Bipolar: Supporting with Unconditional Love


You know, there are two kinds of love: Conditional love and unconditional love. I want to use two case histories to illustrate my point today (but not their real names). See if you can spot the differences.

John and Mary are married, and Mary has bipolar disorder. Whenever Mary “behaves,” (as John calls it), in other words, when Mary is not in a bipolar episode or has no bipolar symptoms or behavior, John treats her well.

He does things with her, he takes her out to dinner, they do things with friends and family, he buys her presents, he talks nice to her, etc.

But when Mary is in an episode, or shows bipolar symptoms or behavior, John doesn’t treat her well at all. Like when Mary is depressed, John tells her to “snap out of it,” or says, “You could be happy if you really wanted to be.”

If Mary goes manic and spends too much money, John screams and yells at her for doing so, and even Sometimes calls her names. No more presents, no more dinners, no more time with friends and family, no more comfortable alone time, either.

There is tension between them all the time, and they fight all the time, usually about trivial things. Then when Mary is better again, John goes back to treating her nice again. Because of this, Mary cannot seem to stay stable with her bipolar disorder.


Jill and George are married, too, and George has bipolar disorder. To Jill, it doesn’t matter if George is in a bipolar episode or showing symptoms or behavior of his bipolar or not, she treats him the same.

She is supportive, kind, and loving. She listens to him when he wants to talk, or simply sits with him when he doesn’t want to talk but just wants company.

Jill and George do everything together. When George is not in an episode or showing bipolar symptoms or behavior, they go for long walks in the park, they visit friends and family, they go out to dinner, they play board games or cards, they go to the movies, and just enjoy each other’s company.

When George is in an episode or showing symptoms or bipolar behavior, Jill is still by his side – she doesn’t change the way she treats him at all, even though they can’t do all the things they would normally be able to do. She rides out the storm with him, whatever that takes.

Because of this, George is pretty stable with his bipolar disorder.

Could you spot the differences? Very simply…In the first case, with John and Mary, John’s
treatment of Mary depends on whether she is well or sick. His love is conditional upon her behavior – If she is not in a bipolar episode or showing any bipolar behavior, he treats her well, even buys her presents.

However, if she is in an episode or is showing bipolar behavior, he withdraws that unconditional love and treats her poorly. His love is conditional upon her behavior.

On the other hand, we have Jill and George. Jill’s love for George is unconditional. She treats him the same whether he is in a bipolar episode or showing signs of bipolar behavior or not.
She acts the same way either way, and treats him the same way either way. That’s unconditional love.

I had one supporter who told me this: “I love my wife. I hate her bipolar disorder. These are
two different things.”

That can make it easier to separate your loved one from their disorder, and to have unconditional love for them. Whether your loved one is symptomatic or not, they need your unconditional love.

You need to be able to separate them from their disorder in order to be able to do this. Remember what that one supporter said, how he loves his wife but hates her disorder and how these are two different things. That might help you.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,



  1. Hello! I think it’s pretty hard for the supporter to be so patient as Jill. My partner and supporter gets involved in the fights with me and repeats many times how awful I am, which undermines my trust in him altogether. He seems to take delight in harming me, he is cruel and sarcastic, as well, I do have mood swings and when I get pensive I start recalling things he has done to me in the past which destroyed my life in many ways. He seems to care up to a certain point, but our relationship is stormy and far from stable. In the middle of a fighht he will walk away and show he loves me… conditionally. Thank you for the article, it has been particularly helpful for me. Best Regards – Irene

  2. What a Surprise!!!

    Thank Goodness for the Mercy Bestowed upon us by Family and True Friends! Great information!

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