Bipolar Relationships, Fact, and Rationality

There is a tremendous challenge for Bipolars and their loved ones to identify unwell thinking. After awhile, it’s pretty easy to separate unwell thinking once you understand what you are looking for. Today, I’m going to share with you how I identify unwell thinking in myself and others. The approach I use relies on two simple points- fact and rationality. It is extremely difficult for folks to look past all of the emotion and turmoil to identify these two things. I’m not suggesting it is easy to remain rational when a loved one tells you they hate you out of the blue one day and they’ve decided to leave. It is a necessary skill to develop if one wants to function and survive a relationship with a Bipolar person.

What makes fact and rationality so powerful? Fact doesn’t care how you feel about it. It’s not subject to interpretation at the core. We humans tend to look at a fact and apply our own beliefs to it as we interpret it. Nowhere is this more apparent than the news. You can watch five different news broadcasts about the same story and wind up with five different approaches on it. Why? The caster is looking at the facts, interpreting them, and relating what they feel makes the story important to the viewer. The end result is a different recollection of each event. At the core of those recollection is one event that happened in a very specific way- the fact of the matter.

Bipolar Disorder is similar in that the illness warps what we are perceiving and twists it into our own reality. That reality is typically pretty far removed from the actual facts of the situation. So when a Bipolar person comes at you with something wildly different than the factual normal- you know something is awry in their mind. Let’s look at an example.

*John and Mary have had a mostly loving, healthy relationship for four years. Mary is Bipolar. John proposes and Mary accepts. A week later; she doesn’t want to marry John, tells him she hates him, and gives him the ring back. John is understandably hurt and upset. It is possible Mary’s actions are rational if she had not been sharing her genuine feelings all along. Assuming she has been, then they are completely irrational. It is not rational or normal to 180 from “I love you” to “I hate you” in the span of a week. What facts can we look at? An engagement is a pretty big step in a person’s life- it is reasonable to think it could act as a Bipolar trigger. Next, John should look at the week between the day of the engagement and the day of the break. What all occurred? How was Mary acting during that time frame? Was she her “normal” or was she demonstrating the symptoms that indicate a manic cycle?

You’ll note that during this process, feelings are not relevant. John is undoubtedly going to be hurt and confused. If you want to hack your way through the tornado of emotions that Bipolars typically have, one cannot get too wrapped up in their own emotional state at that point in time. I’m not suggesting it be ignored entirely. But if John wants to attempt to preserve his relationship he’s going to need to set his own feelings aside until Mary rebalances. Then the two of them can tackle his emotional turmoil.

Now there are a couple of different ways I use this approach to get into the person’s train of thought.

*If the person knows they are Bipolar and understands their mental illness…

I will relate the facts of the situation to them and ask them if they think this is a healthy thought process or one driven by the Disorder. “Mary, you know you’re Bipolar and your mind can take unhealthy directions. Are your feelings something that have been going on for awhile? Or are they fresh and relatively recent? You got engaged a week ago; is there any reason why you would not have agreed to marry John a month ago before that circumstance? If this newly found hatred is fresh…do you think it could be the result of an unwell cycle kicked off by the excitement of the situation?”

*If the person doesn’t necessarily know they are Bipolar or understand what’s going on in their head…

I will focus on facts and rationality. “So you hate John now? Why?” Assuming there is no rational reason, “That doesn’t seem rational to me. You were ready to marry him a week ago and now you hate him? Why do you think you had such a drastic change of heart in a matter of only a week? Perhaps you should take some time to think about the situation and find the root of the problem before breaking things off for good?”

Facts and rationality. If the two do not align, then there is likely an unwell thought process there. Now, for the folks that have a Bipolar in their lives who understands their Disorder, it is a much easier process. Talk to the person ahead of time and ask them if they will be okay with you asking them to look at their own thoughts and feelings to see if they are getting unbalanced when you suspect they may be.

I know I’m Bipolar. I know I’m periodically nuts. And I know that I don’t always pick up on it immediately even though I’m vigilant in trying to detect it. If someone I know and trust says “Hey Dennis, I think you’re getting unwell”, I will stop and look at my own thought processes and recent actions to see if I am or not.

Even though Bipolar Disorder causes one to make seemingly irrational choices, there is rationality in how unwell cycles develop and the Disorder functions.

The goal is to get the person to identify whether or not they are unwell. If they can, then you can take the next step of asking them not to make major decisions until they are rebalanced. If Mary still wants to break off the engagement, it can surely wait another month or so to give her time to rebalance and figure out her real feelings. Chances are pretty good that she will go back to being in love once her mind levels back off. That period of warped thinking is what destroys relationships, loses jobs, squanders savings, and all the other pleasant bullshit that goes along with being Bipolar.

The well party in the relationship can minimize their own pain and hurt by really learning their loved one’s Disorder and their symptoms. If my partner was Bipolar and she decides to bake until 3 in the morning for no reason other than “she wants to”; I’m pretty sure she’s either in or starting an escalated cycle. It’s not rational to stay up all night baking without a reason for it. So I would point that out to her and not to take her actions or words personally until I’m sure she had either rebalanced or ruled it out.

Rationality and fact are two principles that can be applied to anyone’s situation. You can use them to hack your way through the confusion that the Disorder sows in your life; whether you are a supporter or you’re Bipolar yourself.


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24 Responses to Bipolar Relationships, Fact, and Rationality

  1. Marianne says:

    Hello again, Dennis

    Thanks for these past couple posts, it’s always helpful to come here and read you. I have been in a relationship with a Bipolar for over a year now and though it has definitely gotten better with time, it still can be pretty overwhelming. The roller coaster and ocean navigation analogies are overused by now, but it’s what it is, really. After a while you know the calm is only temporary, you know shit is just around the corner, but when it happens it still gets you. You just think you’re prepared. I guess things turn when you’re both comfortable in the relationship, it’s all good and cozy and nice and then, boom. Without any preambles, sometimes he’s just gone. He doesn’t disappear completely these days, and he sends signs that he loves and cares. He goes quiet and cold and then when I am left hurt and confused (I usually go quiet as well) he starts coming back slowly. Rinse and repeat.
    My bf’s behavior is like self-harm in a way. If he cannot allow himself to feel comfortable and happy. There are so many other ways in which he self-sabotages, it’s sad to witness. By now I know (well, I think I do) he will be well and in love again if I remain open and understanding. It’s like I am constantly being tested as well – “how much can you take until you leave me like all the others?” (ok, he never really said that, but that’s what it is). “I’m no good” (that he has said. Constantly.)
    So for now I know I want to be with him. No, I’m not signing any joint contracts πŸ™‚ and I am taking it exceedingly easy. I definitely have a better understanding of his personality by now and the realities of mental illness, and I have learned a lot about myself as well being in this relationship. Thanks for listening! Keep up the good work.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey Marianne. You’re very welcome! I would like to point something out that I see in what you related to me. That sounds like a very typical depressive cycle. Withdrawing, trying to still be there but not really succeeding, thinking that he’s no good.

      When he gets like that and he starts talking himself down; just tell him “That’s the depression talking. We can talk about it when your mind lifts some more if you feel the need.”

      You don’t need to get sucked into the idea of thinking that you need to try and lift him out of it. Like those overused points are trying to demonstrate; it’s a cycle. If he’s not suicidal or self-harming or anything; there’s nothing wrong with just sort of distancing yourself from any conversation related to his depressed mind-state.

      That may also help with your feeling “tested” because I doubt it’s something he’s doing on purpose. And it’s not that he cannot let himself be comfortable and happy; when depression sinks in, your brain starts telling you “You don’t deserve this”. That’s why you want to get him off of those thought processes as much as possible.

      You should encourage him to see a doctor though. It sounds like he is severe enough that he should have some sort of medical contribution towards getting well for sure.

    • Wendy says:

