relationships

What if it was me that had bi-polar and not my partner?

pauloz Community Member April 24, 2008
  • My wife is bi-polar and it is pretty tough sometimes although I'm probably one of the lucky ones because she tries so hard.  Still, there are those moments and when they happen, some people who are close to me have asked how I manage to hang in there and dont leave?  First-things-first I guess I'm lucky because way-deep down inside I know I love her and she loves me.  But that's not why I'm re-posting some recent advice I gave in this topic. It's because I've been told that the technique I'm sharing with you now has helped others.

     

    ... 

     

    Living with a partner who is Bi-Polar, there are always going to be times when you feel you cant bear the pain of being with them.  When your feelings become too much for you, try to imagine a situation where your partner is sitting on their bed, alone, quietly sobbing about how terrible they feel about what they have done to you and others, and how sad they are that they never asked for this condition to be there.  The chemical changes in their brain that reach up from within and changes their mood in a blink of an eye.

     

    Now change places with them in your mind, and just imagine what your partner would do if that was you sitting on the bed? 

     

    This works for me every time.  When I stop and think what would happen if I was sick, or ill with some permanent condition, I realise my partner would be there for me. 

     

    I find that this "visualization" exercise softens my heart and helps me stay in love. 

     

    I hope this helps even just one other person.

12 Comments
  • gt
    gt
    Dec. 09, 2011

    I'm bipolar and 36, and I've been semi-stable with constant low-grade and double-dip depression being my main problem for the past 5 years or so.  It's nearly impossible to communicate (my lack of skills) that I want space to deal with my bad mood.  Not abandonment; not totally free space all the time, every time I'm down.  But the sort of space...

    RHMLucky777

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    I'm bipolar and 36, and I've been semi-stable with constant low-grade and double-dip depression being my main problem for the past 5 years or so.  It's nearly impossible to communicate (my lack of skills) that I want space to deal with my bad mood.  Not abandonment; not totally free space all the time, every time I'm down.  But the sort of space you might give someone who's reading a book.  Things like effectively communicating those desires are part of what therapy is about.  Conflict is inevitable.  Fighting isn't.

     

    I know it's frustrating that is from the other side, after asking enough.  A partner might not be able to "read" my mood correctly or understand why sometimes I want any possible human contact vs. when I want a dark quiet room.  Part of my job is to sort that out, be clear, and be patient with their perfectly normal lack of understanding.  Drawing a line that I'm in charge of managing the illness while they agree to provide support seems to help, but I can't speak for anyone else.  It's frustrating when I'm already doing all of that and a partner simply can't be more patient, and easy to be self-centered during those times.

  • Anonymous
    Jana
    Jan. 04, 2010

    I wish that my partner could have found enough love in his heart to help me this way.  Instead, everyone in my life that I care about (ex-husband, my 2 grown daughters, my father, my mother, in-laws, and now my boyfriend) have all been driven out of my life because of my mental illness.  My boyfriend finally left the day after Christmas because he...

    RHMLucky777

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    I wish that my partner could have found enough love in his heart to help me this way.  Instead, everyone in my life that I care about (ex-husband, my 2 grown daughters, my father, my mother, in-laws, and now my boyfriend) have all been driven out of my life because of my mental illness.  My boyfriend finally left the day after Christmas because he couldn't handle anymore of my craziness.  I have a lot of pent-up anger, and then there are crying spells, and not enough happy times.  I take medication and seemed to have tried everything on the market, but so far nothing seems to make me a nice person anymore.  So, I have no job (due to the illness), no family, and now no home and nobody to love me.  My boyfriend told me if I would go to anger management classes that maybe we could still be "friends".  How much will this illness cause me to lose?

    • Live2BFree
      Oct. 17, 2010

      I was also diagnosed as bi-polar when I lived in Kentucky. Once I moved to Vermont, I was miraculously "cured". Vermont doesn't recognize bipolar disorder and claim it's Seasonal Affective Disorder.

       

      I am on ssi because of it, but I have held it together by going to counselling and taking medication. I have had two successful marriages, one ending tragically...

      RHMLucky777

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      I was also diagnosed as bi-polar when I lived in Kentucky. Once I moved to Vermont, I was miraculously "cured". Vermont doesn't recognize bipolar disorder and claim it's Seasonal Affective Disorder.

       

      I am on ssi because of it, but I have held it together by going to counselling and taking medication. I have had two successful marriages, one ending tragically in his death nine years ago. I have four children and a grandchild who I love dearly and was able to raise myself, even through the trials of a divorce from a socio-psycopath stalker/alcoholic who wouldn't leave us alone until he died sixteen years after the divorce; the death of my soul-mate; the near-fatal accident of my son 4 years ago and my daughters' bipolar disorders.

       

      Don't get me wrong, I have done some irresponsible things in my life, but I was able to hold it together because of the love of my family and my responsibility to my children.

       

      Once you "step outside" of yourself and think about how others feel, or what others need from us, its easier to be more kind to them. Learning empathy is probably the one thing that helps me to cope with what is happening to me. I have put myself in their position and can feel what they feel.

       

      Anger Management, may help, or it may make you angrier. I doubt it would help me, but you may get results.

       

      Either way, I wish people would stop saying their spouse or other loved one IS Bipolar...they are not Bipolar! They have a disease that needs to be addressed just as if it were heart disease or diabetes. They have Bipolar Disorder, they are NOT Bipolar.

       

      I don't know if this will help you, but it may help to realize you are not the disease, and you can overcome it with help. Get help. Don't let the disease control you.

       

      Good luck,

       

      Lola

    • liz
      liz
      Apr. 19, 2011

      i have it too, it sucks. Im a 37 year old wife and mother of 2. Which by the why I got off meds for durring pregnancy (not fun,talk about family and friends really not liking me durring that time). Life can be grulling and much harder to cope. But... we have to just hang in there .I know easier said then done but we have to be mediated and therapy is a must....

      RHMLucky777

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      i have it too, it sucks. Im a 37 year old wife and mother of 2. Which by the why I got off meds for durring pregnancy (not fun,talk about family and friends really not liking me durring that time). Life can be grulling and much harder to cope. But... we have to just hang in there .I know easier said then done but we have to be mediated and therapy is a must. you will not be able to survive without it. As a BIPOLar person we tend to get too self obsorbed. We forget how to put ourselfs in others shoes. Im still surching for a med that really works. But without them I would be in your shoes and have lost tons of friends and family. Its not your fault its a dieses. But with meds and therapy its just hills and valleys instead of mountains and deserts.

       

  • Jen
    Jen
    May. 21, 2008

    What do you do when your spouse isn't admitting to being bipolar. I am not sure if he is depressed....most time just manic, either good or bad. I am having a hard time with your suggestion because I know he would want to take care of me if I were the one with the illness, but he's refusing to let me help him. I'm sure I'm not doing something right....

    RHMLucky777

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    What do you do when your spouse isn't admitting to being bipolar. I am not sure if he is depressed....most time just manic, either good or bad. I am having a hard time with your suggestion because I know he would want to take care of me if I were the one with the illness, but he's refusing to let me help him. I'm sure I'm not doing something right. I can relate to how strong you are. It's difficult however, when it is a male spouse with this condition....because of the stereotypical stuff that goes along with being a male.

    • pauloz
      May. 21, 2008

      That's a tough one because there is more at play than bi-polar.  Some of this stuff is just human nature.  Although not a universal guide or even the most popular explanation, I think "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" might be useful for you to read.  It was for us.

       

      I find that when I have a problem, I typically go into my cave...

      RHMLucky777

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      That's a tough one because there is more at play than bi-polar.  Some of this stuff is just human nature.  Although not a universal guide or even the most popular explanation, I think "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" might be useful for you to read.  It was for us.

       

      I find that when I have a problem, I typically go into my cave to start solving it because that is the most important thing on my mind at the time.  My wife, seeing her partner in distress, follows me into the cave to offer comfort, because that is the kind of support she would need right?  Wrong. Bad move. I only go deeper into my cave and then get cranky when cornered against the back wall by her when all I want is to be alone to solve my problem. 

       

      The result? She is confused and I dont know what I did wrong.  I think the book says best to leave the man to come out of the cave by himself.

       

       

      If your partner isnt sure about the diagnosis...then that is a problem he's dealing with in his cave.  It is tough for you but there are going to be sparks if you keep pursuing him.  He needs to come around to wanting to get help all by himself (or at least to think he did it himself). Gentle, non-judgemental support might help him feel less-harassed and he'll be grateful of your tolerance and understanding if you forgive his outbursts, (be assured the bi-polar person knows what they've done and feel heaps more guilty than you do!).  Dont nag him or he goes back into the cave.

