Friends and Family Don’t Understand – Bipolar Communication Problems

Sometimes those without the challenges of bipolar neurochemistry simply “don’t get it” – how moods can shift abruptly and dramatically, and often without warning, or with subtle hints of the mood shift about to confront you  – and at what might be the slightest trigger a sudden onslaught of  overwhelming sensations due to hypersensitivity to stimuli, someone chewing can sound thunderous;  a repetitive noise, such …

Helping Your Spouse

You have gotten help for your depression. You have seen a therapist or psychiatrist and spent long hours working to understand and improve your situation. Your spouse, who has been there for you during this process, has not. And now you are confronting the almost inevitable realization that he, or she, is really uncomfortable in the psychological world. Maybe she …

Cling Less and Love More

Right in the midst of working with a young woman who has been struggling with how to accept the possibility that a new relationship might have to end (her boyfriend is still caught up in thoughts and feeling evoked by his ex, who sounds like the kind of intense woman who can easily trap a young man in a prolonged …

The Big Fight

How is it that so many couples end up having knock down, drag out fights?  How can seemingly rational people end up saying things that just don’t make any sense? Several people that I’ve seen recently have told me a similar story.  As in every relationship, they have had certain long-standing issues in their relationships, areas where one or the …

New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way of staying in his marriage for a couple of years. The heart of the problem is that his wife had a serious health problem (which is now resolved), but through the process of dealing with this health problem she  became depressed and discouraged about her health and …

Creative Tension

I was inspired to write today’s post after watching a video sent out by a colleague as her “Valentine’s Day gift” to a group of mental health professionals interested  in women’s issues. The video was from the TED series (strongly recommended) and had to do with the challenge of having a long-term passionate relationship. The author was a delightful, French …

The “Pause” Button

Do you know the feeling of desperate urgency in a conversation with a close friend or romantic partner? The sense that you have to defend yourself from attack, or make a very important point? This feeling is often a signal that it is a good time to use the “pause” button in the conversation. The “pause” button is a previously worked out …

The Cycle of Disappointment

Today’s post revolves around the universal desire to find one or more other people who is perfectly attuned to our needs, and the resulting cycle of disappointment. A woman we have seen for years continually experiences a strong sense of disappointment and loss because her highly anxious mother was never really able to be attuned to her needs. She told …

Mismatched Energy

The wife of one of the people I work with sent me a short note saying that her husband was energized (not quite hypomanic), and she was finding it hard to cope with his constant animation and enthusiasm. It got me thinking about scale and how we constantly change the way we talk based on our audience. I am in …

Body Work

Several months ago a young attorney who I have been seeing for a couple of years came in and, reluctantly, told me that he and his wife had not had sex for the past year. It took two or three months to get him to consider going for couples counseling.  I found a therapist who specialized in working with couples …

Who’s to Blame?

“Is it my fault?” This is one of those questions that seems to easily dominate conversations between people in a romantic relationship who are having trouble getting along. It is also a question that is usually impossible to answer (who decides? what standards do you use?) and quite unhelpful. I was talking with a recently married woman yesterday about her …

Relationship Fear

I have been working with a couple of young women who seem to be unable to move beyond a recently ended relationship with a young man.  In both cases, there’s no question that the young man is coming back, and yet their thoughts keep turning back to trying to analyze the failed relationship, wondering what might have gone differently and …

Attachment

For most of us there is nothing more important than the quality of our closest relationships. In sometimes frustrating ways, many of us notice that our close relationships seem to follow familiar patterns. Attachment theory derives from the work of John Bowlby, who observed that separated infants would go to remarkable lengths (crying, clinging, frantically searching) to prevent separation from their …

To Tell or Not – Part 1

One of the hottest topics on our forum, and one that led to a request for a blog post ,is the topic of whether or not to tell someone about your moods, particularly if you have a mood diagnosis. For mostly historical reasons, this issue is especially a concern for people with bipolar mood variations as opposed to unipolar moods …

A Little Romance

This week we spent some time with a couple of people who, in different ways, have become “addicted” to romantic relationships. One is a man in his early 40’s. The other is a woman in her early 30’s. They are quite different in terms of personalities, but there are some very strong similarities in terms of their childhood and relationship history. Both had quite …

Family Scapegoat

I had a conversation with two women today about their relationship with their husbands and children. They often find themselves feeling scapegoated for things that go wrong in the household. While I was talking with them, I recalled many other women who have described similar experiences. I started to wonder how this happens, and what can be done about it. …