Bipolar and Spouse/Lovers; give me some good news, please!

I’ve been with my SO for about 5 ½ years and married to him for 2 of them.
He self diagnosed himself as Bipolar (BP) over 3 years ago and went to the psychiatrist who confirmed it. He’s been on meds for about a year, but sometimes he’s not so good at remembering them.
With any relationship I know you’re going to have your ups and downs.
I found a message board for people who live with bipolars one night when I was looking for understanding and support. The problem with this board is it seems that most people there are driven there by the same thing; desperate for help understanding their partners/family members with bp. So basically it’s a lot of people yelling “HELP!” and a bunch of others yelling back “I can’t, I’m there too!” or “Run like hell!” :frowning:

Does anyone have any success stories or advice or can you just tell me it’s not always going to be like this or that it can get better?
I love my husband, but now I’m starting to think that I might just need to love myself more, you know?

How much should be “love and understanding” and how much is just “letting them walk all over you”?

It’s been less than a month since the last blow up and I don’t even know how I want to feel about him anymore.

Is this message board you found called “The Nook”, by any chance?

My personal advice is to avoid any “support” message board in which the predominate advice is to run like hell. Those people can’t advise you what to do in your relationship; they don’t know you, and they don’t know your spouse.

I hope you can find some support that is truly focused on helping, not just on painting the mentally ill as pariahs to be avoided. People with BP and other mental illnesses may be difficult to live with, but so are a hell of a lot of people who haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness. The mentally ill need love & support as much as any other person. I hope you will try to find a way that allows you to be there for your SO, while still taking care of yourself and getting your needs met, not being “walked all over.”

Good luck.

Delphi Forums, Living with Fire.
Guess that could’ve been a clue about what type of board it was, huh? :dubious:

Yeah, I posted a few times and kind of gave it up. In addition to the lack of support, people just didn’t seem to check in very often.

That’s what I’m hoping for too.
Can you give me any advice? Do you know any better boards that are bp specific?

Sorry to say I don’t - bipolar is not my bailiwick. If your SO has a therapist, you might see if the therapist can recommend a support group or online support board. Wish I could do better than that.

Anyone else?

The problem with bipolar meds is that it can sometimes take years to figure out the mix/dosage/cocktail/ to get it right.

He should not be afraid to go to the psychiatrist for monthly checkups so his meds can be modified.

Under no circumstances should he drink alcohol. Liquor can compound the problem. If he drinks, he needs to stop. Period. No more discussion.

You must be patient, but it will get better, if both of you accept this is nothing to be ashamed of and is no different from any other disease. Some people’s blood chemistry is messed up, so they’re prone to high cholesterol and heart disease. Likewise, some people’s brain chemistry is messed up, and he processes emotions differently.

Go with him to the doctor. As an “outsider” to his illness, you can tell the doctor, “He’s not sleeping well,” “Last night he cleaned out our garage, working until 4 in the morning,” “This weekend he slept 46 out of 48 hours.”

It’s a long row to hoe. If he is unwilling to help himself (going to the doctor, taking his meds correctly, stopping drinking) then you’re going to have some decisions to make.

He quit drinking after another huge blowup we had.
We don’t have extra money (he didn’t work for about 3 years while he attended school part-time; the credit cards are maxed) so he goes to the Veterans’ Affairs clinic for free.
They don’t do join/marriage counseling.
I’m afraid the person he’s seeing (on his 3rd Dr.) may not know a whole lot about bp, other than textbook information. She told him that she would increase the number of pills he gets to a six month supply “as long as you don’t try to overdose on them” :rolleyes:
He hasn’t been suicidal. I think it kind of made him feel bad.

I had read up some about the meds and have tried to get him to switch, but he says the doctor knows best (even though the original Dr. who prescribed them was fired for acting unprofessionally in her patient reports). As far as I know, this new doctor and he haven’t even discussed trying something else.

He’s got to get good at remembering the meds, then. I’m a hugely amotivated and forgetful person, but I remember to take pills for stuff like preventing pregnancy and preventing horrible migraines. This is because missing a day can have big consequences. I’m not so good at remembering to take my pill for depression because in this particular medication being off for a day doesn’t make a difference, and because I have to take it in the morning - my morning schedule is different on weekends and so I often forget to take them on those days versus during the week, which is more regimented in schedule. If I did show problems due to missing one of those pills, you bet I’d find a way to remember. Perhaps he could agree to have you help him with the meds - whether it’s bringing him the pill and a glass of water, or putting pills in those weekly pill organizers, or just reminding him.

