I Recently Fell In Love With This Great Person Who Mentioned They Are Bipolar But…

…now I don’t recognize the person and they are pushing me away. If this sounds familiar to you- then you may be one of the several people who have sent me a very similar comment or email. In most cases, it’s of a romantic subtext. What’s going on in that person’s mind? Can you help? How can you get it back?

A Bipolar who is intensely energetic, passionate to the point of it being too much, outgoing with no barriers, and filled with grand ideas for a future for the two of you is probably very manic. It just so happens that manic individuals come across as more charismatic and on point because their mind harbors no doubts on their behavior and is moving in overdrive. It is very easy for anyone to be enticed and grow deep emotions very quickly for a manic Bipolar if they don’t understand what’s going on and how damaging it is.

What does that mean for the people that fall for a Bipolar during a manic cycle? Probably being severely hurt. That overly energetic, far too passionate person is going to crash into deep depression. Chances are pretty good that any “feelings” they thought they had while manic are going to disappear when they crash out. You’re still confronted with getting to know an entirely different person in the event that they happen to retain some of those emotions. It’s probably not going to be the person you fell for initially.

Then the questions arise- what did I do wrong? How can I get that person I fell in love with back? You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s the normal ebb and flow of Bipolar Disorder. Exceptionally stupid people may try to put the blame on you; but a Bipolar’s emotions changing completely with a mood shift is as natural to us as breathing.

And what about getting that person back? You don’t want that manic person back. You see that frenetic, energetic, fearless mind that so enthralled your mind and emotions is also the same mind that will sell their stuff and fly to Paris tomorrow to start their new life. The manic mind is just as chaotic and destructive as the depressive mind. It’s not something you’ll want back because eventually it will bite you on the ass.

The reality is- you fell in love with just one fragment of that person. If you haven’t spent enough time with the person (a year+) then you probably haven’t experienced their “normal”- how they would be if medicated and managed properly.

But why won’t the person talk to you now? Why do they keep pushing you away and trying to isolate themselves? Well- what goes up must come down. If they are manic they will eventually crash into a deep depression. And a lot of people going through depression don’t want to deal or be around anyone. They may have also been diagnosed but not really understand why the things are happening in their head as they are. For many, it’s easier to avoid someone then try to explain to them how you could love them more than life itself one day and not care whether they were alive or dead the next.

A lot of Bipolar people simply cannot deal with this chaos particularly right after they crashed. The mind is in flux for a little while after a major cycle so they may also be trying to retreat to collect their thoughts so they can figure them out. They may also be reminded of all of their previous failures because of the chaos in their mind and not be able to cope with it at the moment.

Quite a few people want to put the blame on the Bipolar person. They think that the person is purposefully jerking them around or playing with their heart for no reason. While there are undoubtedly some assholes that probably do that- the people genuinely affected may be just as confused as you are. Take a moment to consider the person you’ve loved most in life and the person you’ve hated most in life. If you haven’t experienced true hatred before- think child molester level of hatred.

Now just imagine if you woke up tomorrow and you had a child molester level of hatred for the person you’ve loved most. No rhyme, no reason. It was nothing that person did. Your brain just woke up and decided “hey.. fuck that mother fucker.” That is similar to what you are dealing with in regards to a Bipolar crashing out of a mania and their “love” disappearing. It’s probably not vehement hatred; but chances are good it’s more along the lines of “I don’t know you.” or just not feeling anything for you at all.

The Bipolar that crashes and retreats is probably in a similar mentality. If the Bipolar crashes and wants to talk about it or try and involve you; that’s an entirely different story. Then the two of you can try to move forward together. If they retreat and continuously fight you; you’re probably going to be better off just letting go.

“But I need closure!” I’m no rocket surgeon, but to me, a person who claimed to love me but refused to talk to me for weeks seems like they are providing plenty of closure. Actions speak far louder than words. Why do people need to hear “this will never work” when they’ve already been shown it won’t?

So how can you identify if that special person you just met who said they are Bipolar, who you are falling for, and want to spend your life with is actually level enough to make that kind of judgment? Well- the world isn’t ending tomorrow. Take things plenty slow. The Bipolar person should have at least a bit of doubt or reservation about the whole thing. If they are talking grand plans of weddings, buy a house together, and so on within a couple months; I would be pretty hesitant to move forward on anything. If their personality is so striking, enamoring, more unique than anything you’ve experienced; that could very well be mania.

Go slow and take your time. Wait at least a year or two before entering anything major. That will give plenty of time for that person to crash back to baseline if they are going to. And for the love of God- don’t joint sign for ANYTHING. Keep your finances separate so they can’t clean you out should they decide to pursue their childhood dream of going to Hollywood to make it big. It can easily happen and they will think it is their best idea ever until they crash out of their unwell cycle and realize how drastically they fucked up.

And finally- there are those that have mentioned that mental illness is no excuse and they should be more responsible with their emotions and actions. Thank you for your incredible insight! You are an unrecognized innovator of mental health treatment and should definitely go before the WHO to put forward your idiotic ideas!

It’s “Mental Illness” and “Mood Disorder”; not “Mental Super Happy Fun Time”. Most of us do not like that we do serious damage to people we care about, that care about us, and our ability to live life. It fucking sucks knowing you tore the heart out of a loved one’s chest if you actually love that person. Even if you have everything under control as much as you possibly can, it is no guarantee of success or that you won’t end up backsliding and doing similarly terrible shit to people you care about.

That’s just life with Bipolar Disorder.

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403 Responses to I Recently Fell In Love With This Great Person Who Mentioned They Are Bipolar But…

  1. T says:

    This article was exceptionally written and describes some of my experiences better than anything I could ever say. I remember being hypomanic and going out and buying a wedding dress because I was so elated. Mind you, I was not engaged. Then I became manic and went and bought a hall full of centerpieces and decorations, candles and oodles of things. My (then) boyfriend was creeped out, but I was on top of the world. When he broke up with me I was devastated. After, the wedding dress was shoved into a closet and decorations sold at a yard sale. Then I spiraled into depression.

    Recently, I was feeling hypomanic and met someone and fell in love with him. I was feeling so exuberant and witty and he was smitten. It went on until it hit a feverish pitch and I became manic. I was disillusioned and found myself hitchhiking and boxes packed away to move into a duplex that was vacant. I kept trying to show my friends my new “home”, but it wasn’t and they tried to stop me. Throughout this time I was still in contact with the person I fell in love with. But after, I crashed. I went to treatment, had psychiatrists and psychologists helping me, but my mind was a fog. It has been months, a few, before my mind starting clearing. Now I’m somewhat depressed. And the horrible thing is I left the person I loved hanging. It seems as if I just left him-waited him out.

    I did apologize to him and he says he forgave me, but I am so ashamed at all the things I said and did while I was hypomanic and manic. He says it was a “spell” I put him under, but what you said about energetic and passionate makes sense. When we’re in that cycle, the world seems to be limitless and full of endless possibilities. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been so hard on myself and depressed about what I did and said to the person I fell in love with. But yet that person was really only half of who I was, in that I lied and exaggerated during the hypomania and mania. At least now I am getting the help I needed, finally! Thanks again 🙂

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there, T. Thank you for the kind words on the post and I’m glad to hear you’re finally getting the help that you need. Your story of mania is an unfortunately common one for us before we finally are able to get help and get our minds under control. A big inspiration for this post is the number of normal folks I’ve had ask me if the Bipolar person in their life actually loved them or not.

      Most of us don’t set out to jerk people around which I can tell from your words is how you felt as well.

      It’s also good to hear that you have people you can trust that will try and intervene when you start getting really out there. It’s a hard thing to utilize those people sometimes because every fiber of our being is screaming that they are wrong. But now that you understand it better you can at least force yourself to reassess yourself, the situation, and what they’re trying to tell you.

      I know there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve been manic with the greatest ideas in the world- BUT, a trusted friend told me I was acting insane so I opted to do nothing instead. While they can’t force us to do anything, they can clue us in as to what we may be missing. That outside information is invaluable.

      Be well, T! Thanks for visiting and reading my work.

      • Tins says:

        I met some one last year that has bipolar , I’m still married to someone else but have not been together since 2010 this new man with bipolar convinced me to see him and said he loved me and wanted me to get divorced for we could have a like together but just last Sunday the 1st he pushed me away he has before but always pulled me back but notime…Should I give up?

        • Dennis says:

          Hello, Tins. This isn’t nearly enough information. Do you mind starting from the beginning? When did you meet? Last year could have been 12 months ago or 12 days ago at this point!

          • Mia says:

            Hi I have been in a relationship for 3 years with partner with bipolar, he got me a engagement ring on Christmas day and out the blue 4 weeks ago decided to call me up and finish with me. I have a son with Austim and he has a great bond with my partner in fact all 3 of us had a fantastic relationship together as a family. We have never had any arguments in all the time we where together few times out the years my partner said he need few nights space in his own home roughly about 4 times out the 3 years he would go to his own house and then come back to mine so basically we where in a committed relationship. I felt over the past few weeks he been getting distance from me and would hardly speak to me then 4 weeks ago we both had separate nights out and he stayed at his own place after his night out he said he see me next day but he phoned and said he not coming back i was devastated and still are today I asked why he said he didn’t love me no more which I no he does why but buy me a engagement ring. That day he turned up for his clothes and personal belongings from my house and all he kept saying was sorry I no I am hurting you and your son but I need to go. So my son called him and he tells my son look after mum and I will be back one day as I need to get my life sorted. So I am totally confused I wss told it’s finish but he tells my boy different, I had been trying to contact him on thr phone so see if he was ok but he is choosing when to speak to me he tells me he thinking about us and missing us and is finding it hard not being with us I have told him I am waiting and will take him back with open arms but he just says no. I’m despartley wanting him back as I have never saw him act like this now he refuses to speak to me and has removed his relationship status back to single on social media he still has a few bits of clothing still at my house. I dont no if this is normal behaviour for bipolar or is he completely done with us. I dint know if he is just been foolish throwing everything away we done so much as a family and now mine and my son heart is heartbroken.

          • Dennis says:

            Hello, Mia. It’s really difficult to know if he’s not openly communicating with you at the moment. All you can really do is wait and see how things go for a little while. It may be mental illness, it may not be. Without him communicating, there is really no way to know.

            The next time you talk to him, tell/ask him, “You bought me this wedding ring and asked me to marry you. Now you don’t love me at all. Why not?” And try to get him to talk about his feelings about the situation. If he’s having medication issues or he’s unwell, then you’re likely to get a strange answer out of him or a lot of “I don’t knows”. What you’re looking for is concrete reasoning as to whether or not this is a decision based on real emotions. Things like, “I realized I’m not ready to settle down.” “I think we have too many differences to work out.” That sort of thing.

        • Someone says:

          Thank you for this article, I have family and I may be bipolar myself. Really needed this today so thank you 🙂

    • steph says:

      Hi Dennis, I have told you my story before however my x partners first manic episode I know she loves me but she left shacked up with another girl, ,,please tell me why should I forgive this she has been texting more and more we had the best relationship before this, so in my heart I have no question she loves me so how can I forgive this please remind me that this was not her choice please reassure me

      • Dennis says:

        I really can’t do that, Steph. I don’t know all of the extenuating circumstances, if it was from unwellness or maliciousness. I don’t know what all has transpired. I don’t know what was in your ex partner’s mind or heart when she made the choices that she made. Forgiveness is one thing, but you can’t let yourself be treated like an afterthought either. It really depends on the situation and specifics of it all. I also don’t know if the greatness of your relationship was genuine or a byproduct of her mania. Quite a few people mistake manic emotions for love.

        Is she working to fix it? Is she trying to control it? Is she trying to rectify the situation with you? Is she seeing a doctor about it? At some point, love or not, you have to decide what you’re willing to deal with and what you aren’t. So, no, I can’t offer you that reassurance because I don’t know.

  2. Luna says:

    Wow! So much to take in. I’m in a relationship with a bipolar person. I’ve been doing research but nothing prepared me for the episode recently. How do I take him off the bank account? I’ve been looking for a support place. Do you think relationships are just impossible for bipolar people?

    • Dennis says:

      hey there Luna. It is a lot to take in and a hell of a lot to deal with it. Bipolar Disorder can be a very severe mental illness and many times people that aren’t used to it are caught off-guard by it.

      I’m pretty sure no bank allows you to take another person’s name off the account. You should withdraw what’s yours, start whatever process the bank has to take your name off of the account, and open your own.

      Relationships aren’t impossible but (and this is my opinion) I feel like the Bipolar person has to have a good understanding of what goes on in their head and how it impacts them. They have to be able to work with other people to keep it in check and under control. And of course, being treated for it is definitely a good thing. The right medication makes a Bipolar person functional like a normal person for the most part. Unmedicated, they are still prone to drastic, completely irrational Bipolar swings.

      • luna says:

        Ok. The thing is he is on medication and goes to therapy. He was only diagnosed about 4 years ago and that was after 5 marriages and many many women. So he is 45 that is a long time to live with a behavior. So sometimes I think he is just so used to it that its going to take awhile for him to live differently. If I dont talk and walk on eggshells its all good. If I try to draw him out and since Im hispanic I am very expressive he takes it as Im having an attitude. I feel like I can never do anything right. He purposely says things to trick me and the mind games are endless. I am so lost but I dont want to give up but yet from everything Ive seen in forums they say run and my friends cant stand him.

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I’m in relationship with a person with Bipolar. I’ve pretty much fallen for her & your comments above regarding her behaviour match my experiences exactly. We’ve discussed her mood swings & behaviour but she won’t accept the label of bipolar which I respect however I’d like to get to the point that you mention where she “understands what goes on in her head & the impact it has on them”. Do you have any thoughts on how best to start a discussion in which I could raise the subject? Paraphrasing another post it’s that “walking on eggshells” thing.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello Joe. Thanks for taking the time to write.

      I would like to counter a point you raise, one I run into a lot. I don’t respect a person’s refusal to accept a “label” unless they have good reason for it. If I have cancer, I refuse to accept that label, and I die early because I didn’t get the treatment I needed- is that worth respecting? No. It’s stupid is what it is. Mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder are the same. People ignore facts in favor of their feelings- feelings that are often skewed way out of proportion and irrational.

      That doesn’t mean you should hammer away at it. It does mean that you should bear in mind that a refusal to acknowledge and do something about that which is obvious may result in years of her stumbling through chaos- and dragging you along through it since you’re involved with her.

      So if you want to get her to the point where she can understand what goes on in her head; you have to work on getting her to accept there may be something that needs addressed in the first place. Pretty much everything hinges off of that. Without acceptance she won’t work to counter the errant thoughts, try to control it, or anything along those lines.

      I would focus on that first and foremost. Point out the things that are really strange or errant in her life and let her know they aren’t normal. Encourage her to do some reading on Bipolar Disorder to see how well she may or may not identify with it. And if it gets to the point where she is arguing or irrational about it; don’t engage her. Just say “I’m not trying to force anything onto you. I care about you and I don’t think you can see how negatively you impact yourself as a result.”

      If she gets to the point where she may be able to accept that there is a problem, encourage her to go to a doctor to talk about it. It’s important to get a professional opinion so she doesn’t do a bunch of shit to combat an illness then find out she doesn’t have it. That will set her back far.

      Be sure to insulate and protect yourself in the process. Do your best to stay neutral while “discussing/arguing” with her.

      • Joe says:

        Thanks Dennis that’s really helpful. The ‘pointing out what in her behaviour isn’t normal’ is the issue that’s difficult to address without causing a falling out. It’s very tricky raising the subject. I’ll read your advice a few more times. Thanks for the website.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome, Joe.

          Just a pointer about it… focus on the things that are REALLY far out there and preferably when she’s leveled off some. For example, most of us Bipolars have had suicidal thought processes in the past. People who have healthy minds don’t think about killing themselves past maybe a few thoughts about death. But for someone like myself, suicidal thinking was an every day thing for several years.

          The problem is that since we experience it all the time- we don’t necessarily know that there is anything strange or off about it at all. For many years I thought everyone had similar thoughts. But, I was wrong.

          So yeah, focus on the extreme circumstances because those should be easier for her to wrap her mind around. And you can be mildly suggestive like… “Wouldn’t it be great to not have those thoughts anymore? Maybe we can go and explore it some with a doctor just to see what they have to say.”

        • T says:

          Hi Dennis!

          What you said about suicidal thoughts as being common makes sense. Sometimes the thought would be so seductive. Like when I saw a child touch a sleeping plant and it drooped and its leaves closed. Or in a store, a fly laying motionless in the cold, refrigerated part of the store…it looks so peaceful, to be asleep forever. When I was in a depressive state, it seems like the thoughts surrounded me and even felt comforting. But I finally got a mood stabilizer that helped me get out of it and I feel much better. My psychologist told me to remember these words, “I always have a choice.” So I try and keep that in mind as well as self-care like eating and exercising.

          Funny, I was worried about weight gain with the medicine, but I feel like I have to force myself to eat, but I do because I want to get better.

          The thoughts get warped sometimes with a Bipolar mind. It’s incredible, even with the medicine, I still feel like I can make connections and be creative. I enjoy that we see and feel not on one thing, like tunnel vision, but the world is an all encompassing, multidimensional experience.

          Thanks for all your insight and input. It helps to have the support and advice!

          T

          • Dennis says:

            Hey T!

            Suicidal thinking is a “funny” subject in that the end result is the same but people have so many different perspectives on it. Like many Bipolars; I have a string of failures to my name due to the mental illness and I often felt like it was a way to just end the bullshit, end the failure, and be done with it. But your psych is very correct in that we always have a choice. It can be hard as fuck to make the right one when you’re insane; but hey. Still, choice!

            Psych meds can be of great help if we all keep in mind TWO goals. 1. It should help control your mental illness. 2. It should have side effects you can manage.

            If I had meds that screwed with my ability to think in general or tap into creativity (you know.. for the sake of writing and all); then I would probably just deal with being nuts and all the fun that brings without meds. Same goes for weight gain and the other major ones.

            Thanks for taking the time to comment, T. You’re welcome for the insight, input, support, and advice. 🙂

          • T says:

            Hi Dennis!

            I appreciate the points you added about the goal of meds and side effects being manageable. It really did help to stabilize me. Funny, I would write profoundly deep and dark pieces in my depressive states. The second day of my medicine I was feeling silly and giddy and wrote a couple of lighthearted, funny pieces. So the creativity is still there, but more balanced, as well as the moods. I’m glad that making the choice to take the correct medications gives even more choices.

            Thanks again!
            T

          • Dennis says:

            Hey T. Just wanted to let you know I used a bit of our conversation in my most recent post if you want to check it out. The conversation jogged some thoughts loose out of the cobwebs in my brain so thanks for that!

  4. Gracie says:

    Thank you for the beautiful article. I find it incredibly helpful and am grateful for your clear and candid writing.

    I do have a question/scenario if you have time…. Last summer I had a very intense relationship with a bipolar man and then suddenly it fell apart–absolutely ripped my heart out. After researching extensively, I believe he was in a hypomanic state when we met and began our relationship (though I’m not sure when it tipped into mania). The reason I’ve come back to thinking about it all is because he got back in touch in January after months of not speaking. We went out a few times for meals, eventually resumed a physical relationship, but now I can feel him pulling away again and I’m wondering if he is only interested in me during hypomanic states? I wouldn’t have necessarily thought he was hypomanic this time except for bouts of hypersexuality (mainly in texts) and he recently said he felt unnervingly on- edge. I’d read that this is often a sign of the onset of mania.

    Please, can you tell me if it seems plausible he only comes to me when hypomanic (which I’ve read can last weeks/months) and then if it is possible he is knowingly using me or just as confused as I am? (Obviously you don’t know him personally, so this is all hypothetical.) Also, I’d like to approach him about this somehow…. Is there any suggestion for how I might do this? I’m a calm, conscious communicator (yoga teacher!), though this situation is obviously unique and I feel my usual tools for communicating aren’t necessarily going to bridge the gap here–I have so many questions about when/how to ask, etc.

    Regardless of anything else, I care about him deeply and I’m able to put love/sex aside (and must for my own heart’s sake) though I would like him in my life if he also wants my friendship (which he says he does, but as you noted, this seems like it can change quite quickly without rhyme or reason). FYI and I know, big red flag, he’s unmedicated (a successful composer who never found the right meds that still allowed him to compose).

    Thank you so much for your time – and again, thank you for writing the insightful article.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Gracie. The thing to understand with an unwell state is that it causes our brains to lie to us. I know from personal experience that meeting someone and having that instant “spark” where you realize the two of you are fitting like a lock and key can kick a Bipolar mind into a manic cycle. Eventually, that person crashes and usually tears apart the relationship as a result.

      So if he swung upwards, it could be perfectly possible that he has legit feelings for you, his brain is lying to him about having legit feelings for you, or it is possible he is manipulating you.

      The best way to approach a manic person is to not spring things directly on them. Tell him; “I need to talk to you about XYZ sometime in the next couple of days. Can you tell me when you’re in a good enough place to have that conversation?” That way, you’re not thrusting potentially triggering information on him and he has the opportunity to find a spot when his mind is relatively calm to discuss what you need to discuss.

      Calm communication is definitely a benefit. Being able to talk without getting pissed off at potentially hurtful words or actions is a good thing. Anger means you’re not thinking clear; and he’s already not thinking clear- so you pretty much get nowhere.

      There’s a lot of territory that is hard to interpret without knowing his history and him as a person. So take it all with a grain of salt. Feel free to ask whatever questions you have and I’ll try and answer as best as I can.

    • anna says:

      There’s a good chance that he’s married and cheating on his wife with you, hence the dissappering/reappearing. I’ve been married to one for 12 years, together for 17, and at one point I found out that he’d been cheating on me and seeing prostitutes since we met. He’s abandoned me twice for no reason other than to go out and cheat…blaming me for it, of course. All I can say is RUN AWAY NOW. He’s already shown by his behavior that he’s not going to ever be someone who will be a stable and trustworthy partner in your life, and you will be on a rollercoaster of pain and disillusionment. I am finally seeing the light after 17 years of being lied to and promised the moon and stars, and am looking for my way out…

  5. Delilah says:

    Ok so this article is indeed descriptive and clairvoyant. I have been in a relationship with a bipolar guy for 7 months now. I don’t know if I have fallen in love with him during his mania episode or not. My education is poor on the illness itself. I feel we touched one another deeply and we have connected on many levels. He moved all the way to a different country just to be with me. I don’t doubt his love for me, yet I feel he has been entering this depression episode for the past 2 months for now. It’s affecting me terribly he wasn’t communicative at all for the past month but he hardly ignores me. He is also developing a horrible alcohol abuse I am assured by now that he is dependent on the substance and it’s all abnormal. We have discussed letting it all go but we’ll make up in no time it’s like the bond we have in inescapable. I have been emotionally abused and used in the past and I wasn’t engaging in any relationships for the past two years. I finally developed a healthy lifestyle on a spiritual mental and physical level. I happened to fall for this man who made me feel something I feel time won’t buy again. I am in this dilemma whether to take this risk continue this relationship or let go and walk away forever. I don’t know how to communicate with him anymore I just keep on enduring. I am willing to put effort only if it’s gonna be team effort. I am willing to stay only if he recognizes he has a problem and wills not to carry his life untreated. I don’t know though how to tell him and not get an irritable reaction. Any thoughts that might help?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello Delilah. You mention you have been in a relationship with the guy for 7 months, but how long have you known him? If it hasn’t been very long and he just up and moved to another country, there’s a very significant chance he was in a manic cycle at the time. A move like that is a pretty major deal and to make it so quickly to be with someone he barely knows is a very stereotypical Bipolar action.

      I would go further to guess that he’s not just now developing an alcohol problem either. If he’s drinking while he’s depressed, he’s probably using it as a coping mechanism, and quite likely used it before as a coping mechanism.

      Talking to him without him being irritable is going to be impossible. No matter what you do you’re going to end up pissing him off in some form or fashion. The best thing to do is to be upfront and direct about his behavior and what’s going on. Tell him what you just said; “I’m willing to stay and help if you’re willing to help yourself.” But don’t be too surprised if he isn’t ready or doesn’t want to. Many of us choose to mire in our misery until something clicks for us and we’re able to finally climb out of our hole.

      The fact of the matter is, dealing with his unchecked mental illness will eventually drag you back down into your own hole if you let it. The chaos and depression takes a deep toll on the people around us. Given that you were in a previous emotionally abusive relationship and have so much time invested in repairing your own problems; it can easily be threatened by an unmanaged Bipolar. That is unacceptable in my eyes. You put in the time and effort to get your mind right, you shouldn’t easily throw it away.

      You can’t help anyone if you are compromised; and you can’t help someone that doesn’t want help.

  6. Delilah says:

    Thank you so much! Yes you are right we’ve only known eachother closely for four months prior to dating and the relationship was remote because we both lived in different places. We were arranging a meeting a visit and he ended up staying for 2 months then he found a good job offer and moved all the way here. He lived in my country for a short period five years ago and has some close friends here, so he kept on saying he liked it here and that I am one of the main reasons why he wanted to move here. Towards the end of my own self rebuilding process Last year, we were bringing to be friends and he encouraged my intellectual spirtiual growth on many levels. I have history of being co dependent putting others needs before mine and it damaged me it made me feel empty and lost. I am worried whether our love is true to one another or is it really just two people with compatible issues attracting one another with this magnetism. I keep on reminding myself to draw lines and boundaries when it comes to my own rights needs and feelings. I do state explicitly whenever he does hurt me with his reckless nature at times. Regardless I know he is a person with high morals and standards, he’s a good person, he’s intelligent. I genuinely love him.

    • Dennis says:

      It’s good that you know your own shortcomings and problems. I hear from a lot of codependent women in situations similar to yours. It’s not as uncommon as you might thing. At any rate, Bipolar Disorder is treatable and controllable provided the Bipolar person is willing to do what is necessary to attain it. And quite a few of us are not. It sounds like you’re offering a healthy level of support and effort. It’s also good that he didn’t just move up on a whim; that there is history and other reasons. Time is really the only way to see how that connection and interaction is. Just keep working to minimize any potential damage he can do to you or your life by his unwellness as you’re going through this with him. Lines and boundaries are important. Don’t let yourself be treated poorly or disrespectfully.

  7. Delilah says:

    He admitted he has bipolar and he apologized we’re on a break for 3 days now but we still hardly ignore eachother’s texts. I referred him to a good doctor here and just texted him explaining how he’ll need to see a doc n get mood stabilizers or something. I referred him to one of the best psychiatrists in town. We can hardly reach a middle ground during phone calls or be civil when discussing anything for the past 2 months unless we’re physically next to eachother or texting. He’s drunk at night hungover the next morning and stressed during long ours of work. I wrote to you to understand if there is a chance this condition could be treatable at all. I wanna materialize my hopes in a way.

  8. Luna says:

    My bipolar husband doesn’t want sex or any affection. I’ve known him 2 1/2 years married 6 months. He kissed me on our wedding day and that was it. He says it’s not me. Yet before me he was married 5 times and had sex with 100’s of women. Not kidding. It’s hurtful and confusing not being able to show affection to your husband. Confused

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there, Luna. I sympathize with you that you’re still in that position but I am confused on why you decided to go through with the marriage.

      I realize this is less than sensitive; but I’ll tell you the same thing I told you some months ago. Your husband does not act in a way that demonstrates love. From stuff you told me months ago before you got married, he never did. It’s only confusing to you because you have feelings for him. You’re convenient and you put up with his bullshit. It’s that simple. Call a local domestic/emotional abuse hotline and tell someone the same stuff you’ve expressed to me. Get an opinion from people who deal with it all the time. If you need help finding one, give me a yell. But a quick google should turn one up for your area no problem.

      Take care of yourself, Luna; and get outside perspective on your situation from people trained to help in your situation specifically.

  9. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I very much appreciate your honestly and explanation of the mentality. I’ve never fully understood the withdrawal thing, although I suffer from depression and do it as well but not to this degree. I’ve been with my boyfriend a year. I met him when he was manic and we were completely smitten, yes they are very charming when manic then he immediately crashed into depression and told me he needed a month away from me to re-group. He quit his job and moved. He called again in that month and things were good again. I was very reluctant to take him back.

    A few months ago he went totally manic again and proposed once he had tapered off a bit and seemed back to baseline. We almost got married. It wasn’t until he crashed from his mania that we decided to hold off then he went into full blown depression (this is the longest it’s ever lasted, over a month). The depression is contagious. I hate it. Once again, he dumped me for 3 weeks but this time he did remain in touch rather than disappearing. Sadly I view this as some form of progress. I know he’s in his seasonal changes.

    He’s under close care with an outstanding physician and a psychologist in addition to being a physician. He never misses meds and is completely paranoid of going manic. I believe he’s now over-medicated. I attend some of his appointments with him.

    I know he is doing everything he possibly can to fight the illness so I feel the need and desire to hang in there but I also feel I deserve more. He does the most inconsiderate, arrogant things I’ve ever seen and it is entirely his world I’m living in. Unfortunately I’m in love with the guy.

    When do I know to just run and stop trying to make it work? How do I know if I’m just being used for emotional & medical support? He was married for decades and needs someone to help with meds, small tasks, management of finances, someone to lean on. I don’t even take the break-ups seriously anymore but I feel like I need to start. I’m the uber sensitive girlfriend with constant caring and giving giving but nothing is coming back. As of now I’m just watching his behavior a while to see how much of this drama I will have to endure if we marry. He’s had terrible 2 years with family deaths etc. so I’m hoping I’ve seen the worst of it. Do I run? I feel that I can at this point.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Medication for Bipolar Disorder is supposed to clip off the highs and lows and bring a person into a functional range. To put it another way, on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being Suicidal and 10 being “I’m Jesus” mania- a normal person will function around the 5-7 range. A normal person may get sad but never dip below a 5. A depressed person who crashes may drop to a 0 or 1. A Bipolar person may range anywhere on the scale. Medication is supposed to bring in the extremes. A person that ranges from 0 to 10 maybe instead range from 2 to 8. Optimally, the Bipolar person will get to 5-7 themselves. But of course, there is no guarantee of that.

      If he’s capable of swinging that extremely still then his medication either isn’t doing shit or he’s not taking it as directed. His doctors should be adjusting it for a better outcome; assuming he’s being honest with them and where his mind is at with it.

      Mood disorders can feed each other if multiple partners have them. Moods are infections. That makes people with mood disorders more susceptible to them.

      Never assume you’ve seen the worst of it. It can always be worse. There may come a time when he decides he doesn’t need his meds (a very common thing) which will unleash a chaos like little else. I know you said that he never misses meds and is paranoid about getting manic; but ultimately that means very little because the Disorder could convince him of the exact opposite tomorrow.

      The question is- what are you getting out of the relationship? A relationship is a two-way street; if he’s unable to provide at all because of his situation, then he needs to focus more on his situation.

      Regardless of the care or help he needs; you’re not his mother. He can learn how to do those things you mentioned with a therapist. And if he’s a physician; then he sure as hell has the means to learn how to properly take care of himself.

      Definitely don’t get married. If you met when he was manic and he has been unstable this entire time; then you really have no idea of knowing what his actual feelings are. The fact that he reciprocates little to nothing leads me to think that his “love” may be more of a product of the Disorder than actual love.

      Have you discussed his lack of attention and emotional contribution with him at all? Does he know you have these issues? And most importantly; how does he handle it if so? Does he try? Or does he just let it go?

      My rule of thumb in general is- I’m down with someone so long as they are trying, even if they are fucking it up or struggling. If they’re not, then I don’t waste my time or energy. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. And if he is not at least TRYING to give you the fulfillment you need in the relationship, then I would certainly start questioning why I was in it.

      There is a fine line between being supportive and loving and being taken advantage of that. That line is denoted by the effort the other person puts in.

      • Mary Elizabeth says:

        Thanks Dennis,

        You gave me the answer that was already in my head.

        I spared you the details of how bad it has gotten,the hospital stay etc.

        He is very much trying. He doesn’t drink, exercises & never skips meds (I monitor them). He has the worst case of bipolar I’ve ever seen but he is trying.

        When we talk about how I feel he apologizes but seems numb. He makes small efforts but they are things that should come naturally.

        At the end of the day I’m just not getting much from the relationship at this point and I fell in love with a strong, brilliant man, not an adult who sits in the fetal position.

        I think life is too short to get involved with this crap & it’s time to run. I feel like a heartless bitch but I have my own sanity to preserve.

        Thanks for the advice.

        • Dennis says:

          There’s no shame in taking care of yourself. He probably is numb if he’s severe; cycling between depression (the numbness) and the mania.

          Gotta do what you gotta do.

          Good luck and take care.

        • RA948191 says:

          I wish I had of googled searched and found this blog earlier after looking for support and finding it nowhere trying to educate myself on bi polar I had to learn the hard way, through experience. I was in a relationship with a Bi polar bear for about 2 years. There were many ups and downs dramas around his moods. Very much like this story. I would have to adjust to his moods and could tell when he was going to change and I just adjusted for it. The Ups when he was in a great mood and wanted to do things with me would come and knowing this time would not last long I made the most of it. After having a great time a few days later his mood would change again and he would withdraw. I would have to make the effort to talk and make conversation .. cook meal sit down with him to eat and enjoy his company. After eating he would curl up on the couch and that would be it. This was common but I learned to ride them out. We broke up many times and got back together me knowing he was in a weird stage hating me for no reason and 2 days later back to the loving bear. I developed thick skin. Because the good did out weigh the bad. What I could not handle was when he started to substance abuse it went on for 2 months he spent all his money and lost perspective on everything. He stopped eating showering and looking after his hygiene. He no longer had a job and I was working as a waitress doing everything in the home as well. There were alot of things that went on that were very extreme so I left him and was apart for a month. I booked a one way ticket to Bali. He then tried to reconnect with me using his depression to engage with me. Feeling sorry for him I engaged and hung out with him before leaving for Bali. He wanted to join me in Bali and I told him no that I was going to bali to move on with my life but it is nice to spend this time with you before I go. We would fall asleep cuddling and I would wake up to breakfast in bed. It was such a nice time with him. Since I have been in Bali hes lost the plot. Stopped taking his meds and has been admitted to the mental ward but hes smashing glass and causing havoc trying to break out. Hes a very big strong man and I know hes going to get himself in trouble. This thing with Bi Polar is I know they can get these messiah complexes and I have been with him when hes had these and talked to him alot about what he believes these beliefs can come and go though. A few months later he will be laughing at himself for thinking some of these things. I sometimes feel like he puts it on a bit and blames it on his mental health. I think he knows I will hear that he is in hospital come back from Bali and rescue him like I always have. He is a pain in the ass but I care about him alot. Great things have happened in my life in the 2 months i left him and there is no turning back . even though I do wish he could be here with me.

          • Dennis says:

            Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective and story. Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for your own well-being. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. Layla says:

    Thank you so much Dennis for clearing my head a little with your well written article.
    Today my partner ended our relationship (less than a year) because he didn’t want me to suffer.
    He has newly been diagnosed with bipolar and I could see him shy away from me the second the words came out of the doctors mouth.
    It hurts to imagine how hard daily life is for some people, but if you’re one of them, I beg you to look at your partner and trust that if he/she says that they will want to stand by you no matter how much ‘torture’ you put them through, know that they are genuine and know that whilst you might be doing it alone, there is someone that loves every bit of your personality and would do whatever you need to have to make you the happiest you can be.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      The sentiment he expressed is a common one for those of us that are tired of hurting people we care about. Of course, there are the group of people that just don’t give a shit or think they shouldn’t have to give a shit. But I know I definitely didn’t want to hurt anyone else and drag them through this crap with me; particularly since I had no idea if I would recover or not.

      If you can, continue to be his friend as much as possible. Show him you want to be around if he will let you. Everyone is different; so it’s hard to make a call either way.

  11. Mia says:

    Hi Dennis,
    Your article was extremely insightful. My husband of 16 years left me and our children. He stated that the reason was because ‘i didn’t love him’ which i can tell you was so far from the truth and sent me into a spiral due to his odd behaviour and hurtful and cold words.
    We had never fought in the 16 years we were together we spent every minute we could together and were the best of friends and he was the best father to our children during that time. Then his relationship with the children began deteriorating as they became frightened of him (he was irritable and angry) and not the dad that they had known all their lives.
    This was 4 years ago and many dramas later i have just recently figured out that he has bipolar as he has begun another hypomanic stage and i was able to observe and ask questions before he became angry and we had a fight and he stopped talking to me.
    We never got back together after his first hypomanic stage as he ran off with another woman and expected me to have gotten over him and sold the house giving him his share of the money all in the first 3 months! He was extremely angry that i couldn’t get myself and the kids over our grief and have everything sorted in that time.
    I never forgave him for what he did and could not believe that he had done it. It caused me to suffer post traumatic stress and we didn’t speak for years and when i did make contact for the kids sake i was surprised at the state he was in (very unkept and miserable).
    We became friends and were getting along well until now. I have started reading up on bipolar and so many things are making sense now. All that odd behaviour that i had seen is now explained. However, he does not know he has bipolar and although i have on a number of occasions at the beginning tried to encourage him to get some help it was always met with an enormous amount of verbal abuse. I know that this is not a good time to try and approach the subject again while he is in this state however i feel that i do need to discuss this with him at sometime. Is the depressive stage a good time? Is it likely that he will still be irritable? Will he be clearer in his thinking then? Will he want help at this time? Or should i wait for the in-between time? This could take months though as i have worked out his manic stage lasts about 6 -7 months. Not sure how long his depression stage lasts but i have read this usually lasts longer than the manic stage. Is this correct?

    • Dennis says:

      Everything you read on Bipolar Disorder you have to take with a grain of salt. I’ve met Bipolars who fly through mania almost all of the time. I’ve met Bipolars who are depressed almost all of the time. Me? I’m Depressed about 80% of the time, hypomanic about 15% of the time, and “other” about 5%.

      The best thing you can do is keep a record of his behaviors and mannerisms over the years and encourage him to talk to a doctor after he crashes. You will most likely not get through to him while he is escalated. As you mentioned, that turns into verbal abuse and anger from being “attacked”. You need to approach that when he is either depressed or somewhat level.

      He will probably still be irritable; but you need to push through that, assuming he’s more level. He may try to avoid the conversation or play it off. That’s a common response when we have no fucking idea what is going on in our mind. If you’ve been with him for 16 years, I imagine you know pretty well when he will shift gears.

      I recently posted an infographic on Facebook that I stumbled on about whether or not someone should be screened for the Disorder. Here’s a Tinyurl link to it. http://tinyurl.com/n5of7ks

      You could try showing that to him too. It may strike a chord if he is able to identify with what he was reading. I know that for me, my mind didn’t make sense until after I was diagnosed. After that, everything fell into place. At the very least though, even if he doesn’t feel he is Bipolar (and I’m not saying you should conclude that either, the goal is to get him in to talk to a doctor, first and foremost). Point out that the chaos in his mind and that he’s gone through and in his life isn’t “normal”. It falls into the realm of a potential mental health problem because of how much he changes and the way he acts when he’s unwell. It’s not normal to bail on your wife and expect her to move on after three months. It’s not normal for your behavior to scare your kids. And I’m sure there are plenty of other chaotic circumstances that have come with it; along with the void of depression.

      If you want to talk more in-depth or discuss strategy; feel free to either reply here or go ahead and email me directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com

      • Mia says:

        Thanks Dennis for your reply.
        I have managed to get him and the kids into family therapy with a phycologist. I was only able to do this by convincing him that the kids wanted and needed it and it was for them (this was true, although it was for him as well, but i did not mention that as i knew he would not do it).They have had one session so far. It was pretty tough for the kids as they all returned feeling as though their dad just does not have any love in his heart for them. This can’t be true as he loved them more than life for so many years before he left. It must be the illness and i am trying to explain that to the kids. It is hard for me to grasp so as you can imagine it makes no sense to them but they trust that i know what i am talking about and are trying not to think too much about it. I am hoping that his mood shifts soon and it is noticed in therapy. I think he will become softer with the kids. They have so many questions they need answered to help with their healing and that first session they said they didn’t get any answers. He spoke a lot however not one question was answered. I just pray that the person they are seeing picks up on it and can help in some way. Thanks again for your wonderful advice.

        • Dennis says:

          Hey there Mia. I’m glad to hear that things are moving forward for you and your family. It can be a long, difficult road. Hopefully, with the help of the psych, you and your family will be able to turn the corner and move towards something better.

          Feel free to stop back any time and let me know how things are going!

          You’re very welcome. 🙂

  12. Christy says:

    Dennis, thank you so much for this informative site. I have so much to read, I feel like I’ll never be on top of the game.

    My on-again/off-again BP guy … he’s such a piece of wonderful to me, even tho I have no idea where I stand on any given day. I don’t know what to do or say to be encouraging or helpful or demonstrative of my willingness to understand what he’s going through. He broke up with me about a month ago, we started to see the odd movie together again, with kisses at the end of the evening. I know he doesn’t like anyone else, period. He stays alone, he isolates. Yet, he won’t spend time with me.

    I have simple clinical depression. BP is a whole new, confusing world.

    Thanks again for your knowledge.

    • Dennis says:

      It’s important to remember that Depression is only one part of Bipolar Disorder. For people who have clinical depression, that’s the entire illness. For we Bipolars, Depression is a symptom. It functions similarly in many ways; but has different ramifications for treatment and management, including a disconnection from reality in our deepest cycles.

      The best way you can show you’re willing to try and understand is just by continuing to be there. Many of us have heard over and over again that “I’ll never leave you”, “it’s okay that you’re Bipolar, we’ll get through it together”, and more.. but the reality is that most of those people have no idea what they’re getting into.

      Reach out to him when you can. Encourage him to seek professional help if he is not. Let him know that he can fight the Disorder and attempt to get it under control so it will stop owning his life instead of him owning it. Don’t offer false hope like “it’ll get better”. Point out that there are options he can explore with medical professionals to try and find stability.

      Isolating heavily is often indicative of depression. If he’s an introvert, it can manifest even harder because it becomes that much more difficult to deal with anyone; even people you love or care about. As you know in Depression, the blackness will swallow every bit of light, love, and positivity. That’s just as true with we Bipolars.

      If possible, try and arrange at least a few minute visit maybe weekly. See if you can get him to at least come out to lunch or something to get him out of his place for a little while and into the world. Find a balance of being proactive that is comfortable for you without being overbearing. Maybe even bowling. Movies are all well and good, but you want to facilitate communication. And you can’t really talk in the middle of a movie.

  13. billy says:

    My bi polar girlfriend has just left me, we were together for 5 months and she always said I was the best thing ever to happen to her after a being in horrible relationships in the past. I really believe she loves me and wants me but she has pushed me away due to he bi polar condition, by the way she told me very early in the relationship, she txd me the other day to say she loved me and always wil but has totally cut me off and blocked me on facebook and took down all our pictures together but left up one when we were just friends ??, I dont know what to do , I obv stil love her cuz this is a recent development but if im honest could see it leading up towards this for over a month, she is a quiet and reserved person anyway but I think she has hit rock bottom with it all, hasnt worked while ive been with her and lives with 2 drunken papents, im a strong person who has expierienced a relationship with a bi polar girlfriend before so im not new to this but I dont want to give up on this girl cuz she hasnt anyone to give her the love I have give her and want to continue doing so, her friends said she cant cope with the way I am with her, what do I do ??, many thanks.

    • Dennis says:

      Be patient and live your life. The fact of the matter is, if it’s only been 5 months then there’s no way to tell if her feelings are genuine or just a product of the mental illness. The fact that she’s 180’d in taking down all the pictures, cutting all contact, and so on suggests she’s not extremely stable. And she may have been unstable the entire time really.

      So be patient, live your life. Trying to push against her unwellness will just make her more unwell. And you don’t want to do that anyways. If she doesn’t have genuine feelings for you, then you don’t want to get dragged into an emotional clusterfuck.

      If you do talk to her, encourage her to seek professional help. Or, if she’s already being treated, talk to her doctor about her instability and what she’s going through.

      • billy says:

        Hi, many thanks for your reply, after 4 days of no contact I txd my ex to say hi and hope your ok and that im here to support you always, she txd back to say she knows im here for her but doesnt want to rely on anyone and needs to do this on her own before she can be with anyone, so she has accepted my communication and aknowledged my being here for her, im just going to keep my distance and just maybdm tx every 2-3 days, id like to hear your response to this please and I thank you for you time and concern. Billy.

        P.s she see’s a doctor and is on meds.

        • Dennis says:

          I would suggest pointing her at resource websites you look at. Suggest she research things like “Wellness Plans”. Many of us go into this feeling like it is solely our responsibility. But it is so much easier to have people close to you to periodically lean on and help you through the rough patches. A majority of people that find success in pursuing wellness do it with the assistance of other people; loved ones, doctors, support groups, whoever.

          The fact of the matter is, a majority of the work and hardship to pursue wellness will fall on her shoulders. There is no getting around that nor should she try to. But that doesn’t mean she has to go it along either.

          I would also suggest to not bother trying to push any sort of relationship angle either. If you can be her friend, be her friend. If you need more than that, you’re better off keeping your distance so you don’t make her emotional landscape more chaotic and stressful. Yes, love is positive. But it is also a lot of work and requires a lot of energy.

          • billy says:

            Hi dennis, many thanks for your reply, my ex txd yday to ask if we could
            go for food in couple of days, obviously I said yes but at the moment all I want to do is talk about how she needs to talk to me when she feels like running away and how if we deal with it together we have a better chance of overcoming her despair, im not going to suggest we get back together at the moment but talk about the pressure she felt and how the relationship became to much at that moment in time for her and then try to plan to try and make life easier if that moment happens again, im asking you advice weather u agree with my approach or u suggest another approach ?, she got scared at the end of the day and it wil prob happen again but if we have the mental tools to deal with it im sure we can work together to stay togtether , I may have gone on a bit here and I apologise if I have, finally I thankyou for your time again.

            P.s maybe suggest going along to her phychatrist meetings ?, she never wanted to talk about her meds and these meetings before.

          • Dennis says:

            I would suggest really going into it neutral. See what she has to say and explore what’s on her mind about everything. Suggest that you would be more than happy to go to appts with her so you can learn how to be there for her if she needs you. Try not to build too much up in your own mind before you actually go and talk to her to find out what’s on her mind and what she’s thinking about. Just weather the ups, downs, and fears by being patient and do your best to stay calm and reassuring. Your acting emotionally (if you are at all) will only feed her instability. So placid is the way to go as much as possible.

            There’s nothing wrong with your approach. Just always remember to be respectful of her limits and try not to push her into directions she’s not ready to go.

            Probably the most important thing you can do for now is just remind her that there are other people that have to face the difficulties of living with a mental illness too; and it is much easier when you have people you can trust to help keep you on track, nudge you forward, and be there if you slip. Getting the lanes of communication open and steady should be your goal.

          • billy says:

            Hi, thanks for your reply, I will let you know
            how the meeting goes on friday and once again I thankyou for your time and your thoughts.

          • billy says:

            Hi dennis, my ex cancelled the original meeting last friday but wanted to go out for a meal for my birthday yesterday, it went well and I took your advice not to push anything, we had a laugh and she was smiling although we did talk about her and her illness. The main issue for her is that she isnt working and struggles to find things to do in the daytime. We never talked about us but I did say that im always here for her, she always says she doesnt want anyones help and is very sure of this, do u think that this wil change ?, also I suggested we could go on a day trip this weekend and she said she would like that and would let me know.

          • Dennis says:

            I don’t know if it will change.

            What I would suggest is pointing out that no one does anything on their own, entirely. If she researches something; someone else wrote it. If she visits a doctor for help; well that doctor went to school to learn how to help her. Same with therapists. You can point out everyone does get help from someone else from time to time. No one can possibly know everything about everything.

            You may also want to point her to resources you’ve found; like my site or others that have quality information on them. In doing so, you are still easing your way into indirectly helping her.

            You can also point out that no matter how much “help” or knowledge she receives from others; she’s still the one that is going to have to do a lot of work and deal with a lot of shit to get it under control. So striving to make it as easy as possible on herself is a good idea by embracing help from trusted sources that they are able to give while she is dealing with the main shit that she has to.

  14. Brittany says:

    My boyfriend is a manic bipolar as you described. We have been through a lot and I don’t know how to get that love back. He refuses medications and going to talk to someone or even see a doctor. I really need help on what to do. I love him with all my heart and I just want him back and I want our life back to how we first met. We were so happy and I am suffering from severe depression. He says that he’s depressed as well and we are both miserable, but I don’t think either of us being miserable has to do with one another I think it has to deal with our past and past experiences. I really need help. I don’t know what to do and I wish there was something I could do. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 Please write back on this and help me figure out what to do. Thank you!

    • Dennis says:

      The only thing you can really do is continue to work on and pursue your own wellness. If he refuses to see a doctor or talk to anyone about his mental health, then he’s going to be on this roller coaster for a very long time. You can’t control that. What you can do is seek treatment and work towards getting your own mental health under control. Continue to encourage him to research and take control of his own mental health. Don’t bother trying to recapture what you had in the past. It’s the past. All those feel good feelings may have been an escalated cycle for him.

      Trying to recapture the past will just leave you with heartache and misery.

      The only person that can help your boyfriend is your boyfriend. If he refuses to help himself, then he’s not going to go through all the bullshit, pain, and misery that goes along with trying to get well.

  15. Brandi says:

    Hi, my boyfriend of 5 months was amazing and everything I was looking for the first few months. The last 5 weeks he has been in a severe depression. He has been seeing a dr and she has mentioned he might possibly be bipolar. He says he is not and his problem is anxiety. He has gone back and forth the last 3-4 weeks telling me he doesn’t love me and there is no future for us. Then he goes back to crying and telling me he’s sorry he’s so fucked up in the head. His mom keeps telling me this isn’t him and I don’t need to take this so personal. She begs me to just give it some time bc I am the best thing that’s ever happened to him. He is a great guy and has a huge heart. I feel like part of this is his ego and he is embarrassed at his actions so he pushes me away bc he fears I will give up on us. I love him with all my heart and cant just walk away like he tells me to do every other day. Help! I am so confused and not sure what I should do.

