I got an email this week that I want to share with you, to get your opinion as well:
“Dave- My girlfriend has bipolar disorder. At least I think she does. She hasn’t gotten formally diagnosed, but she seems to be showing all the signs, at least from all the research I’ve done on it. She goes into these mood swings all the time, I mean, I never know what kind of mood she’ll be in when I come to see her, and even if she starts off in one mood, she could change in like an instant, you know? And I never know what causes it, just all of a sudden she’s mad at me, and I don’t know what I’ve done! And she can never tell me, either. And just as quickly, she’s over it, too. Then she’s the “good girlfriend” that I know and love. It’s driving me crazy! I can’t keep up with her. I’ve read a lot about bipolar disorder, and it sure sounds like she has it.
One minute she’s up, and the next minute she’s down, and when she gets down, she gets really down, and nothing I can say will help to cheer her up. I know, because I’ve tried. I tell her that she’s beautiful (she is, to me), and talented (she’s a great teacher), and fun to be around (when she’s not depressed), and that I love her (which just makes her cry when she’s depressed). It just seems like everything I say to her when she’s depressed makes her cry – I don’t know what to do then. But she eventually comes out of it and gets back to normal, not through anything I do or say. It’s really confusing for me. I mean, I was thinking of asking her to marry me, but with these mood swings, well, to be honest with you, I don’t think I could take them on a full time basis. What do you think I should do? –Marty”
Well, first of all, I’m not surprised by anything that Marty wrote. He said that even though his girlfriend has not been formally introduced, that he thinks she has bipolar disorder, and from what he says, it sure seems like she could have it, with her mood swings.
However, I am not a psychiatrist, therapist, counselor, or any other health or mental health specialist, so I can’t diagnose anyone, especially not based on an email – I can only make an
educated guess and advice her to seek professional help based on her symptoms, and her symptoms point to the possibility of bipolar disorder.
As for Marty actually marrying her, that has to be a personal decision, I can’t advise on that
Maybe you would have better advice for him on that? What would you say to him, coming from a supporter’s point of view?
Because I would just say that it’s too early for any kind of serious decision like that, since if
she does have bipolar disorder, she can seek professional help, and she can get better, and
he won’t have to deal with her mood swings if she gets better.
There is a good prognosis for people with bipolar disorder who seek professional help early – there is no cure, no magic pill, but there is treatment, in the way of medication and therapy, that can help her to manage her symptoms (the mood swings) and to attain bipolar stability in the long term. At that point, when she has achieved stability, certainly the possibility of marriage could be approached.
Many people with bipolar disorder have gone on to live perfectly normal, productive, happy
lives with treatment and good management of their bipolar disorder. They take medication on a daily basis and go to see their psychiatrist, doctor, and therapist on a regular basis. They also do other things to take care of themselves – Things such as good sleep habits (8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night), healthy diet, and exercise.
They are also productive individuals – whether they can work a full time job outside the home or not, they at least keep a part time job or a volunteer position, or have hobbies that keep them busy so they are not idle, realizing that
idleness can lead to depression, and depression to a bipolar depressive episode.
These people, by making some lifestyle changes, have learned to manage their bipolar disorder, and this man’s girlfriend can do the same thing, thus becoming more stable with her mood swings. But first she must see a professional and get diagnosed so she can be put on the right medication and a treatment plan.
Well, I have to go!