Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: How Can You Support a Partner with Bipolar Disorder?

KanyeWest recently appeared on David Letterman’s Netflix series, My NextGuest Needs No Introduction, to talk about his career and life with bipolardisorder. West revealed how the diagnosis has affected him and hisrelationships. The artist expressed his frustration with being written off byothers and stigmatized. “Here’s another one that they love to do when you getthe stigma of crazy. They love to write you off,” he told Letterman. “Theylove to cut your sentences off halfway. What you say doesn’t mean as much.” he continued.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder,how can you support him or her? Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with Patrice N. Douglas, a marriage and family therapist andowner of Empire Counseling andConsultation to learn more.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Can you briefly explain to ourreaders what bipolar disorder is?

Patrice N. Douglas: Bipolar is a mooddisorder that contains up and down moods that aren’t controllable. Thereare two types, bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I is your upper moods whereyou may have a burst of energy throughout the week, making irrationaldecisions, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep and even feeling powerfulto the point you may put yourself in dangerous positions for about a week; it’scalled a manic episode. Many with Bipolar I need medications to stabilize theirmoods.

Bipolar II is considered the milder of the two, but it canbe just as dangerous or more due to the low moods it brings. Bipolar II is moreon the depressive side of moods, so sleeping more, isolation, suicidalthoughts, irritability occur for four to five days. It is addressed as ahypomanic episode, hence why in the past it was considered milder than BipolarI.

CS: How does bipolar disorder affect romanticrelationships?

PD: In the manic stages of bipolar I and hypomanic stagesof bipolar II, it may be difficult to read if your partner is going through anepisode or they’re just going through normal human emotions. When in arelationship, it can become difficult not to take what the other person isdoing personally regardless of the illness. People with bipolar disorder mayput the relationship at risk by spending excessive money that was meant forbills or lashing out at anything someone does without warning or explanation towanting complete isolation from their partner. These problems can weigh heavilyon a relationship if they’re not understood and addressed properly.

CS: How can you support a partner with bipolardisorder?

PD: Lend a listening ear; you don’t always have to findsolutions or recommendations for the things they’re dealing with. Sometimes yourpartner just needs to be heard and to process some things (unless they’re doingsomething that is harmful to them, then intervene).

Spend time with your partner; even if he or she turns downyour invitations, keep trying. Your partner needs someone they know cares evenwhen they feel at their lowest. Encouraged them to continue to take theirmedications and attend therapy; if they are hesitant and you feel comfortable,offer to attend with them for extra support. Remember to always remain calm;don’t take what they do as a personal attack! The behaviors are from thedisorder, not specifically for you, so avoid reacting and lashing out.

CS: What relationship advice would you give KimKardashian and Kanye West, who are learning to navigate Kanye’s recentdiagnosis with bipolar disorder?

PD: Always be patient with the process, as it is notan easy journey. It is important for them to be in constant communication aboutwhat is occurring, so Kim is able to be as supportive as possible. Keep trackof when symptoms are elevated so you can get a timeline of when to possiblyexpect an episode. Lastly, remember the road is hard for Kanye. While hefigures out his journey, have patience and understanding. Learn how to besupportive without being demanding.

Read more: PeteDavidson: How Can You Support a Partner with Borderline Personality Disorder?

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