The Art Of Arguing Through Bipolar Disorder And Depression

The friends of loved ones of those with Bipolar Disorder and Depression are often faced with the daunting task of trying to get through to them. Unwell thought processes of these mood disorders twist and warp reality to such a point that it is impossible for the unwell person to know what reality actually is. You, the well-minded supporter, have the benefit of knowing what the facts and reality actually are in most cases. How do you use that to your benefit? We meet hardness with softness.

What the hell does that mean? The martial art Tai Chi uses Hard and Soft forms. The idea is that countering force with force is only going to result in both parties being injured. Instead, you counter force with a soft approach. Instead of directly attacking back, you use the opponent’s energy and motion to your benefit. In this way, the practitioner can exhaust their opponent, conserve energy, and mount an effective offense when the time is right.

Arguing with an unwell person rarely ever works. It usually requires an excessive amount of energy or the supporter winds up emotionally hurt in the process. Think back to previous arguments you had with an unwell loved one- have they helped at all? Probably not.

How do we employ this principle in our dealings with the unwell?

*Facts Are Your Friend- Use Them
The unwell person is going to wind up with borderline delusional thinking on a regular basis. You can use facts to derail these delusional thoughts by forcing the person to actually think about what they are claiming and are convinced of. The more detail they have to dredge up, the more they think. The more they think, the more opportunities they have to realize that something isn’t quite right about their thoughts. It won’t always work but it is a better strategy than trying to hammer through their unwell thoughts with force.

Pay attention to the person you’re talking with. You’re gaining ground once they are embroiled in thought, trying to figure out your words and the discrepancies they are faced with.


Bipolar: “I’m leaving because I just don’t love you anymore and you make me feel like shit.”
Supporter: “Hm. That’s unfortunate. How long have you been feeling this way?” (Soft)
Bipolar: “About a month or so.”
Supporter: “Oh? How were things before that?” (Soft)
Bipolar: “Tough but I didn’t feel like I do now.”
Supporter: “And you’re certain it’s not a Bipolar swing? You know your emotions will warp when you get unwell.” (Soft)
Bipolar: “No, I don’t think so.”
Supporter: “Well, what if it is? How about you sit on those emotions for another few months or so? You know the Disorder can screw with your emotions pretty hard so just wait and see if any stronger symptoms develop. If you truly don’t love me anymore, then that won’t change. But if it’s a Bipolar swing then these feelings of disconnection may only be temporary. You know?” (Hard)

In this example, we use fact and reasoning to get our point across. Why do I beat the drum so loudly about “fact” and “reality”? Because facts don’t care how you feel about them. They simply are. Bipolar Disorder (and other mental illnesses) typically distort our interpretation of the facts by tainting them with beliefs and emotion. But, in the example, we are dealing with an emotional subject while not dealing with intangible emotions. Fact- the person is Bipolar. Fact- Bipolar Disorder screws with a person’s emotions. Fact- the person’s change of heart is relatively recent. Such a major change of heart that quickly could indicate an unwell period. A person’s emotions don’t typically 180 on a dime. It usually takes time and many shitty circumstances to shift emotions that drastically. Not so for an unwell Bipolar that can go from “I love you” to “Fuck you” over night.

*Strive To Make It The Bipolar Person’s Choice
It is very easy for a Bipolar (or Depressed) person to decide on any crappy course of action because they are incapable of giving it the appropriate consideration. That may range from an affair, to cutting, to just throwing away jobs. Additionally, their thoughts can take off and run away with them if they aren’t anchored to reality and repercussions in some way.

So what does this crap I’m alluding to mean exactly? Shit gets accomplished much more efficiently when compromise is on the table. Standing at either extreme and shouting at each other is essentially pointless busy work (take note Congress). However, you can make greater gains by stepping towards the middle and extending a hand out. You don’t have to necessarily agree with the other person’s opinion. It’s all about picking your battles, what you are capable of sacrificing, and what you refuse to budge on. I’m not suggesting that you roll over and be a doormat.

Why is this a good idea? It gives you a point to fall back to. No matter where the person’s mind goes or how much they want to argue- you offered to compromise and you can always fall back to that. If they refuse to follow through with the proposal or make a counter-offer; now you have “I offered to meet you half way but you refuse to meet me half way.”


Bipolar: “It’s always about blaming me and my mental illness! It’s never about you and what responsibility you share in it!”
Supporter: “Fair enough. What do you think I need to work on for our relationship?” (Soft)
Bipolar: “You’re always up my ass about everything. I can’t stand feeling so smothered.”
Supporter: “Alright. Well, I’ll work on giving you more space if you’ll talk to your doctor about the meds you decided to quit cold turkey.” (Hard)

In this example, it would be easy for the Supporter to fall into an argument with the Bipolar. Instead we employ a Soft counter that acknowledges the Bipolar’s feelings (even if they are skewed they are real to the Bipolar) that also gives us ammunition to work with. The exchange is wrapped up with a compromise that should suit whatever goal you are aiming for. The Hard reply sets out the conditions and puts the ball into the Bipolar’s court. Now, it becomes their choice and it provides the Supporter some leverage. Now the Supporter has “Don’t get mad at me, I agreed to do what you wanted if you would do the small thing I asked. That’s your choice.” to show the Bipolar that it is their choice- not yours.

*The Effects Of A “Soft” Approach
Both examples given above are partial conversations I’ve had and heard many times with people. Trying to hammer against a mentally ill person’s thought processes will only cause them to put up their walls and get angry (in most cases). At that point you aren’t going to get shit accomplished because now their mind is taking off and spinning the situation out.

Consider what would have happened if either introductory statement in the examples were greeted with anger. It probably would have devolved into a massive argument, fueled the unwell person’s mental illness, and introduced more chaos and instability. Take the time to measure your words before you respond. You can’t control what the other person thinks or feels; but you can control how you choose to respond to it.

Counter a Hard attack with a Soft redirection. Use your loved one’s energy to undermine their unwellness and help bring them back to a grounded state. This tactic also works pretty well with normal people. It not only opens the door for compromise but takes the need for you to be the sole person who sacrifices out of the equation.

These are but a couple of examples. If you need help figuring out a way to employ this methodology to a situation you’re in; drop me a comment or email with as much information about the situation as you can and we’ll see if we can get something figured out.


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273 Responses to The Art Of Arguing Through Bipolar Disorder And Depression

  1. Des says:

    I’ll be the first to comment, Dennis thank you for posting this I do think it is very important for supporters to understand that in the minds of someone who is manic everything they think and feel is very real to them, so it is pointless to argue. And you are absolutely right, the only way to keep the line of communication open is to acknowledge their concerns no matter how unrealistic or realistic they are. Riding out a mood shift is not only incredibly difficult for the person with the illness but also for the person supporting them. And in difficult times like these reading an article that speaks to us supporters is some times just what we need to get through another day.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for commenting, Des. And you’re very right. The fact that an unwell person who doesn’t grasp what the Disorder does to them thinks that their thoughts and emotions are “real” causes them to do shitty things they wouldn’t normally do. The mood swings of those folks are often incredibly damaging to whoever they touch- work, romantic partners, kids, so on.

      It pretty much sucks for everyone involved. But you’re right in that tomorrow is another day. Thanks for commenting, Des.

    • Paula says:

      My husband is suffering from bipolar . I recently found out I have pcos . The problem in my case is I only have support from my family but my husband side family is agreeing with everything he does and says . He took me to his doctor and told wrong information stating me physcho ( Doc didn’t agree on it he said am fine ). I went to different hospital for my treatment and am better his still forcing me to go different doctor. I don’t trust him now I told him for my treatment I have different doctor and will go to her only . My husbands side family are fully supporting his decision . Just wanted to share it . May god give us peace and patience .

      • Dennis says:

        That’s a very common problem, unfortunately. The only thing you can really do is whatever is best to keep your own sanity and health intact. With his family feeding his instability and excusing him, he’s more likely to stay latched onto that than anything else. Be sure to do what’s best for your health and well-being.

        • Grace says:

          Hi Dennis thank you for posting this it’s very helpful.. my ex broke up a week ago he told me that he didn’t want to do any commitment and he said that he cared about me but he lost love and had a big argument between us, he doesn’t block me from his phone though.And he’s travelling abroad to where he works and I know that he hates travelling I can see he’s depressed.. what should I do do I give him space or I can send him a small msg later that he arrived safely. Please advice thank you

          • Dennis says:

            Hello, Grace. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

            I think that is far too little information to know if this is a matter of mental illness or just a change of heart. If he broke up with you, doesn’t want to commit, has a change of emotions, I think I would just honor that and let it go. That is his decision to make after all. Trying to push in is just likely to push him farther away. Use this time to take care of yourself, as best as you can.

          • Grace says:

            Hi Dennis thank you for replying yes I forgot to mention he has bipolar we break up many times forth and back but this time had a big argument and he doesn’t wanna go to a Dr. To seek help. So you suggest to let him go and don’t even text him right?

          • Grace says:

            My heart is so broken he hurt me saying bad words to me I was very caring and standing by his side all the time I give s lot from myself I loved him one day he says that he adores me and have kids with me and the second he’s distant. We’ve been together for 11years. It’s so painful to leave after 11 years together I love him I really do I’m lost 🙁

          • Dennis says:

            If you’ve been in an 11 year relationship with this man, going back and forth with multiple break ups and what not, you’d do well to talk to a counselor of your own about the situation. If he is refusing to see a doctor or try to help himself, then this cycle is only going to continue and it’s going to continue to harm your own mental and emotional health. I would really suggest that you look into that and have a talk with a professional about what you’ve been going through and dealing with before making any final decisions.

          • Grace says:

            Thank you Dennis for replying but in your opinion and since he made the break up do I give him some space or Could i text him a small msg to say hi? I don’t know what’s going on in his mind. And why bipolar run away from people that they love the most?

          • Dennis says:

            I would give him his space for a few weeks and try reaching out, if he hasn’t reached out to you yet. If he’s in an unwell cycle, the depression may be drowning out his love temporarily. On the other hand, it may be he’s finally hit a point where he can’t handle the emotions and work that go into maintaining a relationship. It’s really not possible to know without actually having a discussion with him.

            It’s not even that “Bipolar people” run away. People can run away for all kinds of different reasons. It may not even have anything to do with his mental illness, that just may be how it looks from the outside.

          • Grace says:

            Thank you Dennis very much appreciated

          • Johnny says:

            Thank you so much Dennis for all this information this helps me in deals my with my wife. The only problem is she don’t want to accept that she is bipolar and refuses to get help. It’s very hard to deal with. Your senerious was exactly some of the arguments we have I mean the exact wording. I have been researching bipolar disorder for quite a while and my wife whom I learned be dearly fits the category to the tee. She will argue with a stop sign telling it that it don’t say Stop and NEVER wrong about any situation.

  2. Nicoleeee says:

    Thanks for that, but what if they are silent, how can you try and get them to message you again … It’s been 2months and I miss him like crazy

    • Dennis says:

      Hell, I apologize Nicole. I could swear I responded to your post but apparently overlooked it until Lisa made her post below.

      There are a lot of different factors that can drive this type of behavior. If the spouse is in a severe unwell period; which is extremely likely if they cut you off completely; chances are pretty good you’re going to have to give them time to rebalance until they are capable of thinking clearly. If thoughts of you are fueling their unwell period; then you contacting them regularly can continuously throw fuel on the fires of the unwell cycle and keep it burning for longer.

      The best thing you can do is attempt to go through trusted mutual parties. If you have friends or family that know the person very well you can get with them and try to come up with a plan of action to either get the person talking or get them back home. It can be helpful to have a trusted third party involved so you can get an idea of what’s going on without fueling the unwell fires.

      But, unfortunately, sometimes the only thing you can do is wait for the person to rebalance and hope they don’t do anything to fuck up the relationship in that time period. If they’re severely unbalanced and feel estranged from their spouse then it won’t be at all uncommon for them to have an affair, think they’re in love with someone else, or any other number of insane things we Bipolars tend to do when we’re nuts.

      Identifying what is fueling the unwell thoughts first and foremost is paramount. If their unwell mind has decided it’s you- then you’re not going to make much headway by trying to communicate yourself. You just wind up making the situation worse. It should be pretty easy to tell if they think it’s you; manic people are rarely shy about sharing their unwell thoughts.

      • Lisa says:

        It’s very hard to know what is fueling the unwell thoughts when you don’t see or hear from them for weeks on end. He finally did text after 6 weeks that he was ok and we would talk soon, then that he would call me on a specific day and then didn’t call and no response since. I guess I will stop trying for a while and see what happens. It’s between a rock and a hard place, do you give space or support?

        • Dennis says:

          Provided he’s not a threat to himself or anyone else- there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Even if you tracked him down and tried to get him to come back; he would probably just fight you the whole way and the situation would be made worse. You just have to live your life and keep pushing forward. If he calls and wants to schedule a time to talk or something- do it immediately before his unwell brain sends him off on another direction. And if he’s dangerous, you will want to consult with local authorities about what you should do instead.

          Otherwise, just carry on with your life and do what you need to do. You can’t throw your own life into park every time when we have our unwell cycles. I think we all reach a point where we have to learn that people don’t just can’t and shouldn’t just drop everything because our brain fucks up once in awhile.

          He really needs professional assistance though. Therapy would be a good place for him to learn some better unwell cycle management skills.

          • Thomas says:

            Dennis, I can agree with you to a point. We as supporters can become an enabler in a blink of an eye. My wife is very violent when she goes down the road of a bipolar episode. over the course of the last 16 months she has destroyed virtually every heirloom that has been handed down to me. Trashed my house multiple times ( yes I owned the house 5 years before we got together) holes in doors, walls, smashed glasses and mirrors, my harley, her mercedes (I gave to her when we got married,) etc. ( never any of her things of course) She has tried to kill herself with pills and booze multiple times ( including the night I had to identify my fathers remains before they buried him) and been baker acted 2 times in the last 3 months( thank god the last time was for 9 days. I got a well deserved break and yes, as selfish as it seems ,I am glad I got a break and she was forced to deal with some issues. ).With all this being said when is enough enough? At some point We as supporters have to also be somewhat selfish and draw a line. Especially when they stop taking their meds( or in my wifes case abuse them and takes more, because its my fault) yes, I am now seeing a therapist and yes the therapist tell me its time to draw the line. ” no one deserves to be abused, verbally , emotionally or phsically. ” I my self am at a huge crossroads. Do I trust her again until the next time, or do I make sure she is safe and move on with my life? I have enabled this behavior for a long time. I dont want to enable it any more. At some point we have to all ask ourselves. Do I enable this behavior, do
            i deserve to be abused and Why with their condition, do I have to be unhappy. This disorder is NOT like cancer. People with cancer may go through angry points during their desease process , that is completely acceptable. If you are the care giver you deal with it because you know they love you. Most, will apoligize, cry with you and share the hurt ( yes, I am a nurse by trade and have been a caregiver for many years). I cant speak for all bipolar people, but in my wifes case, 30 times of abuse emotional, physical or verbal abuse in the last 365 days. ( documented with pictures or loged in a log book. Never once do I get an ” im sorry” its always ” you caused this or something back handed like ” This only happens when I dont feel loved” WTF. Always justified behavior in her eyes. To me that is very manipulative. I feel that I have enabled much of this behavior out of love for her. I am done. No matter what she has done I have forgiven her but, as selfish as it sounds, I deserve to be happy, healthy and at peace too. All this being said, We as caregivers must kn ow when the support ends and the enabling begins…

          • Dennis says:

            Hey there Thomas. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I entirely agree with you. Every example is different and unique. It all depends on what we as individuals can cope with and handle; and how far we’re willing to stay on that path. I absolutely do not advocate staying in an abusive situation.

            In your case, I see some stark differences from what I hear from people who contact me on a regular basis and what you relate. Granted, I don’t know much about you but let me share the discrepancy and the very first thought that came to mind.

            My first thought was “she probably didn’t/doesn’t love him”. Because a majority of the people that have contacted me, even people dealing with severely unwell Bipolar people, have a back and forth that indicates the Bipolar person does actually care about them. Never an I’m sorry? Always destroying your shit? Always running rough-shod over you to the point where you need a therapist to tell you that “this isn’t okay”? It’s absolutely not okay, Thomas. None of what you related is.

            Including your desire to see her be safe to distance from her. She will NEVER let that happen because she knows how to pluck your strings and play you like an instrument. She knows how much you care about and love her. And I know that because she isn’t in jail or out on her ass.

            She sounds like an asshole who also happens to be mentally ill.

            And for perspective; I have about 2500 emails in my inbox and 300 comments on my blog. I’ve listened to a lot of painful stories both from mentally ill people and people such as yourself. And in a majority of those cases, there is some kind of descent and remorse for actions which indicates some kind of love and/or consideration from the unwell party. In your case, it seems like it isn’t there which leads me to believe that it isn’t there.

            Thomas, I hope you will explore exit strategies with your therapist- even if they do not involve her being “safe”. But you need to make sure that you will be safe from the fall out because that kind of instability and apathy could equal some serious violence. I would also encourage you to explore with your therapist why you allowed it to get this far without saying “Hey, fuck you. You can’t treat me this way.” Love is one thing; but there are limits to love. Boundaries are important. Inability to create and enforce boundaries may be a symptom of a greater unresolved issue- like codependency.

            And please, I know this may be worded pointedly but I’m not attacking you for your choices. I think you got into a difficult situation with a shitty person; an atypical situation. And I’d like to see you come out of it as unscathed as possible. My concern is that if she doesn’t actually give a shit about you and she’s that violent and unstable, that she could try to seriously hurt or kill you if you attempt to make a break. So please, exercise great caution and talk to your therapist in-depth about the situation.

            It’s not selfish to want to be happy, healthy, and at peace. That’s what everyone should want at a minimum.

          • Sasa says:

            Dennis, Thomas and I could be living as twins. It’s amazing how we are nurses and the codependency is something we struggle with. We fix people. We make them better. We are easy prey for the broken and waking wounded. We sacrifice ourselves. We are needed at work and we are needed at home. We lose our identity. The only difference is I refuse to allow bipolar to take any more of my life. When my ex would have his down days and we had plans to go out to eat or to a movie, I would go alone. I buy flowers for myself and if I see something I like, I get it. Why? Because I can’t depend on a illness to keep me satisfied. There is no need to make him feel guilty for something out of his control plus he really doesn’t know the difference because he is depressed and asleep. On the up days I never talk about what he missed out on. Just what are the plans for today. We hunt and fish together. We had some great times together. With bipolar you learn to live in the now. I tell people I live with four men. Tom, Dick, Harry, and Leroy. Each has their own personality. I had to adjust according depending on his cycle. Harry is the one I fell in love with and would marry and would be happy forever. He was my best friend. He is very smart and witty. I see him about three times a month. He’s always apologetic for the other three.
            Tom is mean and inconsiderate and is usually seen during hypo mania. He spends money for no reason. Just because he can. He looks at porn. He Pefers to be left alone. Believe me when I say I literally go away when Tom shows up. He’s very argumentive. I just stay clam with Tom.
            Dick well that’s self explanatory.
            Leroy just dumb as rocks. Can’t find a way out of a paper sack. He is actually comical to a degree.
            This relationship has taught me more about myself than any other. I learned to love myself. Thsnks to many books and research and resources on bipolar as well as my own therapist to deal with bipolar, I finally was able to break free from the abuse of this illness that my bf had. He broke our contract. He Self medicated, took too many of the wrong pills, slapped me around. I had him locked up. Last I heard he checked himself into a behavioral health center. I have a no contact order so he can not contact me. I figure it best that way so I can’t fall prey to the illness once again. These post are so helpful and I personally thank you for helping me realize I’m not alone in my codependent world in which I’m trying to change.

          • Dennis says:

            It sounds like you’ve gone through a lot of personal growth, Sasa. I’m glad to hear you were able to find and draw effective boundaries, even if things didn’t pan out as you were hoping they would. I’ve had quite a few nurses contact me over the past few years. Now that I think about it, it’s probably the most common career of the people that are reaching out to me. But I guess that makes sense, as was pointed out. Many caregivers are attracted to nursing. I feel like an additional problem may be in that there are hard boundaries and limitations established through ethical requirements and legalities at work. Not so clean when you head from work to home though. I could be wrong on that though.

            Thank you for taking the time to write.

          • Sasa says:

            Thank you for replying and for the encouragement. I agree that nurses are so compassionate that we only see the good and not the bad. We are taught to treat the person not the illness. Unfortunately, after a year and a half of trying new meds, nutrition, opening curtains, and nurturing,when it was the last thing I wanted to do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I gave 110% to the person and the illness. I stayed in contact with psychiatrist prior to each appointment and I attended the ones I could. I ensured he took his meds daily especially on down days and would remind him on good days in which he would take them. I would hear his groaning of “I’m sick of these pills.” I was sick of them too but it was the only thing that would slow his cycles.
            The final straw was when I had to go out of state for work. He went down for two days. Missed meds. He didn’t call or text to see if I made it safe. (I sent him a text so he would know I was safe.) But when he cycled back up he texted to let me know he fixed supper and wanted to know what time would I be home. I called him immediately to remind him I was out of state. He lost the days and forget. ( not uncommon for him). He cycled back down two days later and missed meds again. ( including his blood pressure). I came home at the end of the last cycle and after being gone a week he just rolled over and smiled. i recognized where his cycle was and just unpacked and patiently waited for him to cycle up. Once he did cycle up he left to go fishing. Again, no meds. I tried to get him back on track but to no avail. I had to have the one talk that would absolutely break my heart and his too. I started out with “I’m tired.” Then “I’m sorry I can’t keep doing this.” It’s starting to change who I am. I feel like I’m living single and its not fair. I feel like I’m numb and I have isolated myself to ensure you are ok. I have given you so many opportunities to step up and get help and talk to a therapist or go in patient. But you continue to do as you please. Of course his reply is “that’s right leave a man with a illness he can’t control.” Of course my reply was “you decide not to control what you can which makes it hard in both of us. I work daily while you do nothing all day. You fish, you hunt, you do what you want. I mow the grass take care of the house and pay the bills. The least you could is try to take your meds. ” After our discussion I Now get this gut feeling I need to move the pistol from my night stand and I do without him knowing it. He said to me “if I say the magic word you will have me locked up.” I told him there was no need to think like that. That tomorrow would be better. Well the next day he goes to his therapist out of the blue. He was currently on suboxone, cymbalta, krill oil, lithium, inderal, and tranxene since benzo are not his friend. When he leaves he is now on Valium and zyprexia… I think my heart stopped beating. From 4 pm to 8 pm he took four Valium, 3 tranxene. His eyes were so glassy and he was on cloud nine. I was just torn. I went through his phone the next day because when I can home he was on the lawn mower. ( not something he does). I see where he tried to obtain Xanax from a friend. That’s when I realized I’m screwed. He will not change his behavior and he enjoys the high. The next day he is manic for sure and starts in on me about a minnow bucket. That turned into me saying I can’t do this today. It’s 5:15 in the morning and I can’t do anything about it. He got mad and started ranting about the bucket. I told him I needed him to leave for a day or two because I needed some time to deal with this. He became physically abusive. I asked him to leave several times but he refused. Said he would burn my house down. ( it’s my house he moved in 6 months ago) I called the police to help him get out.
            As history repeats itself, a year ago he told me to get out (was staying at his moms that night) and as I went to pack he choked me. Thank god his friend was there to get him off of me. I call the police then too but only to get my things. (he was not diagnosed at that time. ) I didn’t press charges but did asked that he leave me alone. He did for a while and then he had a full blown hallucination seeing things not there. He even called the police to get people out of his house. Of course there was no one there. His family called me to come help because they didn’t know what to do. I called his doctor. They had changed his meds again. I videoed him so he would believe me when he was well again. To the Er and then inpatient. Once released I was blamed for everything. I through him away and took his truck. I just let him vent then handed him the video. He fell to his knees and just cried. He begged me not to leave him alone and of course I stayed. Since that time he has not had any hallucinations and his cycles did improve.
            The point I was making is i learned to video his behavior. So I started video the minnow bucket situation only to watch him look for the gun I hid and then he points his finger to my forehead and pulls the trigger like a gun. I told him that he is being videoed so he knocks the hell out of me. Then tried to take my phone. Knowing the police are coming I prayed to God to give he strength to hold on to my phone. As I got away from him I ran outside as they were driving up. He came outside and told them that he was in bed asleep and I started hitting him. I just pushed play on my phone and he was arrested. I explained that he was bipolar and needed his meds. I made sure the police took all his meds with him. I then call his doctor and he apologized because two days ago he was going to put him in patient but he changed his meds instead which is why this probably happened. He went manic because he self medicated. I pressed charges against him but agreed to dropped them if he went inpatient. Well he did go in patient. I didn’t want him to lose his hunting rights since he found peace in being out doors. I just wanted him to get the help he needs to try and better his life. Unfortunately, I realize he will never see it that way. All he will see is it’s all my fault and I’m the reason we are not together. I’m the reason he had to go inpatient, I’ll be blamed for a long time as was the ex wife even though they had been divorced for 15 years. I’m ok with that. But I’m concoerned if he goes manic will he be so focused on the break up and that he just shows up out of the blue and acts crazy again and try’s to hurt me. since I’m no longer able to gauge his cycles I have no idea when, where, or what could happen. I do know he asked the police to take my number out of his phone so he wouldnt be tempted to call me. So far it’s been 12 days and no contact.
            I don’t know how this will play out. I do know I miss him because I know he will surface and I won’t be there to laugh with him or have fun. I do know that I feel better not having to care for someone or be on edge not knowing who is at home waiting on me so I can change my mood to suit his. I do know that I love myself more than putting putting myself in harms way. I do know that mental illness is real, it’s hard, itself self sacrifice and I can’t begin to imagine what the person who has this must be going through daily to fight to be “normal”. I wish this had a happy ending and he got the right meds and bipolar was cured and we road off into the sunset hand in hand. But life doesn’t always give us that. I have no regrets, I will cherish our memories. I’ll look at our pictures. I’ll think about all the times it was fun and the bad will fade away until I press play on the video to remind myself that it could have been much worse and instead of my children visiting me in my home it could have been in the cemetery. I pray for him daily as I pray for myself. I hope one day they find s cure for bipolar two and he will get to live a normal life. It’s not easy at all to be the sick one or the caregiver. You just have to decide when enough is enough.

