It's not easy being a person living with bipolar disorder. Having to discuss or even admitting to having mental illness can make for an uncomfortable setting leading one to have feelings of embarrassment, shame and awkwardness. It's very hard for someone to manage the illness on their own without losing the people closest to them and being labeled crazy. It's even more challenging to try and lead a normal active social life and not have a potential mate or partner look at you through that same lens.
Bipolar Disorder or manic depression is a mental illness that causes persistent mood swings, where a person can have extreme highs of euphoria or mania and lows of depression and feelings of hopelessness. The rapid onset of a mixed phase of depression and mania can cause the person to lose control and become very impulsive, reckless, self-destructive or dangerous. Their behavior can be very reactive.
Pure manic episodes are very rare. There can last hours or many weeks. There is seldom a set pattern. The severity and duration is never the same and not everyone who is living with the illness responds the same to the disorder. One of the biggest myths out there about bipolar disorder is that a person living with the disease is completely unable to function daily. This is not true. With treatment the illness can be very well managed just as any other disease and many people go on to maintain a pretty stable life.
If you are dating someone who has openly discussed with you that they have bipolar disorder here are a few tips that can help you get over the stigma attached to mental illness and any confusion while still being able to pursue a normal relationship.
Try not to be judgmental - People with mental disorders tend to be treated horribly and it makes them feel ashamed of who they are. Know that just because someone is dealing with mental illness doesn't mean that they are a bad person.
Increase your own awareness of the disease - Educate yourself on the condition. It's the only way to get a better understanding of how those who are living with the illness cope and manage their lives daily.
Be Supportive - Try not to focus on the person's disorder or remind them at every turn that they have it. They are already fully aware of their condition. Proper treatment helps them to cope with their illness and having a good support system makes for the best medicine. Try to focus on their good qualities and what attracted you to this person in the first place.
Enjoy each other - There is simply no other way to put it. The best way to pursue any potential relationship is to get to know each other better and work towards building something meaningful. The daily decisions you and your potential partner will make together can influence the course of where the relationship will go.