Bipolar? Be Friends First


How’s it going?

Bill, a friend of mine, has a mother with bipolar disorder.

She didn’t find it out until recently, either, and she’s in her 60’s.

It took a major episode that put her in the hospital to find out her diagnosis.

She got put on the right medication and is seeing a therapist now, and is very stable.

In fact, she’s getting married!

But here’s the most important thing –

The man she’s going to marry knew that he had to learn more about bipolar disorder .

He recognized that that would be a necessity if he was going to marry her and be her supporter.

He even got my supporter course, and said that it helped him immensely to understand her.

More than that, he said that he has more confidence in his own ability to take care of her (and her bipolar disorder) in the way that he needs to.

I hear the same thing from many supporters who get my courses:







Bill’s mom also read my survivor’s course so she could learn more about her own disorder.

Not just because I wrote them, but I do believe that these courses give both the supporter and their loved one the information they need to fight this battle together.

Look at it this way –

If you just found out you had a lifetime illness (which bipolar disorder is), like diabetes or something like that, you would want to know everything you could about it.

I think Bill’s mom and the man she’s going to marry are going to get off to a very good


I was also told that they’ve been “best friends” for six years already!

Whether you have bipolar disorder or not, that’s the way to go.

Bill also has the disorder, and he and his wife are best friends as well. He says it helps get through the rocky times when just plain love isn’t enough.

Now, Bill’s wife Betty is a good supporter.

She knew when she married Bill that his bipolar disorder was a major thing that they would have to contend with, because they’d also been friends for many years before they got married.

Sometimes, as a supporter, if you’re married to someone with the disorder, you may have to take a step back and be “friends first.”

When things get really difficult, try to think of your loved one as a friend first, someone you’re trying to help.

It can make things easier.

Sometimes a married couple can get so caught up in the marriage part that they forget that they were friends first.

What I’m talking about is a mindset here.

Try being a friend to your loved one and to treat them like you would any other friend.

Just taking that one step back can help you see things in a different light.

I’m not saying to discount your feelings or anything.

You can still feel the way you feel.

But by taking the attitude of a friend, you may be an even more effective supporter.

It will help you both to stay on the same team, too.

With the same goal – stability for your loved one.

Sometimes, as a friend you can be more patient than otherwise.

Try this approach and see if it makes a difference in your relationship.

  1. I think your advice about being “friends” first when there is trouble is some of the best advice I have read yet. It makes perfect sense. Thank you

  2. I have just read your post Dave, and realise for the umpteenth time the things you ar esayiung are , simple sound commonsense.

  3. My first husband and I only knew each other for 9 months before we got married, but he actually put my bipolar disorder on the “back burner,” and treated me as if I were “normal.” I think this HELPED our marriage, as he had quite a few health issues of his own (physical). We had a WONDERFUL relationship; we WERE “best friends.” Unfortunately, he died five years later.

    I knew my second husband through a group therapy meeting. He had OCD and (I think) a “touch” of bipolar. When we were in group, he had the wisest things to add to anyone’s problems, and sometimes I would add my “2 cents.” We worked like a “team” and it felt right. We were best friends for seven years before we married. He was 19 years older, but age didn’t make any difference. He died three months after our marriage.

    It DOES help if you’re at least “good” friends with someone you’re going to marry, bipolar or not. This sets the stage for figuring out how your significant other reacts to trials and tribulations that affect your lives together. And I agree with Dave, that leanrning all you can about bipolar disorder HELPS one understand what’s involved in being close to someone with bipolar disorder.

    I’m in a “friends with benefits” relationship now, although the “benefits” are few and far between. He learns about my bipolar by watching my ACTIONS instead of “book learning.” He knows I’m profligate with my money when I’m hypermanic; he knows I sometimes don’t get enough sleep; but he’s never seen me in an episode, so he has NO idea what’s involved. I tried to get him to read the “Supporters Course,” but he said he “knew it all!!”

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good. I pray for my country.

  4. Thanks, Dave. This email is very appropriate to me. Friendship has always been the foundation of my relationships. I feel it’s very important to be friends when you are a couple, as without that the relationship can be shallow. At first my loved one was my best friend, then my lover, then my boyfriend and now he wants to return to being “just friends.” There have been all sorts of rumours that he had cheated on me and gone back with an ex, which turned out to be rumours, gossip and mis-understandings. The real reason is that my boyfriend is not well and has not been for a long time. I am trying to persuade him to get the psych to change or adjust his meds. The “cocktail” he has been on since last year is not bringing him back to a normal life, but seems to keep him “down” too much of the time. His libido has totally gone, his sense of humour has nearly gone too and he shows no interest in anything (not in his ex, either, lol). That’s why he wants to be “just friends.” I spent a bit more time with him at the weekend and understand a bit better how he feels now. I love him and I know he loves me too. Real love reaches further than the bedroom and the real friendship we have strengthens this.

  5. Thanks again Dave! (We need to get you a cape and tights)
    The BIG word is ‘mindset’. If the relationship is not music to your ears, try flipping the record; it plays a whole new tune!
    Thanks again, John.

  6. “A friend of mine’s mother was only just diagnosed with bipolar disorder AND she is 60!?” I wonder how this can be possible. Surely bipolar disorder is not something that waits until you are 60 to show itself? Can somebody add some light on this for me, because I think that this must surely be a mis-diagnosis of some other problem that this lady’s has developed in later life.
    I am 60 now myself and a sufferer of this disorder. I am not in any way learned or studied (professionally) as regards bipolar disorder and ask out of interest only. I mean I know that this thing has been with me since as far back as I can remember and it didn’t take me/my parents and teachers very long to know that there was something wrong – by the time I was 10 or 11 I was diagnosed already, and that was way back in the dark ages AND in darkest Africa!

  7. I have read many of your daily news and think all the advise you give is very sound. I was diagnosed with I may have bipolar disorder. I have a Phyciatrist who is very supportive. Keep up the ggod work, Many thanks Sharon UK

  8. Hi Dave,
    As always, you are right on target. My husband and I have always been friends. Always on a first come basis. Our relationship with our children was of the utmost importance to us both, but there was always that special relationship only we could share.
    Fortunately, we both had intimate knowledge of a good friend of ours with bipolar. We experienced all of her ins and outs with the disease. It was quite different when my husband’s episodes. The first two, since we were married got by, but the 3rd carried a nightmarish sequence, of which I could write a book about. That’s where you came in. Already knowing a lot, but only learning from you after the fact was a bit beguiling to say the least. But, with a strong love and friendship (50+ years) we muttled through. But now I have learned from my past mistakes and have a whole new ability to deal, should an episode occur again. Many, many thanks for being there for us.

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