Hey there! I've had bipolar episodes since I was a kid, but the year after my son was born was TERRIBLE. I started rapid-cycling and no meds could stabilize me!
Regarding "relapse" -- bipolar is a life-long condition. Remission is a possibility. Never finding a treatment is a possibility.
Regarding not wanting to take meds -- many people have bad reactions to meds. Finding the right meds can take YEARS. Before I was on a medication that worked, I was miserable. Not only were the meds NOT improving my BP symptoms, I had side effects like strong anxiety, akathesia, insomnia, migraines, stomach pain, sedation. It took 8 years to find the right meds for me.
You've already read the horror stories of relationships with a bipolar person. There is a flip side. Let me first say that I lived through one of the horror stories - a marriage between 2 bipolar people turned abusive. It took 5 years for me to get out.
Now, I'm in remission. I'm on one medication that has completely removed my bipolar symptoms WITHOUT any side effects. (I am very fortunate!) I'm in remission with a wonderful man!
We met while I was in a long hypomanic/manic episode, before I was diagnosed with bipolar. Eventually I moved in with him. about 2 months later I started having a lot of problems - rapid mood swings with sever depressions. These continued, even on medications. I struggled with side effects. It was a very dark time that eventually ended up with me in the hospital. They changed my medication - found the right thing and I've been stable in remission since.
I am a fairly inhibited person and my rapid-cycling buffers the effect of hypomanias. I withdraw when depressed, agitated, explosive. When I'm struggling, I focus on reducing the effect on people around me. It motivates me to control myself.
My SO is very supportive. I know I've scared him and I always feel guilty for that. I respond dangerously to caffiene. When he found out, he took all his (favorite!) caffienated sodas out of the house. If we're out at a party and I really want a soda, he'll share a can with me (even if it's a kind he doesn't like!) so that I can have a treat without risking my health.
In addition to self-care and support from my SO, I have a service dog which it trained many things to alert me to changes in my mood soon enough that I can stay safe. The dog is also trained to help me with biofeedback, deep pressure therapy. He wakes me up at the same time every morning and reminds me to take medications at the right time.
I have friends, both online or in person that know me inside-out, or have personal experience with bipolar, so I can find someone to talk to when I need to. I have a list of things I can do in any state of mind that help bring me back into balance. And of course, I have talk therapy, psychiatrist, and medications.
Putting together support systems and coping techniques for BOTH of you will be crucial. If her mental illness causes your worlds to crash, how would you cope? what would you need? who can you talk to? if you need to get away for a few days, where would you go? where are the nearest inpatient and outpatient pysch clinics/treatments/hospitals? are there local support groups? who do you trust? who does she trust? are you in a church? other social groups? what sets her off? what calms her?
Borderline Personality Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder