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Book review: “Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder”

Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder: A Practical Guide for Family, Friends, and Coworkers by Chelsea Lowe and Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD
Community Health Education Ctr RC516 .L69 2010 Non-circulating

Reviewed by Melissa Grant, Community Health Education Center Intern

Let’s say you meet a nice man or woman.  He or she is sweet, good-looking, and humorous.  You’ve noticed that sometimes your significant other reacts more strongly to certain situations, but who doesn’t at times?  Life is still great and you both are happy.  After a while of dating, you start to hear those wedding bells ring.  You have a beautiful wedding and it is as if you both are on “Cloud Nine” until the weather starts to change…  One moment your spouse is full of high energy and feeling good about oneself, and then feels sad and hopeless the next.  You sometimes make excuses for your spouse’s moodiness – bad day at work, feeling sick, favorite sports team lost the game last night – that’s normal, right?  Then you start to recognize that the extreme behaviors are reoccurring in episodes and it’s affecting your daily life too.  You aren’t exactly sure how to identify your spouse’s behavior, but it could be your spouse has a type of bipolar disorder and needs to be diagnosed to receive the care needed.

In his forward, Cohen unveils that his inspiration for the novel came from his own experience.  The first psychiatric patient Cohen encountered in his practice had a form of bipolar disorder.  After meeting her, he was inspired to spend the entirety of his career learning to understand and improve the care for people with bipolar disorder.  He mentions that he recognized the importance of including partners and relatives of the patient in the treatment process to better understand how they are coping with living with their partner.  Likewise, the novel demonstrates that with the support of family members and spouses more information can be drawn out from the patient, and they are helpful when included in the treatment process.

The novel is separated into two different parts:  Part One, “Understanding Bipolar Disorder,” focuses on the history, diagnosis, medication, and treatment of bipolar disorder.  Part Two, “Living with Your Partner,” focuses on the reality of living with the partner who has bipolar disorder and understanding how to take care and support the loved one.  The discussion of the workplace, effective communication, watching for dangerous behaviors, and more are all included in Part Two of the novel.

This book entails accurate information and good advice for people to have healthier relationships and live better lives.  As the novel unfolds, it is clear that the more information on bipolar disorder the partner or relative knows, the better the understanding and dealing with a loved one can be.  This book is a great resource to use to dispel myths and fallacies about bipolar disorder that are seen on movies and television, in which their depiction may not be accurate.  As the title mentions, the best audience for this novel is partners of people who suffer from bipolar disorder.


To view this title, or other health-related books, visit the Community Health Education Center (CHEC).  CHEC is located on the ground floor of the VCUHS Gateway Building on the MCV Campus.

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