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Q:  For most of my life I have experienced up & down moods & have never been diagnosed with anything until recently when I was told my condition is Bipolar. My Bipolar has caused 3 major relapses now resulting in my current partner trying to end our relationship at the time. most of the relapse have occurred around work stress which I left a job for hoping for improvement in my condition. I found a job with less stress& hours which also gave me time to spend at home as we have 3month old new born. after three months in the new job I was sacked because they had ran out of funding but they accused me of doing something that I didn't do in order to get rid of me. I took them to court over the incident & again my stress was getting to me and the legal bills were adding up. I had to drop the case as it was going to cost 12,000 money we don't have. this caused my condition to spiral even more causing another relapse now my partner & bub have taken off and wants us to be over to be over as she cannot take the relapses any more. I don't think that she sees the warning signs of an approaching relapse and doesn't understand how serious the condition is.

I take all my med and attend mental health meetings plus visit a phycologist once a week. each relapse has put me in hospital of late! I love her so much! and I know that she loves me. I find it hard at the moment to even talk on the phone with her without getting angry as she wont come home unless I move out and doesnt want to sit down and talk about it and look at other options. I know this is now the third time she has experienced an episode but we are a young family with a 3 month old baby that I adore and a partner that I would do anything for who I feel is turning her back on the problem with influence from family members. I know by removing myself from stressful situations helps my condition which I did with my work but it back fired on me and look what has happened. I would just like my partner to come to a phycologist visit with me and ask as many questions as she needs to plus see that there is support there for her to. we are now a "family" and we need each other but I dont know what to do any   suggestions.

Dear C,

     What are the warning signs of your approaching relapse and what do
you do to prevent them?  This may sound like either a simple or monumental question depending on your point of view.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to suggest you read the following book and use it as your bible:  Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast.  This book discusses in detail how you and your partner can formulate a plan that is proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dealing with your disease.  Remember you have as much if not MORE responsibility for taking control of your own situation here.

     There are MANY things you can do for yourself whether you are alone or together with your spouse.  It is NOT simply a matter of your partner understanding and learning to tolerate your mood swings.

     Adopt a healthy lifestyle.  Get sufficient rest, regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, work at managing your stress level, and avoid alcohol or other drugs.  Research has shown that individuals with bipolar disorder who are able to maintain a daily and regular routine are better able to avoid relapses in their disorder.

     Learn to identify symptoms that can trigger relapses,  Have an action plan in mind such as who to call, which medications to add, or which proactive behaviors to engage in when you notice signs of a possible relapse.  Ask family members and trusted friends to remind you when they notice signs of a possible relapse.

     Get as much information as you can on your own disorder.  I have
listed several helpful resources below:

            Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, (800) 826-3632,               

           National Mental Health Association, (800) 969-6642,

           National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, (800) 950-6264,

     David Schafer, M.Ed.
     Staff Psychologist

Published Sept., 2006

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