My father-in-law has bipolar disorder; he’s totally unmedicated because he likes the high end of the cycle and because he doesn’t really care what other people think of him. He was functional enough - and good enough at delegation - to succeed in business when he was working. Now he’s retired and driving his wife nuts. (My husband shows the low-level version, cyclothymia, mostly when he’s stressed. A comment like “you’re acting like your father” is enough to get through to him so that he can realize that his emotions are most likely the product of what’s going on inside him, and not what others are doing to him or what’s going on outside him.)

Please believe when I say I do all I can to try and help.
He has a good system of keeping his pills (2 a day) in a metal pill holder that attaches to his keys. I try to make it my mission to keep it filled correctly. I do literally hand him his pill and something to take it with.

The difficulties we run into are like when he goes out playing pool ALL DAY LONG and doesn’t have me around to remind him or he’ll tell me he’s taken it when he hasn’t because he doesn’t want to admit he forgot and fully intends to take it, but forgets again.

To his credit, he’s been really good about me reminding him about it.
Repetitious things really get on his nerves and I was worried that my constant reminding would just anger him.

I don’t mind doing it because I love him and he needs it, but then we have episodes like this morning, where I have both hands full, trying to gather my stuff for work and I still go through the trouble of checking his pill holder, find it empty, finding his pills and then because I didn’t have another free hand to manage both bottles, I gave him the pills and the holder to refill himself.
He sees me with an arm load of crap, asks me if I refilled the pill holder and when I gave them to him and he sees I didn’t, I get a snide “thanks”.
And that’s not even the worst of what has happened just today. :rolleyes:

First off, {{{harmless}}}. We’re always here for you, no matter what.

Second, any chance he’d be willing to wear an alarm watch specifically designed for reminding people to take their pills? I know cash is tight, but if he’s willing to wear it, it may solve the “forgetting to take his pills” problem.
And third, of course: Stealth nudity! :: shakes it a bit for the Harem Mistress ::

One of the things I think you need to address is how you cope with his illness and what you can do to make life easier for yourself. You have to take care of yourself, and sometimes you have to put your needs first before you’re in a position to help him. How to do this can be learned from a good support board or local group, some of it can be learned from individual therapy. The hardest part is distancing yourself from him when things get bad, and maintaining an even, rational tone as a way to get him back on track. It’s hard for me to do, and my spouse has mild depression.

As far as his meds go, if you find that his doctor is trying out a large number of drugs with little success, look into pharmacogenetic testing. Some people metabolize drugs faster or slower than the drug companies think they’re supposed to. This variation doesn’t show up in any dosing information supplied by drug companies, and doctors are sometimes unaware of these genetic variations as well. In certain cases, pharmacogenetic testing provides a lot of information as well as dosing guidelines.

You don’t say how old your husband is, but it is important that he take responsibility for keeping himself healthy. Taking his meds should be as important as brushing his teeth, washing cuts or putting on sunscreen. You don’t do those things for him (I assume), so he needs to take care of his own meds himself. He may need you as a backup, but not as his nurse or mother.


Thanks, Hal. :slight_smile:
He has a watch he always wears that goes off twice a day to remind him.
It does just about no good because he’s always off schedule.
It’ll go off at 10, and say he forgets or can’t take it until around 2 (this has gotten a lot worse since he’s been working later) and then it’ll go off again at 8, but he just took it at 2 so now he has to wait until around midnight, etc., etc.

He’ll even do real good for about a week and then slip right back into not taking them on time again.

Vlad/Igor, he’s going to be 33 this year and I just turned 28.
I can be overly sensitive at times. He calls me “Sensitiva”.
One problem I have is when I feel like it’s his bp acting up and try to get him to see it, he tells me that I’m trying to blame everything on his bp. He’ll eventually come to and realize that it had to of been because why he got all worked up doesn’t make sense.

I do feel like his mother sometimes. :frowning:
What really gets to me is how he leaves ALL responsibility up to me, it seems.
Right now (and for the last 4 years) I’ve been making the majority of the money for our household, paying ALL the bills, driving him where he needs to go (he doesn’t have a license right now), doing the vast majority of the house cleaning and anything that comes up with the truck (cleaning, oil changes, filling the freaking tank while he twiddles his thumbs in the passenger seat waiting on me to take him to his destination).
Then he has the nerve to tell me that he does just as much around and for the house as I do.
He has exactly three chores that we agreed up were his to do:
1)Maintain the laundry (after he told me that I didn’t know how to do laundry)
2)Take out the trash
3)Maintain the kitty pan.