      This helps me to remember it’s not really me. That I am not the only one going the emotional roller coaster. I believe my man is definitely bipolar. He’s never said it out loud but his biological mother is bipolar and he also over indulges in alcohol. Throughout our four year relationship he had gone from this incredibly doating loving boyfriend to Dr Jekel and Mr. Hyde. One minute he talks about he loves me and occasionally marriage then something triggers and he’s saying hateful mean things and telling me he doesn’t love me.Most when he’s had enough alcohol is when he turns. I ask about it the next day. And he says he wouldn’t still be here if he didn’t love me but then it happens all over again. He goes through long periods of time-months when he won’t touch me. Or show any affection. Just yesterday he told me and my son we were going on vacation to meet his family this Summer for the first time . He told my son to get ready to meet his son because he was probably going to marry me so that he would be his step brother. By later that evening after so many drinks he was telling me he wasn’t in love with me and how I was below his standards. He tends to become very gandiose.I get very hurt and I panic.It feels like being in love with a tornado. When sober he can be quite and cold but not as verbally abusive. And some days were ok. But he drinks heavily regularly it seems to trigger behavior that gets him sometimes out of reality and he starts twisting things and blaming me.for his unhappiness. Sometimes I feel like I’m I’m losing it.Especially trying to keep up with his demands for what his expectations of me are. Nothing I do is good enough. Yet I love this man so much and I am heartbroken because this craziness keeps cycling over and over. I get scared one day he will just leave and it’s hard to get comfortable in the relationship. Every time I feel like I am re-bonding with him he pushes me away again. Sometimes I feel like what the hell just happened? I really do believe he’s bipolar. But I always end up feeling shattered even if I try not to let his hurtful word get in my head.

      • Dennis says:

        Hello, Wendy. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Are you seeing or able to see a counselor? This really sounds like a situation where you should get some professional perspective on the situation. The kind of behavior you’re describing, the hot and cold, push and pull, can be attributed to a few different things that do not include Bipolar Disorder. It really is a situation where you should gain some professional perspective, especially before you do anything like get married. That’s an unhealthy dynamic you’re describing and it will have a negative affect on your long-term wellness and emotional stability.

  2. luna says:

    Thanks for being so honest. What is about sex and the bipolar person? Why dont they like to be touched? Why is it either no sex or they cant stop having it? My bf says its his medication and he also has low testesterone. He tells me its not me but I dont know if thats the truth or not. Id rather him be faithful and not have to deal with that guilt but I was looking forward to marriage and having sex and Im very attracted to him but wondering if thats it for him.

    • Wendy says:

      Same with my man.When we first got together the sex was amazing. (I had been celebate for 10 years ). Through out the four years we’ve been together he has cut off sex sometimes for months at a time. I feel so rejected. Then on his terms only it starts up again.I thought it was because he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. He say either it’s he’s too stressed or because we’re nit married yet ( he’s very spiritual ). But when he’s ready on. I can’t even put my arms around m or get a kiss most times.Sometimes I feel starving for affection. I would never cheat on him.But it’s become a very hurtful situation.

  3. gwen says:

    I am a mother of a now 19 year old daughter who was diag. at age 5 with ADHD, and Bipolar at age 8. Our life road has been a rocky one for sure (learning and trying new things) lots of arguments until I would learn something new. I always made sure to include with her that ultimately she controls herself and that the meds and theropy just help her to do so. She has (well we have) learned alot and I believe one of the most important things is how she can tell for herself if and when she is slipping into manic mode. She now is in a relationship with a young man who is 25 years old and Bipolar himself. He however has had no one to teach him about hisself and his condition. They fight almost on a daily basis over stupid stuff of course. I have had many conversations and talked them down many times and they both conclude in every situation that they love each other and want to be better. All of this is to ask you this question- is there a chance for happiness and a fulfilling life for them together and if so what would you recommend as a start in that direction. I know that if things keep going like this they will fail in this relationship.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello Gwen! I think their happiness will depend on his willingness to learn, understand the Disorder, and how it affects him specifically.

      Some people find this odd; but I actually prefer being with someone who has had similar struggles to mine. For me, it’s a matter of familiarity and greater understanding. I don’t have to try and explain to that person what’s going on in my head specifically; I can just say “I’m depressed at the moment” and not have to answer 3000 questions and assure them that it’s not their fault and so forth. On the other hand, it can also create chaos for both parties if one doesn’t understand their illnesses pretty well.

      I would sit down and do some research. See if you can find a book or two on Bipolar self-management and make it a gift. If he can afford it; Cognitive Therapy is a great way to learn about what goes on in his own mind and how to manage it effectively. I spent a year and a half in Cognitive Therapy and learned a lot that I still use on a regular basis. I’d also recommend showing your daughter the most recent post I put up about effective arguing with a Bipolar person to help keep things defused and stable.

      One thing you will want to watch out for- two people who are Bipolar in a relationship like that can wind up feeding each other’s instability. You mentioned meds though so that should be less of a problem for her- but I would still keep a wary eye on her moods and point out if she is getting unstable.

      I think two mentally ill people can thrive in a relationship together. It’s just more complicated because you have the regular relationship problems in addition to the mental health ones. If he’s serious about being with your daughter then he will hopefully jump into research and figuring himself out with gusto.