    • Dennis says:

      It sounds like he is very scared, confused, and unstable. Encourage him to educate himself about Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder – and this isn’t just a self-plug. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance http://www.dbsalliance.org has good information that helps explain things clearly. You may also want to point out that “anxiety” doesn’t cause a person to bounce between “i love you” and “this is all hopeless”; so whatever is going on with him is greater than anxiety. That he should listen to his doctor and perhaps talk to a therapist about what Bipolar Disorder actually is. There are a lot of very incorrect media-created views of the Disorder out there.

      As for you, you should proceed with caution. Don’t get yourself too heavily invested in the relationship. Be his friend, first and foremost. That’s what he really needs right now. Trying to maintain a relationship is probably contributing to his chaos. That doesn’t mean break up with him; just try not to take the “i love you” “there’s no future for us” stuff to heart. His mind is feeding him a lot of misinformation and lies about the world right now. He is going to have a complicated journey ahead of him, regardless of whether or not he is able to accept his diagnosis. If he’s not, it’s going to be long and probably brutal with a lot of chaos. If he does, it may still be that way. Mental health wellness is not something achieved easily or overnight most of the time.

      Do NOT enter into any kind of commitment or “great ideas” he might have. If he starts talking about things like “getting married” or “let’s go on a trip” or anything like that; that could potentially be manic thinking and will probably end badly.

      You can also encourage him to shoot me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com if he would like to talk to someone who is Bipolar.

  16. Michelle says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for your insightful writing about bipolar. I’m hoping you could help me understand what might be happening with my partner. We known each other for 5 years.

    He mentioned a lack of sleep, saying he got by with 2-4 hours. He also mentioned quite a bit of news, sounded happier than usual. Chattier than usual. Then, after a day of not speaking I asked if he was ok, and he said No. He didn’t share why not. I asked him the next day, again he just said: No. He said he will let me know when he can.

    I know he is bipolar – he has depression more than his ‘up’ times, and does the disappearing thing. If he was going through a manic/hypomanic phase, could now be a crash of sorts and wanting to cancel out any stressful things. I know we were having a bit of a disconnect during the last few weeks while he was probably manic… What causes him to pull away then? What makes him go quiet now?
    Do I reach out and keep contact (I’m over wanting to know why) or do I let go?

    • Dennis says:

      Assuming he went through an escalation into a crash, the crash is usually a harder and deeper depression than what we normally experience. Retreating into our shell is a safe place for us to brood, mourn, cry; whatever we need to do. Were I in your position, I would drop him a single message every couple of days saying something like – “Hey, thinking of you. I’d like to help you through what you’re going through, if you’ll let me. If not, that’s fine too. Message me when you’re able.” And just wait until he responded.

      I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know when I crash out of an escalated cycle it is my most vulnerable time. Before I really understood the Disorder and what it did to me, I would just hide away and not talk to anyone until my brain balanced out more. So I would say his withdrawal post escalation is pretty typical, particularly in what I’ve heard from others as well.

      Many of us feel like this is our problem, we have to shoulder it alone, or simply do not know how to include others. Try periodically reaching out, but just give his brain some time to rebalance.

  17. Katie says:

    Hi Dennis

    I found your writings above very helpful in trying to determine where I should go from here. I have been dating a guy for the last few months, who disclosed he suffered from mania and NPD. In the time that I have known him, he has never shown any signs of depression whatsoever. From the first date, he has been hypomanic and with that, very charming, attractive and intriguing. He called me a few days ago in what I now know to be a manic state, going off on one about plans and future projects and declaring his undying love for me! I found this bizarre as although we have a good time when we are together, this was totally out of the blue. These calls went on for the next week, repeating the same things over and over again, he was becoming so insistent of where the relationship was going and “plans for the future” etc. At first I thought that maybe what he was saying was the truth and that he really felt this way about me. Luckily he is in another country (whilst all these calls are going on) so I have been able to take a step back and read stuff such as this, which has helped me put it all into perspective. The other thing I found strange is that he hasn’t had a serious relationship in nearly nine years! He also has a reputation of sleeping around. He even said the last relationship that he had nine years ago, he was with her for five years and didn’t love her! Hence why I found it strange that he confessed to loving me after a few months. I really think the world of him, but I think if I continue down this oath with him, it will have such a negative impact on my life. He refuses to acknowledge that it’s an illness and says that he never gets depressed only ever euphoric! He also takes a lot of street drugs and had a problem with alcohol.
    I am fighting a losing battle? x

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Katie.

      People can keep themselves artificially “up” for long periods of time. Stimulants absolutely fuel mania. So if he is in the habit of taking uppers, cocaine, meth, or other stimulating drugs; there is a chance that his crashes would be relatively few and far between. If he has been escalated the entire time that you’ve known him, you CANNOT trust his feelings for you. They could very well be just a figment of his mental illness. You also do not know the “real” him. Because this version of him is the escalated version. All that energy, charm, and whatnot usually goes away once the person crashes. And when he crashes, he is probably going to crash very hard.

      It is also not unusual for some Bipolar people to constantly coast in the upper end of the Disorder with very rare dips down. I’ve known a few different Bipolar people like that; three of which are very successful careerwise because they have boundless energy. The problem is, that doesn’t typically translate well to one’s personal life. And they have rough personal relationships as a result.

      Yes. You are a fighting a losing battle. If he is convinced there’s nothing wrong with being that escalated constantly, has problems with drugs and alcohol, and hasn’t maintained a relationship in 9 years…that’s essentially a gigantic red flag and klaxon horn blaring in your face.

      It’s impossible to say whether he genuinely loves you or not. But any emotion he does have for you is tainted by unwellness. When he finally does crash, and he will sooner or later, that’s all going to change drastically.

      Do not move in with his man, marry this man, cosign anything with this man, or loan this man any money that you cannot afford to lose completely.

      And to be fair, he probably does believe his feelings are real and true, because he doesn’t have a good grasp on the Disorder and what it does to people. So I doubt he is just jerking you around to be a prick. He is mentally ill, and from the sounds of it, extremely unwell at the moment. Were I in your position, knowing what I know, I would end that relationship and friendship; because the mania probably isn’t going to take a “no” well.

  18. Katie says:

    Hi Dennis

    Thank you so much for your reply.
    He has a real issue with taking uppers and mixing with alcohol. I’m not even aware that he has taken them most of the time, as he always seems to be on another planet mentally anyway.
    I have actually just witnessed a horrible side to him. He is still in this manic state and with that extremely dominant, won’t take no for an answer sort of way. He turned up at my house, even when I asked him not to. I felt intimidated by him. He wasn’t violent or anything but just super dominant and would tell me what was going to happen in terms of our relationship. I didn’t have any choice in anything that he was saying to me.
    He even admitted to me that he wasn’t ever going to take any medications that may remove the mania and that everything in his life is going great and that he felt fantastic!
    I have tried putting some distance between us, sometimes, I won’t answer his calls or texts and he will just keep calling and then ask me what I could possibly be doing that is more important than speaking to him?! It really is all consuming.
    Katie x

    • Dennis says:

      Those are all red flags for very abusive behavior. You need to create more distance for yourself. I would really recommend looking into local social services for women in abusive relationships that will be able to help you deal with that situation in a safer way. You may need to look into a restraining order and get the cops involved. Particularly if you’ve asked him to leave and he won’t leave. DO NOT be confrontational with him in that situation though. You don’t want the situation to turn violent, which is a possibility with people like that.

      You need to get yourself out of this guy’s life as soon as possible. There is only bad things ahead for you if you allow him to stay in it. Talk to the police about your situation and get their advice, look into groups that help women in abusive relationships, and do what you need to do to separate yourself from the relationship as safely as you can.

  19. Laura says:

    Dennis,

    I just found your website after searching something along the lines of “in love during hypomanic episode”. What a treasure – and perfect timing and just.. .thank you so much.
    I will tell my story, if only so that other people who find the site might see it as well (I was as helped by the comments as by your original posting).
    Some 25+ years ago I dated a guy – we were intense, but he rather suddenly moved across country (for school) and until 5 years ago, I had no contact and did not know what had happened.
    Five years ago we reconnected and he immediately told me he had had a breakdown soon after the last time we saw each other and was diagnosed bipolar. A few years prior to our reconnection, his girlfriend had kicked him out of their house and after all that time they were still trying to negotiate their very co-dependent and unhappy relationship and breakup. Enter me: stage left.
    We spent about four years emailing, writing letters and talking on the phone. I visited once – the on again/off again girlfriend was on again but out of town – it was a chaste visit – no worries there. She kept breaking up with him and telling him to find someone else, to only call her during designated times, etc. Last summer, just before his birthday, he confided that he had feelings for me. I was initially wary – where did it come from after all this time? But, after having dated so many years ago, I believe we just had some latent attraction. He would call me during difficult times, we relied on each other and told each other big secrets from our lives. So, I let my guard down and I let him in. He lives in another state and I could not visit for another six months, and during that time he got a little freaked-out about it all – and we quibbled but got through it. I visited and I think getting intimate was fairly unplanned, but it happened. All was well and I thought I had closure and was not looking for anything further, but he continued with heartfelt messages talked of love and okay. I visited again a few months later and it was WONDERFUL. We had always clicked, personality wise, but now we clicked physically too. After I got home, I bought a ticked for a few months into the future.
    Things started getting a bit weird – the ex started showing up in to the picture again – taking him to doctor appts, he would help her with yard work, etc. None of his friends or family like her – clergy doesn’t approve, his therapist advised him to leave her alone. Her children hate him, her siblings don’t want him around her. He told me there was nothing to be envious of – their relationship was of obligation and history.
    Then in literally a 72 hour period he went from warm and loving to grumpy to remorseful. We talked on the phone, we agreed to a two-three week break so he could clear his mind. He contacted me immediately at the other end of the break, telling me he was doing fine. He was so vague and polite that I challenged him a bit – saying I wasn’t sure how to respond – he wrote back full of remorse, guilt, sorrow, wanting to be friends. this went back and forth until he wrote me that he was back with the ex-girlfriend (after 8 years?) and that evidently he had had an extended (about a year) hypomanic episode.
    I don’t think the ex is good for him, and I think she leaves him unfulfilled – I think he is lonely with her and I think she has “issues”. But I appreciate that he has someone to take care of him and watch out for him. And that’s what I told him. He immediately wrote back and told me how grateful he is to have me being so understanding and forgiving.
    Of course I forgive him, but it hurts like the dickens. I am having a hard time accepting that we are best NOT together. I am having a hard time accepting that things could not be “normal”. I hate that he is not in a completely loving healthy relationship with this woman, especially knowing that he had that with me – I think even he realizes this, though maybe not.
    I am trying to accept what I can not control. I am trying to accept that this is the way it has to be. I love him so much – I can not imagine him not in my life – I can accept him as a friend and be grateful for it.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Laura. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Your story is an unfortunately common one. I’ve heard it many times. I don’t say that to diminish what you are going through; just that what you are experiencing is not uncommon.

      I would like to offer one counterpoint though. You don’t -have- to accept anything. He’s the one that chooses to stay in a damaging, abusive relationship instead of working to change his situation. That has nothing to do with you. Even if you love him, you still need to take care of yourself first and foremost. I know that when my exfiancee and I split up, we didn’t talk to one another for almost three years after the fact because it was too painful for both of us. She had her problems, I had mine. And us trying to interact just made us both feel like shit and destabilize.

      If you need space to heal, then do so. You don’t have to drop off the face of the planet. Just say “I need time to heal. I don’t know if/when I’ll be back.” And take the time to get yourself healed and allow yourself to move on.

      It is unfortunate when things that feel so right can’t work out. I know when I was younger, I remember hearing the sentiment that sometimes loving someone means letting them go. I always thought that was ridiculously stupid until I had to do it. It is what it is, though. The good news is that there will be other loves and other great things to experience in life. I’ve known deep love since my own break. It’s never the same, because no one is identical; but it can certainly be just as good.

      • Laura says:

        Thanks for your reply Dennis.

        Your reply brings up two questions:

        1) when is it mental illness and when is it bad decision making? His ex was with him during the early stages of his illness – she was with him in and out of the hospital, in and out of jail, etc. I think he feels like he can trust her – and that she’s seen him at his worst. They are co-dependent and she has her own problems, but I guess I can see the “safety” factor. I think that big changes lead to anxiety which leads to mania for him. So I wonder is it his illness (then he is really without blame) or IS it a bad decision?

        2) Assuming the above, that big changes (or challenges, or stress) leads to mania for him – I certainly don’t want to be a trigger for him. He has implied that he wants our friendship to move to “emails and phone calls”, which I assume means he does not want to see me in person. This makes me wonder if I am or have become some kind of trigger for him. If you have time – I’d like to know your thoughts on triggers in the context of relationships.

        thanks for your quick response!

        • Dennis says:

          Well, do you know that Co-dependency is another type of mental illness? If they are codependent on one another, then Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have to play a role at all in those decisions making processes. Big changes typically do cause mania in Bipolar people though. It’s very common.

          It can be hard to separate unwell from bad thoughts. But usually the separation is in extremity and out of character decision making. A Bipolar person who is in a committed relationship for years and then up and decides they want to get back with their ex has either been lying for a long time or is unwell and made a snap, unwell decision.

          But the same could also be said of any good feelings. Coming back out of the woodwork after 25+ years to have an intense, incredibly awesome relationship could also be mania. It’s not always outwardly negative. The truly awful parts of the Disorder are when it convinces you of positive shit that isn’t true. “I’m so in love with this person, I can’t live without them.” But then the cycle ends and it all disappears because it was never real to begin with. Frankly, that’s what your story sounds more like to me due to the relative short timing of everything. I suspect that the relationship would have crumbled far sooner had you actually been physically closer though. Being so far apart, it is easy for a delusional mind to fill in the many gaps. Not so easy when you’re dealing with the person on a regular basis.

          Anything that can invoke an emotional response is a potential trigger. I’ve had suicidal depressive crashes from catching a whiff of lavender, the scent my exfiancee preferred for her body wash, shampoo, and lotion. Lavender everywhere.

          Bear in mind, this is just my opinion and may not be relevant at all. I just find a lot of things strange about his behavior leading in, the kind of thing I would expect from an escalated cycle. And I wonder if him limited things to emails and phone calls is also a way for him to let you down “gently”; though I know it doesn’t feel that way.

          Either way, you should do some reading on codependency if you haven’t already. It may help clarify some things about his behavior as well.

  20. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for replying to my reply! Thank you for the insight.

    To clarify one minor detail. We reconnected after 25+ years due to my find him – and we were friends (intense friends… maybe even incredibly awesome but friends nonetheless) until just this past year when he expressed interest in becoming more. Although upon thinking, your words ring true – it’s been a pretty intense friendship for the past five years.

    So – we were friends to begin with and after four years – moved into romance.

    It’s interesting, your phrasing about convincing of things not worth shit. I tried to keep the burgeoning romance tampered down a bit. I kept saying I enjoyed our relationship but that I did not need him, and I was not going to become co-dependent. He was the one who moved into talking about love and need and began to call quite a bit more often than I was prepared for. (I enjoyed it, but worried he was beginning to rely too much on me). I was concerned due to the distance between us that I would not be able to be there for him if need be. It falls exactly in line with what you were saying.

    You have been extremely helpful, and I very much appreciate your wisdom and recognize you are not an authority, but someone who has a first-hand knowledge of bipolar.

    Thank you so much!

    • Dennis says:

      Ah I see. That does clarify things a lot more. I’m less inclined to think that his feelings were just a product of a Bipolar cycle then. Stuff like that doesn’t tend to last for years.

      Anyway, I am happy to have provided some insight and perspective on the situation! I hope you’ll be able to move forward in a way that is appropriate for you.

  21. Ellie says:

    please help, ive been seeing somebody for 6 months , lovely 5 months took me out for meals , spent time together , introduced me to friends been out with friends and family , texted eachother every day , discussed holidays , said he’s never met anyone like me before , im the one . Two weeks ago he told me he needed space , 2 days later he loves me he’s sorry he could never be without me took me out that night all happy. The next day said he didn’t want me know more completely cut me off .. He says he’s depressed but everything ive read have rang alarm bells that he has bipolar . I tried to communicate via text he replied he loved me and he will talk. Then the next day nothing agen it’s been a 3 days now he reads my texts but doesn’t reply. Makes no sense at all .. After all the affection future plans. I know he loves me you know when you just know but he won’t talk he’s completely cut me off. What do I do ! This does seem from what I’ve read to be typical behaviour of someone with bipolar but im not an expert .. ThAnkyou

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ellie.

      There really isn’t much you can do in this situation, if he won’t communicate with you. If you know he’s reading your messages, encourage him to speak to his doctor about the problems that he’s having. It’s the best way for him to get real help for what he’s experiencing. But if he won’t communicate with you, there really isn’t much you can do except wait for as long as you’re willing to wait.

      You may also want to prepare yourself in case he doesn’t actually love you. It’s only been five months and if he happens to have a mental illness of some kind, delusion can easily make someone think they are madly in love with someone. Then those feelings can disappear when the person’s mental state changes. Stuff like that happens on a regular basis with certain mental illnesses. It’s one of the cruelest things that mental illness can do to the affected person because you wind up hurting someone who is completely innocent in the process.

      If you want professional advice, you may want to consider consulting with a counselor yourself. I am certainly no expert either.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I have been with my Partner for a little over a year. At the very beginning she told me she was bipolar. I noticed small things about her that I could see was the bipolar. But it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with. We were so happy and very much in love. We moved in together and everything was great. We were talking about our future and getting married one day. She told me I was the best thing that ever happened to her. Her family and friends love me. She has 2 children that I absolutely adore and they feel the same about me. About 2 months ago her Father died in a very tragic way. I of course was there through everything with her and did whatever I could for her. At first she was dealt with it alright. About 2 weeks later it was like something changed and she was no longer the same person. She was hardly speaking to me and just wouldn’t talk. I would ask her to and that made her angry. She is not on any meds so I asked if she thought she may need to go to the doctor. She absolutely refused. She started drinking a lot and going out with friends that she made at work. People she never hung out with before. I was the one at home with the kids. About a week later I couldn’t do anything right. I seen that she was on a dating site and it made me mad. We got into it over that and she said I broke the trust. Not really sure how I did that. She kept up the coldness finally we sat down and had a talk without fighting. She said she knew she wasn’t herself right now and it wasn’t right for her to do this to me. She said she needs some space to figure herself out. Of course I didn’t want to leave but I did. She said we are still together. It was a very hard thing for me to do because I love this woman with all my heart and I want to help her get through this. But I am now staying with family and have been for almost a week. The kids call me often telling me how much they miss me and ask when I am coming home. Her and I have talked on the phone and text some every day. I am not sure if there is someone else. She says there isn’t and she isn’t looking for anyone else. But from everything I have read and learned about bipolar it could be a possibility. She still says she will not go to the Doctor. What I want to know is how long do I stay away for? What can I do if she won’t go to the Doctor? Will she come out of this and feel bad about the way she has treated me? I just need advice. Everyone I know thinks I am crazy for still wanting to be with her. But I love her and made a promise never to leave.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. There’s not a ton for me to comment on here, just respond to your questions really.

      My general rule of thumb for “waiting” is 3-6 months. Unwell cycles can take awhile to run their course. That’s about the most fair one can get to both parties without it venturing into the realm of “too much”.

      However, if she refuses to go to a doctor, there isn’t much you can do about that unless she is suicidal or in a mental space where she will physically hurt herself or someone else.

      She may or may not feel bad about how she treated you. That depends on the type of person she is under her mental illness. Some people become assholes because of their mental illness, some people are assholes who also happen to be mentally ill. If she is an asshole that also happens to be mentally ill, she probably won’t give a shit. But if she is a decent person who becomes an asshole during her unwell cycles, then she probably will.

      Be that as it may, if she refuses to go to the doctor you should consider this is going to happen on a somewhat irregular basis either way. Bipolar Disorder is for life.

      You’re not crazy for wanting to be with her. Remember, no one else has the perspective about her that you do that is so closely invested. Your friends and family see you suffering and want to help you. Since she’s the cause of that distress, she’s the enemy. So don’t look to your friends and family for support on that decision, they most likely will not.

      As for your promise to never leave – well, time to learn a very real lesson about mental illness. It’s not pretty. It’s destructive. And it destroys a lot of things – including promises. That’s not your fault or responsibility. It’s just the way things are. You’re not dealing with a normal situation. And it’s not a situation that may ever get “better” either. You just have to accept that and deal with it as it is.

      • Stephanie says:

        Thank you for your reply Dennis. I really do appreciate it. The sad thing about all of this is that she wanted to the Doctor about a week before the spiral started. It was almost as if she knew what was coming. She made the appointment and when we went there. They told us there was a problem with her insurance and we didn’t have the money to pay out of pocket that day. So she wasn’t seen and after that she doesn’t want to go back. I’m hoping that once she starts to balance a little she will want to go back. I do plan on going back home next week. I don’t see how it’s right that I have to be away from my home.

        • Dennis says:

          Every situation is unique, so I cannot comment on the rightness of your needing to be away or not. Sometimes, it is the better thing to do though. I’ve left a home for an unstable partner myself, but that was because I would at least be alright knowing where they actually were and would hopefully be safe.

          At any rate, given her recent demeanor and what you mentioned, it sounds like she is in a depressive cycle. If she was willing to go prior to the cycle, she will most likely be willing to go once she rebalances. Once the depression kicks in, hope will typically disappear. So a temporary problem with insurance gets painted in a depressive mind as an impossible hurdle to jump.

          Give her some time to rebalance. Unless she is actively suicidal and talking about killing herself or anything like that, at which point you should involve authorities.

  23. Broken Joe says:

    I experienced many similar things with my ex-girlfriend with bipolar disorder II. My question: If stimulants can extend or even initiate a manic episode, would you conclude that oxytocin/dopamine released during the “infatuation phase” would do the same thing? Essentially my ex seems to jump from relationship to relationship, and each person is her “soul-mate” and “future husband” within just a matter of 4-8 weeks. She has had (4) relationships that involved this “magical thinking” in a relatively short period of time of about 3 years.

    So is she just manipulating men during her hypomania/mania or is she truly so blinded that she continues this behavior – namely expecting a different outcome with each relationship?

    Also just to point out during my off/on relationship with her of 1.5 years, I essentially became co-dependent as a result of hopeful thinking that she would go back to the way she was at the beginning of the relationship. I for the most part did everything in my power to keep her happy and content (ridiculous almost servant behavior). Each time we took a break, I called her out on a behavior and she bailed/pushed me away.

    • Dennis says:

      I wouldn’t “conclude” it, because that is language that infers professional determination. But from my life experience – yes the infatuation phase is something that a lot of Bipolar and depressed people can chase.

      She may or may not be manipulating. But if she’s Bipolar and dealing with this type of thing, it’s very likely that her brain is just spinning it as “this guy is the one!” And being escalated, rational thinking isn’t exactly a strong suit. Delusion is a common part of mania and believing that “this time will be different” without actually changing anything is a definite nod towards that. Being that I don’t know her personally, I can’t say for sure. But based on what you said, if she is chasing that feeling, then it seems more likely to be the Disorder causing her to follow that shitty path.

      And if you’re still hoping she may be that person you met originally, most likely she never will be. That was very likely just part of the Disorder.

      A majority of mentally ill people do not have great clarity on how their mental illness stains their perceptions of life and emotions. I have a good perception of my own because I’ve been working on it for like 6-7 years; and even I still get it wrong from time to time.

  24. Lottie says:

    Hello,
    I am so thankful I came across your article. I was in a relationship with a bipolar man for 17 month. I understand now why I was smitten by him and fell in love. I stuck it out as long as I could; on again, off again, the ups and downs, the hypomania, the depression etc. Then he became what I believe was severely manic which resulted in him verbally, emotionally, and physically assaulting me. I am left to pick up the pieces while he is already in love with someone new within a week of dating them. My mind doesn’t fully comprehend and my heart surely doesn’t. Any advice or insight would be great.
    Regards,

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. First of all, please note that I edited your display name so this post will never become associated with Google searches for your name. When discussing mental illness on the internet, I highly recommend you do NOT use your full name in a public space like this. Just in case.

      He’s not in love. He’s mentally ill. The mental illness is feeding him false emotions and thoughts about what he is experiencing. You don’t understand it, presumably, because you’re not Bipolar. You don’t function like we do. And that is a very good thing, you don’t want to function like we do. It’s difficult and causes us to put other people through stuff like you’re dealing with right now.

      You’re likely looking for answers and reasoning – the only real answer is Bipolar Disorder. Mental illness. It screws with our emotions and mentality. There is no rational point A to point B reasoning involved a lot of the time. That’s a big part of what makes mental illness so destructive.

      I realize that may not be incredibly comforting, but it’s just how things are when you’re dealing with a Bipolar person.

      You may want to consider visiting a counselor yourself to discuss these things. They may be able to provide a better platform for you to explore your thoughts and feelings about everything you’ve been through, how to heal, and how to move forward.

      • Lottie says:

        Thank-you for taking the time to reply, and thanks for the tip regarding display names. I fought hard to be supportive and understanding of his illness thus the reason I stuck it out for 17 month’s. I read up on everything I could, went to a counseling session with him, and gave him space when I saw he was stressed or anxious, and reassured him while being supportive when he was depressed. To be so verbally, emotionally, and phsycially attacked was never something I saw coming. Escpecially not to the point of having a restraining order put in place upon him for my safety or that he would need to be arrested due to his actions. The emotional part of me wants to reach out, hug him, and help him get through this. The rational part says let go and save myself. So no, I will never fully comprehend the intricacies of this illness. I guess, I was just hoping for insight. He seems so smitten and truly in love with one of the many new women he met on line recently and of course I know how charming he can be. So even though you say it is the disease, it stings. I guess I wonder how long the true manic cycle will last, and when it ends if he will ever feel sorry for hurting me so, and regret his actions and words. I would have stuck by this person, and now I see that this is not at all possible or healthy to do so. It is sad as he will be turning 41 next month.

        • Dennis says:

          The biggest issue I see coming from someone in your position is that all the love, support, and understanding in the world doesn’t mean anything unless the other person WANTS to be well. If he was confronting and dealing with his problem, working towards wellness as hard as he could. It would be an entirely different story and we would probably not be having this conversation right now. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. And that is exactly why you need to listen to your rational self in dealing with him and other mentally ill people. Our emotions can be drastically warped and twisted by our mental illness.

          That’s why I can safely say that he is not “in love” with whoever he is currently with. It’s just a figment of the Disorder and it will turn that relationship inside out just like it did to yours. It is a delusion manufactured by the Disorder and is very common. He may believe he is, but it won’t last. And realistically, as hurtful as it may seem, it’s very likely what he felt for you was too. It’s just the nature of the mental illness. It’s hard telling if he will feel sorry for his actions; but my educated guess is no. He is spending his time in mania and letting the mental illness rule his life, which indicates he doesn’t have a firm grasp on how it affects not only his life but the people around him.

          You’re a good person for caring so much. It’s just that caring for a mentally ill person like your guy requires a vastly different approach than someone who is well-balanced. I’m sure you’ll find great success with a more mentally and emotionally healthy person when you’re ready to try again.

          It is sad that he is turning 41 soon. A lot of people go their entire lives without getting their stuff under control. It really does suck.

  25. Lottie says:

    Again, thanks for the reply. You made a very good point in that he has to want to be well. Every time he apologized, swore he loved me and that I was the “one”, begged me to forgive him, and give him another chance; he would promise to seek more therapy, asked me to go to sessions with him, and to couple’s therapy. At one point he even said I was the most stable person in his life. Yet, he only “let” me attend one therapy session, no couple’s therapy ever happened, and he did not seek other avenues of treatment or ask his meds to be adjusted. In fact I found out recently that he put me in bad light with his one therapist even though it was I who called her out of concern when he was suicidal.
    The end result is that he never followed through which ultimately led to what I think is this severe manic state he is in that resulted in the current state of things.
    Thank-you for your candor. It isn’t an easy pill to swallow to think a man I truly cared for may never have cared for me at all. The physical wounds have healed, however, I fear the other wounds may take longer. I am thankful for the Restraining Order against him so that my rational side will not be clouded by my compassion, love, or affection for the man I thought he was.

    • Dennis says:

      You’re welcome for the replies.

      It’s very common for a toxic mentally ill person to string along their loved ones like you describe. “I’ll change, I’ll change” and then they do absolutely nothing. It speaks volumes about the person doing those things and screwing with the heads of their loved ones. For you, and anyone else reading this, the way you counteract that shit is by demanding effort over a fair amount of time before “forgiving.” Stuff like “You can’t move back in until you’ve been attending therapy and working on your meds for at least 3 months.”

      Note, I am NOT suggesting that should be come crawling back around that you should let him back in your life. I’m more just illustrating a better way to go about it if you should run into a situation with someone stringing you along with weak promises in the future.

      And you’re welcome on the candor. You’ll heal and move on to better things, I’m sure. Any sane person would be happy to have a solid ally in their corner.

      • Lottie says:

        Once again, thank-you for your candor and advice. It has helped. I did feel strung along and hung in there hoping the person I had fallen in love with would return and fulfill the “promises”. However, it would only take a matter of weeks, some times days for the cascade to wear off especially when I would inquire about following up with the “promises”.
        I hung in there because I love unconditionally and didn’t want to abandon someone over an illness they didn’t ask for. However, he crossed a line with the physical assault on top of the emotional and verbal bashing. There is no going back to a person like that.
        I was just hoping that once he comes out of this manic state, he would at least feel regret or remorse for the damage and pain he caused instead of trying to place blame on me. I can only hope he doesn’t hurt anyone else or at least not to the extent that he hurt me.
        I am re-grouping, healing, and moving forward with the help and insight of people such as yourself.
        Thank-you.

        • Dennis says:

          It sounds like you have a healthier perspective on what you’re dealing with. There are most certainly lines that should never be crossed. And unfortunately, loving someone with mental illness must include conditions so that you can minimize the damage their mental illness have on your life. It’s not fair, but it is what it is.

          He may or may not feel regret or remorse. Even if he does not, it’s not a big indicator all around. Some people are too damaged to have a firm comprehension of these things. I know it took me years to realize and actually feel bad about some of the wrongs I did to other people. About a year or so after I was diagnosed, I offered quite a few apologies to people because I just couldn’t understand how screwed up I was and how it affected other people. Or he may be on the other side of the coin, and never be able to genuinely care about his actions.

          He probably will hurt other people and himself until he finally reaches a point where he can’t continue on the way he is. Again, that’s just how it goes. That’s why you have to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

          In either case – you should not let this define how you deal with and move forward. If you find yourself dwelling, a therapist can be very helpful in dealing with this stuff.

          You’re very welcome for the insight and perspective. Keep working at it and walking forward. You’ll get through.

  26. Gail says:

    Hello! I am so thankful that God guided me to this web site! I am both a Pastor and an R.N. Through mutual friends at our Church my husband and I became friends with a young man (he’s in his mid 20s). The three of us instantly “clicked” and became good friends. It was immediately obvious that our new friend suffered from depression and some other issues from a difficult upbringing. But what we didn’t know was just how serious his problems really were. Now, increasingly we’re seeing a pattern which appears to be bipolar disorder. Our young friend alternates between being a really great person to be with, and then episodes where he does things to try to push us away, particularly to me. I suspect that he has very few friends because of having done similar to them. As a Pastor, I try to have thick skin and to not take things personally. However, his last episode has been hard to take because it struck suddenly out of the blue. And as much as I don’t want to admit this, I’ve come to feel towards him as I would a son. As a Pastor I’ve always tried to guard my feelings, because both as a nurse and as a Pastor I realize all too well the problems of getting too close to a parishoner. But this young man has definitely tugged on our heartstrings, perhaps because both I and my husband grew up with a parent who suffered from mental health issues. He is very intelligent and talented. When he’s doing OK he brings joy to our family. But in times like yesterday, it is so difficult to know what to do, or how to help. How can we support him in those times when he’s pushing us/me away? How is the best way to bring up the idea of him getting help for his disorder? He recently had some sessions with a psychologist. But his benefits have run out, and he can’t afford more sessions. Is there any help available for someone who works, but who can’t afford $65/visit or more? Any suggestions which you can give will be greatly appreciated! And many thanks for this web site! Just reading what folks have written, as well as your replies, has been very therapeutic after having been awake all night trying to deal with the issue! So again, thank you so much, and may God richly bless you! 🙂

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Gail. Thank you for the kindness and well wishes. I really do appreciate it and I’m pleased my words were able to bring you some comfort.

      I may be able to provide some information but I need some more information. Does your “son”, for lack of a better word, work full time or part time? And do you live in the United States or elsewhere? Also, if you would like to relate what happened, I may be able to provide some insight with the difficult times. If you would prefer to have this conversation more privately, you can email me directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com

  27. Celeste says:

    Hello Dennis,
    I have to say, your bluntness and candor about this confounding disease is so effective. No bullshit; just straight talk. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
    So, my story mirrors the hundreds you’ve heard before.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you! Yes it does. I responded more in-depth in a direct reply to your other post.

      My goal is to help facilitate understanding for the people affected by this Disorder, for people caught in the blast zone and the mentally ill alike.

  28. Celeste says:

    I met a woman who seemed to have everything going for her. We had great dinners and conversations. She was attentive, passionate and very career driven which attracted me to her even more. I noticed she seemed a bit hyoersexual, but hey….that can also be a plus so I was inclined to over look it. Our last date was nice. I went home, she texted me goodnight and so on.I was completely shocked and disillusioned at what followed the the next few days. She literally had an overnight shift. She ignored my text the day, and when I proceeded to call her, she told me in a very low monotone voice that she needed “me time.” She locked herself in her house and started working on projects while taking pictures of things she made. She then told me she was going to the bar and that I shouldn’t be surprised if she hits on other people. This is completely different behavior from just two days before. She then went to the bar, as she warned she would, got completely trashed and basically made a damn fool of herself. The next day, she claimed she didn’t remember anything. I flat out asked her if there is a possibility she might have a mood disorder. (I should add that I’m a psychologist and she is a cop) She replied “I just get into these moods. I don’t know why.” She was very embarrassed by her behavior. I sent her a few links about mood disorders thereafter. I’m nearly convinced she’s cycling, however I’ve tried not to label her bipolar because I feel she needs to see a professional she’s not romantically involved with. She thanked me for the articles, said they were helpful, then completely cut off contact with me. I’m so hurt by it all even though I’m trained to understand the pathology. The shift is just unbelievable to witness first hand. My hope is that she’ll come around when she’s ready, however the possibility she won’t is very worrisome. If she isn’t contacting me, there’s a reason for that, right? I shouldn’t do anything more than just move on, correct? I really need her to understand that care about her well being. She is undiagnosed, taking Adderall and is an alcoholic who binges occasionally rather than drinks regularly. She has completely withdrawn from me at this point, with little explanation or closure.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there, thanks for taking the time to comment. I greatly appreciate when people such as yourself, in the profession you’re in, stop to converse about this.

      What you described is definitely consistent with the many, many other stories I’ve heard that are similar. As far as I understand it, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but delusion can definitely apply to emotions. So, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume she had a Bipolar cycle. Delusion is very much a part of escalation. I suspect that the “loudest” delusions are the ones that get the most attention because they are the most blatant and often produce the most worrying circumstances. The more subtle ones, like this one, are easily overlooked because they aren’t crisis situation problems. Since it’s a component and symptom of the escalation, those delusional feelings go away when the person’s brain drops out of the escalated cycle.

      I also suspect this happens so often because hey, when you meet an awesome person you’re attracted to, you’re totally into that. Happy for it. It’s exciting. All the kinds of that can serve as an escalation trigger. So the Bipolar person meets an awesome person and triggers off of that event, escalates, and then everything goes to shit whenever they crash. For rapid cyclers, that may be in a couple days. For other people, it can be as much as a year later.

      Will she come around when she’s more balanced out? No one can predict that with certainty. I can tell you that most of the time the answer to that question is no. Many times, as a matter of survival, Bipolar people (and undiagnosed mentally ill people) will try to stay away from things that cause too much emotional turbulence. It doesn’t feel good, and if she’s a decent person, she’ll probably feel like shit for hurting you. On the other hand, ALL of her attraction could have been a delusion and you may just be a stranger to her now. Also incredibly common.

      Damage control mode for Bipolar people often includes separating themselves from people they may have emotional connections to. It’s easy to go out, pretend to be normal with a bunch of strangers, much harder to do that with someone who has had a glimpse of your insanity. So, if you want to reach out to her or try to get closure about the situation, wait about a week or two so her brain has a chance to come back to its baseline. There’s usually a short period of relative calm and stability after an escalation into depression crash. The fact that she was so erratic immediately after that crash suggests that she may be Rapid Cycling. So she may be more stable, she may not.

      If she’s not, you’ll be better off just backing off. You sent her the articles, if she isn’t interested in exploring it or helping herself, there’s really nothing you can do about that. And given her profession, it’s very likely that she won’t anyways because it may cost her career if she does turn out to be Bipolar.

      I realize the lack of closure or explanation from her is probably hurtful, but it’s pretty par for the course. A lot of people who actually know their mental illnesses well can’t really describe why it causes them to do what they do. So all the closure you may get is “undiagnosed mental illness”.

      EDIT: Fixed words and clarified a point.

  29. Laura says:

    Dennis –

    I’ve been reading the ongoing comments from this particular blog entry ever since I firs wrote back in the summer.

    It is so true, I think, what you said about keeping away from situations or people that cause emotional turbulence, but that seems so sad to me. And it also indicates that, at least in some situations, the bipolar person might be keeping away from the very person that could have a really positive impact on their lives. Because in some cases, change is what needs to happen to improve their lives. This is how it sounds to me anyway.

    Example:
    The friend of mine I initially wrote about – after our year-long romantic experiment (within a 6-year friendship [within a 25 year acquaintanceship!!]) went back to the girlfriend who had kicked him out of the house some 8 years ago. He and I, after several weeks of no communication requested by me, have continued our friendship.

    I recognize now that, while I don’t think there’s any real romantic love between he and his ex-girlfriend – there is safety and dependability in the relationship. They have longevity and familiarity. And if this familiar relationship and environment was a POSITIVE place, I think I would feel better about it.

    I don’t really feel like the relationship is very positive – she’s been angry for a long time and there are issues with her children not liking him. He lives in an extremely poor and dangerous environment. Even though they are “dating” and “trying again” she won’t let him live with her again and there’s no talk of marriage.

    Even though their relationship is stormy – it does not cause the emotional turmoil in him that was caused by evidently exploring romance with me. Even though we seem to have a better time. This strikes me as odd.

    We have a solid friendship in place still though, and for that I am extremely grateful.

    • Dennis says:

      That’s not limited to Bipolar people at all. I’ve known plenty of people to make the same kind of stupid decisions in regards to just letting a toxic situation go and moving on. Some are afraid they won’t find anyone else, others are simply making bad decisions, and some are just comfortable in their misery.

      I can’t speak for him, but I can tell you why I think it does not cause the turmoil in him. I’ve spent 20 years dealing with Bipolar Disorder, 15 years of that unmedicated. Now that I am open and functioning more normally, I spend a fair more amount of time around normal people. That makes me uncomfortable. I’m not like them. I’m a broken person who lived a broken life. I prefer being around other broken people because they are my people, I am like them. I am comfortable with them. I don’t have to be as careful with what I say, how I act, what I do; because they do the same shit. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat with other people who have suffered from long-term depression and we would just sit and discuss the different ways we had hurt ourselves or the ways we contemplated killing ourselves over the years. Mention something like that around people who aren’t familiar and it makes them incredibly uncomfortable.

      Moving from long-term negativity into something positive is not easy. Your friend probably tripped over that speed bump while he was trying to make his own transition. It can be as simple as “I’m in a healthy, positive relationship now. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to act.” and then it spirals out into anxiety and unwellness, then the person may conclude that they are safer in the shitstorm they know.

      Or, to put it another way. Consider how much pain, difficulty, and confusion you had over the entire situation. If you’re a relatively normal person stepping into the chaos that is dysfunction, it was probably pretty rough. Rough enough that you followed the posting and asked about it months on.

      Consider a dysfunctional person trying to step into normalcy. They would feel many of the things you do, with the added difficulties of trying to act against the decades of dysfunctional life experience and a mental illness that screws with your emotions and perception. Without any decent guidance or help, that can easily be destabilizing. So try and imagine what the thoughts and feelings you had would do in a mentally ill mind like your friend’s. It’s pretty difficult stuff.

  30. jess says:

    Hi, the article and comments have given me a ton of insight on the bi polar disorder. I met someone a couple of months ago and we had an insane connection in the beginning then abruptly broke it off last week although he told me then that he was bi polar. We said we would stay friends and I told him I would take him back when he felt better…he had described a time last year when he was suicidal and had to get help to get him out of that downward spiral. I saw him last night and he acted like he didn’t even know me but sent me a text later on apologizing. Coming from previous abusive relationships I decided I couldn’t deal with these mood swings and decided to end all contact. After reading this article and the comments and seeing the exact same story I was going through in ultimately feel I did the right thing. My heart is breaking for him right now…because I understand what he’s going through better than i did before but I am at a loss to help him. It also makes me super sad that everything I was feeling was real but everything he was feeling for me was just a product of his hyper manic state and not real. That’s a hard thing to sort out, understand and be able to move on from. It’s hard knowing that he said he loved me and then literally the next day acted like I didn’t exist and that he feels nothing of that now. But this article has made it easier for me to move on for my own sake and knowing he was seeing his doctor to get help makes it easier for me to not internalize what is going on with him.

    Thank you for helping me out of this dark cloud and help me see the light instead of beating myself down and internalizing how someone can change literally overnight.

    • Dennis says:

      You’re welcome, Jess. It is a very difficult thing to come to terms with or understand. That abnormality makes mental illness very difficult for many people to confront and deal with. Preserving yourself was definitely a good choice in that regard, particularly regarding your own history.

      Try not to beat yourself up. The changes in his mind have nothing to do with you as a person. It’s just the way things go for us sometimes.

  31. Deke says:

    This article hit close to the bone for me. I was very deeply in love with a woman that is bipolar, but made me believe that she had it under control. We were together and happy for two years. However, she went from “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, thank you for being good to me and my daughter” to “Give me all my things back, never contact me again” in about two days. I reached out to her once, but she said that my doing so “creeped her out”, as per a mutual friend. I don’t know what to do. My heart is so heavy in the wake of our breakup, but I want her to know that she’s not alone. I wanted to love and care for her the rest of my life, but I can’t make her love me. There are so many layers to the story, but I’m trying to be brief, and I don’t know what to do.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Deke.

      It’s very possible that she did have it under control if you were together for two years without any drastic problems. The problem is that it doesn’t always stay under control. We can build tolerances to psych meds, stresses can overwhelm, or any other number of minor things can cause a person to destabilize.

      So what should you do? Be patient. In situations like this, I typically recommend to give it up to about six months. That gives the Bipolar person some time to have an unwell cycle run it’s course and for them to get back to their regular functioning level. Chances are pretty good that if you two were together for two years, then her feelings were genuine and the mental illness is lying to her about how she feels now. Wait about two or three months and try reaching out again. Just a simple. “Hey, how are you doing?” And see if and how she responds. Try it again 2-3 months after that.

      It may not take that long or her unwellness could last longer, assuming she is actually unwell.

      If she had it under control before, she can have it under control again. It’ll just be a matter of her realizing that she is unwell and deciding to do something about it. Which, if she did previously have it under control, is likely to happen.

      Of course, there are no guarantees. It may work out, it may not. In the meantime, just take the time to work on yourself or things you need to handle. Keep living your life and doing what you need to do. Patience is an important virtue when dealing with an unwell Bipolar person. And if she does come back around, the two of you may want to visit a therapist together to work on a strategy for dealing with the problem together.

      • Deke says:

        Dennis,
        First off, thank you for your response, your blog, and its candor. I appreciate all of it more than you know.

        The depth of my love for her was great. But I made an enormous mistake in not educating myself more on BPD. It would not have changed how I felt about her, but it would have changed how I approached her. I didn’t think of her as being ill, I just thought of her. All the time. My heart is in a million pieces right now, even three months after she left. I am certainly not without blame in our demise, but I think her illness played a role, also. I wish I could undo things, but I cannot.

        Patience is a virtue that I’ve struggled with my entire life, and not contacting her (as per her request) has been an incredible challenge. I want to tell her that I still love her, but I will wait (and hope) she will return to me. I can’t fathom that she could go from the level of love that she displayed for me to “leave me alone” within a matter of a few days.

        Thank you so much. I am trying to heal by moving forward, but I simply can’t let her go or stop loving her. I know that I never will. I do not love easily or often, but when I do, it’s full-on. I hope to hear from her again.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome on the response and candor.

          A lot of people make the mistake of underestimating Bipolar Disorder. You’re not the first, you won’t be the last. So try not to dwell too much on that. I will point out though, BPD is the acronym for Borderline Personality Disorder. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have a common use acronym. I realize it may seem like a trivial detail but if you’re talking to someone who identifies BPD with Borderline then you can wind up being in a confusing discussion.

          Luckily, patience is a virtue that can be learned and developed. And it is very much beneficial in more circumstances than trying to manage with an unwell loved one.

          Deep and intense love can certainly appear and disappear in an unstable Bipolar mind. It is possible because Delusion plays such a strong role in our unwell cycles. But, I believe that her feelings for you were genuine because of how long the original feelings were consistent. 2 years would be a really long time for an unstable person’s mind to maintain a delusion in that way. In my mind, it’s more likely that it goes the other way. In that her brain is masking her real emotions and feelings under delusion.

          So yeah, time is going to be one of the better approaches for getting through that so her unwell cycle can run its course, if she is.

          And even if it doesn’t work out, takes longer than a few months to heal the loss of a great love. Comes back to that patience thing again.

  32. Laura says:

    Thank you for the response, and yes – I completely agree.

    Whenever he has talked with me about people – his friends, his initial descriptions, without fail, include age and mental health issue or dysfunctional background. “oh, that’s Sally and she was married to an alcoholic who abused her” or “oh, that’s my friend John. He’s married to someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder.”

    Without fail. It reached the point where I was looking for my own dysfunction to claim. I think most people have dysfunction in their background, especially family dysfunction. But even from that perspective, I felt like as much as I told him, “I’m healthy and here with you, not because I need you or feel obligated to you, but because I want to be here and I enjoy being with you” that he just could not relate to that or that it made him nervous.

    Oh well… like I’ve said repeatedly – our very strong friendship has survived, and I’m grateful for that. I’m even okay with not having the romance. I learned a lot and it was a wonderful experience for me (and I hope, for him).

    Thank you again – you, your blog, and all the commenters have continued to be helpful and interesting.

  33. Kim says:

    Hi
    I have been in a relationship with a man with bi polar for the past 3 years. I just found out that he was bi polar from a family member this year. He told me he had panic attacks when I first met him. Throughout the relationship he would do things that were crazy when he did not get his way and I knew this wasn’t normal. Because I loved him I overlooked his issues. He treated me very very good and was always very attentive up until 8 weeks ago.

    The first time he pushed me away was last year around this same time and it lasted for 3 weeks and he admitted to being depressed. During the 3 weeks I contacted him everyday and I was able to get him out of the depression we were fine until recently. 3 months ago he started pushing me away but then the next day he would just show up at my house and tell me I was annoying him and that is why he pushed me away. Now he started pushing me away stronger since the last 8 weeks. He keeps saying he wants to be single and be by himself and that he does not want the responsibility of a relationship.

    Its hard for me to let go because he showed me for the past 3 years that he loves me. We had a very close bond and did everything together.

    I have been txting him every other day for the past 8 weeks but he keeps pushing me away. He gets nasty sometimes and calls me bitches and tells me to leave him alone. He won’t answer any of my calls only texts. During the past 8 weeks he has contacted me on his own maybe about 3 separate occasions. A couple of times he was a little bit calm and I would ask him if he met someone and he always says no.

    We haven’t seen each other in 8 weeks. He will not admit that he is depressed but only saying the same thing each time I text him which is leave him alone he wants to be single, I’m annoying him. This is very hard on me all I do is cry every day because I don’t understand after 3 years how he can push me away for 8 weeks and feel nothing.

    When I text him he always responds right away all the time and I have continued to ask him if he met someone one else and some days he says no and the other days he says its none of my business what he is doing because he is single. I have told him that i will leave him alone and never contact him if is with another woman but he will not admit it. But yet he tells me to leave him alone and he doesnt like me at all anymore and im pathetic calling him all the time. This is confusing to me because I do need to know if this is the bi polar making him act this way or did he meet someone else or both.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Kim.

      The reason that it doesn’t make sense to you is probably because you don’t have a mental illness that warps your reality. Many people make the mistake of equating “Bipolar Disorder” to just extreme mood swings. Delusion is a very big part of unwell cycles. Delusion can convince a person that reality is very different from the truth. So what is the truth? Well, I can’t know for certain, but the scenario you’re describing sounds like very common fallout for a severe depressive cycle.

      Assuming that your relationship was good and healthy for three years, that he loved you before this unwell cycle started; then his real emotions are likely to be what they were for those three years. How was he before this depressive cycle? That is the best gauge of what he actually feels. Once this unwell cycle ends, the delusion and false emotions he’s feeling now will drop away.

      Here’s the thing. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. It drastically affects a person’s emotions and perceptions. That means that anything of deep emotional connection (ie love) can serve as a catalyst for an unwell cycle or instability. You need to stop constantly texting him. The more you text and the more emotional weight you put on him, the more it’s going to draw out his unwell cycle. You can’t expect him to be able to manage an emotional load right now because his brain isn’t working right. It’d be like expecting a paralyzed person to walk across the room to you. He’s just not capable of doing it.

      Were I in your position, knowing what I know about the Disorder, I would send him one more text. “I love you. Please message me when your cycle ends.” Don’t argue about it. Don’t invoke any further emotions. You’re planting seeds for the future. And stop texting/contacting him. Let the cycle run it’s course. Every time you text him you’re just throwing more gasoline on the fires and extending his unwell cycle. Assuming he doesn’t reach out to you first, wait about a month and then try contacting him again. Hopefully, by then the unwell cycle will have run it’s course.

      The more imperative concern is taking care of your own mental health. You may want to speak to a counselor yourself about what you’re going through. They may be able to provide additional insight and help you work through it.

      Patience is the only thing that really works well in situations like this. All you can really do is wait. Because the more you try to force your way in, the more he’s going to going to shove back, backed by instability, because he is emotionally connected to you.

