Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

July 9, 2012 Natasha Tracy

I have not done a book review on here but that’s because I don’t tend to read help books on bipolar disorder – I write that material, not read it. But recently one such book has landed in my possession and I’d like to take the time to recommend it: Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder – Understanding and Helping Your Partner (second edition) by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, PsyD.

People often ask me how to help others with bipolar disorder and I believe this book could help partners answer that question.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

The reason this book works, I think, is because the authors have been there. They write in kind language, in an approachable style that I believe is readily accessible to people. There are chapters on:

  • Treatment plans
  • Moods
  • “What Works”
  • Triggers
  • Sex
  • Work and Money

And others. These are things that every couple battling bipolar disorder needs to know.

Moreover, the book includes exercises the loved one can do to tailor information to them. For example, there is an exercise: "Break Down You Partner’s Bipolar Disorder into Specific Symptom Categories." This exercise includes:

  • Finding the consistent problems
  • Interviewing your partner
  • Listing the mood categories in your journal

In other words, this is an exercise designed to help you get a handle on the moods your partner really has and not just the moods listed in a textbook.

The Good About the Book

This book actively involves the partner of a person with bipolar disorder in the treatment process and helps them to understand all aspects of the disease, treatment and recovery. This book talks about hard truths and gives examples of people who have been through it. This book provides a structure for a useful dialogue between the person with bipolar disorder and their partner. This book makes no judgement about bipolar disorder or treatment plans but just lays out the information in a plain way. This book gives facts that are grounded in psychology and psychiatry.

The Bad About the Book

Clearly, I like the book but that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect. The one part I really don’t like is the appendix on medications. I don’t think it’s overly accurate and that’s because in order to be fully accurate about the drugs they mention would take up a whole book. I don’t believe that people should get “overview” information about a drug because it glosses over all the possible impacts of the drug. I think including this appendix is akin to giving someone an overview of a handgun and not an in-depth course – you could save your life, or you could shoot yourself in the foot.

In short, I don’t think the medication appendix should be there.

Final Opinion About the Book

Obviously, I feel the good far outweighs the bad in this book. While I, personally, would like to have seen more references to scientific literature and I don’t think the medication appendix is appropriate, I do think the rest of the book stands on solid ground and would be a huge help to partners of people with bipolar disorder. I think that whether your partner has just been diagnosed or whether you have been battling this illness for years, there is knowledge to be gained from this book. I definitely give the book a buy recommendation.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

(Disclosure: no one is paying me for my opinion, but my copy of the book was given to me by the publisher (without expectation of review). I have no financial interest in this book.)

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, July 9). Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

October, 26 2015 at 11:34 am

My girlfriend just bought this book, took a picture of it, and send it saying she was committed And started reading it today. It made me furious, embarrassed, guilty, and ashamed of myself. I mean what the hell? Do y'all really need a damn "owner's manual" to learn to deal with this? I know information is important but damn, I feel like a freak knowing that someone needs instructions on how to love me because I'm BP. This is insulting and if you have to read a book to love your partner that is BP, it makes the "normal" lover look like a complete moron. This book is a piece of crap and no book could ever cover all dynamics of this disorder. That's like reading Oliver Twist and pretending you know all about orphans. Generalizing this disease in book format is completely idiotic. They actually have activities for couples to do together? Lmao. Yea....I haven't even read a page and would burn every copy I see because the authors (Big time "doctors", although just trying to help, obviously think we are all the same and you can read a book and significantly improve a relationship with someone that's BP. I know many people with BPD, and I might not be a doctor but am an LPC, and I've never met two people with BPD that are even close to being similar in thoughts, actions, or emotions. Everyone is unique and while there are some true stereotypes, you gotta go through the gauntlet to learn how to love someone with BPD. Buy the book, waste your money, do your "homework" with your partner, and I guarantee you will still be struggling with his or her disorder on a daily basis. Guarantee it! Also...there is no way in hell that you will ever beat this disorder, and there is definitely no cure. It's so complex that a psychiatrist can't even prescribe the right medicine the first time. I've been searching 10 years for the right meds and STILL can't find one that really helps. This book is insulting and the author should meet more people with BPD...Especially me. Sounds like a generic mold that she's trying to fit everyone into. Yea yea yea...."Read the book before you judge it AJ." Well...when the ignorant title pisses me off...there's a slim chance I'd even give it a glance. How much more guilt do we need on top of what we already have because of this disorder? I agree with that previous post by Lisa...I'd rather be single for the rest of my life and die alone than present this embarrassing book into a relationship. Instead of buying the damn thing, do a google search. Its cheaper and I'm sure you'd find testimonials that could teach you more. Or just be normal and see a therapist with plenty of experience. Simply put....this book may help somebody, but like I way in hell it will allow the non-afflicted to love their partner more or better. Either you can handle it and stick by their side, learning as you go, or you need to run for the hills because this brain disease is so complicated, you could write volumes of books and STILL not completely explain your afflicted lover's ailment. Rant over. Do yourselves a favor and google the info on this disorder. You can do it privately so you don't make your lover feel alienated and like a highschooler. Activities/Homework.....give me a break.