      You also didn’t mention how you actually felt about him or the situation either so I’ll just say this. Even if you don’t agree with the situation or necessarily like him- I feel it would still be worthwhile to drop the 20-30 bucks on a couple books for the sake of your daughter who probably isn’t going to arbitrarily change her mind. I recommend checking Amazon’s used books because you can get more expensive books (which these kind sometimes are) much cheaper.

      I’m not suggesting that you, personally, take on this additional responsibility. Just to be a facilitator of it. I’m sure you’ve had your fill of going through it with your daughter.

  4. Ruth says:

    Hi Dennis
    My mother periodically goes ‘mad’ and gets freaked-out angry with me. At the moment her anger explodes she wants to take back things she gave me, gives me a look of total hatred and won’t talk to me for days, or, like last time, wanted to kick me out of her house – I pay her rent to live there. I know what exactly triggers the angry outburst, and it’s usually crossed lines or we are both tired, or whatever, but it’s the reaction that is so extreme.
    I have had to deal with her rejection and hatred if I did something she didn’t like. Boy, has it been a tumultuous relationship. In fact, my brother won’t see or really speak to her anymore because of how she has behaved towards him in the past. I understand that she hurt him too many times.
    Does this sound like bipolar disorder to you? Do ‘normal’ people behave like that towards their own children?
    I believe she gets excited about something (she is an art teacher, a very talented artist, an intellectual and is now writing a book) and tires herself out, and then comes an explotion when something doesn’t go her way.
    I would love to hear your opinion.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ruth. I have no “opinion” to offer about what could possibly be wrong with your mother as I am not a professional.

      What I can tell you is- “quirky” behavior could be considered a potential symptom if it interferes with a person’s ability to conduct their life. The “hatred” for you when you two have a blow up and disconnection from your brother suggest that there may be something at work that should be explored with a knowledgeable professional.

      What I can suggest is waiting until she is fairly balanced and stable to bring up this discrepancies. You may also want to start looking to move into a place of your own or entering a roommate agreement with someone else. An extended amount of time around her is going to create many opportunities for her to decide to straight kick you out and possibly damage your relationship permanently like with your brother.

      The fact that your mother’s mentality does so drastically, negatively affect her personal relationships suggests she may problems that need addressed with a professional. If you’re going to, be wary of how you go about suggesting that to her otherwise she is liable to just be pissed off and close off completely about it. If she’s been living this way for years and years, then she probably doesn’t have the context to understand that there is anything wrong.

      I think the route I would take is to keep reading books and information and shit. And when I found something similar to what she experienced, I would just be like.. “you should read this” and set it in front of her. Let her read and see what it thought.

      I think I would also definitely be moved out by that point in time too. Because it could easily blow up in your face too and you may wind up in a similar situation to your brother as a result.

  5. pengirl says:

    hello,i wanna ask you a question.
    i loved some boy who was a year older than me, i expressed my feelings to him and after a while we started a relationship which was supposed to end to marriage
    he had bipolar disorder,but i didn’t know about his problem until the last day of our night,without any arguments,he told me about his disorder and asked me to break up!easily!he didn’t answer my phone call and when i asked him to come to meet,he refused.
    i got deeply upset ,but now i understand him and his moods by studying about bipolar.i figured out that he is not aware of some very important i wrote him those points and send him by e-mail.
    i should add that he had told me about an unsuccessful relationship with a girl in the university which he stopped because he didn’t like the girl any more.
    what do you think?does he hate me too?or he will feel my feelings and rekindle after reading the letter? i was right in sending the e-mail?
    i’m confused!:(

    • Dennis says:

      You know, it’s perfectly possible that his “love” and care for you was a delusion brought on by mental illness. It happens very regularly. I don’t think he hates you. I don’t have enough information to make that kind of call at all. If his feelings were a product of his mental illness, then they aren’t going to rekindle in the way you want. Doesn’t matter if you were right or not in sending the email. You already did it so it’s done.

      Were I in a similar position, I would just let it go and move on. If he’s not trying to include you or overcome with you, then it’s not a good indicator that his feelings were real.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Hi Dennis.
    First off, thank you! Thank you for your time and commitment to giving your own experience and knowledge to those onf us who are struggling with this disorder in our lives.
    I met my husband 20 years ago. I fell completely head over heels. He was outgoing, the life of the party, smart, talented and funny. Once in the relationship for 9 months or so, it became apparent that he was also “moody”. He would get very down from time to time. He would drink excessively and would seem to self-medicate with during his “down times” with street drugs and alcohol.
    Then he would seem to “come out of it”, and things would be fine. After a couple of years we married and then had a son. He stayed home and I worked as I made more money and had a stable job with benefits. He has always worked in blue collar jobs on a contract basis. He has never held a long term job.
    I started to notice a real pattern to his mood swings. I called it his “period”.
    Every six weeks or so, he became moody. First he’d be very overly loving and fun and gregarious, then, after a week or so, he’d just get sad or angry or both. He finally went to a Dr and was diagnosed bipolar 2. The doctor prescribed Lamictal. I clearly remember him handing Steve a prescription and saying, “welcome to your new life”. About 5 weeks later, we both could see and feel a difference. He still had the mood swings, but it was like the volume had been turned down. The moods were manageable. Our lives really did change.
    For some reason, a few years ago, my husband decided to get off the meds and quit cold turkey without telling anyone. Weeks later he started getting extremely angry and argumentative and I had no idea what was happening. I moved out for awhile with my son, who was 14 at the time. 4 months later we moved back home ( I was paying all bills for both residences and we were getting along better (probably because we were not living together). Anyway, he then came clean about going off all meds. He wanted to be drug free and not dependent on pills. He later accused me of having diagnosed him in the first place and said I coerced his doctor into the diagnosis as well as in to medicating him. He decided he was not Bipolar and never had been. It was just all a big dramatic story that I made up. Suddenly, he was miserable because of me and no pill in the world would change that. Our life has been a serious struggle since then. He did finally go back to a new family practitioner, who prescribed an initial dose of the Lamictal to get started back on. ( Not for bi-polar 2 disorder, but just as “happy pills”, according to him). She referred him to psychiatry, but there were no doctors in our new insurance plan taking new patients. I have since last my job and we are now on state funded medical insurance. He just went back to his original Doctor (thank God he accepts Medi-Cal) and he is now back on trac, starting out on an initial low dose and increasing it accordingly over time). He also accepts his diagnosis. However, he is still a raving mood-swinging unpredictable stick of dynamite. Life is Hell again and I am doing all I can to hold on until his meds and moods get stabilized. This could take a year. I don’t know if I have another year in me and am less tolerant of his verbal abuse now more than ever. I am not convinced that he will stick with it. I am 50, healthy, capable, and am at a time in my life where I just feel it is time for me. He is not able to support himself. He can start jobs, but never seems to finish them. He spends money faster than we can make it and he has no appreciation what-so-ever for me, my time, my mental health, or the toll this life is taking on me and our son. What can I do to make him see that he has got to stick with this treatment plan? Our son is now 16. Our home is in constant turmoil. He is either Superman with a billion fun ideas and fantasys about our future, or he is an angry resentful person with no cares or recognition or ownership of his behavior or his moods and how they affect our home and tranquility or lack there of. What can I do? If I leave, he will be homeless. I feel I can’t do that to my son’s father. I’m exhausted.
    Thanks in advance for your time and for the opportunity to vent to someone with personal knowledge of our struggles. Jennifer

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jennifer. Thank you for taking the time to read my work and comment.

      To cut to the heart of the matter.

      Even though your husband can’t control that he is Bipolar, he can control what he actually does about it and how he manages the fallout from his destructive swings. You can’t own his bad decisions; which are neglecting your feelings, the damage done to you by his swings, and quitting medication cold turkey. And if you’re reaching the end of your rope, then you are. This is a long, hard grind. You can’t own his poor choices.

      Were I in your situation, this is what I would do. Many people in relationships with an unstablish Bipolar person will have hard rules in place with severe consequences in place.

      1. You have to remain med and doctor compliant. If you do not, you cannot stay here.

      2. If you become abusive, you’re leaving. If you will not, I will notify authorities.

      If he hasn’t acted in good faith to try and take care of your feelings and curb the damage in the past however many years, you can’t expect him to start now. You set boundaries that will keep you and the rest of the family intact against his mental illness. And if he won’t work with you, won’t play ball, and refuses to; that’s his choice. NOT YOURS. If he refuses to address and manage his mental illness; that’s his choice. NOT YOURS.