       

      The next big problem you two could face might be 'Acceptance', of the diagnosis of bi-polar, if and when that ever happens. (From what you have said, it sounds like there isnt a diagnosis yet?)

       

      My wife was diagnosed in 2001 - she got a second and third opinion and they concluded it was type II.  It took a year for me to accept it and even longer for her.  In fact, I believe it is not unusual for bi-polar folk to never fully accept a diagnosis.  My wife and others too experiment with their medication to see whether they really are bi-polar or not..."just to see what it is like to be normal" only to find the condition hasnt left at all.

       

      At the time, I got some great counselling that advised me to look after myself first.  My constant worry and shift from husband to caregiver/patient relationship (as Eric has cautioned in his comment above) meant I was drained and I was of less use to her or anyone else for that matter. 

       

      At frist, the advice I was given sounded selfish and contrary to my instinct but I followed it and chose to get myself right first.  I found it to be liberating and helped me be much stronger.  In time, my strength returned and my acceptance helped my wife overcome her own feelings of guilt and any concern about her dignity.  She started to "come out" and let close friends know, discretely of course.

       

      They were relieved to suddenly understand that her phases of close friendship followed by two weeks of isolation, solitude and not answering phone calls or messages was not because they'd done anything to offend her but that it was the bi-polar condition.

       

      That allowed us to increase our social circle again (after many years of closing down) and I found I was able to share her "permanent medical condition" with others so that my support network grew too.

       

      It is a tough journey for the partner of a bipolar person but you are not alone and the fact that you are asking questions makes you pretty special in the first place.  Good luck.

       

      pauloz

    • 66andlovingit
      May. 06, 2014

      20 years in a relationship with a bipolar mate. The saddest part is the depressions, the sadness he feels and how his mind cycles through so much in an uncontrollable fashion. He once told me it is like chanel surfing his mind with someone else on the remote. He won't take medication because of the side effects and because they "dumb him down".

       

      Biggest...

      RHMLucky777

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      20 years in a relationship with a bipolar mate. The saddest part is the depressions, the sadness he feels and how his mind cycles through so much in an uncontrollable fashion. He once told me it is like chanel surfing his mind with someone else on the remote. He won't take medication because of the side effects and because they "dumb him down".

       

      Biggest thing for me was to learn not to take everything he says personnally.

  • Eric
    Apr. 25, 2008

    I am glad you took the time to repost this advice. I do know where you are coming from with a wife that is severely bipolar. There have been times when the illness lifts its ugly head to the point of friends and family saying the same thing…why do you stay. The same answer rings true…I love my wife and am committed to making this work.

     ...

    RHMLucky777

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    I am glad you took the time to repost this advice. I do know where you are coming from with a wife that is severely bipolar. There have been times when the illness lifts its ugly head to the point of friends and family saying the same thing…why do you stay. The same answer rings true…I love my wife and am committed to making this work.

     

    I can also take it a step further in that I am also bipolar but by the grace of god, been stable for better than 7 years, so I do remember like it was yesterday of those thoughts and feelings that she is experiencing. I also would like to add that there is also a gray and red area in all of this. My wife has never cheated on me nor taking all the personal finances and blown them on drugs, alcohol or gambling.

     

    There has only been the one time during a manic phase that she had become abusive, nothing before or after, had there been I would have walked. Each of us has to decide for ourselves just how much we can take. If our spouse is unwilling to be medication compliant, unwilling to do their best in taking part in getting the help they need or are abusive…you really need to save yourself.

     

    The only thing you really need to watch for is that you not go from the role of spouse to that of a caregiver/patient relationship in which enabling occurs and we as the healthy one tries to control everything from limiting contact with people to doing everything for this person. The tendencies of secluding ourselves because our spouse does not want to be around other people can also weigh heavily on things.

     

    As hard as it may be at times, we really need to take care and nurture ourselves first. If not, we really are no good to our spouses. How can we be able to help others if we cannot even take care of ourselves? Finally I will add that you wife is a lucky person in being married to an understanding person and I am sure you feel the same way about her, or you would not be there. Good luck in the future.

