What Can A Spouse Do When The Bipolar Partner Refuses Treatment?

Question

Asked by Jen

What Can A Spouse Do When The Bipolar Partner Refuses Treatment?

I have been married 12 years and my husband reluctantly went to at psychiatrist a year ago and tried meds for bipolar/adhd. He didn't like how he felt on them-tried about 5 cocktails of meds and stopped taking them. Our marriage is in jeopardy now. I refuse to continue to take the mental abuse and have almost completely shut him out. He likes the way he is, won't go to a couselor and won't consider meds. The failing marriage is my fault in his opinion and the only way to get past it is if I make a compromise. He is not as depressed as he is irritable, unreasonable, impulsive and just uncaring to the rest of the world. Am I doomed to say good-bye? Please help, first time I have reached out on line. I am seeking a counselor that specializes in mood disorders, but the appt is 2+ weeks away.

Jen

Answer

Hi, Jen. Your husband may have bipolar, but you're the one who suffers from it. I have bipolar myself, but when ill treatment and abuse enter the picture I will always side with the spouse. You are entitled to establish clear boundaries, and if your husband violates them then looking after yourself is your first priority. I never want to encourage people to leave their marriages, but do have the courage to consider this option.

Now to the problem of your husband with his meds. Bipolar meds leave a lot to be desired. They may knock out some of the obvious symptoms, but often we don't feel well on them. In fact, we may feel a lot worse.

You may open a useful dialogue with your husband along the lines of: "I appreciate these meds leave a lot to be desired. I would probably not take them myself if I were you."

Contrast this to the usual: "You better take your meds or else."

If you can get a dialogue going, then your husband may be open to the idea that there may be different meds that may work a lot better for him, or a different psychiatrist who may get through to him.

Learning to live with this illness takes time. Meds are only part of the equation. You need to be a partner on helping your husband manage his stress and sleep and diet, etc etc. Hopefully, over time, as your husband learns morte about managing his illness, then the meds become less important.

I know this is not easy for you. Please know you are not alone, and keep posting.

Answered by John McManamy