March, 10 2015 at 9:49 am

I have been with my beautiful partner for 15 years. He is my soulmate. It has been a hell of a ride though as he has BPD, GAD, Depression and Alcholism. He was undiagnosed for the first 10 years or our relationship. I recommend this book. There are so few resources for carers and whilst it can be hard its so worth it. The book helped me with building up skills and knowledge of how to be supportive partner and best of all it gave me validity to my relationship. The biggest thing I find is when ever I talk about it to anyone, especially if he is really unwell and suicidal and self harming, people will say "oh thats horrible, why dont you leave?" That makes me angry! Would they say that to someone who just said their partner had cancer????? (My poor hubby has Leukemia too). I love my husband with all my heart and soul and he loves me the same. Love you forever and a day is our saying. How we have managed to stay in a relationship so long is that it is built on honesty and trust and never losing hope. And when the tough times come I stand by his side, hold his hand (sometimes metaphorically) and we get through it together. And I see how much he loves me, when the black dog visits and he is in deep dispear he said that with all the negative thoughts going around in his head telling him to do bad stuff to himself, and there is no hope, he has this one single voice/thought that just keeps saying "Listen to Natalie, she is always right snd says the reality truth" and for me that shows an amazing level of trust and love he has for me. It does get overwhelming at times especially if he is rapid cycling every day, but the tiredness and hopeless feelings are just BP burnout, and largely due to lack of support services. But we are in this journey together and no one can take our love away. My best advice is read and learn, work with your partner on management plans and identifying triggers etc and base your realtionship on love, trust and honesty. (Shit half the people I know without mental illness dont have that in there relationships lol) And be vigilant at looking after yourself thats really important for YOU! Anyway sorry for the rant there is not many places for me to vent without being judged. Its our 11th wedding anniversary this Saturday. We have had a rough patch with him being really ill, but fingers crossed we can get to our plan of a picnic in the beautiful park we were married in, otherwise we will have it in our lounge room if he is too unwell. Cause thats the otherthing you need to learn being unjudgementally flexible, so you dont miss out on experiences together, you just adapt them lol. Have a great day everyone! And thanks for the fb page I found you a few weeks ago and your blogs are helping ME every day. Cheers Natalie

March, 14 2013 at 10:55 am

What's the difference between the first and second edition of this book? im wanting buy it on ebay but dont know should i buy both or just the second edition...i also found a lot of the first edition and the bi polar survival guide..i was thinking about buying the lot and then buying the second edition i need both editions... i suffer from BPD...i been with my bf for a year...but six months ago he had to experience my low... i was off my meds as i regularly do when i feel invincible and dont think i need them.... he broke up with me a week and a half ago...and it made me realize i need to take my meds and stay on them...we truly push away the people we love most... he didnt understand what he felt he was trying to "fix"...and he felt helpless...he knew from day one i was bi polar but never did any research on it...we still have to live together for the next 3 months... ilove his not bi polar crazy hoping within that time he can find his love again...but either way i need to focus on myself..and my journey first. thank you for reading this

Loving Someone with a Mental Illness | Bipolar Burble Blog | Natasha Tracy
September, 20 2012 at 8:17 am

[...] about mental illness in relationships, but for now, check out the review I did on this book about Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. It’s a great book and if you’re in a relationship with a person with bipolar disorder I highly [...]

Lisa Efthymiou
July, 22 2012 at 4:39 pm

Now I need to find a book (or other publication) of a story of someone with a teenage daughter with bipolar. (Bipolar-disorder)+(teen-angst)is so tough to mother. I read "Pure chaos" but found it gut-wrenching rather than more hopeful. I still hope my daughter won't get that bad. Maybe I'm way too naive.

Lisa Burger
July, 14 2012 at 11:02 pm

I'd rather just stay single - My book will be called "On staying single and being bipolar"

Kaitlin Panda
July, 11 2012 at 4:31 pm

This sounds great. I just have to figure out a way to get him to read it. I think I'd feel like I'm making him do homework on me because I'm screwed up, doh. Regardless, thanks for the recommendation. :)

Dan Michaeals
July, 10 2012 at 2:47 pm

Hi Natasha
Its really important to seek advice from your doctor when it comes to medication. Everyone reacts differently. Great review by the way I am going to have to give this book the once over.
Thanks, again Dan

Natasha Tracy
July, 9 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi Paul,
I understand that perspective, the problem is I have seen too many people hurt by side effects because of this type of thing. People need to fully informed because they need to take responsibility for the decisions they make and real information is the only way to do this. I would rather people ask their doctor about side effect information rather than read an overview and think they know everything there is to know.
- Natasha

Paul Winkler
July, 9 2012 at 2:24 pm

Natasha, do you really think it is inappropriate to give brief descriptions of the many bipolar meds to partners of bipolar patients? I know my own wife, for one, couldn't care less about the gory details, and might appreciate a synopsis, but wouldn't read anything more in depth. I haven't read this book, but the appendix sounds like a great idea as a quick reference. The internet is always available for more complete descriptions, side effects etc.

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