Bipolar Disorder: Beware the “Spark” and Honeymoon Feeling

You’ve met an awesome new person, you feel an immediate click with them, you feel amazing, everything is great! If you have Bipolar Disorder, that can potentially be very bad. That click and the honeymoon feeling of meeting an awesome new person is the result of a flood of endorphins that your brain produces in response. That endorphin flood can kick off an escalated cycle and send your mind running into hypomania or mania.

Probably 80% of the correspondence I receive is from people asking questions about this. They meet an awesome person, things are amazing for anywhere from a couple months to a year, and then it all comes crashing down in a storm of chaos, confusion, and depression. In the course of that year, both parties may end up making life-altering decisions as a result of the escalation.

There is a very common theme in this correspondence. The passion can be overwhelming and exciting, but it’s the conviction that really cements the idea that this it is all real. It’s very common for a person with Bipolar Disorder in a dominant escalated cycle to be absolutely certain of what they feel without zero doubt or any reservations.

I rarely make absolute statements because there are so many gray areas, but I am willing to here. If you are Bipolar or love a Bipolar person, doubt is a good thing. A typical mind is supposed to have doubt at times. A lack of doubt, or one of my loved ones pointing out that I’m having no doubts, would be an immediate reason for me to start scrutinizing my mental state to ensure I am not escalated. A lack of doubt leads to scenarios like this:

“Of course it’s a good idea I move to another country to marry you even if I’ve only known you for six months! It’s ridiculous for you to suggest otherwise! Look at what we have! How special it is! I’m going to quit my job/school, sell my car, and buy a plane ticket! I can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life with you!”

To expand on that, many people with Depression and Bipolar Disorder subconsciously chase new relationships as a result. The endorphin flood is powerful, it can knock out depression in many people for a little while. As a result, the Depressed or Bipolar often incorrectly conclude that the key to their happiness is finding the right person and relationship.

They then attain it, that honeymoon feeling eventually wears off as time goes on, the depression sets back in, and then they conclude that they aren’t really in love because the depression swallows it up. Then the mentally ill person either leaves or feels that spark with someone else, which causes them to pick up and move on.

“This person is the wrong person because I don’t feel good or feel good about the relationship.” That is incorrect. The depression is just doing what depression does; depressing our ability to experience emotions correctly. Sooner or later, it will overwhelm the endorphin flood as it trickles off.

Love is a product of the mind, and therefore, is very vulnerable to mental illness.

When You Feel That Spark or Click

For people with Bipolar Disorder: Be wary, even if you’re well-medicated. Your body does increase its tolerance to meds and the endorphin flood can tip you into escalation even if you are medicated. If you start getting ideas of drastically changing your life within the first six months, go through whatever processes you have on confirming whether or not you are escalated. Talk to your support network or mental health professionals. If you’re not or poorly medicated, you should plan for an escalated cycle because it’s probably going to happen. Listen to the people around you if they are expressing reservations. It can save you the pain of blowing up your family or relationship.

For people with Depression: That honeymoon feeling is going to eventually go away, one way or another. A relationship will not fix the problem. It is only a temporary reprieve in the overall storm if you’re not treated. Talk to your doctor. If you are correctly treated or recovered, there shouldn’t be an issue or it should be manageable.

For the partners of the mentally ill: Be wary. If your new partner mentions they have Bipolar Disorder, it always pays to be wary lest you make life changing decisions because you get swept up in the intensity of it all. The biggest tell is a lack of doubt or any fear from the other person. A person in a reasonable mentality is definitely going to have some doubts about moving to another country or spending the rest of their life with someone they just met. A lack of doubt or fear is quite likely a symptom of Bipolar escalation. My general rule of thumb is not to make any major life-changing decisions unless you’ve known the person well for at least two years.

The key phrase there is “known the person well” not necessarily “been in a relationship with”. Two years will give you a pretty good view of the ups and downs. It will also give you time to see how the person approaches their mental health and management as well.


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14 Responses to Bipolar Disorder: Beware the “Spark” and Honeymoon Feeling

  1. Starr says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me Dennis! Thank you for all that you do and reminding us that we aren’t alone!

    • Dennis says:

      Glad it came in as a timely reminder, Starr! You’re very welcome. I hope things are going well for you and yours.