      • Kim says:

        Wow, you are a true genius. Your feedback really made alot of sense and also made me feel better. I haven’t contacted him at all since I sent my orginal post and you are right, by me constantly txting him made him act worse and say nasty things that really hurted my feelings.

        One thing I forgot to mention was and it may seem silly but I asked him if he could keep in touch by sending me smiley faces and so he did two days in a row. I didn’t reply back because I didn’t want to get myself in the habit of back to back text msg.

        The questions I have for you is: how is it that he can function normal at his job but yet be in a delusional state with me? I think that is why I was a little in denial because he is very intelligent he knows what he is doing so how come he can’t function normal with me like he does at work? And why is this cycle lasting so long? Does something major have to go on for a cycle to last longer? The longest was 3 weeks last year around this same time when the weather changes.

        Before this last cycle started he was fine and attentive with me. Throughout the whole 3 years he was very attentive but like I mentioned before he would act crazy when he did not get his way or if he felt pressured.

        • Dennis says:

          On the question of functionality, I speculated on that in this blog post… http://www.bipolarmanifesto.com/wordpress/2015/01/25/how-can-my-bipolar-loved-one-be-so-awful-to-me/ It’s a question that comes up pretty often.

          Unwell cycles can last anywhere from a day to several months. I don’t know of many people who have had an unwell cycle longer than a year unless it was kept artificially going by outside contributors – like drugs, alcohol, stress.

          As for his period of relative stability – we’re always Bipolar until the day we die. So periodic setbacks and chaotic periods will happen from time to time for whatever reason. Just the way it goes really.

  34. Z says:

    Hi Dennis,
    First I can’t thank you enough for this post/ site. The insight and advice you’ve given to so many is invaluable beyond measure. I have learned so much about my condition in the last 2 months and your post has been by far the most helpful. But I fear it’s too little too late for myself. I was diagnosed as bipolar in 2007 following my first full blown manic episode shortly after a divorce but was too arrogant or ignorant or stupid to accept the diagnosis until this recent depressive crash I’m currently experiencing. I self medicated for years with alcohol and pot but I’ve recently been forced to quit due to a job and as the veil is lifting I can now see the trail of destruction in my wake. I always thought my anger and irritability was part of my personality. I knew something wasn’t quite right but I’ve never felt normal to begin with. Now that I’ve been researching the symptoms of bipolar I finally accept that I’ve been struggling with this my entire adult life. I was blind to what I was feeling and experiencing. I feel like the dumbest piece of shit on the planet. How could I have been so oblivious to what I was doing and feeling?! So many ruined relationships and friendships. It’s soul crushing. This recent depression is coming on the heels of a mania in which I quit my job, sold everything I owned and moved 2600 miles away assuming a huge debt to pursue some ridiculous business venture which is completely unattainable. At this point I really don’t know how to process all the guilt, deal with the reality of the consequences , and think that there’s any chance of rebuilding my life. I’m not sure where I’m going with this other than to say that I had no idea of the depth of my delusion when I was experiencing it. I keep praying that this is a horrible dream but the sad fact is that I’ve ruined my life by ignoring my symptoms and being unwilling to accept my diagnosis and educate myself about its severity. Again thank you for supplying some of the clarity I so desperately needed. I can only hope there’s enough pieces left to put some semblance of a life back together.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Z. Too often, we need to fall our farthest to absolute rock bottom before we can start to recover and climb back out of our hole. Your tale is an unfortunately common one. The good news is that new things can be found and created. New standards in life can built. Yeah, it may suck ass trying to get there. The past is the past, you need to dedicate yourself to creating a brighter future now. I know everything seems hopeless and pointless right now, but it won’t be forever. Look into whatever local resources you can. If you’re low/no income now, visit any social services offices and apply for whatever you can. If there are any relationships or friendships you can potentially salvage; start with an apology. Talk to them about your journey and your resolve to not be a victim to Bipolar Disorder any longer. You may find that you haven’t torched everything completely.

      It’s a long, difficult road. I highly recommend support groups if you can find a local Bipolar one. It’s very helpful to be around other people who have gone through similar things. I assure you, you’re not alone. At one point in my life, I was homeless and eating out of a dumpster to survive. And yet, here I am, telling you things can get better; that life can get better.

      Don’t give up.

      My current e-Book and the next one coming out on the 5th are both full of valuable information that may help you gain greater clarity and deal with this problem more. I’ll be running a free promotion for them when my second releases on December 5th. You can grab them both for free on Amazon Kindle (or using a free reader app for PC or mobile) shortly after the 5th.

      If you have any questions or want to vent, please feel free to email me at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com

      I check my email pretty regularly. If you dip suicidal, please call the national crisis line or local resources. (Not sure if you’re in the US or not; but if you are it’s 800-273-8255) These folks handle more than just suicidal thoughts too. They can address a number of crisis measures. You may want to give him a call either way to see if they can connect you with any viable resources.

  35. Ollie says:

    Hi Dennis

    Thanks for this wonderful article. I’m a few months out from a 6 mth relationship with a lovely girl who was bipolar. Its been a hard few months and been all the worse as we work together in the same office and I still see her every day. Its now like talking to a ghost in the office kitchen!

    It was so hard, she pursued me for months (I was uber cautious having had a failed office romance previously) but she loved me so much! Much more than any other girlfriend I’d dated before. We’d sneak out of the office to grab coffee every day, and she never wanted to let me go (almost too clingy)! At night I’m still a bit haunted by the things she used to say about how she loved me but its getting better now, mercifully.

    I never could understand how she could basically overnight go cold and kick me out of the house one Sunday morning. The spontaneous crying spells, and how she would suddenly (having talked to her at work that day) only be able to talk in a squeaky mouse voice. Makes sense now. It must be hard for her.

    No need to go into all the (historic) details, but your article has helped me understand more about her and how little the breakup had to do with ‘me’ and my behaviour. It still hurts every day, but at least I am on the path to forgiving her. Its easy to hang on to resentment, truthfully I wish I didn’t have to see her ever again, but at least I can get over the sense that I was in some way ’emotionally used’ by her.

    I just want her to find stability and happiness.

  36. Sadie says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I have a boyfriend I’ve been dating for only two weeks now, but I’ve been seeing him for 5 months. He had been previously diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar/mania, and schizophrenia; however, after a long battle he no longer takes any form of medication and he believes he has overcome all of it. These past few weeks he has been in a manic episode, but he is extremely positive and uses his extra energy to do things for others, such as writing peoples essays for free.

    He has explained his mania to me and he doesn’t see it as a bad thing, and I believe he as grown to accept it.

    Throughout the short period we’ve been together he has made strong claims that he has publicly announced on Facebook, such as “I am the love of his life,” or that “he would like to eventually be the father of my child”. He also writes long posts online about different topics; however, just recently he has deleted all of his posts as well as all of his pictures. I am not sure if the act of deleting everything is a sign of him coming off of the manic episode, or something else.

    I am starting to become really attached to him, and I am afraid that I am going to get hurt. Although in person he seems to be very rational and he has claimed to overcome his mental disorder (or at least change for the better), I am scared that all of his love he claimed to have for me was through the manic episode.

    I have never been in a relationship with someone that has mania and I am not sure what exactly to do. I’d like to believe he has overcome it, but I also don’t want to get hurt emotionally.

    Do you think it would be bad or offend him if I expressed my fear of his love for me rooting from his mania?

    • Sadie says:

      I also thought I should add that in the 5 months we had been talking, he disappeared for 6 weeks and left me hanging. He later came back around and eventually claimed that he had been medicated the six weeks and was embarrassed for me to see him like that (at the time I did not know about his condition). He had not told me about his mental illness until about a month ago, and said he took so long to tell me because he was afraid I would think he was crazy and stop talking to him.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Sadie. Thank you for taking the time to write.

      Knowing what I know about Bipolar Disorder and reading your situation, were I in your shoes, I would be dialing back the relationship significantly and most likely ending it. And here’s why.

      1. You don’t actually know him as a person. You know the manic him. All of that passion, energy, extreme positivity, and outgoing nature is likely to disappear when his manic cycle finally ends. The side of him you’re seeing now is just one facet of his entire person. Frankly, it’s not a facet you want to see often because with mania comes instability. It’s perfectly possible that he deleted all of his work because he felt it was a “good idea.” Mania also convinces you of things that may not necessarily be true, like this person is the love of your life.

      2. It is very easy to get swept up in the rationalizations. Mental illness doesn’t typically look like screaming and straight jackets. It can be rational, although very warped. In this case, he’s manic, you’ve been dating for 5 months, and now he’s professing to want to be the father to your children and all. That probably is rational in his mind. It may also be rational to want to help out friends and maybe even write an essay or two; but it’s not really rational to up and delete a bunch of work you’ve poured hundreds of hours into. It can be difficult to differentiate if you don’t know what you’re looking at.

      3. You’re going to get hurt. There is no way around that. No one comes away from being Bipolar or loving a Bipolar person without some damage. It’s the nature of the beast; it’s part of mental illness. In his case, his road is going to be a long one because he doesn’t identify that his mania is a bad thing. It feels REALLY fucking good. And a lot of people reason that since it feels good and it’s a natural part of them, then it must be okay. But it’s not. Because it causes delusional thoughts, feelings, impulsiveness, recklessness, and a whole slew of other negative shit that you can’t just “overcome” because you want to. He has not overcome it. The fact that he doesn’t regard his mania with caution and apprehension is a clear testament to that fact. You don’t really “overcome” mania anyway. You deal with it, you manage it, you try to direct it and deal as little damage as possible; if you’re responsible and understand it.

      4. The fact that he disappeared for six weeks and didn’t tell you anything is not a great sign either. Granted, his concerns are valid. A lot of people will run screaming away. But even still, that doesn’t really excuse the fact that he left you wondering for six weeks. That is also a very telling statement though. The details of that six weeks could be something very serious. Was he hospitalized? Was he forcibly held? What were the reasons for that? Six weeks of being medicated and no real great detail in that would make me have a lot of questions about the situation, were I in your shoes.

      So, to summarize – the person you’re starting to develop feelings for is not the person you’ll know when he’s not manic. He has a very poor understanding and relationship with the Disorder, which means he’s probably going to be on a bad path for quite a long time. Understanding how negative things are and that we cannot live that way usually requires a whole lot of suffering and loss before it really sinks in. Being with a Bipolar partner is a hell of a difficult commitment, even when things are going relatively well. Based on how he views his Disorder, it’s probably going to be quite awhile before he can recover.

      If you want to ask him about his feelings and mania, say something like, “So, you’re aware that mania can cause false feelings, right? How do you know the mania isn’t doing that now with me?” And see how he responds to that. The answer you’re looking for is hard and concrete, not abstract. A person that truly loves you, in my experience, will usually be able to list off some decent reasons that fuel their feelings. Anything like “You just make me feel so good!” is not a good answer because mania can easily be making that person feel good.

      If you choose to continue on this relationship, take it VERY VERY SLOW. Chances are pretty good he may suggest something like moving in, getting married, or something like that. Shut that down. “I just don’t know you well enough for that right now.” At minimum, I would recommend just dating for at least a year or two. Unwell cycles rarely last that long unless they are fueled by other contributors so it will give you some time to see his other facets; including the depressed side.

      And that’s not even touching on the schizophrenia. I know a few schizophrenics who manage their mental illness well through hard work, medication, and therapy. It doesn’t sound like your guy is doing that at all or understands it’s necessary. These mental illnesses are not minor or inconsequential things. They have drastic affects on a person’s quality of life and the people around them; even when they are managed well. Not being managed well, it’s often like the wasteland surrounding an impact crater.

      Now, my answer would be different if he was taking responsibility for his mental illnesses and pushing against it. I would tell you to take things slow, methodically, and work together as partners to deal with these things and to take more time to see if this is actually what you want or if his feelings are even real. But based on your description and his mental illnesses, I’d be willing to bet money his “love” is manic delusion. It certainly has all the typical indicators that other people share with me on a regular basis.

      If you choose to end the relationship, I would HIGHLY recommend you speak to a counselor at least once to talk about the situation and a safe way to extract yourself. That six weeks period is concerning to me and mania can cause us to do strange, erratic things. I don’t want to see you end up being stalked or hurt. Consider seeking professional advice before making any major decisions on the matter. You may also want to talk to a domestic violence non-profit and ask them for advice on removing yourself from the life of a mentally/emotionally person. Even though you don’t mention any abuse and he may not have been abusive, they should be able to give you some meaningful information on dealing with that situation in the safest way possible.

  37. Jane says:

    Dennis,

    First of all. Thank you for maintaining this amazing web. It is very informative and gives ALOT of insight to someone completely uninformed. I read not only the article but also all of the posts below. I think I already know the answer, but I guess I will ask anyway just to calm my spirit.

    So here it is, MY STORY DATING A BIPOLAR:

    So basically I met someone 5 weeks ago in a city that I was visiting for a weekend. Amazing, charming, charizmatic.
    We met at the party and we got this spark right away. We started texting alot. He offered to take a few h off work to give me a lift to the train-station on the following monday. When he gave me a lift he told me he has a bipolar disorder. And that he wants to warn me up-front about him and what I might be signing up for.
    I said ok and it didn’t have much meaning to me. I had no clue at that point what does it mean. As we only had a short period of time together there was not much time to dig deeper into the topic in a face-2-face communication.
    We continued texting and calling every day for the next few weeks. It didn’t seem suspicious as it happend to me before to fall for a man in a similar manner, who was comlpetely healthy. Sometimes you just “hit it off” and get that connection.

    We connected. We would talk alot on the phone. As we both work alot, we would send each other texts throughout the day. He decided to come over to visit.. So 3 weeks after we met he came here for a few days. On the first evening he seemed a little weird. I guess it probably was his “down” mood. But I thought he was just tired after long day of work followed by an exhausting journey.
    The next few days together were really nice. We talked alot, he mantioned he had 2 really depressive episodes in his life and how he discovered he is sick and seeked treatment and got professional help even stayed in a hospital for a while.
    He said he changed the environment, city and has been stable ever since.

    It is really difficult for me to believe he was maniac, as he wasn’t really getting into crazy ideas about us and the future. He was rather realistic. We discussed the distance and difficulties but he didn’t seem over-euphoric – that would have probably triggered my red light. He also told me that he had one 6-years long relationship. This was his first girlfriend ever and they even lived together for 2 years. He said things burned out from both sides and they decided to go separate ways – which is also something that happend to my very close friend so pretty “legit” story.

    I also made it clear before he came that there won’t be any physical interaction between us as he comes as I take things slow. He said, he really wants to just spend time together and get to know each other better.
    He is a very attractive man, so I am sure he wouldn’t have issues getting one nite stands and I find it difficult to believe he would just invest so much time and effort to get his mania-needs met.

    Another thing that really was incredible for me was that he came clear from the second date about his condition. He said that he wants me to know the whole package before I make any decision…
    So after the his visit we kept staying in touch. And one day.. after I sent him a message that could have hurt him, he stopped getting in touch. I then sent another message explaining i didn’t mean to hurt him and it was just a tough joke- cuz that is what it was.

    He answered after a few days that he is sorry but he has had some “worse days”. I wrote that I understand and if I can help in any way he knows where to find me.
    He wrote he really appreciates that.

    So my question is: do you think this whole relationship was just his mania?
    Or is it rather tht he is pushing me away because of the down-time. I just started educating myself about the BPD and I understand that this behavior might be triggered by amood-swing.

    It is really difficult for me to let go, mainly because he really did open up about the sickness and wanted me to know and understand it. Only I chose to be ignorant about it until this weekend. During the time we stayed in touch I was going through some personal issues and he was also great emotional help and support. We stayed in touch every day for over 4 weeks and last week or so we just have had this very limited communication.
    The thing is I really have fallen for this man. And I am not sure whether I shuold just move on with my life and forget him. Or maybe give him a chance?

    • Dennis says:

      I would say that it is a relationship worth pursuing really. Nothing about what you said really suggests mania to me. It seems very measured and calculated, as you relate his actions. It seems he has a strong sense of what the Disorder means to him, how he manages it, and how it affects his general life. These are all good things.

      I entirely believe in the “connection” thing as well. I’ve had a couple of relationships starts off of it that were not related to escalation at all. So I do believe it to be a thing that happens and independent of the Disorder.

      I think he’s pushing you away in his downswing for a couple of reasons. 1. It isn’t normal that people want to be included in it. It’s a very lonely and solitary time because of the depression. Those of us that do want our shit to splash on other people will often isolate ourselves so we don’t bring the people we care about down with us. It’s possible he’s doing that. 2. A person’s brain function significantly slows down in a depressive swing. Imagine if your brain just started thinking at half the speed it was right now and you couldn’t remember a number of different things. It is very frustrating and hard to express because your brain isn’t working worth a shit. So a lot of people simply don’t communicate rather than frustrate themselves further.

      I think you may want to just drop him a note and let him know you’ve started researching more on Bipolar Disorder. That you’d like to talk to him more in-depth about it when he’s feeling up to it. That you didn’t realize how major of a thing it was until this latest dip and your starting your own research.

      TAKE. THINGS. SLOW. Bipolar Disorder is for life. If he starts getting any grand ideas about moving in together immediately or marriage or anything like that; I would be suspicious of mania. I feel like two years is a good amount of time to see the full scope of the Disorder in a person and how they behave with it. It sounds like your guy has a decent grasp on how to handle things in a healthy way. I feel like it would be at least worth exploring further.

      Just make it known that in the future, you need to be included in helping to manage if you guys are going to work out. He needs to at least say “Hey, I’m in a Depressive swing and I need time to myself.” It’s not a hard thing to do and removes a lot of confusion from the scenario.

      Thank you for the kind words on my work! Glad you’ve found it helpful.

      Also – BPD is the acronym for Borderline Personality Disorder. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have an acronym. I realize it may seem trite but they are very different mental illnesses and you don’t want to get confused in your research.

  38. Jane says:

    Hello Dennis,

    thank you so much! It is an extremely valuable input from someone knowing the disorder so well. I actually thought you would probably say run, and yet it is a very positive surprise. Is there any books you would recommend on the disorder really on point?

    • Dennis says:

      Well, I certainly recommend my ebooks, as an entire shameless self-promotion.

      But my general advice is not to recommend anything specific. The problem with recommendations of any kind about resources on mental illness is that mental illness strikes us all slightly differently and we all have different perceptions of what it means to us. So you can pick up a magnificent book about Bipolar Disorder and it could mean fuck all to your guy because he doesn’t experience the Disorder that way. My advice is to read and listen to everything; and take it all with a grain of salt. Take that which applies and discard the rest. Far too many people get hung up on “this is how it is.” To some extent, there are unifying factors for all of us.

      But generally speaking, there is no one perfect resource that will provide perfect illumination.

      I’ve taken this into account in creating my own work. I aim for lowest common denominator and try to present information that a majority of us can relate to and use; whether you are a loved one or a mentally ill person yourself.

  39. Marsha says:

    This blog has helped me a great deal. I recently thought I met the man of my life and after 4 months he told me to take all of my stuff and get out and to leave him alone. He was angry, seething, hit the wall and picked up a chair to throw, which he put down when I quickly told him, “ok, I’m leaving”. We had not been fighting or anything. He still goes to work and follows his rigid routine. I knew he seemed to be a little OCD and he told me of his horrible childhood and that he was moody. He won’t respond to my calls or emails so I showed up at his job. He threatened to call the police if I didn’t leave. I was calm and told him I just wanted to make sure he was ok and why won’t he talk to me. He said he told me that I was driving him crazy and that he is done! I told him I apologize for whatever I did, that I loved him and that I’d leave and give him his space. After I drove up the street, I called to ask him if he would call me when he felt better. He said, “you just don’t get it do you?” Next thing I know, my mother calls and says that he called and asked her to tell me to leave him alone. Told her that we broke up but that I keep coming to his house and job. I was sending him a bunch of text msgs until I started researching about peronality disorders and realized that I need to give him his space. He wasn’t overly emotional when we started dating but did tell me that he could see having a life with me and told me the reasons he felt I was a good fit for him. He told me that he doesn’t have intense feelings of love, or any feelings but that he does care a great deal and knows what he wants. He was very attentive, holding hands, kissing and great sex, however, I think something was a little off, like he would not initiate a hug or try to cuddle. After reading this blog, I think he was probably in a manic state. I love him but I don’t know if he will ever return. I am so heartbroken.

    • Dennis says:

      It’s a blessing in disguise, Marsha. Let me ask you this – why would you want to be with someone who did not love you or professed to not being able to have feelings for you? Does that sound like the foundation of a healthy relationship?

      Frankly, your post has a lot of red flags to me that he was manipulating you. It’s easy to fake being nice and sweet for a little while. Why would he continue to be sweet to you if he has no feelings for you? That’s just going through the motions; something that will eventually end sooner or later.

      His lack of self-control and you’re being okay with his shitty behavior is also a problem.

      I would really recommend that you go and speak to a therapist about you. If he is an abusive personality, you’ve pretty much just green-lighted to him treating you like a doormat and your being okay with it. By leaving when he was seething and kicking you out; and then you coming back, you’re essentially telling a potential abuser “I’m a victim.”

      His behavior was not okay. And neither was your response. Seriously, go speak to a counselor about the situation and relationship and see what they think about it.

      • Marsha says:

        Thanks for your response. I guess I left a bit out of my original message. When I said he didn’t say he loved me or was emotional. He had told me that he had a hard time “feeling” anything, love, hate, extreme happiness, period. But said he felt the most for me that he had for anyone. He introduced me to his co-workers, had me talk on the phone to his sister, brother, and son (they all live out of state), called me from his Dr.’s ofc & put me on the phone w/him. He took me to the Dr. for surgery and took care of me after the surgery. He was fun, we laughed, talked, and texted. I stayed with him for a few days at a time and things were great. I noticed that he would be extremely quiet when we’d 1st wake up and he said he was moody in the morning. Not a red flag for me because I can be moody in the morning also. Sex was good, but no cuddling. He always opened car doors and held my hand everywhere we went. He went with me to meet my sister and her family. I had really fallen for him and he said he wanted to me with me, introduced me as his girlfriend etc. Then on his job, which is already stressful, he took on 1 shift & a half, working 12 hr days. I could see it was wearing on him and he wasn’t getting any sleep. By the 5th day of working like that, he sent me a text saying, “hey, we are only going to see each other on weekends”, which he isn’t even off on wkends. I called him to see what was going on and he screamed into the phone that he was sick and tired of everybody, that he had just cussed everybody out at work, that he had put in for a transfer and he was leaving the state!” he hung up. I was concerned that he was having a nervous breakdown or something so I texted, telling him I would meet him at the house when he got off. He texted back, “fine, come get your stuff, get out and leave me alone”. I texted back that I’d be there but would need to stay all night. Didn’t want to drive all the way back to my side of town (50 min) in the middle of the night. So I get down there, he says nothing to me. I go to bed. He gets into bed, I touch his shoulder and he jumps looks at me and says, “don’t touch me!”. He looked like a completely different person and this is totally out of character. So the next morning, I hear him get up and go in the bathroom. When he comes out, he sees that I’m awake and he says, “let’s go!, get your stuff and get out!” and the rest is what I wrote to you earlier. So the reason I went back there and to his job was not to say, “hey, I’m a pushover and a victim”, I went there because I am genuinely concerned about him, whether he wanted a relationship or not. I could tell, by looking at him that he was clearly not himself. I was glad to see that he was able to function and still go to work. The text msgs I have been sending him were saying things like, are you ok, I just want to help and make sure you are ok, they were not begging to get him back. I would never accept abuse or mistreatment in a relationship. I was seeing several guys (no sex) before I narrowed down to just seeing him. He is a very together guy, good job, nice personality, calm, chill, stable, everything a woman could want so when he snapped like that I couldn’t help but try to look into what’s going on with him healthwise. If he had been just a “regular” guy or a butt hole, then I’d would’nt have thought anything of it. I was sharing my story to alert folks that sometimes even 90 days isn’t enough to know a person. It’s like it was said, here, you really need to see a person for a few years before you can really know them……..

        • Dennis says:

          Thank you for clarifying, Marsha. And I’m glad to hear you have a healthy perspective on the situation.

          It definitely sounds consistent with a severe manic cycle, and the increased workload at work would have definitely ramped him up and escalated him.

          Is he getting any kind of psych help or taking meds for management?

          • Marsha says:

            He is good with keeping up with his heath as far as his diabetes, dentist, eye dr. etc. but I don’t think he sees anyone or takes medicine for the depression/mood disorder. I think he believes he has it under control. When he screamed on the phone that he had cussed everyone out on the job, I remember him also saying, “I’m not going to see a psychiatrist!” At the time, I didn’t even know why he said that but hindsight I think maybe someone at his job must have suggested it. I called his sister to tell her what happened and that I was concerned about him. She said they didn’t grow up together much because the girls (her & other sisters) were brought up mostly in the foster care whereas He (the oldest) and one of his brothers were in/out of foster care but mainly with the mother who was uneducated and described as having mental issues. Both parents are deceased. As the oldest, he, as an adult, tried to bring them all together but then he relocated years ago but still tries to help everyone financially. His sister called the brother he grew up closest to to talk to him about it and she said he went off on her and said that’s just how he (my ex BF) is and to just leave him alone and that he goes thru this often. The sister said that this brother has issues too and that he had put his wife thru hell for years and finally went to a dr and counseling in recent years. I was taking the advice and just giving him some space and will check back with him periodically because I want to catch him when he’s “himself” again and see if I can get him to go to a dr. I’m goinng to ask my Dr. for recommendations on who he should see so I’ll be able to provide that information to him. Everyone describes him as being a very “good hearted” man, he’s worked for the same company for 30 yrs and was proud to have received recognition for that this past year. The day I gathered my clothes & things I had at his place I noticed that he had thrown away some items received from work, like a nice cristal clock with the company emblem was smashed. I really feel bac for him. He looks as though he is in a state between waking up and not being fully awake. But he thinks he’s awake. I am grateful to have found this now, rather than 20 yrs from now. Now that I am over the initial shock of it all, I am willing to be a supportive friend for him without any expectations of anything more. Any suggestions on how I can get him to see someone when I’m almost sure he will refuse?

          • Dennis says:

            I wish I knew the answer to that question.

            The best advice I can give you on it is to wait until he is clearly out of the cycle. In the coming days, he may appear calm and collected; but unless he’s talking about how much he’s screwed up his life, he’s probably still in an escalated cycle. Once he cycles out, he should be able to see how dramatically damaging his actions have been in this past cycle. From the sounds of things, this is a very severe one and may get worse before it gets better. He may end up entirely upending his life and destroying everything before it’s over.

            The approach I take is to not bring up a specific mental illness or anything along those lines. I just start asking questions, “Do you think this is normal?” Is it normal to upend your life, destroy your relationship, destroy your career? Do you think that these are things that other people do on a regular basis? Because they’re not. And I use that to help get the wheels turning. Then I will gently suggest that perhaps it is worth talking about this bout of instability, and the ones that the person has experienced throughout their life, with a professional just to see what they have to say on the matter.

            In my mind, the important thing is not to tell the person they need psychological help; but to enable them to realize that they need it for themselves. Telling the person just throws them on the defensive, which will incite an overreaction based out of their mental issues, and send them into a chaotic, defensive mindset. Then you don’t get anywhere.

            As for how long this instability could last; it’s hard telling. Could be over tomorrow. Could last several more months. Only thing you can really do is wait; unless the person is a threat to themselves or someone else. If he starts threatening violence or something like that; don’t hesitate to notify authorities. He may be a wonderful, kind person when he’s well and balanced; but you can’t rely on that when a person is as severely unbalanced as it sounds like he is.

          • Marsha says:

            OK, I’m going to wait it out and see if he calls or comes back around. I’m hoping he will be ok. He is so regimented that he probably can do most things on “auto-pilot” auto, except with me, of course, so maybe me staying away will help him to get back focused. I couldn’t even think, focus or barely breathe at 1st but just reading and researching calmed me down a lot. He helped me through some issues when we 1st started going out and then during my surgery and I really grew to love him so I will try to be a supportive friend and check in on him from time to time to make sure he’s ok. He doesn’t have any friends, he’s a loner. He deals with the old guy next door from time to time but that guy is in his 80s. It’s been almost 2 weeks since this happened. I’m just getting back to focusing on things I need to do for myself. I had a plan and goals before I met him that I have been neglecting. Your blog has been so helpful and thanks so much for your feedback. It’s good just to be able to talk to someone about this. I tried to discuss it with one of my friends and the 1st thing she said was offensive, in my opinion, which I told her so. So needless to say, I won’t be discussing anything with her. Some of these “so-called” Christians kill me. Sit in church every week and always quoting the bible, yet would not have empathy for an illness or disorder. oh well……. anyway, again, thanks so much. I just found a new cause to learn about and support.

  40. Izzybusy says:

    Hi Dennis

    I’ve read this blog and found it really helpful and insightful. I wondered if you could give some advice on a friend who has bipolar.

    I reconnected with an old boyfriend back last year who seem surprised and happy that I had made contact; I don’t ‘think’ he was manic when I first got back in touch. We chatted a bit on messenger then exchanged phone numbers. He used to initiate texts quite a lot of the time; mostly silly ones just to make contact really. A couple of times I could feel an attraction on both parts (I am married though) and he did send me quite a few sexts which I now realise must be due to hypersexual, but he instantly said sorry and realised they were inappropriate. Anyway, we met up for a coffee and got on great (I live 2 hours away) but prior to meeting up he was forever blowing hot and cold. I didn’t understand it and didn’t really think much of it thinking it was due to me being married. After we met up the blowing hot and cold thing happened again and when I mentioned it him that he has to be straight up with me and not be so flaky, he told me he has bipolar disorder with other things (I am guessing OCD as well). It made sense to his actions and he told me lots of stuff about his life and childhood I never knew previously and how he had turned to drugs (I knew him when he was taking those) and drink but had been clean and sober now for years. He believes he always had bipolar but the drugs and drink masked it. I thanked him for telling me as I knew he didn’t have to etc. Anyway, all ok until about 8 weeks ago. He was being his usual flirty self and texting me silly random things; we were going to meet up again when I was due to visit family and I thought we had agreed on a day. When I asked if this date was ok he started with the hot and cold again and I got abit annoyed as it takes a lot of organising for me, I can’t just drop things. He took my annoyance to heart and we basically said forget it then. He text me later and asked if I had gotten over my tantrum and said that due to me misinterpreting his texts we couldn’t text anymore and could only talk on the phone. Fine I thought, here we go again as its happened before but he always reinitiated text contact. Roll on 4 days later after no contact he texts me to say that he was sorry but he had to break off our friendship completely, there could be no contact of any sort, it didn’t matter why and that I wasn’t to take it personally and to delete his number. I text him back and said what have I done wrong now. He replied to say he had had some traumatic news and it had make him ill; he needed to make himself well again which will take time, don’t take it personally and to leave him be. I replied and said sorry he had had bad news and that I was always his friend and will be here for him if he needed to talk. No response. Over the next 10 days I sent 3 more texts saying hope are ok, still here if you want to talk, not letting you throw away our friendship. The last text I sent I said I hate not knowing if you are ok or not, please let me know by a quick text or phone call that you are ok when you are in a better place. An hour later he called me back and although a brief phone call it put my mind at rest even though he was still hurting and in pain. I called him again 2 weeks later and a longer more normal phone call took place with him opening up to me abit more about his illness and how the traumatic news had made him feel and was describing things being like grey photographs and a pain in his head which he couldn’t handle. He was apprehensive about Christmas and asked me a few things about me and my life, how was I etc. We left it that we would call one another and either leave a message if couldn’t pick up or see a missed call and call back. 10 days later I called him but it went to ansaphone so I didn’t leave a message as I thought he would see a missed call from me. No return call. Christmas Eve I text him and said I hoped tomorrow would be a good day (didn’t say merry or happy Christmas etc) and that I was available to talk anytime. No response. I am now too afraid to reach out again as I fear rejection myself. I have abandonment issues myself which my friend knows and he said he would never abandon me as he believed we had been thrown back together for a reason but he has… which I totally accept is probably due to his illness.

    Please help me try to understand and reach back out to him or whether to see if he comes back to me. His friendship is so important to me; he made me laugh and just talking to him I could tell he wanted me in his life too. The silence is starting to bring me down.

    Thank you.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to write.

      Much of what you described, the hot and cold behavior as well as “let’s talk/I can’t talk to you” is all pretty standard stuff for an unwell, unstable Bipolar person.

      You’re making things harder on both of you by trying to communicate when he asked to be alone. You want to know he’s okay. He’s already stated that he’s not okay and he needs time to get his mind right. Your inquiring and asking if he’s okay puts him in an awkward place. If he’s not okay and doesn’t want to lie to you; now he has to worry about what he would say to you and how would you respond to it. That’s just more fuel for Bipolar instability.

      As an example. I have a more severe depression component in the way Bipolar Disorder manifests in me. I’ve spent probably 9 months a year for the past 22 years mired in severe depression. I’ve contemplated suicide and killing myself thousands of time at this point. That’s normal for me and I’m used to dealing with it. But if my brain is screwed up and someone I care about asks me “Are you okay?” If I come out and say “I’m passively suicidal,” now I have to worry about how they are responding to what would be scary news for most people while I’m trying to deal with my own instability. That introduces frustration, anger, and annoyance on top of everything else I’m trying to manage in my brain at the time.

      This the main reason Bipolar people ask for time to get their mind right. It’s a very common thing. We can’t always bring you along on this journey in our minds. Many of us just keep other people out of it because we don’t know what to say to supporters who want to be included.

      He hasn’t abandoned you. Your brain is telling you he’s abandoned you. He stated he needs some time to himself. The kinds of things you’re describing are indicative of at least moderate unwellness. Unwell cycles need time to run their course. Sometimes it can take months. Continuously pressing him will just keep throwing more fuel on the fires of unwellness and prolonging his instability.

      Essentially, your actions are aggravating his issues in the same way that his actions are aggravating yours.

      So – what can you do? Leave him to his devices for about a month (if you don’t hear from him before then) and try reaching out to him then. That’ll give him a small chunk of time to deal with his instability however he deals with it.

      In the meantime, you should work on your abandonment issues however you can. Learn more about them, how they function, why, and try to get in with a therapist if possible. Simply put, you’re going to be in for a lot of instability and pain yourself if you don’t. Chances are pretty good he will repeat the choice to withdraw and flee when he is unstable in the future, as well. So if you want your friendship to last long-term, you’re going to need work on yourself as well so the two of you don’t feed each other’s instability.

      His response to flee is not correct or healthy either, so don’t think I’m putting this solely on you. Learning how to change that behavior is another long and tedious process that usually has to be done through a lot of self-examination and work with a therapist.

      Also – were I in your position, I would be very wary of the sexual and romantic overtures. You don’t want to upend your life in the event his “feelings” and flirting are the product of his instability. The escalated side of the Disorder can easily create delusional feelings that feel more overpowering than typical love. The biggest red flag for that is if he starts talking grandiose plans; like you leaving the husband and moving in with him or something major like that.

      There’s no simple solution to your problem because of the issues you both bring to the table. People with abandonment issues often need reinforcement and a stable, static relationship/friendship. An unwell Bipolar person is the exact opposite of stable and static. You two being in contact through that period is just going to make things worse for both of you.

      • Izzybusy says:

        Thanks for replying Dennis.

        I haven’t spoken to my friend in over 4 weeks now and haven’t reached out for over 2. I certainly don’t want to push him further away hence why I’ve stopped trying to contact him. I miss talking to him but I respect that he’s not in the right place at the moment; I’m not sure whether he will ever come back to me.

        He hasn’t shown signs of grandiose per se; he has said a couple of times things like ‘if you could get rid of your husband and run off with me you’d be the happiest you’d ever been’ and always says things like ‘ask your masters permission first’ if I suggest chatting on the phone or meeting up. It’s true though; if circumstances were different on both sides I would like to be in a relationship with him but obviously it can’t be. I think he knows that as he pressed me about having feelings for him which I didn’t deny. But as we can’t be in a relationship I want to be his friend; I care about him deeply and he’s told me so much about his past which I feel shows there was a mutual respect with me also telling him about my past stresses. He said a couple of times ‘I can’t believe how much I’m telling you’.

        I have had counselling about my abandonment issues; I know what caused it and thought I had a handle on it but this has shown me I still struggle with it.

        I forgot to mention previously that he is unmedicated but has weekly therapy.

        I’m not sure how many friends he has and I’m not sure he’s not got many close relatives either so I want to be here for him no matter what and know that he always has my friendship should he need me.

        • Dennis says:

          I can’t know for sure – but I can tell you in that a lot of situations like this, the Bipolar person will end up coming back around when they feel they can deal with what is going on. It’s far more common for them to come back around than not, in my experience. How long that may take is an entirely different and unanswerable question altogether.

          It’s good that he has weekly therapy. That should help him sort through these things in a more effective way, assuming he’s still going.

          Glad to hear that you have worked on your own issues. It isn’t unusual for these kinds of things to poke their head back up to cause problems once in awhile. Given your history and the deep friendship you two have, I sincerely doubt he’s gone for good. Usually, when a Bipolar person bails it’s because they were never emotionally invested in the first place or they are a selfish, abusive personality. Your situation doesn’t strike me as either.

          I think if you’re patient and give it time, you’ll have your friend back. When that happens, you can address a better strategy to work together to navigate rough times instead of him bolting. But, that may or may not be possible. A person that a Bipolar person loves is one of the most drastic catalysts for unwell cycles. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. It feeds off of, warps, twists, and explodes emotions out of perspective to the point of delusion. So if he has deep feelings for you, retreating from you makes sense so there is nothing there to cause any extra waves – like “I really love this woman but she’s married to someone else.” Which is a hard situation for about anyone.

          And you’re welcome for the reply.

          • Izzybusy says:

            Thank you for replying back so fast; I’m fighting back tears reading it.

            My husband cheated on me and fathered a child, I took him back as my own child was suffering terribly and he had realised he had made s huge mistake. My mum left the UK when I was 19 to me to the US and within a couple of years my grandparents died, hence my abandonment issues. It feels everybody I get close to bails or dies. I’ve built a wall up around my heart to stop being hurt and become almost blase. When I got back in contact with my friend it was like that wall just crumbled down and I let him see far more of me than I’ve let anybody else see in years. He made me feel safe to talk to him.

            And I think he does care about me and although he never said it I thought he was jealous of my husband/marriage etc but would never admit it to me and never told me his feelings; I could just tell through subtle things he would text. A couple of times before he went quiet he asked if I could talk but I couldn’t as my husband was at home and naturally my husband doesn’t get my renewed friendship with my friend, and now I regret it as I never did find out if it he wanted to chat about something specific.

          • Dennis says:

            That is a very rough situation to need to contend with. Life is full of those murky, gray areas unfortunately.

            It’s definitely a good thing that you had someone that could punch through that wall. Believe me, a lot of people in this world have the same kind of defenses built up for the same reason. I spend a lot of time trying to find my way through them, trying to show people that I don’t have ulterior motives in what I do. So, I understand that well. I understand why this is unsettling for you from an intellectual perspective.

            The simple truth is – an unmedicated Bipolar person is going to be unstable. You need some of that wall up. Therapy can only do so much. And one thing therapy cannot do is prevent a Bipolar person’s brain from screaming off into insanity when a severe enough trigger rolls around. That’s why the “standard” approach for dealing with the Disorder usually includes meds, therapy, and self-management.

            I would wait for another two weeks and just try a soft contact with him. Just a, “Hello. Just checking to see how you’re doing.” Avoid anything emotional or heavy. Emotional and heavy can throw fuel onto the flames of unwellness. If he’s still out of balance, that sort of thing will typically make a Bipolar person worse. You want to go soft, just as a friend. But do give him that time. Unwell cycles can last for months so he may not be through it yet.

          • Izzybusy says:

            Thank you Dennis x

          • Dennis says:

            You’re welcome!

          • Izzybusy says:

            I contacted my friend and he was kinda back to his silly self; really chatty and asking me lots of questions which was great. He asked when I would be back visiting my hometown again (not sure if that was a loaded question as to meeting up or just a question) and said I’ll have to let him know when j can talk in the evenings next (due to husband) so he was kinda back to how he was but a marked difference in that he is still adamant about no texting saying it’s an unhealthy way to communicate and will delete all texts without reading them. He also hasn’t initiated contacting me so I feel like I’m doing all the running. I don’t mind but it would be nice if he initiated contact so I know he does care about our friendship.

            All I know is that him being in my life is like night and day; just hearing his accent and his laugh lifts my spirits. Is this is ‘stable’ mood do you think? I think me getting back in touch last July must had sent him in to a hypermanic state and then he crashed in November do now I’m starting to see his more stable mind?

            PS: please feel free to delete duplicate post below!

          • Dennis says:

            I doubt he’s “stable” in the way that you’re hoping. This is probably just a lull in the overall storm, a point of clarity for him. His opinions on texting and assertion of deleting them without reading them, completely writing it off as any form of communication, is suspicious. Suspicious in that it could either be Bipolar irrationality or him hiding something.

            The fact that he doesn’t reach out to you ever is also worrying. Someone that cares about you and wants to be in your life would make the effort to be there. You don’t want to have to spend your time constantly chasing after someone. That’s not a healthy way to have a relationship with anyone. Were I in your shoes, at this point, I think I’d just stop reaching out and see if/when he actually reaches out to you.

          • Izzybusy says:

            Hi Dennis

            Thanks for replying again.

            Sorry I didn’t mean stable mind but baseline mood. To be fair he has always not liked texting; he was like it when I first got back in contact but he would start initiating texts again until he would get overwhelmed and would be back to saying phone calls only.

            I’m so confused; he seemed happy enough to hear from me and was asking searching questions but I don’t understand why he won’t initiate contact anymore. When I mentioned him pushing me away he said that he doesn’t and it’s my perception and it’s my issue not his. He’s used that line on me previously or that I’m distorting things. Is this true? Or is he manipulating me?

            I will take your advice and stop contacting him and see if he reaches out to me but I fear I’m losing my friendship with him.

          • Izzybusy says:

            Sorry Dennis; I also meant to say he always initiated contact first to his depressive episode in November. He would regularly text me during the day and in the evenings text and ask if I could talk.

            I dumno; I’m trying not to let it stress me out but I just don’t understand the complete turnabout. I haven’t done anything wrong I don’t think to make him suddenly not want to be friends. I’m kinda regretting getting back in touch with him now as least my peace of mind wouldn’t be disrupted and constantly self doubting everything I say to him/not say to him. I honestly thought that he thought more of our friendship yo just throw it away but I guess not.

          • Dennis says:

            From your description of what he’s doing, he sounds like he is emotionally unstable. We mentally ill people can be very good at faking like we are doing okay. We learn to smile when people expect us to, learn to respond appropriately socially when we are dying inside, and the facade doesn’t always come down. You’d probably be surprised at the number of mentally ill people who are around you every day, like at the grocery store or in the work place. You just wouldn’t know it unless you could really view into their personal life.

            The complete emotional turnaround is the kind of thing one should expect from an unstable, incorrectly or untreated Bipolar person. One day your brain is telling you that you can’t live without a person, the next day it’s telling you “who cares at all?” It’s not your fault and really has nothing to do with you. More than likely, it’s his mental illness screwing with his emotional state. Mental illness can make us believe many things that aren’t true – things like “oh, the person I love actually hates me and doesn’t want to talk to me.” All you can really do is wait for that kind of thinking to end or turn around, and take care of yourself in the meantime.

            I know it’s not fair and it’s incredibly painful; but you can’t rely on a mentally and emotionally unstable person to make sound decisions.

            Frankly, considering how this is affecting you; you may want to consider letting it dissolve if that’s what it’s going to do. You have a lot to lose in this situation if he makes a bad decision or his instability starts splashing more onto you in a serious way. And given the way he generally acts and his relatively little knowledge and control of his Disorder; I wouldn’t be confident enough to potentially gamble my marriage and the status quo of my life on him.

          • Izzybusy says:

            I remember something else he said last week. When he said you will have to let me know when you are free in the evenings to talk he said ‘but not by text, you are welcome to call me whenever you like but texting is an unhealthy way to communicate’. He told me in December that his therapist told him not to text and I do remember him saying be prefers to talk as he can hear people’s voices (emotion I guess) ss texting is too ambiguous.

            I don’t know; I’m confusing myself mow as he has clearly said I can call him anytime and he’s told me to tell him when I can chat properly; maybe I’m just expecting too much too soon after his depressive episode.

            For now I’ll go no contact and see what happens. I’ll let you know if anything changes!

            Thanks Dennis, have s great day 😊

          • Dennis says:

            Oh, I see! You didn’t mention it was part of a therapy approach for him. Give him a call sometime when you’re able. Calling you is always a potential threat because who knows if your husband is around, you know? I know I was always paranoid about reaching out when I was involved like that myself. I mean, if that’s the case then it may just be a matter of him not wanting to cause problems for you, you know?

          • Izzybusy says:

            Well; he called me this morning! It makes me wonder if he’s seen this link due to the timing…

            He sounded back to the person I spoke to back last year; talking over me and being his normal insulting jokey self which is what I like about him. So that’s good, I’m glad he made the effort. I’m sure there will be s downturn again but hope I’m more self informed of the signs.

            Have s great day Dennis.

          • Dennis says:

            That sounds great, Izzy. Glad to hear it.

    • Izzybusy says:

      Hi Dennis

      Here I am again. I have to cut my friend out of my life; not because I don’t care about him but the affect its having on me and is making me ill.

      After a promise of calling me back and nothing for over two weeks I made the mistake of texting him saying if he wanted to be in my life then it has to be give and take. I got the exact same message back from his number; so I tests the water and again the same message bounced back. Angry and annoyed I called him asking if he was playing games and he went off on me big time saying he’s told me never to text him and now I’ve found out he’s blocked my attempts with an app and it’s my tough luck etc etc rant rant rant and ended up putting the phone down on me. This was the first text since Christmas Eve. Totally stunned I though no; I have to have my say and basically told him his behaviour is unreasonable, that I didn’t deserve to be spoken to the way he has and if he wanted to be friends he knew where to find me. He apologised the next day in response to cutting me off for good if i ever texted or emailed him again; but still insisted no texts or emails again. I’m going through some issues of my own at the moment and really down and have sat for a week thinking about my life. Today I left him a voicemail and apologised for last week, said I understood and will speak later but I really should had said take care, as I can’t be his friend anymore.

      This 6 month rekindle of our friendship has destroyed my confidence, my self esteem and worth and I’m confused, bereft and above all feel manipulated and foolish. I’m signed off work sick due to other stress factors which i may have dealt with better if all this from him hasn’t been happening too.

      This morning I feel so low; what started off as the start of a lovely rekindled friendship is now just ashes. It going to take me a long time to heal from this, given I already suffered with rejection and abandonment.

      Thanks for all your help Dennis; you are amazing and have given so much insight in to this disorder and helped people. X

      • Kay says:

        Hi Izzybusy. I’m sort of in the same boat as you with a friend/partner cutting me off. If it’s any consolation in addition to Dennis’ very helpful words, it sure sounds like this this just a thing that people who are unwell with the disorder do. I find that helps me to not take it personally.

        • Izzybusy says:

          It’s so hard not to take it personally; he’s gone from somebody I felt able to tell anything to to somebody I don’t recognise anymore. It’s like he hates me for trying to understand him and be his friend. I’m having problems at work at the moment and signed off with stress and anxiety and I think the best thing for me to do is to just forget him as its adding to my feeling of low self worth. I’ve been low before but I’m so low and got to get my life on track professionally and personally. Sadly he isn’t capable of supporting me and I wouldn’t even ask him for fear of further rejection.

          I’ve got to let him go.

      • Dennis says:

        Hello, Izzy. I’m very sorry to hear things have progressed as they have. You are absolutely right to finally draw a line and say no more. It is very, very easy for people with mental health problems of their own to get sucked into instability and chaos by being involved with other mentally unstable people. I don’t talk about it a ton, but one of the main ways I help maintain my own sanity while being involved in all of this with other people is by knowing when I need to take a step back, breathe, and be away from it. That often translates into a couple of days of me doing literally anything other than thinking about anything to do with mental illness (past taking my meds!)

        Do you have a therapist? If you had preexisting problems with rejection and abandonment, that likely stems from other circumstances in your earlier life. It would be very helpful for you now, in dealing with your depression and the fallout from your friend’s instability, to have a knowledgeable professional to talk to about it; who can provide you with tools to help manage and work towards healing these things in a better way.

        I know it’s probably not going to mean a ton because of the narrative in your mind, but none of this has anything to do with who you are as a person. Not a bit of it. It doesn’t matter if some of your actions came off as “bad,” the onus is on him to manage his emotions well enough to deal with these things and work through them together. It sounds like he is not stable enough to be able to do that.

        Focus on you. Focus on getting your mind right, getting healthy, learning to love yourself. Everything is so much better once you’re able to do that, including relationships. Try not to dwell on it. Dwelling on it will just make you more depressed. Get out, exercise, go sit and people watch for awhile. Do anything other than dwelling on it to keep it from feeding into depression and drawing you lower. And talk to your professionals if you have them, find some if you don’t.

        You’ll be okay. It may just take some time to get there.

        You are very welcome for the help and insight. I’m very happy and privileged to be allowed into these spaces that so many people keep buried deep inside.

  41. Jeannie says:

    I found this site to be so helpful….but I have another question for you. Here is the back story….I met a man 3 months ago, we hit it off and started dating. Over Christmas he ended up taking himself to the ER with suicidal and homicidal thoughts…long story short, the docs think he has bipolar. He always thought through his life that he was ADD…I noticed he was very hyper. I went to the hospital to see him as he was there for 3 days. They put him on some meds and sent him on his way. The process to get him help has been long. He says he still has those thoughts but not as often. After reading your posts I realize I met him in a manic state and am now seeing the depressed state….he told me and the nurses that one of the homicidal thoughts were of him hurting me…..apparently the hospital didn’t see this as a problem as they wanted me to take him home and care for him….I was kind of shocked because I told them that we had just barely started dating and getting to know each other…..I do care about him a lot and feel horrible for what he is going through…..I haven’t left him or anything because I am afraid to do that because he hasn’t gotten proper care yet. I want to help him and I do still see him….but I can’t help but wonder if I am in danger? I couldn’t see him hurting anyone……but I DON”T know him that well and have only known him for a short time. He is sick that his thoughts of homicide are sometimes directed at me, and he says he has no idea why…..we don’t even argue…..but again…..it’s a new relationship. Before the incident that landed him in the hospital, I knew we weren’t quite meant for each other, for what I know know is part of the bipolar. He is a very sweet person….am I in danger? should I stay away even as a friend? Should I just slowly back off? I don’t want to hurt him or harm his recovery and like I said…just getting him to the psychiatrist to get his meds straight has been less then impressive….everybody seems to pass him off…..he WANTS help and is scared to death of these thoughts…..he has nightmares about ending up in prison…..my only advice to him was that if the thoughts get overwhelming…we will get him to a different hospital and a different ER….ugh. I do want to help….what do I do???