A) I have to do my own laundry if I want something clean to wear.
B) I take out about 1/3 of the trash, because I can’t stand to see it climbing up the walls.
C) He’s a little better about the cat pan because he’ll get to feeling sorry for them when it gets harsh. I scoop it when it gets to a point because I don’t want my kittens neglected.

When I try to tell him I need more help around the house, it just always turns into a fight. :frowning:

Bipolar is not a reason to hand over everything to your spouse. It sounds like counselling could help you with setting boundaries with him.

My husband has bipolar. I accept that there are certain areas of life where he’s not ever gonna be particularly functional but that doesn’t mean he gets to be my third child. He’s in charge of his meds – at most I will check in with him if I think he’s a bit ratty and ask him if he took his depakote.

Sometimes things don’t get done or they don’t get done to my standards or I have to fix stuff I’d rather not have to fix but overall things work around here. Unmedicated or playing idiotic games with his meds? I’d be so gone, especially without kids in the mix. Taking responsibility for his meds and working on issues even when the meds are not working very well and I’m willing to hang in there. The thing is that your partner does have the right to play silly buggers with his meds and it sounds like he is not ready to take responsibility for his own mental health yet. Non-compliance with meds is a huge issue with people with BP.

You need to consider what you want in the long run and consider what is possible in the relationship if he doesn’t shape up. Can you live with a man who is OK with being non-compliant with his meds? Are you considering children? Can you parent with him if he has not made changes?

He’s making choices and you get to make choices just as much as he does.

I’m 42 years old and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II several months ago, but I’ve known something was wrong for about 10 years because I didn’t respond well to antidepressants alone.

That said, your husband should be responsible for his own medication, pdoc appts. and therapy appts. When I was first diagnosed, my daughter helped me organize the meds into a weekly organizer until I found a way to keep it straight on my own a couple of weeks later. You sound as though you’ve done all that you can to help him with the watch reminders and pill box. IMHO, the rest is up to him.

My DH has been wonderful throughout my years of struggling with the depression end of bipolar. Without his support I think I may have crashed and burned much earlier. We’ve also recognised his need to get away and do something strictly for himself so that his batteries can recharge. He fishes every other Sunday and occasionally an afternoon during the week. He also golfs a couple of times a month as the mood strikes him. I hope that you also get away for a day as needed, doing things that are important to you. Time away for yourself is vital IMHO.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers a Friends and Family message board that you may find helpful. They also have Friends and Family classes and support meetings in many cities throughout the United States. Frankly, I’ve looked high and low for a good message board for Bipolar sufferers and have come up empty. The very nature of the illness sometimes prevents Bipolar sufferers from being pleasant and supportive all of the time :rolleyes:

Yes, folks with Bipolar do get better and can lead normal lives when they are on the proper medications. As Ivylass shared, sometimes finding the right medications can take quite a bit of time. I was very lucky and hit the best combo right out of the starting gate. Sometimes, the bipolar person has to become sick and tired of being sick and tired before they commit to seeking out the best help and meds combo. I went through an eight month in the bed depression before I finally begged for help and even then it wasn’t for myself, but because I didn’t want my children and husband to be short changed any longer. Only after getting stabilized on medication did I feel worthy enough to keep at it for myself. This apathy may be part of your husbands problem.

Please take extra good care of yourself.

My husband has bipolar. I accept that there are certain areas of life where he’s not ever gonna be particularly functional but that doesn’t mean he gets to be my third child. He’s in charge of his meds – at most I will check in with him if I think he’s a bit ratty and ask him if he took his depakote.

You need to consider what you want in the long run and consider what is possible in the relationship if he doesn’t shape up.[/QUOTE]

Just to amplify what Primaflora has said: my son has ADHD and symptoms of Asbergers. I know that there are things he’ll never be able to do, but what I know he is capable of doing I expect him to do it. It’s a battle getting him to do things, but I will not always be around to help him. It’s also important to look 5 and 10 years down the road and ask yourself how you want life to be. Then ask yourself what you are willing to give up, given your husband’s illness, and what you must have. Are you willing to compromise on parts of your future in order to stay with your husband? What do you need to do or learn that will allow you to stay married to him? Given what you need to do or learn, what will your life be like in 5 or 10 years, and can you accept that life?