  2. Barbara says:

    Dennis, you have an uncanny ability to be timely with your topics. My sister texted me today that she has met someone who is as “unique and special” as she is. Given she’s in a manic cycle right now and unmedicated/untreated, the chances of this idyllic relationship lasting is below zero. Also I cannot fathom any person with a mood disorder that is untreated is capable of having a healthy relationship with another person.

    • Dennis says:

      Yeah, that probably isn’t going to end very well, unfortunately. I would agree with you that it is definitely very hard for people with mood disorders to have healthy relationships: starting one especially. Hopefully things don’t go too poorly for her.

  3. Michael says:

    Ditto to what Star said… I recently broke up with someone who I know loves me but things didn’t “feel right” in my mind. I emailed her a copy of this in hopes she doesn’t think any of this is her fault.
    Thank You

  4. Kai says:

    Hi Dennis
    I was recently in a relationship with a bipolar man who broke up with me 3 weeks ago leavinging me absolutely devasted. We had broken up twice before, all him breaking up with me. This time round he said im not the right girl for him, we are not compatable and he moved on after a week. I feel like my world came crushing down on me. We were only together 3 months but he made me feel so special and amazing. He is defiantly manic because he has been acting reckless. I don’t think he will ever take me back as he said he doesn’t stay friends with exs or take back exs

    • Michael says:

      I didn’t know better I’d say this was me, so maybe I can give a little insight from the “other side”.
      I didn’t actually break up with my girl but I did become very distant, I found a million reasons why she would be better off with someone else. I was in the midst of a down turn on my cycle and kinda depressed.
      I didn’t like myself. . every day I went to work and pretended there was nothing wrong cause no one really wants to know how its going when they ask you. .. What am I gonna say? The truth? That the energy I have to expend every day pretending I’m ok is simply exhausting? I would come home from work a do nothing. It was at this time I had decided I didn’t need a girlfriend, or rather, maybe I felt I didn’t deserve one?
      I have a demanding job with a schedule that is more bipolar than I am, so going to therapy is almost impossible. I do take my meds religiously. Talked to my psych and got on anti-depressants first run sucked, but now I am on one that has no side effects for me.
      Her and I talked about what was going through my head
      She thought I was just being an asshole guy and didn’t know I was depressed.
      She is amazing and has stuck with me through all this.
      You have to do what’s right for you and dating a guy like me can be a carnival. Sometimes I am the most exciting ride always ready to do something exciting but sometimes I am a scary haunted house. I started reading and getting all the knowledge I could. I share articles with her and let hwr know where I am on a scale from 1-10 .5 being stable
      Yiur situation may be completely different but I wanted to chine in a perspective you may not have been aware of. It took a lot for me to trust her with the truth. .. I am glad I did it, and for know her and I are ok.
      If I can help shed any more light let mw know!

  5. Jessica says:

    Hi – I am the bipolar in a WHAT was a relationship. I pretty much kept him at arms length all summer mostly only texting a few nights out but nothing more. I knew it wasn’t enough for him because it lacked any physical connection. But I thought as long as we were still texting it was ok. He said he understood and he loved me. I. Fact just two weeks ago he said he wanted to marry me. He never once mentioned leaving me. I didn’t really validate him feelings because I wasn’t feeling the same distance he was feeling. I just found out he’s sort of seeing someone. And I am devistated. Not one did he not say he wanted to move on he certainly never said with someone else. I’ve been fighting my ass off for him. He will only txt and limited. I just can’t understand if he loved me so much such a short time ago how could he move on. He says I’m over thinking things. To just relax. How do I do that when the person. I thought I’d be with for a very long time just up and left. He says I broke him heart because I paid no attention to him for nearly two months- which is in fact. Mostly true. I’m trying hard not to smother him. At this point with me being bipolar I’m not sure how to just chill out and not drive myself crazy. I have a very hard time in the summer because I’m a single mom of three very active children and I have little patience for them. I didn’t want to take it out on him so I thought it was best to keep my distance. I guess maybe I screwed that one up 😢

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jessica. That is a really unfortunate situation. It’s very difficult to balance the stresses of life, relationships, kids, with managing and working through the challenges that Bipolar Disorder brings to the table as well. It’s hard telling what was actually going on in his mind all of that time and his decisions leading up to this point. A lot of people say a lot of things, but don’t always understand the depth or difficulty of what it is they are facing.

