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Balanced: Love & Bipolar Disorder

Illustration of two people embracing. A masculine-presenting person with medium-tone skin and dark brown hair is hugging from behind a femme-presenting person with light-tone skin and shoulder-length brown hair. The femme person in front has her head tilted back, laughing, while the masc-presenting person is nuzzled into her head.
Charnel Hunter

When you’re living with a stigmatized mental illness like bipolar disorder, opening up to romantic partners can be tough. A married couple and a single woman share their stories.

A mental health diagnosis can affect many aspects of romance, intimacy and partnership. For those living with bipolar disorder, a mental health disorder characterized by extreme mood shifts between emotional highs and lows, navigating mental health and romance involves communication, care and breaking down stigma — both internal and external.

Host Anita Rao talks with writer and advocate Michelle Yang, who was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder when she was in college, and her husband, Bob Zammit, about navigating mental health in their marriage. Michelle also shares how her family talked about mental health when she was growing up, and she and Bob discuss how they’re raising their son to be mental health-conscious. Michelle is the author of the forthcoming memoir: “Phoenix Girl: How a Fat Asian with Bipolar Found Love,” and the writer behind this HuffPost essay.

Anita also talks with writer and poet Hannah Blum, who self-describes as a lover of dating. Hannah talks about how she brings up her bipolar II diagnosis in new relationships, the importance of mental health care in all sides of a partnership and what it looks like for her to find support in both romantic and platonic relationships. Hannah is the author of “Oh Mind, Where Have You Gone Today?

Special thanks to April and Miguel Mansilla, Noah Dyson, Ella Finch and DJ Chuang for contributing to this episode!

Read the transcript

Kaia Findlay is the lead producer of Embodied, WUNC's weekly podcast and radio show about sex, relationships and health. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.