Help! My Loved One Has Flipped Out!

Patient Expert

Four Questions

Three readers have asked about living with bipolar husbands. A fourth asked about a bad situation with a bipolar wife. The first two questions can be answered together. The third and fourth questions each require separate consideration:

First Two Questions

mrsmont1 writes

My husband was just diagnosed as bipolar a week ago. For the last 1+ year the focus has been his sex addiction which takes the form of compulsive masturbation and viewing of ****. The bipolar diagnoses was a relief of sorts, but, there are other issues I haven't seen addressed as being associated with bipolar and need to know if they are or not.

The biggest issue is what seems like selfishness. Even heartlessness at times. While I am far from perfect, I have stood by his side through countless lies and then disclosures. I have scoured the internet for every bit of info I could get on SA and now on bipolar. I have read countless books as well. But at the end of the day, I'm accused of not being supportive enough. And of not being understanding enough. Beside that, we have basically no social life because he has shut himself off and I'm so embarrassed to be a newly wed (barely a year) whose husband doesn't want to go out, I don't see my friends either. And my feelings are often disregarded if it means he will have to confront someone who is hurting upsetting us/me.


So here I am, trying to deal with all of the lies, and the mood swings, compulsive spending, (the only thing there has been minor improvement in) and no intimacy of any real measure, my self esteem in the gutter


So my question is, is selfishness such as I have experienced a part of bipolar? Is he really so disconnected that his wife can be put through the ringer and he will choose himself over me anyway? Will medication and therapy for bipolar possibly help him to see how he has treated me and help him get past the guilt of it enough to move on to repairing the damage that he has done? Or will I always be the easiest thing to walk away from? I'm really lost and confused right now and don't know where to turn.

Riverbluff writes

Has anyone experienced a relationship with a loved one who, for no reason becomes very angry and is unable to communicate with. They swear, and say mean hurtful things. You try to calm them, by either holding them, and reassuring them, and they panic and get worse, and even violent with you physically. I constantly hear.....quit pushing my button. This individual seems like two different people....and the least little thing will set him off at any given time. We were recently on a trip, and he took off from a restaurant mad. I was searching for him for 1 hour. I finally found him, and tried to get him to get back into the car, so we could go back to the hotel....and he ignored me and continued to walk away.....I got out of the car and went to get him and calm him down, and he went ballistic, hitting me and twisting my arm, and swearing at me. Some people witnessed this and called the police to get him to stop his angry ways. I was very upset to think that this happened. We will be seeking counseling, for I will not stand for violence. The next day he felt very bad about what happened. He does not understand why he gets this way. He is two different people. Anyone out there been through this? Thanks for the input.

Answer to Mrsmont and Riverbluff

Hi, mrsmont and riverbluff. Your husbands may be the ones who have bipolar, but you are the ones who suffer from it. I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who puts their loved one through hell. The "bipolar excuse" doesn't cut it with me.

Moreover, riverbluff, where violence is concerned there are no excuses. Don't fall for his feeling sorry routine after the fact. You're only setting yourself up for more violence.

To both of you: You're the ones who need to decide whether this marriage is working for you or not. But please know that you should feel you are under no obligation to put up with any bad behaviors, whether they are illness-related or not. Lucky is the bipolar who finds a supportive loved one, but you don't have to be that loved one. You come first. Do not be afraid to act in your own best interest.

Third Question

Julie writes:

My husband of 15 yrs has been living with what we thought was depression but has now gone into the manic swings. I think he is bipolar but he is in such a rage and denial that he is not willing to go to a hospital to get correctly diagnosed and the proper meds. How do I get him to go when he is not able to see for himself that he needs help and there is no reasoning with him?

Answer to Julie

Hi, Julie. The fact that you mention you've been married 15 years strongly suggests your marriage has a firm solid footing and is worth preserving. What is happening now may equate to the "bad times" that loving partners are willing to work their way through. But, if your husband refuses to do something about seeking help, then it is time to slam your window of sympathy shut. See also the advice below ...

Fourth Question

George writes

My wife left home a month ago and is in a manic episode with all the usual ugly symptoms. I wasn't around for the first episode 25 yrs ago, but I hear it was bad, and lasted bout 8 months. I knew my wife was Bipolar when we married, but never understood until all hell broke loose. After much research I have a clear understanding of what's happening, just don't know what to do now. How long will this last, this time?? What can I do to get her treatment, she won't have anything to do with me. Is my marriage over??


Hi, George. A manic episode can test a marriage beyond its limits. You sound like you love your wife very much, and are desperate to help her. But, by definition, there is no reasoning with a person in a manic state, and legally forcing her into treatment is virtually impossible.

It is probably good news that she left home, because, believe me, if she had stayed you would have been the one who had to leave. Hopefully, she is staying in a safe place and will cycle down, at which point the two of you can talk and hammer things out. There is no predicting how long her episode will last. In her book, "What Goes Up," Judy Eron advises in dealing with a manic spouse:

  • You should not try to deal with mania by yourself. Forge a strong alliance with a psychiatrist and build a support network.
  • Know that you are dealing with someone out of control, who can no longer be trusted. Be ready to take responsibility for being the decision-maker.
  • Look after yourself. Keep your life going.
  • Read as much as you can about the illness.
  • A manic person "will hammer on your weakest spots to bend you to his way of thinking, namely that he's not sick."
  • "Without a doubt, you will be abused emotionally. You may decide to bail out ... You are only human. Love is powerful, but in the face of mania, it is not all-powerful."