You aren’t going to do either of you any good if you try to be the martyred care-giver. The best marriages are those with agapic, storgic and erotic forms of love. Agapic, or selfless love doesn’t mean that it all about him. It means that for you both** it’s about the other and the two of you together.


Sounds like he has full-blown BP. You mentioned that sometimes you feel like his mother. Well, yes. In cases of full-blown BP you will be acting as the mother to a cranky, emotional child. In the manic phase, you will need to sweetly bring him back to reality, in the depressive phase, you will need to cajol him out of bed. But, things will get better once the particular meds have been worked out and he stabilizes. You will need to be strong and carry the bulk of the load for the time being, I’m afraid. Each case is different to some degree, so I can’t help with any specifics, but you have my prayers!

Recently-diagnosed bipolar II here. After years of being diagnosed with this, that, and the next thing - and not being properly treated, and wondering WTF was wrong with me - my new shrink hit the nail on the head.

Going on a mood stabilizer has done wonders for controlling my hypomanic states. I’m not afraid of losing my creativity, though, because at least now I can concentrate on one or two musical ideas and flesh them out, instead of hearing forty new songs in my head at once.

Oh boy, that is so true. Right now I’m on short-term disability from work, and I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon, so I have to apply for long-term disability. While my shrink and I have got the meds right for the elevated end of my bipolar spectrum (1000 mg divalproex AM, 500 mg PM), that took about two months figure out - with weekly sessions at that.

Unfortunately, I’ve been in a depressive phase for the past month or so, and my antidepressant combo just isn’t cutting it. I’m already over the maximum dose of Wellbutrin that my doctor’s comfortable with, only because I assured him that I was pretty sure I’d tolerate that extra 100 mg daily without seizures or anything. He did rapidly bring me down on the Celexa, though, because he doesn’t want too much Wellbutrin with too much of an SSRI. (I accelerated my tapering-off plan, and even though I’ve been on 20 mg Celexa for about three or four weeks now, I’m still having minor “brain zaps.”) However, we did increase the trazodone I take before bed, as that wasn’t a concern for him.

I’m seeing my shrink tomorrow, for another full session, and since this depression doesn’t seem to be lifting, I’m going to bring up one of the few remaining augmentation regimens, but one that tends to work for most treatment-resistant depression. (Not ECT, if you’re thinking that.)


About my SO. He’s fed up with me. He just doesn’t know what to do anymore, and I wish I could convey to him that I really don’t know what to do either, but it’s hard. He thinks I remain depressed because I want to be that way. To an extent, he is right: every time I tell myself I’m depressed or think about it or am overcome with sadness, I’m letting myself fall back into the pit, even if I had managed to start climbing out.

Everyone says that no one asks to be depressed, and that you want to get out of it so badly, but just don’t know where to start. I can repeat this to my SO until I’m blue in the face, but I know I won’t get anywhere. So instead of talking about my feelings, I just keep them to myself, which is incredibly counter-productive. I could email him links to websites, scatter pamphlets around the house, but it would be futile, which is quite sad.

Rather than being scolded for, say, being clumsy sometimes (the mood stabilizer can do that to you), I wish so much that he’d just sit down with me and instead of giving me ultimatums, just ask what he can do to help. I wish he could see the sadness in my eyes and really know I mean it, but now he just calls them crocodile tears. For him to understand that even though he’s frustrated with me to the breaking point, it’s probably 100 times worse for me.

But nothing I can do can really break down the Level 10 force field between us, unless suddenly one day I wake up a new person. Now, it seems results have to be immediate, even though everyone knows it takes time.

Yes, I want to be the man I was when we met, and be the man he fell in love with, and made a commitment to. And I hope that if I can get there, then he’ll be the man he was when we met, the man I fell in love with, and made a commitment to.

But it’s just so difficult to do it. I can’t fake it, either, because he knows me inside-out and would see right through it. This is why I think my shrink and I have to pull out the big guns and try a new approach that will at least get me off my ass, off that goddamned couch, and get me doing the things I promised to do when he put that ring on my finger. :frowning:

{{{{{scott evil}}}}}
It seems to me as long as you’re doing your part to take care of yourself; he just needs to be more understanding. Has he ever been to a session with you? Maybe that would help.
I hate to see my husband lying in bed depressed.
Just lying there, staring at the wall. I like to climb in bed with him and snuggle with him even though it doesn’t seem to help sometimes. :frowning:

He apologized for his behavior yesterday and we had a good night together.
I was reading some pamphlet on marriage advice and it said that instead of thinking about how much you’ve done compared to your SO and getting angry about it, to just pick up the slack and they’ll come around eventually.
I don’t know if that sounds exactly right, but I guess I just need to suck it up.
I just wish that we could rationally talk about it, but it seems no matter how I approach it, it always turns into a fight, we both end up getting angry and then he ends up apologizing and saying he’ll do more to help out.
He’ll even catch up on what’s left of his chores, but then we go back into the same routine.

