I was at one of the bipolar support groups that I attend the other night. And I was talking to this woman whose husband has bipolar disorder. I asked her how he was doing. And she said, “Great.” But she didn’t say it very enthusiastically at all. So I asked her how come she wasn’t
very excited about that. And she said, ‘I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
I asked her what she meant… And she said, “Any time he does great for awhile, it seems like the next bipolar episode is right around the corner, so it’s like I’m just waiting for the next shoe to
drop. Like I know it’s coming any time now.”
She was telling me how uncomfortable a position that places her into, how she can never relax when her husband is doing “great” – she never feels like she can enjoy his times of stability, because she’s afraid of an oncoming episode.
I told her that’s no way to live – that they should be able to enjoy his periods of normalcy and stability much more.
She said she would love to, except that she just can’t get the thought out of her mind that he’s bound to have that next episode any time now.
If your loved one is doing what they are supposed to be doing to manage their bipolar disorder, they will begin to have fewer and fewer bipolar episodes. So it’s up to you, as their supporter,
whether you feel and think and act like this woman from the support group and wait around for the next bipolar shoe to drop… Or whether you enjoy your loved one’s periods of normalcy, understanding that, if they are managing their disorder the right way, they will have more and more of them.
Bipolar episodes are hard enough to go through, you know that. And there is a period of time after each of them that you don’t trust your loved one, because you are afraid they will “slip” into
bipolar behavior. This is normal. However, after awhile, you can begin to trust them again.
After awhile of non-symptomatic behavior, your loved one will be acting stable. This is called a normal period. And, like I said before, with proper management of their bipolar disorder, they (and you) will enjoy more and more normal periods, longer periods without bipolar episodes. You don’t have to sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop. You can enjoy these periods.
Do what you would enjoy doing. Go places, do things, especially those things you were putting off doing because your loved one was episodic. As long as your loved one stays on their medication and adheres to their treatment (goes to see their psychiatrist and therapist) and takes care of themselves and their bipolar, there is no reason you can’t do the things you want to do when and where you want to do them.
If you cower or give in to fear, like this woman from the support group, you are letting the disorder manage you instead of the other way around. And that’s not right. You need to be the ones managing your loved one’s bipolar disorder. And part of that management is controlling
the time between episodes. The normal periods. Like I said, be determined to enjoy them as
much as you can. You shouldn’t be spending those normal periods just waiting around for the next bipolar episode to hit.
Well, I have to go!