          • Dennis says:

            Thank you for taking the time to share that, Sasa. I will note that I edited the post to remove your ex’s name from it, just in case.

            Your story is an unfortunately common one with some very common themes in it. Ultimately, I think you did the right thing. You went as far as you could go and then some, it appears. I would very much advise you to be wary if he comes back into your life or shows up out of the blue. The combination of the situation as well as some of his actions definitely suggests that things could have gone, or go, very badly with a gun involved.

            But you’re absolutely right on one point that I find myself instilling in others constantly. No, you can’t choose what the Disorder does to you. You can, however, choose how you respond to it and what you do about it. And honestly, I can be kind of an asshole about it.

            “I’m sick of the pills.” “Yeah, no shit. We all are. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t care though. Take your meds.” <- A conversation I had with a friend. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I hope you can find some peace and enjoyment for yourself moving forward.

          • Starr says:

            I love your no bull approach. It’s to the point and it’s the truth. It’s hard to hear but if more people were honest and up-front we wouldn’t have so much drama in the world. I think your work is a true blessing for so many and thank you for all your time and dedication to help others. We’re unfortunately all on the same ride with a little different experience.

          • Dennis says:

            Thank you for the kind words and sentiment, Starr. I definitely agree that life would be much easier if people would be more direct. It’s frustrating to no end at times.

          • Chris says:

            Thomas, I too am a nurse and have gone through it with my husband. I am ready to set him free. I’m tried of being his verbal punching bag. Hope you found peace

        • Poppy3 says:

          What was the outcome to this, as it is similar to my situation except my partner is currently in mental health care and won’t see me

      • Swagg says:

        You are so right Dennis. I was dealing with a bipolar person and everything you have said is true. I am still trying to understand how to cope.

  3. Lisa says:

    Nicoleee’s question above is a really good one that we supporters often face. Someone with experience please help with some input – what do you do when the unwell spouse cuts you off entirely for months – no communication at all?

    • Sofia says:

      Yes, does anyone have experience on Nicolee’s question about a spouse or boyfriend cuts you off for months at a time? He’s told me he can’t control his thoughts and that he does not want to hurt me so we can’t be around each other right now.

      • Dennis says:

        Only thing you can really do is try to convince him to get in to a see doctor to get his thoughts under control. If he refuses and he won’t listen to reason (which is probably given the nature of unwell cycles); all you can really do is wait for the cycle to end.

        Trying to push in is a 50/50 venture. It could just as easily frustrate him and make him more unwell, making the situation worse.

        But if he’s having such a rough time of things, next time you talk to him, encourage him to see a doctor immediately to push towards getting things under control. If he balks at that, suggest a local support group. Local support groups will typically have someone knowledgeable enough to provide some immediate assistance and insight.

  4. David says:

    My wife is bipolar myself and family n friends know this. However she refuses to believe she is n has for years. She blames it on just depression n takes zoloft for this. She loves to start arguements it seems no matter what we talk about. If I say the skies blue she say’s it green. just giving an example. She loves to put me down and even if I speak with a low calm voice and think about how I say something she always looks to the negative and wants to be right. It has led to many arguments even to where I want to ring her neck,but I have conditioned myself to remain calm. I get this feeling where I hate her when she does this. Most of the time I just listen and Im so pissed I don’t say anything or just agree with her.Then she says what you have nothing to say or your just saying or agreeing with me to shut me up. And shes right. I have walked out on her twice or go in my room n shut the door then she wants to come around crying or trying to take the blame. I really feel I can’t take this much longer and I will leave for good. I love her with all my heart and feel sorry for her but Im at wits end. She embarasses me in public with things she coments on that she has no idea about n makes herself sound like an idiot. I know other people see this but r just nice n don’t want to hurt her feelings or r just to afraid to say anything to her because of me being a big guy thinking I would go off on them. I wouldn’t. I wish they would tell her how she sounds n try to get through to her. when I tell her about thing n what Im knowledgeable about she say’s i think Im perfect n hurtful things. I keep hoping it will get better but I don’t know if it ever will. She really would be lost without me if i left and I don’t want anything to happen to her. Just wonder how many people r in my shoes. Thanks.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, David. Your situation is fairly common unfortunately. The exceptionally shitty part is that she’s being given an antidepressant. A Bipolar person who is put on an antidepressant stays on the manic side of the Disorder. So if she’s regularly taking it then it’s just going to keep her mind up in the air. Do you have any kind of communication with her doctor? If not, you may want to establish some with him and bring up that you suspect she’s Bipolar and why.

      Getting her correctly diagnosed will be a big jumping off point to helping her get stabilized. If it turns out she is Bipolar instead of Depressed, she’s been incorrectly medicated for awhile so it’s going to be real hard, if not impossible, for her to see what reality actually is or is not. Other people talking to her probably isn’t going to help either. The unwell mind can usually just take that shit and throw it all over the place until it fits the reality their mind has constructed.

      So yeah. Work out a thorough description of how she acts to present to her doctor. The information they’ll be most interested in is the stuff that severely interferes with her ability to conduct her life. So the constant arguments, inability to reason, combative nature are all pretty good indicators.

      Feel free to give me a yell any time.

  5. Darren says:

    Hi Dennis
    I am finally sort of happy to find out I am not the only one, My wife has been taking Prozac for many years and I went through all of the above even up to the affairs which is still killing me inside, she has recently gone back to the doctor her first put her on Prozac and he has said she is bipolar ll he gave her some new medication to take with the Prozac which seems to work and we get on quite well she is not flying off at the drop of a hat and turning something the size of pencil into the size of a truck and the usual nastiness that I have had for the last 15 years when something minor would happen is not there,

    the issues now are I tend to ask some questions about how she
    could do such a thing (affairs) which somehow turns into an argument and I get told we should go our own way and I can take the children with me because she feels she has done her best and I should be over this by now, I do not let it go that far as I do not believe a normal person could do what she has done without knowing this is something your partner will have a lot of trouble dealing with,

    without knowing any of the stuff I have just been reading I do stay calm and talk softly this seems to get her thinking that what she has done is disgusting and she hates herself and actually nearly throws up when I bring things up, I do not bring things up in a nasty or abusive way so I get really puzzled with her reaction because I believe if anyone was willing to try to forgive or even still be polite to me if I had done the same thing I would be eternally great full, I am not looking for any type of medal or recognition for what I am trying to do to hold my family together but I sometimes question myself and wonder if it is all worth it, I also think that people that know what happened possibly think I must be pretty pathetic to stay after what she has done,

    I am the one who married her and as easy as it is to say she nothing but a tart I know that the person I married would not have done this if she was normal, at least not while being married to me. I can take her up on her offer and walk with the kids (only 1 of them is a dependant now anyway) it is just that when things are good I see the person I married and do not think I should abandon her, I have told her and by reading what has been written above by yourself and others myself and the kids would be better off if I left.

    the problem is after it is all settled which before could take up to a week, now not quite so long we get along really good, I am not sure if by me not asking about things that happened will actually put me in a position that we will not have arguments for no reason, if that was the case yes I would try, I just don’t think she realises that when she asks me not to bring it up and ask questions because it makes her want to throw up how I am actually feeling about the whole thing, (throw up is minor).
    I don’t know if you can make sense of all this but I appreciate any advise you might have.

    • Dennis says:

      If what you took away from my writing is that you should bail; that’s not what I intended at all. I think people should only go as far as they as they are able to.

      The reason she is probably having such a hard time discussing it is that she just doesn’t know. Normal people have typical thought processes where they will weigh pros and cons. A Bipolar in an unwell cycle has a “well, I’m doing this” thought process; and that’s the extent of it. That’s part of what makes it so damaging and destructive to our personal lives. It truly has nothing to do with her actual feelings towards you or even who she had an affair with.

      Her reaction towards trying to talk about it sounds like its severe enough to fall under an Anxiety Disorder symptom. All that stress and emotion is just overwhelming her and making it impossible for her to actually process and discuss those things with you that you need to discuss. Quite a few Bipolars will experience Anxiety like symptoms while in mania as well. So if she’s escalated that may be a factor. Point being, she needs to get in to talk to her doctor.

      If she’s still having unwell cycles (I don’t know how recent this affair was); then she should probably talk to her doctor about a medication adjustment and her response to the stress of the situation to see if she also has an Anxiety Disorder to go along with it. It sounds like she may still have some road to cover before she reaches a mostly functional state of Wellness.

      And yes, everyone and their grandmother usually has an opinion from the outside looking in. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty if you vent to friends and family members. Most of their “advice” isn’t going to be helpful because it’s not coming from someone who’s dealt with a mentally ill person in a way to try to preserve things. I would recommend that you look into “Friends and Family” communities around on the internet or even a local support group where you can talk to other people who are going through similar shit that you are going through.

      I know you want to understand why she did what she did; but if it was the result of a Bipolar unwell cycle then you’re not going to get a better answer than that. If you can forgive her, set it aside and urge her to talk to her doctor so she can get this current wave of shit under control before it does any more damage. If you can’t, do what you gotta do.

    • Thomas says:

      Darren, You have the right to feel the way you do. We are human. My wife does the same things. when she has done something to hurt me we cant talk about it, but something from many years ago when we were dating that bothered her, like an ex. Thats fair game in her eyes. yes brother I so feel your pain…. In all this you have to realize your feeling do matter. If you are not seeing a therapist, you might think about it, they are great to talk to and they can guide you towards setting boundrys (sadley it took me 16 months before I saw one) Best of luck to you and remember your feelings do matter….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Darren,
      I feel your pain. I have bipolar, but now that I’m on Lithium (and a million other things) I can appreciate what I’ve put my husband and children through over the years. After all the massive cycling started to ease up I was suddenly cognizant of what I had done and what I had damaged, and what I had lost, and I grieved. I try every day to make up for it, but it’s still hard work.

      I’m still suffering from the cognitive deficits caused by this disease (memory, etc) which is a definite stressor, and I still react quite badly to stress (and frequently – after all, I have a 16 yo daughter, 18 and 19 yo sons and a deaf husband). All 3 of my children have inherited various forms of mental illness/disability (16 yo bipolar, panic disorder, ADHD; 18 yo major depressive disorder; 19 yo ADHD, Asperger’s, schizoid personality), which has consumed my life for the last 19 years. Maintaining a reasonable level of communication with my husband, who has become progressively more and more deaf over the years is challenging and frustrating, but at least I don’t have the rollercoaster I used to ride, which is such a relief.

  6. frank says:

    i passed this link to a close friend who thinks she doing the right thing in lecturing me
    shes very intelligent but she doesnt understand
    they never understand
    thank you for helping people the difference between soft and hard
    when people are hard they dont even know it
    and all you want to do is just hide and cry
    because if your loved ones are hard and attack you and aggressive
    then what is the point
    i hope this helps them understand a little at least
    thank you

    • Dennis says:

      I hear ya there, Frank. They don’t understand because they don’t have a good point of reference. It would be like asking you to talk about what it feels like to give birth to a child. You just don’t have the context to “understand” it. I hope the article helps her get a clearer picture of the difference between her mind and yours. Thank you for stopping by and reading my work!

      • frank says:

        thank you for replying
        i’m bp2, maybe its even harder than bp1, i don’t know
        i have no highs all i have is lows and in 10 yrs its only getting worse
        any stupid little thing sets it off
        things you were able to do before i now cant
        tried all day to fix the brakes on my car
        i did it blindfolded when i was younger and its the same old car
        i just feel so worthless and the people around me pretend its ok
        they leave me alone which is good
        but i hear them laughing at something and all i want is to laugh with them
        or i want them to shut up
        i want them to feel sorry for me and when they do i feel even worse
        i feel like they laugh to pretend everythings ok in the house
        if they knew what i was feeling they surely woulnt laugh out loud would they?
        would you laugh out loud next to somebody whos suffering from grief or a personal loss?
        i lock myself away so their happiness and my misery dont clash
        i know it’ll be better tomorrow
        if nothing goes wrong
        but i also know for certain tomorrow could be the same or worse
        i know it as surely as anything
        other people do not understand the worthlessness i feel
        ive so had enough (its ok im not in a place where i might do something stupid)
        im just so miserable, so very very miserable
        i have weeks or months where the medication seems to be doing its thing
        and then for no reason everything goes dark
        i feel me plummeting but as long as nothing breaks or ruins the routine then i stay normal
        i have always taken my meds
        well, one day i went off them for three days just to prove i wasnt bipolar
        that was pretty stupid because oh boy did i feel bad but at least i knew why and how to resolve it
        but sometimes they just dont work like these past weeks
        i dont drink at all or take drugs although i have codeine for my back and i admit that sometimes i self medicate just to feel better for a while
        its really helped to write this, you dont have to publish it at all if you dont want to
        its just my ramblings
        i just know somebody who understands will read it
        and that is worth so much
        thanks for your website, it helps

        • Dennis says:

          Actually; I understand more than you may know. I’ve lived a good 75% of my adult and teenage life in depression ranging from mild to soul-crushing. I have the same problem with antidepressants where they work for a little while and then my body builds tolerance to them and they stop working. It sucks so hard but I keep trying meds because I’m sure something will work and stick eventually.

          Just have to keep doing the same. Keep pushing forward and trying different things until something works. If you haven’t, try the non-medication means to help combat depression- regular exercise, healthy diet, time in the sun, regular sleep (if possible). The combination with the meds might have a better effect.

          It is so hard to function around people while being depressed. I don’t know if they would laugh or not if they knew what you were feeling; but I wouldn’t want them to stop. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, watching other people be happy while you tread water in the mire of bullshit that depression is. But you’re right, there will be better days ahead of you so long as you keep pushing and trying things until something sticks.

          And I think we all decide we’re not Bipolar and stop our meds at some point. It’s a very, very common thing for us to do. Glad it was only a short time of problems than the months some other people go.

          You’ll get there, Frank. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I, and several others, have been through similar and eventually started pushing our way out. You will too.

  7. Peter Cross says:

    Hi my girlfriend and I have just gone through a huge episode with my friends she is type 2 bipolar and I think the whole situation with my friends might of been too much for her. She says she doesn’t know what she wants anymore & continueasly says im not good for her when I try too look after her the best I can. One day she is happy with me and everything is good the next day she is talking about meeting other guys and saying she doesn’t love me anymore. She usually stays at my house which is a granny flat so it’s kinda small & always blames me and my flat for not having a good night’s rest & uses that excuse not to go to work. She has lost so many jobs by using this excuse that she now blames me. The toughest part is that she used to be a postritute and says she has no choice but to go back to that so she can pay her bills, she doesn’t care about what I think about it but she has said this a few times and never done it. Im now afraid that after the situation with my ex friends who I happen to live behind were vindictive & harassed both of us about her past n her bipolar have helped to end my relationship with her all because she feels unwelcome or ridiculed by them so because of all this she is no longer in love with me. I don’t know what to do I still want to be friends if she no longer loves me as I care about her so much I just want things to be back to when we first met which was only 5 months ago.

    • Dennis says:

      Yeah, that all sounds like pretty standard Bipolar stuff to me. The chaos and back and forth is pretty normal for a person who isn’t medicated (or incorrectly medicated). If you two have only known each other for only five months then she probably doesn’t even know if she really loves you or if it’s just the Disorder screwing with her head.

      Not sure what the situation is with your friends; but the fact of the matter is you’ve put yourself in a pretty bad place. Care about her or not, if you’ve only known her for five months and she’s this chaotic; she is going to have a hell of a lot of work ahead of her.

      Look man, I’m not one for sugar coating. Having dated a stripper and hung out with prostitutes in the past; these are women used to manipulating men to get what they need and get paid. It’s essentially their jobs.

      And here you have an unstable, Bipolar, former prostitute who you let move in after 5 months that already professed love for you?

      That smells like a lot of bullshit, Peter. Especially since she is overtly threatening to go back to tricking, in an attempt to manipulate you, to collect a paycheck.

      Not sure what the blow up with your friends was. But if they said she was playing you; that’s my thoughts too. If I were you, I’d move my valuables some place she can’t get to them and let her go the next time she threatens to. Make sure you get your spare key back if you do.

      If you do decide you actually love this woman and you believe that she loves you; you’re probably going to be facing years of chaos and turmoil as she rides the Disorder. The only way she will get well is if she wants to. And that is a revelation that can take years to reach.

      Good luck, Peter. Don’t think with your “heart”. Think with your brain. Comment or write any time.

  8. Peter Cross says:

    I just wanted to know whether or not this could be apart of her bipolar?

  9. Peter Cross says:

    Thanks Dennis, I have spoken to her and she says she’s not sure if she is using me or not, so I have decided to give her space to think about things. I do love her but if she was using me I will obviously let it be & move on . But how do I know whether or not it’s her bipolar making her think and feel that’s she is using me but she really does love me & just needs space to think about things. Should I give her space or would that be out of site out of mind and would that help her to move on and forget about me what should I do?

    • Dennis says:

      I can’t really tell you how to figure that sort of thing out. 5 months just isn’t long enough to be able to gauge a Bipolar person’s real feelings. There’s no real simple answer there. Yes, it’s perfectly possible that the standard of living and adjustment to her new lifestyle could be making her unwell. But that’s not your responsibility either. We can only do what we’re able to do in life; and if that means living in a Granny flat then hey.. it’s better than being without altogether.

      If she’s not visiting a doctor or trying to get her instability under control, there’s a good chance this chaos will carry on for an extended time into the future. Even space to think about things isn’t going to mean much for her. Unless she’s stable she will just swing all over the place.

      So- do what’s best for you first, Peter. Fact of the matter is- you’re not her mom or dad. And don’t take words at face value. What’s important is the shit that she does to try and get herself stable and balanced.

  10. Peter Cross says:

    oh yeah and she says it’s the environment she is in that is making her feel this way she has had everything handed to her in the past and her ex husband is really well off, could it be my flat and the way I live that is making her feel this way. I have a lot of things going on in my head & just don’t know what is causing her to feel this way.

  11. barb says:

    My bi polar brother is caring for my 92 year old father he,s been doing this for three years, my brother and i have begged him to put my father into care,he refuses, we have offered to help look after my dad he has also refused, he,s now on the verge of a breakdown, and still refuses to put him into care what can i do, i,m desperate.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Barb. This is definitely beyond the scope of what I can provide insight or advice on but I do have a suggestion for you.

      I would consult with a lawyer (I would think Family Law would cover this sort of thing) and find what kind of options there are. I think it’s also going to be a matter of things like Medical Power of Attorney, if your dad has any stipulations in a living will, that sort of thing. You may need to take a legal route to secure a way to ensure your father receives the care that he needs.

      Chances are pretty good your Bipolar brother will react very badly to that or having your father yanked out from under him. If he claims to be suicidal or is violent; don’t hesitate to get authorities involved.

      I can’t foresee this going smoothly or well really. It’ll probably be pretty nasty on his end. So you’ll want to be sure you minimize the potential for him doing damage to your life and take any threats very seriously.

      I would definitely talk to a lawyer though.

  12. Here’s my story of an unwell person with Bipolar ,depression, and anxiety disorder.I’ve been in a relationship for 3 years with a woman who lost her mother and her husband with in 1 1/2 years and she has attached herself to me since this all happened .We did know each other while she was married and all thou we were attracted to each other She and i did the right thing and had no affair. Our relationship is classic, with her staying at my home for free as her home is unsafe,and the endless arguments.Her unwell thinking never shows or gives me gratitude for what i do and she has an old boyfriend that she has kept in her life (he is stated as the father of her older adult children,and he does do nice things for them )and he pays bills, gives her his car to drive just gives her money,(SUGAR DADDY). the problem is she shows him so much Respect and i get very little .Her son is also Bipolar and she tells him all our business especially when we are in arguments (4times a week ).It can get challenging with having 2 people with Bipolar trying to convince you your insane ,when they can’t see how distorted their thinking is .She has been in therapy as they try desperately to get some balance If you have any advice on how to approach her to gain respect for what i do for her and her family or is it “just that way” until meds give her some balance.

    • Dennis says:

      That sounds like a hell of a situation. The fact that she can give respect to her ex-bf and not you piques my interest. As for the two of you not having an affair; is it possible she could be hooking up with her ex behind your back? It can be rough trying to function with unwell Bipolars in the household, particularly if they are trying to gang up on you. Facts are your best asset though. The Disorder warps reality and emotions but Facts always remain Facts. They don’t care how we feel about it and honestly, you shouldn’t argue about it either. Just point out- this is the fact of the matter- and then hold to it. That’s how you keep yourself grounded.

      Did her lack of respect come with the unwell cycle or what was the situation like beforehand when she was relatively stable. She should get back to her former self once she gets the right meds in her system or crashes out of this unwell cycle.

  13. christene says:

    is thwre anyway i can speak to you privately about my situation ? through private messages or email? I have something id like to say and i think you can help me.

  14. Der Doppelganger says:

    I’ve been married for 14 years and I’m the the go-getter type of guy. My wife has been diagnosed BP1 in 2006 and she tried different doctors and while some meds work, they come with side effects. Last time she was on meds she had lithium which seemed to work, but as always, as soon as she got better, she stopped taking her meds. This happened in 2011. She has been in full blown mania state all summer long and we had a huge argument, police got involved, very crappy situation. The fact is, I only realized this week what these 14 years has done to me. Before I only put my head down and did what I had to do since she was not functioning well. But it has definitely taken a toll on me and I only realized it this week. I still love her and we have two kids and we are suffering because she doesn’t even want to see a doctor and/or take meds anymore. I’ve called everybody to see if there is a way to force her see a doctor and take her meds to no avail. She has to decide to take them. Unless, ‘something happens’ and I don’t want anything to happen or she goes into depression, which I might be able to convince her to see a doctor. My life sucks now and the kids are suffering because of her and her stupid decision of not seeking professional help.

    • Dennis says:

      It sounds like she has some fundamental misunderstandings of what her mental illness is. Deciding we don’t need our meds is a huge problem among Bipolar people. I once had a therapist tell me that “Bipolar Disorder is one of the few illnesses that will convince you that you do not have it.” I found that to be very poignant. Bipolar Disorder is for life. We’ll be on meds for the rest of our lives if we want to be well and stable. That’s the way it is. That’s what we have to accept. That’s what we have to deal with.

      Bear in mind that since I don’t know your wife, the following is pure speculation. Her refusal to see more docs and see more meds sounds like the common burn out that many of us experience. You spend years and years trying to get this shit under control, look at the fuck ups you’ve had in your life that you know you’re responsible, and finally just decide “fuck it I’m done with it all”. The problem is that we’re normally so absorbed in our mind that we don’t know really realize how it is impacting the people around us.

      You’re a good guy for standing by your wife so long; I know the toll it takes on people such as yourself is high.

      I’m more than willing to try and talk with her to see if we can get her back on the right track. We broken people tend to respond better to one another when we’re dealing with someone who has walked a road similar to us as opposed to our loved ones (who don’t live inside of our heads) or people that have learned about our problems from books (doctors and therapists). Perspective from a fellow mentally ill person can help a lot in coming to terms with our problems and working to take control of them.

      Show her my “About Me” page so she can get a glimpse of who I am and what I’m about. Encourage her to toss me an email so we can talk Bipolar Disorder. You can email me directly too if you like. Just be aware; I don’t share information between people unless it is absolutely necessary (read as potential for harm/suicide or similar grave implications).

      • Der Doppelganger says:


        I wrote my previous comment on this post after a desperate Google search for help with my situation (you can tell). After I saw your response, I went back to your site and blog and I’m really impressed with the quality of the information you provide. It’s definitely none of the politically correct clinical bullshit you find abundantly on the internet.

        What I read so far makes a whole lot of sense to me I can relate 100% to a lot of the the situations you describe and how to have a strategy to manage them.

        I think the more I (try) understand what happens inside my wife’s mind, the more power I will have to help her and not fall into complete and utter desperation.

        So I will continue reading and hopefully it will come a time where my wife will also read it (and eventually set up a call with you) and understand her condition better too and make efforts to manage it so our family can be happy again.

        I will leave this comment with a thank you. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thank you for doing it so in a very sensible and thoughtful way.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re very welcome. I’m glad my work makes sense to you. I was first diagnosed about 5 years ago now, the first thing I did was research the Disorder on the internet. I came cross all that same politically correct bullshit and was very annoyed at the lack of actually USEFUL websites.

          As I stress though, my information isn’t the only information or the only way. If anyone finds a better way for themselves and it gets results; fantastic.

          Don’t be shy about sharing that you were researching and reached out. Mental illness is heavily stigmatized and is viewed as personal to most of us; that creates an artificial feeling of isolation in our minds and makes us feel like we are often alone or unique in our struggles. The reality is; mental illness is all around us almost all the time. We have struggles unique to ourselves, sure; but a lot of the general stuff like trying to maintain a life and not fall into hopelessness appears to be a universal truth for most of us.

          If she gets angry that you reached out to a stranger about her personal problems; just ask “What am I supposed to do? What do you want me to do?”

          The two of you can argue until you’re blue in the face and get nowhere head on. But by asking questions and forcing her to think about her positions; it creates the opportunity for the truth and reality to crack through. It’s harder to view someone as “the enemy” if they are asking for your help. You know?

          Anyway; the phone service is there to help provide some additional value towards facilitating donations to my site and because I have to portion out part of my time instead of answering when I have time. If either of you want to pick my brain or want to discuss your situation more with no money attached; I read and answer all of my emails.

          Write any time.

  15. Ellen G says:

    Unbeknowned to our son he married a women who has been biopolar since she was 13. After she decided to turned vegan a number of yrs ago, she claimed she was so healthy she didnt need her meds anymore. She now is so irrational its scary. No one knows what to do and everyone is afraid of her. Their has been situation that have come out that when she gets extremely angry at an individual because in her mind they did something to her she’s admitted she wanted to kill them but just didnt have the opportunity. I dont think she is aware that we know of her illness. We live out of state and are extremely worried about our grandchild and son. The children are very young and she fills their heads with craziness, they are getting so distrustful of everthing and everyone. They have to have her approval on EVERYTHING. She has never worked because he cant get along with anyone. Our son travels a lot for his job and is glad to just get away, he says the married is over, but is afraid that she may get the children so he stays. She will not speak to us now, nor any of her family, and has alienated everyone including friends. No one will come to their house because of her behavior. What can we do, were desperate.

    • François says:

      She’s not bipolar. It can’t be diagnosed at 13. She’s maybe paranoid schizophrenic, who knows, but nothing I have read in your description matches any of my personal experiences or those of other bipolar sufferers I know. Seek professional help. And not from the person who diagnosed her bipolar and pumped her full of meds when her brain didn’t need them so that she’s now suffering real mental illness. Just my humble opinion.

      • Dennis says:

        Several things wrong with your post. Yes, it can be diagnosed at 13. Most doctors just won’t diagnose it until the person at least gets through puberty to ensure it’s not some other hormonal imbalance.

        Bipolar Disorder manifests in many different ways. I’ve spent about 80% of my teenage to adult life in moderate to suicidal depression with maybe 15% in hypomania. I have a friend who is a Type 1 and has spent about 90% of her adult life in near mania; periodically going too high, periodically crashing but always up. We’re both Bipolar and it looks very different in both of us.

        In the woman’s case that Ellen describes; being so healthy she doesn’t need meds sounds like fairly standard delusional thinking. I know of many Bipolars that have alienated everyone remotely close to them because of their insanity and instability. All of what Ellen describes could be symptomatic of the Disorder really. But we also don’t know this woman’s history. I started cycling at about 13. I wish I had known that my family had a long, long history of Bipolar Disorder. Hypomania, suicidal depression, and a family history of the Disorder. Unfortunately, 13 year olds aren’t too articulate about what’s going on in their mind either.

        At any rate; the important point is the woman clearly needs help. You are very much right on that. If she is convinced she’s fine, she isn’t going to seek it though. Husband is most likely going to have to initiate it through the medical establishment or lawyer.

    • Dennis says:

      Your son really should consult with a divorce lawyer to develop a course of action. There’s a lot of different ways things could go and none of them are really good. I can’t imagine the court is going to be too pleased with him if he claims she’s a threat and has been traveling for work, leaving the kids alone with her. Either way, consultation with a lawyer would be the way to go to get advice on his rights.

      He needs to do something soon. It’s definitely not going to get better on its own. Forcible intervention on her behalf is only possible if she is a serious threat to herself or others. But by that time it may be too late. He may want to also check out what the requirements are for such measures with a local hospital.

  16. GabsJL says:

    I just found this site and it really hits home.
    my boyfriend of 4 years is bipolar and unmedicated. He has broken up with me in the past at least 5-6 times, the last time being October 2012 (lasted 3 months) during a severe manic episode.
    Even though we don’t live together – says he can’t live with anyone- I don’t need to tell you how I suffered during these breakups, especially the last one in 2012.
    I would go to bed sobbing and wake up sobbing, at home, at work, in the street, everywhere.
    Since we got back together in Jan. 2013, things were going well until about mid-summer, when he started to get more irritable, yelling at me over nothing, being very difficult and unreasonable..
    He has been taking paroxetine since 2012 given to him by his general practitioner, and it really seems like he is perpetually manic now.

    I love him and have always been very patient and understanding, reading a lot about bipolar disorder etc. However, this summer I lost my job after 7 years, had hip surgery, and have to leave my apartment next spring, and now my mother needs open-heart surgery. This is all getting to be too much for me, especially since he has again broken up with me after we got back from a long weekend away on Nov. 3.
    He refuses to see me but seems to want to still communicate by email and text.
    I am going to see my mother for 2 weeks in Dec. And asked to see him to give him his Christmas gift and also to make sure he is OK, but has avoided answering me, but still sends an occasional email.

    I am getting more depressed every day from all the stress and the sobbing is back. Is there any hope that he will get rebalanced soon or should I finally give up? I can’t deal with all this at once, my mental and physical health are declining rapidly.
    Or is there antthing I could say in particular to try to get through to him?
    any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Gabs. The next email you exchange with him, tell him he needs to consult with another doctor about his treatment. If he is JUST on paroxetine, that is bad. You’re not supposed to put a Bipolar person on just an antidepressant because it ROCKETS them into the other end of the spectrum. Which is exactly what it sounds like happened. He should really consult with a psych if he has been diagnosed Bipolar and only put on an antidepressant. That doctor doesn’t know the most basic of points about treatment of the Disorder.

      He won’t be calming down or mellowing out if he is just on an antidepressant. The med is likely keeping him artificially escalated. He really needs to see a psych who can treat him properly.

      As for you, Gabs. You need to take care of you first and foremost. You have to stop putting everyone else first and sacrificing your health for it. It’s okay to take care of you and focus on you. If he is unwilling to talk to a psych about what he’s going through, I would cut ties with him. He’s not going to get better while he’s on the A/D by itself.

      • GabsJL says:

        Thanks for your quick response.

        I have spoken to my boyfriend many times about going to see a psych to get proper bipolar medication, and he always says he’ll think about it, then never goes.

        I have read many articles about the dangers of taking only anti-depressants for bipolar disorder and have even sent a few links to my bf. I don’t know if he ever read them.

        I think it is probably hopeless trying to get him to see a psych, unless perhaps he gets to the point of having a complete psychotic break and ends up in the hospital, which I hope doesn’t happen.

        What hurts the most, is his complete rejection of me and refusing to see me, if only for an hour or so. He says he needs to be alone, but I found out yesterday that his 22 year old nephew came over 2 nights ago to watch a soccer match. So, it seems it’s only me he doesn’t want to see…and that really, really hurts. This seems to be a common theme in many bipolar posts, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

        Many people have said, as you, that I should cut him off, but it’s extremely difficult, since I really care for him and still have a glimmer of hope that he will get better.

        If he started trying to get off the anti-depressants progressively as recommended, would that get him out of his manic state or plunge him into a depression?

        Thanks again so much for your help.

  17. Dennis says:

    You’re welcome on the fast reply. It’s unfortunate he won’t hear you about seeing a psych. He will have a psychotic break sooner or later; and it will be much better if you’re not around for that.

    The reason he doesn’t want to see you is that he probably has feelings for you; feelings the Disorder can twist, warp, and magnify. That makes it hard to deal with the people you have intimate relationships with because they cause the most chaos in your brain, even though they aren’t trying to.

    Actually, the way I’ve known it to be handled most of the time, is that the doctor wouldn’t wean him off a/ds but instead introduce a mood stabilizer which would bring him down to baseline. He absolutely SHOULD NOT stop taking the A/D until he consults with a doctor to find out how to handle the situation. A professional is the only one that can make that call on what will be the best approach for him based on numerous factors about his health and personal situation.

    • GabsJL says:

      Thanks again for your fast reply. It made me feel better and you give good, concrete information which many other sites don’t have.

      I did follow your advice and mentioned going to see a psych in an email yesterday and that the antidepressants are probably maintaing him feeling bad. I didn’t exactly say that but more or less, trying to be diplomatic and kind. I also asked him again if I could see him before I go away to see my mother to give him his present.

      He promptly told me that NO!!! We’re not going to see each other before Christmas because we don’t get along anymore and we’re always fighting blabla…the same broken record Ive heard before when he breaks up. I should have expected it, but this time it hurt so much that I spent the day in bed shaking and sobbing.

      He goes to Chicago with me at Christmas every 2 years (we live in France but I’m from Chicago), and it seems the years he doesn’t go with me, he always wants to break up. Can he really be that shallow and just uses me to travel since he would never go anywhere alone, or is it the mania that makes him think that since he doesn’t “need” anymore since he didn’t buy a plane ticket? Both options are horrible in any case…

      Last year, even though he did go to Chicago, he was incredibly irritable all the time, constantly yelling at me (except when he opened his presents!!), and it was absolute hell for me. So perhaps the antidepressant-induced mania was already present. Or is he just a complete ass?

      I’m not going to contact him for awhile but I still have some things at his place, so he’s going to have to see me at some point, or maybe he’ll have a neighbor give me my things since I’m the “enemy” now. It’s heart breaking….
      On the other hand, what if my lack of contact makes him feel even worse?

      I know I have to care of myself first, but knowing he’s suffering means i can’t forget about him.

      Your blog is a lifesaver, thank you again.

      • Dennis says:

        Don’t be diplomatic and kind, Gabs. That’s a mistake “normal” people make all the time because most people they deal with are rational and reasonable.

        What I would say to him is-

        “Antidepressants in a Bipolar person without a mood stabilizer rocket them into escalation and keep them there. You need to talk to a psych who is familiar with the correct way to treat a Bipolar person. These are facts. If you don’t believe me; look it up. I’m not arguing with you on this point.”

        Now, if he’s that shallow it will be more often than just for that trip. If he’s not shallow typically, it’s probably more to do with the mental illness than him just being generally shitty. That kind of shallowness would definitely stand out over a long period of time.

        Travel across time zones is notoriously difficult for Bipolars. It really throws off our mental balance and I would expect him to be chaotic from traveling from France to Chicago. Your brain gets used to sleeping certain patterns and the adjustment to a new time zone throws a monkey wrench into the normal machinery.

        Yes, your lack of contact could make him feel worse. That’s a possibility. However, you have to take care of YOU FIRST. He’s an adult. He is not your responsibility no matter how much you feel like he is. After all, what kind of consideration is he showing you; knowing that the make up break up cycle tears you to pieces every time? I would suggest looking into a therapist for yourself to explore this side of you. You sound like you may have some codependency issues that need addressed; based on how hard it is for you to draw boundaries between the two of you. It’s something you should discuss with a professional for sure.

        A lot of people suffer in the world. Just because you love this one doesn’t make him any more entitled than anyone else. I know shitty that sounds; but you can’t destroy yourself in the process of trying to help someone else. That is a fool’s errand that will only end in misery for you.

        I hope this helps, Gabs. You’re very welcome. Be good to you.

        • GabsJL says:

          Thanks for writing back so fast again Dennis. I haven’t been on here for a bit, haven’t been very well, but your words have stayed in my mind.

          Someone named Thomas posted something recently, and what you said about his wife never apologizing made me think hard about my situation, because it’s very, very similar. I never get an apology, nor see the slightest sign of remorse about how he treats me…

          As you advised, I have really basically stopped contacting my bf. And so, nothing at all from him since last Friday, because he was drinking and started texting just before midnight. I again was severely “reprimanded” for daring to mention seeing him for 10 minutes before I leave to give him this goddam Christmas present that I wish I had never gotten. Meanwhile, he’s saying he’s going to see his nephew and a friend of his the next day. Today, I got 1 word around lunchtime…so if i don’t keep up the contact, he’s certainly not going to apparently.

          His current state has never lasted this long before (perhaps over 6 months, escalating in hostility progressively), so I think this may be it for us. This seems to confirm exactly what you said about antidepressants.

          He said at the end of his drunken texting Friday that “it’s too early”, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but I’m not going to wait indefinitely hoping he’ll finally decide one day in a few weeks, a few months??? years?? that he can see me at last.

          I’m so incredibly sad about all this, and still care so much for him, but as you said, I have to take care of myself, and this upteenth breakup is destroying me.

          I’ve read a lot of your articles here and they really are all extremely helpful and informative. I will continue reading more…so glad I found you!

  18. Dennis says:

    Hey Gabs. Sorry to hear you’ve been sick. And yeah, his behavior towards you is pretty shitty all around. I know you care a lot about him or we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and your health. It’s okay to do that.

    A lot of people view mental illness as this intangible, incomprehensible creature. But it’s really not. It is very complex; but a lot of things are predictable even though the person’s actions may not be.

    For example: For a majority; a Bipolar person on an antidepressant with no mood stabilizer they will escalate into mania and stay there. This is a basic fact of treating Bipolar Disorder. You may not know what the person will do while escalated; but nearly every Bipolar will escalate without the mood stab. That is relatively predictable.

    What isn’t predictable, as you pointed out, is what the person will do while escalated or how long they will be like that. He needs the help of a psych who knows how to treat the Disorder properly. And it’s probably going to get worse before he realizes that.

    I know you’re sad, and I know it tears you up inside. But it’s okay to take care of you, Gabs.

  19. Anon says:

    Please use this one – not my name
    Hi there,
    I too have just found this site and feel a little less stupid and gullible than before. My partner of 14 years has been acting in ways similar to this for our whole relationship. At the start I used to call it his male pms due to the fact that it would occur only once or twice a year. It slowly got worse until he was switching so fast between both extremes but it still didn’t click there was something wrong. This is going to sound quite lame but I was actually starting to believe him that everything was my fault and that I really was stupid, ugly and lazy. About a year ago we were going camping. Everything was fine until I brought out the silverside for dinner and he went off at me – you know cause now we needed a fire and I am so stupid for bringing that – even though he asked for it. He started yelling and screaming and swearing at me- scared the crap outa our little boy. I can’t really express how crazy he was. I made a point of grabbing my son and walking away down the beach. About half an hour later I came back and he went off again about me walking away – how dare I. After all he was only mad because it was my fault. It was at this moment it just kinda dawned on me. I blurted out even before I had finished thinking it -that he was bipolar. Still took a few weeks for him to go to the doctor and then he had to see other doctors – as the first one just didn’t see that it was me and all my fault or how stupid and crazy I was. Bla bla bla. Finally believed it and another few weeks after that went on medication. Things have slowly started to improve I suppose but I have now been diagnosed with depression. His therapist said it is quite common for spouses to get this. I am at times really finding myself disliking him more and more. He too calls me names, he is abusive in every form. This is only when he is manic. When he is stable everything is so wonderful. But that is far and few between. He is so selfish and arrogant and childish. He is currently mad at me for something in his head and put his washing in the machine right before work knowing that it would be left for me do and then just walked out. I hung it out with some of mine and our sons and when he got home from work he got his stuff off and left mine and our sons. I asked why and he told me to stop being so f-ing lazy and stop crying like a baby. I don’t think I can take much more. He has been quite clever really by putting everything in his name and making me feel like there is nothing for me if we separate. He makes me feel guilty by even thinking it. I have almost no friends left as they dislike him and their partners have told them to stay away from me due to his instability and not wanting things to happen around them and their kids. Man this is heaps…. Sorry – it’s funny because I still haven’t even touched the surface of what life is like. I’m confused, scared, ashamed and lonely.

    • Dennis says:

      Going to address some points that stand out to me.

      1. Most mental illnesses do get worse with age. Body chemistry changes and the brain is physically affected by the illness. I know that with Bipolar Disorder there are three or four sections of the brain that lose volume (brain cells die at an accelerated rate) because of the Disorder.

      2. It’s not lame that he caused you to start doubting and thinking it was your fault. This is common abusive behavior. Tell someone they’re worthless or it was their fault for long enough, they start to believe it. I regularly hear loved ones comment about this. So no, you’re not lame or anything else for falling into that trope. It happens. It’s not your fault.

      3. If it’s getting to the point where you feel like you are not going to be able to deal with it anymore, regardless of how “wonderful” he is when he’s stable; you’re still in an abusive relationship. Look into local resources that help women and children in abusive relationships. I don’t know what country you live in so I’m not sure what kind of third party help would be available. See if you can reach back out to at least reestablish contact with some of your better friends that have fallen by the wayside. You may also want to look into local support groups for “Friends and Family”. Some places have them, some don’t. But they can be an invaluable resource to just be around other people that have gone through shit similar to what you are going through.

      4. Keep working on your depression; do what you need to do to get it under control. It is very common for spouses to wind up depressed because of this turmoil.

      It’s okay to be confused, scared, ashamed, and lonely. At least you are finally starting to see that this shit has little to nothing to do with you. His reactions are irrational because he’s mentally ill. The laundry, the camping trip, all that bullshit; that’s on him. Not you. You cannot hold yourself responsible for his actions while trying to tiptoe around his mental illness and abusiveness.

      I have no idea if things will get better or not. I do know that, from your message, it at least appears that you are finally starting to understand that there is a severe problem in all of this. You do not deserve to be treated this way. No one does.

  20. Jake D says:

    My fiance is always going through these really low phases, its so hard. I love her so much, it’s just some of the things she can come out with really cut you up, i mean one minute it’s all “I love you so much, i need you, i wanna be with you forever” and then in the blink of an eye it can be “I just don’t know if i love you like i should” “I don’t feel the same way anymore” “You don’t even care, you don’t notice, you don’t know me” and it’s becoming harder and harder to tell the difference between a bipolar episode, and her true feelings. I tend to her every need, i do everything i possibly can for her to keep her happy, but no matter what i do, there’s always the inevitable low crash. I love her so much, and i know i’ll never leave her, i can take everything she says on the chin, It’s just that lately i’m blaming myself, like there might be something i’m doing wrong, maybe it’s not an episode and she really feels that way, what can i do?

    • Dennis says:

      You can encourage her to seek help from a professional. Her brain is ultimately going to go wherever it wants to go. That’s the nature of mental illness. She doesn’t function in a way that typical women do. It’s not your fault. It really has nothing to do with you at all, Jake. It’s wonderful that you’re so loving and supportive of her, but ultimately that kind of thing won’t actually help her in the long-term. No more than love and tenderness will cure cancer.

      I would worry less about what she actually feels right now and just worry more about encouraging her to continue to educate herself on her mental illness and seek professional help.

      Don’t forget to make time for yourself, Jake. You can’t be a constant caregiver of any sort without taking time to recharge your own batteries. You know? You may also want to look into Friends and Family support groups locally to interact with other people who have been through what you’re going through. It can help a lot to just be around other people that you know have dealt with the same kind of pain and turmoil you are now.

  21. phillip burton says:

    Simple question:
    My partner who knows she is bipolar and on medication, is very smart and extremely well read – would you suggest having her read your post and all the comments?

    • Dennis says:

      My body of work is not meant to be a definitive resource. Though we are bound by symptoms and a diagnosis, we all live different lives and have different minds. Some things that resonate with Person A will not resonate with Person B because of these differences. A good example of that is the Bipolar Survival Guide by Dr. David Miklowitz. It’s an incredibly popular Bipolar book that resonates with a lot of people. I found it relatively useless because it was aimed more at the explosive and abrupt nature of Type 1 Bipolar Disorder as opposed to the way Type 2 Bipolar Disorder insidiously creeps into and disrupts my life. There were a couple of points of truth and helpful bits I picked up out of it; but I can’t rave about it being “great for me” because it was not. I can definitely see why it would be great for Type 1’s and their friends and family members.

      So my answer to you is simple; she should read and digest everything she can get her hands on, then strive for wellness armed with that knowledge and the assistance of knowledgeable professionals.

  22. Frankie says:

    Dennis, I just stumbled onto this site of yours. PLEASE help me. I’ve been with a girl for 4 years now who is diagnosed bipolar and borderline personality disorder. We have a child together. He’s two now. Things are spiraling way out of control. It’s 645am and we just got out of bed for another screaming match, saying hurtful things, almost to the point of me getting physically beaten by a girl again. PLEASE help me you have no idea how fucked my mind, my world has become. I understand the part about her having the worst childhood ever. I don’t understand the fucking insanity I’m living called life. I think she has turned me insane.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. I REALLY recommend you talk to a professional about the situation as soon as possible. What you’re describing is, of course, very severe and you should really pursue professional insight on what to do about the situation. Seek professional assistance immediately! Her behavior sounds way out of the scope of what laymen should be interfering with.

  23. anonymous says:

    Reading your post made me cry, only because I felt I was reading about myself. I feel that you gave great examples of how a supporter should respond. I have BPD and I’m in a relationship (almost a year now). I recently started cycling (past three months) and I know it’s been hard for my bf. I try to catch it before I “go left.” From the standpoint of a functioning professional, (and many more titles), it is extremely embarrassing after I come down out of my manic state and I am able to think clearly again. I’ve been off my meds for a little over a year because I felt I could manage (I was at the time). That only lasted 6-8 months without any episodes of mania or depression. Due to the embarrassment, I tend to isolate myself in fear that people will discover my illness. I decided last week to make an appointment and go back to my doctor. I haven’t told my bf about my appt (he knows about BPD). He’s supportive, but I feel he’s getting close to the end of his rope. I want to feel like myself again.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. I think that’s a good step you’re taking, getting back in to see your doctor.

      Apologies if this sounds nitpicky; but do you mean Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder? Borderline is abbreviated to BPD. Bipolar is just called Bipolar. I realize it can sound nitpicky, but you don’t want to send the wrong information out when you’re discussing it with someone. 🙂

      You may want to try and include your boyfriend in this! He may be able to help you out and provide more meaningful support if he actually knows what’s going on.

      You may want to consider seeing a therapist as well, to discuss your embarassment. If you feel alone and isolated, a support group may also be helpful because you’re around other people who live with and deal with similar struggles. It’s something you could inquire with your doctor about.

      We’ve all done things that have embarrassed or horrified ourselves after the fact. So you’re not alone in that!

      You can feel free to email me any time if you need to vent, have questions, or want to discuss anything not emergency related. I check my email on a daily basis.

      Getting well can be a difficult process. Some days you just have to focus on getting through the next five minutes to the next five minutes until you’re through your storms. But you can do it. And you don’t have to divulge that information far and wide to do it either. It most certainly is easier with trusted people helping you on your path though.

