When you say to yourself "my wife is bipolar" what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Possibly this is nothing new, possibly your wife was diagnosed years ago. Maybe your wife was diagnosed just last week, or even earlier today. So what are the thoughts that go through your head? Are you angry, scared, frustrated, sad, relieved, or possibly a mix of these emotions and a thousand others? Sometimes it is a lot to swallow, being the husband of a bipolar wife. Bipolar disorder is so complex and has so many levels. If you have known about your wife's illness for a while I'm sure you are very aware of what a roller coaster Bipolar disorder can be, not just for her, but for everyone involved. If you have just received the news that your wife is Bipolar this can be a very scary time as well. We will visit both Husbands looking for new coping mechanism and Husbands that are new to the diagnosis and seeking help.
We are going to learn about Bipolar disorder, and then take active participation in coping skills for yourself, to help YOU. When your wife, best friend, lover, mother... the list goes on and on is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she no longer is the only person who needs help.
The First step is to learn about your wife's disorder. I am going to briefly explain a few different types of Bipolar disorder and there common traits. I am going to review these as a refresher for husbands who have already studied the disorder of their wife, and as a great introduction to the disorder itself for the husbands that are new to the disorder. I am not going to go into great detail about bipolar disorder there is tons and tons of information regarding bipolar disorder if you would like to research it more. I am here to show YOU coping and hoping strategies to help YOU the husband.
First and foremost I strongly hope that your wife has been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist, who has the skills and are qualified to diagnose and treat the disorder. If this has not yet been done I encourage you to help your wife be properly diagnosed. This is the first step in any situation of getting treatment.
Chapter One Section One: THE DIFFERENT FORMS AND SEVERITY OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
BIPOLAR DISORDER I
Approximately 1% of the general population has Bipolar 1. Bipolar 1 patients usually experience severe depression, and long full-blown manic episodes. Bipolar 1 patients are often also know as having episodes without any obvious mood problems, this can last for months on end of feeling like your wife is totally fine, fixed so to speak, and or normal. Physicians will call these long-lasting episodes of normalcy Euthymia.
BIPOLAR DISORDER II
This is the most common type of Bipolar Disorder. Recent research has shown that 4 to 5 percent of the general population has Bipolar II. People who suffer with bipolar II have a tendency to have very majorly depressive episodes. In fact a lot of bipolar patients are misdiagnosed as being depressed for many years before being properly evaluated as Bipolar II. Another diagnosis tool that differentiates from Bipolar I is that most Bipolar II patients do not ever have full-blown mania episodes. Physicians usually call Bipolar II mania episodes as Hypomania. Hypomania does not have the same intensity as full-blown mania. There is usually periods of time with increased energy, a decreased need for sleep without any fatigue, and a slight euphoric sensation. A lot of patients when in this Phase of Bipolar II can be extremely productive. Extreme caution must be taken when in hypomania state. Your wife can easily start abusing substances and have spending issues. More times than not the patient does not realize something is wrong, in fact sometimes welcoming the feeling after a long depression. Most hypomania episodes do not last longer than a week or two.
Cyclothymiacs are a mild form of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) in which a person has mood swings over a period of years that go from mild depression to euphoria and excitement. It has been recently discovered that patients with cyclothymia will usually evolve into Bipolar 1 or Bipolar II throughout their lifetime.
As you can see a lot of the Bipolar Symptoms can and are very similar sometimes more often than not overlapping and fitting the criteria of not only one but both forms of Bipolar disorder. Often that is why it is not usually heard of as Bipolar 1 or Bipolar II outside of the professional medical field. In standard terms we simply use Bipolar Disorder. Now that we have learned a very brief description and knowledge for bipolar we must start getting more specific in accessing your partners specific bipolar symptoms.