Love and Relationships: Living with Bipolar Disorder Relationships are something that I have personally struggled with a lot. It is hard to consider sharing so much of your life with someone else if you are already dealing with a lot in your personal life. I cannot claim to know all about relationships but from my experience so far here are some tips to help maintain healthy relationships (whether this is romantic or not) Be Honest and Communicate If your partner knows about what you are going through it will make navigating the difficulties that come with having a relationship when you live with bipolar disorder. Communication is so important in relationships regardless of whether they involve mental illness or not. Communication may help your partner to understand how you are feeling and why you may be acting in a certain way. Be aware that your mood swing may cause changes in behaviour. We all recognise that we behave differently depending on our mood, this is bipolar specific but it can be problematic when you are experiencing drastic mood swings. It’s also so important to communicate with your partner that this may happen as it may help them to understand and also not take behaviour personally and even help you cope with more damaging behaviours such as spending lots of money or the urge to make impulsive decisions. Be open about your mood swings Often it can be difficult to tell when you are experiencing mood swings but there can be some warning signs. By communicating these warning signs with your partner this can help you to get support during an episode and can also help your partner to feel involved in the process. This is all part of having open communication with your partner and helping the, to understand your experiences. Know your triggers. Similarly to the above point it can be really important both for you as an individual and also for a relationship to know what things may be more likely to cause an episode as this can help you feel more prepared and be able to communicate about what things might be helpful. Personally I find sleep is a massive trigger for manic episodes and therefore if I know that I am starting to not sleep as much it is important to communicate to people around me as it is likely that I may have a manic episode within the following weeks. Don’t let your bipolar disorder take all of the responsibility. Although it is important to acknowledge that your bipolar disorder may cause some issues and difficulties in a relationship it’s also important to recognise that all relationships have difficulties and therefore issues may not always be due to bipolar disorder. This can help normalise aspects of your relationship rather than basing everything around your mental health. Furthermore, it may feel frustrating to your partner if you blame all issues on the bipolar disorder as you still have autonomy over some of your behaviour. Don’t assume your partners emotions This is one of the things that I have found most difficult in relationships, it is not necessarily caused by bipolar disorder but is common in those who live with mental illness. I often find that I try and guess what people around me are thinking about me and my mental health which can cause me to react off my assumption rather than off reality. This can cause lots of tension as often we assume the worst rather than reality which may cause unnecessary arguments or blame to occur within the relationship.