes holding a steady job can be hard for someone with bipolar disorder. Many work places in the United States won’t recognize mental health for a sick day. Or if you don’t have a doctors note, it’s a strike against you. As many of as may know, not everyone has the luxury of getting to see a doctor or psychiatrist every time they need to. That stuff is expensive. Or sometimes someone may just need to go through their episode and miss work, but without that precious little note, your job could be cut quickly. I think a big reason why jobs may not understand your disorder, is because they could easily replace you or they don’t have the time to understand it. However, with more “professional” jobs, I’ve seen they will recognize the disorder and cut you some slack (but after so many times, probably not so much).

For example, my fiancé has had trouble maintaining jobs in the past. Typically, these jobs were at a food place, somewhere they need people and they can replace them quickly. So if he had an episode, missed work, and couldn’t afford to visit a doctor, he would lose his job. Which would happen more often than you think. However, now he works at a job that is 8-5 and has documented that he has this disorder. Recently after starting the job, he was going through an episode and had to miss quite a bit. Part of the time he had a note and part of the time he did not. His main boss totally got it though.

Also, as we know with bipolar disorder, people’s mood can shift so suddenly, they may lash out at another coworker or boss. This can also result in losing a job quickly. But you may not have known that. You may have just thought that person was lazy and didn’t want to work. In reality, they were just trying the best they could.

Another thing is sleep schedule. A lot of people have sleep issues, but for someone who is bipolar, it may be different. Some medications can may you very drowsy or keep you awake. During an episode, someone may sleep a ton, or barely sleep at all.

For example, my fiancé takes a medicine that makes him really drowsy. He takes this at night, but even so it can be hard to wake up the next morning. If he doesn’t take it early enough and fall asleep early enough, it’s extremely hard for him to wake up early. If he has to wake up around 7am, he needs to take the medicine around 8pm and start to lay down for bed. I know, it sounds like a lot of sleep, but when you are that heavy of a medication, it may not feel like it at all. The person may not even sleep well either. I think that is one of the hardest things people can’t understand. I’ve had people say, “Well just don’t take it.” Without his medication, he’s an insomniac. And without his medication for several days, he will become unstable. That medicine is designed to help control his disorder. So when someone suggests to him “don’t take it” it’s honestly a slap in the face. And even if they may not understand his sleep schedule and his medication, they don’t need to chime in their advice. Because last time I checked, they were not his doctor.

Along with this, sometimes when the person can hang out with friends may be affected. Obviously if they need to take their medication early, they can’t hang out late. But someone may view that as them being rude. It’s not though.

Drinking is something that is overall not the best of anyone, but in small consumption it is fine. However, most bipolar medication warn against drinking alongside. Some people think this means, don’t drink beer while you take your medicine, but it means you shouldn’t be drinking in general if you are taking that medication daily. Alcohol is a depressant anyways, it can alter your mood and your mind even if you are not bipolar. So adding that all together, drinking is really not the best. While this can get tricky, having a single drink rarely may not negatively hurt you much. But that is not me condoning it, I really don’t think anyone should drink if their medication says not to. I would at least consult your doctor before anything.

With drinking, people really do not understand it. In general most people I know don’t understand how harmful alcohol is, and definitely not to a bipolar person. Don’t think that me or my fiancé are perfect either. While he use to drink more often with friends, he has cut back and noticed what a difference it makes. In fact, if he does drink one night, he waits longer to take his medication because he doesn’t like the way it makes him feel. For me, I’m not much of a drinker. But that may be because of all the research I’ve done with it. Either way, it’s not like I’m here on a pedestal saying everyone who has taken a drink of alcohol is going to hell. I’m just saying, watching drinking with someone who is bipolar is really important. And it probably isn’t a good idea to pressure them into “having one drink” either.

I know, that was a lot to take in. And I know it may seem like things with this frustrated me, so if this came off that way, I’m sorry. But it’s really hard when you work hard with someone to maintain their disorder and someone decides their random knowledge from a Googled article will be helpful to your situation. Because the fact is, they probably don’t know the situation fully and they probably shouldn’t be sticking their nose into your business anyway. Over the past year, me and my fiancé worked super hard to maintain and stabilize his disorder. No, I’m not an expert, but I know him and I know his reaction to things. I also know what “tips” are complete bullshit that the media produces. So when someone tries to tell me “helpful advice”, it’s not helpful at all. Because they aren’t with him 24/7 like I am nor do they have the research to back themselves up.

So, next time you want to give someone advice (and this can be toward anything too), maybe take a step back and think if it really is helpful or if it will be taken differently. And if you don’t understand something, research it first and then talk to the person. Lastly, try to think of all the possibilities before you assume your friend is a jerk when they say they can’t hang out.

