I Loved A Woman With Bipolar Disorder For 3 Years & It Changed My Life Forever
Bipolar disorder is a major personality disorder that is marked by extreme episodes of mania and depression. The reason why some people develop this disorder is still unknown but several risk factors such as genetics, a toxic environment, or traumatic childhood experiences play a role. The only way to manage bipolar disorder and have stable relationships is to take therapy support.
It is difficult to recognize and understand the signs of bipolar disorder. Everyone goes through mood swings. It is quite normal. Even I have days where I feel pretty low and then days where I feel happy and energetic.
But does that mean I have bipolar disorder? No.
Mental health disorders are diagnosed on the basis of their intensity and duration. Diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires these mood swings to be so extreme that they affect your daily life and stop you from living a reasonably normal life. Moreover, they need to last for a period of 2-3 weeks.
My girlfriend received a valid diagnosis of bipolar disorder but it took quite a long time and a lot of drama and trauma to recognize that her behaviors, thoughts, and emotions deviated from normal.
I met Akansha (name changed for privacy purposes) in 2017. I met her through a mutual friend at a music concert. It was the perfect place to fall in love and looking back at that time I believe I had fallen in love with her the moment we started talking.
She was an interesting person with strong opinions about everything and that is what attracted me to her. We shared fun conversations with each other and I spent most of the evening hanging out with her.
We obviously exchanged numbers and from there began our story of love. The story is highly dramatic and involves a lot of heartbreaks too but it changed my life forever.
Akansha swung from extreme highs to painful lows. This could be the signs of bipolar disorder
“Let’s do something crazy!!”
And there she went, making me do all sorts of insane things like sleeping in the middle of the road or trespassing a church, or getting mad drunk during the day.
I won’t lie, I thoroughly enjoyed the craziness even though in my gut I could feel that something was off. The good times were amazing but so were the bad times.
Akansha had intense anger issues as well. I could never understand what triggered her but all of a sudden, she would just lash out at me. It confused the hell out of me and deeply affected my moods as well.
I tried to sit with her and explain to her that these extreme mood swings are making me feel lost and confused. However, she would play the victim card and, in the end, it was always me who was forced to understand.
I had fallen hopelessly in love with her. I felt like I saw her for who she was. She definitely was unreasonable, impulsive, and frustratingly confusing at times but she had shown me her vulnerability and I could almost understand that deep hurt and pain she held inside her.
Akansha was the only child of her parents who never failed to make her realise that she was a mistake. She spent most of her childhood alone and lonely. She watched her parents fight like cats and dogs to an extent that their fights even turned abusive.
At present Akansha’s parents are divorced and she keeps shifting between her two parents. I know that going through something like this can affect you deeply and it was showing in our relationship as well.
She would call me up in the middle of the night because she would be feeling anxious that I was going to leave her. There were days when she refused to come out of her room and used to spend all day lying in her bed.
We had been together for almost 3 years and the equation that I shared with her was changing my life as well. Most of my time and energy was dedicated to her and because of that, I neglected my friends and family.
I was losing parts of myself but I felt helpless because I could not afford to lose Akansha. She also made me incredibly happy and with her, I felt that I was special and worthy. Her love was intense and breathtaking. It was something a man cannot forget easily.
However, the bad times outweigh the good times and Akansha’s behavior was getting more and more erratic. It started affecting my mental health and I just felt crazy and completely lost. My career had taken a backseat, my friends and family were deeply disappointed with my relationship and I had lost the essence of who I was.
I decided to break up with Akansha. That was completely another level of a rollercoaster. From begging me to stay to cursing me for leaving, she almost seemed possessed. I had to gather all my strength and block her from everywhere.
I was okay for a few days and then I started missing her terribly. I was strongly attached to her and staying away felt like a part of me was taken away. I could not just let everything go.
I knew Akansha was going through something and I wanted to understand it better. I decided to book a consultation with a therapist and shared with her everything that had unfolded in our 3-year-old relationship.
She listened patiently and asked me how I had changed in the entire relationship. I told her how being with Akansha had pulled me out of my shell and made me brave enough to seek new experiences. At the same time, it also left me confused and I was losing myself in trying to understand her.
I had gone with the intention of knowing more about Akansha but I also ended up knowing a lot more about myself. I realized the importance of setting boundaries and giving priority to my needs as well if I want to create a healthy and thriving relationship.
My therapist suggested that I could approach Akansha again and gradually encourage her to seek therapy. She urged me that it needed to be her decision and in no way should feel forced. In case of bipolar disorder it is important to have a mindful and compassionate approach.
I gathered the courage to reconnect with her. At first, I thought that I would be received with harsh words or she won’t talk to me at all. I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed to meet me for a coffee at our favorite place.
I was seeing her after a few months of complete separation. When I saw her my heart again leaped out of my chest and it felt like I was seeing her for the very first time. I loved this woman and, in my head, I made a decision to stand by her no matter what.
We began talking about random things and then I told her how I had been taking therapy. She listened to me with a slight smile on her face.
“I am taking therapy too possibly for bipolar disorder”
It came as a shock to me but I was also low-key relieved that I didn’t have to initiate that conversation with her.
“Somewhere in the middle of our relationship, I had understood that my ways of behaving, thinking, and feeling were not quite normal. It was almost toxic and maladaptive. Unfortunately, I was helpless and clueless too. I wanted to stop but I just did not know how. Then when you left, I just fell into this deep hole and I spent a lot of my night looking back at everything that had happened.”
The conversation was too emotional for me.
“Then I thought of taking one session of therapy and just see how it goes. Luckily my therapist was pretty great. She understood me so well and I felt like I could be myself with her. I told her everything and after a few sessions, she gently explained to me about Bipolar disorder personality. Do you know what that is?
I shook my head.
“ Bipolar disorder is when a person swings between mania and depression. The more she talked about it, the clarity I could relate it to my own life. She warned me that staying consistent with therapy will not be easy especially when I am again hit with those extreme emotions. But she has been supporting me at every step even when I miss the sessions, she makes sure to check up on me”
I was glad to hear that she had found a trustworthy support system.
“You know about my past, right? Somewhere all that hurt and pain has been buried in me and I guess it just kinda drove me to insanity. I don’t know. But I want to manage myself better and… I wish I had you too in my life”
I held her hand and assured her that I am there with her and that is exactly why I asked her to meet today.
It was a heartfelt and honest conversation. I told her that I am not here to give any false hopes and promises of being together forever but I am willing to support her and stand by her as she heals herself from the past and learns how to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
It has been two years now and a total of 5 years being with Akansha. It was definitely not smooth sailing. In these years we have had our ups and downs and relapses too but I can see visible improvement in her behaviors and moods. She is able to control her emotions and communicate them in healthy ways instead of being consumed by them whole.
Living with mental health issues is never easy. It takes a lot in you to be able to even accept the fact that you need help. I am super proud of Akansha because instead of saying in denial she actually took a step to understand herself better and improve her life.
I supported her as much as I could and at the same time followed my therapist’s guidance about setting boundaries and prioritizing my relationship needs. Today Akansha and I share a loving bond because we were ready to not only work on our relationship but also heal as two separate individuals.