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      The truth is – it may take him quite awhile to get the appropriate help and make meaningful gains in wellness. Medication doesn’t always work the way it should. And as you’ve already experienced with the system itself, it can really suck sometime.

      So, are you in danger? Most likely not. I say most likely because I don’t know the guy and I can’t read his mind. What I can tell you is that our mental illness sometimes throws these dark and disturbing thoughts in our heads on a regular basis. I know it’s a scary thing, but his willingness to share it and understanding that it’s wrong is a VERY GOOD thing. I would be more concerned if he felt that they weren’t really a problem at all. These kinds of thoughts are very, very common in unwell Bipolar people; but even so, we’re generally more of a threat to ourselves than anyone else.

      That’s also why they likely cut him loose. It’s really not that out of the ordinary.

      Now, if you’ve done a lot of research online, you’ve undoubtedly read a lot of horror stories about the Disorder. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re reading mostly the people who have been in severe circumstances with incredibly damaging, abusive people. Your guy doesn’t come off that way in how you’re describing him.

      Only you can decide if you want to step away from the relationship. But if you decide to, be clear about what it is you want to do. If you still want to be friends and help him, then tell him that. Because if he’s depressed, then leaving him may spin him into a very dark place. That should not prevent you from doing what you need to do for yourself though. If it were me, I would say something like, “I feel like we should dial back our romantic relationship while you’re going through this difficult time. I still want to be friends with you and will still help you where I can, but I’m just not comfortable with an emotional relationship right now while you’re struggling. We can revisit the idea once you get your mind in a better place.”

      As for the destructive thoughts, encourage him to try and force them out of his mind through distraction. When my mind is black like that, I will watch stand up comedy, funny, or light-hearted stuff and try my best to focus on that. Remind him that the thoughts are the mental illness trying to screw with him; even though he’s thinking of them, he has a choice to not act on them. Remind him that what he is going through right now is temporary, it won’t last forever. He just needs to keep pushing forward, take one day at a time until he’s in a better place.

      You may also want to encourage him to see if there are any Bipolar support groups in your area. Being around other people that have gone through similar things can be very helpful for someone in his state.

      And if, for any reason, he does threaten you, hurts you, or is acting in a threatening way; don’t hesitate to notify the authorities and separate yourself from the situation.

      Finding mental wellness is a slow process though. It’ll probably be weeks before he starts seeing any reasonable progress from medication, if he’s been prescribed anything. Make sure he takes it as directed and if his thoughts get worse or he gets darker, tell him to contact his doctor immediately about it.

  42. Ivonne says:

    Hi!
    I really love your article, help me a lot…. This is my story, I’m desperate and I don’t know what to do anymore.
    I been dating this amazing but bipolar guy for 7 months. Since we started dating we want something serious. In the beginning everything it was doing great, he introduced me with his family and friends (all of them told me he never was being so in love like that before) I caught him in one of the worse moments in his life, he was so depressed and not a good living situation so weeks later he asked me for space but we didn’t stop talking so we got back together, but one other week he asked me again for his space, every time he was looking for a excuse to brake up with me, and he was being mean and rude more and more… I told him that it was over many times but he always told me it was not. I was the woman he was looking for.. He wants me as his wife and the mother of this kids. He always glow about me with everybody, but he was continue braking up with me every other week out of the blue… Being mean more and more every time but the next day he was sorry and according to him he was being a jerk so I can hate and get over him faster.. I though he was so in love but all he needed it was space & get his living situation fixed… So when that happened (December) he turned from a good boyfriend to Amazing one. We were doing great for a 2 weeks. We talk about getting marry this year, he even asked me to move in with him. Thank God I did not but I spent a lot of time with him… 2 weeks later we went to a dinner and he broke up with me because according to him I was flirting with someone else in his face (Totally not true) but we fix that and get back together… Then I started spending more time with him, he was supported and helped me a lot for a few days… but he still was braking up with me out of the blue with not real reason, every time he had different ones. So in New Years he just told me that he wants to get marry so bad and have kids but not with me any more, then I was so sweet & I want to help him so much and he can’t handle all my sweetness…. So I left, but he keep texting me, days later I went for a few stuffs I had in his place, I asked him if he that it was what he really want to, he told me that he love me more than a friend, no one care of him the way I do, he just was being afraid, but he loved me so much. I told to look for help and he agree, I asked him if he was SURE me being in his life and he was telling how amazing I was for him, so we tried it again. But a week later (no few days ago) he told me that I was so annoying and he got irritated for me, that why I can not understand that he does not want this relationship, that he lied and he is not happy, he can’t with me anymore, he loves & carry about me just as a friend, that he tried so hard to be with me but he just was not getting along with me.. That he will get marry with someone else but she has to have my qualities… So he broke my heart to hell so I left, but before I did he was telling how sorry he was, that I deserve someone better, that I am the most precious and wonderful person had been in his life, and he just want me to look for my happiness.
    So is been a week since we broke up, he haven’t contact me, I texted him and he just told me how sorry he is for hurting me, I don’t deserve that and I should look for my happiness, that he doesn’t know why he can’t be happy and he is always pushing love away.
    I know, I know! I deserve better but I know he needs help and I really wants to help him, he is bipolar but I know we can work out together. He is 36 and I’m 27. What should I do? Give up on him, and let him alone or fight and help him.
    Thanks, I really appreciate you help!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ivonne. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      The kind of behavior you are describing is consistent with an unstable Bipolar mind. Is he medicated? Seeking help at all for his mental illness? How does he feel about his mental illness? Does he accept it or deny it?

      The next time you speak with him, I would point out that, “You know, it’s not normal to flip from loving someone intensely to disliking them so much you break up with them every couple of weeks. Perhaps your Bipolar Disorder is making you unstable?” It may piss him off depending on how he views his mental illness, but it is planting seeds in his mind that will hopefully help him realize that something is off with his behavior. It is really hard to tell when you are on the inside, looking out.

      So, what should you do? Well, first, you can’t assume that any of the positive things you’ve experienced to this point are real. Any time I hear “amazing” and unstable Bipolar person, it usually is seated in the white hot lust and passion of escalation until the destructive tendencies start showing up. The real him is probably somewhere in the middle.

      I would be very concerned about his on and off behavior, and how he treats you when he’s low. It shows that he doesn’t have a great understanding of his mental illness or is working very hard against it. The process of wellness and making those positive changes in life is quite often, a years long process. And since you haven’t really known him very long, you can’t be sure of who he actually is and is not.

      My suggestion would be to hold him to his most recent break up with you, tell him you can’t be more than friends with him while he is acting this way. See if he is willing to do anything about his balance and stability, if he accepts it or not. If he’s not willing to, I would just let him go and move on.

      If he is, then you’ll have an opportunity to see who he really is as time goes forward. Do NOT move in with him. Do NOT marry him. I generally recommend that people wait at least two years before making those kinds of commitments with a Bipolar person. It gives you an adequate amount of time to see the Bipolar person in a variety of mental states and gives you an opportunity to figure out if it’s something you can handle and want to live with, or not.

      Quite frankly, chances are pretty good your relationship is going to end. Wanting to be well, wanting to attain balance and stability is a decision a person needs to be passionate about. And, in my experience, Bipolar people that are in a position like your guy usually aren’t ready to make that passionate commitment.

      As for how you can help him? You really can’t. He has to be the one to help himself. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. They will just drag you to the bottom with them if you hold on too tight. So, if he’s not willing to get help or address the problems of his instability, I would move on; were I in your shoes.

      • Ivonne says:

        Hello Dennis! Thank you very much for your help and fast respond.
        He is not in medication at all, no one ever had mention to him that he was bipolar, when I did he didn’t deny, he told me it was in his family He dad and brother are really CRAZY more than him…. So, this last time he broke up with me I told him he needs to get help and he told me he was going to see a psychologist this coming week, but I don’t know if he just lie or he is telling me the truth. Also, he drinks a lot, when he was in depression period he drunk everyday, now he does it weekends and rarely during the week, also he smoke a lot and every weekend he smoke pot. About he is not ready to make a passionate commitment is so truth, he lived with other girls before for 2 years or more and he broke up with them out of the blue, he stop talking with them at all even he is so sad and depressed. He has a STRONG character, really hard to convince him or make him see something different. He know he has a problem, but is so afraid to ask for help. somehow he tries to control his moods.
        Something I’m really worry about is when he told me “I don’t know why I can’t be happy. Why I push the love away”
        It’s important to mention that a few times we broke up I am the one who talked to him, trying to fight for this & “convince” him to stay with me, saying he is making a mistake to let happiness & me go, like a say he is really hard to convince but every time I talk to him before living I am patience and smooth, being sweet and lovely asking him if he is sure about this decision, he cries telling me he is not, he loves me and I’m the best girlfriend he ever had but he feels like we don’t get along, that he needs help, he doesn’t know why he can’t be happy, we hug, we cry together and get back together again so we try but we felt again, over and over. He is insecure and immature but I feel like a make him to stay and maybe he really doesn’t love me and I’m the one who doesn’t accept that… I don’t know what to do. I know he needs help but… Please, what should I do?

        • Dennis says:

          You make a decision on whether or not you want to give him an opportunity to get his mind right. That’s a decision only you can make for yourself, Ivonne. I think if I were in your shoes, I would give him a month or two to work on his own mental state. I would stop chasing him when he decides to break up with me. When he talks about there being something so wrong with him, encourage him to speak honestly to the psych he is supposed to see.

          All of the other things he is doing will contribute to instability. He’s going to have a long road ahead of him in addressing whatever problems he actually has; whether it’s Bipolar Disorder or not.

          If you don’t want to be along on that journey, then that’s okay. You just have to decide that. But chances are pretty good this is going to be a long and difficult journey for him. I personally feel like seven months of instability isn’t really a good basis to make that decision on. It’s hard telling what his genuine feelings are through his instability and substance abuse. The positive feelings could easily be produced by his mental illness.

          Like I said in my other post, it may be worthwhile to dial things back to friendship for now while he works on himself. See how he is in a couple months and make a firmer decision then.

          • Ivonne says:

            Thank you Dennis!
            I think give him time is the best thing to do.
            But I have one more question, Are you saying that his positive feelings about me are not real because were produced by his “mental illness?” Now, I’m confused, because, if you think he is more honest about not loving me then I don’t waste more my time and my feelings and I just back off. I don’t mind fight & wait patiently for him but now we don’t know if he has bipolar disorder or not. But then why he told me 2 weeks ago that he loved me so much and he needs me to function but then next week he was so irritated for me. Is it that normal? or I’m the one who has a problem?
            Thanks!

          • Dennis says:

            You’re welcome, Ivonne.

            I’m saying not saying that his positive feelings are, I’m saying they could be. The only way to know that is for some time to pass and for his escalated cycle to pass. He probably doesn’t know what reality is. He’s not lying about it, it’s what his brain and mental illness is telling him he feels. You just have to be patient to see, really.

            And yes, it is normal for an unstable person to bounce back and forth from extremes like that. It shouldn’t be that way once he finds a treatment that works for him though. His brain and emotions will calm down.

  43. Jeannie says:

    Dennis,
    That you for your response. What kind of advice would you give to people who are in new relationships with a person who has Bipolar? Honestly, what is ahead? How difficult is it to be in a long term relationship with somebody who has Bipolar? It seems many of the people on this sight are trying to figure out the same thing. You are also very correct on the Bipolar person seeming to fall in love so fast…..when my guy did that right in the beginning (we didn’t know of his illness yet) I saw it as a red flag….he also spoke so fast and had so much energy and didn’t sleep much…..he was very sweet and almost too accommodating……at one point I had to talk to him about being too “on me, touchy feely”…..I’m very loving and affectionate….but I couldn’t breathe….he also wanted to see me every minute and everyday……we both work, I’m very independent and this was again too much for me….but when I spoke to him about it, he dialed it back, but I could tell he didn’t like it. He is a great guy….but like you keep telling everybody, I don’t feel I know the true him yet…..I’ve known him on a high…..now starting to know him on a low…..the good thing for him is that he really is waning help and acknowledges his newly diagnosed mental illness…..I really wanted to say all of this in hopes that maybe some of the people on this site understand exactly what you are trying to tell them. Thanks so much for this site and your help to all:)

    • Dennis says:

      Honestly, Jeannie? Pain, misery, confusion, loss, helplessness, hopelessness, and a constant disadvantage to the relationship that will always be there. A Bipolar person can recover and live a mostly normal life, but it is a very difficult, tedious process to get well and stay well. Bipolar Disorder is for life. We generally don’t get many breaks in dealing with it. Even in good times, when we are well and stable, we still need to be thinking about our meds and whatever else we do to maintain balance.

      But, that is mental illness for most people. It’s not fun. It’s not light. It’s not easy. That’s why suicide rates for untreated Bipolar people is about 1 in 3, depending on which study you look at it.

      How difficult is it to be in a long-term relationship with a Bipolar person? Depends entirely on the person. But even on the easier side of the spectrum it’s going to be difficult. Do you have any mental health problems of your own? Because instability can feed instability and partners can end up making themselves worse. Do you have a thick skin? He will probably end up seeing awful, shitty things to you sooner or later. Are you going to be able to forgive things you can’t understand? Because when we’re unbalanced, anything can seem like a good idea for absolutely no reason other than our mental illness tells us it is.

      Your description in this post of his behavior shortly after meeting sounds like pretty typical escalation behavior. It’s very common for a Bipolar person to trigger off of initially meeting someone. That being said, the fact that he could hear you and understood he was being overbearing is a very good thing. It means he was escalated but still rational, so hopefully communication shouldn’t be a tremendous hurdle if you choose to maintain this relationship. The “real” him isn’t going to be that intense. It’s going to be several notches below it.

      The fact that he acknowledges his mental illness and is willing to fight it is pretty major as well. There’s a lot of people who refuse to see or accept that they have a problem. You’ll need to get to know him in his lows as well, and that person will likely be very different from the person you know now. But there is a third version of him as well, and that will be the man he is when he is actually balanced and stable.

      I’d like to tell you that there are good things about being with someone who is Bipolar, but contrary to what many people promote, there really is nothing good about Bipolar Disorder. Escalation feels great, it’s intoxicating to participants, and people are often brought in by it’s intense, passionate energy; but it’s not healthy. Heroin feels good, too. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to indulge in it.

      So – that’s why you want to be sure before you make any major commitments to this relationship. Take your time. Take it slow. Do not interweave your lives very much. Don’t get joint accounts on things. Don’t share bills or bank accounts. That way, if he does lose his way and slips into unwellness, you can minimize the damage he can do to your life. I generally recommend that people date at least 2 years before making any major commitments; it gives you a fair amount of time to experience the scope of the Disorder.

      Allow me to engage in some shameless self-promotion. My ebooks are written to be equally useful and helpful to either the mentally ill or people such as yourself, who are supporters. If you’ve enjoyed my work and perspective, check ’em out. (If you’re outside of the US, they are available on all regional Amazon stores.)

  44. Jeannie says:

    I sure will…you have been the most helpful so far and I appreciate it…..I have passed some of this on to him….the helpful things he can do for himself…..to answer your question, I’m very level headed, take care of myself and never get into anything too fast……when I was younger, I married somebody who turned out to be an alcoholic….after 8 years of trying to cope with it, one day he said he was done trying to stay sober and that’s when I filed for divorce….I loved him, he was my best friend, but I wasn’t going to do it by myself. So I chose to move on, hard as it was. The other question you asked and what I too am concerned about is ,yes I suffer from mild generalized anxiety disorder…..have been taking low dose meds for about 23 years….I also talk myself out of the anxiety as I have learned coping skills. I also know it gets worse when I am under great stress….I believe I’ve been this way since I was about 8. It runs in my family. So yes….this concerns me for my own health. I also want to ask…..he was put on Risperdal at the hospital….he takes it, but says it is not really helping and he has gained 15 pounds in 3 weeks. He works out every day for an hour trying to combat that…..he said he always feels like he is starving to death……is there a better med for him? I know you aren’t a doctor….but in your experience what do you see??? I told him to just keep taking it until he finally sees the psychiatrist…..his regular doc says he can’t help him…..that just blows my mind……we also think his Mom has Bipolar…undiagnosed though. He is 45 and was just diagnosed….but he knew something was wrong, but just thought he was ADD..until he started hearing voices in his head (his own) with the suicidal and homicidal thoughts. His own voice is telling him to do bad things.:(

    • Dennis says:

      You should tell him to all his psych’s office and tell them what’s going on with the massive amount of weight gain he’s had. The psych should direct him in what to do about that. It is very common for regular doctors to not want to dip into psych issues because psych issues are so complex versus the kinds of things that regular doctors take care of. That’s not all that unusual.

      I don’t ever recommend meds for a couple reasons. 1. I’m not qualified to do it. And 2. Psych meds can react differently from person to person. So, even if I said “oh this one may be great for him,” it may turn out to be actually awful for him. The only thing he can do is just be patient, keep trying things until he finds a med that works with side effects he can deal with.

      He DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT discontinue his med until he talks to his psych about it, so he can come off of it in a safe way. If he just quits taking it, it could drastically destabilize him. That kind of thing needs professional oversight so he can stay aware of the potential problems that may arise from it.

      It’s good that you have your anxiety issues under great control. Those coping skills will help a lot as you move forward as well. I’m sorry to hear about your first marriage. Addiction is a hard thing for people to break, unfortunately.

  45. Kay says:

    Hi Dennis,

    What if someone with bipolar disorder is medicated and “stable” and claims to be in love, then quits their meds and claims to fall out of love afterwards. Is this the disorder speaking? I’m on the receiving end of this and it hurts…. bad.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Kay. It’s really difficult to say without actually knowing the person very well. I can tell you this much, if the person is Bipolar and decided to quit their meds, they are going to be in for a very rough ride and a lot of instability. You may want to look at it as a blessing in disguise, and use that decision to take a step back. Coming off of medication is a really rough ride for Bipolar people and fuels a lot of severe, unwell behavior.

      Plus comes the general instability of not being medicated.

      Are they just changing meds? Is this being done by their doctor or with their doctor’s help? Or did they just decide to stop taking them?

  46. Kay says:

    Hi Dennis,

    They just went completely off their meds and told me after the fact. Cold turkey.

    • Dennis says:

      Yeah, that’s going to be bad times if you stay in that relationship. Not communicating about their choices with you is a bad sign. It also shows that they either don’t understand or care how their actions are going to affect you. Bipolar Disorder causes a lot of collateral damage around it, usually to the people we love and care about. Quitting most medications cold turkey results in severe imbalance and unwellness.

      I realize it probably hurts a lot and is very confusing, but I would bet money that this is probably going to be a blessing in disguise compared to the kind of chaos that arbitrarily screwing with our medications unleashes.

      • Kay says:

        Thanks. I’m pretty hurt over the whole thing.

        My best friend, and now ex, has just flat out cut me off, and it’s a very hard thing to deal with daily.

        • Dennis says:

          I can understand that. That degree of change of mentality is very common with an unwell or unstable Bipolar person. The Disorder creates a false reality in our mind. I realize now I didn’t really address your original question in that. And the answer is yes, it probably is the Disorder screwing with their perception. The problem is that a choice like quitting medication cold turkey is a drastic choice that usually results in severe instability for an extended period of time. And by extended, I mean months or potentially years.

          It’s a very brutal thing to deal with. One bad decision can really screw up our stability and well-being. And in turn, that affects the people around us that we care about and that care about us.

          • Kay says:

            thanks for your help, and thanks for what you do here. It’s a very good thing.

          • Dennis says:

            You’re very welcome. And thank you very much for your kind words, Kay.

          • Kay says:

            Hi Dennis,

            After months of no contact initiated on or by either side, he blocked me on twitter. I rarely use twitter at all!
            I have to admit this seems very rash and out of place, and I’m kind of concerned about his mental wellbeing. What’s your take? Thanks.

          • Dennis says:

            Doesn’t really say much, honestly. Irrational actions are pretty normal for mentally unwell people. You don’t want to read too much into minor, individual actions like that because it could just the result of some hiccup in thinking or emotions.

          • Kay says:

            So I’ve done a lot of thinking and in hindsight there seem to be a lot of elements of hypomania in the period right before the breakup. He was applying to tons of jobs and was staying up very late playing hours of video games. I guess this gives me a bit of insight as well.

          • Dennis says:

            That very well could be. Sometimes the signs of unwellness are very subtle.

  47. Jeannie says:

    Dennis,
    I asked my boyfriend if he has being reading up on what bipolar is…..I’ve been reading everything that I can get my hands on. I found this odd. I am not sure if I should give him the information or let him know what I’ve read. It’s been only a month today that he was diagnosed. I thought he was in the depression part of bipolar now, but he keeps buying stuff…..I try to tell him to not make any big purchases or make any major decisions until his meds are worked out and he is stable. We’ve only been dating 4 months and do not live together or anything….so I can’t really ask him not to do these things….but I keep getting a glimpse of what a life with somebody with bipolar can be. I kind of feel myself slowly but surely disconnecting emotionally from him….sad because he is a good guy….BUT I met him when he was unwell so I have no idea who he really is.

    • Dennis says:

      Well, it’s good that your perspective is open as you’re moving into this. You’re right in that you can’t really know what his real feelings are between instability and it being such a fresh relationship. I would be leery of the fact that he’s still willing to spend money frivolous, particularly if it is the kind of impulse, erratic spending that instability can be responsible for. Unwell cycles aren’t always neat and clear cut.

      I think in this circumstance, I wouldn’t give the information to him myself. I would want to see how serious he is about being well. Because you don’t want to end up being the one who pushes him to be well. He has to want it for himself. And if he does, then he will be doing reading and research, working on things with a therapist, and just doing things on his own. So, you might want to ask him how his own research/therapy/whatever is going. Ask what he thinks about his Disorder and how he plans to keep it under control.

      It may not be the worst thing in the world if you end up disconnecting. It’s a very tough road and it’s not something I would recommend committing to unless you’re absolutely certain of that commitment.

      • Jeannie says:

        Such a quick response:) I thought that when we met (now looking back at his behavior) that he was in a grandiose manic state. (he wanted to be with me all the time and liked me way too fast. Planning future and so forth) I didn’t buy into it because I know this is not healthy…I just didn’t know what it was…..then I thought when he ended up in the hospital at the end of December with suicidal and homicidal thoughts….(many of him harming me….which really frightened him…..and as much as I know he would never want to harm me….still makes it hard for me to get that out of my head) anyway I thought this episode was then maybe depression….but now think with the spending and such, is it really still manic? He has seen a therapist twice now. Last time they had him take a test and found he was severely depressed. He has another appointment n 2 weeks….they told him to take his meds, exercise and watch what he eats, and he is…..(he gained a lot of weight from meds in short period of time) Now he is exercising like crazy…. it does make him feel better and that’s a good thing… we really can’t have any REAL in depth conversation or anything either…..our “relationship” can’t possibly grow…..asking him to maintain a relationship and give me what I need, I feel is really expecting too much……I haven’t asked him for anything, or talked bout much other then day to day stuff and how he is feeling…..he needs to focus on his well being….but because he doesn’t know much about bipolar, I don’t think he realizes this…..I want to take your advice you gave before about telling him that we need to step back from the romantic relationship, and be friends…..I don’t want to leave him all alone as he has no real close family for support……his mom is most likely diagnosed bipolar as well. I don’t want him to go into a tail spin either…..but then there’s another part of me who thinks that he would probably just take up with somebody else quickly again and he wouldn’t be alone….I can sure see why many of the people on this site need advice…this is tricky, especially when you care for somebody.

        • Dennis says:

          It is a difficult situation to figure out. Mania doesn’t always look or feel good. It can look like rage, intensity, general instability, in addition to euphoric. It’s also possible to have what’s called a Mixed Cycle, where you have both mania and depression at the same time. I don’t think that’s the case for him, because every Bipolar person I know that has experienced one has described it as hell. It feels like your brain is trying to tear itself apart and you can’t consistently point either direction because it’s like two sides of a stale-mated tug-of-war.

          Given your description of his intense feelings and planning early on; it is very likely that he was manic. Your description is very typical of other people that ask about that particular situation.

          It doesn’t sound like you’ll really be leaving him “alone,” he does have a therapist and is seeing a doctor. I’m sure if he brings up loneliness to the therapist they will suggest a support group. You shouldn’t feel obligated to not take care of yourself how you need to. When you’re Bipolar and unstable, something like dropping a glass on the floor can result in a suicidal depression. It’s alright to be mindful and sensitive of his potential reactions, but you can’t let it define or limit your relationship on the off-chance that he reacts poorly to it.

          The destructive thinking is problematic. If you want to make a withdrawal, I would suggest doing it a day or two before his therapist appointment, so he will have that forum to talk about it and help get it sorted out in his head. Just make it clear that you don’t think a romantic relationship is good right now, but would like to remain his friend and help him if it’s possible for him. Be prepared that it might not be possible. Because if his brain is still producing all of those feel good feelings for you, you will probably become a trigger. From your description, it sounds like he is handling his mental illness in as healthy a way as he can and that he does understand that some of those thoughts and feelings are incorrect.

          So, hopefully it won’t cause too much distress.

          And you’re welcome on the prompt reply!

  48. Aliah says:

    Thank you for this excellently written article.

    I just ended a 6-month dating stint with a woman who revealed to me she had bi-polar disorder after we broke up. I believe I met her during her manic state and like you described, she was full of energy, zest for life and was constantly active, survived off of minimal sleep. I definitely felt pursued.

    As we grew closer, I began to see a change. She became much more reserved/quiet, showed signs of being impatient/irritable, slept all day and stopped talking about her goals/achievements. Her feelings toward me didn’t change, as far as her reaching out to me and still wanting to date, but something definitely changed with how she interacted with me. It became a bit more rough around the edges. So I would always break up with her knowing that something wasn’t right.

    The worst part of it all, I had no label to categorize/define her actions, so our relationship became one big mind ****. I became so confused. Her last rude action, I decided to end our relationship indefinitely. And now all I’m stuck with is feeling blue. I miss her. But mostly, I don’t want her to feel abandoned. I truly care about her and feel so badly about what she is going through. It took so much power to put myself first because I fell in love with her good side, her potential, her drive, her ambition. But I had to accept that if I were to stay that I would have to embrace her bad side too. That I could not handle. I’m way too sensitive.

    I will always love her from a distance.

    • Dennis says:

      I think that’s a very mature way to look at the situation.

      And you should also bear in mind that if she was manic in the early course of the relationship, you weren’t in love with the “best” of her. You were in love with the manic her. Many fall for that person because of all the positive qualities that can shine out. But with mania comes instability, irrationality, poor decision making skills, and about a thousand other negative qualities. The real her is more likely somewhere in-between.

  49. Sarah says:

    Wow!!!!! Thanks for making me see things more clearly…..great insight!!!
    I met my best friend about 3 years ago online. He lives a 13 hour boat trip away.
    We spoke everyday for months before meeting…..It’s was like a head on train collision when we finally did!!!! (Which I see now as a manic stage). In his words we had a ‘major click’. We dated we kissed we spoke we connected……like we’ve never connected with anyone!
    Then obviously the slump…..he called it off! We met many times after this as we felt drawn to each other…….and so on he kept calling it off! During this time I fell for him helplessly but he’ nearly destroyed my heart in the process(I’m still trying to work on that in order to be there).
    He has recently been diagnosed with bi polar. And I’m there for him all the time whenever he needs me. I love him so it’s obvious! He has said on lots of occasions ‘he’s in love with me’ ‘wants to make a go of things’ and then retreats again. He has dated other women which has torn the guts from me. Because of his emotions I want to be there for him as a friend but find it so hard sometimes. I feel honoured I’m one of the few girls he wants in his life. ‘No ones ever been there for me as much as you have’ , his emotions are so friustrating!
    He tried to commit suicide a while ago and phoned me for help…..I had to contact his sister on the other side of the world to get help to him. He wouldn’t tell me where he was, he was drunk, luckily his dad made it to his and the was ok!!! (Ish).
    So so difficult and don’t know how to make him see what a wonderful person he is 😢

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. What you’re describing is some very typical Bipolar instability. If he was just diagnosed, that probably occurred due to a lot of instability in his life. A Bipolar mind will go back and forth on things like emotions – including love. Chances are pretty good that in the moments he confessed to love you, he very well may have. And then in the moments he pushed you away, he also wanted you away, too. That’s the kind of thing Bipolar Disorder does to our minds and emotions.

      You won’t be able to show him what a wonderful person he is. The depression and the mania are going to warp and distort those things. It’s something he’ll only be able to see through personal work and likely medication. It can be awhile before he’ll be stable and well. Many people that strive for it don’t always reach those goals.

      It’s impossible to know what his genuine emotions are if he’s been unstable this whole time. That’s why you really need to take care of yourself, first and foremost; just in case his emotions don’t stay the same as what they were.

  50. Cowboys says:

    Dear Dennis,
    These responses from you and the others have been exactly what I need right now. I don’t feel alone and feel that I can relate to them at times.
    My story is this. About 9 months ago, I started talking and getting to know a very sweet and loving man. I knew he wasn’t in a very stable place in many ways because he is living with his uncle, not really able to work full time, and still recovering from having three back surgeries in one year. He would strive to be as happy and “normal” as possible, but you could see his struggle.

    His daughter lives with her mother about 7 hours away and his daughter is in remission from cancer. She is truly the breath in his chest. Despite all this, he keeps going to doing what he can to get better. He’s insightful about pain meds and got off them a long time ago to not be dependent on them. However, he doesn’t sleep well because of the constant back pain, and then mood swings. It’s a vicious cycle…back pain, no sleep, mood swings.
    Sorry for back story, but several months of spending time with him and getting to know him, I developed love towards him. Just as he was…not much financially to offer, bit emotionally connected for sure. We really enjoyed each other.
    Then, he got denied disability and he became very depressed. We lost contact for two months. He deactivated Facebook and seemed to shut everyone out.
    Thankfully, he reached out. He gave me a very sincere apology and explanation and we began seeing each other again. It was like we never skipped a beat! For months things were really good. He mentioned he could be Bipolar and things started making sense. Some ups and downs…our communication about things was strong. A few days after a great weekend, he did tell me that he’s not right and needs to be alone to get his life right. He said he really enjoyed our time together, but just needs time. I respected that and kept the door open a week later letting him know that I’m here if he needs anything. He responded sweetly, as he typically would have. Then, about two weeks after that, he posted that he loves another female on Facebook. Out the blue completely! She said that she loves him back. That’s when my heart sank. I am a social worker that works with those with severe mental illness and can make sense of all of this, except his love for this other woman. In two weeks, he went from loving me, having a good time with me, to needing to be alone to get right, to loving someone else. He had even told me that he can’t really love someone until he loves himself, even though he had told me several times prior to that that he loved me. I’m trying my best to stay well and hope he gets the help he needs. I’d love for us to be with each other again, because we really were a good team and it was very fulfilling to us both. It just hurt seeing that and never saw it coming. He doesn’t like liars or cheaters because he knows how bad it feels to be betrayed. I just feel a loss in my life and hope that one day, he’ll be in a better place for his sake, his daughter’s sake, etc.
    Thank you again for shedding light on what having Bipolar feels like. I’m so thankful I stumbled across this blog, you’ve helped so many, including me. So glad you’re working towards wellness.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Cowboys. Thank you for the kind words on my work, I really do appreciate it.

      I note that you do have experience with people with mental illness due to your line of work. You’re not the first professional that’s reached out to me about this kind of thing; because it definitely is more different when it’s personal.

      When I convey information, I like to ensure that the person will understand exactly where I’m coming from. So I apologize if you already know this information about Bipolar Disorder.

      If your guy is Bipolar; the drastic disruption to sleep would be a major contributor to instability. Our brain produces the mood balancing chemicals we burn throughout the day during deep sleep. So if we do not deep sleep, we can became more volatile and prone to unwell swings. The typical recommendation is for us to stay as close to our circadian rhythm as possible. Serious deviations from that can potentially result in greater instability.

      Given the fact that he’s had three back surgeries, I’m surprised he was denied for Disability. But any denials should be appealed. There’s, if I recall correctly, five levels of appeal that goes all the way to an Administrative Law Judge. It’s unfortunate that he shut down in that period because it is very likely he could have continued his case had he appealed in the appropriate time frame. But Bipolar-Depression could definitely be responsible for that kind of response. It’s drastic, extreme, and fatalistic. Pretty much what I would expect from an unmedicated, unstable Bipolar person.

      The thing with Bipolar Disorder that typically gets glossed over is the role that delusion plays in unwell cycles. Delusion, by definition, is being convinced of a reality that can be proven to not exist. Being that Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder, delusion affects our feelings on a very regular basis while we are in an unwell cycle. If anything, I would take this as a very, very, very, very, very strong indicator that he is most likely Bipolar. Assuming that you have a good bead on who he is, and I know social workers are usually pretty good at noticing those things, and he is very big into loyalty and all; then there isn’t great reason to believe that he was just manipulating you.

      If he is Bipolar, it is very possible that his crap sleep schedule, lack of medication, and the stress of everything he’s been dealing with could have thrown him into an escalated cycle. Or, some woman may have randomly flirted with him at some point and caused an unwell cycle.

      Simply put, if he’s Bipolar, it’s very likely that his feelings for you were real based on the length of time you two were together and the way you describe him treating you. If he’s Bipolar, this “new love” is most likely delusion that will disappear when his brain crashes again.

      This kind of thing is why Bipolar Disorder is so destructive. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and your feelings for the thing you love most in life were swapped with the thing you hate most in life. That’s very similar to what Bipolar Disorder does. Today, we could be on top of the world; tomorrow, suicide is the only thing left. Today, I love and need this job; tomorrow, who cares and this is all a waste of time. Today, I need time for myself to get my mind right; tomorrow, I’m madly in love with someone else.

      I should also point out that I am using very vague and loose language because I am not a doctor and it is not my place to “diagnose” anyone. I can say that his actions are very typical from what one would expect from a Bipolar unwell cycle though. And if he is in an escalated cycle, when it ends, his emotions should drop back to what they were prior to his instability; meaning favorable to you. Take that with a grain of salt because it would be impossible to know for sure without talking to him in-depth with an actual diagnosis.

      Once again, thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you found my work enlightening and helpful! Thank you for what you do. I’ve had a lot of help on my own path from knowledgeable, compassionate social workers.

      • Cowboys says:

        Dennis,

        I can’t thank you enough…it’s so nice to be able to share this someone that understands. Most people would simply say, “I guess ya’ll weren’t meant to be” or the door is now closed. I admit, I’m not ready to let go because there was a lot of love between the two of us. He was caring towards me. He shared a lot with me and I did with him. The fact that he reached out again after two months off, does give me hope. He knows I’m here for him, I’ve always been consistent and he knows that. He is a good man, but struggling. He’s probably not in a good place for any solid relationship right now and he knows that deep down, but we’ll see where this goes. I hope the best for him and know that he brought a lot of joy to my life. The door will always be open…I hope you have a great day today! Thanks again Dennis!

  51. Greg says:

    Hi im new here and just looking for some advise cause im a wreck but this was the first bipolar girl I’ve ever dated but we were so in love like tried to have a baby every day we dated for almost 2 years and she said I was the only guy that she ever wanted a baby with and that she wanted to marry me and be my wife. She has 2 boys one is almost 3 and one just turned 6 I loved them like my own and got so close to them and we had some problems but they always got worked out and the scenario im about to explain happened once before but didn’t carry on for as long as this time. So she recently moved out but stayed in contact with me for a week or 2 and said how much she misses me and loves me and that she wasn’t talking to anyone else but then I find out she just started dating a guy I know and it’s been about 3 to 4 weeks they have been together and she has completely blocked me and lost contact with me and he got her a new phone and number so I can’t contact her. He has money I should add and supposedly they are going to buy a house and supposedly they are engaged and she is like all on board after just starting to be in the new relationship and when I know that she still loves me deep down. She was diagnosed with being bipolar when she was 16 but refused to take medication for it and now is 27 and it’s killing me that she could shut me out so fast and move on so easily and get a house and want to marry this new guy so super fast and just hate me so much already. I love her beyond words can explain and I’m just looking for some advise and someone to talk to me about what’s going on if they have had any experience like this. Thanks

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Greg.

      What you’re describing sounds like a pretty typical manic cycle. Bipolar Disorder can throw our brain into such an extreme that it starts creating delusional feelings and reality. The fact that she went from zero to “madly in love, ready to get married and buy a house” heavily suggests that she is likely in a manic cycle. What can you do in this situation? Not a lot, unfortunately. All you can really do is hope the cycle ends before she makes decisions that can’t be easily unmade.

      Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder; meaning it has a very severe and drastic affect on our moods. It’s not that she has moved on from you, it’s that her mental illness is producing a reality that does not exist. You get painted as the enemy and it is latched onto whatever was created for this other guy. In most cases, that will all go away when the cycle ends. How long will the cycle run? It’s impossible to know. It could end now, it could end a year from now.

      All you can really do is take care of yourself in this situation. Do what you need to do to find peace with the situation and take care of yourself.

      • Greg says:

        Dennis,
        Thanks you for your fast response to my situation and I greatly appreciate the advise and knowledge on said topic as I am new to this and it greatly helped and made me feel a little better. It’s just so hard to see the person you love get over you so fast and move on so quickly when deep down I know she still loves me I mean of course yes I’ve done things that I shouldn’t have done like she would tell me to change something for her and I would do it for a little while then go back to my old habits just cause I’m stubborn that’s basically the main reason she left me she said she got tired of it but I kept trying to contact her and tell her that I would change and that how much she meant to me and she completely cut ties with me and I can’t contact her and she’s with this new guy for only 3 weeks now and already getting a house and supposedly engaged and is all happy and everything but that’s just so fast for that to happen when she was deeply in love with me just a 4 weeks ago and just last week I met her to give her some things back and she even said that she loved me and kissed me twice that day meanwhile she was dating that guy during that time which I didn’t find out till 3 days after that when I assumed things were finally ok again. It just hurts really bad it makes it really hard to walk away when you know she still loves you but then again it hurts to see her so happy and so serious about this guy even though it’s so fast already.

        • Greg says:

          All I can keep thinking to myself is that is it really that possible to fall out of love and back into love with someone else that fast and be normal and serious about it. That’s what’s killing me the not knowing part whether it’s serious or not.

          • Dennis says:

            Replying to both of your replies in this one message. One thing you need to bear in mind is the language I’m using in this post is very loose, it’s because no one can know for sure what exactly is going on in her mind without talking to her in-depth.

            The actions you’re describing are all very typical of a manic cycle. They don’t make sense to you, you won’t “understand it” in the way you’re hoping for, because your brain doesn’t work that way. It’s not that she left, had some time to heal, and then made a clear choice to jump into a new relationship. It’s that, if she’s manic, her brain created an altogether different reality that she is currently acting on.

            Consider the following. You wake up tomorrow morning and your feelings for the thing you hate most are swapped with the thing you love most. No rhyme or reason, it’s just different. You whole-heartedly believe this new reality to be real because you trust your brain and perceptions, as most people will do. Now, you throw in all of the other fun things that Bipolar Disorder brings; like poor impulse control, poor risk assessment and decision making, and the other numerous symptoms that make it really difficult to figure out what the truth and reality actually is.

            Are her emotions for this guy real? Probably not. They’ll probably disappear when the manic cycle ends if she’s manic. And once that happens, her brain will drop back to the way she actually feels. Given that you’ve been in a two year relationship with her, it’s likely her real feelings will point her back towards you. Again, no one can know that for sure and I have no idea how long it could take.

            All you can really do right now is wait. Generally, what I advise people in a situation like yours, is to set yourself a time limit of something like 3-6 months to give an unwell cycle time to run it’s course. And if it doesn’t end or things aren’t looking better by then, consider moving on.

            The other problem is the length of time she’s been without treatment. If she is against medication or doesn’t feel she needs it, she’s going to have other cycles in the future. And attaining wellness is difficult. So that’s another thing to consider. She may be for it once this cycle ends though, assuming she can recognize how damaging and severe it is when it’s over.

            And you are welcome on the reply. It’s a very confusing thing to deal with.

          • Marsha says:

            Hi Dennis, it’s been 2 months now and he still won’t take my calls, respond to text or anything. I called him from a different phone number the other day, he answered but when he heard my voice, he just hung up. I know and understand everything you are telling me and the others, but is there no way I can shake him out of this? I can’t stand this waiting. I’m fine most days but it’s so hard. 😩

          • Dennis says:

            I think it may be time to let it go and move on, Marsha. In going back and re-reading your posts, you are correct in that he was probably in a manic cycle when you met him (if he is Bipolar). That great man for you was likely just a product of the mania. Even though it appeared to be wonderful and passionate, the fact that he’s stoned-walled you and refuses to communicate you with is a greater indicator of who he actually is. Given his emotionally abusive actions that you describe in your post and the way he’s pretty much shut you out without caring at all about you or your feelings; you’re going to be dodging a significant bullet, I think.

            A decent mentally ill person would have had some apologies, tried to make things better, and tried to find a way. His utterly flat, dispassionate demeanor suggests a lack of empathy. The fact that he doesn’t care at all suggests that any feelings he professed were either lies or delusion created by the Disorder.

            I know it sucks and is very hurtful; but that combination of factors forms a bouquet of red flags towards a potential abuser. At this point, it would likely be best to close this chapter on your life and find someone who will love, care, and appreciate you.

          • Marsha says:

            Hi Dennis, I know I should move on and I will. It’s hard. I really have no choice but to move on. I guess I’m glad that I at least heard his voice and know that he’s still alive so I will have to be satisfied with that. Its bittersweet to read this blog because on one hand it’s good to see there’s an explanation and that I’m not the only one that has had to deal with this but it so sad to see that so many folks are going thru this. The pain can be unbearable. Thanks again for always being there. Folks who haven’t dealt with this really don’t understand.

  52. Paul says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I’ve been returning to this blog article for the past couple of days now because the experiences on here seem to bear a striking resemblance to my own. I’ve never posted on a forum before but I feel I need to get my own experience off my chest and hopefully gain some understanding.

    I started dating a girl back in November, we met online and seemed to click instantly. We shared the same hobbies, interests and passions in life and messaged each other constantly. We met up a few days later and had an amazing first date, it lasted four hours and we really hit it off. She seemed really bubbly, confident, excitable and couldn’t stop talking – which I took to be a good sign.

    Anyway, over the next month or so we saw each other every other day and our connection grew exponentially. She said she couldn’t believe how great I was and that she was expecting to find some horrible flaw in me any second because I seemed ‘too be good to be true’. She met my family as she figured ‘she have to eventually’ and always talked about us in the long term.

    Throughout that time she mentioned she had periods where she was a super social party girl before having months where she’d stay on her own alone and didn’t want to talk to anyone. She drank cocktails constantly whenever we went out and when I came round hers as she had a drinks cabinet stocked full of mixers and alcohol. She said she drank so much to slow her mind down as it was ‘always racing’. She would always talk all the time, cut across me and make abrupt tangents but I didn’t mind as I found it endearing.

    She also mentioned offhand that she had been on some form of medication in the past for anxiety and depression issues and was looking to get a repeat prescription soon in order to ‘cope’. One of her new year’s resolutions was to seek professional help regarding her hyperactive mind. She was going through a particularly stressful time in her life and so I didn’t read too much into it and offered to help out as much as I could.

    Over the next few weeks I helped her move flat, find a new job (she wasn’t very happy in her current one), get things for her new flat and care for her cat. We carried on dating and being intimate. She had a very high sex drive and mentioned that she masterbated several times a day. Again, I didn’t read too much into this as I just thought it was her personality. She said she really liked me and found me attractive, smart and funny.

    It was only after she’d settled down into her new flat that I noticed a change in her mood. She seemed very depressed and irritable all of a sudden and would shout at me over the smallest things, often criticizing my flaws for no reason. I thought she was just stressed out with the move and her Grandma being ill and continued to stand by her.

    Last week I noticed she was becoming increasingly withdrawn and antisocial. She had her friends round one evening for drinks but ended up kicking them all out in a rage after one of them said she was acting immature. Her messages to me dropped down to one a day and seemed terse, like she was annoyed with me.

    I decided to give her space and figured she’d appreciate it. She finally said when she was around me it felt like she was having a conversation with herself and that I wasn’t having much of an input and that she ‘didn’t have the energy anymore’. I thought this was strange as I’d always kept the conversation going, even if it meant interrupting her sometimes. Nevertheless I came over with flowers and chocolate, apologized and we watched a movie together and talked non-stop. She seemed happier and gave me a kiss goodbye.

    A few days later I messaged her wondering if she wanted to meet up sometime in the week and would understand if she just wanted some time alone. She replied saying she wasn’t comfortable around me, wasn’t attracted to me and said I wasn’t confident enough which I thought was unfair. I’m admittedly reserved at times but I’m not lacking in confidence, I’ve been on stage several times, had songs on the radio and my job as a consultant actively requires me to have confidence.

    Needless to say, I felt devastated and confused. I waited a few days and messaged her asking to meet up so I could try and find some closure. She called me crazy and obsessive which shocked me. I’d actively been keeping my distance from her and keeping myself busy with work and gym as I thought she needed space.

    To appease her I suggested we stay friends as I felt we had so much in common it’d be a shame to lose touch all together, and that we were both adults and there was no need to burn bridges. She said I was being selfish by wanting to still spend time with her when she didn’t like me, swore at me and threatened to block me. I was surprised by how hostile she’d become towards me but agreed to stay away and message her in a month’s time to arrange to pick up my things. I’ve since left it at that.

    In the aftermath of all this I’m still feeling shocked and confused. At first I’d thought she’d perhaps just used me but I now no longer think this is the case. It wasn’t until I took a step back and looked back over the last few months that I began to draw the dots. The mood cycling she’d mentioned, the alcoholism, hypersexuality, fast speech, hyperactive mind, irritability, anxiety, medication and her apparent inability to complete any project lasting more than a few days.

    All her relationships had been short term and always apparently ended with her exes turning ‘crazy’, which in hindsight I sincerely doubt. The fact of the matter is I still care for her deeply and I’m kind of on here to find a sense of closure. I plan on visiting her to pick up my things when all this has blown over and perhaps messaging her later in the year to see if she just wants to socialise but I fear she will always see me as ‘crazy’ despite having done nothing wrong. I’ve only ever shown her kindness and respect which is what only confuses me all the more.

    Dennis, do you believe my ex-girlfriend is indeed exhibiting symptoms of a bipolar disorder or am I simply trying to excuse the fact that she doesn’t like me and never did? Apologies for the long message, I just needed to get it off of my chest. Thank you for indulging me and providing others like me with a place to share their experiences.

    Paul

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Paul. Bearing in mind I am not a doctor and it is not my place to “diagnose” anyone; what you’re describing sounds very consistent with what one would expect out of an unmedicated Bipolar person. You’re describing very common symptoms and mannerisms. Also, any time anyone describes all of their exes as “crazy,” it’s usually the lowest common denominator; and it’s not necessarily her fault.

      Delusion plays a huge role in Bipolar Disorder unwellness. Delusion is defined as being convinced of a reality that can be proven to not exist. That can look positive or negative. That can be the overly into you, everything is perfect and wonderful, everything is MAGNIFICENT feelings that you saw in her after the two of you first met. That can also be “you don’t care about me and are obsessed with me” on the other end of the spectrum. If she is Bipolar, her brain is feeding her lies about the entirety of the situation.

      People regularly reach out to me about situations like this; and near as I can tell it’s because there actually was a genuine spark and interest at the initial meeting. That serves as a trigger to launch the person into an escalated cycle where everything can look AMAZING (or it can be angry and crappy too, either is possible), and then the person crashes into depression when the cycle runs it’s course.

      If you want to try reaching out to her, wait a couple weeks and then try. It’ll give some time for her mind to calm down and rebalance. Suggest that she do some research on Bipolar Disorder. She may be able to see the traits of it in herself. I know that the first time I read about Bipolar Disorder it was like my entire life snapped into focus.

      Do your best to stay neutral and avoid emotional conversations. Again, if she is Bipolar, it is a mood disorder and screws with emotions pretty hard. So a minor blip of emotion can create a tidal wave of response.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you for reply Dennis, you’ve helped put my mind at ease. I’ll definitely take your advise and remain neutral, keeping my distance until later next month like I promised her when I’ll get my things. I plan on keeping our encounter brief but amicable, hopefully she’ll respect that and not become hostile. If it ends positively then perhaps I’ll try and establish a friendship further on down the line otherwise I’ll keep my distance.
        Now I’m aware that she may have this condition I’ll be more cautious and understanding from now on. I’ve never experienced a relationship quite like that before which is partly why I sought your advise and to learn from others experiences. This knowledge has helped me become less confused and more sympathetic so thank you for that. When the time is right I may attempt to help her in the sense of letting her know I’m there for her if she needs me anything but I fear anything beyond that will likely push her away or worse, fuel her current delusions of me. This is a shame as I feel she needs help and her quality of life could improve significantly if she gets the right treatment, the problem is getting her to come to this realization by herself by guiding her to some research materials like you’ve suggested which may prove tricky as I’m probably no longer in a position of trust in her eyes.
        My heart goes out to anyone affected by this disorder and I’m grateful that this site can provide an outlet for such experiences or at the very least inform people about such conditions.

