Most people with bipolar disorder experience long periods of stability where they’re neither depressive nor manic and I learned to simply enjoy those times without a looming sense of dread hanging over our heads. You can’t force someone to seek help, no matter how badly they need it.Like many with bipolar disorder, he would only agree to get help when he was in a depressive mood and he would abandon medication and therapy as soon as that episode ended.He would always come out the other side grateful that I had let him work through it on his own. I was much happier once I realized that his depressive moods didn’t mean I had to be miserable to match.If he didn’t want to go out, I didn’t have to stay in to keep him company.I ignorantly assumed bipolar disorder meant you never got out of bed or got anything done, and that’s not the case at all. For those few days or weeks, he couldn’t be pried away from his desk for anything non-essential without becoming super irritable.Quickly, I learned to identify these episodes and steer clear of him.He had just been in a hypomanic mood, I had just learned what that was, and I was stunned that it appeared to be over.I asked if he had finished his coursework and he simply said it could wait and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
To say that things were hard is an understatement, and while we ultimately decided to end things, I’m so glad he was part of my life because the experience taught me so much.He would sit down at his desk and work on his college papers for an absurd amount of time a day, which gave him great grades but some unhealthy habits.I had no idea that this kind of super-focus is part of a mental illness. When my ex was in one of his manic phases, he didn’t want to take breaks to eat, never mind go anywhere or spend quality time with me.However, I eventually realized that it’s not my responsibility to shoulder all of that alone — there were doctors, therapists, family and friends he could lean on for help, too.Eventually things just got too hard and I knew I couldn’t stay.