      Also – if he’s not on disability – require him to start the application process. If he hasn’t been able to hold a job in years because he’s so unstable, he should be able to get help from social services to lighten the burden on your family, and cushion the blow to him if he refuses to comply.

      You may want to suggest going to a relationship therapist/counselor to talk about the situation and the establishment of boundaries; and then inform him of the boundaries in the office of a professional to have a third party present who is familiar with this kind of thing. Given your description, I would be hesitant to spring this on him in the privacy of your home; because it may result in drastic instability.

      And I don’t know if he has a history of violence or not, or if he’s volatile enough to be violent. So I would very much suggest that you consult with a professional before doing anything.

      Quite a lot of people find themselves in a position like yours, Jennifer. I know you don’t want to see the father of your son end up homeless; but you have to take care of yourself and your son, first and foremost. Especially if he is not trying to work with you on managing the damage from his mental illness. Bipolar Disorder will just grind on and on until there’s nothing left. If he’s not fighting it, then he’s already losing. So unless you want to sink with him, you need to do what is necessary to preserve yourself and your son.

      And if you’re at the end of the rope, then you are. You put in 20 years with this. There’s no shame in that.

  7. Anonymous827191 says:

    I have a whole lot going on in my life and no one to talk to. I found this and was astonished by how close to home it hits. I met my wife 6 years ago. She admitted then that she was bipolar but was unmedicated. Needless to say we dated for a few months and she moved away and it was over. About a year and a half ago she came back into my life and it was everything I dreamed of. We got married on the beach in August of 2015 and had a close as you can get to perfect marriage. She got laid off by the coal mine in May before that and was sad but things were good. She worked another job and got laid off again. She remained out of work most of the winter. In January she started to swing into severe depression. In February her ex girlfriend emailed her saying she had changed and wanted another chance. This girlfriend had been physically and verbally abusive and a drug addict. My wife had always said such negative things about her and how our relationship was soo wonderful and different. I had felt loved and secure all that time. That one email then seemed to kick everything off. All of a sudden my wife was unhappy and she needed to see if this girl had changed and so on and so forth. This woman tried to even bribe my wife to leave me with money. When my wife drug her feet the girl got angry and married someone else. That marriage ended two months later and was back to texting my wife. Now my wife is seeing her and trying to decide what she wants. One minute she loves me and wants us back to normal the next she is leaving me to give her a chance. This changes from hr to hour and day to day. My wife came to me and told me she wants on meds. She hates feeling conflicted and is suicidal. We have good days where I think ok she’s going to tell her to leave her alone and bad days where that woman can do no wrong (although she is still using drugs and has slapped my wife once already) we have a family and I am holding on. Her med appointment isn’t until August 30th which is soo far away! I have been physically ill. She says cruel and hurtful things at times. Then other times I see a glimpse of the real her. I am hoping she will snap out of this with meds in place. I am hoping she will think rationally and not only be able to say she hasn’t changed she is still nuts but act on it to end the affair for good. I love my wife and I want her to be well. Of course I want to save my marriage and my family so instead of restricting her I told her to go figure stuff out that I love her enough to do that. It kills me but I feel like it’s the only way. Any words of wisdom or advice to help me help her? Especially when she recognizes she is being dumb and still continues. How do I get her to just leave this be and focused on getting better and on us. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, there. I’m glad to hear my writing resonated with you. I want to point out that I edited out your name, this is a public platform and you don’t want Google associating your name with these kinds of posts.

      Okay, you mentioned she’s been swinging into suicidal and unstable, but also that she is scheduled to get help. That’s a good thing. I don’t know what country you’re from, but you may want to look up the crisis hotline to have handy for her if she swings into a dark place around you. For the US, it’s 1-800-273-8255.

      The extreme back and forth on her emotions is typical with Bipolar instability. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. Mood is just another name for emotion. And many people forget that love is an emotion created by the brain, so a mental illness can easily screw with love, especially when a person has a mood disorder.

      There are a couple things you can do. Sending her off to “find herself” is not a good idea, because she’s not going to find herself. She’s just going to keep bouncing back and forth as long as she is unstable. A better approach would be to suggest to her to not make any decisions about the relationship or her love until AFTER her psych appointment and she can start on medication. And any time she points out anything about relationships or love, just bring her back to that point. See if you can get her to see the logic in waiting until after she’s medicated. If you can, then you can point back to it when her mind runs in either direction. “Remember, you wanted to see your doc before making any decisions?” And use it as a tool to reground her.