        Thanks again,

        Paul

  53. Jeannie says:

    Dennis,
    Well, I did ask my boyfriend to take a step back from out romantic relationship and to remain friends. I told him that I am not deserting him, that I will still be here for him if he needs a friend. I waited to tell him this just before his appt today with his therapist. I thought he could talk to her about it. I also let him know that this was a very hard thing for me too….we met just a few months before he had a psychotic episode….then our relationship just stopped growing…it’s not his fault, nor is it mine…it’s just very sad really…..but what the therapist said to him is what blew me away……she said she thought I was being very premature in breaking things off with him….they she proceeded to tell him that she was a Christian woman and didn’t believe in pre marital sex!…..each time he sees her, she goes on and on about HER life and her issues! She told him she had 2 ex husbands that had bipolar, and a husband now who just had a stroke….seriously???? Isn’t this suppose to be about him! I really thought she’d help him gather his thoughts about me breaking off the romantic relationship….let him know that things will be ok…..he got nothing. Then, just like you said in your writings to others….he called me afterwards and said, “Oh well, you have to do what you need to do”…….then he blamed me for our relationship not going forward during all of this….I feel terrible….I know he is hurt……so much for the help of the so called “(hardly a) professional”……I just didn’t know where else to vent…..so here I am. I just hope I did the right thing….her words made me second guess myself at to jumping the gun……….just to remind you, he had homicidal thoughts about me….the therapist knows that……I don’t think he’d hurt me….but its still hard as hell to think that could be in his head….and its hard for me not to think about that….so premature?????

    • Dennis says:

      Ugh. That is pretty awful. A therapist like that isn’t going to be able to help him get things back on a right track. The goal is supposed to be to enable the person in therapy to find their own way with the help of the professional; not be dictated to on how the person should proceed. If he didn’t cut contact with you, you should suggest that he find a new therapist.

      Simply put, if she’s bringing her problems into the appointments, then she’s not managing them very well. And if she’s not managing her own problems very well, then how can she be expected to help other people find their own way? It’s incredibly unprofessional and damaging.

      Don’t put too much weight on her words. Her having two ex-husbands with Bipolar Disorder doesn’t say very much, really. Hard telling what kind of people they actually were, hard telling what kind of a person she actually is.

      Don’t let yourself get pulled into arguments with him about the relationship or ending it. Pretty much anything you say is likely to just get twisted around in his mind and fired back at you. His thoughts and emotions aren’t operating in a typical way, so typical approaches do not necessarily work. So don’t let yourself get sucked into arguments that you can’t win.

      Again, not a professional, but I don’t think he would hurt you either. By your old posts, he knows that the thoughts are wrong and bad. He knows that these are not things he wants to do. And he’s not acting on those thoughts at all, instead he sought help. That’s a really good sign. Dark thoughts like that aren’t necessarily uncommon with certain mental illnesses. Most of us don’t act on them. But still, you should stay aware of your surroundings and exercise caution if he shows up out of the blue, unannounced or for no reason.

      Frankly, I view his “You have to do what you need to do” as a good thing as well. It infers that her words didn’t stick very well to him and he didn’t necessarily buy into her words, otherwise I would suspect he would come away with a more angry mentality. Don’t be surprised if he wants space from you though. A breakup can be hard to manage as well, so he may not be in a good place to be around or talk to you as a friend for awhile.

      One important factor that’s at play in this situation with the therapist is that she is trying to pigeon-hole your guy into the same categories as her personal experiences. Every Bipolar person is different, like anyone else. There are no one size fits all solutions. Now, there are lowest common denominator solutions that have the possibility of working and being applicable to a number of different people. But fine tuning it comes down to the individual. In my experience, professionals like her tend to think that if one approached worked for person 1, it should work for person 2. That’s not always the case.

      Simply put – she sounds like she may either not be a very good professional or she doesn’t have her own personal problems dealt with. I wouldn’t put a ton of weight on her perspective on your choice. Furthermore, the early stages of your relationship with him reek of escalated thinking, which means those feelings he expressed during this period of unwellness and instability cannot be trusted.

      Were I in your position, knowing what I know about Bipolar Disorder and mental illness, a break up is the route I would have taken as well.

      And it’s fine if you need to vent here. That’s part of what this is all for, so people involved in all of this in whatever way can not feel so alone in doing so.

  54. Jeannie says:

    Bless you and all of your help to everybody. I did tell him yesterday that he needs a new therapist. He agrees she is not very good for him…then he said he doesn’t believe in therapy anyway…which kind of worried me…..they have yet to send him to a psychiatrist. They said they have to see him several weeks before he can see one…..so he has been on a very low starting does of Risperdal since Dec 21 2015 and that’s it….he is growing tired of jumping through the hoops….and I can’t blame him…then I don’t think I did a very good job of making things clear….It was clear the first time….then I wavered……when I told him, he was clearly upset, sad…..and so was I. It’s a loss……he is a really good person…..it’s really one of those things where you mourn what could have been……I want to be there for him…..but he said he doesn’t want to sit by and watch me date other people either. Then I felt I began to give him mixed messages…which I know better……I KNOW that was the wrong thing to do and I am stronger than that….I couldn’t take the hurt I caused when I told him we should be friends…ugh! It’s hard to let go when you know somebody hurts and needs help.

    • Dennis says:

      A lot of people have some very uninformed notions about therapy, what it is, what it isn’t. It’s common for people to “not believe in therapy” who don’t understand that therapy is there to help you develop better skills and have a neutral place to vent off about whatever problems you’re going through. Usually, the people that don’t believe in it don’t understand how it should be used, which is a challenge. It also depends on the type of therapy as well. But then, for some people it isn’t that useful.

      The hoops really suck but that’s the way it is in most places. Patience is a huge part of pursuing mental wellness. It takes time for meds to work. It takes time to tweak the meds to get them in the correct place. Time, time, time, and patience.

      It really sucks when we need to make unpleasant choices that run counter to what we believe to be correct. I know it sucks now, but I’m sure that once his mind clears up more he will be able to understand things in a clearer way, if he already does not. You definitely want to avoid mixed messages though, because the Disorder will take those and play with them. So if he can’t handle contact with you right now, it’s better to let him go and do his thing. The mixed messages and feelings can cause a lot more disruption instead of just having the time to let things smooth out and over.

      I know it hurts. Doing the right thing is rarely pleasant or easy, unfortunately. You can take solace in that he is on a good path that he will hopefully continue to walk towards recovery.

      • Jeannie says:

        Thank you so much…..those are the words I needed to hear. If he continues to listen to me, I will try to explain what therapy is, and what it is suppose to be used for. He seems to be doing ok today….I have checked in on him just to see how his mental state is. He told me he wants to take more meds…..he doesn’t want to wait another 6-8 weeks for the psychiatrist to do it. I told him he should call his regular doctor to see if this is safe. He says he is still having what he calls daymares…..but they are about him seeing himself in jail. He hasn’t had the suicide or homicidal thoughts for a bit now. He still hears his own voice talking to him in his head….but not as much. It must be so frightening.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re very welcome.

          And that is good advice for him, really. Psych medication is serious stuff, not something to arbitrarily play around with in any form. You could suggest to him to look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, specifically. CBT focuses on helping people understand their emotions and management of them. I recommend it to everyone, even normal people. I know a lot of “mentally healthy” people who could benefit from learning how to manage their emotions well. For we mentally ill people, it can provide a lot of helpful insight and strategies into managing the unwellness and erratic thoughts.

          If you talk to him, be sure to reinforce that he should tell his professionals about that voice talking to him as well. That may be a symptom of some other mental illness.

          • Jeannie says:

            He did tell the people at the hospital when he went to the ER in Dec. about the voices….he says he has heard this most of his life. I am concerned he may be schizophrenic??? I am wondering if this is why his regular doctor has not given him any more meds….or a higher dosage. Maybe he is waiting to see what the psychiatrist says. Maybe this is why he was only given Risperdal? He is extremely hyper, talks A LOT and he has been like that since I first met him. I had asked him about this, prior to the episode that landed him in the ER, and he said he always thought he was ADHD, but his mom never wanted him tested because she didn’t want her son to have that label:(

          • Dennis says:

            Schizoaffective Disorder was one of my first thoughts. What you described in your previous posts reeks of typical manic escalation and cycling. But the voice that he’s had since he was young is not something you would expect with Bipolar Disorder unless the person was in an extreme unwell cycle. It generally would not persist throughout the different unwell cycles. Schizoaffective Disorder is a combination of schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder and is quite likely why they chose risperdal; because it can be mutually beneficial for treating symptoms of both.

            This is a really gray area that definitely needs tackled by a psych rather than a traditional doctor.

            A lot of people avoid getting the help they need for fear of labels. Hopefully, he will continue to follow through and get it under control.

  55. shawna says:

    My situation is very different than the rest of you. I Recently Met a girl online who i Became very close too in a friendship type of way ( we are both female ) but nothing more than friendship. I found out she is bipolar.. She said to me I was the best friend she’s ever had and like her sister even. We continued to talk every day and had the greatest friendship. She said very fast she wanted to move down here to live by me and be friends we are far away in states.. She vowed to be friends forever as i did . I had thought i had found the greatest friend in the world . In a week we had planned to meet and a few days ago i get an email saying things i didn’t do accusing me of testing and pushing her to hurt me and she said she was going to do that and end the friendship . I just am so confused and hurt. I don’t have any other close friend and thought she was going to really be the greatest friend i have ever had. She also always talked about moving down by me, traveling the world, and being like sisters. I am wondering how a person can change so suddenly ..are all these dreams like fantasy in someones head? how do they hurt the one person that stood by them and i said i would be there for her when others judged her i said i wouldn’t ..it’s just so confusing i dont’ know if she will come back as friends or even if all they said about friends forever was true… no this wasn’t a romantic relationship like most but honestly it hurts just the same to lose the person you believe in all your heart is your best friend forever.. Do bipolar people leave friends easily she once told me when people get close she backs away. This is all so hard for me to understand …

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Shawna. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Simply put, an unstable Bipolar person is easily capable of going from “I want to be your best friend” to “I hate you” in relatively short order. You mention that you don’t really have any close friends, and it seems like, from your text, that friendships may be kind of hard for you as it doesn’t seem like you picked up on that any of this was abnormal. It’s really not normal or expected for a “best friend” to pick up their life and move to a location to be closer to a best friend without a lot of other considerations made. It’s a huge choice and stands out as a red flag that she was unstable and probably manic in that time period if she actually is Bipolar.

      I know it’s very hard to understand, particularly if she is genuinely mentally ill and unstable. The brief actions you describe certainly suggest it.

      But honestly, she’s not the one that’s important in all of this. What is important is figuring out how you can heal, find friends near you, and work on building great friendships of your own.

      If you have a hard time with social anxiety, socialization in general, or awkwardness; a therapist should be able to help you get to a better mental place for your socialization. It can be rough, but social skills can be learned. I’m High-Functioning Autistic in addition to being Bipolar. I had to learn a majority of the social skills that other people are born with and do naturally because my brain just doesn’t do those things correctly. A therapist should also be able to help you understand what a healthy friendship should look like, as well.

      I’m sorry you had to go through that with your friend.

      • shawna says:

        Thank you so much for giving me this understanding.. I am so hurt but time will help heal this . I am trying to learn more about bipolar so i understand how they think . You are a great guy Dennis for helping out everyone

  56. Michelle says:

    This article was very comforting for me to read. My “episode” with my bipolar person just happened last night. I know logically I did nothing wrong but I’m completely torn up by the way he treated me and it came out of no where. We hadn’t used the word “love” and we had been dating and I thought we were taking things slow. About a year ago he emailed me on a dating website. I wouldn’t go out with him at the time because he had recently been separated from his wife. He had contacted me a few times but I said no thank you. Months later he sent me he sent me friend request on Facebook. I didn’t even remember who he was but we had mutual friends and he looked familiar so I accepted. We chatted a bit but he didn’t ask me out again. As it turned out he had just started dating a women, one who turned out to be equally as toxic. They were constantly break up and get back together. He would ask me out during their break ups and I would say no, thought he had too much drama. I took him out of my news feed and forgot about him. He would always like and comment on my posts though. We ended up talking online last October. He said he wanted to ask me out again but I always reject him. I noticed the girlfriend was gone for a couple of months so I accepted. We had a good first date but I was still on the fence. By the second date he was over the top saying he knew I would be his girlfriend. I was hesitant to let him in, he was too much too soon and it scared me. He would send me texts saying he missed me just a day after seeing me. He would say how much he wanted the relationship to work and how much he liked me. He said he was falling for me. I finally let it all in. I was blissfully happy for a few weeks but the red flags started soon after. He lied to me one night about being sick to go visit the on and off ex girlfriend. That was over Thanksgiving and he barely spoke to me for a couple of days but then he was fine. We had too more blissful weeks. Told me all the time how happy he was and felt so grateful and lucky to have met me. Then a few days later he broke up with me in a text a text message, just said he didn’t feel the butterflies. I was crushed. I found out soon after he went back to the ex girlfriend but that only last 3 weeks and he broke up with her. He reached out and was all full of apologies and I miss you. Wanted to start dating again and I did. His ex gf kept sending angry text messages and threatening to kill herself. He eventually blocked her. We seemed to be doing well. We were taking things slow and he was open with communicating. We made no promises of commitment but we talked every day and saw each other 3-4 times a week. He was always good about making and keeping plans. Told me all the time how happy I made me, said I was giving him butterflies one night. We grew closer, he started to depend on me more, I got him meds when he was sick, took care of him, helped him move back into his old house. He would talk about making future plans for the summer, hanging out with his friends, going to watch him run the Boston Marathon. I was supportive, kind and patient. He had a couple more episodes where he would get irrationally angry and try to end things. One time said ok, that’s probably a good idea. That when he told me he’s bipolar but he is afraid to be meds because of how he would effect him at work or running. He called me said he didn’t want to end it, I had made him really happy and he liked what we had together. Over the next few days he showered me with sweet text messages about how he couldn’t stop thinking about him, how he missed me more then ever. Things went that way the next few weeks. We seemed to be moving into getting more serious. Over the last weekend he was away at his sisters. Said he missed me and wished he could see him. I said maybe tomorrow but he got home too late. He messaged me yesterday asking if I was still going to see him that night and I said yes. Through out the day he texted me and I could tell something was wrong. He was starting to talk the way he did before an episode. Every time it was the same. He went from being sweet and full of adoration to cold , rude and snide, almost like he was trying to provoke me. When I showed up he said something rude. I responded with “is everything I do or say going to piss you off”? I went and used the bathroom and when I came out he was throwing me out. He said I want to you leave, I don’t want to see you. I said don’t do this now, but he starting taking all of my stuff and putting it out by my car. He stood in the doorway saying I want you to leave, I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want you to be my girlfriend. I tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t even make eye contact. I was very cold, no emotion and was matter of fact about it. Like this is how i feel, tough shit, get out. I kept trying to make sense of it and he said he didn’t know why, I just didn’t feel and wanted to see what else was out there, goodbye. He had always said he wanted to keep me in his life no matter what, he valued me and our friendship no matter what. He had said the day before how much he missed me and was looking forward to seeing me, he said just hours before how he was happy with what we had. Then he did that. I was being throw out in the snow like I was garbage. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Before I pulled out of his driveway he blocked me on Facebook. This man whom I’d grown close to, who was just holding me on his couch days before, telling me how happy I made him was treating me like he hated me. I was shocked and devastated. I am still. I’m sorry I know this is long, I guess I just needed to vent. I’m really hurt and confused.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your story, Michelle.

      What you’re describing is pretty typical behavior for an unmedicated, unstable Bipolar person. One of the most understated parts of Bipolar Disorder is the role that delusion can play. It can cause our mind to turn on a dime because the mental illness is convincing of us a reality that doesn’t exist. That’s why you get the totally hot, totally cold behavior. One day, his brain is telling him “I’m super into her and love her. Then, when the depression crashes in, it can easily convince him that he hates you, that you actually hate him, and he responds accordingly.

      Simply put, this cycle is going to continue until he actually decides to get medicated. Chances are pretty good that he’s going to reach back out to you when this cycle ends, given his past actions. If/when that occurs, you should tell him something like, “I know you’re afraid of what medication will do to your work life and physical health; but what about your emotional health? You can’t keep bouncing back and forth between extremes and expect to have any kind of love life in the long-term.”

      You can forgive him if you feel the need to, but I would really advise not getting involved with him again in another relationship until he decides to get medicated. The kind of swings you’re describing are pretty severe and not likely to be controllable with just natural means. Which means you’ll just end up getting dragged along through the ride.

      I believe that he does genuinely love and care about you beneath the mental illness. I say that based on the way you two started off. It is clear that he was thinking about you on a regular basis for quite a long time. So if his emotions were all just a manic delusion, it isn’t likely that it would have been that consistent for such a long period of time.

      You may also want to suggest to him to go to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist to learn how Bipolar Disorder functions, triggers, how it affects his perceptions, and better management practices. Don’t just tell him “Go to therapy.” Because people all have this preconceived notion of what therapy is and is not, and most of the time they are wrong. It is very useful and it sounds like he could benefit from it. Give him the specifics on why. If anything, write this stuff down to share with him if/when he rolls back around.

      What you’re experienced is pretty normal stuff for being around an untreated Bipolar person. It sucks, but that’s the mental illness. It’s going to be confusing and painful because it’s not how your mind functions. People tend to forget that love is a product of the mind, so mental illness can really play hell with it in the mind of a mentally unstable person.

      • Michelle says:

        He’s never actually said he loved me and all I got was mixed messages. He didn’t want to commit to be exclusive but didn’t want us to be intimate with anyone else. He said he didn’t care if I went on a date with someone else and after him saying that many times I did once. He asked me the other night while he was dumping me if I had and I said yes. He said he didn’t care and it actually made him feel less bad. He told me he never saw me as someone he wanted to be his girlfriend or meet his family and he didn’t see the point of leading me on. He said he wanted to meet someone he had real feelings for. That if he really wanted to be with me he would be thinking about and worrying about what I’m doing all of the time and he doesn’t. He said I want to see what else is out there. I asked him why he would always say he missed me when we were apart or that he was happy to be with me and happy with what we had and he said he was just lonely and had just gotten used to having sex with me. Then he texted me later saying he’s sorry I’m a good person but just not for him. Then he said I’m 100% sure I don’t want to be with you, you going on another date sealed the deal. I was really hurt by all of this and confused. I talked to me like he never really cared or wanted to be with me but he was getting laid and I was better then nothing. He acted like he was angry I went on a date but he kept saying he didn’t care and told me several times if I wanted to go on a date he was fine with it as long as I didn’t sleep with anyone else. Just last week we had a talk about where we stood. He still had dating profiles online. I didn’t like it but I also wasn’t technically his girlfriend. We talked very rationally and he said right now, I’m not ready to commit but I like you a lot and what we have. I may feel different in a month from now though but for now I like it the way it is. It’s up to you if you want to keep seeing me. If you didn’t or you meet someone else I would be sad and miss you but I’d want you to be happy. I would want us to stay friends and I would hope we didn’t have to delete each other from Facebook and not talk. Then everything he did and said this past Monday night was the opposite. I’m honestly not sure how much of his behavior is bipolar and how much is just a guy whose “not that into me” I am confused because at risk of sounding delusional I feel like he was sending me mixed messages. I don’t honestly expect to hear from him again as saying “I’m 100% sure I don’t want to be with you” is a pretty final and strong message. I guess I’m just trying to make sense of it all. I guess I feel like I did something wrong or just wasn’t’ good enough.

        • Dennis says:

          Hm. Given all of that, he sounds like an emotionally unstable asshole who was trying to continue having sex without making any real commitments. There are a lot of stains of Bipolar unwellness in there, but there is also a lot of emotional and mental manipulation as well.

          That being said, none of this has anything to do with you. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t deserve to get yanked and have your emotions played with. As for “good enough,” a lot of people throw stones while standing in their own glass houses. What one guy sees as not good enough could easily be seen as the best parts about you by another guy. Emotional and mental instability doesn’t make traditional sense in a way that’s easy for well-adjusted people to identify with. So don’t beat yourself up or accept “blame” for this. By your description, he chose many times to treat you poorly and without consideration.

          Don’t let him do that anymore or again. Let it go, move on, find someone that will appreciate who you are and what you bring to the table.

          • Michelle says:

            Thank you. I appreciate your feedback and for listening. I’ve had no one to talk to you. I believe he really is bipolar. I also believe he really is an asshole. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I know I need to move on.

          • Dennis says:

            You’re welcome. Happy to help, Michelle. Glad you know you need to move on. Sometimes there isn’t always a rational, tangible reason for things.

  57. Angus says:

    Hi Dennis!
    I found this website recently because I met bipolar person few months ago and I am searching for stuff like this to help me cope with life like this beacuse I care about this person and want to go on. I will tell you my story and I hope that you can help me too give some advices on my questions.
    So,we met on one social network site and started to write to each other more often in November. She is turning 20 this year and I am 23. After short time she told me she is bipolar and she is not ashamed of that. We talked a lot about everything and in that time she started relationship with some guy. We don’t live in the same town and she is on college in other town. On Christmas holidays when she got home,I decided to go to her town to meet her beacuse I liked her from the start and just wanted to meet her and have a drink. I did not expect anything beacuse she was with that guy at the time. She was pleasantly surprised beacuse it was spontaneously meeting. I was courious about how is going with this guy but I didn’t asked her anything. As we were in the bar I realized that she was a bit calm and she told me after short time that she found out that this guy cheated on her and that it’s done for her and she will left him. And she did day after. As we were talking about love stuff I felt something more between us. She kissed me there and we ended up at her home. Nothing more intimate happened that evening besides kissing. I asked her if she wants to be my girlfriend and she said yes. She wanted me to sleep over that night but I couldn’t and we made an appointment that I come again for few days. Next day she went out with her old friends,got drunk and after two days she told me that she is an idiot and can’t be anything between us. I realized in which condition she was and just because of that I didn’t wanted to let her just go so I texted her to meet again to talk about that thing and solve it and that I forgive her. At first she didn’t wanted to meet but after two days of letting her know through texts that I care a lot,she asked me if I am sure about this. I said I am and I came again to her place for a talk. It was ok,she was very good to me and I thought we solve it. We had intimate time that night and as I got home I wanted to meet her again day before she got back to college. Obviously she got drunk and stoned again beacuse she was a little bit cold and when I asked her to meet before she go,she told me that we can meet but only for a coffee beacuse she got in a new relationship. I was confused and it was a little bit funny to me beacuse she was with me in that time. We didn’t meet and I thought to let go because I thought that she don’t want to talk to me anymore. But she texted me two days after when she got to college and she told that she’s ok and that she moved from that friends she got wasted with beacuse she doesn’t want drama like that anymore. We texted a little bit and I wanted to see her again,so I told her a month after that that I am coming to town when she studied and that we could meet. Actually I told her that I’m coming to see my friends at first place but actually I wanted to see her. She was again very surprised when I arrived and immediately gave me a big hug. We were with her friends there. She was very happy and hyper and I realized that she might be in her manic phase. She went home for a while that day beacuse it were exams at that time and I walked her to the bus. I came again a week after beacuse of other agreements in that town with friends. I thought that she won’t be in town because she said she will be home for 2-3 weeks,but as my bus entered the bus station I saw her walking somewhere with her roommates. I was very surprised and I decided to give her a call and invite her for a drink in the evening. I gave her a call as I sat in the bar but she didn’t answer. Maybe I woudn’t call her back but as soon as I ordered a beer I saw her through the window from a bar that she is going somewhere and immediately rushed out from a bar and called her. She talked on the phone with his boyfriend and immediately hang him and she again coudn’t believe that I am there. We had a drink and went to her apartment after that because she wanted to talk about some things in private. She was again very calm and she told me about how jealous is her guy and doesn’t allow her a lot of things. She told me that she can’t believe that after all that she has done to me,I am the only person who is still here and the only person who asked her honestly how is she. She remembered some things with us that I am surprised she remember and she told me things about her life that said she didn’t said to anyone. I don’t know how true it was. She told me that when she cheated me for the first time she was so low after that because she don’t know sometimes what she was doing,feel very guilty and punish herself after that. She asked me again if I know in what I am going into and if I am ready for that. And if yes that I must force her sometimes do things for her own good,and the others of course. Because she sees that it can be something more seriously and I must trust her. She even took her meds as she said she didn’t took it for a while. I am sure and know that I am ready for this. I told her that and I told her that I trust her too,but honestly I am not so sure about that thing about trust. I told her that she must prove this to me. She broke up with that guy that day and we made a deal that we meet the other day and hang out. I called her on the afternoon other day and made a deal that we meet in the evening. She agreed with that,but after a few hours she didn’t respond to my calls. I called her roommate who told me that she is in town but she don’t know where. I called her again and she answered me late saying that she is sleeping. I told her that I am leaving in the morning and if she wants to come to a bus station in the morning and have coffee with me. She didn’t came. As I arrived home I saw that she blocked me on Facebook. I asked her what happened on the social network where we met,but she didn’t respond and removed me from there either. It’s been a week and a half as we don’t talk to each other. Yesterday I saw on other persons Facebook that she might be back with that last boyfriend. And that are the questions I would need to ask. Maybe she got stoned again that day in town and after that felt guit that she broke the promise? If she is so aware that I am always here for her,then why she got back to her jealous ex and not me? Is it because mixing meds with supstances and not taking it? And what is the best for me to do now? To text her something that she knows that I am still here for her or to just let go for a while? Because I still have her number but I don’t know if she would text me first. I really care about her and this is the first time in my life that I really know what and who I want. Because as she told me that everybody is leaving her because of her behaviour,I know that I want be the person who will stay. Beacuse I am very patient and calm person and I am ready for everything.
    I would appreciate your time and every help from you to respond me and give me some advices.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Simply put, you should let the relationship go and move on.

      There are several reasons for that.

      1. If she’s actually taking her medication, which I’m not convinced she is, it’s either really not working for her or she isn’t aware of how it is supposed to work.

      2. She’s already admitted to cheating on you, being entirely inconsistent in her emotional state, and being unable to make a commitment to you. That’s not going to get better until she finally realizes that she can’t keep doing things the way she is and works to remedy it. You’re going to get dragged through hell if you keep trying to be a part of her life.

      3. If she knows you’re just going to forgive her and let her back in, there is absolutely no incentive for her to actually change her behavior. Your post suggests that she knows her instability hurts other people, yet it also suggests that she is doing little to nothing about it. You can’t help her with that. She’s the only one that can help herself.

      If you continue to try and stay friends and have a relationship with her, you’re going to get dragged through hell and a lot of pain and misery. Patience and calmness doesn’t mean anything to Bipolar Disorder because Bipolar Disorder is for life an unending. It will wear you down unless she is actively working to have a healthy relationship with people and minimize the damage she is doing to others.

      And there is no real guarantee that she will ever make that realization or put in that work. So you may wind up waiting years and years for that to come about, absorbing all of the toxicity and damage that comes from a situation like that.

      Do yourself a favor, let the relationship go. No good is going to come from his and her actions certainly do not suggest that she is as remotely into you as you are into her.

      That’s what I would do if I were in your situation.

      • Angus says:

        Thanks for reply Dennis,
        first I need to say that I don’t think she is taking meds regularly although she says she found herself psychiatrist there, but that’s because maybe she need someone who will monitor this for a while. No matter what, yeah that’s true that she needs to give herself best and realize things on her own. At the end we all need to help ourself first. I mean, this all thing lasts only 3 months so I will let go for now to see if something will change in a future, and if she won’t text me I plan to only call her for her birthday in April. Maybe she will realize some things with time, she’s only 20 years old and she has still a lot to learn. I know how was my head messed 3 years ago and how this changed as I am getting older, so that’s why I got hope in me and learn if something needs to happen, it will happened.
        I just needed some advice from person who is into that so thanks again and I wish you all best in your life!

  58. Amber says:

    My boyfriend is bipolar and is not taking any medication. Everything will be amazing for a month or two and then he becomes distant. In the beginning he broke up with me and until that point I never really understood what he is going through, I still didn’t until I was diagnosed with adhd a while back and I know they are different but in a way it helped me understand the more and more I talked to my doctor. So after that I talked to him a little bit about it not wanting to force him or make him feel like I was trying to, and he admitted that he don’t want to take medicine to make him “normal”. I have continued to work through this with him and he had made a lot of progress without medication but I still feel like he should give it a shot. He has had a rough past which makes this harder, he was an addict for a very long time, he hasn’t done any of those things in a long time but it makes things more difficult because that’s how he would deal with things, that was his comfort. I don’t know what to do.

    • Dennis says:

      Of course, this is only a sliver of information so be sure to take my comments with a grain of salt. But your post implies that he suffers a great deal of instability resulting from his mental illness. The problem is that natural management and therapy doesn’t cause a Bipolar mind to start producing or burning mood balancing correctly. In many cases, it’s more like putting a bandaid over a hemorrhaging cut. It looks like it is helping, but that person is going to be having a bad time unless the root problem is address, sooner or later.

      The choice to medicate is a personal one and not something you want to try and leverage him into. His mind, most likely, isn’t going to get better over the long-term without actual treatment. He will probably have bits and pieces of good times up until his brain swings out again. That is most definitely going to take a toll on you. There are plenty of Bipolar out there who need to hit rock bottom before they can accept the things that we need to do to actually be well, which often includes regular medication.

      So, were I in your position, I would encourage him to talk to his doctor and reinforce that the Disorder isn’t just going to get better on it’s own. But, I wouldn’t expect him to make that decision. You should avoid entering any long-term commitments or intertwining your life with him at all. Don’t co-sign for anything. Don’t get your name put on the same bills. Don’t share an apartment. Avoid pregnancy or getting married. Chances are pretty good that your guy has a long, possibly years long, road ahead of him of both personal acceptance and treatment. It will take a toll on you as well. It is impossible to entirely compartmentalize and keep the chaos of the Disorder from splashing on you or affecting you. It’s very common for supporters to develop depression or anxiety disorders from trying to be along for the ride.

      So no matter what, take care of yourself first. You can’t do anything for anyone else if you’re compromised.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Trully need some insight – as I’m totally mind-boggled. My BP-I [first friend, then a lover , he actually said he loved me], that lasted for about 4 dates… He suggested we be friends, and I was Ok with it. Recently, he lashed out at me with most rediculous accusations and name-calling. He’s avoiding me now. We meet at the local regular Poker tournament. He won’t speak to me, but tells everyone who will listen [95% male audience] that he was my Ex and that we ‘went to “pound-town”‘ [I can only guess its’a reference for an intimate encounter]. So, my confusion is : Why whould he be talking about our intimate life with mere aqaintances, meanwhile not speaking to me at all? Is there a malignant side to him? Is it Bi-Polar? Why is he doing this??

    • Dennis says:

      Could be multiple reasons. It could be a manic cycle. He could also just be a manipulative asshole.

      What was he like prior to this? How long have you known him? How well do you know him?

  60. Kay says:

    Your article helped clear up a lot of things about my past relationship. I saw all of the red flags, I just didn’t do anything about it.

    My Bipolar ex’s longest relationship was 7 months. Then he ended it. He proposed after a month to the next girlfriend. That relationship too fell apart within 4 months. He had been with countless women – he told me I didn’t want to know the number.

    Then there was me. He was my best friend who I moved in with, then we just connected and I fell madly in love with him during his high. Within two months of our being together, he wanted to get married, he invited me to his sister’s wedding so I flew out to meet his family, I joined his startup, and we got a cat together. I had never been in love before, so every day was amazing.

    Then we hit about 6 months of stress and lows. I felt like I was invisible most days, waiting around for the one week where he’d be everything I could ever imagine. Our relationship ended shortly after when, while we were being intimate, he told me he felt nothing. It shook me. And anytime I tried to talk things out, he became defensive and manipulative.

    It hurts so much because even now, I really care for him. But I feel like my emotions were being tossed around, even though he had no intention of it. He warned me at the very beginning of our relationship, but I had no idea about how his highs and lows would really affect me. I thought I could handle it.

    Thank you for writing an insightful article. I wish I had found your post sooner because I’ve been struggling with shame and frustration. Now I’m able to understand things a little bit better.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Kay. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      I would just like to reaffirm that his mental and emotional instability have absolutely nothing to do with you as a person, what you did in the relationship, or anything of the sort. Bipolar Disorder can easily turn emotions inside out, both positive and negative. And don’t beat yourself up if you can’t “understand” in the way that most people strive for. Unless you experience it, it’s impossible to fully understand. It would be like asking a man what it feels like to give birth to a child. He may be able to form an intellectual guess, but he can’t understand because he doesn’t have much needed context.

  61. Cara says:

    First and foremost, I can’t thank you enough Dennis. You are truly a fantastic resource for helping those understand Bipolar.

    My story is nearly verbatim those published by others. In short – dated Bipolar 2 medicated man in his late 40s for 3 wonderful months. No obvious mania, no irresponsible behavior or substance abuse. He was, however, energetic, outgoing, kind and thoughtful, also very driven professionally. He was always complimentary of me saying “how lucky” he felt to have met me, etc. We had what I thought was a great connection.

    He disclosed Bipolar 2 diagnosis to me during the dating process, but indicated that he was fully stabilized on medications, and had been through therapy to learn to manage the illness and improve the quality of his relationships. He also disclosed that he had been hospitalized years before for depression. He seemed self-aware and emotionally mature.

    Then it happened – nearly overnight. One evening he blew me off – didn’t answer my texts of phone calls. I finally got a response from him and he said he was “overwhelmed” by work, finances, etc. I asked if there was anything I could do and he said “no”. I asked him if he wanted to put us on hold, his response was also “no”. I gave him space for a while, and then things resumed, albeit briefly.

    Then two weeks pass, he has ceased all communication with me. I reach out, fearful that he is having a serious episode, but no response. I’m genuinely concerned at this point and send him a very heartfelt text expressing my deep concern and wanting to check in on him. He returns a very brief one word response. I felt slighted, as I’ve been very concerned regarding his well-being. I follow-up again nearly a week later, but no response – completely stonewalled!

    I’m extremely hurt by his actions, and feel very disrespected.

    I tried to be so empathetic and loving, yet I’m left wondering how much of this sort of behavior is attributable to the illness vs simple lack of character? Is he really in emotional pain, or simply reunited with an ex-flame? How can us non-Bipolars continue to offer empathy not knowing what that real person is underneath? Empathy is a good thing – at what point should we stop offering it?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Cara. You said you dated him for only three months, but you don’t mention how recently. From the tone of your message, it seems like it was relatively recent though. With that in mind, you may or may not know the real him. It wouldn’t be too hard to fake being someone who cares or a decent person for a few months. Without knowing him well, knowing his personality and so on; that is a very real possibility.

      However, I also see a very common situation with Bipolar Disorder and recovery in your post.

      First, you mention he is a Type 2 Bipolar. As a Type 2, he does not experience mania. He experiences hypomania. The difference is that mania requires psychosis to be considered a “manic” cycle. The escalated thinking that comes with hypomania does not include psychosis. What does hypomania look like? Well, it’s very insidious. It can look like being positive, upbeat, energetic, super outgoing, charismatic, loud, boisterous, with only some hints at mental or emotional instability. What would be a hint of emotional instability? Being totally into someone you’re dating and then promptly losing interest into depression.

      Here’s the thing. Hypomania can be very subtle. It can literally sneak up on you, especially if you think your medication is working fine. But it may not be working fine. It may be too weak. It may not be at the appropriate. Or, the person may have just been taking it long enough for their body to start building a tolerance to it. So slowly, the cycles of the Disorder can creep up and start again. Usually subtly or very mildly at first, but then getting worse as the imbalance becomes more pronounced.

      So it would be very easy for him to think that he is perfectly fine, that nothing is amiss, because he’s been through therapy, did all that work to have better relationships, takes his meds as directed, and does what he needs to do to be well.

      You may want to try texting him something like, “Hey, you do realize that medication can stop working as effectively and let you cycle. Did you have a mild hypomanic cycle?” And see if that elicits a response.

      I can understand why you would feel extremely hurt and disrespected by his actions; but honestly, this kind of thing is next to nothing on the scale of shit that could potentially go wrong in a relationship with a Bipolar person. If you’re the kind of person who wears your heart on your sleeve and doesn’t have very thick armor, you’re going to wind up hurt and damaged, sooner or later. Because medication doesn’t work forever; and med changes can bring some very painful, sloppy times.

      As to when you draw lines, that’s entirely up to you. My rule of thumb is I’m on someone’s side until they show me they aren’t trying. Trying and failing? Fine with me. Trying means the potential for success. And the fact is, your guy did try a lot. I guarantee he put in a shitload of work, time, and sacrifice to attain the wellness that he has. Assuming he’s not a shitty person, what you’re experiencing now is just a very minor hiccup in the overall scope of Bipolar Disorder management.

      Should you forgive this? Well, that’s up to you. Only you can decide what you’re comfortable with.

  62. Cara says:

    Dennis, thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. You bring up two very good points.

    First, I did not know that a person could develop tolerance to these meds. Lots of the initial literature I read on Bipolar suggested that if a person was taking their meds, things should be “relatively” under control. But, that would be a fallacy if in fact his cocktail has simply stopped working.

    Second, yes he has done much to obtain wellness over the years in terms of taking meds, therapy and healthy lifestyle choices. So, he has been trying to manage the illness, which suggests I should give him the benefit of the doubt. My frustration (and hurt) stemmed from the fact that I did not feel he was trying in the relationship.

    With that said, I’ll lick my shallow wound and follow your text again advice. I’d certainly like to be of some support, if only as a friend. I’m sure he’s frustrated as hell that things aren’t working, and it makes total sense to me now having read so much on your site that someone could lose interest quickly in a depressive cycle.

    • Dennis says:

      Glad to hear your perspective on the matter, Cara. It seems like you have a reasonably healthy view of the situation.

  63. Christina says:

    Dennis thank you so much for this BLOG. I too fell in love with a bipolar man. After 3 years I think its time to move on. Started out great as I’ve been reading most of these relationships do. After 2 years of starting and stopping medication he completely had what he says is the worst break he’s ever had. He is in extensive outpatient therapy but has completely shut me out. After reading a lot of these post I’m now realizing it has nothing to do with me. He has also said this to me. The sad part for me is that I love him, and wanted to be here for him. No communication is more than i can handle. It drives me crazy not knowing why. But I guess I’ll never know. I’ve done a lot of research and chances are he will be ok and that alone makes it easier for me to move on. I’m really glad I came across your blog or else I might have drove myself crazy with the unknown. Thanks again 🙂

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Christina. I’m happy you found my blog useful and it brought you some greater understanding. A path with mental illness is one that is often fraught with difficult and problems. You’re the only one who can decide how far you can go on that path. It sucks that he shut you out. He probably would’ve had an easier time himself had he included you as a partner. But, he might also not be able to. Not everyone can function well in that kind of scenario.

      It’s unfortunate for everyone involved, really.

  64. steph says:

    Hi I am sure you heard this story 1000 times here is mine. I have been with my partner for 7 years we have always been deeply in love and super emotionally connected we have known each other since grade school for the last 7 years we have lived together never once broke up I would say everyone was envious of our relationship until that is 4 months ago everything changed ,we got in a fight she was drunk she had been hanging out with this girl that day which was fine except she came home late for our date night witch upset me becouse we I have a child and we were trying to spend more time alone anyway she suddenly tels me she is going to stay with this girl and she did. OK that when it went crazy she would come over and tell me something is wrong with her so she went and saw a dr they said she is bi polar and they gave her meds well she never took them and never went back. After that she was another person she left or house on Nov 24 she came to my house on Dec 1st I saw a photo on her phone of someone else she led told me it was her cousin then she left back to this girls house well it was another girl and she moved in with her the girl has three kids and she suddenly had this new family while me and my son are here in so much pain she blocked me from everything but I have still seen it on Facebook her and get new girl Freind I am lost and shattered she always loved me more than I loved her suddenly a differant person with no emotion no remorse just a monster is been 4 months we were so close that I am still so heartbroken I know you can’t give me magic Anser but maby some advice idk,in lost, thank you

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Steph. It sounds like your partner experienced and is still potentially in a severe manic cycle. You have to keep in mind that love is a product of the brain, so when you have a mental illness, it can really screw with love and how you interact with the people you care about. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up reaching back out to you when she finally crashes and her brain gets back towards her normal functional level.

      Unfortunately, the only thing you can really do is wait for that to occur. There’s nothing you can really say or do to make that cycle end faster. It’s going to end when it ends and it’s going to also depend on whatever she’s doing while she is escalated. Assuming she does come back around, I would very much wait to rekindle any kind of romantic involvement with her until she is ready to address and work on her mental illness. If she’s not, she’s going to keep swinging like this from time to time and dragging you and your son through it with her.

      And no, there’s no way to know how long a cycle will last. It can range anywhere from weeks to months naturally. If she’s doing any kind of drugs or has a very stressful job or something like that; the additional environmental circumstances can push it out for years. All you can really do is wait. You and your son may also want to visit a therapist who is familiar with Bipolar Disorder, who may be able to help you both cope with the grief that comes with a severe unwell cycle, out of the blue, like you’re experiencing now.

  65. steph says:

    Thank you. ….it’s very hard and none of my family understands they just see the terrable things she has done so I can’t talk to them. I have been through alot in my life and this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through is it normal to just suddenly be bi polar at age 31?

    • Dennis says:

      No. But, most mental illness operate on a ranged scale and a lot of people don’t understand what Bipolar Disorder is. She could very easily have been having mild cycles for years before this unwell cycle hit. A lot of unwellness is very mild and hard to pick up unless you know what you’re actually looking at.

      And I totally understand why you can’t talk to your family. That happens on an all too frequent basis.

  66. steph says:

    Also does it end suddenly or gradually

  67. steph says:

    Well shit lol I know this probably sounds bad but I am praying for that to happen . She loved me so much ,I am lost she showed up at my house last night drunk she then went on to telling me that her new girlfreind is a mean drunk is bizarre she came to my house telling me her relationship problems like wtf……she says she loves me then she leaves to go back to the girl wtf

    • Dennis says:

      That would be the emotional and mental instability coming through. Anything can seem like a great idea when you’re unwell (and/or drunk). Were it me, I wouldn’t let her just come around and dump about her girlfriend onto you. She’ll just end up using you as an emotional crutch and it’ll grind you down in your trying to support her when she is not a good state of mind.

  68. Cara says:

    Per your wonderful advice, I did reach out to the man via text to inquire if perhaps his medication wasn’t working properly, but no response. I followed up a week later with a heartfelt e-mail expressing empathy, and asking if there was anything I could do to lend support. Still no response. Bipolar disorder is described as being able to feel things very intensely, yet in my case, this person doesn’t seem to have the ability to feel anything for anyone else in recent weeks. I did my best…but I can see why stigmas exist…too many stories similar to mine.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Cara.

      Um, who describes Bipolar Disorder as being able to feel things very intensely? Because Bipolar Disorder causes a person to swing between the poles of hypomania/mania and depression. Depression is a word that can be taken as is. It literally depresses your ability to feel emotions. It often looks like sadness when you look at the person; but it is far different. It mutes what you feel; good and bad. It just leaves an empty void where your emotions are supposed to be. So if he’s in that side of the Disorder, then he is not likely to be able to function correctly at all. And a lot of mentally ill people simply retreat into their shell because they often can’t explain what’s going on in their mind, or handle the potential for emotions surrounding a circumstance or person that requires it. And depression can be either mild, intense, or just flat. Mild can be minor impairment which most people with some form of depression will experience on a regular basis. Intense also brings instability, so the person could brush up against an emotional circumstance and rocket into suicidal thinking. And then there is just flat. Nothing. An inability to feel good or bad. Everything is gray.

      I’m not suggesting that you should hold on or keep trying. You need to do what’s best for you at the end of the day. But, a lot of people simply cannot function in that mental space and withdraw into their hole until they can function again.

  69. Cara says:

    Yes, “intense” feelings, in both directions were how this particular individual described living with the disorder to me. Granted I’m paraphrasing here….

    And, social media did its part in solving the mystery behind the disappearing act! He posted a cheery update on his work activities, so clearly he’s alive and functioning in that regard….I guess I’ve been “ghosted”. Oh well, I can only treat others as I would like to be treated – no regrets on my end. You’re the best Dennis!

    • Dennis says:

      It’s all good. That may very well be true for the person that was describing it to you. Even though we share diagnoses, mental illness can look very different from person to person. So it may have been the case or they may have not done a great job with explaining it. Either way, it appears to be a moot point.

      I’m sorry you got ghosted; but you are right. You did what was right and best for your soul. That’s all you really can do. It’s how I maintain my own sanity in dealing with everything I deal with. I don’t expect anyone to do the right thing, I just strive to do the right thing and wait to see what the other person does.

      At least you can now let this go and move on to something better. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you get a random message or him reaching out to you a few weeks or months down the road. It’s very likely that his mental illness may bounce his brain back to you. If that happens, maintain your boundaries, don’t reconcile, and don’t let yourself get pulled in by it; because it will most likely be the product of additional instability.

      And thanks for the kind words!

  70. Madison says:

    Hi,
    Last night my bipolar boyfriend broke up with me. We have been dating on and off for five years, and this isn’t the first time where he woke up one day and ended. However, this was the longest we have been together consecutively, and he has been openly communicating with me about how he’s feeling for quite some time. His manic states are extreme, but this last time he seemed more in control, he wasn’t doing anything drastic seemed like he was very constant. A few weeks ago i was told that he thought he would be switching soon, he’s very in tune with his feelings. He warned me about how he would isolate himself from me and tell me things to hurt me and make me leave. And he said he just wanted me to know that those feelings won’t be true and that he truly loves me. The past three days have been awful, he’s been completely indecisive towards me. And then all of a sudden last night, he said that he was never in love with me, and that our relationship was not good and that he was never fully happy. His points made sense, however just a few weeks ago he said he would do anything to be with me, and to just bare with him. But last night he said that he didn’t think as clearly as he does now. I tried reminding him about what he said to me weeks prior and how that when he’s in this state he does things he regrets. But all he keeps saying is not this time, this time is different. So I don’t really know what to believe. Im in love with him and have been for years, and we’ve been honest and openly communicating. I don’t want to believe what he is saying is true. He just keeps fighting me with every word I say. I’ve been with him when hes manic and when he was depressed, but i’ve never seen the transition. I know I should probably just move on, but I’m in love and not ready to let go, and thats because I know what he’s saying isnt true. I just wish there was something I can do to make this transition state or what he calls “fall out” end sooner.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Madison.

      There is. Tell him to take himself to his doctor and talk to them about these mood swings that are threatening to destroy his personal life. Don’t bother trying to convince him of what he’s feeling or not feeling. You won’t get anywhere. The Disorder will just take the words, twist them, and throw them back at you.

      The kind of swings you’re describing are severe enough that they are probably going to warrant being medicated to meaningfully control. If he’s already on medication now, then it’s not working very well for him and he needs to tell his doctor that he is still able to have unwell cycles.

      Bearing in mind that I don’t know him, I don’t know the situation, and I only have your perspective on the situation; given the way Bipolar Disorder works, this current swing that is injecting doubts into your mind is most likely the result of the unwell swing and the negative emotions it is making him feel and act on. So don’t put too much weight on it and don’t bother arguing with him on the point. You won’t get anywhere. Do encourage him to get in to see his doctor as soon as possible though. And if he won’t in his depressive swing, bring it up again when he balances back out.

  71. June says:

    Hi…I’ve been reading this blog on and off for a few weeks trying to “make sense” of what happened to my relationship with a sweet man for the past 14 months. We met at an AA meeting when I was about 9 months sober but didn’t actually date until I had a year. He had been sober 16 years. We fell in love and after about 5 months, he told me he was on disability for being bipolar. He had prevously told me he was “retired” and I knew his finances were tight but I didn’t know he was on disability although I suspected it. He said he didn’t tell me sooner because he didn’t want to scare me away. He also said he suffered severe depression episodes but hadn’t had any in a very long time. I accepted it and didn’t really know much about bipolar other than it could be difficult to deal with. We had a good relationship and lots of fun for about 14 months. I never saw him depressed or really super manic. We talked about a future together although we were taking it slowly. In January his younger brother unexpectantly died of a heart attack. My BF went into a state of severe depression. He isolated himself and wouldn’t communicate with me. I tried to give him space to deal with this grief and tried to be understanding. But he completely shut me out and avoided me. After about 2 weeks of this, I sat down with him and he said it wasn’t me and he was just dealing with this depression. He went on some antidepressants at that time. (He has also been in therapy for along time with a psychotherapist and also sees a psychiatrist once in a while.) But he also told me he hadn’t been taking any meds prior to this for his bi-polar disorder. We decided to take a 2 week break. He left town for a couple weeks and we had very little communication. It was very difficult for me. He finally returned to town and after 3 days we finally talked on the phone. He had doubled his meds and added some others. But he broke up with me saying he “cared for me but couldn’t give me what I needed”. He said he had been thinking about this for a few weeks; mostly since he’s been depressed. I know in my head this is probably the best thing for me but my heart is broken and I am having a hard time letting him go. We finally spoke face to face about a week after the phone conversation and I have to say, it was difficult to even connect with him on any level. He was cold and distant and the guy I knew and fell in love with just wasn’t there. He said his depression was a factor in his decision but I have to say up until about a month after his brother passed, things were fine between us. We still laughed together and although he had depression, I gave him space and understanding to deal with it. I’ve had depression myself so I knew not to press him about anything at all and just go with the flow and give him time. I have wonderful support from friends and especially a friend who had been married to someone with this terrible disorder. She has counciled me to let it go. I am not sure I saw any of the manic behavior but he didn’t seem to have it all together sometimes. Seems sometimes he struggled with simple things but was always helpful to me, reliable, consistent and easy to be with. He is one of the brightest and funniest people I have met. We didn’t argue or have any real problems we didn’t talk about up until this point. I just didn’t see it coming. I see him at AA meetings and it’s difficult. So I have been avoiding him and trying to give the relationship some time to heal. Maybe some day we can be friends, not sure. I know I still have feelings for him but he doesn’t seem to have anything left towards me. My friends say he just “can’t” right now. I believe them but it’s still hard to wrap my head around this mental disorder. I am wondering how severe you have to be with bipolar in order to go on disability for it. Doesn’t that mean repeated and frequent episodes? He has not had a stable relationship for many years…always breaking up and getting back together with women. I am not willing to do that..although it hasn’t come up yet. Is it typical once they are medicated and stable, they have “feelings” again? He seems so empty right now.