I hope this helps.

Is it hard?

I’ve had people ask me, “Well isn’t it hard loving someone with bipolar disorder?” and I think to myself, “It’s no harder than loving anyone without it.” but I can never seem to explain to them how it is not different. Because they only see the outside of it all, they don’t get the full story. I think so many of them see it as an ongoing, every single day, major struggle. But it’s not.

It’s not hard because I don’t exclusively see his disorder. I don’t only factor that part of who he is into our entire relationship. Because it is not relevant nor does it define him. When you start to think of the disorder in that way, that is when it gets hard.

My fiancé is so much more than just his disorder. He is caring, compassionate, trusting, loving, brave, and kind. He has one of the biggest and strongest hearts I have ever known. He has a personality that can light up a room. And when you look at all that, you can forget about his disorder, because it will never define him.

There are hard days, don’t get me wrong, but every relationship has those. I think a lot of people think that because he is bipolar, he acts like a different person every day. But what they don’t realize is how the disorder really works. Even if his mood shifts, he is still himself. And even during an episode, it’s still him, just on an extreme level.

Something he has actually said himself is when you have bipolar disorder, you feel things and react to things on a more extreme level than the regular person. That’s probably the best way to describe how things may feel to someone who is bipolar. If someone told me something, I may react much more calmer than someone who is bipolar. And taking that into consideration can be helpful when learning how to talk to someone who is bipolar.

But even if things are viewed in more extremes for him, we are able to have a healthy and happy relationship. While I know that sometimes isn’t always possible for every single relationship, sometimes taking other things into consideration could be helpful if you want to work things out.

If you are in a relationship with someone who is bipolar, or you are yourself, what are some things your relationship struggles with? I’d love to hear from some of you in the comments and we can have a safe and open line of communication here.

I’m always here to help.

Compassion.

My fiancé was diagnosed with bipolar II when he was a young teen. After a whirlwind of a childhood, his therapist at the time finally concluded he was suffering through hypomanic and depressive episodes. So from a young age he began medication and therapy geared toward his diagnosis. Over the years he has tried many medications, some working for a bit and some not at all. He is 23 years old now and takes Quetiapine, which has been mostly working for about 2 years now. He is overall stable and healthy. He works a full time job, he has a good sleeping schedule, and he has a great group of friends.

Of course there are times when he has episodes, it’s part of his disorder. Sometimes they are severe and other times they can be resolved by us talking. Most recently, he had a pretty severe episode due to an attempt change in medication. Because he was taking such a high does of Quetiapine before, going on the lower dose of the new medication caused him to have a psychosis episode. He was basically severely paranoid of everything, he couldn’t eat because he thought someone was drugging him. He struggled through it for awhile until his psychiatrist was finally able to see him and put him back on the Quetiapine. This was probably the most severe episode I ever saw him have. He was completely distraught for several days, and for the rest he just looked so scared. I held him when he cried and I stayed awake several nights to make sure he was alive. If there was any point in our relationship where I was worried I might lose him, it was then. And it was hard, don’t get me wrong. But finally seeing him pull through, have a good nights sleep, eat a full meal, and go out in public, was the greatest thing. I couldn’t begin to describe it.

I think something crucial I learned from this episode was how to give compassion. During most of the time, he didn’t want to talk about how he felt (that may just be how he is) so it was a lot of me just comforting him. It was hard to do because I’m more of a talker, but it really helped me learn more about how to help him, which is great.

As I had mentioned in my last post, I have talked to a lot of people who have loved ones with bipolar disorder, and their view of it is so negative. I’ve seen people leave their spouse in the middle of a manic episode because they didn’t like the way they acted. For me, I don’t get it. Of course I don’t know their whole situation, but from living and loving someone with this disorder, I do kind of know what episodes are like. While it’s not a fun time, I could never think of leaving them alone during this time. And again, while everyone’s situation is totally different from mine, I think it can be very harmful to leave a person alone during a manic or depressive episode. That’s just something to keep in mind if you are going through this. While taking care of yourself is important, you have to remember how someone with this disorder might view you walking out on them.

Being there for someone can be hard and can drain a lot out of you. It can also be really rewarding. Taking time for yourself is good, but reminding your loved one you are still there while doing so is the best option. It can be you going for a walk, but reassuring your loved one you’ll be back. It is also expressing how you feel, at an appropriate time (not during the highest point of their episode). Keeping an open line of communication is going to be the best way to have a healthy relationship.

I encourage you to try this in your own life, and while it may not work right away, see if things progressively get better. And I know, it’s hard some days, but always keep the great days in the back of your mind. Because it always will get better.