      I don’t know though, Jessica. Because if his heart was broken over a couple of months of you needing to manage your mental illness and kids, to the point where he would just start dating someone else and not really communicate any of this to you, I think I’d be more skeptical of just how deep his love was. That doesn’t greatly sound like love to me. You know? But again, that’s just pure speculation. I mean your post suggests you have a good understanding of your mental illness and what it takes for you to retain your balance and all; but he may not have fully grasped the extent that we have to go to maintain our sanity.

      • Jessica says:

        I am definitely not great at handling things when I get very frustrated and then I just am angry at every corner I turn even if I’m not mad at that person. I try very hard to be calm especially in public with my kids but at some point I just explode. I think maybe I was sheltering him from that. But he doesn’t understand that and I guess I should expect him to. I’m still fighting for him TRYING not to irritate him to death but it’s crushing me inside and my anxiety is thru the roof. I’m snapping at the kids even when they’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been taking time outs a lot! I sit in my car and listen to music that always calms me. But I ask him what he wants .. is this over? He refuses to answer me. I told him do not use me as back up! If you have no interest in trying to make this work just tell me. He won’t! It’s infuriating!!!! Idk if I’m even capable to being in a relationship. Most end because of my kids and their lack of respect towards me but he didn’t have a problem with them. I’m just broken. I do understand what you’re saying about the validity of his love for me if in a short time he completely changed his mind about me. Thanks for replying.

        • Dennis says:

          It sounds like you put in a lot of work to control and manage things well. You should be proud of yourself for that. A lot of people don’t.

          Unfortunately, a lot of people find it hard to make concrete decisions either way; like him refusing to answer you. At some point, you just have to draw a line and take action on your own. You don’t want to spend your life sitting around and waiting, particularly if the person refuses to meaningfully communicate about the subject.

          Relationships are a lot of hard work even with the good stuff that goes along with them. If you’re having problems with your stability, you may want to consider working on those before entertaining the idea of a committed relationship.

          Don’t stress too much about being broken, Jessica. I am, too. A lot of people are. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

          And you’re welcome for the reply.

  6. LPA829181 says:

    I have a very nice boyfriend who tries and dose talk me down out of my low
    bad moods. I told him many times this is not your jo and to get the f—out
    of my house but once I’m calm it’s okay we carry on like usual. People can
    only take so much ad I’m terrified to hae ths new relationshp cause everyone
    else and their friends completely turned and refused to even be in the same room as
    me. It hurts like hell but I know I put it on myself . I overheard those past people
    saying I was too pysho and stupid to realize they didn’t want to talk to me when I
    was alone in the other room with my boyfriend avoiding them cause I WANTED
    to give them their space. I’m scared to meet another boyfriend and he still comes
    over to see how I am and I told him drop by anytime. I get severe an I mean severe
    lows where just dropping a toast on the floor I made for myself will send me into
    a crying fit for the whole day and NO this is not the cause all the time but the little
    things the dumbest things will set me off for no reason and I’m not trying to minimize
    this for other people. I was deognosed 2 years ago and forced on meds. I threw them
    away the day I released cause they made me twitch out of control and nearly bit my
    tongue off.

    Anyone else had confusion over meetin new people cause they had a hard time
    balancing their lows? No flames please. This took a lot of guts to post

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Please note, I did edit your name out off of your post. I would encourage you not to associate your name with your struggles on the internet. You don’t want Google connecting the two and it being easy information for anyone to find. And no worries on the spelling and such.

      It sounds like you’ve been having a really tough time. Thank you for having the courage to post.

      Here’s the thing. The kind of emotional swings you’re describing sound severe. There are a lot of things that we mentally ill people can do to try to have a more peaceful life and calm our mind down. Things like good diet, quality sleep, meditation, and therapy. But, unfortunately, sometimes things are so severe that those things only have a minimal impact on our ability to self manage. And that’s where medication usually comes in. I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience with the system and medication! That kind of side effect sounds awful.

      But do understand that not all medications will give you crippling or impossible side effects. It can sometimes take a long time to find the right medication, with manageable side effects, that appropriately helps us manage our mental illness. By all means, you can try natural management if you want to, just know that some of us can’t avoid medication altogether. I know it’s scary and shitty, but that’s what our choices boil down to sometimes – the least bad out of all bad options, pretty much.

      And to answer your question more specifically…yes. For a long time I wasn’t stable enough to pass off as well and balanced while unstable. It cost me friendships and relationships. Medication is what helped me the most. And I want to point out that I’m not telling you that you SHOULD go back on medication; just that it’s a bad idea to eliminate it as a possibility altogether because of your bad experience with what you were initially prescribed.

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