    • Dennis says:

      EDIT: Sorry about that, I’m Grimm. It was an old account I didn’t realize I had signed into.

      That is a very unfortunate story and it is one that is very consistent with the effects of Bipolar Disorder and someone that deals with an extreme Bipolar-Depression component.

      The way Disability is awarded is when the affliction interrupts a person’s ability to have long-term, gainful employment. When you say “episodes,” what are you thinking of exactly? Because remember, Bipolar Disorder is composed of two major parts. An “episode” can be a deep depressive swing that obliterates your ability to function for months at a time. In my case, I was found Disabled due to “Major Depression” instead of Bipolar Disorder because I only swing hypomanic about once a year and it’s usually only for a month or two. But for like the other 10 months out of the year, I exist in mild through suicidal depression with regular dips towards nonfunctionality.

      But what is “nonfunctionality” in depression? Well, when you suffer from severe depression, it affects your ability to think. A lot of people in your position see the same thing, where a person swings into a deep depression, isolates themselves, and can’t communicate. Well here’s the thing, when you think “can’t communicate” it’s because the person’s brain is not allowing them to. It’s really, really hard to convert your emotions and feelings into words in general. Think about how difficult that can be in regular life at times. Now, imagine trying to do that when your brain can’t remember 3/4ths of the words you know, there are 10-30 second pauses between your thoughts, and you can’t string them together effectively; plus, you’re also dealing with someone that, intellectually, you know you care about a lot, and (assuming he’s not an asshole) cares about the effect of his mental illness on other people, and it’s just a recipe for disaster.

      For context, when I hit nonfunctional depression, I can’t do basic math in my head. 2+2, 3+3, etc. I can’t do it. If I try to, my brain just blanks and I’ll forget what I was trying to figure out, then remember like 10 minutes later, and feel completely awful that I’m so dysfunctional and fucked up, which does not help when you’re severely depressed.

      So, to be awarded Disability for Bipolar Disorder, the person needs to establish that the mental illness prevents them from engaging in gainful employment. When you’re nonfunctional like that, you can’t drive. You can’t do complex actions. I once broke down crying from trying to remember how to operate a DVD player I’ve been using for years, one time.

      Yes, medication is supposed to put the mental illness in check, allow you to function, and control the extremes of the swings. However, finding a medication that works without severe side effects that are just as bad or worse as the symptoms you’re treating is hard. And that can take a long, long time. Even years in some cases.

      Ultimately, you have to decide what you can and are willing to deal with. On the one hand, I don’t blame you for not wanting to do the make up break up thing. I absolutely agree that it is not good or healthy for you given your own mental problems and working on your sobriety (congratulations on that by the way! Keep kicking ass!)

      On the other hand, if things were good for 14 months, if there was no erratic thinking, pressured anything, or glimpses of mania at all, it may be worthwhile to consider one time, if it’s something you think you can handle with the following stipulations.

      A lot of mentally ill people don’t have the practical skills needed to maintain relationships through these periods. In his case, he’s making the very common mistake of thinking that because he’s depressed right now, that his feelings are gone and that’s how it’s going to stay. He’s spent his life doing that probably because he’s unable to actually function correctly during these deep swings.

      In my case, I used to do the same thing. My brain would try to convince me I was no longer in love or didn’t care or whatever. But after diagnosis, therapy, and a lot of self-reflection, I do still have those thoughts and feelings, but rather than going “I need to break up” I inform my partner I’m in a deep depressive cycle and I just take a step back to handle what I need to do without breaking up with her and destroying the relationship. I had to learn how to include other people, the people that love and care me, the people that I love and care about, in my worst moments as much as I’m able. And no, I don’t get it perfectly right either. No one ever will.

      But, I feel like it may be worth at least one second chance when he comes back around if he would be willing to go to a therapist familiar with bipolar disorder, with you, to work on developing better relationship habits and coping mechanisms for a relationship to be maintained through these deep lows.

      Again, you have to decide how far you’re willing to go on that path with him. I feel like that given his history, and the bits of his personality I can see in your description here and his own commitment to his sobriety, that he may be willing to do that if it means breaking another unhealthy cycle.

      But, were I in your position, I would also make it clear that I am not going to do the make up break up thing. That one second chance means one second chance, that you can’t ride that kind of rollercoaster for your own well-being, for your sobriety and depression. That should also hopefully prevent him from concluding that he is too broken and fucked up to be loved if he were to swing suicidal.

  72. June says:

    Dennis…thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful feedback. I do not know what would happen if he does come back around if ever. Right now he doesn’t seem to want much to do with me so I am certainly not chasing him down. We do run into each other at some AA meetings but I have begun going to other meetings because seeing him is just such a trigger for me and sends me into a funk. I did have to contact him the other day for something he accidentally took back to his place that belonged to my son. He was out of town so he said I could go to his place and look for it. His apartment was always a little too “scary” for me….unorganized, cluttered, crooked lamps etc… so I never spent much time there. We mostly were at my house. But I went there the other day to look for this item. He gave me permission to do so. I can only say his place was “disturbing” for me and without going into much detail I really got that he is not well. Since them I have much more compassion for him but I do not think I want to go back with him. One thing is that he didn’t even tell me he was bipolar and on disability until we were dating for at least 5 months. So although he finally told me, it seems like lying by admission. And I always think he’s hiding something from me. So “trust” is a big issue. I still care for him deeply and still love him. But this one might be too hard for me. Time will tell but I really do not think he will come back to me and I am not sitting around waiting. I would hope we can be friends but time will have to heal the the relationship a bit. I also do not think I could go through the pain of this again. Just too much.

  73. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Dennis, first thank you for writing this blog..I’ve been reading a lot of stuffs about bipolar disorder since last 2 months ago and so far this blog is the one that gave me much info about it, Thank you!

    Id like to share my story too and ask some advice if possible. I fell in love with a bipolar girl. Story is kinda hard to believe and its hard, why? I met her in an online game about last year Oct. First i didnt she was a girl then we had talks ig then later on skype, then started to call each other. We were good friends at first, she was hilarious and she was fond of everything I tell her. Some of her friend are also playing the game and they told me she was a timid and shy girl but then for the past months she suddenly became so cheerful looking at her computer screen then they learned it was because of me..So around january this year we became together, long distance relationship yeah, we talk everyday like morning til evening, she scolds me for things i should be doing and things i shouldnt and really cared for me the way I did for her..I also learned this was her first relationship, she’s already 26 and im just 22..We planned to meet each other first plan was around june this year after my graduation at college..My parents knew about her and our relationship, same with her parents…

    Month after i’ve learned about her being bipolar, she suddenly told me that and that i should research it thoroughly..she began saying I should just find a less messy girl, she loves me but she is afraid she would just hurt me because of that something within her, so I tried to tell her stuffs that im willing to be with her and help her all the way. So I started reading stuffs about bipolar and how I can be able to help her..We became ok after that, as Im learning the bipolar disorder, she started opening herself to me..Ive learned she has 4 meds but she rarely takes them (only takes when mom is with her) and sometimes when she feels like it so I often tell her to take meds but she always tells me, “why take meds? im not sick” I know this is common so i tried to find ways to be able to make her take her meds. So we continued our relation like before become even closer til one day she was in manic mode. I know this is my fault, cause one time in her office people are all playing depressing music and she told me its bad and i thought she might go to depressive mode so i thought of making a way to prevent that, well i made a joke on killing her officemates, yeah it was a joke but a bad joke. Her trigger started and she began thinking of ways how to do it and told me she cant hold back and already has plan in mind which she told me, it was really a mistake of mine then she told me if I really do it just forget about me and move on. We havent talked for a while after that but i kept texting her telling her im here for her and I care for her..Then few days later she replied to my message(thank God she didnt do it) telling me she already made a resolve not to text me, and that I should not be calling her anymore, I told her that i love her and i want to make her happy and do best for her and she told me the same, so thats her reason why we should just move on..Then i finally made her agree we talk the next day about it so she can rest for the night. We talked, normal stuffs at first then came to the point she asking me why im persistent and why do i love her, i kept telling her that i love all of her, good sides bad sides even her on bipolar manic or depressive but she cant accept it she just kept telling me other people can do the same to me, then I came across your blog the time im talking with her, you said here i should know her more first, like a year or more before going anything majoy so I told her if we can be friends instead, she agreed. We started talking again that day like what we used to do like really nothing happened. Its like we’re still together just minus me calling her babe(well i still call her that sometimes), then rest is the same we exchange sweet words time to time…

  74. Jeffrey says:

    After that she began opening herself more to me, she told she went to doctor the time she was manic wanting to kill her officemates because of her severe headache which i know is common for bipolar thats not treated properly, she took her meds and I was happy for the first time she was able to sleep longer than her normal 1-3hrs or no sleep at all..I felt like she’s now trying to medicate and help herself which made me really happy. After that she began taking her meds like 1 out of 4 meds each day..she tells me its hard to take 4 but i told her to try at least cause I know you cant force her to take all and its a slow way going to be better and im happy as long as she’s trying her best even every small step counts, and im always here for her to support her.

    What ive learned bipolar has few things you need to do to control it, 1. Healthy lifestyle (foods, excercise), 2. Meds 3. Support from people around you..with healthy lifestyle she’s been eating oat for most time but lately she got bored of it so i researched other foods she can eat like salmon, berry, dark chocolate, lean meats..she also told me doctor told her not to eat oily foods, fried foods and stuffs so i noted that out and kept reminding her…Only problem now, she stopped eating oat, what i did and told her “if i eat oat too with you, will you eat it again” she said yes so i started eating oat..and other thing is her officemates, they dont know her situation about bipolar and im sure it will be hard to tell them, but these officemates of her kept eating meatballs, fried chicken stuffs that are not allowed to her they order it as group so its hard to her to refuse, everyday, everynight they eat at KFC, i told her its bad and i know she knew but she has no choice cause all her officemate lives with her in the dorm and also because it always rains hard at their place after work and thats the only place she can eat. What can i do? I dont have any contact there in her place that I can tell and ask if they can monitor her from eating those foods that are not good for her. I recently got contact though of her friend in her hometown who knows her situation and officemate though it lacks the last 2 digits cause she tells me her alter ego has been holding her back to give me the whole details. That happened yesterday before she went to complete depressive mode..

    2. Meds yeah she doesnt take, she only takes one. but now she doesnt take any cause she tells me the meds are fighting cause they have different color but I kept calling her everynight to tell her to eat and take meds, my only regret is that i havnt called her this thursday evening cause she told me not to call cause they(she and officemate) would be watching movie and dont want to be disturb so i didnt call. The morning after she was already in high depressive mode, she was depressed for the past week but Ive been holding the symptoms with her, she tells me she suddenly feels sad and doesnt know why, i kept telling here im here for her i wont leave her alone and that I care..she tells me she calms down everytime we talk so i wanted to talk to her most of the time but friday we didnt able to talk morning, she just message me in the afternoon and told me she just want to stay in bed and cry, do nothing, so i wanted to be by her side..I know this is mild compared with those people whose thinking of suicide already and im kinda grateful because its still mild and because she tells me everything she feels..I dont know though if the work stress has triggered her depressed mode cause she is always out on fieldwork and sudden task which only happened that week or is it just because this is her usual depressive cycle months? and what should I do to help her?

    Last time we talk was yesterday, She also tells me she might disappear and never gets back to me, idk what to do.. told her to just remember two things which is that i love and care for her deeply and know that im always here for her and 2. The sadness will go away, just hang in there and remember number 1. She says ok..told her to sleep and try to get rest and that id call her later on, she say she’ll try..I know this is better cause she said ok she’ll try but I want to do something for her while she fixes herself up…What worried me is that after she said yes to those, her alter ego came again and said to me to stay away (which I wont do)..well since im far all I can do is pray for her and let her know through messages that im here for her..

  75. Jeffrey says:

    and I made a move to try and contact her friend and officemate, yeah those 2 numbers that are missing the last 2 digits, texting all possible numbers in between them cause i wanted someone to help her there since im far away, that way I can be at peace. Is that the right thing to do? though im still waiting for reply and I really hope on of them replies. I wont tell her officemate that she is bipolar but rather ask her to help her with food that there are food she must not eat. It sucks not to have contact there that can monitor her.

    I still cant stop thinking about her, its hard but I know im doing what I can for her and thats all I can do for the time being..I want to encourage her to go meet her doctor if i get to talk with her, and im trying to live my life normally right now, its unlike before when she had her manic mode of wanting to kill, i was really devastated that time but right now I can keep my cool in a way. I can give her time to think and fix herself but i dont want to lose communication really, just want to know if she’s doing fine i mean like eating and stuffs..what do i do?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jeffrey. Thank you for taking the time to write.

      1. Don’t get in touch with her office/roommates. In doing so, you’re essentially telling them that there is something amiss and they might start asking questions. In theory, it would be great to be able to be open about being mentally ill and we all work together towards a better resolution. In reality, a lot of people have a lot of really stupid opinions about mental illness and how to deal with it. The more you involve other people, the greater risk you run into destabilization and confusion. Plus, you can’t really trust that the person in question will keep their mouth shut about it. And, your lady might interpret that as a manipulative move even though you’re doing it because you care. It’s just a bad idea all around.

      2. Her not having a relationship until she is 26 is a yellow flag to me. Do you know why this is? And I would more recommend knowing the person for 2+ years before making any major decisions like moving in, getting married, etc. And I definitely would not do that until I had a solid answer to the question of why.

      3. The way she views her meds is unhealthy and incorrect. Bipolar people need to continue on their medication after they feel better because it’s the medication that keeps them better. Bipolar Disorder is NOT CURABLE. It never goes away. It’s something that is there for the rest of us our lives, even when we “feel better.” It’s still there in the background until a trigger gets hit and we swing unwell. You need to inform her of this fact. She can’t just take her psych meds whenever and expect to have good results. And if she is not committed to taking them then I would maintain distance from her, because it is ultimately going to make her more unstable which will affect you as well.

      Simply put, sit on your hands and wait. All you can do sometimes is be patient. Next time she reaches out to you, discuss the relationship and medication thing with her. And you need to ensure you are staying healthy in all of this as well. You don’t want to wind up as a caretaker instead of a boyfriend, Jeffrey. Love is a product of the mind and mental illness most certainly can have a drastic affect on it. Dealing with Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong battle. And it will be for you too if you decide to stay involved with her in the long-term. And it will take a drastic toll on you. You can’t avoid that.

      I commend your willingness to want to be there for her, love her as she is, and the work you’ve put in. But were I in your position, I would absolutely not expect to maintain this relationship long-term if she is not willing to do what needs to be done to be well and control her mental illness.

  76. Jeffrey says:

    Thank you for your answer dennis 🙂

    1. Yeah i’ll take that advice, its a 50/50 choice really..cause i dont know her officemates so yeah they might do something and would affect her…thanks

    2. I asked her about this before, she told me cause she hurt people mainly because of her being bipolor so she chose to stay away from most people around her..So the only close person to her before was jsut her mom and sister but right now im included in the circle…well for me, like i said we met online so the risk of hurting me (most physically) is non existent thats why she was able to became close and open up to me, and thus things have progressed…We’re taking this slowly..we’ve talked about this actually, and we agreed to take thing slowly, we enjoy the time we spent together right now since we only got to know each other more than half a year only, thank you for your advice..

    3. “Bipolar Disorder is NOT CURABLE. It never goes away” I agree, i ve read alot of articles and asked some doctors about it..I know she needs medication and has to take it regularly so im finding ways for her to do so..but her taking even just 1 a day compared to not taking at all before (taking when only mom is visiting her) is i think a good progress already..She constantly having headache which is common for bipolar who isnt taking meds so what i did was tell her to take this specific med(She told me all the meds she has been given and did research on them) that she has with her to help her remove her headache so she took it and headache lesson close to gone so i kept telling her to take it so she wont have headache and reminding her everyday which I think helped her to continuously take it..With her recent depression, I was able to talk to her again and told her to go see doctor, which she says yes though her family doctor for her bipolar is far away from her workplace( she needs book flight first) then told her to take the other med along with the first one i told her before (antidepressant) and it has help her..same way as first one, im telling her to take it so she wont feel that unreasonable sadness again so she’s been taking it now..well i just hope this continues for her own sake…She also started eating good foods again like oatmeal, i just need to keep on reminding her…thank you dennis!

    • Jeffrey says:

      though ive tried to contact her friend from her hometown who also knows about her being bipolar, was that a bad idea?

      • Dennis says:

        Yeah, that was a bad idea. Doing that may cause her to stop trusting you. You should only do something like that if it is an actual emergency and it is someone that can really help. Otherwise, it’s a better idea to ask her (if you’re in communication) if you all can talk about it together. Try and pave a friendship with her other friends when it’s not a severe circumstance.

    • Dennis says:

      Psych medication is not aspirin. If she screws around with the dosages and the way she has been ordered to take it, she can suffer from severe unwell cycles. If her medication affects her in such a negative way that she cannot handle the side effects, then she needs to talk to her doctor about changing it.

      You should NEVER tell someone how they should take their medication. If anything, you need to tell her to talk to her psych about the problems she has with it, if she does. Same goes for anyone really. It can have very serious, dire repercussions.

  77. Jeffrey says:

    Thank you for your advice! Ill do that, so far she’s been really open with me now whenever she gets symptoms..

  78. Jeffrey says:

    She told me before that she needs to take them evening after dinner so im just reminding her to take it that time..but good thng now she tells me she’s going to see the doctor asap to know the times she needs to take them & she’ll tell me so i can remind her..we know the dosage as told by her doctor but the time to take them was kinda vague so we need to confirm..

    • Dennis says:

      You may want to suggest a reminder app for her phone or on the website. There are several services that can provide medication reminders for people that have a hard time keeping track.

      • Jeffrey says:

        i’ll do that, thanks..one last question, is it really possible or does it happen that a bipolar person will forget someone, i mean totally forget dont even remember the face or name? She told me that she has forgot someone in the past cause of her mental illness and up to now she cant remember (even if its man or a girl)…She tells me sometimes she doesnt want to sleep cause she might forget all about me the next time she wakes up..

        • Dennis says:

          Memory loss is a common component of mental illness. It hits everyone differently. It most likely won’t happen to the severity that she fears, but you can’t really make absolute statements when it comes to mental health. There could be other issues affecting her perceptions and memory that are unidentified.

          • Jeffrey says:

            so best thing really is she should let her doctor know all about this so they can find a way to help her..Her not sleeping or sleeping for only few hours like always manic mode is really not good, I kept telling her to get some sleep but she says no..

          • Dennis says:

            Well, she might not be able to sleep. She definitely needs to talk to her doc about it if she is totally unable to get a healthy amount of sleep. May be something else as well. Remember, the key is to encourage her to do the things she needs to do to be well. They aren’t things you can do for her. They are things she needs to learn to do for herself.

          • Jeffrey says:

            yeah i agree with you, change should start with her..we had lost contact 2 days ago, i cannot contact her phone nor any other way..think its because of depressive mode, last time i talked to her she was busy at work and she was depressed, i adviced her to just go back her hometown where the work there is light cause i know stress is also a trigger for bipolar..Guess all i can do now is wait patiently for her to contact me and once she does, i’ll tell her all I know about her sickness so she may seriously take her meds and consult her doctor if she really wants our relationship to work out..Probs she’s sleeping all this time, why she cant contact me cause the last time we talked she told me she wants to sleep and i told her go sleep cause i know she needs it..

          • Jeffrey says:

            Its been a week already, i havent been able to contact her at all..Ive texted her officemate and her friend if they know something but so far no one dared to reply to me..Im thinking if she went to hospital or something? I dont know what to do atm, if her officemate know why would they not tell me anything? nor her friend?

          • Dennis says:

            Any number of reasons that should not be speculated on, Jeffrey. The simplest answer is this is the kind of thing that is normal for dealing with instability and unwellness; and many people do not want to be involved. So they won’t include you, particularly if they are her friends and not necessarily your friends. If she wanted you to be included, she would be reaching out to you, Jeffrey.

            All you can do is wait and decide how long you’re willing to wait. Anything else and you’re going to be intruding into her life which can have unintended consequences.

        • Jeffrey says:

          why Im really worried cause her officemates think is like people who doesnt care about others..and they dont know about her sickness..also her friend who knows about this is far from the place she is working like she needs to ride a plane first same with her mom so thats why im worried, if her mom was there with her yeah I can wait cause I know there’s someone who can take care of her..well thats the reason why I wanted and needed contact there..

          • Dennis says:

            Jeffrey, none of that matters if she is not working to keep you informed and in the loop, dude. It’s not something that you should be fighting or struggling for; it’s something she should want to be doing. If she’s not including you, you just have to shelf your worry and let her do what she’s going to do. You can’t spend your life chasing after people. If you do, you will end up miserable yourself; especially when it comes to trying to love a mentally ill person. Our decisions aren’t always rational or make sense to anyone but ourselves.

          • Jeffrey says:

            Guess I’ll just wait and do my stuffs, no use getting so depressed over..Pray and if she comes back then its good if we can work things out..We talked while she was level head and told me she wants to stay and be with me so im clinging to that and i think she’ll hate it once she comes back and saw how depressed I was..thanks dennis

  79. steph says:

    I hope your online Dennis is almost been 6 months she has been texting me today telling me that this is the Meltdown I told her she would have now she is calling me she has hurt me so bad she hasn’t seen my son in 2 months what do I do

    • Dennis says:

      Direct her to call the doctor’s office of the professional that she saw. Tell her to inform them what she’s going through at the moment, and ask to get in on a cancellation so she can speak to them about what’s going on. If she is suicidal, she should reach out to local authorities or call a crisis line where she can be in touch with someone who can help her navigate this stuff.

      I know you’re hurt, and I know she hasn’t seen your son, but you have to set that aside for now and get her directed to mental health professionals that can help her. Once she’s well and balanced, then you come back to the damage of the relationship and what’s happened as a result of it.

  80. Robert in Oklahoma says:

    Wow man thanks for your blog. I am in a relationship with a woman who is Bipolar Type 2. We are on again and off again and it just rips my heart out completely. She evens goes to the extreme of telling me that I am Bipolar as well. After reading so many awesome comments here….it really sets me straight on the relationship doom and gloom that have been taking place in my life. I am healed now after reading a lot of comments on your blog. It has clarified her behavior patterns. Do you remember ever picking the pedals off a rose and saying “she loves me, she loves me not”……after reading up on your web site I realize I can’t even put up with…. or cater to the BS that 5 of my precious years have been wasted to trying be in this relationship. Now I realize that ……I will keep her at bay and move on…..Thanks man and keep up the good work. And no………I am not superman but with this understanding that I gained through this site I will take the pain …..and do my own tears (…… and pray…..and realize that I will have a better relationship one day and make better choices….Thanks again

    • Dennis says:

      Good luck on your path, Robert. It’s a tough decision to make, but ultimately you have to ensure your own health first and foremost.

  81. Danielle P. says:

    Hi just been reading the blog and I’m one post you said bipolar people don’t come back around and in another they do….

    Was just a little confused ….

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Danielle. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      You would need to point me at the specific posts before I could explain it. And are you talking about blog comments or actual blog posts? Because every situation is different, so in providing specific feedback I avoid making blanket statements. If you’re reading information presented in the blog comments, then that information is in specific relation to the person posting and what I’m seeing in their words. There is no one size fits all answer, so if you’re looking for perspective about the situation you’re dealing with, it would be better if you wrote it and ran it by me so I could have a look.

      I know this is all very confusing and difficult.

  82. steph says:

    On Saturday night she text me and told me she was gonna sleep on my porch I told her I was home, I guess she came over and I didn’t here her knock she left the next day she showed up at my house again this time I answer it ,the second she walk threw the door she became hysterical saying what the fuck happened to my life she said how can you just walk out on a happy marraige of 8 years she said she loved me about a million times that night she said she doesn’t understand how this happened. …she text me once since then, is it possible for her to be going in and out at this stage of mania dis it mean anything like maby is staying to end could it be a mixed episode now she says she can’t sleep at all but I feel like maby her emotions might be coming back she was sobbing? ???

    • steph says:

      I forgot to mention she also said I am in her mind 24 7 Hoeven she is still living with the other girl

    • Dennis says:

      Don’t try and decipher it. Use this opportunity to encourage her to speak to a mental health professional about the situation and her feelings. It will give them an opportunity to get a glimpse of what’s going on and hopefully put her on a better path. Bipolar Disorder is composed of more than just regular cycles, there are also the periods of drastic, great instability that is not the direct result of a dominant cycle. The best course of action is encourage her to speak to a professional as soon as possible! Preferably before her mind has the opportunity to swing again.

      • steph says:

        That’s what I did when she was here, I told her I forgive you and I just like held her becouse she was like punching herself and stuff s she had hurry me so bad but I still love her and it’s heart breaking

  83. Marwan says:

    Hi,
    my bipolar GF broke up with me again. For the fourth time. And I really want to distance myself because I kept coming back to her and let her hurt me. She has Bipolar and mostly depression not mania. Her manic episodes are few. The reason why she broke up with me was because she has low self esteem and say that I deserve better. I begged her to fight for me. To try and change how she perceived herself and try and accept herself, but she said she wanted a break up. I feel like she has never loved me. I feel that even though I love her I need to stay away. Someone told me I am a part of her cycle. Am I selfish to want her not to come back? I really loved her, but she kept on hurting me and pushing me away.

    • Dennis says:

      Everyone has their limits, Marwan. That’s not selfish at all. But you’re the one who is going to have to erect boundaries and not let her back in, when she comes back around, if that is what you want. You cannot rely on a mentally and emotionally unstable person to make sound decisions regarding their emotions and actions. Those are barriers you must erect yourself and enforce.

  84. NILAB says:

    Hi Dennis,

    thanks you for your informative blog. Your posts have helped me a lot. I feel my boyfriend is bipolar too. I don’t know if he knows it or not. I know he has had very hard childhood and life. His parents were divorced. His father and his younger brother are also suffering from some sort of mental disorder. His father is depressed.

    His last relationship lasted 3 years. He told me how his ex broke up with him and didn’t want to meet him anymore. As he said she did insult him and asked him not to contact her. He told me that the way they broke up caused him depression and he was struggling to overcome his depression for two years.

    We have been together for three months. The first two months were unbelievably perfect. He was so into me, so energetic, with very high sex drive. I was almost every night in his place. We had such a great time. He was talking about our future together.
    In the third month however we have had some arguments. The last one which leaded to a dramatic change in his mood (I believe he is having his depression episode) was almost two weeks ago. That day, we met after his friendly tennis match in which he was defeated. He is a competitive person and he hates being defeated. But his behavior wasn’t normal at all. he was extremely sad and depressed as he was defeated in a world cup match. I tried to change his mood but he was so self-centered and mean. He ruined my mood too and we ended up fighting. I left his place. He didn’t contact me for two day, afterwards he txd me saying he didn’t want to make me sad and hope I understand and he asked me to meet him on Sunday. He didn’t contact me anymore and we didn’t meet on Sunday. On Monday I txd him and told him that we need to talk. We met on Thursday and talked about the day we had the fight. Everything was going well in the beginning but suddenly he got annoyed about some stupid thing and started raising his voice. He was so angry and told me my expectations are too high. He said he is feeling empty, and he has a lot of problems, and he is so stressed, and again he talked about his hard time after his breakup and the problems with his father that wants to kill himself…To be honest I felt guilty for putting him under more pressure , I asked him how can I help him but he didn’t know. I asked him if he wants to break up, he said no and he blamed me for not trusting him. I suggested him to go to a psychiatrist and get some help. He was eager to go but he is about to get a permanent contract at work and here in Germany, person with the history of taking psychotherapy and possibly having mental disorder won’t get hired permanently. So he can’t seek therapy till September.
    The next day I txd him asking if he feels better. He answered he is not feeling good and he wants to spend the weekend in his mom place. After two days I txd him again and asked if he is ok. His answer was long, he wrote me : ” I couldn’t answer this question in the last two years. I mean I’m good, although, due to our argument, I have been severely irritated. You have showed me another perspective… what is reality?! We clearly have different backgrounds which influence our behaviors. I ask myself if we are able to talk about it, develop an understanding and live daily lives.”
    I got so frustrated after seeing his msg. His msg gave me the feeling that he wants to break up and he is rejecting me. I answered that: ”I have asked myself such questions too and I have thought about it a lot. I told you a few times that we are different and our expectations have not been met and that we are failed in making an effective communication. I told him if something needs to be changed/ended I prefer to meet rather than sending sms. ”
    I didn’t know- from his sms- what he exactly wants. That’s why I asked him to meet rather than sending text. I was confused 🙁 he hasn’t contacted me for one week now. I met him at our university last week. He looked depressed. I asked him if he wants to talk, he said he is busy. I told him let me know whenever he feels like. He said it might take times 🙁
    I’ m devastated. don’t know if I am still in a relationship or not. Don’t know what to do, give him time or contacting him again (I don’t want to be pushy). I don’t know if he is having a depression cycle, how long it will last? till when should I wait for him to contact me? I’m forgetting myself. Always thinking about him. I miss him a lot… I can’t concentrate on my study…

    Can you please give me some advise Dennis ?

    thanks

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to write.

      What you’re describing certainly sounds like a typical escalation into a depressive crash. The reality of the situation is that he is not going to be in any position to have a meaningful, quality relationship with you for quite some time. Why? Well, if he’s not seeking help until September, there is also the added problem of whatever damage he does to himself, you, and the relationship until then. Plus, unless he already has an appointment, there will be whatever wait times, whether or not he’s correctly diagnosed, whether or not he takes his treatment seriously, whether or not his treatment actually works for him, and whether or not he actually sticks with all of the tedious bullshit that goes along with working towards mental wellness. It’s hard. It’s a years long process.

      I can’t tell you what you should and should not. What I can tell you is what I would do if I were in that situation, with the knowledge and experience I have. Personally, I would let the relationship go and let it end. If you’ve only known him for a few months and he does happen to be Bipolar, that escalated part of him that you developed feelings for is not the REAL him. It’s only one small sliver of unwellness, even if it might have felt or looked great. If he was escalated, it’s hard telling if his emotions were actually real or not, because certain mental illness can fabricate completely incorrect feelings, including love.

      So yeah, were I in your shoes, I’d just let the relationship end and move on, focus more back on my studies. He’s got a long, long way to go and there is no way to know for sure whether or not his feelings for you were even real to begin with.

      • NILAB says:

        Thank you very much for the advise Dennis! it has helped me a lot.
        I will probably move on… It will be hard but I also feel it is the right decision to end the relationship.
        I appreciate if you answer another question. Is it normal for a person in his depressive cycle to work harder? I thought he doesn’t want to leave his bed and go to work! On Sunday I saw him when I was going to the gym. He was working in his office!!! he never work on weekends. He also goes to his office way earlier than before!!

        Thanks again for the help!

        • Dennis says:

          You’re very welcome!

          As for your question. The problem with defining “normal” as it relates to mental illness is that any majority opinion can be wrong. Most people with depression are functional to a degree. It’s only when you start getting into the severe end of things that you start running into nonfunctionality. I’ve known several people with depression who would throw themselves into their work to avoid thinking about their problems and lives. Depression operates on a spectrum. Some people are mild, some people get hammered with it to the point of nonfunctionality. Some people can go to work but can’t function emotionally.

          It really just depends on the person. It’s not possible to say whether it’s “normal” or not, past that. It also would not surprise me if he was depressed and working hard.

  85. Amanda says:

    Dennis,

    As many before me have said, your blog is wonderful. I appreciate your candor in discussing the illness. I am on a few health forums and when I ask direct questions the people with bipolar normally answer back in riddles and pure nonsense (of course this isn’t a sample of all people just the handful who religiously post on there). I asked a question once and got a history lesson on mental health treatment in the turn of the century, nothing to do with my question. Anyway, I digress. I come back to your blog from time to time, and I seem to pick up little kernels of wisdom that I had not seen before.

    I came across this blog posting last week, I found it, and your replies to people very helpful. I especially like this one.

    Dennis says:
    April 11, 2016 at 4:15 pm
    It usually ends with all of the grace and subtlety of a freight train hitting a mountainside.

    Man would I give anything to be able to stoke the fire on that train and accelerate it right into the mountain. My husband of ten years, been together 16, is on a manic episode that has led to him trading in a new car, for another newer, way more expensive vehicle, because he said it had a flat tire and didn’t want to deal with it.. spending thousands of dollars on useless things.. and of course leaving his wife, and two young children and moving in with a woman he works with and started a fling with sometime around Jan. (he moved out in March). He won’t see or call the children, but claims I am keeping them from him. I am his enemy. There are so many more details but they are irrelevant. He has been diagnosed with this twice, and never took medication.. the most recent diagnosis was in Feb, they gave new meds at this point I began researching the illness and knew he needed them more than anything, but he was already too far gone. When I found out about the other woman, I contacted her, told her he was sick (had thought maybe she’s been duped and he’s never said) but she said she was well aware and I was dead wrong about it all. She went on of course to tell me how she knows him better than I do (my husband, my best friend of 16 years.. in her three months shes got him figured out..idiot) and that mania is a day at best. I have no idea what wiki page she looked at. I assume she was going off of things he told her. Regardless, she has no idea she is the manic mistress and that all the things he says to her are lies. I read his texts. He inflated himself and his actions to match whatever she wanted to hear. He spoke of love, and marriage, and their life together. He lied about me, victimized himself, saying I wasn’t there for him and so on. Even lied about his daily involvement with the kids, down to telling her he was in the middle of reading them a bedtime story (something I do nightly and hes never done). My point is.. its lies, on lies on lies, and at some point, he believes them all too, if not from the beginning of it all
    I guess my point of posting here, under this particular blog post is because I had read a few postings on the health forums that I am on in the last few days, of people that were the other person, but felt they were so in love and so much more to this person then their partner was and they were so confused how they would turn on them, that I wanted to write about this from the perspective of the spouse. The majority of spouse stories I come across, read just like mine. We were happy. No real issues. Then one day, wham, the manic monster came to play, and we were nothing. They blame us, turn on us, twist everything we say around. Some go on long enough to do what mine did, find a new love, a better love, someone they are just so magically head over heels in love with. My husband lost his touch with reality and smashed his moral compass to bits. This other person may have been a decent person (I find it hard to believe cause decent people do not enter into relationships with married men). I know she will be devastated if she cares about him, when he finally crashes (and he will, he has before). I have no sympathy for her, she has allowed him to continue this alternate life, knowing I have continually maintained he is sick, knowing he in fact has prescribed medication that is for this illness. It is all very sad and ridiculous. My point is, if anyone is reading this and they are the person who entered into a relationship with a bipolar person (who was attached or in a committed relationship directly prior to them getting together) they are not this magical unicorn that has transcended this bipolar person into a life and love far greater then they have ever known. They are simply a byproduct of their manic state. Collateral damage. More than likely the committed relationship was smashed to pieces when the mania came out. Most and I am sure not all, want this relationship back when they are crashed back to reality. So if you are in this relationship and it happens to you and they stop speaking to you and you think they are back with their ex, the monster the horrible person they described to you.. MOVE ON.. their ex was never the things they said they were. They convinced themselves and you these things in their manic state.
    As I told the other woman who eagerly stepped into my marriage, the man you think is too good to be true, IS.

    As for my spouse, we are entering into month 7 of his current episode. I do not know how long it will last, his last major one was years ago and went on nearly 10 months. All I can do is damage control at this point. I hope the OW and other OW and men, see your post and realize, that although they are hurt, when it comes crashing down, unfortunately, the love might as well been one sided, because they never knew the true person.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Amanda. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoy my work and find it informative! I share your annoyance with mental health and health forums. The thing is, they tend to be populated by the toxic and unstable. Why? Because they can control their own narratives through the internet. There is no one really there to call them on their bullshit or who are willing to. As a result, it pushes those of us that are relatively healthy or stable away; because being around unstable people can destabilize us, easily. The reason my website and internet footprint isn’t overrun with these individuals is because I don’t tolerate it at all.

      I really don’t have anything to add to your overall post. I think it is very expressive, on point, and pretty much echoes my own sentiment on these situations.

      I do, however, have some suggestions for you. I would really suggest you start planning for his inevitable crash and presumably, when he decides to come back to you. First, I wouldn’t let him come back until he is ready to actively manage and work against his mental illness, and that includes taking the medication as directed. It’s very common for couples to have “rules” in place about that in situations where the person is not compliant. Things like…

      “You must take your medication as directed. Any changes or quitting medication must be approved by your doctor.”

      You may be happy or relieved if/when he comes back, but you need to be planning for this happening again. Bipolar Disorder is for life and it only gets worse with age when it’s left untreated. Love him or not, I would not let him back in the house or relationship unless he is willing to comply with treatment. Period. And this usually needs to be enforced harshly.

      Second, I would separate your finances and keep them totally separate from here on out. That way if he is not compliant, he will have a much harder time drastically impacting you. You don’t mention it, but it’s also pretty common for the Bipolar person in your scenario to clean out the bank account to “start their new life.” Having your own bank accounts, credit cards, and as few joint accounts as possible minimizes the Bipolar person’s ability to just launch you into the void with no support at all. Have your car and bills in your name as much as much as you can.

      And if you have any questions, please feel free to drop them here or email me. I do my best to answer all correspondence I receive and will try to get you real answers where I can, or at least get you pointed in the direction where you can find them yourself.

    • steph says:

      Amen to everything you just said, for the spouses it’s so incredibly hard!

  86. Mark says:

    Thanks Amanda and Dennis

    Wow ….. This is my story as well. My wife of 12 years fell in love in a stranger. She saw him once and decided that he is her love for the rest of her life. She moved out about a month ago, left me with 2 young kids (luckily she still wants to see them from time to time); watching my kids suffer was the worst part. I was able to minimize financial damage and understand what’s going on with her only thanks to this website, all this situation was out of the blue. Now she lives with the guy who feeds her mania and most likely will rob her off the money she will receive from separation. She has been talking antidepressants most of her life and the change of medication few months ago might have triggered her episode. She is not diagnosed, I have talk to our Doctor but he can not do anything unless she wants help…I feel so hopeless and I am not sure if she ever understands what happened.

    Question: shoul I try to send her links to forum like this. I know she feels something is not right with her but she (as a health care professional) mentioned to me that she is not manic
    Now I can see that her mood swings, being stubborn, getting angry for no reason, lack of empathy were not part of her personality but rather f… disease. Her perception of me has changed during this few months…actually I am scared what her mind can produce next

    4 months now and counting …Will see what a new day will bring ( now I worry about my son who is very moody as well, geeting a help from specialist for him just to be sure he is fine) . For now my experience with metal issues and health care system was terrible

    Thank you all for your stories- life savers !!!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Mark. To clarify, your wife is a health care professional? May I ask what exactly?

        • Dennis says:

          Okay. A common thing I run into in regards to medical professionals is that they are often most familiar with dealing with the extremes of Bipolar Disorder. If you get an opportunity to talk to her again in the near future, I would comment something like, “What about hypomanic? An escalation doesn’t necessarily mean psychosis.” Meaning, Type 1 Bipolar people, the people that many mental health professionals deal with on a very regular basis, often experience severe breaks from reality when they escalate. But people that are NOT Type 1s don’t necessarily do that. And not every escalated cycle is a full-blown manic cycle. Perhaps it will jog something in her mind and get her to think about her current mentality in a different way.

          Should you send her links? I don’t know if I would at this point. I think I would focus more on getting her to realize that she can be escalated without the nature of full-blown mania. I think I may pen an article about that next.

  87. Anne says:

    Dear Dennis,
    Thank you so much for your generosity and compassion in running this site. It has helped me so much.

    I became involved with a bipolar man in October last year. At the time I felt I was in an emotional desert. I wondered if I would ever meet anyone who made me feel alive, and whether the rest of my life would be emotionally bland. Then I met him. There was an instant attraction. I remember telling him that he had a huge emotional range.

    I had always felt frustrated that other people’s ranges were more limited. He always “got me”. I would take an emotional risk with him, and he would always catch me. Like a trapeze artist doing an elaborate manoevre who needs her partner to catch her, he always did. We did coffee once or twice, and then he told me he could not do a third scheduled coffee date because he was bipolar and needed to withdraw for a while, because he knew from past experience this was the best thing to do.

    After a week or so, we did meet for coffee. I told him I had PTSD. I wouldn’t normally have told anyone this, but because he told me about his bipolar, I thought telling him would make him feel more at ease. I have to mention he is brilliant, charismatic and creative, and is a university professor. He was compassionate about my PTSD, and encouraged me to speak about it, which I had done to few people before. “I am a safe person to know”, he told me, and I told him the same. We fell in love and started a passionate relationship.

    I have to mention that I was (very unhappily) married. I had been wanting to get out of my marriage for a long time, but didn’t know if I could manage. Many of the things that happened in my relationship with this new man brought me healing. I told him I felt lonely in my marriage, mainly because my husband was unsympathetic about my PTSD, notwithstanding him having done a lot to cause it. My bipolar man (I will call him Andrew), would ask me if I felt loved by him, and I always did. Andrew listened for 3-4 hours about the episode that had caused my PTSD, and offered insightful comments. There were few people I had related this trauma to.

    Initially he told me I should maintain my marriage. But soon he became extremely jealous of my husband, even though there was no need to. My husband and I were sleeping in different rooms, but Andrew interrogated me as to whether there was physical contact between us, saying “I can’t do this”. He became angry, and reduced me to tears.

    He then said he wanted to marry me and I should get a divorce. When I made an appointment with a divorce lawyer, he paid for the first appointment. I had to get the lawyer to give the money back to him. I had not contemplated that I could get divorced and survive, so this was news to me. I felt liberated. However, the lawyer advised me not to get divorced while I still had a court case on the horizon, to do with the event that caused me PTSD. I told him this, and he agreed to be patient.

    I now see that him wanting me to be divorced and to marry him so soon as a red flag. At the time, I was just feeling incredibly pressurised. He was also very needy. I was feeling I couldn’t think straight, when a friend invited me on holiday with my children and her family. I thought the break would do me good. At the last moment I invited my husband with. Not because there was anything between us, but because of the children. He has always had a warm relationship with them, even though ours has been nothing to speak of.

    Andrew got angry when I told him about this, and broke it off with me. I tried to explain that it was for the children’s sake. He said we should be friends and that our relationship should go on to another level. Three weeks went by without us meeting. In my heart I knew it was over and I was broken. When we did meet, he told me he had started a relationship with a woman in the same profession as him, whom he’d always assured me was just a friend. They met regularly for coffee. He said their relationship was purely professional, and they never discussed anything personal.

    However, he said in the week I was away, he felt vulnerable and reached out to her. He said he wished to spare me from the pressures our relationship would inevitably bring. He is now in a relationship with her, but says he wants to “preserve our friendship”. I did meet him a couple of times more, but found it incredibly difficult. At the one meeting I told him: “Do you just have relationships with women every six months?’. He told me he was married three times before the age of 30, and they each lasted six months.

    I truly felt I had a soulmate relationship with him. I have told him I find it too difficult to have a friendship and will evaluate it in six months’ time. Do you think it will be possible for us to have a friendship? I feel very messed up, and am struggling with self-care basics like exercise and eating right. I blamed myself initially – for not having the courage to jump right in with him – thinking if I’d done that – we would still be together, but reading your site has given me a different perspective on it.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Anne. Thank you for the kind words about my website and work. I’m glad you’ve found them enlightening and helpful.

      I can definitely see the common threads of a Bipolar unwell cycle in your description of his behavior and your relationship with him. The “six month” relationship cycle is also something that would be consistent with Bipolar unwell cycles. “I’m so in love!” Right up until the escalated cycle ends and everything comes crashing down back into depression and then reality.

      Quite a few people express the sentiment that they feel they had found a “soulmate relationship” with a person in a Bipolar manic cycle. Here’s the problem with that. The manic version of that person is not who they actually are. It’s what mania is twisting them into being. The real person is usually only a small portion of what their manic self is, if anything at all. It’s very common for an escalated person to appear to live large, be daring, charismatic, super intelligent, and more; but that’s because their brain is in overdrive. Like slamming the pedal of your car to the floor and leaving it there until your engine blows up.

      Personally, were I in your position with the knowledge and experience that I have, I would discontinue the friendship completely; and here’s why.

      1. He’s been married three times before he was 30. He knows he has choppy relationships and a mood disorder. Now, you say in your post that he is a college professor, which means he is either willfully ignorant of his problems or just doesn’t care. Neither of which are a good thing.

      2. The type of instability you described suggests that he’s probably not medicated. And if he is medicated, he’s not medicated correctly or visiting his mental health professionals and being honest about what’s going on with them. I would put my money on not medicated though, given the consistency of those three marriages and him commenting on your six month remark; that makes me wonder how many other times he’s done this with other women, women he didn’t marry. People who are mismedicated are typically more unstable in the short-term, oftentimes on a daily basis.

      3. As previously mentioned, you don’t know the real him. I really hate the idea of soul-mates. There are 7 billion people in the world. The chances of any of us having a single soul-mate and actually meeting them is slim to non-existent. However, I have met three different women that I connected with on that same kind of deep level, two of which I was engaged to at one point in time. But unfortunately, love is a product of the mind, and when you have a mental illness, it can twist it, warp it, and destroy it; along with anything else a person thinks or feels. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. Mood is a synonym of emotion. And Bipolar Disorder wreaks havoc with love, just the same as it does with any other emotion that drives our decision making processes.

      4. If you have that deep connection with him, unless you develop some very tough walls of your own, he’s always going to be a threat to your wellness and stability as well. Because if you’re friends, sooner or later (assuming he’s not correctly medicated then), his brain will swing back the other direction and start feeding him the same kind of thing that started your previous relationship with him. And, most of the time, the person in a position like yours will eventually agree to “give it another chance,” even if you had been adamantly sure you wouldn’t at the start, because the Bipolar person will just keep pushing with the limitless energy that escalation creates. Now, I do NOT mean that to say that you’re weak or anything of the sort. It’s just that it only takes a single moment of weakness, a single “Well maybe..” and you’ll find yourself right back where you started with all of the pain and turmoil that goes along with it. And given the soul-mate feeling, I would expect that to happen at some point based on the numerous other times I’ve seen people do the exact same thing.

      So yeah, in my mind, better to not have a friendship at all.

      Also, you are not to blame for this or his emotional change. If you did have the “courage” to jump right in with him, you’d most likely just be his fourth divorce. Frankly, given the expense and difficulties associated with divorce, there must have been some very severe shit going on to warrant such an expedient break from the perspective of the wife. It wouldn’t shock me if he was emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive; ESPECIALLY given his reaction to a reasonable outing with the kids with your husband invited. That reeks of control, manipulation, and an inability to trust. After all, you haven’t even known him a year, yet. That’s not even close to enough time to actually see behind the masks that people wear to the world. Something had to drive those immediate breaks and push the wives to such speedy resolutions. And if it was not on their end, it was probably driven by severe mental instability.

      Which, again, given the expense and difficulties associated with divorce, heavily infers that his unwellness is severe enough that it would be over-writing reality in a very major way.

      My personal opinion? I think you dodged a nuclear bomb. There is most certainly more to that story, which you may not be relating here. And if that includes him saying things like, “All of my exes turned out to be crazy!” It was most likely him.

      But, let’s take a moment to talk about you, Anne. PTSD is tough to deal with, real tough. Especially when you’re around someone who doesn’t accept your mental illness. Being in that kind of situation for a long time and dealing with PTSD quite often introduces Depression to the equation. And being around a source of your PTSD certainly does not help them at all.

      I know you feel very messed up, right now. And that’s okay. That’s only natural after going through something like you’ve just gone through. But a lot of what you expressed in your message suggests depression that is likely derailing your ability to progress. First is the lack of self-care, that you explicitly point out. But then you have other things, like, “I wanted to get out of my marriage, but didn’t know if I could manage.” “I had not contemplated that I could get divorced and survive, so this was news to me.” “At the time I felt I was in an emotional desert. I wondered if I would ever meet anyone who made me feel alive, and whether the rest of my life would be emotionally bland.”

      Here’s the thing, Anne. Many people have a lot of preconceived notions about what Depression is and is not. People read the descriptions about Depression with symptoms like: unable to function or get out of bed, crying all the time, suicidal or self-destructive thoughts, etc. but they don’t realize that most of what they see and understand are symptoms of SEVERE Depression. Depression functions in a range. Some people are severely depressed. Some people are mildly depressed.

      The name “Depression” is literal. It literally depresses a person’s ability to feel emotions. That emotionally barren landscape you feel? That’s Depression. You’re supposed to be able to feel things, period. Yes, your situation may not be great right now, but that can be changed, assuming depression or an uncaring partner hasn’t convinced you that you’re not capable of or worth it. But has it?

      In your words, you’re describing something I see people with Depression and Bipolar Disorder do pretty regularly. “I just need to find that one person who will make me feel alive again!” Then they find a person, fall in love, and their mind sinks into that honeymoon phase for awhile where they are happy and things feel great. But then time passes, that honeymoon feeling goes away, and they go back to being unable to feel again. They look at their partner and often blame them, pinning it on whatever problems exist in the relationship. Or they think they have just fallen out of love, so they break up and chase that honeymoon feeling again.

      But, here’s the thing, Anne. That honeymoon feeling is the human mind reacting to the prospect of a new love. The mind is flooding the person’s body with endorphins, that makes them feel great! That surge of endorphins can off-set a person’s depression for a little while. But as time passes, the surge slows down and goes away, and the depression is able to settle back in, robbing that person of their love and good feelings, replacing it with the emotional desolation that comes with depression. The chase of a love of a relationship, is like putting a bandaid over a hemorrhaging wound. It may staunch the bleeding for a little bit, but unless you address and fix the core problem, then it’s just going to keep bleeding.

      In the case of a person with Bipolar Disorder, and very likely your ex, that flood of endorphins can trigger a manic cycle. That’s why there are so many stories of how AWESOME the relationship was to start off, until it got super intense, and then crashed and burned; oftentimes within just a few months.

      As someone that has dealt with mild to suicidal Bipolar-Depression for the past 20 years, I can safely tell you that peace and happiness are things that comes from within. It’s not something you can get from a relationship. It’s not something that can be given. It’s something you have to work towards attaining. Because any external factors that you rely on will eventually get eroded in your own emotional landscape if you do not work to fix that hemorrhaging wound.