Thanks for the link, Adoptamom_II. I’m going to check that out thoroughly.
I do feel like a need a vacation, but I need one away from everything right now!
We had been fighting a lot and it’s really affected my work performance in a bad way.
If my boss was like any other boss, I wouldn’t have a job right now.
As it is, I’m lucky I’m only out $150 bucks instead.
Not that I can afford it. :frowning: :frowning:

I just hate how depressed and upset I let myself get when it then turns out alright.
Then when I’m depressed, he gets upset with me, because he doesn’t see any reason for it and hates to see me that way.
I guess instead of looking at the immediate fight situation, I just need to focus on the future, where he’ll calm down again and everything will be fine. It’s just really hard to see past it sometimes.
Especially after our last horrible fight that I was boo-hooing about. :rolleyes:
Of course that one was the worst we have ever had. I hate seeing his ring damaged like that. We’ve talked about trying to get it fixed, but we’ll just have to see. If we make it five years….scratch that, WHEN we make to five years I’d like for both of us to get new rings anyways.

He refuses. He says this is all my problem and not his, and he’s washed his hands of it. When I told my shrink this, he told me to try saying, “Maybe if you go with me, you can give my doctor a better idea of what I’m like at home.” He saw right through this as a trick to get him to a session with my shrink.

Yes, it would help enormously. But given the differences in opinion between my SO and my shrink, I think they’d come to blows, or SO would just storm out, as he’s wont to do.

When I sit on the couch, always in the same place, watching TV, he doesn’t hate to see it. He just hates me and no doubt thinks that I’m making an effort to feel worse.

I’d love it if he’d come over and sit with me - on the same couch, not on the adjacent one, and talk. But he’s always on the computer, in chat with mysterious friends he never tells me about. And then he stays up all night, and because he says that’s “his time,” I oblige by going to bed around 1.

Sometimes he’ll just metamorphose into a sweet angel, and he’s all fun and goofy like he used to be, and that makes me feel so good inside. We’ll go out shopping, or to the movies, and have a great time together. It seems whenever we’re out is when we get along best. But we can’t be out of the house all the time.

Through all of this - especially since I’ve been off of work (maybe three months now) - I’ve never slacked in terms of my chores. In fact, I started doing some of the chores he would do on Fridays while I was at work. I do the dishes far more often than I used to, and I cook great meals. (Unfortunately, the cooking thing - even though for me it’s a display of love and not about mere sustenance - doesn’t register on his radar.)

When we talk about it, it’s me who starts out rational, and I sometimes manage to stay that way as the discussion heats up, but it inevitably turns into a huge fight, he says he’s moving out, I cry, yadda yadda.

Well, we were supposed to be (legally - we’re in Canada) married on September 18, but that’s not going to happen at this point. And I don’t know if we’ll ever make things good enough again so that we can get married. But I never, ever, ever lose hope and faith that this is not insurmountable.

Goodness, scott!
Has he been to see anyone??
You deserve better than that, for sure!

Well, that’s a rotten attitude to take! :mad:
If he loves and wants to stay with you then it’s something both of you need to deal with.
I mean, he won’t even make an effort? :confused:

Bear in mind you’re only hearing my side of it, and I’m only now “coming out” with it here on the boards (I’ve discussed it in my LJ - friends-only). Obviously I have a lot to say. He’s been understanding for the longest time, and helped me stay somewhat sane as work was slowly making me more and more mental. He was the one who told me to get out of there by the end of “the week,” and helped me through it, and by that Friday I was on short-term disability.

But he does have his own needs, and that’s only fair. I can’t fully provide those at the moment. I can barely take care of myself.

And let’s face it, I wouldn’t like babysitting a mental patient either. My recent trip to New York was a comedy of errors from beginning to end, much of which had to do with my own clumsiness and forgetfulness combined with being in a big city.

I used to be sharp. I need that back.