    • Old fart's wife
      Oct. 24, 2011

      I am the daughter of a diagnosed bipolar father whose maternal grandmother was also bipolar.  (Yes, my mother doubled the chances of passing on this horrible disease)  For some reason, God has spared my brother and I from this horrible disease.    As can be seen in my mother's example, many children who grow up seeing a co-dependent...

      RHMLucky777

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      I am the daughter of a diagnosed bipolar father whose maternal grandmother was also bipolar.  (Yes, my mother doubled the chances of passing on this horrible disease)  For some reason, God has spared my brother and I from this horrible disease.    As can be seen in my mother's example, many children who grow up seeing a co-dependent marital relationship have trouble establishing normal marital relationships themselves....because a codependent imbalance marital dynamic is what they grow up seeing as "normal".  I can honestly say I was engaged twice to different men whom I feel now had at severe depression.....normal men where boring because they did "need me".  Luckily, I got my head on straight and married well.  My brother did not.....and is the caretaker/manager of his sweet but emotionally damaged wife.

    • DEBORAH
      Jan. 11, 2012

      I'M BIPOLAR AND I'M HAVING A HARD TIME RIGHT NOW ,MY SPOUSE AND I BOTH HAVE SOME DISORDERS BIPOLAR , DEPRESSION , AND ANXIETY . WE SEPARATED IN A BURST OF ANGER BOTH I'M REGRETTING SO MUCH THAT IT HURTS LIKE HELL. I HAVENT HAD ANY CONTACT WITH HIM SINCE NEW YEAR'S DAY. I CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE AND I REALLY WISH I COULD HAVE REACTED DIFFERENTLY. I PRAY THAT...

      RHMLucky777

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      I'M BIPOLAR AND I'M HAVING A HARD TIME RIGHT NOW ,MY SPOUSE AND I BOTH HAVE SOME DISORDERS BIPOLAR , DEPRESSION , AND ANXIETY . WE SEPARATED IN A BURST OF ANGER BOTH I'M REGRETTING SO MUCH THAT IT HURTS LIKE HELL. I HAVENT HAD ANY CONTACT WITH HIM SINCE NEW YEAR'S DAY. I CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE AND I REALLY WISH I COULD HAVE REACTED DIFFERENTLY. I PRAY THAT MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS REACH AND TOUCH HIS HEART. THANKS FOR THIS GLORIOUS MESSAGE ,IF GIVEN A CHANCE I WILL REMEMBER !!! BE BLESSED

    • SAVED
      Jan. 11, 2012

      CryI'M BIPOLAR AND I'M HAVING A HARD TIME RIGHT NOW ,MY SPOUSE AND I BOTH HAVE SOME DISORDERS BIPOLAR , DEPRESSION , AND ANXIETY . WE SEPARATED IN A BURST OF ANGER BOTH I'M REGRETTING SO MUCH THAT IT HURTS LIKE HELL. I HAVENT HAD ANY CONTACT WITH HIM SINCE NEW YEAR'S DAY. I CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE AND I REALLY WISH I COULD HAVE REACTED DIFFERENTLY. I PRAY THAT...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      CryI'M BIPOLAR AND I'M HAVING A HARD TIME RIGHT NOW ,MY SPOUSE AND I BOTH HAVE SOME DISORDERS BIPOLAR , DEPRESSION , AND ANXIETY . WE SEPARATED IN A BURST OF ANGER BOTH I'M REGRETTING SO MUCH THAT IT HURTS LIKE HELL. I HAVENT HAD ANY CONTACT WITH HIM SINCE NEW YEAR'S DAY. I CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE AND I REALLY WISH I COULD HAVE REACTED DIFFERENTLY. I PRAY THAT MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS REACH AND TOUCH HIS HEART. THANKS FOR THIS GLORIOUS MESSAGE ,IF GIVEN A CHANCE I WILL REMEMBER TO BE PATIENT S,SHOW , LOVE AND  KINDNESS AS!!! BE BLESSED.

    • amy taylor
      Mar. 29, 2012

      Both my husband and I have Bipolar and are on medication for it. He doesn't take his medication on daily basis, he drives me crazy with how he acts sometimes and the things he says. I love him very much sometimes, I wonder if he loves me after 5 years of marriaqe.