      The good news is that it is a problem you can confront and overcome! It may be hard and a bit confusing. But plenty of other people do it, there’s no reason that you can’t do it, too. Have you gotten help for and talked to a professional about your PTSD? I’m guessing you haven’t for Depression if you didn’t realize you’ve been depressed, but that should definitely be a next step. From there, you can focus on laying the ground work for self-sustainability. Perhaps online College courses? I know nurses are pretty universally in demand if you feel you could handle that, and it’s a relatively short schooling process. You can probably turn up quite a bit about forging a new life for yourself by digging around on the internet for more information on that so you can start building a plan while you work on addressing your mental health.

      There is absolutely no reason you have to live your life in an emotional wasteland, but that all starts with addressing and mending your own wounds and issues. Talk to your doctor, Anne. You may also want to consider looking into PTSD support groups in your area. It can be very helpful to be around other people who are working to overcome similar wounds.

      • Anne says:

        Dear Dennis,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful and comprehensive reply. Your generosity and kindness is much appreciated. I have started going to a support group and it is helping a lot. I will keep you posted.
        Kind regards
        Anne

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome, Anne. I’m glad to hear you found a support group that is helping you out! Please do keep me posted!

  88. Dazedandconfused says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I think the time you have taken to provide solace and compassion to all these broken hearts is a thing of wonder and I applaud you for it. It chokes me up reading so much hurt.

    I was with my girlfriend for 18 months, I suspect she may have been manic when we started seeing each other, it basically started with lots of texting, quickly became quite explicit and she was very sexual and single minded about wanting a relationship with me although I am somewhat older than her. I had absolutely no idea that she had been diagnosed with bipolar at that point, though I did know she suffered with depression and anxiety and took medication for both. Within a few months I noticed that I would be turning up and she would look miserable as sin and show very little affection, then as soon as I was gone, she would be apologising and be affectionate via text (as if it was safe for her to express feelings in a message but not in person). So the moods went up and down but not in an exaggerated way that gave me cause for concern though she could be quite brutal in terms of providing “feedback” on my appearance or dress sense, which at the time I thought was quite amusing. Very direct !

    Over the course of the first year we grew very close and I became fairly well tuned in to her moods and unpredictable behaviour, though I think in the main she was pretty stable and very often used to tell me how she loved being with me because I kept her “calm”, which slightly confused me though I am a fairly laid back person, but now I realise she could have said “stable”. There were some clues about her condition but I really did not put two and two together and concluded what I was experiencing was just a “quirky” person who had some depression (which I could identify with as I have also suffered with ‘black dog’ myself though not seriously). I actually liked the directness and honesty of her moods. Unlike most people I have known, she never put on an act.

    In hindsight I feel like a total idiot as one thing she did like was presents and being cared for. So basically I pretty much did most things for her and paid for most things for her, including paying off a car loan, buying her shopping, taking her shopping, giving her money and essentially spoiling her. I loved her and I guess I really wanted to make her happy. Of course the other way of looking at it would be that I was enabling her illness. In any event, it didn’t feel that I was being abused and she never demanded anything, it was given freely and I enjoyed making her happy (and would have done the same for anyone who I adored as much as I did her).

    Then I got the same as many others have experienced. She made a big deal about reaching the one year anniversary and what we should do to celebrate, but once this had passed, about a month after, she started to get rather cold and argumentative. This lasted a few weeks, but it was off and on, not constant. We arranged to go to the beach with one of her friends and her dog and I was with her the night before and she snapped that she “wasn’t my master” and we exchanged a few choice words and she went silent. Shortly after that beach trip, she had gone very quiet and I eventually got the familiar words “I want to be on my own” and she broke it off. I think she went into an episode though I’m not sure if it was depression or mania. I’m not entirely sure and when I challenged her on it later she says she couldn’t remember. She continued to be friendly and was clearly very upset. I still had no idea about the bipolar and because she had described me as a father figure, probably because I looked after her, I took it on the chin even though I was very disappointed.

    Anyway, the texting continued sporadically but increased in tempo after about 10 weeks and she was becoming much more chatty and engaging and popped into the conversation that she regretted breaking up, so this opened the floodgates and I pushed for her to come back to me. In the end she did and within a day of seeing her it was back to like it was before and there was very little mention of the 3 month break.

    It started to get more serious and she started to talk about our relationship as if it were more permanent and started looking at houses and suggesting maybe we should try living together – which took me by surprise as she was fiercely independent and liked her own space. Shortly after Christmas last year I introduced her to my father, which was a major milestone for both of us. It was all going too well….

    Then it happened… She started sending me slightly bizarre texts that made no sense and one morning sent me a message that would have concerned me greatly had I known about her condition. She basically sent me voice messages telling me how happy she was feeling, life was really great, trying to curb the happy etc.. I actually joked (and God this makes me sad in hindsight) that maybe she was bipolar, as she seemed rather too happy… Now I realise she was euphoric. Then the next day no contact, same the following day so I started asking what was wrong and got told not to create an issue. Anyway to cut a long story short, a few days after that she was finishing with me again, saying she didn’t want to ruin my life and didn’t want to be with me anymore and when I questioned what the hell she was doing given she had only returned 10 weeks previously, it is at this point that she announced she was bipolar. I had no clue about what mania was but I did by the next day. The ultimate irony is that that she announced quite happily in the December that she was coming off her drugs and that had I noticed how nice she had been to me…. I had assumed this was for depression and therefore a good thing. Little did I know what carnage this would trigger. Anyway, she very quickly turned really nasty telling me I made her more angry than anyone else did, blocked me, talked to me like I was worth nothing to her at all and generally behaved diabolically. She was so adament that there was nothing wrong with her that I actually agreed to pay her to visit the doctors and get an opinion. A few weeks later she did go to the docs and they gave her a mood diary but didn’t see the mania that I was experiencing and she declined any drugs announcing to me that she wasn’t that bad and it was just that she didn’t want to be with me and then asked me for the money…. Within another two weeks she announces by text that she has slept with someone else and that I should move on. I then find out from a friend that she has literally moved in with the guy she slept with around two weeks later and is talking about marrying him. All totally mad given how reserved she had been for the previous 18 months. The worst thing is that she doesn’t sound or appear delusional at all, all fairly calm, confident and rational. This was around February and I do know that she is getting medication but I am pretty sure she is not taking a mood stabiliser. I last talked to her around three weeks ago and she was still clearly not 100% and confirmed as much (she was having a panic attack about parking at the time). I have no clue what to expect next but it’s now been 7 months since she became very manic. I may not have helped the situation as I have been texting her a lot, though mostly ignored, though stopped texting completely a few weeks ago. She seems very happy and completely disinterested in my feelings. Out of the blue a few months ago she asked me to go for a coffee as friends, but then changed her mind and now doesn’t want to see me. The last six months have been terrible and I’m trying to move on, but I thought I would share my story. It’s amazing how similar the stories are and some of the really specific behaviour traits that I’ve read about, I’ve also experienced, such as wanting to sleep alone, not wanting to be touched, not particularly affectionate in person etc.

    • Dazedandconfused says:

      I should have added, the worst thing is never really knowing whether the person you loved for a reasonably long period of time was genuine and sincere and this was the “stable” person and they are just being cruel and uncaring because they are unwell, or whether they are just an asshole and simply don’t care. In the last six months she hasn’t once asked me how I was or if I was okay and that truly hurts, as I know she cared about me a lot. She seemed more interested in telling me that the sex was great and that the new guy was amazing…

      • Dennis says:

        Hello, Dazedandconfused. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

        If she’s Bipolar, it’s very likely that she hasn’t been all that stable at all throughout this entire time. You have to keep in mind that most mental illness does look like the way she is acting. I think it’s NAMI that estimates 1 in 4 adults have a mental illness of some kind. A lot of normal people find that hard to believe; but it’s not so hard to believe once you understand that mental illness often looks the way she is manifesting it; not screaming, hallucinations, and straight jackets. Just, not functioning quite right.

        It’s very easy for an unwell Bipolar person to be both kind and loving, and cruel and callous. Because the incorrect emotions and perceptions the mental illness creates aren’t always negative. Sometimes they are love or euphoria, as you seem to understand as well.

        I don’t really have much to add, you seemed like you were venting mostly and you don’t really ask any specific questions; just that main point. It’s very likely that the answer is that she is and was all of the above. In the times she cared, she very well may have loved and cared genuinely. And in the times she didn’t, she genuinely doesn’t. That’s because Bipolar Disorder unwellness completely changes and negatively impacts the way you experience the world and emotions. It’s not like a normal person, where you might be pissed off or sad with a loved one; but you still love them. The mental illness completely changes the way the person perceives and interprets feelings; and because it feels real, they act on them as if they are real.

        It wouldn’t be shocking if she her emotions flip back again sooner or later. And if they do, you would be wise to not intertwine yourself too much with her or even just let your own feelings go; particularly if she is not medicated and doing anything to work to control Bipolar Disorder. At that point, you’ll just be starting on the countdown for it to happen again to you.

        • Dazedandconfused says:

          You are right I was venting really, maybe someone reading will get some comfort from it as I have done from reading other stories. I hate using the word “normal” (as what is normal anyway…), but the fact that she can love one day and literally feel nothing the next, and genuinely not fake it or make no attempt to avoid hurting someone very close is such a strange thing to experience. The analogy to being abducted by aliens is a good one as that is exactly how it felt. It’s so subtle just as you say, not “mad” just cold and indifferent and no love at all.

          A number of people have asked me what would you do if she came back, given she has gone cold and wanted space before (albeit she hasn’t got involved with anyone else before and I probably reacted better before by leaving her alone). I guess I would be very wary as I don’t particularly want my heart ripped out again. I suspect she won’t want to do that to me either, so may stay away for that reason alone as she understands enough about herself to know she hurts people (though clearly doesn’t care enough to get serious about treatment).

          It’s not entirely clear to me anymore when she was actually “stable” when she was with me, if at all, though it was quite a long time and she seemed completely together for the most part, though she did get some anxiety (Paris bombings had her literally too terrified to venture out of the house and had her panic texting me at 2am). I am pretty sure her job as a professional Carer also kept her quite stable as focussing on people who were worse off than her definitely helped in my view and she was very good at it. She gave this up late last year and then came off whatever medication she was on, so the daily routine disappeared. As far as I am aware she was definitely not taking a mood stabiliser, only anti depressants and anti anxiety medication (well this is what she told me). I suspect when she was very manic and her family got involved earlier this year, then she may have been taking something to bring her back down but last time I talked to her she still wasn’t right and may have been drinking (as she was slurring her words a bit). She is sufficiently “aware” to acknowledge that she isn’t 100% still and whilst I am not expecting a sudden awakening, I guess I know her well enough to know that she will feel pretty awful at some point as she is well aware how much I have done for her and I think she did genuinely love me if only because she was very reluctant to talk about love and relationships but in her more affectionate moments she would use the words. In her own words she would say that I saved her life, which at the time would sound completely over the top (but I didn’t understand what state her mind was in).

          Strange as it may sound and however callous and cruel she has been in recent months, I know this is the illness not her soul and so I would like to think we can be friends at some point on whatever level she feels able to. It is the strangest thing that on the one hand she has crushed me and broken my heart, but I actually feel great sympathy for her as until she doesn’t actively encourage manic highs, she will never be able to have a stable long term relationship.

          • Dazedandconfused says:

            Just to emphasise one point that many in a similar situation will feed, my ex has been very good at making me feel like I’m the one with an illness, not her (and I did start questioning this myself). To the extent that loving someone can be characterised as an illness, then I guess she is right in that sense as love does make you do irrational things, whereas she comes across as totally controlled and unemotional. The ultimate put down came when she was talking about the new boyfriend and how great in bed he was and she threw the whole money thing that she had enjoyed at my expense back in my face, by literally saying “it’s not all about the money”. I did have to laugh when I got that message… Fortunately I do have sense for the ironic ! 🙂

          • Dennis says:

            Responding to both of your comments in this reply.

            It’s very easy to make a catastrophically bad decision when you are trying to be and maintain wellness. Very little of it is actually easy. Even in a best case scenario where the person adheres tightly to a regimented lifestyle and religiously takes their meds, well you have other thoughts creep in that can derail you like. “I’ve been doing well for so long, I must not need the medication.” “I’m so fucking sick of medication and doctors just to be able to function.” “I’m so weary of all of this. I think I’ll take a break for a bit.” And boom, next thing you know, you’re turning your life inside out, burning it down, and pissing on the ashes.

            If you’re reasonably sure that she will end up reaching out to you when she gets to a better point of balance, be prepared for that moment. Point out to her, harshly if you need to, “This is Bipolar Disorder. This is what happens when you screw around with medication. You need to work to control it or it will control you. There is no in-between.” So many people try to softly suggest it and that just doesn’t stick in a mind that is flowing all over the place. And don’t get involved in anything emotional with her until she’s back into a mentally and emotionally healthy place, period. That can take months. It’s easy to be excited if the person comes back around, but if they aren’t doing anything to manage or work on the Disorder in a meaningful way, then you’re just going to get your heart torn out again.

            Your struggle is one that a lot of people have; because you can see who she is past her illness. An outside party often does not.

            The rationalization of “You’re the one that’s sick, not me” is a trying one. There are some people who do it out of maliciousness, there are some people who are just in denial or too ill to realize that they are actually the problem. The way I generally handle that is by pointing out specific erratic, nonsensical actions that point to their unwellness. “Even if I am mentally unwell, I’m not the one who did X, Y, and Z. That was you and your choice.” And pushing that angle to attempt to reground the person.

            Also, my brief rant about “normal”. There is a normal. Normal is being able to conduct your life in a meaningful, gain way in the areas that are mandatory for human existence. Socialization and maintaining relationships and being able to support and care for oneself. These things are considered essential for existence and they are not limited by race, creed, belief, or whatever. These things are the normal that everyone should be pushing for.

  89. Sophie says:

    Dear Dennis,

    Kudos to you for such an exceptionally well written, thoughtful, and yes, even funny, blog and this post in particular! I’m so grateful to have stumbled upon it. My situation will sound very familiar. Four months ago I met an incredible man – we seemed to want the same thing, a loving, committed, intimate partnership and with both of us in mid-life and a marriage each behind us (his of 14 years and mine of 8), it seemed like I finally met someone who I could see myself with for the rest of my life. It was intense with him from the beginning, but I’m intense myself, and we communicated daily through email (we live an hour apart) and saw each other at least twice a week. After a couple of months, we joked that it felt like it had been a year. We graduated quickly past ‘just dating’ and were already navigating the whitecaps and eddies in the sea of a long-term relationship.

    He was upfront with me about his bipolar. He even said several times, “If you want to run away now, I won’t blame you, I won’t be mad.” I didn’t even realize what he meant. I’ve since educated myself considerably by reading a lot. He has one of the worst kinds: Bipolar I, rapid cycle. Plus he’s OCD and really, a bit autistic. He has struggled his whole life with misdiagnoses and meds that weren’t prescribed properly or didn’t work. Now he has to take a lot of Lithium and Prozac. Finally three years ago, when his marriage ended, he got started in weekly therapy, saw both a psychol. and psychiatrist regularly and was committed to self care and taking his meds, finally prescribed in a way that would mostly work at least. He doesn’t drink alcohol at all or do any drugs or engage in any other kind of erratic or promiscuous behavior, to the best of my knowledge. When he was much younger, he did all those things, but is practically scared to leave the house now for fear of tipping out of balance.

    Honestly, I’d never met a man as self aware as he was and I’ve had plenty of relationships with ‘normal’ men. I thought this was a sign that we could navigate this together. That said, after three great months, the past month I saw a steady decline in his moods, increasing bouts of depression, more self doubt about everything, including his ability to hold up his end of our relationship. He started picking little fights with me, until literally within the space of two weeks he went from full on committed relationship to, breaking up with me by email (his favored mode of communication), including unfriending me on Facebook and even blocking me. But it was all because he said he now realizes he will never be well and doesn’t have what it takes to hold up his end of the relationship and be a fair partner (the lack of sex drive the past couple of weeks was the nail in the coffin apparently).

    Of course, I’m gutted, reeling and just in shock. I now realize, after reading your blog, and talking with my own therapist, that he was in a manic cycle when we met. At the beginning however, we made a pact (for what it’s worth) that if he ever wanted to break up with me he wasn’t allowed to do it when he was depressed. This was my idea and he loved it – thought it the most amazing thing I could do for him. Ha! Well, now I’ve employed that, without much result of course. In the ten days since his breakup email to me, I’ve reminded him of this and told him I’m not going anywhere and I don’t ‘accept’ his breakup. Kind of farcical I suppose. He keeps talking to me by email every couple of days but not addressing anything personal with us, mostly they are fatalistic emails, alarmingly so. He’s seems incredibly depressed (but says he’s not – he just accepts that his life is over), sleeps all day, never leaves the house, thinks about dying. I got so worried I contacted an older friend of his, a mentor to him, who lives near him and asked him to check on him the other day. The guy did, took him to lunch, and emailed me that he was puzzled because “Nick seemed just fine!”

    This freaked me out even more because I started wondering what was true. Was he lying to him? Was he lying to me and exaggerating his symptoms to push me away? Anyway, I sole parent a teenager and probably need this like a hole in the head, but I love him and don’t want to just walk away from him without at least trying to honor my promise. And I just thought he had so much going for him, and of course us, with all his self-awareness and commitment to his own wellness.

    I see now that despite all that, the brain disease can just run rampant over everything and even when he might think he is being completely rational, he is just rational in his irrationality. I don’t want to give up on him yet. He has no family at all, and just a few friends, no one he sees on a regular basis except for the older mentor friend for lunch once a week. And me. He let me know I was the best thing that happened to him in a long time and yet now, he’s pushing me away, and nearly totally isolating himself. I’m trying to just give him space to get through this and hope he keeps some kind of communication open with me.

    This is a devastating disease. I never thought cancer would start to look like a picnic in the park.

    Thanks for reading, so much appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      I feel like I can actually contribute a great deal here!

      Being Autistic, we have a very difficult time with interpersonal relationships, even when we’ve practiced a lot at it. And that’s because our emotional spectrum often work very differently. I’m a very self-aware person as well; but I didn’t really understand how to include a third party into my own wellness efforts and life without therapy and studying how normal relationships work.

      Writing is also my favored form of communication. Many autistics have a problem where they cannot verbalize their emotions very well. A lot of the “meltdowns” you see are the result of being unable to adequately express some emotion; like frustration or anger. But when it comes to love and the stuff surrounding that? That’s just as hard. It’s like staring at a blank dictionary. You know the words are supposed to be there, but they just aren’t. It’s incredibly frustrating, and when the frustration mounts, the problem compounds and just becomes way more difficult. It wouldn’t shock me if he wrote because he has a similar problem. I can write love poems and letters and sweet words; but trying to verbalize on the spot and I just got nothing. It sucks.

      I’m sure he did love the idea of not breaking up while depressed; and I definitely understand that it can be a good idea in many situations. Unfortunately, it’s REALLY fucking hard to stick to that when escalation finally comes crashing down. Crashing out of a manic cycle often entails borderline suicidal (or suicidal) depression where there is no postivity, warmth, light or hope. There’s just nothing but the oppression of depression.

      I also wouldn’t put too much stock in him being “fine” with the friend either. We mentally ill people learn to cover up how we really feel very adeptly. You spend 30-40 years acting like you’re fine, it’s pretty easy to act like you’re fine. But, depending on the time period, he may have also had time to rebalance some as well. So he might just be doing better as well. Could be either really.

      I can definitely relate to “rational in his irrationality.” That is definitely me and something I do attribute to however autism and Bipolar Disorder interact in my brain.

      Anyway, if you want to see this through, wait like two weeks and try reaching out to talk to him again to see where he’s at mentally. But given the relatively short time frame and your description of it being “intense,” your therapist is right in that it was likely mania. You’ll want to prepare for the eventuality that his emotions were rooted in his escalation and not “real love.” Because mania can easily produce and convince a person they are madly in love with another person. It’s not something we choose to do, and I don’t get the impression that he did it out of maliciousness, it’s just a terribly shitty thing that Bipolar Disorder does.

      It certainly is devastating and it destroys a lot; both for the we mentally ill people and supporters like yourself.

      Thank you for the kind words about my writing and my work. I appreciate them greatly.

  90. Sophie says:

    Hi Dennis,
    Thanks so much for your response, very helpful. I figured as much about the trying to impress the friend with his ‘normalacy.’ But it’s good to get your take on that. Since he’s emailed me one of his fatalistic emails since then I don’t really think he’s better, just faking for the friend.

    I would also add, that he told me as much about himself that confirms exactly what you said – expressing himself while writing is easy, it gives him a veil behind which to find the words to express himself – while in person, there are no words, as you say. We can talk about everything else, but not anything really intimate. I’m a writer myself, so it was easy to fall for someone else who writes well and that was our main mode of communication, when not together in person.

    But I’d like to try to get a better handle on understanding what you say about it not being real but just mania. I’ve no doubt he was manic when we started dating, but I will say, that he never seemed like he was about to sell all his belongings and ask me to move to Vegas with him for a fly by night wedding. We never got to the “I love you” out loud, or even in writing, point. I was there and felt it, and I could swear he did too, but hadn’t found the courage to, like George Costanza in Seinfeld, be the first one to say I love you.

    A couple of weeks ago he wrote to me saying he had thought when we started dating he was so much better and ‘well enough’ to be putting himself out there. And that this relationship had tested him and he realized he was not as well as he thought and he apologized for ‘misrepresenting himself’ when we met. And that work he should have been doing on his own, was now work we’d have to do together to get through this. I was down with that and said hey, that’s OK, you can’t plan life, you meet someone when you meet someone, I’ll walk that road with you. But then 10 days later he went ahead and ended it anyway, like I said, I think feeling a bout of lack of sex drive probably just made him feel even worse and so, presto, gone goodbye girl. So does this still sound like just coming off of mania still? In his breakup email he told me he liked me a lot but the problem was his lack of libido. But in my book, this doesn’t seem like a reason to end a relationship but to go back to the doctor and try to find a solution!

    But maybe in his case where he was already cycling down, it just seemed too hopeless and too much to try to pursue to make work. I’ll take your suggestion and try again in a couple of weeks. I think I’ve read every other comment posted on here and your subsequent suggestions, some of which I wonder if I should apply in my case, like checking in and letting him know I would like to help him, if he’d let me, take him out for lunch once a week, just staying friends, ‘dialing back the romantic part of our relationship for now,’ etc.? What do you think?

    Thanks, again, for writing!

    • Dennis says:

      You’re welcome for writing, Sophie.

      Yes, from your description, I would definitely say he experienced an escalated cycle. The thing you need to bear in mind is that Bipolar Disorder functions on a spectrum. Not every escalated cycle will send a person screaming into the stratosphere. And given your guy’s proactive approach at management, it wouldn’t shock me if he had many those thoughts that you would normally attribute to that type of escalation. You learn through therapy that just because you feel something doesn’t mean you need to act on it. So, if I met someone someone awesome and three months later I was thinking marriage, I would be concerned I was manic until I could otherwise identify that I was not.

      But what you described in his mannerisms is very consistent with what you’d expect. It started off intense, everything seemed great, crashed into depression and “I can’t do this”. Granted, I’m not a mind reader, but that is very consistent with an escalated cycle. And medication doesn’t always even everything out completely. Like, when I’m on lithium, I can still have very mild escalated cycles to the tune of a couple of days rather than the months they used to be. I could probably eliminate them completely if I stepped up the dosage, but that would also put me one step closer to the maximum dosage that would require me to change meds. So I want to prolong the use of the medication as much as possible.

      With mental health, there isn’t always black and white circumstances or even recovery for that matter.

      Even in person, if things smooth out, you might want to suggest that he still communicates about intimate subjects via text. I mean, it’s not that we don’t want to be able to do it, we just can’t. And that way at least communication can be healthy, even if it’s not a traditional face-to-face conversation.

      The lack of libido is only one component of the entire equation. You have to keep in mind the depression. Now, if he escalated, crashed, and is currently in a mild to moderate (or worse) depression; any molehill can seem like a mountain. You’re right, libido is something that can be addressed. And in a well-balanced mind, that would be an easy consideration. But when you’re depressed, it’s just another confirmation that you’re useless, can’t do anything right, can’t love someone right, are unlovable, no one can possibly care for your broken ass; and all of the other horrible lies that mental illness tells us.

      The reason I suggested you hold off for a couple weeks is to give his mind some time to rebalance. Bipolar Disorder and Depression are mood disorders. They function off of, skew, and play with our emotions a lot: positive and negative. So, we have you, someone he cares much about/may love; and you step into his life, it may just destabilize him as it floods his mind with the emotions surrounding your relationship, the way things went, and all of the negative feelings that the Disorder introduced.

      So yes, dialing back the romance while he works some more on himself will likely be a good idea in the future. But right now, your presence or trying to push back in just likely to cause an emotional disruption in his already volatile mind. So, let the waters calm.

      In the meantime, my personal opinion, from your description it sounds like he’s the type of person worth being patient with. He’s taking a huge degree of responsibility for his mental illness, he’s working at it, he’s trying and it sounds like he is trying to minimize the damage he’s doing to you. All of which are very good, very positive things.

      If you’d like to check in on him more often; try sending him a message and just saying, “Is it okay if I check in on you about once a week or so while you work on this? I’m just concerned for you as a friend is all.” And just go slowly that way.

      Oh, and in trying to push back in, do NOT tell him anything like, “I’ll always be there.” or “I’ll always be your friend.” At his age, he’s probably heard that a half-dozen times or more and been bailed on. It’s a romantic notion that people have but don’t understand the severity of. And it cuts deep when you’ve spent your life trying, failing, and losing people to the Disorder. Avoid those phrases.

  91. Sophie says:

    Thanks so much, Dennis, great advice. Don’t mean to keep taking up space on your blog here, I’ll stop after this, I promise. Just heard from him a bit surprisingly. He finally got in to see his psychiatrist on Friday to check on his meds and his doctor told him he’s not depressed, but feeling ‘flat’, which is an effect of the Prozac. (?!) And that he can weigh the effect of being flat, against the alternative of the obsessiveness/depression. Doesn’t sound like much of a choice frankly. He’s sleeping all day, how is that not depression? But maybe, as you say, it’s just part of cycling down and he has to find a new equilibrium.

    Again, I really appreciate your responding, and your help and perspective on all of this!

    • Dennis says:

      It’s fine for you to ask whatever questions you may have. I don’t mind at all. If you’d like to give something back for my time, you could make a small donation or pick up one of my eBooks. And if not, that’s totally fine too. I would rather people ask whatever questions and walk away understanding than with half of the answer.

      In regards to his appointment, he should express that he escalated and had a deep depressive crash. His doctor may not be understanding that he is currently dealing with depression if your guy didn’t express what he’s dealing with very well. But on the other side of the coin, it may be one of those “choose which shit sandwich you want to eat” situations; where there are really no great solutions. That happens a lot as well. Some people are heavily resistant to psych meds, some people regain a high degree of recovery, some do not. Ultimately, it’s something he needs to decide; and if he doesn’t like the way the meds are making him feel, he needs to press the issue with the doctor. It’s fair to assume the doctor is knowledgeable about the clinical side, but the reality is that he is only involved and sees a fraction of your guy’s life.

      The best way to articulate the problem is for your guy to list out the symptoms and present them to his doctor; rather than saying, “I’m Depressed.” Because “I’m depressed” can mean a lot of things, including misinterpreting something as depression. But if he demonstrates the symptoms he is experiencing, the doctor will have more meaningful information to help him find a resolution.

  92. Sophie says:

    Thanks so much, Dennis, I’m going to try to find a way to communicate this to him. And I just made a donation to your site. Plan to buy your e-books at some point too. But thank you for your time!:)

  93. Sophie says:

    You’re welcome back!

  94. Lost says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Thank you for writing such an insightful column. My bipolar partner of three years and I are no longer together but we’re still very good friends. Throughout our 3 years another work colleague of ours kept trying to prevent us from being together with her constant textes to him, up until midnight and then starting again at 6am every day. She has a long term partner but likes to have my partner/ex partner at her beckon call to run around after her too. During our time together she tried to tell me all sorts of things about him to prevent us being together. Over the three years I saw this ex of mine change personalities, moods – manic hypers to depression fairly regularly. I’m a patient person and just rolled with it until October 2015 when he took the co worker to the casino and paid for her to pay black jack for several hours and then agreed to go to a strip bar with her to watch the show (female strippers), just to clarify she is not gay and her motivation was very transparent. At Christmas time the ex went AWOL again only to surface 3 days later having several hurt himself after downing 2litres of jack Daniels straight in 45mins. Just to clarify this whole time he has been medicated following BP diagnosis 12 years early.
    When he turned up I got him help for his wounds, 2 days following this he turned up again having been kicked out of his current home due to potential thief. I took him in and got him seen but the psych ward staff who adjusted medication and confirmed this was definitely a bipolar episode. Following this the coworker increased her push for his attention which finally I got sick of as he wasn’t willing to put a stop to it and we ended parting ways but staying good friends. Around the same time (may 2016) the psych term he is under had a staff change and he was told by the new psychiatrist he doesn’t have bipolar and that he can start coming off his lithium and by end of September 2016 he can be completely off and go on a antidepressant instead.

    During June and July 2017 he was gradually pulling away from me at some stages and clinging to me at others. At the beginning of August he stopped all contact will me (stonewalling at work) unless she wasn’t around and then he was fine. By end of August until now it has been fully stonewalling making for an unpleasant work environing. I ended up hitting him up this week to be told I was too full on, always dropping in – this was totally untrue, I only dropped in 4 times since 23rd of July, each time to drop off things he told me he needed eg; money and groceries and once to check he was ok as the colleague insinuated he was off work due to me stressing him out. He mention his psych team wanted a meeting with both of us but he decided he didn’t want that to happen so instead decided to cut me totally out of his life and this is how he’s doing it. I just don’t know what to do now as he’s totally shut me out of his life. He’s always said he trusted me and is so gratefully to have me as the person he can talk too and go to when he needs help. I can see he is unwell as this behaviour is nothing like anything else I’ve seen in three years. No one else is really seeing this behavioural change though, occasionally lately someone ay work might say he’s a bit short or rude with them must be having a bad day. Any advice would be appreciated as it looks like this behaviour/boarder line hatred towards me is not going to change and the last thing I want to do is attend someone I hold highly in respects funeral.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write. In a situation like this there really isn’t anything you can do. You can’t save him from himself and his bad choices in combating his issues. He’s the one that chooses to keep this colleague in his life. He’s the one that chose to drink heavily on psych meds. And he’s the one who is choosing to cut you out. In my experience, people on that kind of trajectory usually need to hit rock bottom before they can realize that they need to make significant changes to the way they conduct their life. Sometimes all you can do is stand by and watch it happen.

      I wish I had something more to tell you than that, but sometimes, there’s just nothing meaningful you can do. If he ends up coming back around, suggest he visit a therapist to work on his management practices and to learn more about Bipolar Disorder. Either he has a very poor understanding of how mental health management works or he knows and doesn’t care. Either way, don’t let yourself get destroyed in the process.

      • Lost says:

        Thanks Dennis, I think your right sadly I need to walk away as it has been confirmed today by part of his psych support team that he is lying to me. Today I contacted his psych nurse and discussed this meeting request by his psychiartist that he had mentioned, last week, but was choosing not to adhere to,. He had said the psychiartist requested him to arrange it as they wanted to tell me to chill out as they could see I was was the cause of his mental illness. His psych nurse assured me that that request and that statement had never been made and instead they would really appreciate it if I felt I could hang in there to keep them updated on him as much as possible so they can help him. She also told me if I couldn’t they would understand as she recognised I need to look after myself and my child firstly, and this kind of behaviour from him is not fair.

        • Amanda says:

          I read your comment from before about new health person saying not sick.. I was gonna say unless you heard it with your own ears I would never trust a known bipolar to tell you something the dr supposedly said that contradicts what you know to be true when it comes to their illness. My husband is in the middle of a manic episode that comes along with an affair and he swears that the psych has said its the best thing for him.. Though I’ve spoken with her and she’s made no such comment.. It’s all in his head.
          I’m very sorry your relationship was lost to this illness.

        • Dennis says:

          That is an unfortunately common type of manipulation. At least you were able to get it confirmed from a third party source. Trying to blame mental illness on the actions of others is another common manipulative tactic. Bipolar Disorder does not work that way, however. You have to do what’s best for you and your child. Don’t let yourself feel bad or guilty about that. Just the way it goes sometimes.

  95. Laura says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I always looked at your article when I felt difficult at times.

    I was in a mentally abusive relationship for the past 3 years(and were friends for half a year before that). It was mostly long distance and he told me that he had been in depression before we dated. He cheated on me in January(“I met someone and I fell in love”) and I decided not to contact him anymore. 3 weeks after he started to message me again( in all means) and ask me to come back. He told me he had mental breakdown and when I visited him out of care he almost raped me. Once I realized he was in denial of his cheating and blamed that on me, I decide not to meet him anymore. He found this new girl 3 days (end of March) after and he started to send me emails telling me “I have become a better person, and this girl know about my past, my relationships and my disease.” Now he told friends that he hooked up with a woman in Jan(which I thought was an emotional betrayal according to him) was due to his manic episode and he took advantage of me because of his depressive episode(He claimed that he only got diagnosed after our split). He shows off his new relationship in any possible way on social media and thankful I blocked him. Still, it wasn’t nice to hear as I had to endure all this by myself without any support.

    I have dealt a lot of grief and recently anger about this. This all happened in a new city and a foreign country which I had no friends and friends there to support me. I felt my life was almost being destroyed and I can’t think how come he can still a life with loving relationships without remorse. I have cut off contact with him, but I wish he could know how bad this had impacted on others. I don’t know when can I resolve this emotion of deep hurt, betrayal and injustice, and I don’t know if bipolar disorder should be used as an excuse for that. Maybe it just takes time and i am trying my best to heal and get better, but sometimes I felt so sad because I can’t image a former friend/partner can do this to you. Maybe leaving him is a good decision eventually, but I really hope I won’t feel depressed and insomnia forever because of this past relationship. It’s been almost 5 months since he got diagnosed as bipolar and got together with this new girl right after, and sometimes i am upset with myself for still getting upset and angry at the moment.

    Do you have any tips or suggestions for people who are trying to recover from relationship like this?

    Thank you!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Laura. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Honestly, the best suggestion I can give you is to visit a counselor. This is the kind of thing they are for. A counselor will be able to help you unravel, confront, and heal the emotional damage that this relationship has done to you.

      You have to let go of the idea that he’s going to feel bad about it or “know” how much he hurt you. He may already know but just not care. Closure, as a lot of people want it to happen, usually doesn’t happen in these kinds of situations. Or, if it does happen, it doesn’t come for years until the person is able to realize how toxic and damaging their behavior is. And then there are plenty of people who do not realize it. And then there are others who realize it and don’t give a shit.

      Point being, you do NOT want to make your emotional and mental well-being reliant on him in any way, including him realizing that what he did was wrong.

      People who behave in the way you’re describing usually don’t have loving relationships, in my experience. He may be projecting that through social media and his emails; but I can tell you right now that there is a hell of a lot of pain and misery hidden behind a lot of smiles and positive images out there. There really is no reason to think he’s going to be any better to her or anyone else until he acknowledges and actually works towards recovery.

      As for the “excuse” part. I often tell people that they need to learn to forgive, but not forget. Forgiveness is a release from anger. It’s being able to look at a situation, understand that it’s negative, destructive, or not get better, and letting it go. Does that mean you excuse the behavior? No. You don’t. You can look at the behavior as the actions of a damaged person, but there is absolutely no reason you have to let him back into your life. Again, it comes down to not hinging your well-being on his actions. You have to love yourself first, and that means not tolerating abusive behavior from someone who claims to love or care about you. Words are ultimately meaningless compared to actions.

      Could Bipolar Disorder have been responsible for everything you’re describing? Sure can. That and far worse. But you have the choice on how you let that come back into your life. Don’t. Visit a counselor, work to come to terms with what happened, the damage the relationship has done to you, and letting it go. Don’t let it back into your life. Don’t tolerate being treated that way again. And explore why you didn’t walk away the first time. There may be some deeper issue with that or it may have just been a mistake. But if it’s a deeper issue, it’s something you’ll want to confront and work to overcome so this kind of thing never happens to you again.

  96. Sadie says:

    Dennis, thank you so very much for this article. I fell in love with a person with bipolar six months ago. It has been an extremely confusing and hurtful experience and for the first time, through your eloquent descriptions, I understand what went on in his mind and why he was “in” one minute and “out” the next (repeat cycle, repeat cycle). I grew up under a narcissistic father who I loved very much despite his shortfallings, and I guess I know well how to see the person under the wounds. I often wondered whether this guy I fell for was also narcissistic due to his hot and cold behaviour and the cruel and contemptuous way he treated me at times. But we also had so many deep, raw and honest discussions with each other and deep down I could never believe he was acting from a malicious point of view. Many in our mutual friends circle believe him to be a player or a bit of a lost cause, but I always knew there was more going on. He did confide to me he believed he was bipolar, but it was early on and he was so “perfect” at the time I couldn’t see it or understand how that could possibly be true.
    We have taken space from one another after another manic episode where he treated me terribly for a few weeks, culminating in him jetting off spur of the moment to meet another woman. I told him I wasn’t upset or angry and I wanted him to do whatever made him happy, but I needed the chance to disengage from my feelings for him. I sent him away with lots of love and light and said hopefully we could rebuild in a platonic sense when the time was right. I de-friended him on social media and have avoided him at all costs since. That was 7 weeks ago.
    My issue is I feel so sick and sad that he is going through this alone. Nobody deserves to go through such a scary thing on their own. I also know I have to look after myself and there is a fine line between being a compassionate being and sacrificing my self respect. Sometimes it felt like the more I supported him, the more he hated me. But I know he is hurting that I am gone.
    I have seen all aspects of this man, and I genuinely believe him to be a wonderful and hurting soul underneath the disease. How do I support him? Or should I just leave it. It’s hard to know if my presence makes it better or worse for him. I know he must hate himself for hurting me. I’m also mindful of not wanting him to slip back into my mind so often. I’m cautious of my co-dependent streak due to my history with my dad.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Sadie. First, let me start by saying that is great that you were able to draw that boundary with what you commented about your dad and codependent streak. That’s a really hard thing for people to do. You have to keep yourself emotionally well and healthy; and that being able to draw that boundary is an excellent thing for you.

      I understand that you feel bad about him going through what he is and the fallout of everything that transpired. Assuming he comes back into your life at some point or you feel you are healed enough to have a platonic relationship; the best thing you can do is to encourage him to talk to a professional about his mood swings and life. Any support that you can render as a friend is never going to be enough for him to meaningfully push back against whatever mental health issues he may or may not have. The best chance he has for success is to explore what’s going on with a knowledgeable professional.

      That will also take a great deal of weight off of your own shoulders in trying to render whatever support you may want to offer in the future.

      For now, focus more on healing your own wounds and recovering from the relationship. Many of us need to walk our path alone, experience the loss and devastation that comes with mental unwellness, before we can realize that we need to change and do something about it. It’s unfortunate and it is sad; but that’s usually the way I’ve seen it work.

      • Sadie says:

        Thanks Dennis. I appreciate your insight. I agree with everything you say. It’s just a shame that professional support is not affordable to many. He is in his 30s but struggles to maintain regular employment, or manage his money when he does. The level of therapy he requires costs a lot of money, which I know he doesn’t have. I can see him drowning under trying to manage it all. The problem is, the amount of drama and bad energy he creates amongst women when he’s manic means he is constantly feeling terrible about himself and constantly putting out fires.
        I resist the urge to call him everyday. I felt quite de-humanised to him in the end. I guess it’s that thing you say where they just don’t care. That really hurts, even if I know this is a disease and I guess he can’t help it.
        From my end, it’s hard to heal when you’re fighting a battle to need this special connection, this thing that meant so much to you, validated. Any women who gets close to him ends up an absolute emotional wreck. I don’t want that for myself and I am proud of myself for not contacting him. It’s been so hard. But I still wish he could show some remorse for how cruel he was to me. I guess my chances of getting an apology are slim to none, right?! Have to keep 🙂 I know the time for friendship will be when I feel complete indifference toward him. That could take years.

        • Dennis says:

          I wouldn’t expect an apology, no. It may be years or decades before he is able to really understand the way his unwellness has affected the people around him enough to want to acknowledge it. And even then, quite a few people don’t acknowledge it even though they know it. So no, you don’t want to expect it or rely on him to reach a mental place where it would happen because it might not ever occur.

          I really don’t have much to add on the rest of your reply. That’s pretty much reality with a serious mental illness.

          I’m honestly not sure what to tell you about the “fighting a battle to need this special connection” point. I think that if it is negatively impacting you to the point where it is threatening your well-being, you may want to consider a few sessions with a therapist to help work it out and put it to rest. That may be helpful given codependence. It sounds like you’re doing a really great job at managing your actions relating to it, but the extra bit of emotional support from someone with a clinical knowledge of mental illness may help make the road a bit easier.

  97. Mark says:

    Hello Dennis,
    I come back to your blog on regular basis ….it’s very informative and helpful. It’s been 7months since my wife went manic (not diagnosed, most likely type2 rapid cycle), she is still living with her new love, still very unstable and a different person. She continues to take antidepressant (Fluoxetine) and anxiety medication, also she drinks more than usual. Just wondering what kind of impact it can have on the length of her episode.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Mark. I’m glad you find my work informative and helpful.

      There really isn’t a clear answer I can give you on that. Alcohol really doesn’t play any kind of positive role at all. Combining heavy drinking and psych meds is a bad mixture that can result in severe instability due to the reaction. Whatever that reaction is going to be isn’t going to be good. It’s very easy for a person to not be in an actual dominant unwell cycle; but to just be incredibly unstable and volatile. There’s really no definitive answer I can give that wouldn’t just be a pure guess. I’m sorry I can’t give you a better idea.

  98. Mark says:

    Thank you Dennis..I am trying to educate myself as much as I can.
    …learnt hard way that there is no logic to this disease, and impulse is everything

  99. Lala says:

    Hi Dennis. My story will be pretty much the same as many others. I have found some solace in reading your blog and other people’s stories. I am sad for all the heartbreak but happy to not be alone.

    My story:

    I had been dating my boyfriend for about 8 months. He is bipolar but takes meds and is in therapy. We have had minor arguments but nothing drastic and we always worked things out. He would have mood swings at times and I would walk on eggshells as to not upset him. Overall, though, he was sweet, caring and affectionate. He talked to me several times daily and told me he loved me. Everything seemed fine until 5 days ago. I missed a call from him and then he texted he would call me back later. I responded okay. He never called back so I texted him. No response. I called him and no answer. This is unusual behavior for him. I called and texted a couple more times through the night. I finally got a text from him the next morning saying he loves me but can’t be with me anymore. He needs to close this chapter of his life. Goodbye. It was so sudden and unexpected. The day before, he was attentive and telling me he loves me.

    I am so lost and hurt. What happened? He won’t talk to me now, calls, texts or emails. I know I need to back off but I am just so hurt right now. I am ashamed at the pathetic attempts I am making to hear from him but I just feel desperate. I asked if we could be friends. No response. I get absolutely nothing. From what I have read on your blog, his love for me was just an illusion. Mine, however, was real. Sad part is, his felt real also. I checked his Facebook page today and his posts seem happy and normal. I was just a passing fancy that was easily thrown out like yesterday’s trash.

    We had so many wonderful times. We shared so many interests and passions. It felt like we were soul mates. I just can’t believe he up and cut me off and out of his life like this. I just want to wake up from this nightmare.

    I miss him so much. My phone and world is eerily silent now.

    Thank you for listening.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Lala. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I have some questions. What would you say his overall demeanor was? Was he moving extremely fast for the relationship? When you say walking on eggshells; was it avoiding anger and outbursts or was it avoiding depressive downswings as well? How well do you know him? How long do you know him? Because if he’s on meds and going to the doc as well, he may just be generally unstable as opposed to manic. Which, if that’s the case, the downswing may be temporary.

      However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should involve yourself romantically again with him. I would certainly wait until he’s achieved a much higher degree of stability. You don’t want to spend your time walking on eggshells and trying to gently tiptoe your way through emotional instability. That will take a very drastic toll on your own mental and emotional health; particularly if you go through all of that and it does turn out his love was mania.

      • Lala says:

        Hi Dennis. It has been a while since I have checked back. Thank you for your response. I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

        I met him online in Feb 2016. We talked for about a month via email, text, phone calls before meeting in person. When we finally met in March, it felt “right.” He told me he loved me after spending the day together. I knew it was too soon to say, but I felt I loved him too. For the next 8 months, up until October 2016, we were practically inseparable. We dated, texted and spoke all day, every day. He love bombed me in the beginning and although it tapered off some, he was consistently affectionate and attentive throughout our relationship. We did not live together.

        The walking on eggshells was mostly to avoid an argument. He wasn’t extremely angry nor was he physically violent but there would be times he was irritable and would take things I say out of context. I was careful about things I said or felt.

        His demeanor was pretty level. There would be times he was quiet, tired, happy, frustrated, etc but we got along well and I felt he genuinely loved and cared for me.

        It has been almost three months since he broke things off. Less than a week after he broke up with me, he was already “in a relationship” with someone new and seemed happy and in love. According to Facebook that is. He was obviously talking to her before we broke up.

        I had no contact until I broke it after Thanksgiving. I miss him greatly and told him I know he has someone else but didn’t understand how he can just suddenly cut me out of his life and act as of I never existed. I told him I never stopped loving him. Maybe wrong to do but I don’t know.

        Surprisingly, he got back to me. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, though. He never mentioned his new love but only that he can’t be with me. He could never act as if I don’t exist but just has to move on. He feels guilty for past indiscretions and needs to work it out in his head. I feel he has made me the enemy for his past actions and this is the reason we can’t be together. It hurts. He has since blocked me on his phone again. He hasn’t blocked me from Facebook, but I don’t check it because it hurts too much. I don’t think I will ever truly understand his reasoning for leaving me.

        This has gutted me. One day he loved me intensely, the next he can’t be with me anymore and he already had someone new. My love doesn’t work that way. I can’t turn it off like a switch and the thought of dating someone else right now turns my stomach.

        I feel I met him when he was manic but he stayed with me when he cycled down. I am not sure, though. Only being together 8 months, I don’t know if I had a chance to see a pattern or his cycles. It was not a break up make up relationship.

        I am in therapy now trying to deal with this and my own issues I have had way before him. I have read where many try to get back in touch and a part of me wishes he would, but I don’t know. What if his new love is “the one?” No one has ever just shut me out like he has and it has shattered what little self-esteem and worth I had left.

        I will stop rambling now. Thank you, again, for your insight and advice. Take care.

        • Dennis says:

          Hello, Lala.

          It’s important that you don’t spend time lurking on his social media. People can create a very false impression of themselves through it. It’s easy to fake like everything is going great, a person is happy, and doing well through a few staged photos and carefully chosen words that ignore reality. You’re absolutely right to stay away from it.

          It’s impossible to know exactly what was going on in his mind, but the timeline you’re describing and him moving on is certainly consistent with someone having a manic cycle and then sliding out of it. It’s not that the emotions created during a Bipolar unwell cycle flip on and off; it’s that the mental illness creates fictional emotions that do not actually exist outside of the mental illness. You’re right, your emotions and love doesn’t work that way. They aren’t supposed to work that way in anyone, really. But when you have a severe mental illness, that kind of thing can happen, depending on what mental illness it is.

          Personally, I don’t believe in “the One”. I think it’s an overly romanticized idea. There are 7 billion people in the world. What are the chances that any of us would ever meet our “one”? Pretty slim, really. However, I do think that we all have multiple highly compatible people who fit in very unique ways. I’ve felt very deep, soulful loves for a couple of different women in the course of my life. They were drastically different from one another, yet filled in different parts of who I was.

          The absolute best thing you can do to find happiness in both life and relationships is to right your own ship first. Work on those underlying issues that you know you have. Take a couple years off of relationships and give yourself time to heal and grow. You do not want to hinge your view of self and happiness on the actions of another person, because that is a great deal of power and control to hand another person over your well-being. You can be better, and if your thoughts get too dark, do reach out to an appropriate crisis service if you crash low. http://www.crisistextline.org is good, if you don’t want to actually call someone.

          Keep working with your therapist and things can get better. It’s not an overnight process though. It will take time. And honestly, if I were in your position, even if he did reach back out, I wouldn’t involve myself with him again until I felt comfortable and happier with myself. I took about three years off of relationships after I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, mostly because I was tired of hurting the people that cared about me. But, relationships and the emotions that go along with them add another layer of difficulty on top of everything else you are dealing with. Keeping that load light will make things much easier for you as you work on yourself.

          • Lala says:

            Thank you for the link. I will definitely use it if I start to feel helpless.

            I know you aren’t a mind reader, Dennis, but do you think there is a possibility he will reach out to me? Even if it is not in a romantic way? At this point, I know I need to focus on me but it hurts so much that he felt so strongly the need to shut me out. Is that a common feeling and does it change?

            I feel like I must be the most horrible person on earth to have to be avoided at all costs by him when all I did was love him and treat him the best I could.

          • Dennis says:

            I don’t want to say either way, if he will or won’t. Honestly, it’s just a coin toss. People make those kinds of decisions for numerous reasons that, as you pointed, would require an ability to read minds. So, I don’t know.

            But, here’s the thing. If his emotions for you were a delusional production of an unwell cycle, they would utterly disappear when the cycle ended. This is not something a typical, healthy mind does. It’s something that a mental illness that can produce delusional feelings does. So, a person with Bipolar Disorder can go from not knowing or caring about you, meet you, escalate into an unwell cycle where the mania constructs all of the vibrant emotions of love, and then when the unwell cycle ends, crash right back into the position of not knowing or not caring.

            I cannot stress this enough: what happened with him and in his mind sounds like it has absolutely nothing to do with you. What you’ve described is the same kind of thing that many other posters in this thread are talking about. It’s not your fault. Technically, it’s not really his fault either. Those delusional thoughts and feelings FEEL absolutely real in our mind, and we act on them if we don’t know any better. And then when the cycle ends, it strips it all away because it was an illusion to begin with.

