Loving a Partner with Bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder
What is the difference between the symptoms of Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder? I see a lot of couples in my office where one of the parties in the relationship is suffering with one of the two disorders; and the other partner is in misery from the emotional abuse and exhaustive feeling of “walking on eggshells.” These relationships are often volatile and filled with anger, fighting and other cheap drama. What exactly is going on, and is there help for couples with either of these relationship dynamics?
Someone with Bipolar PD usually begins expressing symptoms during late adolescence or early adulthood and this may be inherited from a parent with the same diagnosis or caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Bipolar is a combination of Depression and Mania. Mania can be shown as elevated mood, increased activity, distractibility, racing thoughts and actions, talking too fast and too much, grandiosity, pressured speech, aggression, agitation, intense focus on goal-oriented activity, and excessive involvement in high risk, pleasurable activities. Bipolar people show extreme mood swings, personality changes, and impulsivity (such as over-spending, gambling, being sexually promiscuous, or develop drug and alcohol abuse) that damages the trust in the relationship.
Depression could include loss of energy and extreme fatigue, excessive sleep, inability to focus, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, dramatic anger or temper tantrums, weight loss or gain, and often, thoughts of death or suicide.
Factors that increase the risk of developing Bipolar disorder include drug abuse, periods of high stress, and major life changes. Untreated, this disorder often ruins relationships and job performance, and is a long-term illness that is best managed with medication and therapy throughout one’s life. There are various medications that can be considered, but do explore the options and side effects with a Psychiatrist. Holistic, non-medication approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, bibliotherapy, Life and Relationship Coaching techniques, establishing routines, eating a healthy diet and regular exercise, limiting alcohol and caffeine, getting enough sleep and understanding and recognizing symptoms. Studies show that up to 90% of these marriages fail without some intensive interventions over time.
Those with Borderline PD demonstrate a persistent pattern of unstable personal relationships, self-image and impulsivity that begins in early adulthood. Symptoms include: ongoing anxiety, instability in thinking and behavior; intense, unstable moods in love relationships which one often sabotages; and desperate efforts made to avoid imagined or real abandonment (often devaluating or idealizing one’s partner), impulsivity and being pushy regarding sex, over-spending, binge eating, substance abuse and reckless driving.
There are inappropriate and intense rages and tantrums that are hard to control; often lashing out against one’s partner for little, to no reason, due to paranoia and chronic feelings of emptiness. Control of the partner is often sought by being demanding and unforgiving and having regular, reactive mood swings. They are strongly connected and dependent on their partner’s love, but often attack and hurt the person they desire so frequently, that their fear of abandonment often occurs. They destroy and push away the very love that is most important to them. They have black-or-white thinking, are perfectionist of their partner whom they often falsely accuse of doing something wrong, and feel deep love and rage-filled hatred for them at the same time. They believe no one loves them as much as they love others. Marilyn Monroe was a prime example of someone with BPD.
Often seduction, charm, humor or manipulation is used to meet their needs and get the attention they desire. If they feel criticized or suspect you don’t love, worship or are committed to them, this sparks a rage of feeling abandoned and creates a personal meltdown. People with BPD are adults who suffered from severe childhood emotional and/or physical trauma from abusive and/or neglectful parents. Children who live in constant fear cannot trust and have attachment problems. These adults are also described as being ACOA – Adult Child of an Alcoholic or Child of other Traumas. There are nine traumas; and their faulty childhood coping mechanisms come out in a dysfunctional or toxic way in their adult love relationships when they feel anxious or vulnerable.
Very often, a BPD person will refuse to get help, until their partner is ready to leave them; and often stop therapy once their partner forgives them. If they truly desire to understand why they do, what they do; and are willing to dedicate themselves to long-term Coaching or counseling (at least 6 months) there is hope and real change can be created and adopted over time for these couples. I have seen major changes occur in how one communicates with their partner as well as cutting down on the intensive, destructive behaviors through the use of conscious thinking and living. Without treatment, soon after the partner’s forgiveness and a honeymoon phase, the BPD partner will cycle back into dysfunction after a period of peace. Most often, the emotionally healthy person will leave the BPD partner, being tired of the abuse and feeling totally frustrated that they just can’t love their partner enough
More personality types and symptoms that are hurtful to love relationships are clearly explained and discussed in my #1 Best-selling book, LOVE Beyond Your Dreams – Break Free of Toxic Relationships to Have the Love you Deserve; found in Barnes & Noble stores, on amazon, and at RianaMilne.com.
Riana Mine, MA, is a Certified, global Relationship, Love & Life Coach, a #1 Best Selling author, Host of the TV show: Lessons in Life & Love, a motivational speaker, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Cert Addictions Professional at Therapy by the Sea; 15300 Jog Rd, Suite 109, Delray Beach. Her free App: My Relationship Coach offers more articles and her 5 star rated books, LOVE Beyond Your Dreams – Break Free of Toxic Relationships to Have the Love You Deserve and LIVE Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success, addresses life transitions and relationships with yourself and others. To learn more about Riana’s Coaching programs or suggest a topic, go to www.RianaMilne.com or email RianaMilne@gmail.com. Worldwide Coaching Phone: (201) 281-7887. Delray office: (561) 701-8277; Skype Coaching and FB: Coach Riana Milne. #LoveCoach, #LifeCoach, #RelationshipCoach, #SinglesCoach