      Now, bear in mind that the force of unwell thinking is strong, like a freight train. So don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work or if it doesn’t immediately break through. Just keep pushing back to that point, over and over if you have to. I mean sometimes when I’m doing that with someone, it can take 10+ times or days for it to really crack through. It just depends, but it is something that can work.

      Next, you need to find a way to take care of yourself in this. You HAVE to. Going to the doc and getting on meds is no guarantee that the meds are actually going to work for her. Furthermore, the typical medication process can take months, because you can’t just cram a therapeutic dosage into a person and not have their brain run screaming off the deep end. You may want to consider visiting a counselor to have a professional to vent off, help you manage the stress, and learn more about how to erect boundaries and keep yourself healthy.

      And usually when I suggest that, I hear something like, “But he/she is my spouse! I don’t want to have boundaries with them.” Every healthy relationship has some boundaries. And EVERY relationship involving Bipolar Disorder (or other mental illnesses) must have them as well; otherwise you will get steamrolled and dragged through hell if the person has a severe swing or they decide they don’t need their meds or any of the other thousand things that can come up and cause problems.

      You aren’t going to be able to get her to leave it be until she’s stable. From the sounds of things, the Disorder is creating delusional feelings and flooding her mind with them. You can pretty much only hold on and weather the storm until it either passes or she is effectively medicated. And that can take awhile.

      • Anonymous827191 says:

        Thank you. I’m trying to be strong especially for the kids that are along for the ride. I love her and made a vow. I’m digging in

      • Anonymous827191 says:

        Thank you. I am going to seek out counseling as well. I made a vow for better or worse and while this is pretty bad I love my wife and I want her to be well. So I will embark on the journey to wellness with herπŸ’œ

        • Dennis says:

          I think that sounds like a very good idea!

          Also, about names, in the Name field, just don’t use your full name when you make a post. Make up a fake name or just use the Anonymous827191 I’ve been putting in there for you!

  8. Hannah says:

    I appreciate this post. I wish that I had come across it sooner.
    I was with my fiance for almost a year and he suddenly decided that we don’t belong together and he doesn’t believe in marriage. He came up with many illogical reasons for the sudden change and for an increase in unhealthy behaviors. It took me a while to realize that he was likely experiencing a sort of “spring mania”.
    He had always told me that he was diagnosed but isn’t bipolar. I believed him until he became a different person. Three months in and he’s slowly making his way back to being more stable.
    Dealing with bipolar and not knowing enough makes for a treacherous journey when you love someone.

    • Dennis says:

      It really does, Hannah. That’s why it’s important that you have healthy boundaries to keep yourself well and healthy if you are going to be in a relationship with a person with Bipolar Disorder for a long time. If he is diagnosed but doesn’t believe he is Bipolar, and I’m guessing isn’t medicated or doing anything against it, you may want to hold off on getting married for awhile. Bipolar Disorder is for life and only gets worse with age. It’s really not a great idea to intertwine your life with someone who will be unstable and is unaccepting of the issues they face.

      • Hannah says:

        Thank you for the advice. He had been treated for a while before we met, but isn’t currently being treated.
        He thinks he’s going through a midlife crisis at 34. A relationship and marriage are off of the table unless he wants to get better.

  9. Mandie says:

    Hello Dennis! I am so glad that i have the opportunity to share my bipolar boyfriend woes with you, so i have been dating my boyfriend well recently ex now for 5 whole years and its been a struggle today im the best thing that has ever happened to him and tomorrow he wont answer texts or my phone calls so after all these years i decided to leave him because i dont think i can take this love roller coaster anymore and he didnt seem to care…each cycle gets harder, i just wanna know from you how i should handle it when he decides to come back to me because i do love him very much, he stopped taking his meds a couple of years ago before we even met (so he says) he is smart, witty and impossible not to love but i always dread the beggining of his cycles, so please help me out! Thank you in advance.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      I think the most simple answer is to keep in mind that it’s okay to love someone who isn’t good or right for you. I don’t know the guy, so I don’t know what his mentality is like or how he feels about things. I think if I were in your shoes, I would just keep my answers short, direct, and to the point. “I don’t want to get back together. I don’t feel like our relationship is healthy.”

      I think it’s more important not to get into a drawn out discussion about it, because that’ll let your emotions override the reality of the situation as it’s dug into more and more.

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