            You are not a horrible person. You did nothing to deserve what happened to you. It’s absolutely not fair that he just up and walked away; but unfortunately, some people just do that without any care for the people they are damaging with their actions.

            I’m not much for the hippy vibe; but I truly believe that healthy love is something given and received without expectations. Attaching expectation to it creates a lot of unnecessary chaos and pain for people. You feel like a horrible person because you offered love and good treatment to him but now he wants nothing to do with you; so that tells me it wasn’t for you. Fuck ’em. Sooner or later you will cross paths with someone that will return your love and kindness in the same way that you offer it, that won’t turn away. But to get to that point, you have to be able to let go of the things that aren’t meant for you. So many people waste years of their lives trying to force things things that can’t and shouldn’t work. Why waste your time and love on someone that doesn’t want to freely give it to you? That’s not something you want to waste your precious time on when there are people out there who will.

            Keep working on yourself, Lala. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the right partner will bring you happiness. They won’t. Happiness is something that comes from within; and I say that as someone who has warred with severe Bipolar-Depression and suicide attempts over the past 20+ years.

            You are not a horrible person, this just wasn’t meant for you in a romantic way. Maybe it was the catalyst that you needed to start to improve your own mental health and perspective of yourself? Life is funny like that sometimes.

  100. Heather says:

    I’m so happy to see this is a thing, that I’m not just crazy. I always fall super hard for people and manic and chaotic couldn’t explain it better I’m borderline obsessive just infatuated with the person. Then it stops and I hate the person I have no idea why then I get depressed and I figure it’s because I am all of a sudden disgusted by some one I love I can’t look at them anymore and right down to the way they eat or talk or even breathe is disgusting to me even if it was cute before.. I feel ill and up dying alone because of this but at least I know I’m not just crazy or the only person.

  101. Chris says:

    Dennis thank you so much for your insight and allowing others to post their stories on here. So many going through so much pain and grief because of mental illness most of us don’t understand. My story is very similar and it was a 3.5 year relationship with a very smart guy. I think he thought he could outsmart his illness so he didn’t think he needed medication. Well you can image how that turned out.
    Everything was always abrupt with him. Either in or out. No in between. He had a very narcissistic personality and claimed to have many personalities which now I believe to be true. We often joked about the happy, smart, angry, drunk person he was at the time. Now not so funny.
    I’m sure I met him in a manic phase as he would wine and dine me. Money was no issue. We lived about 2 hours apart but that was not an issue with him either. Things went really fast. After about 10 months we were moving in together. Man oh man big mistake. Like they say you never know anyone until you live with them. He started drinking a lot. Had so many trust issues. I was like WTH happened to the man I fell in love with…
    Long story short I tried for 2 more years and BAM! it all came to a close this July. He just up and left. No warning, just gone. Left everything behind. He did text me a few times thanking me for a great 4 years and blah blah blah but I am still left with a lot of hate in my heart. I know I should forgive him but my anger just wants to punch him in the face lol… Of course I would never do that. I see on FB that he is happy once again, not sure if he’s medicated but never seemed to want to follow dr’s orders when he was with me. Anyways I guess your blog just lets me know I am not alone. Thanks for such insight on mental illness. I probably won’t fully ever understand it but I do appreciate the information you put out. Again Thanks!!!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Chris. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Situations like that are always difficult to navigate. It’s reasonable to angry and frustrated about a situation that unfolds like that. Break ups are always difficult, even in somewhat amicable circumstances. Give yourself some time to heal and work on it. And don’t be surprised if he messages you out of the blue some day. Just remember how he chose to end things this time if he swings back the other way, talking about how things will be different and so on.

      Personally, I’d delete him from social media as well. Social media allows a person to craft a particular image about themselves. It’s easy to “appear” happy and doing well on social media, even if a person’s life is falling to pieces. So, you don’t want to put too much stock into what you see there. And if it is something that will keep that wound open, there’s no reason you can’t remove him completely and create a more distinct separation.

      Thank you for the kind words about my work! I’m glad you found it helpful.

  102. Ember says:

    I’m so glad I found this blog. I am married and had met a man on Facebook who I started talking to. Of course, we clicked almost immediately. We met as friends and I told him that I’d never be anything more than a friend. That became us falling in love eventually. For seven months, things were perfect. We talked for hours, met every day for hours, and couldn’t get enough of each other. I didn’t realize he was manic depressive – I only knew he had PTSD and depression.

    After reading this, I can see the highs he was experiencing. He showered money on me, professed his love, and I couldn’t get enough of him and wanted a future together.

    Then a few weeks ago he started backing off. Said he was depressed and couldn’t talk to anyone. He’d get a little better and talk and even came to see me. There’s more to it than this but long story short, just this past week I saw him on a Friday. We had become business partners and he owed me more money which he was paying on a Tuesday.

    Suddenly he stopped talking at all. Made up a lie about having cancer and then stopped all communication. Removed me from Facebook and will not answer the phone or texts. I’m fairly certain he hasn’t blocked me from his phone but I’ve stopped trying.

    My heart is broken in two. I realize now that he’s sick but reading about how he may not have ever loved me is heart wrenching – how it was just his mania. I know I’ll one day be able to move on but for now, it’s so hard. All I want to do is cry and of course, he left me unable to pay my bills too. I know he takes antidepressants but he never admitted to being manic depressive because when we first went out I made a comment about knowing a close friend with it and how difficult it was and I never wanted to do that again. I think he knew then and kept it from me.

    I thought I had found true love and now that love turns out to be simply a symptom of an illness – I’m devastated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ember. It’s really unfortunate to hear about your situation. That’s pretty much what I described in the above post.

      One thing I would point out though, it may be very possible that he doesn’t know he has Bipolar Disorder, if he does (speculating, not a doctor, not my place to say). It takes an average of about 8 years to be correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder AFTER being involved with the mental health system because it’s so easy to confuse with other things; like symptoms from PTSD, anxiety disorders, and so on. So he may, or may not.

      Either way, it’s definitely not a reason to accept the way he’s treated you. But knowing what you know now, were I in your shoes, I would most definitely look to break away from any business or financial matters with him so you can minimize the amount of damage his actions will do to your life.

      I hope things smooth out for you soon.

  103. AnonT8301 says:

    Hi Dennis.

    Thank you for the good work ….

    I’m in a relationship with a man that has bipolar but not diagnosed for almost 2 years …we currently staying together .. He is the most loving man .treats me like a queen, but I try not to upset him in all cost . He is a great man when he is ok .we were planning on our wedding for next year ..we went to a friend wedding and I was a bridesmaid and on our way back I was discussing with him that for the second part of the wedding next weekend is better I get a lift from a friend than for the two of us to drive because it will be very costly ..and he was not so happy about it ..and I told him it’s ok we can both go if he really wanted to go . I honestly thought he wouldn’t have much interested because it was just sending off the bride to the husband’ family and not much happens there ..he then agreed and gave me money for the trip to go with a friend .. Two weeks later he started acting strange ..moody and all …and I asked him what’s wrong he told me he is ok … And on monday of that week he left for business for a week . I was not calling him because he I know he ignores my calls when he is moody or angry ….he came back on Friday of that week n slept in another room and I slept alone ..i did not ask him and the following day he moved back and started being ok …the same week he changed again n got worse and told me he can’t stay with me I need to move out and he wants to sell his house and all …he cannot afford his house because of debts and I assist with the household stuff and paying for some bills …he cancelled our wedding plans which he was so happy about and all …im @ my friends place for a week now and haven’t called and he has not either …i want to help him but I’m scared I will be trapped in this kind of a situation for a long period and what if he will keep on telling me to move out …he wants did this in june and I packed and left ..now he does it again ..i love him and he loves me I know …95% of the time we so happy and 5% is hell …I’m not in pain to tell the truth because I can see he is not ok …he sometimes looks @ me like he is dead ..his eyes will be wide opened and not blinking .. And he will get angry @ me for singing while bathing when he is depressed saying I must leave ..because I think he is enjoying and he is not … Sorry for writing so long ..

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Please note that I have changed your display name since it was so unique, and I’m not sure if it was your real name or not. But you wouldn’t want this post coming up if someone decides to Google your name.

      The kind of behavior you’re describing is pretty consistent with emotional and mental instability. Is your guy taking medication or doing anything to try and control his mental illness?

      It’s probably for the best that the wedding is called off for the moment. It’s hard telling if or when the situation will improve. There’s really nothing you can do to help him, except encourage him to talk to his doctor about what he is going through, assuming he’s actually seeing one at the moment.

      A lot of abusive relationships do work out in that 95% good times 5% horrible times way. Unfortunately, the 95% doesn’t prevent the emotional and mental damage that the destructive 5% causes. Frankly, it’s hard telling if or when things will get and stay better. If he is Bipolar, this is something he will be dealing with for the rest of his life; which means if you marry him it is very likely that you may be dealing with it for that long as well.

      Love cannot be the basis of your decision. Bipolar Disorder will destroy and distort love as easily as anything else. If he is not willing to work with his doctor or try to help get himself better, then you’re going to need to think very hard about whether to stay in the relationship or not.

      Your English is very good but I can tell it’s a second language for you. If you are confused by my reply, please let me know and I will try to say it a different way for you.

      • AnonT8301 says:

        Hi ..Denis ..
        Thank you very much .

        He is not aware of his illness ..I’m also not sure if it is bipolar or some other mental illness ,but all I know is he is not ok mentally because of how he gets excited and depressed . How do I tell him to go to the Doctor without hurting his feelings? When will he want to talk to me again? Should I give up on him ?

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome.

          The way I generally approach suggesting someone go to the doctor is asking if they think their moods are causing any problems for them. If they say yes, suggest they go to a doctor about it. If they say no, gently remind them of some of the more difficult swings and suggest that it’s not necessarily a healthy thing to see if they can recognize that it’s not healthy. The key is to get the person to understand that the way they are experiencing emotions and acting on them isn’t necessarily healthy. Once they realize that, then suggest they talk to their doctor about it. It’s impossible to know whether or not his feelings will be hurt. Everyone is different.

          I have no idea when he will want to talk to you again. That’s not a question anyone can answer.

          Should you give up on him? That’s not something I can decide for you. I can tell you, at minimum, that I most definitely would not marry or have kids with him until he works on addressing the way he is treating you. A lot of people simply don’t change. You have to decide how far you are willing to go for that because this is a battle he could be fighting for the rest of his life. Were I in your shoes? I would try to get him to see that he might have a problem, and if that fails, consider letting the relationship go. The damage that that kind of toxic, destructive behavior will do to you can be severe on your mental and emotional health.

          • AnonT8301 says:

            Thank you very much ..today he is much better and he suggested to go to the doctor..if he doesn’t I will leave him …

  104. AnonT8301 says:

    Hi …
    I have moved out …i have found out that he is cheating …he lied about being out of the country while he was around… I think he has a new girlfriend hence he told me to move out … And when I was ready to drive out he blocked the drive way … I had to wait for hours for him to move his car so I can go ..it hurts so much ..

    • Dennis says:

      That’s unfortunate to hear, but at least it came to light before you ended up marrying him. Just be sure to remember this if he comes back around in a few months, talking about how he’s had a change of heart. I’ve talked to several women who have unfortunately been sweet-talked back into that kind of situation.

  105. Erin Dawn says:

    Hi Dennis. I really love your insight. I am a woman who has been sober/clean for 8 years but was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 about three years ago. I met my fiance when i was on a depressive crash and yet we managed to make it through that. We have had a very difficult three years but we love each other very much. I have a hypomanic episode every 6 months (usually due to stress). I am on medication. My question is, can a relationship make it when one person is bipolar and the other isn’t? And when do you know if your meds need to be tweaked. I have been on the same lowest dosage of each (Lamictal and Cymbalta) for two years. I am scared of the side effects if the doctor increases it. I am slightly over weight (no other health problems) and have little sex drive. We work as a team though. He knows the signs of mania and i always let him know if i don’t feel right. Its just that with all the letters im reading on here im scared that we will never have a chance. When im hypomanic i make lists, plans, events, that of course never amount to anything. When im depressed I cry and sleep. I have never cheated on him but i have said some hurtful things during fights. I am scared that he should be with a normal girl. Ive said that to him and he just shakes his head. I’d love some insight.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Erin. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you’ve found my work insightful! Let me start by saying, congratulations on 8 years of sobriety!

      To answer your question, yes, a Bipolar person and a not mentally ill person can have a relationship. The challenges they will experience are going to be different than typical relationships. It’s really easy to sit here and read all of these stories and come to the conclusion that only bad things can happen, but it is important to remember that the people who tend to seek out insight and end up posting are doing so because they’re experiencing difficult circumstances. So it’s a very skewed perspective, one that is heavily weighted towards the difficulties of mental illness. Take it with a grain of salt.

      Psych medication is supposed to reel in and control the mental illness. You shouldn’t be flat and emotionless, but you also shouldn’t be having unwell cycles if the medication is correct. I haven’t had a serious hypomanic cycle in probably 6 years now? That’s due to self-management and medication.

      The fact that you’re on the lowest dosages for two years is problematic. First, many medications are started out at an introductory level to give your body time to get acclimated to them. Then, they are slowly stepped up until they are in a therapeutic range. If you’ve been on the minimum this whole time, they likely haven’t been doing anything productive for you. Side effects are something we all have to deal, unfortunately. If the side effects are too much to bear, then that is something to discuss with your doctor to try a different medication. There isn’t going to be a perfect harmony, unfortunately.

      Next, the fear and concern that you have that he should be with a “normal girl” is a pretty common one. The thing you need to bear in mind is that he is an adult with his own brain, he can decide what he wants to be apart of and what not. From the tone and expression of your post, it sounds like you’ve been trying as hard as you can, as meaningfully as you can. You’ve been sober for a long time, you accept you have a mental illness, you are compliant with meds, you are TRYING and that is huge. Because a lot of people don’t try. A lot of people just let themselves get sucked under, chewed up, and spit out without any concern for the people around them. So, you keep trying and keep fighting. Keep working on yourself and trying to make your relationship a good one, and let him worry about who he wants to be with.

      Cutting back on sugar and caffeine can definitely be a good thing, but if you’re talking about the kind of pressured thoughts and nastiness that can come with being escalated, then it likely has more to do with the fact that your medication doesn’t sound like it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. If it were, you wouldn’t be escalating or crashing into depression still.

      And finally…we’re all broken in different ways, Erin. But that’s okay because you’ve been working hard to put yourself back together. That is a very admirable thing and you should take some pride in that. You’ll never be perfect, neither will I, neither will anyone else; and that’s okay. The important thing is to keep pushing until you can get your mental illness under control and be able to enjoy life without the imminent threat of unwellness looming over your head. With that done, the breaks don’t seem quite as severe.

      • Erin Dawn says:

        Your response brought me tears of joy. Over the past 3 years, we have tried different medications but to be dead honest with you, i never had a psych. I have a dad who is an OBGYN and he has always refilled my meds. I know…bad.. I was on Wellbutrin but it gave me SEVERE anxiety. Lamictal has been a constant for a while. I was on Prozac but when i was hospitalized for depression 3 years ago, they took me off of it, diagnosed me with Bipolar and sent me on my way with an RX for lamictal and wellbutrin. Over the past three years I have had probably a manic episode every 3 months. This year we managed to drop it to every six months. Its debilitating and scary. I’ve lost jobs, friends, my family doesn’t know what to make of me. Its lonely. My fiance has stood by me and knows when to bring my hypomania to my attention but to be honest, I don’t want to continue living like this. I will make an appointment with a psych ASAP. You don’t know how many books i have read on managing moods through diet and how many diets i have been on watching my weight go up and down. But its hard to exercise when you dont know how you are going to feel that day. I did the work to stay sober and I’m willing to do everything i can to get well. The depression is so bad when it happens. It starts with being mean and irritable and then culminates in bitter and debilitating sadness and regret.

        • Dennis says:

          Yeah, you NEED a psych. What your dad has been doing is foolish and unethical at best. The body is a super-complicated machine and the brain is it’s own super-complicated machine. I’ve met a lot of people in similar situations where general practitioners caused a lot of damage because their scope of knowledge didn’t cover the intricacies of mental illness. So yes, definitely find a psych. Going into things with a psych, you might as well start from the ground floor again, because who knows if your dad’s knowledge was actually appropriate for what was going on. For example, you put a person with Bipolar Disorder on an antidepressant without a mood stabilizer, a lot of times it will rocket them into instability. The wellbutrin may not have been causing anxiety, but rather an amplified and different version of mania. I was put on wellbutrin before I was properly diagnosed and was just a seething fury of rage for a couple months because of it.

          Those books on managing moods are written for people who have fairly normal or not all that bad moodiness. They aren’t really meant for people with severe mental illnesses, which Bipolar Disorder. Now, diet absolutely does play a role in helping maintain or monitor moods. But a mental illness is an outlier, it’s far more severe than just being moody, as you well know! They’re helpful, but in past 4+ years I have yet to meet a single person with moderate to severe Bipolar Disorder who controlled their swings through holistic means or pure self-management. I’ve met many people who THINK they do, but it’s pretty apparent just in the way they talk and act that it’s not under control. Given the severity you’re describing, you’re probably not going to be able to avoid medication. Definitely do the other things, they will help, but they aren’t going to totally control it. At least, I have yet to see any meaningful evidence or see any real successes in doing so.

          One of the biggest things you can do when you start swinging into depression is to force yourself to do something else. The more you think about it and dwell on it, the worst it gets. So, when I find myself swinging, I will sit down and watch stand up comedy or start reading on history, finance, and economics to force my brain onto that new track. The depression can still hit, but it’s usually not as severe.

  106. Erin Dawn says:

    I also want to add that to help with my mania/depression I have managed to stay away from sugar for 7 weeks but im wondering if i should also get rid of caffeine. I am so lost. I fear that the real me is that nasty hyper chatterbox and that I am broken.

  107. Erin Dawn says:

    for the past 3 years (since the day of my diagnosis) I researched and kept notebooks detailing the different things i had found. I researched foods, went gluten free-lol, changed my caffeine intake, warned people, made a list of triggers, but it seemed like a losing battle. My mother had never seen me in that later stage (the one where things get REALLY bad). She saw depression and the early stage of hypomania (the ones where everyone thinks you are so energetic, friendly, and ‘have really got it all together’). And then over the past month three things happened 1. we moved. 2. I started a new job and 3. We moved in with my mom who is an active alcoholic. At first i had all of this energy to get the move done. I was organized, had laser sharp focus, and outgoing. Then as the month wore on my energy turned into annoyance and I started to chronicle that I was snippy and voices were like nails on a chalkboard. I knew something was bad. I alerted my fiance immediately. But i couldn’t do anything to stop it…I even went online and typed in “ways to stop a hypomanic crash”. I braced myself but it started to just come and it was bad. I ended up screaming (and swearing) at my mom and she kicked us out of the house. So….now im filled with sadness and regret and sheepishly apologizing and taking full responsibility. I am about to pick up my 8 year medallion on Wednesday and I don’t want to continue my life in fear…Thank you for giving me hope. It was dead before I found this blog…

    • Dennis says:

      I can relate to a lot of what you said here, particularly in regards to your mother. My parents have never really seen me severely unstable before either. It was a huge shock to them to find out some of the things I’ve lived through, put myself through, and put others through. But, in large part, that’s why I started writing, why I created this blog, why I started speaking out about my experiences. I don’t want to see people like us get lost in hopelessness.

      Moving, marriage, and career changes are the three biggest stressors most people will experience in their lives. So, when you’re around those things, you should automatically assume you will escalate and try to head it off. Much like I mentioned in a previous reply, the more you dwell the worse it tends to get. If you’re able to identify when you’re escalating or focusing on something that will escalate you, distract yourself to pull yourself off that thought process with something else as much as you can. You may still escalate, but a lot of times you can reduce the severity that way.

      And for future reference, I have never found a way to stop a hypomanic crash or see any evidence that it’s possible. The brain just hits the wall at some point and we have to deal with the fallout. For me, that means isolating myself from other people and either sleeping or doing something simple for a couple of days. I tend to avoid as much human contact as possible because I’ll tear into people as well.

      It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have regrets. Make your apologies, do what you can to make it up to your mother and repair that bridge as much as you can. And be proud of the fact that you’re picking up your 8 year medallion. Very awesome!

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I’ve done my best to pack my blog and all of my work with practical information that people can use to find the right path. I’m glad I was able to provide you some hope in your dark place. Keep pushing forward. You can do it. I believe in you.

  108. Erin Dawn says:

    Thank you Dennis. You just helped me save my life.

  109. Erin Dawn says:

    Dennis,
    Anger doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel right now. Offhandedly I noticed the label was peeling off on my Cymbalta bottle. I looked at it closer and saw that i had been taking (for the past month) 60mg of cymbalta instead of the 30mg ive been taking for two years! The pharmacy had put a 30mg label on it but the pills were 60mgs. I am such an idiot! I knew something was wrong. I was getting more tired during the day time and HIGHLY irritated. The pharmacy closed a week ago so I have no recourse. But, man i feel so angry and helpless right now. I guess i will take the bottle to my new pharmacy and see what i can do….:(

    • Dennis says:

      That’s really unfortunate. I would very much encourage you to start looking for a psych to take over your prescription writing though. If the pharmacy is now closed, they probably pulled some under-handed crap to get rid of their stock. I’m actually not sure if there would be any real recourse for you with such a situation. That really sucks that that happened to you though.

  110. Erin Dawn says:

    has anything like this ever happened to you?

    • Dennis says:

      Good to hear on the appointment. And no, I can’t say that it ever has. I can also say that not a lot surprises me anymore either, though.

  111. Erin Dawn says:

    I made an appointment with the psych for December 1.

  112. Confused Girlfriend says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Firstly, thank you so much for writing such an insightful post. I have been dating my boyfriend (I guess ex) for about a year and he definitely had his ups and downs. He had come from a really abusive relationship, and when we started dating, he was always so thankful for how calm and collected I was. He is bi-polar, and non-medicated, but told me he had lived with this his whole life, and was able to understand his own cycle (“I’m feeling depression coming on” “I’m just really manic”). I did feel like the relationship went fast, but I always kept my cool and would try to keep things from going too quickly.

    Recently, he had a traumatic life event happen and he spiraled into a deep depression (and his ex/abuser came back into his life), and he jumped around from “you’re the love of my life, I love you so much” to “I can’t handle this stress and can’t be with you anymore”. He went on to delete me from everything (common trend) and disconnect from me completely. He even told me he felt guilty about leaving this ex, though they were abusive, because she was also mentally ill, but he did not want to be with her.

    We finally did talk, and he was very firm on his decision to stay apart, but told me his is miserable and everything reminds me of him, that he still loves me but knows he can’t do this to me. We have broken up in the past, usually for a day or two, and then we have a good conversation and are able to work through the core issue he is feeling. He even told me if he ever breaks up with me, for me to hold on and fight for it, because it is what he does when he is stressed and pushes away.

    I agreed to it, and we broke up a month ago. I have been emailing him reminding him I care for him, and with some community resources that might be of assistance. He rarely responds, and if he does, his messages are very cryptic and telling me to forget him, but then in others, giving me some indicator he wants me to fight. He told me this is the lowest low of his life. He’s not an impulsive guy, even when we met, had a home with a mortgage, pets and a job. Very responsible.

    I am struggling, because he has cut me out, and I’ve stopped emailing him. Do I just give up? Part of me thinks I should because I can’t have people abandoning me my whole life, but another piece is that I do want to support him to finding resources and leading a great life. He seemed very self aware of his condition until this point.

    I’d love any insight. Do you think I’ll hear from him again? Patterns tell me so, but I am trying to close the book on this.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello. I’m glad you found my post insightful.

      Were I in your situation, this is what I would do.

      I would stop reaching out to him and just let it go. I do not believe that “fighting to keep someone” in a person’s life is ever a healthy or good thing, because it creates a power dynamic that should not exist in a healthy relationship. The person who wants to be chased has a tool of leverage over their partner at any time. “Well, if I just leave, I know they will chase and fight to keep me in their life.” That’s not something that anyone should want or need in a relationship, and very likely ties into deeper problems that may not be identified or addressed. Now, as I understand it, he’s asked this of you as a means to help get through his unwell cycles. I feel that is unfair to you and is avoidance of responsibility on his part. It may not be anything malicious, but if he is that familiar with his mental illness to create strategy against it, then he should also have some idea of what he needs to do to actually recover.

      Furthermore, if he is fresh out of an abusive relationship, it’s really not the best time to try and get reinvolved in another relationship. They can and will do a great deal of damage that needs to be healed and worked through. So, it may also be that he underestimated his preparedness in getting involved in another relationship.

      With that in mind, I would let the situation go. Don’t think of it as “giving up,” because it’s really not. It’s identifying a battle that you are not equipped to fight, and will not win. And why won’t you win it? Because he’s the one who has to accept his mental illness and what is necessary to actually control and live well with it. Given the instability you’re describing and the fact that this kind of thing has been going on for over a year, that’s probably going to mean medication.

      If I were you, the next time he emails or reaches out to me, I would say something like, “I really care about you but it really doesn’t seem like we’re in a good position to have a relationship right now. You’ve said this is a low point in your life and it seems like you’re having a really hard time with Bipolar Disorder. I think it would be really helpful if you talked about your past relationship and mental illness with a therapist, and talk to your doctor about what you can do to better control Bipolar Disorder.”

      And just kind of hold firm to that. Don’t tell him he needs medication. Don’t tell him you don’t want to be with him because he’s unstable. Both points could trigger unwell reactions or play on fears that many of us have about medication and the mental health industry. Let the professionals deal with that angle because they deal with it a lot.

      The important thing to remember is: he’ll only get better if he puts in the work to get better. Given the kind of instability you’re describing, that is going to involve mental health professionals and probably medication. Self-awareness is helpful, but it doesn’t give you firm control over Bipolar Disorder. So, even if he comes back around without visiting any professionals and seems to be fine, sooner or later he won’t be fine again, because Bipolar Disorder is for life.

      By all means, help him find resources if you feel that’s okay with you, be a friend if you can be a friend. But understand that this is not your battle to fight nor your responsibility.

  113. Rebecca says:

    Thank you SO much for this article; it made me gasp, then cry because it describes me almost to a T, except I really do still care for the people when I’m depressed – I’m just no longer “madly in love” with them. I no longer see a future with them. I just went to my first pdoc after years of conventional psychotherapy. I was diagnosed in one session (too quick?) as Bipolar II. I can’t even begin to tell you how much your article resonated with me; I always thought I suffered from a combo of anxiety/depression/fear of intimacy, with the occasional thrill seeking/romance addiction/alcohol abuse (which doesn’t always end up well) as an escape. My pattern is so persistent, I actually go into “relationships” as an extended friends with benefits thing, warning the other person that I will hurt them eventually if they fall for me, and I am NOT looking for a relationship; just some fun, current shared experiences/adventures. I let them know I can seem like the most awesome, easygoing, spontaneous dynamic person in the world, will seem to seek a relationship but am not, and will crash out at some point, isolate, and push them away permanently. I tell them please be warned, it’s happened time and time again, and yet when I’m in this hypomanic phase, it’s almost impossible to fight the relationship escalating. I’m screaming in my head “don’t do it don’t do it, you know it will be months of hell for you both when you crash.” But the euphoria hits. They never pull back (why? WHY?) I think they think they’ll be the one to “change” me because they think maybe I just didn’t meet the right person yet – them. They know I make them feel amazing, and I can’t *really* be all those things I said. (I can, and I am). I feel horrible. One day, after months of thousands of texts and occasional visits depending on distance (I try to keep distance in some way), all my emotions for the person just….change. Permanently. There is usually some incident that twists it, like I realize they don’t want to be employed and I don’t want a future of supporting them; fine for them but not consistent with my life’s goals, or we are just too different, etc. Things that are important to me, but I ignored while I was manic and only reassured them they were okay and I didn’t care and they were awesome. At the time, I didn’t. I don’t care about these things when I’m manic, but when I crash out, I end up caring very much and (unfairly) resenting them for it. Manic me doesn’t see the real life obstacles, and some may not believe it, but I *do* care for the person and do NOT intend to play with their heart/cause them hurt, which I end up doing. I know it hurts like hell from their end, and I realize I’m a miserable coward about making a clean break. I become more distant, I get less talkative, hope they drift, but they don’t – they get more needy. They want manic me back, the girl who made them feel perfect and special. “You’re unlike any girl I’ve ever met” is something I hear often. I get endlessly stressed about feeling like I’m supposed to behave like the manic they fell for, but I don’t feel that way anymore, and sadly, my “romantic” emotions toward them vanish and never return. My friendship ones remain, but that’s unfair. No one likes the “let’s be friends” speech after a whirlwind of a few months (or longer). I just want to be alone. If I hit another manic phase, it’s for something new (doesn’t have to be a person, it can be some sudden obsessional interest in something else). I hate that I’m like this, and I recognize my behaviors can be cowardly and self-serving. Yet somehow, when the hypomania hits, I think..this could be the one. Oh my god, this could be it! We could have a life together. This could work, we’ll start a farm and live off chicken eggs and move to France and it will be bliss! (Kidding; I don’t want to live on a farm, but that’s the type of thinking that’s involved.) I know it’s not realistic even as I’m thinking it, but part of me feels “life is short!” “go for it!” “we can figure it out”. Mania is deceptive. Then the mania ends, and I see all the reasons it can’t work. The reasons I don’t want it to. Who they really are. Who I really am. And here I am. Feeling worthless, needing complete isolation, and leaving another person confused as to what happened.

    When I go into a depressive state, the anxiety of continued contact with the other person is nothing less than dread and guilt. I wake up thinking, oh god…I need to text this person and I don’t want to. I’m a bad person. F***. It happened again. It’s not fair to them my emotions just swapped. I’m ashamed. Then I start getting annoyed and they just have to deal that I don’t have “time” anymore to text all day. I mean, I’m working! And, aren’t they sick of it too? Sometimes I get angry…why are they so stuck on me? Why don’t they just get their own lives and not rely on me for happiness? Argh. Because my actions spoke differently than my “warning”. Horrible, vicious cycle. I spend more time fretting about the guilt and the lessened contact than I spend confronting it, I cowardly hope they slow fade me at the same rate, but they don’t, and we eventually have to go through the month long agonizing back and forth in my depressive phase that it’s not working for me (why is it always working for them? I’m so obviously a damn trainwreck who could/should be treating them better?) I don’t want them to wait for me and hope we can work it out. I want one person to stand up and say, “this is not what I want; I think it’s best we part.” (I wish I was the person brave enough to do that…my feelings are mixed because I do remember how I felt for them during the mania, and I guess there still is something there, just not something with a future). In trying to spare us both that big shocking sting, I cause longer pain. I go into the “it’s not you; it’s me” talk, putting myself down, telling them I’m screwed up, they’re awesome, I drive myself into the ground trying to raise them up, take all the blame (sometimes it feels like the breakup is for very legit reasons of incompatibility, but I’m still not handling it the way they deserve!) They end up still trying to get me back, hoping I change my mind, telling me I’m actually amazing (ouch – not true), but I know they’re heartbroken and think I don’t care, wonder what did they did wrong, feel worthless, and I feel shame and deep depression and descend back into my hole of solitude/non-communication and feel horrible every day I haven’t written to check on them and further assure them they are wonderful and I really do still care – but I know that will just open a can of worms. I’m to the point where I’ve cut almost everyone out of my life – friends, lovers – because I either feel trapped after the relationship euphoria wears off, or know even during the manic time, my feelings will change/disappear and I will hurt them. Seeing all the letters from your readers makes my heart hurt for them. Knowing some of my quasi-bf’s felt like that, like there was a chance to get “loving gf” back, that they were sticking around in the hopes I’d change and come back and be that person they fell for again…ugh. Without fail, they will try to reach out again every few months. Maybe I’m just attracted to a certain yin to my yang of crazy.

    Sorry, too-long rant over. Thanks for giving me the space to type all of this. My pdoc put me on depakote for the past month, blood levels are in therapeutic range, but as I was depressed and not manic when I went in, I’ve felt no positive changes except to feel more agitation and anxiety and guilt. I was hoping to feel more “balanced”, but I don’t. From your experience, is 4 weeks too short to judge at this point, or should I know if the meds are working by now and the depakote isn’t my thing? I have another pdoc appt this week and will discuss, just curious as to your experience. And…thanks again.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Rebecca. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad to hear this resonated well with you!

      I think the reason so many people who cling onto a Bipolar person is due to the romanticized notion we see pushed in society. “It will be beautiful and magical! Your soul-mate will be like no one else!” And for someone who isn’t familiar with mania or has the rose-colored glasses on at the start of a relationship, it certainly does seem beautiful and unlike anything else they’ve experienced. Mania dials our mind up to a 15, doubts disappear, and everything can be interpreted as beautiful or magical on top of the intense sex and passion that goes along with it. Given the amount of shit that so many people go through with relationships, it’s a striking disparity.

      You mention that “your emotions change”. That’s not quite correct. You see, one of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder is delusion. While we are unwell, our brain can just create fictional emotions out of nothing. So it’s not that your emotions are changing exactly. It’s that when you crash out of the escalated cycle, all of those delusional emotions that the mental illness created disappear along with the unwell cycle. They weren’t your real emotions to begin with, they were a figment created by Bipolar Disorder.

      And for what it’s worth, I understand why you would feel ashamed, but it’s not like you chose to have this happen to you. It’s not your fault. It’s the fault of Bipolar Disorder. And given that you were undiagnosed until recently, then it’s something you’re going to need to reconcile in your mind so you can accept it as part of the illness and move forward. Of course, I don’t expect that to wipe away the years of pain and trouble that’s caused you, just pointing it out so you’re aware of it. I would suggest that it is something you address with a therapist, to deal with whatever self-esteem hits those cycles of destruction have caused, as well as learning healthier relationship habits so when you are well and balanced, you’ll be in a better position to identify healthy circumstances and navigate them more effectively.

      You also commented about asking if one day was too fast for appropriate diagnosis: I was diagnosed in one session as well. The LCSW I saw had been working with people with Bipolar Disorder for over 20 years. He said it just kind of stood out to him. I’m not a professional of any sort, but I’ve interacted and integrated with enough mentally ill people to see the stark differences as well, once I’ve spent some time actually interacting with them. Many mental illnesses look similar, it’s when you understand the details that you can really see how starkly different they are in functionality. Really, everything you’ve described in your post is consistent with Type 2 Bipolar cycling.

      You’ll want to bring up your balance issues with your doctor. You want to try and describe what you’re feeling more in-depth than “agitation, anxiety, and guilt.” Those few words can mean different things to different people. The better you can articulate what you’re experiencing, the more likely it is the doctor can get you pointed into the proper direction. If you still don’t feel balanced, then the dosage may not be correct, particularly if it’s only been four weeks. The way I handled medicating is looking for the benefits to make sure they are, making sure I don’t have unmanageable side effects, and just stepping up through the dosages until we’ve hit the max. That is a VERY general approach I took. Details matter. Conversation with your doc matters. But, just because a med is in a therapeutic range doesn’t necessarily mean it’s at the right dosage for YOU SPECIFICALLY yet. As a generic example: 500 mg may work for Person A, but you may require 800 mg to feel the same effects. Your body and brain chemistry are unique to you, so it’s all a matter of trial and error until you find something that both works and has manageable side effects.

      And a suggestion for you. I know personally, I took about three years off of relationships after I was diagnosed to get my mental illness under control and actually figure out who I was. You may want to consider a similarly cool period for yourself to get your meds right, learn your mental illness inside out, and develop better relationship habits. If you’ve been going through this cycle with quasi-bfs for a long time, it is safe to assume it’s probably skewed what your perception of healthy relationships and habits are. Therapy would be a good place to explore it. You might also just want to get a bunch of books on relationships and start reading.

      I can tell you this much though. Love is not like the white hot lust and bombardment of beautiful feelings that comes from mania. It is far, far more muted and generally reasonable. Take your time in all relationships. Things like, “I want to just be friends for at least 3-6 months before moving forward than that.” Holding off on “I love you’s” for a set period of time. And definitely do NOT make any severely life changing decisions, like moving in with or marrying someone until you’ve been with them for a couple years. Slow and steady is the best approach.

      Where mania and lust are like bonfires, mature love tends to look more like a small campfire with smoldering embers. That is not to say that it is small or without passion, just that it is FAR different and much more muted than the unhinged nature of just lust or mania.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to ask here or toss me an email at yourbipolarfriend@gmail.com

  114. EJ says:

    I’ve been madly in love with my GF since the first day I met her. She moved in about three months ago and all hell broke loose. She quit her great job on the 2nd day living with me. I was so broke taking care of both of us that I got her a job at my work. She caused so many problems within the first few days, I was so embarassed. She just wasn’t herself. We’ve had arguments over nothing and she’s hit me twice. She’s yelled that she’s afraid of me and hates me. Nothing I couldn’t get over.

    Fast forward to last week, she just really started to hate me for no reason. Then on Friday she went in the bedroom to “call her brother” and she called 911 and told them I was crazy and had a knife. She never used my name on 911 or told them what I “attempted to do”. The police came and after questioning ended up throwing her out. When she left the house she walked backwards and covered her face. She yelled and cussed at the police the entire time.

    The entire night she called everyone in her phone claiming I abused her for 6 years and that i’ve abused all my ex’s and everyone i come in contact with. She called my employees at work too. She posted the lies all over Facebook, just randomly posted on people’s pictures.

    The next morning she showed up at work screaming the accusations to everyone and throwing things (they hid me before she arrived). She had to be removed once again. The following day she got on an airplane and flew from California to South Carolina, where her friend immediately took her to the hospital and they’ve been holding her ever since. They can’t get her home because everyone is afraid of her.

    The sad thing is, I just want to help her. Out of the blue she tried to ruin my whole life, and all i want to do is fix it. Am I fucked up? Will she remember what she did? Will she believe the lies she told?

    Any help to put my mind at ease would be appreciated. I can’t stop worrying about her.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, EJ. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I think it’s human nature to want to help someone you care about, who you can clearly see is suffering. People, society, tend to scream about vengeance and revenge; but what does it actually accomplish? Nothing really. Are you fucked up? I don’t think so. It sounds like you’re a sympathetic human with empathy. Will she remember what she did? Hard telling. And even if she does, she may not care about what she did or be too mentally ill to really comprehend it. That’s the more likely scenario, really. Will she believe the lies she told? Well, that’s a gray area. Because several serious mental illnesses can cause totally fictional memories that seem as real as though it actually happened. Then you run into philosophical territory. Is it lying if the person believes that what they are claiming is absolutely true?

      In that scenario, where the mental illness has created a fictional reality in a person’s mind that they are now making decisions based off of, you can’t assume that the person thinks they are lying. Just as an example off of your description here, if she had genuinely believed that you had a knife and were going to harm her, she could have went into another room to retrieve a weapon to defend herself, and may have if you had walked into the room with her.

      But, on the other hand, maybe she was fully aware she was being manipulative. It’s really hard to say without actually knowing her and her behaviors.

      So no, I don’t think you’re fucked up for being sympathetic. I would remind and caution you to remember: you cannot help her. That type of thing is something where she can only help herself with the assistance of trained professionals. And a lot of people don’t get help. So keep that in mind if you get a phone call, apologies, or sweet talk about how things will be better or different, if she tries to come back into your life.

      If you’re in the United States, I would also suggest that you do a credit freeze with the three main bureaus and check your credit report every couple of months for the next year or so, in case she decided to steal personal information or tries to open accounts in your name. On the one hand, the behavior you’re describing is fairly unhinged. On the other hand, quitting her job the day after she moves in with you says manipulation to me. Best to plan for a worst case scenario.

      • EJ says:

        Thank you so much for the response. I can’t stop asking questions in my own head about this.

        Just found out this morning that since running away to South Carolina she has yet to be released by the hospital. I was informed she had two options. 1. Being sent to the mental institution in Georgia (where she may never be released). 2. Her family retrieves her, brings her back to California and seeks help for her here.

        I don’t know of any drug use other than Marijuana. As mentioned above, she was very erratic since moving in. I’ve known her for 6 years. How does something like this just snap to where all of a sudden she’s lost her mind? Could she have taken a drug that fried her brain and caused her to go permanently ill? Manic episodes don’t last 7 days do they?

        • Dennis says:

          Well, EJ, it’s mental illness. It could have just gotten worse in her mind until she finally reached a breaking point. Most mental illnesses get worse with age when they are left untreated, and sometimes when they are treated. Could a drug have fried her brain? Eh, maybe? i mean, it’s possible but so is just having a psychotic break because the person’s mental health deteriorates. There doesn’t necessarily need to be an outside cause.

          As for manic cycles, they can last upwards of months. I don’t know if anyone that has had a consistent one for longer than a year, but I do know tons of people who have bounced down and then immediately back up into a new cycle. Bipolar Disorder is a lot slower than people think it is.

          It’s really unfortunate she finds herself in this position. Sounds like it’s going to be a very difficult time for her ahead, no matter what happens.

          And if you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll answer what I’m able to.

          You’re welcome on the response.

          • EJ says:

            I know it’s only been 10 days since the episode began, but she’s since added that i’ve raped her for years. Will she ever remember that I’m not a monster? Will she ever remember how much I cared and loved her? I’m struggling really bad that this disease has taken my love from me. I don’t know what to do.

          • Dennis says:

            EJ, what you’re facing now is an incredibly difficult, painful reality of serious mental illness. The best way to handle these kinds of situations is to just focus on getting through the next day, one step at a time. If that feels impossible, focus on the next few hours, or hour, or minutes. Whatever it takes. You must maintain focus on minimizing the amount of damage that can be done to your life. At this point, if she is claiming you’ve raped or abused her, it may be prudent to consult with a family law attorney about the situation, so you can get advice on how to protect your innocence, because who knows how far that line of thinking could potentially go.

            Will she ever remember that you’re not a monster? Well, the other consideration is if she knows that she’s lying and doing it out of maliciousness. It’s not out of the realm of possibility either.

            Will she ever remember how much I cared and loved her? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a question that no one can answer.

            The best thing you can do right now is work to survive, minimize the damage that is being done to your life, and do your best not to dwell on it. I realize that probably sounds impossible. But, the more you dwell on it, the deeper and more difficult it gets. You may want to consider visiting a counselor or look into local mental health support groups where you can be around other people who have dealt with similar. If there are no Friends and Family groups in the area, most mental illness related support groups do welcome Friends and Family. NAMI’s groups are usually pretty solid.

            I, unfortunately, don’t have any words that will erase that kind of pain from that loss. I wish I did. All I can tell you is to take one day at a time. Keep surviving the day, and you’ll get through it, one way or the other.

  115. Ashley says:

    All I can say is thank you Dennis! This article has done so much for me as well as the comments.

    My ex-boyfriend of 9 years broke things off again with me in October. We lived together for two years, have been back together for 5 years. In 2011 he had a manic episode. I believe it was brought on because of my unhappiness with dealing with someone who is so up and down. I reached out to friends and sometimes men and it would drive him mad. I am not perfect and I was young 21 and he was 22 at the time. He broke things off in may of that year and the weirdness began. Packing all his belongings in his car, going to meet the President, driving through every EZ pass lane without a pass. Quit his job, acting so strange on social media. His family ended up sectioning him, he spent a week institutionalized and when he got out resorted right back to full blown mania. We were not together but every once in a while he would contact, be so angry with me sometimes than other times would tell me he loved me. It was a mind fuck. Believing he could bang his then sprained ankle against a rock over and over and saying he feels no pain. I honesty had no idea what was going on, I don’t think he did either. The bills and expenses that ensued. Somehow we ended up back together, when he became so depressed and ashamed of his actions. For 5 or so years we both rebuilded his life. It took some time but he got a job, he was stable. I read up on bipolar and believe he certainly is bipolar. My beliefs became weary after 5 years of nothing major happening. He is not on Meds and has rationalized every action of 2011 to it being a “situational mental breakdown”.

    Fast forward to October/2016 I start to notice him acting strange. I am now in my last year of nursing school, ironically in Psych Nursing and I’m convinced he is hypomanic. Going to the gym for 5 hours at a time, buying a Halloween costume. (He hates holidays, very introverted, a realist). Acting very much out of the norm for him. I call him out on it, and kick him out saying I need a break. Between Nursing School and being in this situation with him I’m suprised I didn’t explode. He left went to his moms didn’t contact me, I contacted him a week later and asked if we could talk. We did and it was clear that me kicking him out made his hypomania worse. He was contacting old friends, calling out of work. A week later he takes me to dinner doesn’t order and tells me he doesn’t love me, doesn’t want to get married and doesn’t want kids. No emotion in his face, as I cry into my plate. He told me he would come to pack his stuff the next day while I was at work. In rage I went home and packed all of his stuff and put it into bags. Next day they were gone.

    Two months go by, I’m miserable, contemplating life and quitting school. He finally contacts me the day before my final. We were intimitate and for weeks through the holidays continue to talk, be intimate etc. He is back in his depressive state and very unstable. He lost his job, and is moving in with his brother who in my opinion is bipolar as well. My parents, my friends and myself at this point are sick of what he’s doing to me. I think the pressure of not having a job, getting back together, friends and family just stating he needs help. He admitted he would go speak to someone and maybe be put on meds last week, he admitted finally that something was off. He slept at our old place, cooked dinner and was being what I thought back to his normal self. I love the “normal” him. I can deal with the depression because it seems as though he is more in touch with reality in that state. This past Monday he came into my work and gave me the last of the money he owed me. (everything was joint and I didn’t let him get away with it all). He ultimately left me with an apartment, during my hardest year of school, I needed him the most. I was very upset he didn’t call me for the New Year and pretty much just washed his hands of me AGAIN. When for the past two weeks I was trying to help him with job searches and health insurance. I called him and it was clear something is up. I got called a cunt, and was told he never wanted to be with me. He feels sorry for me because I’m in love with him and that he loves me but he’s not in love with me. I told him to no longer contact me when he feels low and depressed anymore and he stated he probably would because he’s pathetic and I’ll probably answer because I’m more pathetic. I stopped replying after that. Have had no contact in a week. I believe he may be Rapid Cycling? At this point I don’t know what to believe. I feel abandoned, I feel ashamed, I feel everything and he feels fine and it makes me fucking sick. I don’t understand how he could be stable for 5 years and then boom hypomania. I believe it was because he wanted to propose (had a ring on layaway) and the pressure of life became to real. What should I do? This is 8 years of being with someone. SOS.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ashley. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Think of mental illness in the context of having a cold. Sometimes, you might have a minor cold that just gives you some sniffles and a little bit of blah, but overall it’s pretty easy to get through. Other times, you can get nailed hard by it. Mental illness is the exact same way. Bipolar Disorder is a category of Bipolar illnesses. Some are more severe than others. Some people have long bouts of relative stability, other people can rapid cycle on an hourly basis if they are exceptionally unstable.

      So, could a person go five years without an unwell cycle? That would be strange. What’s more likely is that he was simply having unwell cycles that were so mild that they didn’t necessarily impair his functionality in a serious way. It’s really easy for someone who is unfamiliar with a mental illness to brush off instability as a person having a bad day/week/month/whatever or just being an angry person. It’s also really easy to just grow accustomed to a person’s moods without necessarily noticing anything is wrong. It just gets chalked up as relationship drama. So, if he does have Bipolar Disorder, it’s completely possible that he just wasn’t unstable enough to really identify that was going on. The extreme behavior is what stands out most so that’s what tends to get the most attention.

      It’s generally a bad idea to try and convince someone that they have a specific mental illness. I don’t know what psych nurse training is like, so I’m not sure how much knowledge you’ve built on that yet. Most mental illnesses can have overlapping symptoms that are hard to tell apart unless you really dig into the details of a person’s life. It’s very common for people to confuse Borderline Personality Disorder with Bipolar Disorder, just because both can feature some extreme emotions. But once you dive into their functionality and the details of the illnesses, they are completely different.

      So, if you’re tired of being on this rollercoaster, that is absolutely, totally fine. You need to do what’s best for YOUR emotional and mental health FIRST. Always. Always, always, always. Because a lot of mental illnesses are for life and if you don’t take care of yourself and pace yourself with them, they will chew you up and spit you out, too. If you do interact with him again, focus on encouraging him to get in and talk to the doctor about what he’s been experiencing and dealing with so they can diagnose him and get him treated.

      Understand that pursuing wellness is fucking hard and tedious. There’s a lot of tedious work, waiting, and effort that needs to be put into it. Oftentimes, counseling is necessary to help the person address whatever negative behaviors have been created as a result of their mental illness. So, even in a best case scenario, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to take months or years before he really recovers. And even after that point, there can still be serious problems that crop up if he decides he doesn’t want to take meds, has bad reactions to the meds, or a plethora of other problems that can interfere in the process.

      You mention in your post that you do still love him, so, this is what I would do if I were in your situation.

      The next time I crossed paths with him, I would inform him that I need a break of at least six months. Six months is enough time to see if he will actually go to the doctor and try meds. If he’s going to do it, that should give him enough time to do it and at least see if he is starting the process. Don’t do the make up/break up thing anymore. I would just say, we both have shit we need to handle on our own right now, and it’s best if we just take a break and see where we are both at when the six month mark rolls around. At that point, you can reassess the situation, have time to see what your feelings are after 8 years of dealing with this, take care of nursing school, and give him time to work on himself.

      It is very possible for him to get his problems under control, get back to the person he is with the correct medication and/or building better life habits. But it all requires work. And it’s not something you or anyone else can do for him. It’s only something he can do for himself.

      • Ashley says:

        Thank you! That is some great advice. As of right now he is stating that he doesn’t want to be with me and no longer “in love”. I do believe this is due to his mental illness. Do I think he’ll contact again? Maybe. Do I plan on contacting him? No. I do feel very disrespected/confused. Honestly at this point I don’t know what happens next. I do however think that telling him I’m sick of this back and forth and talking in 6 months would be really great and perhaps enlightening. It’s easy to take these nursin assessments and read about what you should do in a situation like this one. It’s a lot harder when you are so emotionally invested (and drained) might I add to do the right thing. I did take a calming approach last week and I believe he was understanding. Only for his mood to completely switch and blame everything on me. I thank you so much for your time and your article, it makes me feel not so alone.

        • Dennis says: