Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Bipolar Guy

Will the ladies shun a bipolar guy?

In a comment on one of my other posts, Peter said ...In bipolar support group, I keep finding women who are married and men who are not. I think there is a sadly sexist expectation on women to be inherently "moody" and "mentally weak", therefore they don't necessarily lose attractiveness in a potential partner's eyes if they are diagnosed with a mood disorder. However, in american society, a "moody" and "mentally weak" man can pretty much expect to be shunned by women, even by the most active feminists. I don't blame the women, because a man's depressions are not attractive and definitely not very supportive in a relationship. Nonetheless, what are the man's options? What is your opinion on this dynamic of bipolar women with partners and bipolar men without them? Is it for the best, since women still primarily wish to partner with a man who can function competitively and provide in a capitalist society?

That's a tough question because I do think that society expects women to be more moody and/or irrational than men. There's sort of this concept that a woman's monthly will make her a little crazy or hysterical or what not. Now, is mental illness more acceptable for a woman? I dunno. I don't think anyone really wants to tell their potential future partner that they are bipolar. It's like telling someone you want to shag that you have genital warts.

I started dating Brendan before I was diagnosed. We've been together a long time and we were dating when I was hospitalized, so he could have run if he wanted to at that point. Being with a seriously ill partner is stressful and it's a relationship issue that any couple where one partner is bipolar will have to deal with. But couples are always dealing with some kind of issue, be it alcoholism or illness or financial ruin or heaven forbid all three.

Relationships are tricky and I don't feel comfortable generalizing about women as a whole. I think there are some girls out there who have a thing for guys with broken wings, guys who have problems or issues that these gals think they can solve or whatever. I think there are some women who would be very worried about being serious with a bipolar guy. It's not that all girls are raised with an expectation that a man will take care of them but I think that there's some part of every woman (and every guy) that wants to be taken care of and provided for.

I suppose my grain of wisdom on this, however small it may be, is that people fall in love with other imperfect people. There's no one out there without warts. I guess what's really important is to avoid using being bipolar as a scapegoat for failed relationships. It might be a part of why something didn't work out, but it's not the only reason.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


While I like to bitch and moan about my condition, it's nice to know that there are people out there constantly researching the human mind and what causes things like depressions and manias.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Mood Tracks

One of the most useful tools that any bipolar person has in their arsenal is a spiffy mood chart. When I came off my meds, I promised myself that I would start filling one out every day and for the first time in a long time as I was looking at the categories for my moods, I realized that I feel pretty normal. Sure, I was a little anxious/irritable this past weekend, but I'm feeling really steady right now. It's kinda weird.

When I look at the chart, I realized that for awhile there, I would have had to put myself in a significant depression, a funk bad enough to interfere in a very concrete way with my ability to function. I've never been too manic to function before and I suppose that's pretty typical of bipolar II. We tend to spend more of our time depressed.

One of the things that psychiatrists note about bipolar people is that we tend to lack insight into our own behaviors and attitudes and I think that the shrinks are on to something but maybe for the wrong reasons. See, while all those normal people were getting to know themselves through normal mood shifts, bipolar people were getting to know themselves through huge swings and mulitple variations and manifestations of themselves as refracted through different moods and mental states. It's not so much that bipolar people are deficient in insight as that bipolar people have a whole lot more ground to cover in terms of what we need to be insightful about.

I keep debating with myself about the nature of manic depression. I mean, sure, the science tells us that it's a chronic disease. But sometimes I wonder if it's more like a mental flu. Yeah, it lasts longer, but maybe you get it for awhile and then, like a regular ole flu, it goes away, never to return. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.