  24. anonymous says:

    Thank you. I meant bipolar disorder.

  25. Frank says:

    Hey Dennis,

    First off I can say that when she is not having an breakdown we are a happy loving pair. I’m not sure if my girlfriend has bipolar but she was recently diagnosed with depression and has been given medication (which she takes). As a supporter I am struggling to not give into my emotions when we are arguing. The problem is that she loses her patience very quickly and when that happens she verbally attacks me for any imperfection she sees. She can be warm on one hand and with small disagreement (and it can be trivial), she can go on yelling at me in no time. An example is if she told me something like a public holiday, if I forgot it twice, she could be verbally abusive because she’d have to tell me again. If I try to reason with her it she will first say that I think I am always right, never my fault and then resort to self blame which really drives her deeper into her illness. I can see the stress she has inside and it makes me feel really sad. In a few instances where I tried (I guess hard) reasoning I got slapped and she just locked herself into the room and hid. She would say that no one understands her, blame herself for causing everything and wants to disappear. I am picking my battles nowadays since she got diagnosed but sometimes lines are so blurred I don’t know if I’m a doormat and conditioning her to be more verbally abusive going forward. I see “walking on eggshells” often on forums and I totally side with that feeling. Sometimes it feels like fumes are in the air and all it takes is a small spark to set it off – problem is, I don’t smell it until its too late. Not sure what to do because I feel a bit helpless sometimes especially when I know communication is important and this impatience is undermining it all. What are your thoughts Dennis?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Frank.

      Has she discussed her “impatience” and reactions with her doctor or therapist? That would be the place to start. Couples counseling with a counselor familiar with mood disorders may also be able to pick up if there is more to her stability than just the depression. If she won’t go or talk to her professional, I recommend that you speak to a therapist on your own; so you have a neutral perspective with someone who can be familiarized with the entirety of your situation. It certainly sounds like something more may be going on; but the only way to get to the root of that is to explore it with the assistance of a professional.

  26. Charles says:

    Sorry folks but why is it when a man does this he is called abusive. A woman does this and its mental problems. ????? My wife is BiPolarized to the max. The crap I get everyday is frustrating. Hardness with Softness might apply in some situations but not all. Society has conditioned everyone to play the victim. Every show on TV shows people cheating,fighting, having a nervous breakdown because of stress. So, now everyone blames something in every situation. There are exceptions, If maybe you have a thyroid problem or tumor. If we say we’re all victims of childhood traumas or just anything bad that happens in life then we should all say we’re bipolar. I’ve been through the ringer and I never let myself be brought down . People get off your sofas, stop eating junk non nutritional food,get some sun,excercise. Volunteer in a third world country where you see real life struggles,then you can see If your life is really that bad

    • Dennis says:

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

      When a woman does this, it is abusive as well.

      “Society has conditioned everyone to play the victim.” Like you’re doing right now? If your wife is so terrible and awful to you, why have you not left her? What is stopping you from changing your situation for yourself? There absolutely comes a point when enough is enough. If you have reached yours, then change your situation. The opinions of “society” and other people think are irrelevant. They aren’t you. They aren’t your wife. They can’t make that decision for you. If your wife is so terrible to you, that she doesn’t want to get help or deal with her problems, then leave her.

      “There are exceptions, if maybe you have a thyroid problem or a tumor.” Or a severe mental illness like Bipolar Disorder? A mental illness that has been catalogued and acknowledged for over a thousand years? A mental illness that destroys people, their minds, their lives, takes everything from them?

      You don’t have to go to third world countries to see real suffering. Try visiting an asylum, a drug spot, or the ghetto. All right here in America!

      Your “advice” is completely contrary to what you’re doing. Your beliefs about mental illness, and Bipolar Disorder, are not in line with the many, many years of study that is already done on it.

      And look, I know you’re probably going to read this, get pissed off, and think I’m flaming you. But I’m not. Mental illness is not an excuse to treat other people like shit. Will people use it as an excuse? Yes. Will people accept it as an excuse? Yes. Does that mean it’s right? NO.

      What society thinks and promotes is irrelevant.

      My rule of thumb is, if the person is trying, I’m in their corner. If they aren’t trying, not your problem. You cannot expect an untreated, unstable mentally ill person to make sane, rational decisions. THAT is insane. YOU have to be the one to make the rational decisions.

      But I do have a few points of advice for you.

      1. Stop coddling her shit. If she is abusive, threatens you, or threatens suicide; alert the authorities. She’ll either learn that she can’t arbitrary to do that shit or be in the best position to actually be helped.

      2. Educate yourself on mental illness and Bipolar Disorder, not what you THINK it is. I do not understand why so many people have such a difficult time with understanding some people are broken. If it’s genetic (like Bipolar Disorder), it’s essentially being born with a defective brain; the kind of thing that warrant a transplant if you could transplant brains. It’s a complicated, complex organ. Like any complex machine, they may not work correctly.

      3. Look into Friends and Family support groups in your area, or if there are none locally, look for one online. These are communities composed of people just like yourself who love a mentally ill person and deal with the torrent of bullshit that goes with it. You can learn a lot from them, including how best to approach dealing with the shit your wife does.

      I sympathize with you on the shit your wife has undoubtedly put you through, but this “grin and bear it” attitude that so many people seem to have about being in abusive relationships of any kind really needs to end; man or woman.

      Be good to yourself, Charles.

  27. SRC says:

    Hi Denis, no idea what my 24 year old son has. I lost custody of him to his (I think) sociopathic father who tried more than once to kill me when my son was five. He then proceeded to physically , mentally and anything else abuse him until he was 18, wherupon he sent him back to me. My son became a pot addict, spiralled downhill rapidly until a high school flame got pregnant to him and they married. Apparently, his mood swings and laziness got too much for her and soon after their child was born, she kicked him back to me. He is almost always down, argues constantly with me, stinks(no washing/ brushing hair etc) and refuses to see a doctor. My health and mind are suffering more and more because of this. I cannot put him out because no one else wants him and he cannot live on his own. Any ideas would be most welcome.

    • Dennis says:

      I sympathize greatly with your situation. That’s just awful all the way around. And unfortunately, the only way you’ll probably get through to him at all is to be hard-edged with him as well.

      Were it me, I would do the following.

      Explain to him that staying with you came with conditions. He needs to get a job, see a doctor, and regularly maintain his appointments with said doctor. You’ll need give him some time. It may take awhile to find a job. Waiting lists for psychs can be 3-6 months. If he refuses, tell him his choice is to either do it or drop him off at a local homeless shelter. And I would tell him, “This is your future if you don’t do something to help yourself. No one else can do it for you.”

      I realize this may sound cruel, but when you’re dealing with someone who is that severely damaged, getting through to that person takes some serious shit to punch through their perspective. For a lot of us, that means hitting rock bottom. Hopefully, this approach will get through to him before he actually has to hit the real rock bottom, where he’s lost everything and everyone. Even if you do have to put him out into a shelter, they will at least have access to resources to get him pointed to help when he finally realizes that he cannot conduct his life the way he is.

      You have to take care of yourself first. It sounds like your son was dealt with a pretty bad hand and I’m sure you’re not keen to contribute to that. But, the reality is, we often don’t get that choice. And if he should ever get violent with you, call the cops. You didn’t mention it in your post at all, but it does happen. If it does, get authorities involved.

      • SRC says:

        Thanks for your quick reply. He has not gotten physically violent with me but tried to “invade my personal space” with a menacing look, which did scare me a bit but I held my ground and he backed off. He hates his father but continually says that no one messed with him and he wishes he was like that. I also have his 19 year old brother here who has Asperger’s and I have asked him if Ryan has abused him etc when I’m not home, to which he says “no”. If I discovered the reverse to be true, I would kick him out in a second as my younger son is the most easygoing and loving man ever and deserves no abuse. Can you please give me suggestions as to how to stop myself arguing back with him as it escalates to yelling, which has achieved nothing.

        • SRC says:

          I should also mention when I have suggested forcefully that he seek help, he usually does ridiculous things like jump on the car bonnet to prevent me leaving the house and threatening suicide if I kick him out. In his good days, I can see the man he should have been, were it not for his @#$ father, so I guess I cling to the hope that side of him will emerge and I feel guilt that I lost custody of him and he was abused.

          • Dennis says:

            Unfortunately, there are no easy answers in defusing that degree of escalation and not responding to it. Your response largely boils down to keeping your own anger in check, and not letting him draw it out of you. Easier said than done, I know. One technique I use is simple silence. I’ll wait about thirty seconds before I bother responding to give myself time to work through it, and disrupt their own train of thought; because instead of the anger fueling them, they’re not sitting there wondering “why is this guy just quietly staring at me.”

            Threatening suicide is a common manipulative tactic. The best way to handle that – ask him if he’s serious. If he says yes, then you pick up the phone, call 911, and get authorities involved. If you’re not ready to go that far, look him straight in the eye and inform him that “I am not responsible for your choices.”

            And most importantly, know and understand that. Even if you did kick him out and he does follow through, that’s his choice. Not yours. You cannot own the problems of someone who is as severely unstable as he sounds like he is. You have to find peace with that in yourself; because it’s the only way you can keep from being manipulated by him.

          • SRC says:

            Thanks Dennis, I managed to nag him into going to our local Headspace today and he has an appointment Friday with them, to which getting him to go to will be my next challenge. Reaally tired of looking after my child man son…was hoping to be living my own life on the road by now(I’m 57) but I can’t leave him or his younger brother at the moment.

  28. Muriel says:

    I had a friend who is bi-polar. Please notice the use of the word had. I could not continue as her friend because everyone around her “yes” her to death to avoid conflict and confrontation, thereby fueling her illogical thoughts. The second I try to point out any discrepancy in her behavior or thoughts, in accused of bullying and being mean. It is truly exhausting! By the way, I do not think she is taking her meds because she believes she can cure her condition through holistic methods.

    • Dennis says:

      It’s an unfortunate situation. We’re all raised to think that being kind and compassionate takes the form of “niceness”. The reality is, niceness gets steamrolled straight over by someone who is unwell, unstable. That’s what the Disorder does to people and the “yes-people” around her certainly do not contribute to her realization that something is wrong.

      If she is that negative, she’s either not taking her meds or they are not working correctly for her. Could be either really. But if she is so wrapped up in holistic control, I would guess she probably wasn’t either.

      Ah well. It’s good that you had the strength and temerity to take care of yourself though. People like that can take you straight to the bottom with them if you’re not careful.

  29. David defruscio says:

    My wife has borderline personality disorder and found out she is bipolar after she left home. One Sunday she threaten to punch me because the girls wanted to go to church with me and I didn’t know . So I went to church without them. Later that day she came to me and said I was a psycho . Then started arguing with me. Then proceed to put her hand in my face. I said that I didn’t want to escalate any further because I didn’t want to get to point where the police get involved and there could be repercussions with her kids.

    • Dennis says:

      Unfortunately common stuff, David. Rationality and reasonable actions are not typically the trademarks of mentally unstable people.

      I’m not entirely sure if you wanted any kind of commentary or had questions. It just seems like you were venting in your post! If I overlooked something, please let me know.

      • David Defruscio says:

        She has been gone for four weeks with her two daughters without talking to me and don’t know where she is . Should I file a missing persons report? Her and the kids have been missing appointments.

        • Dennis says:

          I would discuss the situation with the local authorities to find the route you should take. They can advise you much better than I.

  30. theescortgirl says:

    I need some feedback please! I have my own issues; I am an escort with borderline and personality disorder. I have, however, had successful sugardaddy or client relationships and it works for me. I can’t hold a regular job. Recently, I met a wealthy client who wanted a longer term arrangement. He’s married and ric and I’m beautiful and young.but we are both nuts and he admitted to being bipolar. I was going to end things, but then my car broke down, I have no savings due to my illness and so I asked him for help. He rescued me, paid for my hotel and is getting my car repaired. We eat at nice places and are currently on a very nice trip. The problem is he triggers my anxiety. I don’t know if he likes me )on a friend level or not. Sometimes he’s very nice, others he’s very rude, condescending and psychologically abusive. I think I will leave him as soon as my finances are settled. My question is, do bipolar people actually like the people they abuse? When I almost cancelled the trip, he was very sad. His marriage is over and his relationships non existent. He’s lonely but I can’t handle his verbal abuse. One time he twisted mywrist. Then he always apologizes and expects me to just forget but I can’t. Any thoughts? I’m stuck with him for days until my car is fixed.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. Thanks for taking the time to write. Just to provide a bit of insight, a lot of the following opinion is based on 1. me being a male and understanding the way we function and 2. dating a stripper and being good friends with an escort who both used to share a lot of shit from that lifestyle.

      1. Abusive people are not always shitheads. That’s what keeps people like yourself coming back to the relationship. “Oh they are sorry, they won’t do it again.” And then it just happens again and again unless the person makes an effort to change their behavior. You may have great times 95% of the time, but if in that 5% the abuser undermines who you are, beats the shit out of you, whatever; then what good is the 95%? Because you just wind up living in fear of what may come next. Him apologizing and expecting you to forget is a very common thing with abusive types as well. It is a means of shifting responsibility. “Oh I apologized but YOU won’t let it go.” Wrist twisting is a red flag for physical abuse. A lot of abusers will gauge the response of their victim to see how much they are willing to put up with. No one has any right to do harm to you.

      2. Does he like you as a friend? I don’t know you. I don’t know him. I do know that a potentially physically abusive, rude, condesending, psychologically abusive person is not worth having as a friend. Being that he is well off and the fact that he isn’t divorced before indulging in services such as yours implies very loose morals. Is that the kind of thing you want to deal with in the future? Because if he did to his wife, he will do it to you, too. That being said, consider the source of information you have about his marriage as well. If you are solely getting it from him, it is very likely that he is lying or manipulating you about it. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess he blames her for everything – which would be par for the course for an “apologize and forget it” type abuser.

      3. Based on my own life experiences, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that he most likely doesn’t give any fucks about you. And even if he did, that’s not the kind of shit you need in your life either with the problems you face. Being Borderline and Bipolar is a hell of a lot to deal with, and they are things that do need dealt with sooner or later; before they have the opportunity to fuck your life up completely.

      You have the young, pretty thing going on for you that lets you do well as an escort. Set aside money to work towards your own stability. Get in to see a doctor. Start pushing to get yourself well and balanced so you won’t have to rely on people like him to survive. You won’t always have youth/looks. You need to think further ahead than that.

      My thoughts for you is – use it while you got it. And never lose sight of the fact that most of the guys you interact with in your line of work do not view you as a person. They view you as a trophy, a conquest. Oh, they will have plenty of praise, lies, and flattery for you. That’s just part of the game for that type of person. It’s no different than a stripper laughing at a customer’s stupid jokes, feigning interest in their personal lives, and being flirty enough to get them to open their wallets. Same game, different set of rules.

      If it wasn’t you, it would be anyone else. So you make sure you take of yourself, first and foremost. Guys like him can throw money at about anything, but that’s not someone who is going to provide you any real emotional support.

      There are plenty of abusive people that care about the people they abuse. Doesn’t mean it’s worth having or dealing with though.

      • theescortgirl says:

        Well see, their flattery isn’t a lie. I’m stunningly beautiful. I also know that plastic surgery can keep me that way for a long time. As it is, mI’m 31 and don’t look more than mid 20s. Men don’t love women period. I don’t care. I use them just as much as they use me. Men to me are talking dildos, all of them. I don’t trust any of them. Anyhow, by now I already left that guy behind. At first, he tried to berate me by phone but I ignored it. I spoke to his wife in retaliation and he and he had not blamed her for everything. I found out he became bipolar after starting drugs and that he is actually broke and blowing his retirement. I’ve moved on to other clients and sugar daddies. Most are not abusive. I’m a trophy, and a damn good one. They’re a wallet. Women who fall in love are stupid, men don’t deserve that. But atleast most clients are respectful, well mannered, etc. If not, I walk away. Oh and he tried to take my car from the shop but couldn’t. He’s an ugly, old, dumb, crazy and broke wanker. Actually causes pity.

        • Dennis says:

          Are you my ex?! I have most certainly had this conversation before! And I should have been more clearer, their flattery is manipulative, not necessarily lies.

          Anyway. Glad you got things worked out for yourself.

          I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you otherwise on your thoughts and beliefs on the male and female dynamic. I know that for many women who feel as you do, that there is a lot of history and very good reasons for those beliefs. But do bear in mind, if the only guys you hang out with on a regular basis are the kind that are interested in your physical attributes and the services you provide, then you’ll never find anything but that. And it definitely reinforces one’s perceptions over the long-term.

          I was only 18 when I was with my ex who was a stripper. Very young, naive, with no idea who I actually was. A lot of those experiences are still ingrained in my brain though. Like when she would take me to the bar she worked at so I could watch how she played clients. “Don’t be stupid or weak. Weak men who are stupid enough to dump their wallets at the slightest hint of attention are disgusting.” Great coach she was.

          • theescortgirl says:

            I’m not going to engage in debate. I know how men are. Not only from escorting, from dating them too. I did not start escorting until age 26. I’m a big fan of valerie solanas theories. I don’t care if they try to manipulate me, I do the same thing and they fall for it. You seem to think I’m as naive and stupid as most women. I’m not. And yes I’m doing well, I always will. Good luck.

          • Dennis says:

            Sounds like you have everything well in hand then. Good luck to you too. Be safe.

  31. theescortgirl says:

    Also, I think all women should charge men. And even if some men refuse to pay, there’s always others who will pay up. Women who do things for free are dumb.

  32. Lindsey says:

    I cannot explain, or put together a correspondence that’s even worthy enough of gratitude that your writing has brought to me. I have never, in my entire illness, found a piece such as this one that takes all of my feelings and thoughts that are all mixed up, and put them into words that make complete sense. Not only does this article help with my relationship with my fiancé, it has made me feel more self aware and even more capable of coping without medication. Thank you so much for your insight, you’re amazing.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Lindsey. I’m very happy to hear that you can take so much from my body of work!

  33. CarmelaC says:

    Really enjoyed this article and Q&A.. Great information. First I would like to know if you have a book out? Secondly, I am dealing with a bi polar husband. When he has an episode, his tend to run for months, he withdraws and this leaves me feeling crushed. He says he loves me but needs space to work through it, not to be smothered everyday by me asking if he lives me and still wants to be here. He says he has answered the question and if I continue to badger him on a daily basis he will leave. Problem is when someone is a loving husband for a period of time and then shuts down, it is extremely painful. I feel alone, scared, hurt and angry. What do you recommend I do or how do I act when he is in these fazes?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Carmela. Just wanted to let you know that I altered your display name, since it was your real name, and this is a public place. No need to have this show up if someone close to you chooses to google your name for whatever reason. If you have any problems with log in or anything (I’ve only recently started doing this), please email me. It shouldn’t affect your log in though.

      Thank you for your kind words, and I see by your other message that you did find my e-book link.

      The situation with your husband isn’t an uncommon one. Unwell cycles can last a long time, on rare occasions even years if the person’s brain is artificially kept there by other substances that affects Bipolar unwell cycles.

      First, let me assure you, the depressive cycle has nothing to do with you as a wife or his happiness with the relationship. Bipolar unwell cycles cause us to believe and feel things that we normally wouldn’t. When we crash into a depressive cycle, there is no light, love, or positive feelings. There is the void and the varying degrees of awful that a depressive cycle can inflict on us.

      I know it’s very painful and difficult, but the best thing you can do is just give him the space that he needs to rebalance. Don’t badger him or ask him if he loves you and so on; because even if he does answer that he doesn’t love you – you can’t trust that because the Disorder could be fucking with him at the moment. I know I have shitloads of negative thoughts and feelings while I’m unwell, including not liking or wanting to be around ANYONE. That includes a significant other. But once my unwell cycle ends, I’ll go back to being the man I normally am. I can then use the time I’m balanced and well to repair any emotional breaches and take care of my partner.

      You have every right to feel alone, scared, hurt and angry. Your feelings are important. The problem is that the Disorder doesn’t care about those things, even if we Bipolar people do. It’s an unpleasant part of your husband that you must learn to accept and love just as much as the well, wonderful him. Because he’ll be Bipolar for the rest of his life. It’s never going to completely disappear, though it can be greatly controlled with a variety of treatment methods.

      What does your husband do to treat his Disorder? Is he abusive or chaotic to the point where it negatively impacts your life?

      Have you considered visiting a therapist yourself, just so you have a safe neutral place to air out all of these emotional trials with a knowledgeable person? If you opt to go that route, you may want to inquire if the person has experience working with Bipolar people so hopefully they can have a decent grasp on your husband’s situation as well.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Some good info here. Unfortunately, my bi-polar husband won’t listen to a complete sentence when he’s hypomanic – he will interrupt literally every sentence I speak (even when sincerely and calmly apologizing or admitting my part of an argument), so the dialogue above can never happen with us. And when he’s not hypomanic, he won’t engage. I need a magic wand to have the calm conversation you example here. When they won’t learn about their disease (I understand that it’s the disease and not the person deciding this), and deny the painful impact it has on loved-ones, there’s not much to do. So I just go to NAMI support meetings and suck it up the rest of the time. Some of us have to put up with this verbal and emotional abuse. I’ve never had so much severe depression or anxiety before his retirement, when his disease came out strong.

    • David D says:

      I have major depression and anxiety from my wife that is bipolar. She continues to Where shout at me And at times can be physical . It can be very stressful and I am Constantly watching what I say or do to avoid hurt feelings were problems that can occur. The hardest part is how everything has to be her way or one sided. She can’t understand how to work together , see what she does hurts everyone in the family , and treat me like a partner that has feelings and needs support as well at times.

      • Dennis says:

        Note: I edited your display name so your name would never show up associated with this post in Google. When you’re discussing this subject matter online, don’t use your full name.

        Mental illness is not an acceptable reason to tolerate abuse. I’ve come to understand that there are two major groups of mental ill people – people that become assholes because of their mental illness and people who are assholes in addition to having a mental illness. The former group cares about how their actions affect other people when they finally balance out and will work towards getting and not letting their shit splash on others. The latter group just doesn’t give a fuck, and would likely be toxic even if they weren’t mentally ill.

        In my experience, the only real way to deal with people like your wife is to escape. In most cases, it’s not so much that the person “can’t” see how their actions affect others, it’s more that they just don’t care because they know that the abused is going to stay and accept the abuse. If she’s violent and your mental health is degrading, you’re far past a point where you need to consider leaving the relationship because it’s most likely not going to get better.

        If you’re not already, talk to a therapist of your own. If you decide you want to follow through on that course of action, be sure to consult with a divorce attorney and inform them of the situation so the kids can be protected in anyway. Be forewarned that if you just pick up and leave with the kids, that does constitute kidnapping in many places and your wife sounds like the type that will report you for it if she knows about it, given her penchant for control.

        Not every person is a good person. Not every person can be helped. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and work towards minimizing the damage the person can do to you so you don’t get destroyed in their chaos. No one deserves to be treated how you are being treated. Seek local professional help, if for no other reason than to get a professional opinion on your situation.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there. It’s damned difficult if not impossible for most people to argue with a hypomanic person. In most cases, it’s best to not even engage unless you really have to. It just feeds anger and frustration in the Bipolar person lengthening their unwellness cycle, in addition to your own anger and frustration.

      Refusing to acknowledge or communicate on the problem when he’s NOT unwell is not the disease, it’s an active choice. You mentioned retirement. I have had an exceptional problem getting through to older Baby Boomers for numerous reasons. I suspect that part of it is how long the person has spent dealing with things the way they are. Many folks I’ve dealt with from that era are very much of the “I held down a job for 30 years, I’m fine.” without wanting to acknowledge that their personal life is turmoil. I also see a lot of fear, fear when confronted with the idea that they have live for 40-50-60 years without an understanding of what’s going on in their head.

      And then there is the stigma that many of them still harbor, ingrained by society, family, friends, and other loved ones. That being identified as mentally ill is a severe character flaw, that visiting a psych or a therapist means they are weak or incompetent, or they’re scared of old tropes like being forcibly committed to the looney bin.

      The way I confront this problem is by painting mental illness as just another illness that needs treated. “Sometimes livers can be sick, sometimes hearts can be sick, sometimes brains can be sick. These are problems that can be confronted with the help of a knowledgeable professional. No one’s going to force you to do anything you don’t want to do. No one’s going to forcibly commit you. And you don’t have to tell anyone else in the world what you deal with if you don’t want to. Plenty of people deal with these problems quietly.”

      When it comes to people like your husband who won’t communicate, I just focus on planting seeds. Even if they won’t talk right now, a lot of times they are still listening. So I’ll just talk concisely about things that might get through. For someone in your case…

      “I’ve known you for X number of years, you’re getting worse as time goes on you know.”

      “Your refusal to look at your problem is really taking it’s toll on your family.”

      “You worked hard for your family for X years. We need you to work on yourself now.”

      “Mental health care isn’t what it was in the past. Many people confront these problems with the help of professionals.”

      “You know, you can get those extremes under control. We love you and want you to be happy.”

      Kind of generic, but if you can come up with things more relevant, more personal to him, it can help chip through the walls that he has built up. Don’t bother when he’s hypomanic, from the sounds of things it’ll just get loss. Instead, plant seeds and give them time to grow in his mind.

      If he’s the prideful type, I typically use a tact that speaks to personal nature. As an example, I helped spur an epiphany in a Marine veteran with, “I’m surprised a tough guy like you would run from his problems. Didn’t you do two tours in Vietnam? You’re brave enough to do that, but won’t confront this problem staring you in the face? A problem you could confront and get under control?” Nicked his pride, but he eventually realized he needed help.

      Assuming he’s a decent person beneath the mental illness, you can also try leveraging him into taking action by using “Do this for your family if you can’t do this for yourself.” I know that as someone who has struggled with a severe Bipolar-Depression component for a long time, I don’t give much of a shit about myself. I am still very much here for other people though. If he’s of similar mentality, you may be able to leverage that to at least get him to do some research on Bipolar Disorder. If you can do that, it can help him realize that he has a problem that needs to be and can be addressed.

      If you want to drop me an email to discuss your husband and the situation a bit more in-depth, I may be able to provide you some other, more specific ideas.

  35. Michele says:

    Hi there:

    Thanks for all the info on BiPolar. I find it validating and helpful. I too, am struggling. My BF and I recently returned from Burningman and well, I think he had an episode. He mentioned earlier in our relationship, that he was diagnosed with Bipolar when he was 22. He’s now 38, and not being treated for it. We’ve been together only 7 months, but have had many ups and downs – but nothing like the the return from Burningman. Over the course of our relationship, he has launched verbal toxic venom at me – and tells me its best if i don’t “hook into it” which I can be good with at times, but at other times, I do hook in. He is hypersexual, and has always pushed for an open relationship. I told him i could entertain the idea once we built a solid foundation, and that it would take some time. It’s always been a topic of tension though. In any case, back to burningman. We had an amazing week with a few lover’s quarrels here and there. He’s upset with me because I can get jealous of his past lovers and his desire to sleep with others. I think it’s natural given other women have always been a threat to the the relationship. In normal circumstances, I don’t think I would have so much insecurity around it, but i digress. We made it through the week, strong and solid, and as we left the playa he says “We did it babe, and now we can conquer the world together. Let’s have kids. Let do it all. You are the love of my life”. Two days later, none of that love existed. I became the enemy with too many insecurities and was no longer the love of his life. Then I “trigger him too much because you remind me of my mother…” and so on. He has a very distant relationship with her and he has been abandoned numerous time by both his mom and dad. (Mom is bipolar as well). I wasn’t ready to break up, and fought back. This led to a pretty charged fight where he started cursing me, throwing rocks and dirt at me, spitting on me and saying the most hurtful things. It culminated in him throwing me up against a fence. Onlookers called the cops but he fled and told me “we’re never getting past this one. It’s over you whore and I hope you die”. I’m heartbroken. His friends tell me he’s set in his decision and tat I should probably just move on. He’s not mentioning how bipolar may play into this, or the fact that he took a bunch of MDMA over the week, which depletes serotonin, and how that could act as a catalyst for all this. He is truly convinced we are not a match anymore. I’m devastated and he wants nothing to do with me and told me to leave him alone. I want him back, but only if he was willing to get medicated and counseling. As it is, there isn’t much drive for that. I’m at a loss, sad and really upset because we are great together and all his friends are rooting for us as a couple. Is the damage done? What should I do?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Michele. What do I think you should do… I think you should visit a therapist yourself. I think you should figure out why it is acceptable for a man to be physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to you and you want him back. You’ve been together 7 months. That’s nothing. And if he’s an untreated Bipolar, there’s no way to know what his emotions genuinely are. And even if so, him being abusive and you going right back to that is reinforcing that you’re okay with being treated like shit.

      Mental illness is never an excuse for abuse. Period. Because an unwell mind does think or behave rationally so it’s not some extreme leap that abusiveness now, within 7 months of this relationship being formed, to get far worse in the future.

      But let’s assume that you did get back together with him. Then what? Is he going to get help after not getting help for the past sixteen years? Probably not. Is it your job or mission to get him on the right track? No. It’s not. Wellness is something we have to want and pursue hard for ourselves. Other people can’t make us do that and aren’t able to sustain us through the tedious, monotonous bullshit that often goes into getting well.

      And frankly, if he was this abusive and crass to you this easily so early in the relationship, I would be very surprised if he didn’t behave the exact same way in his past relationships.

      Take the break up as a blessing in disguise. Go to therapy yourself to discuss why his actions are acceptable to you and ask to learn about boundary setting in relationships. I would also explore the jealousy angle as well. Yes, sometimes jealousy and possession crop up. But jealousy is toxic in any relationship. Now, if he flaunted his ideals and gloated about his past consequences an obnoxious amount, then yeah I would think that is reasonable. Exploring that with a counselor will let you know if your feelings were reasonable or may hint at some other problem.

  36. Karen says:

    I would have to agree with you Dennis, although my life experiences have been mixed on this subject. I am bipolar, but was only diagnosed at the age of 44 (3 years ago :)) – I have been married for 20 years and neither my husband nor I understood why I behaved the way I did and we very nearly split up on a few occasions; however I always, always tried to get better, and after the last 2 and a half years on lithium (and a few other things), the formula is getting about right. Now we have to try and get it right for our 3 kids, who have all inherited my genes 🙁

    However what you’re experiencing reminds me of a very toxic 10-month relationship I experienced in my early 20’s (depressed, fell into it). That guy was a sociopath (yes, medical opinion) with an ex-wife and girlfriends that had all been abused, and I was very lucky to escape. I was only able to leave him when I was able to accept within myself that I couldn’t “fix” him – I had to accept failure; I had to accept that I had walked out on “hard times” in a relationship. This wasn’t me! But it was the only solution.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for the insight, Karen. It’s difficult for a person to see when they are currently embroiled in the situation with emotions running strong.

  37. mark says:

    Well i found out my wife was bipolar manic depressent and she wasn’t bad at first well she got pregnant and things started to change from awesome to her being distant to being quiet to angry to happy to distant to angry to quiet and i left last month after shr had been going through all this because she said she didn’t love me or never loved me wasn’t happy said i was controling her then she said she was smothered she had no space well my wife was severely sick for those two months and i did everything for her cleaned dishes floors laundry went to store took kids to school picked them up and life was just so amazing with her before she was pregnant all she has sad to me is she wants a divorce she told her mom she wanted me to come there then i did she was quiet at first then she got angry didn’t talk for a week then she said she needed help so i went and helped her then she gave me a hug i left a hr later she text and says you could have stayed and ate and took a shower then a hr later she started talking about baby then she messages me and says she wants a divorced i haven’t talked to her in almost two weeks she blames me for everything i love her so much and miss her every second it affects my eating my sleeping my work my thinking this girl is my world I’m so lost confused hurt I’m emotionally upset at everything please help

    • Dennis says:

      About the best thing you can do right now is seek help for yourself. Look into local support groups and even visit a therapist to go over the situation with them and formulate a plan that is relevant to your personal situation. You will also benefit from having the additional support and help in dealing with your wife’s mental instability, assuming she is unstable. There’s no real catch all advice for dealing with a situation like this without knowing her and what’s going on specifically in every facet of life.

      Seek professional help. If you’re in America, look into NAMI or DBSA support groups. They will be able to provide you more meaningful insight.

  38. mark says:

    Thanks yes she has been to dr for it when she went to ob for baby visit they put her on zoloft and said she took one pill and made her sick then they set her up for counceling and she didn’t go there

  39. Donna says:

    I have been with my husband for 15 months. Today marks two months of marriage. I find myself in a situation where I have to throw rational questions out to help deter my husband from making decisions that could be financially detrimental. My husband has been driven to get a new truck, regardless of warnings that he is ruining our credit, warning that our interest rate is going to be higher than what we are already paying because of all the times that he has had our credit pulled.

    My husband kept showing up at my work with a new truck that he was test driving, after telling him in a multitude of ways that it was not a good idea. He became angry, when I said “I do not want to look at trucks right now. We cannot afford one.” He stated that I was smothering him and holding him back. He also stated that I was treating him like a child and I needed to trust him because he had thought it all out. I was not being rational, he says.

    He then decided it was time to get an upgrade on his phone because he was eligible. He was told that he would have to pay a deductible. He became furious, insisting that he should not have to pay a deductible because he has been a customer with them. I told him it was because his credit was so poor. He told me he would get a new phone not only for him but for me too, since they had wasted so much of his time or he was taking his business elsewhere. He did try to get new phones with another company but they wanted over triple the amount down. He became very angry, screaming at me that he was tired of getting doors slammed in his face.

    Then he went on a lets look at “free” stuff on Craig’s List binge. I told him we had very limited money. We had to make it to payday. Well he kept making 2 to 4 hour round trips in our full-sized truck. He used up basically all of our money on gas. I tried to remind him of what he and I agreed in that all we “needed” was each other and that we did not need “things” right now. Some of what he got can be used for our house, which saves us a significant amount of money in the long run, but at that time we needed the money for food and for me to get to work. I ended up needing to drain all my resources to make it until the next payday. I was forced to borrow money from my son and mother. Mind you, am 51 years old. I should not have to borrow money from my mom or my kids.

    All in all, we ended up with a very dirty but supposedly working hot tub (which I had to use credit to buy a new tire for because my husband managed to split the sidewall, plus a new tale light because he backed up into my tree shoving it over. I have two huge old windows, an automatic garage door opener, several rolls of carpet, as well as numerous other odds and ends. The front of my house which is normally very tidy, looks like a small junk yard.

    The most recent incident involved trying to sell my mother’s truck for her. The first buyer fell through, which involved a man from Idaho. We live in Washington State. Another gentleman from Wisconsin was interested in buying the truck, my husband wanting to go back to see his ailing parents and sister in Michigan, decided that he would see how much the guy was going to pay to have the truck shipped. After finding out, my husband offered that he could transport the truck. He would need to rent a trailer. He would spend a night, maybe two along the way. I voiced my concerns about financial liability; what if our truck broke down, what if the he got all the way to Wisconsin and the guy decided he did not want my mom’s truck. I told him he no money to take care of any emergencies along the way, gas, food, chains for the tires, you name it. He got angry, but I did not hear about it for a couple days. I thought he had finally turned the corner with his mood. I was hopeful, excited even, when he joined me while I was getting ready for work. It had been a few weeks since I had seen the sparkle in his eyes, then he said “I have been texting with that guy in Wisconsin. I will need to get a lot done on the house this weekend because I think I am going to leave on Wednesday.” I took about 15 to 20 minutes trying to think of how to speak to him about this with it turning into another round of him screaming at me. I asked him, if he had not heard any of the concerns that I had talked to him about earlier such as chains for the tires, since he was going over the Rockies and financial responsibility for delivery. He got very angry. He got up and left with the car for a while. I did not get upset this time. I was frustrated. When he got home, he went and grabbed his pillow out of our room and then went to sleep on the couch.

    I was at work today and he sent me a scathing text. “He was fed up.” He was going to try to sell my truck for me so that I could get out from under it and he was going back to take care of his parents. I called him and told him that I was coming home so that we could talk. I was accused of babying him; thinking only of myself; controlling him; slamming doors in his face; I was taking him for granted; I was irrational; I never having anything positive to say; telling him no all the time for no good reason, since he had thoroughly thought things through; lastly, “I” was breaking “his” heart, because “I ” was no longer the person he married.

    It took a long time of me trying to talk softly to him, telling him that it was not my intention to make him feel this way, that I love him very much and only want to help. I told him that I always have his best interests at heart. He said that I have changed since we got married, that all I do is bitch and complain, never seeing that he is doing things to help us. I told him that my concerns were over the financial situation at the time, not that he found free things that could be used at home. I told him do have faith in him, but sometimes it is hard for me to know when he is having a manic episode and when he is not. He is very unstable right now. Although he is much calmer tonight, it will not take much to push him into another outburst.

    I have not had the nerve to tell him that my mom has found another buyer for her truck and it looks like she may be getting her asking price. I am walking on egg shells around here. I love him dearly. I do not know how to help him, since he obviously does not recognize that he is having any problems right now. i know he loves me, when he is functioning normally, he is kind, gentle, loving, and hard working. I am grasping for anything that may keep me afloat. I need to help him get stabilized before he does something that is going to be financially crippling or goes into such a rage in public that the police become involved. The other day he followed a man through town and got out and screamed at him and tried to get him to come and fight him … this was just over the guy making some kind hand gesture and not letting my husband merge in because the lane was closing. My husband’s response “I was having a very bad day and he just pushed me over the edge,” granted he had just been turned down for yet another vehicle loan.

    Any insight would really be appreciated.
    Thank you in advance,

    • Dennis says:

      First thing, I edited your display name and the name you signed with because there is a lot of information that could potentially link you back to the post and your first name is unique enough that it would be easy for him to conclude you were talking about him should he ever find this post. I highly recommend not using your full or real name when discussing matters like this on the internet; especially since rage seems to be a major factor for him.

      The situation you’re in is not a good one, regardless of how many positive traits he has while well. None of that matters if he is oblivious to how he interacts with the world, if he us unable to see how his actions carry over into his life. This is very common with people who are undiagnosed or don’t believe they are mentally ill. Is your husband diagnosed? Does he take any meds or do anything therapy wise?

      I’ll have more for you once I get an answer to those questions.

  40. Lori says:

    I am offended at how you say that bipolar emotion and thoughts are warped, giving the other person a reason to lay blame. The person in argument believes that everything is because of bipolar whether or not an episode is occurring and that your emotions or feelings are not valid. Accusing the bipolar person of not taking their meds and that is a result of their thinking. Dennis, do you have bipolar or are you on the other side?

    We don’t need to be talked to like babies. I’m trying to educate my family before I disappear so the destruction stops and the triggers stop. I would be infuriated if someone spoke to me like that. Condescending. How about some advise for them to not to blame everything on the illness. Not everything out of our mouths is because we are sick. I am Lori, not bipolar.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. To address your post.

      1. I am Bipolar.

      2. This post is specifically addressing attempting to get through to a Bipolar person who is in an unwell cycle. The sentence that you allude to and partially quote specifically states that at the beginning of the sentence. It is not addressing every day fluctuations. It is not addressing moodiness. It is specifically meant to assist people in getting through to an unwell loved one.

      3. I have a couple questions for you. How is your family supposed to meaningfully communicate with you when a few sentences can infuriate you? Are you going to spend all of your time angry because your family aren’t mind readers? Or do you expect them to live in fear of your anger rather than asking if you may be unstable at a time when you may actually be unstable?

      Medication can stop working or working as effectively. How is your family supposed to communicate to you that you may be getting unwell when anger and offense is your response?

      Assuming you have a healthy family dynamic, you’re making your own path a lot harder by curbing open communication in your family. It’ll be much easier for you and your family if you have open communication. All it requires is a simple, “No, I’m not unwell. I’m just angry.” Instead of making people guess where your mind is at.

      Be angry. Be offended. Be Lori. Be Bipolar. Be whatever you want to be. Whatever makes you happy. But understand that anger is one of the most effective ways to shut down meaningful communication – which makes it so much harder to recover and manage Bipolar Disorder with the assistance of other people. I’ve watched it destroy communication and relationships dozens of times over since I started doing advocacy work.

      Be well.

  41. Kev1839 says:

    Well I believe my mother has bipolar depression ism, I’m unsure how to deal with this because it’s an ongoing situation with my mother. As I read you all comments hey I’m not alone I’m 33 years old with my own family and still going through verbal attacks from the 1970’s from my mom that has nothing to do with me… I’m just a ear at 1st thend my ear turns into attacking ME what type of child I was oh I was bad oh my father didn’t want nothing to do with me ohhh my son is going to run away now I never ran away I came from a shelteredhome only thing I did was skip school. My mother cannot get along with her own blood sisters and brothers NOONE EVERYONE SHADES THIN everyone knows she starts drama making a good conversation turn bad. You can share good news to her you leave crying b/c she’s evil…her response AND;OK; WHAT YOU TELLING ME FOR.. I’ve always asked my mother why?? Why do you do this you be little me curse me out in front of my children b/c you don’t like what I said… you’ve put me and son out of your car on the highway b/c you didn’t like what I said…. if I say hey our Aunt Jay is coming to the game she’ll flip out and say don’t tell her shit about them… you be like ok… I’m tired of crying being hurt she goes around talking about me to other family members but let her tell it I’m telling everyone her business I’m going back home telling all her business in fact it’ll be her my mother telling her own business. . My mother even fist fought her own niece over liquor my mother claims she drank it’s awful you guys it’s like she wakes up sending these crazy nasty hurtful text messages and I go back n forth until I read this I now know how to deal with my mother. Trust me I’m hurting all I want is to have a good relationship with my mom you know. Lastly I said I was just going to write Dr Phil lol she’ll kill me then knowing she will be exposed for everything. Please advise.. she says im disrespectful because I speak back never curse her out like she does me but I can’t take no more I can’t
    Thanks in advance
    chool somebody keeps bringing it then telling me that I have the

    • Dennis says:

      Note: I changed your display name to something more generic so Google won’t connect your real name with this post in the event someone decides to google your name. Be wary of putting of your real name with anything like this on the internet.

      I would recommend speaking to a counselor about your situation. They can explore the nuances far greater and help you come up with a course of action to not only curb the damage your mother does but help you heal from dealing with all of this shit for so long.

      This isn’t really something you should be looking to the internet for advice on handling given the severity of the situation. Frankly, in my purely not professional opinion, that sounds a lot more like narcissism than Bipolar Disorder. Those are two distinctly different problems that need handled in different ways.

      Talking to a counselor about your situation would be the best approach.

  42. Rocky says:

    I’ve been with my wife for 2 years. My wife was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she claims that, it happens because of me. I am the responsible for her illness. She started to disrespect me a lot. Sometimes she love me and sometimes she just start fighting on things which does not exist in me.

    She always lied to her parents that i am not a caring person. I never take her to restaurants whereas i dine out with her twice every week, i fulfilled her each and every needs. The electronic items in my home is in good condition and she fights with me to change it and buy a new one and she wants it on the same day and she says if you cannot do this i’ll leave you. I am running out of my savings and she never appreciate whatever things i do for her and always says i am stuck with you and my parents and i did a big mistake to select you as my husband.

    She disrespect my parents. Just yesterday she was shouting at me madly and i hold her hand and tried to hug her to calm her down but instead calming she started claiming that you tried to hurt me i will tell my parents that you are an abusive husband and i want to get rid of you ASAP. She lied to her parents that i am an abusive. After this incident my parents told me to leave her for your own good because if she did anything wrong with herself it will come to me. i loved her a lot i always remain patient and calm and always fulfilled her desired needs. I am in debt because for fulfilling her needs. I am struck in the middle of “i can’t live without her and i can’t live with her”.

    • Dennis says:

      Not to put too fine of a point on it; but you may need to start learning to accept that you may need to live without her.

      The behaviors you’re describing are pretty common for a toxic, manipulative personality. I’m sure she is a great woman sometimes; most abusive personality types are, otherwise no one would ever get close to them.

      Your parents are right. You should get out of that relationship as soon as possible. You can’t force someone to want to change. And your fulfilling all of her needs just encourages her to continue acting shitty to you because she knows you’ll just take it and do whatever she wants.

      I would highly advise you to take whatever money you have left and start conferring with a divorce attorney. I would also get your name removed from anything you have cosigned with her. Watch any bills that both of you share. Running up a huge phone bill is a common tactic for someone like her to hurt you in the long-term. Keep a close eye on any financial accounts the two of you share.

      From the sounds of things, you’re in a very bad situation and it’s most likely not going to get better. Don’t let her ruin your life. People like that will if you give them enough leverage.

  43. Jay says:

    first of all , thanks for this page it helped a lot .

    my story is long but i’ll try to keep it short as much as possible .
    i was dating this girl, for 15 when we were together things were great. we started to talk about the future together.
    this is our 3rd breakup. All breakups (that happens every 4 to 5 months) starts with, her acting so weird, can’t maintain a conversation with me , feeling of depression , lack of self confidence, she just wanna stay home, having a lot on her mind , telling me that i can’t understand what she’s thinking , excessive crying.
    When i start asking what’s wrong ? or how can i help? things will get worse to the point where she says she need to breakup, she is not happy, she feels like being struggled and she’ll hurt me more and more so its better to break up.
    This time , i couldn’t take this BS anymore . every one told me in the beginning that she’s not stable, she is a weird person when it comes to relationships .
    So as i fought for her, she starts telling me stuff : Like i don’t love you anymore, i am over us , over u , i can’t imagine myself in the future with you (while a week ago she was talking about how i should propose to her soon).
    Last 2 times , we broke up she went out with someone else . then after 4 to 5 weeks of no contact, she always find a way to contact me again . Talking to me , saying she was not in her “sane mind” , she was lost , life was not beautiful , she was thinking of death , suicide (which she attempted once long time ago) . How she is a bad person …
    She dated before me only one guy , she was on/off with him for 3 years .
    She used to break up with him for no reason, start going out with someone else and then getting back to him .

    She always have 2 opinions about people close to her, for a period of time her brother is her idol , she loves him great deal . And then she just hates him. Same goes to her friends …

    So I’ve been talking to a psychiatrist, telling her much much more details, and confirmed to me that she’s suffering from bipolarity.

    I tried to contact her telling her saying she needs to fix this (which the psychiatrist said not to do), telling her she has bipolar disorder ! which at first was reasonable to her, but said that she couldn’t face this right now ,but she will because she knows she has an “issue”.
    So i kept pushing forward , and then she got crazy on me… saying she is totally fine, never been happier, she is not bipolar (i’m just putting this in her head), she is just happier wit someone else (but she keeps putting stuff related to me on social media) .
    So i’m not talking to her anymore. which i should have done in the first place , but i’ve send her an email with all the articles she needs to know about bipolarity. And she still has not replied.
    I know she’s someone hard to live with in the future, i can’t imagine us having kids and her leaving them every 4 to 5 months. But i really want to help her secretly , to convince her she need to see a professional.
    And I’m confused, in her case, if she sees a professional will she get better?
    Trying to leave every 5 months will always be her thing ?
    Depression will decrease ?
    She’ll be reasonable in periods of depression if medicated ?
    Sorry for the long post.
    i just need some advice

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jay. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Recovery can only occur if the person understands they are mentally ill, accepts it, and they’re willing to put in the work to attain it. Wellness is like 95% personal work. A lot of people see professionals and do not get better because they do not understand that they are the ones that need to be the primary force behind their wellness. The question of if she will get better cannot be answered. It all depends on her mentality and willing to work on the problem.

      Everything else is a “maybe” answer. Sometimes meds work, sometimes they don’t. Her cycles could get worse instead of better.

      And even if she does get better, it takes some people YEARS to recover. Some people never get better. There’s just no way to know.

      I personally feel like you’ve done as much as you really can do. You sent her a bunch of information and such for her to take in. Hopefully she will read it and see herself in it. Or, she may write the whole thing off completely.

  44. Alexander says:

    My girlfriend is super bipolar I mean she says I’m yelling at her when clearly I am not she makes everything she’s done bad not a big deal but turns around and belittles me and makes me feel lower than dinosaur bones she brings the past up and thats what we usaly argue about lets talk about affection….. I’ll wait……….any moment……,,yeah there’s none I am a pieace of shit that’s an asshole trailer thrash scum… But then its I love you what the f…. I sometimes feel like killing myself after how she makes me feel then has the nerve to ask me what the f…. Is my can I possibly sustain this relationship any longer I understand she is bipolar hey that’s why I’m here but will she ever be a normal girlfriend will she stop makeing shit up will she ever truely understand how deep my love is I need to learn how to not argue with her cuz I guess everyone around seems to think I started all the fights she makes it all my fault its becomeing a living nightmare…,.,, for the love of God help me.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write, Alexander.

      The situation you’re describing is an incredibly abusive and manipulative. The fact that you’re contemplating suicide because of it very telling of how damaging her behavior actually is.

      The only person that can help you in this situation, Alexander, is yourself. You need to get in to talk to a counselor and get out of this relationship as soon as possible. You may want to reach out to a crisis helpline. If you’re in the US, it’s 800-273-8255. They handle more than just suicidal people.

      It doesn’t matter if she actually loves you or not; the way she treats you is inexcusable. The solution is not to not argue. The solution is to exit this toxic relationship in the safest way possible.

      Be forewarned, it is very likely she will pull some shit if you try and exit. That may include running up bills, emptying mutual accounts, or even stealing credit cards. She may also threaten to kill herself if you leave. If that’s the case, get local emergency services involved. It’s a very common way for manipulative mentally ill people to control a person.

      Seek professional help immediately, Alexander.

  45. SkyF. says:

    I really want to thank you for your post. My husband of 7 years is bipolar and has depression and anxiety. Due to our financial situation I think it has gotten worse. I don’t know how much more I can take, I think I will be taking the children and leaving him. At time he can be a wonderful, amazingly charming man then it like it thought process changes and everyone’s out to get him. We were talking tonight about is day at work and I was listening, then he began to tell me how I didn’t care and how I didn’t listen to him and how he was sick all day at work and I didn’t care. My husband has a head cold which usually last for 3 days days for him, I called him several times and asked him how he was and asked him he would consider coming home. After telling him that I love him and want him to vent to me about his day he proceed to tell me how nothing is about him how I don’t care about him, I fed in to the b.s and got upset. His bipolar disorder has caused me severe anxiety and depression. I recently went to a psychiatrist that diagnosed me with PTSD and asked me what was I dealing with. After explaining, she expressed her concerns and advised me to leave the situation to heal myself because I was stressed beyond. Dennis when is enough, enough? His though process of me is devoted wife always trying to harm him is driving me crazy. After his blow ups he then tells me its all his fault and how he’s scare. I also agree with you about the flattery to manipulate the situation, it doesn’t work anymore. I’m exhausted.

    • Dennis says:

      Simply put, enough is enough when it starts to degenerate your own mental health. It is an unfortunate reality in loving a person with mental illness, particularly if they do not have nor desire a strong control over it. If you’re at the point where you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and are having problems with anxiety and depression because of your husband’s mental illness; well, then you gotta do what you gotta do to take care of your own mental health. Sacrificing yourself to his mental illness isn’t going to help him be any better. Sometimes all you can do is let go.

      And in response to your second message, you are welcome. I’m glad you’ve found my work useful.

  46. SkyF. says:

    I also wanted to Thank you for keeping this chat open for such a long period of time. There are so many of us supporters that have no where to turn and have resources for answers.
    Thank you so very much.

  47. Nikki says:

    I would like to know, what is protocol when a healthy person has had a COMPLETE EXTREME-HARD argument with a hypomanic bipolar-depressed person (who is and can be very loving) and has since read this article? I’m excited and anxious to try these techniques because I think that they will work. But after 2 years of me belittling him and having EXTREME-HARD arguments, I don’t believe he is willing to open up to me in such a way that would allow me to help him. He’s 24 and he doesn’t take his medication. He’s more stubborn than a mule and hypomatic. And I (of course) blame myslef because I do have to pick up the slack and do both (his & hers) duties around the house. I am the bread winner so I know it messes with his ego alot. What do I do now. Is our relationship a “dead man walking”, or……?
    Help Please!

    • Nikki says:

      Also, his brother (bestfriend) just died. His condition has only gotten worse.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I don’t know if there is any real “protocol.” I can tell you that, based on your post and the one of you mentioning his brother dying, I think I would alter my approach to soft suggestion to try to get him to speak to his professionals. If he is having a hard time in general with the complication of his brother/best friend dying; it is reasonable to think he may take a hard dive into some severe depression or instability. If he refuses, I think if I were in your shoes, I (as you) would go speak to a counselor myself to try and get some meaningful advice on the situation.

      The circumstances and situations you’re describing are the kind of thing that would make me concerned that a severe depressive cycle or a suicide attempt may be down the road. He really needs professional help, probably now more than ever.

      As for the health of your relationship, you’re the only one that can really determine that. You’re the only one who can decide how far you want to go. I would really advise against making any major decisions until you/he have spoken with a professional though.

  48. Daughter says:

    Thank you for this post, it is just what I was looking for tonight. My Mom is bipolar and she has left my Dad 3 times now, during manic episodes. They have been married for 30 years. When she is well everything is great- they have a great relationship, beautiful home, lots of friends, etc), but when she is manic everything goes to shit. She is extremely irrational, irritable, delusional. She brings up things that he did over 30 years ago as reasons for leaving (ex. him not setting firm enough boundaries with his mother when they were first married, a girl flirting with him when they were teenagers). It is hard enough and we have to deal with enough when she is manic, but then she leaves and it is a whole new set of issues. My Dad is amazingly supportive and has stuck by her side through it all. He refuses to give up but she hurts him so badly. It is going to destroy him and if it does I don’t know how I will forgive her- even though I know she can’t control it! She knows that she is bipolar, but when she is manic she can’t see the connection to her being bipolar and she won’t listen when we ask her not to make any big decisions- such as filing for divorce, making big purchases (tried to by a condo for half mil when she was on psych ward) which is the source of a lot of stress.
    I personally have a really hard time being around her when she is this way because I have a hard time with the soft approach- I get so upset by the way she is behaving/talking and I can’t help but tell her how upsetting the whole thing is. I find it SO difficult not to try rationalizing with her. She tells me that I need to try and understand and that she is better when really she is completely out of it, you can tell just by looking at her. It’s so sad. She is upset with me right now because I suggested that we wait and have Christmas when she is better because I can’t handle it with everything that is going on. It is too upsetting. She has been in the hospital for 3 weeks now, she is very sick. She wants to get together in our family home, with my Dad, and says that I need to support her, she is going to move in to a bed and breakfast and we all need to move forward?!

    • Dennis says:

      Unfortunately, there are no great answers for you. It sounds like your mother is on the more severe end of the spectrum. Trying to argue through or counter that kind of mania is difficult, if not impossible. About the only thing that can really be done is to wait for her to cycle out of it; and then take some steps to minimize the damage she can do to your parents’ life while she is well and balanced enough to understand the necessity.

      Things like financial power of attorney may be a very good idea so she simply cannot try to incur major debts. If he doesn’t already, your dad really should have separate everything from her in regards to finances so she can’t run up credit cards, take out mortgages, whatever. It’ll also make minimizing her damaging actions easier because she won’t be able to just draw the money out when the impulse hits.

      As for Christmas, were I in your position, I would just flat out say “You’re manic. We’ll have Christmas when you’re well again. I can’t handle it.” She’ll probably rant, scream, cajole, whatever to try and get her way. But you just do what you said you’re going to do about it.

      Your dad should really look into talking to a counselor himself to work through this stuff and develop a strategy for dealing with these kinds of unwell cycles. She can probably be included when she is balanced and stable. It will be very easy for him or the rest of the family to get swept up in all of this. I’ve known people that have developed PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, and Depression from dealing with an unwell family member for an extended time. It’s important that other people involved take care of their mental health as well.

      There are really no good answers that I know of for your situation. You may want to speak to a counselor yourself about the situation and see if they can provide any additional insight. But a lot of times, all you can really do is try to minimize the damage the unwell person can do and wait for the cycle to end.

      • Daughter says:

        You are so right about everything. All that we can do is wait and do damage control right now and keep reminding ourselves that it will eventually come to an end. I have to keep reminding myself of the person I know her to be. Her manic episodes usually last a long 3-4 months and that’s under treatment of her doctor with adjusted medications and usually at least a month in the hospital.

        I was seeing a psychologist last year when she was manic, because I was pregnant with my first child and was going through some abandonment and anger issues related to her being sick (she has been manic/depressed for some of the times I have needed her the most in the last few years). It was helpful. I have suggested the same for my Dad and he is considering it. He is kind of old school in that he doesn’t think he needs help- but he could definitely use it! I made him promise that if things get really bad with him (as they have before) that I will make an appointment for him, and he will go. He agreed to that at least.

        As far as finances go, he has all but one account on hold from her. She has her own account which he deposited thousands of dollars into, however, she manipulates people to think that she is completely cut off and asks to borrow money to make them feel sorry for her. She gets very sensitive about money when she is like this and says that it is a loss of dignity to be cut off from the accounts and tells people that my Dad is abusing/controlling her by putting things on hold.

        Yes, she is a very severe case on both ends of the spectrum. She has had every symptom imaginable, I can’t even begin to explain. Her depressions are crushing and completely debilitating. I often wonder if maybe she has a co-occurring personality disorder or something else that is adding to it. I tried apologizing to her today for upsetting her about Christmas, and her response was that I was only thinking about myself and that I know better then that. Can’t win.

        One thing that you said about PTSD from dealing with unwell family members is also making me think. My husband said that I have been waking him up at night freaking out as I am having nightmares so he wakes me up and I calm down, but I don’t have any recollection of it in the morning. Probably just from all of the stress.

        • Dennis says:

          The nightmares would be something worth speaking to a doctor about.

          It sounds like your mother is on the pretty extreme end of the spectrum. Manipulation and general shittiness often go hand-in-hand with those extremes because the person believes that what they are experiencing is true. So in those extremes, she may believe that her husband is the problem. Unfortunately, there is no real good solution to that sort of thing because it requires the mentally ill person to understand how their mental illness affects their perceptions and what reality is. That is a pretty huge thing in my experience.

          As for your dad, the way I generally point things out to old school folks is like this… “If you have a heart problem, you’d go visit a doctor, right? The heart is a complicated, important organ. Well, the brain is an even more complicated, important organ. Getting the assistance of someone who is knowledgeable on how it works, and doesn’t work, can provide understanding you may not see right now.”

  49. Isobel says:

    You’re a genius. After a long heated argument with a Bipolar best friend, that I unfortunately ruined due to my feelings and big mouth, he got really brash and angry at me and as much as I tried to level with him, he persisted to send angry texts and tell me to fuck off. After reading this I have slight hope. I’ve been in many arguments with him before and I’m pretty sure he’s claimed to have hated me before, but I only found out recently about his disorder, so I’ve been treading much more carefully with him now. The problem I face now is the amount of time he’ll take to forgive me, I really do blame myself, with him being my best friend of 2 years and then me suddenly popping up and suggesting we start a relationship. He didn’t really want it, and now I just see it as a case of me and my big mouth. I’ve apologised a lot and taken the blame for destroying our friendship, but ultimately it did go from ‘I love you’ to ‘fuck you’ overnight. As much as I hate the situation now, I still like him very much as a friend, and the closure of this whole situation has made me realise what I had. It’s his birthday in the next few weeks and I have made him something quite detailed, I’m just really hoping I can patch things up with him. The only reason I’m in an argument with him now is because he tried to move on with a very close friend of mine, who really doesn’t see him in that way, and so I tried to involve myself being as non-jealous as possible, but unfortunately he took it the wrong way and in the end it’s left me in the middle, with him hating me supposedly and her getting stressed out to a point of wanting to hurt herself. Eventful I know, but I’ve managed to talk to her in a calm way and she seems alright, now I just have to work on him. All of this really has gone up in flames, I’m just hoping it’ll blow over soon enough. Thank you for writing this article by the way, it’s helped me sincerely.

    • Dennis says:

      I’d like to point something out. If he’s that volatile and unstable, you may not want to try and pursue a relationship with him now. That is going to be bad times for you; especially since he felt it was okay to try to make a move onto a close friend of yours. That shows some very poor management and understanding. I realize he’s your best friend and you love him and all; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to pursue that relationship.

      You’re very likely going to set yourself up for a whole lot of pain and misery by trying to make a relationship work with a person who is that unstable.

      Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are going to be any good for you.

  50. Wifewhoneedshelp says:

    I just found this and it has been a comforting thing to see that I am not alone in the problems I am facing with my husband who has Bipolar 1. He moved out right before Thanksgiving this year, after we had an argument… Hubs and I have been married for 23 years. He had a complete mental breakdown after only 7 months of marriage. I was clueless regarding mental illness. I learned pretty quickly though. He became extremely manic, even psychotic, (hearing voices, seeing things, very delusional) He didn’t sleep for 3 to 4 days, talked NONSTOP! It finally dawned on me this was something mental and I took him to our local hospital, they seemed to know instantly..I was still in the dark. They did give him an injection that put him out fast!! It was really a relief for the break in the NONSTOP talking. He was admitted to the psych ward for about a week, started on lithium, and came home. It was tough for a while but he seemed to return to the man I had married. He stopped taking the meds, after a few months…said he didn’t need them. I couldn’t force them down his throat, so I took a wait and see approach. He really seemed ok for a long long time. He is naturally a kind gentle man with a good heart. Slowly I began to relax, then fast forward 15 years and he began acting odd, again, I just didn’t see the signs. Same thing happened…mania, into psychosis, hospital. He was put on meds again, I can’t remember what they started him on, but is now on Depakote… I believe he has been severely depressed for such a long time now. He detached himself from me emotionally, intimately, was very negative all the time… now he is just gone! He is living with his mother at the present time… I am sick. I really do love my husband and have tried talking to him and he says he doesn’t love me, hasn’t for a long time and wants a divorce. I just cannot accept this… I will try to do the soft/ hard method you wrote about.. I am heartbroken.

    • Dennis says:

      Unfortunately, there aren’t any good answers for your situation. It is very possible that he has been severely depressed for a long time and it will absolutely destroy love. In many cases, the only thing you can really do is just be patient, wait, and see how things play out. If he had a recent mental break, some additional time may help smooth things over in his mind. But if he doesn’t believe he needs meds and doesn’t understand what depression is; then it’s not likely to pan out very well either way.

      Perhaps you can stall for some additional time by suggesting marriage counseling. A marriage counselor may also be able to see if and how depression is playing a role. But honestly, if it’s been a long time and chronic, I wouldn’t put a great deal of faith in him coming to that realization.

  51. Dawn says:

    My bipolar boyfriend of nearly 9 months just broke up with me three days after Christmas after nearly 5 months of living together. I had been telling him I loved him and received no response. I went out to have a drink or two at a local bar we hang out in, and when I returned we were talking and laughing like we normally do.
    He had a tendency to snap off at me at times, and I had started to begin to take this personally as if he didn’t want me around. He snapped at me over something and I called him on it…then unfortunately the conversation progressed. I told him all the insecurities that had been bundled up. I said I was unhappy.(it was not exactly true..I was just unhappy I didn’t get a response from him) and he told me that he didn’t think he loved me,and that he had hoped that it would change. I went to bed mad that night. He said, ” I will talk to you when you are calm.”
    I didn’t sleep a wink, and the next morning I got up, earlier than he normally does, and when he stirred I asked him if he was ready to talk.He said he needed to get his thoughts together.I decided to go out and do some work and come back when I was done. I came back immediately. He said He thought I was “cool as hell” and a “good person” and a “nice person” but that he was confused. He also said that it was tearing him up. We talked it out, and he said he felt something when he kissed me, but that he felt it wasn’t what it should be, I asked him if he missed me when I was gone back home to work (I work out of state as well so I can make enough money. I am a contractor.) He said he did. I asked him could we work on it, and he said he would, that “He would try to make it better.”
    We kissed and hugged and I left to finish up the day and go back home.He texted me that afternoon to make sure I had made it home okay. The next few days were just like it used to be…he texted me everyday and checked up on me. On Christmas eve he texted me and said he hadn’t slept,which is common for him, and I texted back to say that” I was sorry,and what were they having for breakfast at your moms?” I never got a return text. I didn’t think anything about it…I am used to the unresponsiveness and I have tried not to make a big deal out of it.I sensed, although I didn’t know, that making a big deal out of things like that might make the situation worse.
    I had a nice Christmas eve, drank a little and relaxed, and when I woke up on Christmas morning, I checked his facebook page. There was a half naked girl on there. He know I don’t like it when he objectifies women like that. I read a little further down, and something had happened at a Christmas party at the local bar he hangs out in. Apparently he was being accused of stealing something, and treated like a second class citizen. that was sometime around 2:00 Christmas morning. at 5:00 am he wrote a post about thanking the soldiers overseas and that they were protecting our “asses” over there. He also said that they were protecting some “dumb asses”, and that he found out one that he didn’t suspect,and that he was not going to try anymore. I calmly posted just a “Merry Christmas” on his timeline just above the naked girl and he responded back in kind…not like we normally do… It’s usually”baby”and “honey”.
    At around 10:00 on Christmas day, I texted him to ask what happened,and was he ok, and he said, “Yeah, Just tired ofsoandso’s bullshit.”I asked what happened, and he said “long freakin story. I texted you yesterday.Thanks for the reply.”I re-posted the reply, and explained I never got a reply back. A little later in the day I texted that I was sorry he didn’t get my text, but to have a good day.
    I texted a few times the next day, Decemeber 26th. I messaged on facebook,on messenger, nothing overly bothersome, but I had a foreboding feeling that I didn’t know what state of mind he was in..he seemed down and I hoped he was ok. As the day rolled on, I called a few times and then I got an angry text saying he was “trying to f-ing sleep but that the phone would not stop ringing.” I left him alone all evening until my work day was over. I got on his facebook, and amidst the downtrodden depression posts, there were posts about finding your soul mate,and things that was hurting me.
    The next thing I sent him I wish I could take back,because this apparently was the end for us. I messaged him that It didn’t seem that he wanted to work on us,and that I would have to comeback to town the next week and get my stuff, I would need to stay upstairs for a little while until I found another place to stay. I said, “would you please talk tome? I don’t want to do this over text.”
    I left a message on voxer, called once,and left a facebook message later that I didn’t mean what I had said, and that I didn’t want to break up, and that I would text him back tomorrow. I was going to bed.
    All this came after talking to a good friend of his on the phone for a few hours.I texted Sunday. No answer. I called. No answer. I checked his facebook page and all the posts were about depression. I left him alone all day Monday, and around 1:00 pm Monday December 28th he texted and broke up with me, saying that I had threatened to leave three times, third time I’m out, come and get my things and you can stay with (he named a mutual male friend) because we were”awfully close anyway” Which I have no idea about. I called his friend and she said that the person in question for lack of a better way of putting it, was a “letch”, and that my now ex boyfriend didn’t like him. Funny thing to me,we always hung out.
    Over the next few hours I poured my heart out, found out he had been looking at the things I had posted, and saw a half naked poster that I had re-posted from a friend in high school, some little joke about the hunk taking over for Santa Clause.He had also read some of the posts to his “letch” friend. They were innocent. Little arguments over posting negativity or sad things on facebook. He said he was “done. sorry, need to be me”,and that when I came to pick up my things he would be absent.I asked to talk and he refused, unfriended me on facebook, and threatened to block me if I didn’t stop texting him.
    I asked him one final thing that day.Was he trying to break up with me when he posted all the stuff a single man would post, and he said simply, “no”
    He said again, “just need to be me.Can’t be in a relationship. Sorry. Ttyl”
    I sent several panicked texts after that…fearing I had lost him forever.. no answer.
    Saying things like” I never tried to change you, You always had freedom to be with your friends, I don’t know why you are so angry at me”…Things I thought he might look at later when he calmed down. Then finally, “Can I come Thursday morning?”
    Well..the rest of the week was hell. Called my BFF and cried, she thinks I don’t deserve this, she’s mad. She let me borrow a few outfits so I could boost my self esteem and look “smoking” when I went up there and just drop in at his house.
    I had to delay coming one day because my computer’s hard drive decided to die…of all times to do so. I texted him to let him know. No answer.
    I finally made it up there Thursday afternoon,and the people I had asked to stay with, said that they thought I wasn’t coming after the computer crash, so they left town. I would have to get a hotel room I couldn’t afford…during the holiday. I had a work appointment, completed the work, and headed toward his house.
    I was very nervous. I texted him I was coming to get my stuff. He said it would be “better to come tomorrow,” but I was at his door. He didn’t look at me,opened the door and sat back down. I tried to pry some things out of him, but he just got mad. I think he texted his son to come down the steps.His young son came down and sat with us the whole time I was there. I put some work in. He said I could stay the night. When questioned, he said he just “wanted it done.” I asked why he treated me so when we had discussed being friends,and he said we would talk later.
    I could feel tension so I said I would leave for a little bit. I left for a couple of hours and went to local bar. I came back later and since his son had gone to bed, I asked if we could hash it out,he said “he didn’t want to be around anybody, just wanted it to be he and his son.” I said that it was unfair for him to treat me like that, and that he should not break up with anyone over text. His excuse was that there was no signal.
    I am not sure what it was that I said to him to make him mad enough to get his son up out of bed and get in the truck to leave.I said I needed a place to stay for the next night,and he said I could “sleep in my car”.
    Heartbroken I went inside the house to gather the rest of my things.Yes I stayed there that night, but I didn’t sleep without the aid of sleeping pills.
    The next day around noon he texted me,”Are you out.It time to go.” I stayed in a hotel room I could not afford, worked my behind off and headed home the next day.
    I go between being numb and my heart feeling so heavy. I love him so much,but I am afraid that I have run him off completely now because didn’t have the gentle hand I had learned to use with this disease.
    That doesn’t mean I didn’t have any insecurities, it just means I handled it better,and gave him space.It always seemed to work, and usually he would apologize later for not being present.
    Does this relationship seem to have a chance at all? I feel I am too late in the advanced knowledge I obtained on how to deal with bipolar disease. Thanks for your reply.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I would like to point you to the following post, first and foremost. Give it a read through.

      Simply put; I would not invest myself any further in this relationship or trying to make it work. Why? Well, everything you described suggests extreme instability. If you’ve only been with him for about 9 months, there’s no real way to know what his genuine emotions for you are. Any good or positive emotions could have just been delusional feelings created by the Disorder.

      The fact that he is not communicating, trying to really work with you, and basically doing what he wants certainly doesn’t suggest that he is in a good place with his Disorder and managing it. The fact that you’re losing sleep and it’s having such a drastic negative affect on you is also not good. It could be years before he comes to terms with or really works to correct the shit the Disorder causes. Many people never reach that point. Do you want to be dealing with this shit five or ten years down the road? Are you able to deal with it? Frankly, a lot of the stuff you’ve related in this post is pretty minor compared to the shit that we Bipolar people can end up doing when we are severely unwell. He sounds unstable and unbalanced; but it doesn’t sound like he’s necessarily in a severe unwell cycle.

      So you could expect for things to be far worse when he does actually swing into a dominant cycle and his brain runs towards an extreme.

      The question “Does this relationship seem to have a chance at all?” isn’t the right one to ask. Any relationship can be made to last with both partners feeling like complete shit and hating each other. A better question is “Will this relationship ever be healthy and happy?” From the sounds of things; not for a long, long time depending on how he is about accepting, managing, and dealing with the Disorder.

      Were I in your shoes, knowing what I know about the Disorder and the experiences I have talking to people like yourself, I’d just collect my things and let the relationship end, heal, and keep looking for a healthy relationship.

  52. Ashley says:

    I was diagnosed with Bipolar about 2 years ago now… and I’ve been married for just over a year. So much has happened in our first year of marriage – lots of moves, unemployment etc and it’s starting to trigger really bad behaviour on my part. I love my husband to bits and the last thing I want is to hurt him – and yet that’s all I seem to do lately…
    I’ve been having semi-violent outbursts… saying things that I regret later… and I’ve just overall been acting completely nuts! My husband is trying his best, but is struggling. But I’m just as shocked at my behaviour as he is…
    I just feel so so bad… sometimes it makes me feel suicidal because I guess everyone would be better off without me… I just want to know if there’s something I can do to control theses outbursts… I take Lamictal (max dose) and Zoloft at the moment… any tips or advice?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ashley.

      Simply put; you need to speak to your doctor about your medication. The point of taking the medication is to control these things. If the meds aren’t controlling it, then you may need an adjustment or to change meds. Remember, just because you put it in your body doesn’t mean it’s doing anything good for you. From the sounds of things and the extremes that your suggesting, it sounds like your medication isn’t doing much of what it is meant to.

      Do NOT just stop taking the medication without your doctor’s oversight, if that thought crosses your mind. But DO get in to see your doctor as soon as possible and let them know what is going on so you can get a tweak or try something different.

  53. dad of 2 says:

    my wife has been diagnosed bipolar for sometime. She didn’t have the greatest childhood so she has some problems with that as well. she is also going through therapy for recovering from anerexia and has been doing well with that! when I met her she had a son from a previous relationship who I fell in love with! I also fell in love with her! in the beginning she hid everything from me. she would come to my house and be perfectly normal. we would talk about the past and I am a fixer by nature. I was completely fine with her disorders as I loved her very much. fast forward 5 years later. she is completely manic 70 percent of the time. late for everything very hurtful with words and believes every argument is me trying to tear her down and mentally abusing her. I tell her quite often to get med adjusted and she often does! it is constant drama and to be perfectly honest with you I can’t the it anymore! I have been calm and quiet I have been hard and out spoken. nothing seems to work! we need help as I feel like I’m losing her. its not the I have given up but more like I have run out of ideas and have built a tolerance of the situation.

    • Dennis says:

      The simple truth is that not everyone can be approached or broken through to in an easy way. It’s unfortunate your wife has had such poor luck with medication and treatment. You can only go as far as you can with a situation. It can be an impossible thing to deal with over a long period of time, particularly if a person isn’t able to really recover.

      Given her background and history, it’s possible that those circumstances damaged her in other ways that she may not necessarily getting appropriate help for. The fact that she’s manic and unstable so often also points to medication that isn’t working correctly for whatever reason. Meds for a Bipolar person are supposed to prevent mania. If it’s not preventing mania, then it may not be the right dosage, may not being taken correctly, or just simply may not work for her.

      It’s a situation that she needs to discuss with her doctor when you get through to her in a point of clarity. Unfortunately, I don’t think the doctor will be willing to talk to you about it due to HIPPA protections. So you’ll need to try to get through to her when she is relatively balanced.

    • Ashley says:

      I can’t help replying to this…
      Look, I’m not old, and I’m not wise… But I have experienced more trauma than anyone should have to; and I have Bipolar. I know that a difficult childhood can make quite a difference to the way one, with the diagnosis, behaves. It’s possible that her past has “damaged” her in ways that almost enhance the bipolar symptoms (if that makes sense) – in which case, medication for Bipolar won’t always help.
      Therapy has been a great help for me over the years. I’ve been going to a therapist on and off since I was a child. I’m mentioning this because it’s important that your wife knows that she doesn’t have to go for therapy for the rest of her life; neither every week; or even every month. For me, just knowing I can make an appointment when I’m in a “down” period is comforting. The thought of constantly having to be somewhere on the other hand is daunting – so definitely don’t push the idea on her, if you’re considering it.
      All you can do in the meantime, is to wait till she’s in a balanced state and talk it out with her…
      I’m a wife myself and appreciate nothing more than than my husbands patience and understanding. I would do anything to take back the pain I’ve caused him. I can assure you, that your wife feels the same.
      Please hang in there! Everyone deserves to be loved – especially those who have to endure every day life with us lot… and we do love you; we’re just not able to show you in the way we want to. It’s frustrating for us too!
      I hope that these words are of some help… perhaps not. But I wish you all the best and hope everything works out for you both.

  54. bella says:

    I am 54 years old and having been dating someone who has been bouncing off the walls for the past 3 years..but actually when I look at when he was actually around, it only has been about 6 months. I ended things. Then months past and here came the sweet talk the apologies, yes he was diagnosed with bi-polar with schizophrenia there certainly was no art of reasoning with this person. What I found strange was that when someone else entered the room he went from a raving lunatic to a sweet kind man you wouldn’t think sugar would melt in his mouth. Tell me how can this be? On a recent visit to another state he had a psychotic melt down, his family was at wits end..he is not aloud to stay in there home, he has been off and on homeless for decades. I took him to the psychiatrist they raised his medication to 1600 mg of Trileptal (excuse any spelling errors) and is on Seroquil HR for his anger. It may seem cold but when I got back home I ignored his text, calling … when I was with him he was abusive, physically and mentally, he even was jealous of my 10 year old doxin , Joel Osteen, my friends, and anything that brought me joy. I don’t recommend anyone try to figure out, or stay with someone who is emotionally and physically draining. I guess I am writing out of guilt or something.. for just walking away, but I can finally breathe!

    • Dennis says:

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

      There is definitely a difference between being supportive and an ally to someone who is trying to better themselves; and someone who is a toxic, abusive personality – mental illness or not. It sounds like, from your description, that you made the right choice. Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are both severe mental illnesses on their own, but together they usually fuel drastic instability and irrational behavior.

      I attribute the drastic personality changes to the general comfort and social masks that people tend to wear. If you’re around people you trust, it’s less likely that you’re going to wear a mask to cover up the way you actually think. Most people do not act the same way in public than they do in private. That affect is just further amplified with mentally ill people. It’s also perfectly possible that he is just a skilled liar and manipulator. There’s plenty of those in the world as well.

      Not everyone in this world can be helped. Everyone deserves to be treated humanely; but there are a lot of people who will chew up kindness and spit it back out. In my eyes, you have nothing to feel guilty for.

  55. Wife says:

    Hi, I been with my spouse for fifteen years. He was diagnosed with bipolar 2, four years ago. This last month was admit it for the first time, and he felt it was the lowest point in his life. After three weeks got discharged, and came home and packed his things and left to his sister and husband. He blocked me from ANY communication with him and says he wants nothing to do with me and wants a divorce. He blames me for his condition and for him been hospitalized. I love him more than anything in this world and don’t want to divorce my husband to bipolar. Today is been two weeks that he hasn’t been home, besides the three weeks that was hospitalized. I believe he is in the cycle even tough he is taking his meds. He is currently on 300 gr lamictin and 300 gr dopaquel.

    Please advise me asap today, cause he is coming today to talk but I don’t know how to reach him.
    How long it takes the cycle to go and rebalance ?
    What kind of conversation I can have to give us a chance?

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Chances are pretty good it was the lowest point in his life. You typically have to fall pretty far before you can finally start seeing the truth and reality of your life and situation. And yes, it is also possible that he is in a cycle even though he is taking his medication as directed. Psych medication isn’t like aspirin. It takes time to find the right dosage and combination that pushes the symptoms away with manageable side effects. So it is likely that his thinking isn’t incredibly clear, considering he’s deciding on divorce after being out of the hospital for just a few weeks; assuming it’s not something he’s been thinking about for awhile now.

      Okay, in a situation like this, it is very common to be responding with sadness and confusion because of the situation. The problem with that is an unwell mind will just steamroll right past it, look at it as confirmation of what they’ve been thinking. “Oh that person feels awful because they know I found them out!”

      Instead, I would recommend exercising a minor, controlled amount of anger towards his decision and thoughts. The person in his position is rarely expecting anger and it will help jolt his mind enough to force him to think more about the situation. It’s important to have a balance when you do. You don’t want to get sucked into a knock down, drag out fight. You want to avoid being hurtful, IE if you call someone a stupid asshole they aren’t going to hear shit about what you have to say.

      Then you take that anger and you use it as vehicle to deliver facts and reality to him.

      “How dare you blame me for a medical condition you’ve probably had since you were a teenager? I’m the one that made you ignore the problem for the last four years? No, you put yourself in the hospital by refusing to learn or do anything about your problem. That’s not my responsibility, that’s yours.

      I have been your wife for 15 years. I love you as much as I always have. But I am not going to accept or take responsibility for things that are not my fault. You just got out of the hospital and are still working to find your balance. I think you owe it to me and our relationship to actually invest some time into actually learning about Bipolar Disorder and how it’s affecting you before making a decision like blaming me.”

      Now, chances are pretty good that he will respond with confusion and probably defensively. If he tries to shift blame to anyone else or himself, bring it right back to where it belongs, squarely on his shoulders. One of the more responses I get from others is, “I know plenty about it!” To which I would respond with something like, “Clearly not, or you wouldn’t have waited four years to actually do something about it.”

      The key in all of this is to get him to think differently about what he’s dealing with. He’s probably spent a lot of time internalizing a lot of what goes on with being mentally ill, and when you’re unstable, it’s easy to wrap yourself up and convince yourself of what is true as opposed to what actually is true.

      With that in mind, I have no idea who your husband is as a person, if he’s been abusive, has a potential for violence, or really anything else about his personal situation. You should take this very general, unprofessional information and apply it carefully.

      If anything, try bartering for time before he decides on a divorce. Suggest taking a break for a little while so he can work on getting things squared away in his mind. Definitely suggest he visit a counselor to learn about Bipolar Disorder. Do not just say “go to a therapist.” People have a ridiculous amount of preconceived notions. You have a much better chance of getting him to agree to it by giving him a tangible reason to go. “You should go to a counselor to learn about Bipolar Disorder and work through this with a neutral party.”

      Always err on the side of safety as well. If he’s abusive, then you would be better off talking to a counselor yourself rather than talking about this situation with him. Mental illness is not an acceptable reason for that.

      Take everything in this post with a grain of salt as I am not a professional and I do not know your personal situation at all. If you’ve been married for 15 years, I’m going to guess you can read him pretty well by now. So focus on buying more time and encouraging him to learn about Bipolar Disorder.

    • daughter says:

      My dad has been through your exact situation a couple of times with my mom. They have been married for 30 years and she has been diagnosed for about 8 of those. They have a great marriage when she is well and he is nothing but supportive and loves her more than anything. It is very sad to watch what he goes through. She has left a couple of times and filed for divorce while full blown manic then when she cycles out of it she cannot believe how her disorder can cause her feelings to change so suddenly. I know she loves him very much but when she is sick she loses those feelings completely. She is in a really severe episode right now and she is having delusions that he is trying to kill her or that im trying to hurt her and thinks everyone is conspiring against her when all that anyone wants is for her to get help. It is very sad and so difficult for the entire family. She was in the hospital for 3 weeks but checked herself out because she wanted to be out for her birthday, even though she was nowhere close to ready. She has once again filed for divorce and all we can do once again is ask her to wait until she is healthy to make such a big decision. It’s so frustrating and painful to go through and i am so sorry that you have found yourself in this position. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Stay strong and know what you feel in your heart is true. Your spouse is very sick and lost in this disease right now but have faith that you will get through and there will be better times again. Be there for your spouse in whatever way you can but make sure you take care of yourself. If you have kids they will need you healthy right now. Hope this helps and hoping for a quick recovery for your loved one.

  56. Krisztina says:

    Wow what a refreshing & real life perspective. Thank you!

  57. Worried Mum says:

    Hi, I am looking for advice for my Son. He has been best friends with a girl he met in college over 2 yrs ago, they are both 21 now, she has not been diagnosed with bipolar because she hasn’t seen a doctor or therapist. She seems to have mood swings that are all over the place, she is depressed at the moment and my Son can’t get through to her, they had a huge argument last week and my Son ended up swearing at her (which he now regrets and feels terrible about) since then she won’t talk to him only apart from telling him to f… off and that he is a shit friend and never there for her, which is totally untrue, he is the only friend she has left because no one else can cope with her moods, she has also fallen out with her Mum and text me to say she has no one left, I have tried ringing and texting her saying she can talk to me but she hasn’t replied, they both live nearly 140 miles away at university so I can’t just pop around to see her. My Son seen a therapist himself 2 days ago because he is finding everything a real struggle, he just doesn’t know where to go from here as she just won’t talk to anyone. I would appreciate any advice you can give.

    • Dennis says:

      The challenge in a situation like this is to get a person like the girlfriend to understand that she needs to help herself. Rather than you or your son shouldering the responsibility, it should be gently put back on her. “If you’re having problems, you’re the one that needs to take confront and deal with them. Talk to a mental health professional about what’s going on with you and what you’re dealing with.”

      I realize that may seem like short or even shallow insight, but the reality is that no progress is going to be made until she realizes she has a problem that she needs to deal with. You can’t help her. Your son can’t help her. She is the only one that can help herself. So nudging her towards that realization and goal would be the approach I would take.

      The therapist your son is seeing should be able to help him better understand and deal with the situation.

      • Worried Mum says:

        Thank you for replying. He wants to encourage her to seek help but she wont talk to him at the moment, she stopped following him on twitter and facebook and wont reply to any texts. She has been distant with him for about 3 weeks now but not spoke to him at all since the argument, in your opinion how long do these episodes usually last? Also will she ever talk to him again, he is really upset about it all. The therapist is helping him, he said he felt better after talking with her and has another appointment this Friday. Thank you so much for listening.

        • Dennis says:

          One very important truth your son is going to have to learn is, “You can’t help someone that won’t help themselves.” This was a difficult lesson for me to learn in the course of my advocacy work. I have to watch a lot of people make bad and foolish decisions, mistakes I’ve already made, because they just won’t do what they need to do. So, for your son, you should regularly remind him that he can’t help her if she won’t help herself.

          I have no idea if she will ever talk to him or not. I would guess so, but it’s hard telling what exactly is going on in her mind. And there’s no way to know how long this sort of thing can last. It depends on an impossible number of variables to consider and information we can’t know. Could be a day, could be months. There’s just no way to know until you’re there.

          I’m glad to hear he is finding help with the therapist!

          You’re very welcome for listening.

  58. Sean says:

    I enjoyed reading what you’ve written. My fiancée was jut recently diagnosed with bipolar. We are literally going through hell at the moment. We’ve been together for 11 years and it’s been a roller coaster. I’m not sure why I was so blind about her condition. I always knew something was wrong, as did she, but we just bathed in pain instead of seeking any real help. Now terrible things have occurred with her because of her condition in the manner of infidelity and so on. What is your take on Hypersexuality?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Sean. Hypersexuality can occur during manic cycles where it dials your sex drive up to a thousand. Then you couple that with the impulsiveness, poor decision making process, and chaos that goes along with an escalated cycle and you have a recipe for infidelity. For context, my worst bout of hypersexuality had me having sex with my partner for about six hours and far too many orgasms later. But the sexual side of my brain would just not turn off and I would have kept going with her if she hadn’t finally said no more. That was not a great time.

      So yeah, I would have slept with any willing partner I could have at the time and probably been unfaithful as well if my partner at the time wasn’t around and I had an option.

      Unwellness can make us do things we wouldn’t do in normal circumstances. I’m guess that what she experienced recently was pretty severe past the infidelity though if it led to her diagnosis. How’s she doing with the news of her diagnosis?

  59. Corinne S. says:

    I happened to come across your article about the art of arguing and was blown away. I wish you were close by. I’m constantly searching for info that can help me feel better. I am and have been Bipolar since very small. I am now 44 and I feel it’s just getting worst even though I’v seen psychiatrists and been admitted on a few occasions. My meds are the right combination. I fantasize that my husband will come across this artical and read it, but no. Won’t happen. He refuses to know anything or to understand why I am the way I am . He told me he wants nothing to do with it as he believe you are responsible for your own actions. My Pysch and doctors and clinics have spoken to him but he told me enough.If only we could do the hard soft approach. He is my biggest trigger. He is hard and abrupt and mean and then my emotions and temper rockets where it is a full blown fight. I hate him then. I know he does too from the hate look I get. I do understand this is all very hard for him and that he was not brought up with such nonsense. I totally understand. But that does not change things between us. He will never accept that I have this condition. I will never leave him as I am too dependent on him and most definitely he will take my sons away from me so that I don’t influence them. I’m rambling now but everything is just tooo much to bear with how I feel inside. What i ment to say is that I found your article soo interesting and the way you worded things. I am going to leave this article on the coffee table, next to the reomte anyway.

    • Dennis says:

      That’s an unfortunately difficult situation that you’re faced with in that, Corinne. It sounds like you have a very healthy, proactive approach to controlling your mental illness. It’s unfortunate that your husband can’t accept it or participate in the journey with you. All you can really do is keep doing what you need to do to maintain your mental wellness.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my work. I’m glad it resonated with you.

  60. Nick says:

    Hello there. Some very insightful conversation here. I’m particularly glad I’ve come accross this.
    So, I’m 41, partner is 36 and suffers BPII and PTSD I’d say.
    How to make a long story short. I’ve known her since we were kids, Weve been a couple for 5 years.

    There is a history of child sexual abuse and in her teenage and adult life domestic violence. One imparticular incident with an ex resulting in face surgery.

    I’d say she is aware of her manic and depressive episodes, does take medication but I’m not sure whether it’s a case of “too tired, not able to, or doesn’t think to”.
    Problem at the minute is self medication, alcohol. This as I’m sure you know just creates he’ll and I wonder why sometimes where everything comes from. I’ve said things in the past during these times some not very nice things, but truths, and they’ll no doubt have hurt. A lot of this has been in retalliation to the hurtful things she’s said about me. I’m aware that thoughts are magnified and I honestly believe that the things she has said relate to past relationships and she sees me as being the aggressor. I can understand that. I’ve learnt in recent times to play the soft approach and just let her speak what she has to speak as unfortunately there’s no getting a word in edgeways, and even so it’s generally disregarded, or not heard. But I do try to state facts which are not accepted in general and then I get the “NO, YOU…) extended arm and finger pointing. Anyway, I know that words stick, and have for us both, but I’m really trying to take a tactful approach.

    The difficulty has been our boy. Her boy. Almost 12 and has likely seen and heard lots of things growing up before I was on the scene. Personalities develop atayoung age right? We’re pretty sure he is developing or has ADHD and I’m pretty sure he’s showing signs of a developing Bipolar. Not sure 100%.
    I’ve struggled to deal with his behaviour at times and have tried to be the disciplinarian. Possibly too much. I believed he was pretty much allowed to do as he wished when mum wasn’t well etc in the past. I felt he was driving a wedge. So he doesn’t take kindly to me. His mum and I have split, predominantly due to this, separate rooms, and also because she thinks I don’t have her back. I think she spends too much time in at room, super tired after work, I think stress is a major factor.
    More recently we have agreed we want to be together, to make it work, she asks me not to be horrible and say things to people about her. Slagging her off as she puts it. Venting my frustration during difficult periods as I put it.
    I’ve agreed to go see somebody to help with CBT because I do think I need this. She said that she thinks that I think she’s my project. Not true. I just have been too co dependent at times. I’m now starting to do things for myself. Sport etc while I still can.
    Last night during a self medication session she was on the phone to an ex from a long time ago. I know this was initially to offer support as his parents I’ve both died and then she seemed to talk incessantly about how they could have still been together if x,x, and z didn’t happen or happened.
    She was very upset so I’m trying to err on the side that there’s still anger and frustration there harboured over 15 years.

    We love eachother, there’s no hate. It has been volatile in the past, never physical, I feel as though I’ve tried to Lways do the right thing, but being human I say and do things wrong. I’ve been insecure, trying not to feel insecure now. We cuddle, we kiss quickly and she asks me to just love her.

    I feel lonely at times, I feel lost sometimes I’m unsure how to approach things sometimes and wondering if she’s manic because it gets so hard to tell these days. It’s been a learning curve, I don’t get the thanks and appreciation I think I deserve for doing stuff but she’ll counter that with saying she works twice as hard. ,with illness and she deserves appreciation. I say it constantly but it falls on deaf ears. Am I being unreasonable? She’s a lovely woman, very aware, just is a bit of a rollercoAster. Interested to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your time as I appreciate you must find it hard some days. Great job 😉

    • Dennis says:

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

      The kind of difficult and instability you’re describing is a common part of chronic mental illness where there are really no good answers. The problem of PTSD and Bipolar Disorder in addition to substance abuse makes the entire situation very murky; because substance abuse (or addiction) can easily mirror other mental illnesses. There are quite a lot of doctors, at least in the United States, who will not diagnose a mental illness until the person has been sober for a few months to see what their natural personality is actually like.

      If you two are set on trying to make things work, you may also want to consider couples therapy. She really needs to learn to not minimize your problems and difficulties as well. This is a problem I see in a lot of relationships with mentally ill people; where the mentally ill party ignores or minimizes the struggles of their loved one because they view theirs as so much more difficult. But it’s not really a matter of difficult or not. It’s a matter of everyone having their needs addressed as much as possible. A couples counselor should be able to help with the child situation as well.

      The fact that she doesn’t take her meds consistently is also going to be a cause for regular instability. They need to be taken as directed. So long as they are not, then the person can look forward to continued instability with the varying levels of the medication in their system. That is certainly not helping things either. May want to actually ask her why she doesn’t take them consistently, and remind her that not taking them consistently will make her more unstable than normal, assuming it won’t start an explosive argument with her.

      I feel like working on the relationship in couples counseling and her smoothing out her med usage will provide a great deal of benefit. Of course, the alcohol is a problem, but solving that is mostly going to come down to what is driving her use of it. Addiction is a different beast than just abusing.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Dennis — what if the BP person has made irrational accusations, cursed you out, badmouth you to anyone who’ll listen and refuse to face you/ignore you [it’s been a month]… Then you learn through a mutual aquaintance that THEY’RE are the ones expecting an appology from YOU?

    Yet, they interact casual and well with their other aquaintances and appear to be well and healthy to the rest of the world.

    I truly have nothing to appologize for (otherwise, I’d be the first one to do so). Is there any hope?

    • Dennis says:

      It’s very difficult to give a real opinion based on small snippets of information. I would like to encourage you to take some time to write what all has gone on, and email me. I should be able to provide you a clearer perspective with more information on what you’ve been dealing with.

  62. Anon says:

    I’m pleased I found your site.

    My boyfriend of 8 years officially has major depressive disorder, with some psychosis. It is severe. He has been told he displays some bipolar and schizophrenic traits. He is on antidepressants and anti-psychotic meds.

    Three years ago he entered what seemed like a manic phase, but neither of us recognised it. We simply fought and fought. I noticed his personality changing, he went out till 5 every night, and became inappropriately close to another woman. He left me impulsively one night – he snapped and told me he no longer loved me. Over the next couple of moths, he realised he was unwell, got help, and we got back together six months later.

    A few years on, he’s just come out of a very depressive phase. A friend of his killed himself, his job was very stressful, and other factors. He was severely suicidal for two weeks, and I did everything I could to keep him safe. We were both so relieved when we emerged from this phase. But he quickly entered another phase. He becomes slurry and distanced every night, and we’ve argued every night for the past month. He tells me it’s my fault, and when I say I think he may be unwell or misinterpreting me he becomes incredibly angry. Yet he says I’m attacking him and that I am constantly seething with anger.

    It’s got to the point where I feel like I’m going “crazy”, or I myself am delusional. I keep doubting myself. I’m unsure if his behaviour is acceptable or abusive. When he is well he is so kind and supportive. I have arranged to see a therapist and am looking forward to gaining some more perspective. I think I am still in shock following his suicidal period – I was very strong at the time, then became exhausted and stressed once he was on the mend. A delayed reaction.

    I wonder if what I’ve described sounds typical? It’s really got to the point where I’m doubting myself and my behaviour. I don’t recognise the anger or the attacks he describes – I’m a very gentle person.

    I’m wondering whether I truly have a future with him, or whether I should wait it out till things get better. But I’m also concerned this may happen every three years.

    It makes me so sad, because he’s incredible when well. But I have also seen him deteriorate in recent years. His ill health is severe, and seems to be worsening.

    I feel heartbroken, confused and my sense of self is slipping. I’d be so grateful for any thoughts that might help me gain some perspective.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. It’s very common for a person in a position like yours to doubt their own sanity. Manipulative, abusive types may try and convince their partner that they are actually the mentally ill one. This is often referred to as gaslighting. Now, if he’s not a malicious person in general, it’s very possible that his schizophrenic/bipolar type symptoms are catching up with him and overtaking him, causing him to believe a delusional reality where you are an aggressor, regardless of how you act to him. Because no matter how you act to him, his mental illness is creating a narrative out of thin air.

      If he swings suicidal again, he really should go in-patient. That’s an incredible responsibility to put on yourself or him expecting you to shoulder. And it’s something where a misstep or two can end in disaster. It’s far better if he is in professional care.

      You should most definitely keep your appointment with the therapist and be honest with them about everything you’re experiencing with him. This sounds like it is teetering on the edge of needing professional intervention. You should most definitely seek professional help if he gets violent or swings suicidal again.

      This kind of relationship can take a very, very drastic toll on a person; regardless of how great the mentally ill person is while they are well and functional. He’s probably going to need better professional care himself, get a solid diagnosis, and actually start working towards a correct medication regimen. Mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia don’t get better over time, they only get worse or more severe in general.

    • Nancy K says:

      Think long and hard before you marry this guy!!!!!!!! It is a forever disease that has EXTREME ups and downs… YOU ARE NOT COMMITTED TO HIM, my advice is my opinion only… If you want a happy life…he is not the one!

      • Dennis says:

        I agree with you in large part, Nancy. But it’s not necessarily a lifetime sentence of instability. There are several people who obtain a great deal of long-term stability through management and medication. It just requires committing to doing that. A lot of people don’t, unfortunately.

        But you are right in that Anon should think long and hard about it.

        • Anon says:

          Thank you very much for your responses.

          I ended the relationship with my partner two days ago. We’d had a conversation during the day time (when he is usually kind, communicative and “himself”) about how his nightly evening behaviour constitutes emotional abuse. He understood, apologised and said he’d never do it again. It then happened for two more evenings. On the second evening, I felt very scared. He was so volatile. I don’t know if he would have become violent, but to not “know” that is bad enough. I think my extreme fear was also a sudden realisation of the situation I’ve found myself in. This has been happening most nights for the past six months, but I’m realising it also occurred here and there over the last few years. Especially when he falls into periods of drinking heavily in the evenings.

          The next day he apologised and said it would never happen again. Emotionally, I felt unable to still be in a relationship with him. I felt like ending the relationship was the only way to stop this cycle. I didn’t want it to happen to me and I didn’t want the doing of it to happen to him.

          I feel extremely sad. I miss him so much, but most of all I miss the incredible man I met years ago but realise maybe I haven’t seen around in a long time. I do believe that he’s a truly good man, but that depression can change people. I’m realising that might be what’s happened to him. I feel waves of intense guilt, because breaking things off has worsened his mood and all I’ve ever wanted is for him to be well and happy. But I also feel more relaxed than I have in a long time. I have everything I could and it just wann’t enough. All I want is to look out for him, hug him, take care of him. But I must be strong. I also realise my urge to “take care” of him was perhaps unhealthily co-dependent. I didn’t see that though – he was in pain and I wanted to help him. But perhaps trying to help is futile. In the evenings, it only made him seethe with anger and turn on me. I’m hoping breaking things off will mean he has to help himself, and that will aid his recovery. It’s sad to think I have no control over his recovery.

          I’m trying to look neither to the past nor to the future – that’s too terrifying. But I know I’ve made the right decision for now. My mind clearly told me I could no longer cope with the situation I was in. I feel sad that his emotionally abusive behaviour and my breaking things off means the happy future I always believed in for us is becoming less and less likely.

          Thank you Dennis for writing this blog and creating a place where all sorts of people can gain some perspective on their circumstances.

          • Anon says:

            *most nights for the last six weeks

            I’m remembering more and more. Several times over the past two years he has come home late and been utterly, utterly foul to be. Entirely transformed. I have videoed him in these instances and shown his “well” self the film in the morning and he’s been disgusted with himself and said it won’t happen again. But it does. It’s also similar to his behaviour that occurred in the three months leading up to him leaving me three years ago.

            His recent behaviour is similar. The fact that it has a connection to the last couple of years and before that (not just the last six weeks) makes me feel I have made the right decision.

            I’m so scared for my future but I hope that it will be happier, more relaxed and less painful than what I’ve been experiencing.

            Despite all of this, feeling sad right now all I want is to go to the “old him” for support. I don’t know if this means he is essentially good, or that I have just been far too entwined with him.

          • Dennis says:

            I’m replying to both of your comments in this one reply.

            At the end of the day, you have to do what is best to keep yourself healthy and intact. No person is all good or all bad. It’s why so many people struggle with leaving abusive situations like you were facing. There was something good that drew them in. Maybe the person was even 95% totally awesome. But if the remaining 5% is horribly toxic, destructive, and abusive; then that 95% really doesn’t matter. You know? You have to do what you have to do to keep yourself intact. And unfortunately, that can often mean making painful decisions.

            So yes, definitely mourn your relationship and the situation. But it sounds like you made the right decision for yourself. Hopefully he’ll seek the help he needs. Maybe he won’t. Impossible to know. Either way, you did what you could and should take solace in that fact.

            And thank you for the kind words regarding my site and work. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  63. Ann says:

    So what do partners do when they are tapped out, have done the soft approach as often as they can for decades, not perfectly but mostly, more often than not? What do we do when we are exhausted and emptied by the daily, weekly yearly reality of living a life where the ilness takes up more space than anything or anyone else? I have supportive friends and family to help and let me know it will be ok and to let me know I am not crazy and what I want and need is not crazy but the thing is I don’t have a partner, I have a patient and if I leave he has nothing – if I stay this will suck the life out of me. Sounds dramatic I know – will my soft place to land ever be in my own home – rhetorical question. How do you leave someone for being sick – that’s a crappy thing to do and how do I stay when any request for empathy and compassion is turned into a demand for more understanding of the illness. I don’t know how people with bipolar put one foot in front of the other eveyday, it is a cruel disease, I am not without compassion but sometimes I can’t help but think “what about me” selfish I guess but I just want…I want it to be different…I want a different sort of life and it won’t ever happen.

    • Dennis says:

      Ann, I admire you. I mean that genuinely. I admire your commitment to your ideals, what you feel to be right and for following through on it for such a long time. But I need to tell you something.

      What you do when you’re tapped out, when you can’t take any more, when your partner is not working to help themselves or doing anything to take care of you; is love yourself and put yourself first. Your sentiments are not dramatic at all. I have spoken to many people in a position like yours who have developed their own mental illnesses from trying to be the caretaker to a Bipolar loved one. Depression, Anxiety Disorders, even PTSD in a couple of extreme cases.

      How do you leave someone for being sick? You don’t. You leave someone because they are not honoring their commitment made to you in their vows. They agreed to enter into a partnership, to help care for you as you would help care for them. Spending days, weeks, years minimizing your problems and juxtaposing them against Bipolar Disorder is not taking care of you. It’s not even trying.

      I don’t know how much you know about me, what you’ve read about me on the content of my site. But I spent 15 years undiagnosed with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder. I started this site, started trying to help fight for their own well-being and wellness because I couldn’t find appropriate help when I really needed it. Everyday, I sit down and I write responses to people like yourself and the mentally ill, through my blog, email, social media, wherever.

      But I do not do any of this blindly or with utter selflessness. I strive to help people that are trying to help themselves. I strive to encourage people to stand up, don their own armor, and confront and fight their own problems. I don’t do it for anyone. I refuse to. I can’t. Because if I allowed the numerous people like your partner who use their mental illness to shield themselves from responsibility, I would be bled dry of my resolve, willpower, and energy in no time at all.

      My rule of thumb is simple. If they’re trying, whether it’s stumbling and trying to understand, whether it’s a stumble on their path of pursuing wellness; I’m on their side, I’m in their corner. If they aren’t trying, then hit rock bottom like I and so many people had to.

      You’re a good person, Ann. I admire your conviction and retaining your compassion through what you’ve suffered through. But it doesn’t matter if your partner would have no one else if you took a step back, because that was your partner’s decision all along. They could have put in the work. They could have tried to take care of you. They could have tried harder to understand your problems and work to accommodate them. But they didn’t. They took advantage of your kindness and compassion. You can’t own their decisions. Those aren’t for you to own.

      What you should do is ultimately a decision that only you can make. You’re the one that will have to face the outcome of those decisions. But as someone who is Bipolar, who spent a lot of time around toxic and damaged people; I can safely assure you that not everyone is deserving of the kind of compassion and sacrifice you’ve shown to your partner. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t prevent a person from doing their best to take care of you during their stable and well periods; being a selfish asshole does.

      • SRC says:

        God, I love how you cut so succintly to the issue..I could never articulate my thoughts like that, even though I feel them. My hat is off to you yet again…keep up the good work cut through my endless mental masturbation and enable me to see things…like coming out of some hideous mental maze.

    • Starr says:

      This is exactly my life Ann! I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You are not alone. My heart goes out to you!

  64. Ann says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your compassion, I wrote at a dark moment and you answered. I respect what you are doing for everyone on the site. Your knowledge compassion and empathy are such a gift. My husband was recently diagnosed but I have known for 20 years that he has bipolar. If you can believe it I am a therapist and have patients with bipolar myself. All the knowlwdge I have and the help I provide to others can not sustain me in my own home. The cycles get us every time. Since I wrote he has seen a psychiatrist and gotten medication. I hope it will help him and I have renewed hope and energy to stay. Thank you again for all that you do.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Ann. I really do appreciate them. It’s probably going to sound extremely strange, but doing what I do here for others is very much therapy for me. Helping other people with their pain, confusion, and burden lightens my own load. And it’s one of the only thing that’s really ever made me feel truly good about myself. Which is also a bonus.

      I would believe that you’re a therapist. You’re not the first mental health professional that has landed on my site and reached out; for very similar reasons as to what you’re expressing. The problem is that it’s a whole different ballgame when you’re dealing with it in your personal life with someone you’re emotionally attached to. You don’t have that separation that you have with your mental health consumers.

      I’m glad to hear he’s been in to see a psych! Hopefully he will take this issue seriously and adhere to his regimen. After a little time passes, you may want to see if you can get him to agree to go to a marriage counselor who is familiar with mood disorders that may be able to help him realize the weight that sits on your shoulders from all of this.

      I have a question for you. May I send you an email to discuss something about the mental health industry with you? It’s not “advice” or anything that would be unethical for you to engage with. Just something I don’t want in a public space yet and a non-medical advice related problem I’m trying to find a solution to that someone in your position may be able to provide direction on.

      You’re very welcome for what I do. And thank you very much for what you do.

      • Ann says:

        Of course. Please feel free to email me. I think you got my email when I signed on the the site. Thank you again for your insight.

  65. htx79 says:

    Hi. I’m here because I need to hear that there is hope for my relationship.

    I have been with my husband off and on for 16 years and married for 7. He has left and come back so many times I’ve lost count. After we were married he’s completely left 3 times.

    Each time he leaves he files forndivorce amd goes no contact except to let me know the terms of the divorce. He tells me he hopes that I “finally” find who I’m meant to be. The emails are almost verbatim they’re so similar.

    He left 2 days before Christmas, emailed me what he expected for me to have ready for him to come pick up with his father and shoved all those “have a good life” platitudes in their.

    His parents are no help, in fact, last time this happened I emailed his father and explained that I believe he’s bipolar and should see someone and warned that he was going to make really bad financial decisions which would be a burden when he finally came around. His father simply replied “you’re only fooling yourself”. Well guess what? My husband broke the lease on the house and moved into a loft space in a warehouse for which he paid 6 months of rent in advance. When my husband finally came around he realized that it was unlivable and we were out all that money he paid in advance and for all the renovations he had attempted to make it livable. When he came back his parents never apologized for blowing me off (they blew me off the times before, too).

    He was only gone a month or so that time and when we finally spoke again, he said that he seriously considered suicide. I was so relieved to have him back that I set aside all the ideas that he needed to seek treatment for bp.

    So fast forward to now. I saw his behavior change. Earlier last year he bought a motorcycle impulsively and then this girl at work started making lunches for him. Three days before he left she bought one. So I’m almost certain they’re together. He’s left me for people in the past, but not since we were married. I’m scared that he’s gone for good now. He’s been gone for 4 months now.

    What makes me think that this is just another episode is that leading up to this he was being his normal loving self. He would post pictures of me on Instagram captioned with how lucky he was and how much he loved me and he loved me forever, etc. It was over the course of about two weeks that he changed. Now he has served me with divorce papers and I’m going back and forth with his lawyer over how I’m not paying his taxes and he’s trying to take my refund. He won’t speak to me at all.

    I know episodes get worse with age, I’m hoping that just because this is the worst and longest time he’s been gone, it doesn’t mean he won’t eventually return. I’m prepared this time to support treatment. I love him immensely and i don’t want to abandon him if he is ill and can be helped, regardless of all the times he’s abandoned me. Even if the divorce goes through, even if he is with that other woman, whatever he’s done, if he returns and is willing to get help, then I’m committed to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work after that, then I know I’ve gotta let go.

    • Dennis says:

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

      Here’s the thing, all of your support for him will be meaningless if he doesn’t want to help himself or see any real problems with what he’s doing to teh point where he finally decides to seek help. Have you considered therapy for yourself to address the damage this has undoubtedly done to you? Because living the way you’re describing does take a drastic toll on a person. At some point you have to decide when enough is enough.

      I can’t give you hope for your relationship because I would have told you that it’s not worthwhile to throw yourself completely under the bus for a person who acts the way he does towards you, unless he was willing to get help. Love is a product of the mind and mental illness most definitely plays a role in affecting it. Love does not conquer mental illness. Never has. Never will. You should definitely consider visiting a therapist to sort through the damage he’s been doing to you for a long time now.

  66. jumanji says:

    First of all sorry for my english, I’m not native speaker.
    I’ve been dating this guy on and off already 3 years. In addition the situation is complicated cause we are from different backgrounds, he is french and I’m Russian, now we are currently separated after his last full blown maniac episode. While he was manic he moved to live in Ukraine and I moved with him but situation became very crappy to the point he didn’t want me around anymore, drank excessively, ran after other girls, didntr sleep properly and finally decided he didn’t want me around anymore. So I accepted his decision and came back Russia. I was really depressed for a couple of months, even attended psycho for a couple of months. He completely shout out me from his life. But after three months or smth I recieved letter from him, he was in completely depressed state of mind, isolated himself from everybody, quited job. So I decided to rescue him and went back to Ukraine again. Long story short it was almost unbearable to live with him, he became paranoidly depressed and delusional, acted weird to the point very weird and broke up with me again after I spent three months in Ukraine. So I came back home again and was depressed as usual….Lost some kilos and started to take antidepressants on my own… In July it was my birthday and we started to speak again. I felt much more better and quit antidepressants, I think I have codependent issues here. We decided to try again and he promised to come to my city in september, so I was waiting and we continued to chat on internet. For me his visit is very important, cause it will show he is ready to do some acts not just words. Meanwhile he continued to stay at his parents home (he came back France from Ukraine) playing computer games, sleeping, just doing nothing, inventing plans how we will go here and there to travel but finally never followed any of his grandiouse ideas. Plus he gained kilos, I guess cause of taking lithium so he was shy to speak with on cam even. But he continued to say we would meet very very soon. But each time I pushed him to take any kind of action, he would response me with silent treatment. So I stopped pushing but my patience is not made of steel…Third of april it was our special date, he promised me some kind of surprise but even here he didnt keep his word. I was waiting one week but nothing as usuall, the same time I decided to ask again when we will meet but he said lets change topic, it will be very very soon. I was totally angry cause I had been waitinf g already one year so I freaked out massively and blocked him on messenger, sent him email that he could contact me only if he will follow at least once what he said before. Next morning I regreted what did I say and unblocked him but he already blocked me.
    I realize he is sick and I cant demand from him a lot. I think sometimes Im even sicker to continue all this, waiting that the guy will be ready to come already one year. But all the time we stop to speak I feel so bad even can feel it physically, bad insomnia, Im loosing kilos, interest in my daily and social life. I know its better to cut all ties, cause all this looks ridiculous but he is a part of me and I can’t let him go. So now we haven’t spoke already two weeks, I tried to reach him but no response. I dont know what to do, sometimes my biggest wish just to have freedom from all this but another day Im scared to death to loose him forever.

    PS Sorry for my english, hope u will understand smth 🙂

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Chances are pretty good that if he’s dodging your demands of him taking action that he’s not prepared to actually take them. The actions you’re describing certainly don’t suggest them.

      How is mental health care around where you live? Is a therapist an option for you? Because it sounds like you would benefit greatly from discussing the situation with a therapist or counselor of your own. You can’t save him. Only he can save himself. And he won’t do that for you. He has to want to do it for himself. There’s a really good chance he’s got a long ways to go before he can accept that he has a problem that he needs to really do something about and work against.

      Your post also suggests that he’s not going to be the one to end things. You’re going to have to decide for yourself how far you’re willing to go and establish that boundary yourself. And given that it is affecting your physical health, draining your resources, among other things; were I in your situation I would let the relationship go and work on getting things straightened around in my own life.

      And your English was fine. 🙂

  67. Starr says:

    This has been one of the most single handedly best forum I have read. There is so much of this that hits home for me. My husband was diagnosed bipolar about a year ago and he’s refusing to get help with medication. With that being said I’m always waiting for the manic side to show up. He just started showing signs a few days ago and has told me he’s been feeling this way for awhile. We have 2 little kids and I worry about what they see in our marriage. When my husband is well he is my best friend, when he’s manic he acts like he hates me. Everything is my fault and he says we should divorce because it seems to be inevitable. He’s hateful, he’s cheated, he lies. He says he loves his kids but can’t stand me. I have completely stopped communication with him unless it has to do with the kids. We are basically living as roommates since we can’t afford two house holds. I don’t know how much longer to stay in this situation especially since he’s refusing help. Maybe when he realizes what he’s doing he will get help, but for some reason I strongly doubt it. I can’t help someone that doesn’t want it, right!?

    • Dennis says:

      That’s a very unfortunate situation, Starr. And you are absolutely correct. You cannot help someone that refuses to be helped. Personally, I would be working towards making that situation change in some way. Either with getting him out of the house or finding a place to live on your own as soon as feasible without destroying yourself or your situation in the process. It’s not likely to get better unless he accepts he has a problem that he needs to deal with. And given the severity of what you’re alluding to in all of this, that probably is going to mean medication or a lifetime of blowing up his personal life, and in turn, yours and the kids.

      And if you do end up divorcing, be sure the appropriate legal needs are met. I’ve known a ton of women in a position like yours who end up not establishing solid visitation rights or child support because they “don’t want to be unkind.” Well, that’s all well and good. But mental illness isn’t kind and you can’t expect that person to do the right thing while they are screaming through insanity.

      It’s unfortunate, but yes your kids are probably taking a lot of negativity and awfulness out of watching the two of you. And they have zero context to understand what is really going on with their dad.

      My rule of thumb is simple, I’m on the side of anyone that is working to better themselves or their situation. But if they are fine with being chaotic, miserable, and unstable; then fine. They can be miserable. That’s their choice, not mine. Just like it’s not your choice, it’s your husband’s.

      • Starr says:

        Just an update. I got him out of the house. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I love him so very much. I probably always will. I pray and hope he gets the help he desperately needs. I hope he can find happiness and can get well so that his children can know the real him. I’m hoping this is a tough love approach and things will change in the some what near future. I’ve decided it’s time for me to take care of myself and protect my babies. This is a horrible disease, my heart goes out to all that have it and the ones who love and support them.

        • Dennis says:

          Thanks for the update, Starr. It’s unfortunate when people need to make these kinds of decisions.

          I would like to give you a heads up. Depending on how manipulative he can be, a person in his situation may try to come back in by promising to change or saying he needs to come home to change. Then, their loved one usually lets them back in because they want to be supportive and love the person. And then the person promptly does nothing. So, don’t entertain any such things until he’s demonstrated a commitment to getting and being better. Minimum rule of thumb is at least six months.

          • Starr says:

            Thank you so much. That’s exactly what he did last time. Not understanding the disease I did let him back and now we are dealing with round 2. I absolutely will be taking your advise because I know it’s the best for all of us involved. It’s crazy how predictable these cycles are.

          • Dennis says:

            It’s kind of funny. No one wants to talk about mental illness because of how awful and isolating it can be. But if more people talked about it, they would realize that many people are dealing with the exact same flavor of problems relating to it.

            There’s a saying I like to use when talking about Bipolar Disorder. We are connected by the threads of symptoms. On the surface, Bipolar Disorder looks extremely chaotic. But once you dive beneath and understand what the symptoms look like, you can start seeing the threads that connect our actions in the same way that a person can “feel a cold coming on.” Or you start sneezing and realize you’re getting sick. Bipolar Disorder is very similar in that regard.

          • Starr says:

            Hey Dennis. So I know every situation is different and everyone handles their bipolar manic phase differently. My husband has left our home. He’s attempting to make contact with the kids, when it seems convenient for him. He is taking them this weekend which I think is great. I know where they are going to be and it will be a good and safe place to spend time together. My husband left taking a couple of days worth of work clothes. Everything else he owns is here. I just found out he contacted the girl he had an affair with last time and I guess he’s trying to make that work out. He left our beautiful home with the 2 kids, 2 dogs with the white fence. He’s living in a hotel due to work and is now talking about moving in with her again. She lives in an apartment with her 2 teenage daughters. Is he going to regret this decision? I know I can’t let him back but for some reason all I want is for him to realize he just made the biggest mistake of his life. I think it will be a form of closure for me.

          • Dennis says:

            Closure is a luxury that many people do not receive, Starr. Is he going to regret it? Maybe, maybe not. Just depends on many things; like what his real feelings are, how unwell he actually is, how long he’s going to be unwell, if his actions are just the result of mental illness or if there is anything real to them, and so on.

            The point is this…he may or may not. It could be tomorrow, it could be thirty years from now. You do not want to hinge your own emotional and mental well-being on him realizing these things or having an epiphany. It may never happen. You don’t want to throw away your own peace of mind hoping for something that may never come. You know?

            I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear; but that’s how I see it work for people over and over. People tend to want “closure” in some tangible form or fashion on their own terms. Unfortunately, mental illness doesn’t care what any of us want. The sooner you can look at the situation and accept mental illness as the reason, the easier the journey will be on you, the sooner you’ll heal, the sooner you can start building a positive future; even if it means doing so without him.

  68. Jenn says:

    Reading this post and all of the responses was so uplifting to me to see that I am not the crazy one. My husband and I have been together for 4 years and have been married one and a half. When we first got together he was absolutely wonderful. He must have told me 100 times that he was a family man who had only ever wanted to be a father and husband. His parents spoke so highly of him and seemed to play a large part in his life, and it seemed as though my prayers had finally been answered.

    He has a daughter from a previous relationship (her mother is deceased) who he got custody of very quickly. After we initially got together and introduced the children (I have a son from a previous relationship) I noticed that he and his daughter had a very odd relationship. They did not speak much and there was not a lot of affection. In addition, she had very serious behavior issues. At first I attributed them to me being the new woman in her life and taking her father away, but then I realized she didn’t really seem to have a loving relationship with him. Despite these warning signs, I continued to think that they had a strained past due to her mother’s death and he was having difficulty due to going from being a minimally involved father (she lived in Florida and we live in New York) to being a full time mom and dad.

    Shortly after he proposed I began to find small lies that he had told regarding money. He was hiding almost $600 a month from me and could not justify where it went or what he was doing with it. All of this was happening while I was taking a pay cut and having trouble meeting my mortgage payments. Of course after I found out he apologized and vowed to never lie again. I attributed that to the stress of being engaged and moving in with one another. As the engagement progressed our fighting increased. The fights would be over small things that any normal couple would just disagree over. He would turn it into something more and then would begin talking about all of the negative things I was doing in our relationship.

    One week before the wedding he and I got into an argument and he took off from the home. He did not take any of his stuff, only a pack of cigarettes and his cellphone. For two days he only turned the phone on long enough to check messages and send a nasty reply to my concern and then it would be turned back off. It was during this time that his mother finally informed me that he had been hospitalized twice in the past due to very severe depression and that lying had always been a problem. She then put it in a way to make it seem as though all of his past problems had been due to a bad relationship where he was treated the same way. We found him in the woods. He had stayed two days in the woods. With nothing. I confronted him on the information from his mother and he began crying and telling me that he was treating me how she treated him and he was sure that was the problem. I thought about cancelling the wedding, but one week out and we had spent $30,000 I went through with it.

    One month after our wedding I found out that he had been fired from his job and had lied to me about it for one whole week. During the day he was driving to his job and then spending the day driving around and walking around the town. When I found out he took off and again blamed me for him lying (I am not calm enough to talk to and I blow up and make him feel insecure). This was two weeks before Christmas and the night of my son’s Christmas concert. The next day I got a phone call from the hospital that he had checked himself into mental health. He went there tearful and remorseful and said he did not know what he was doing wrong. He told them I would divorce him. I went and saw him and he looked so broken. I assumed he would finally be getting help and so I of course forgave him.

    He went to therapy next with a woman who said he was only depressed and his problems could be attributed to my reactions to his anger. She said as his wife my job was to make him happy. I am not joking. That’s actually what she said. So I tried. I realized I was walking on eggshells constantly. The fights were increasing and in the span of 24 hours, hell, even 12 hours, we would go from “You’re the love of my life” to “I have never loved you and I hate you.” At this point I started to realize this was not me, nor was this depression. In March (only three months after the first time) he again lied about losing a job and took off and checked himself into the hospital. This time he refused to allow me access to him, and refused to let them talk to me. His psychiatrist called me and told me it was obvious he was the problem. The whole thing was so devastating to me I ended up in the ER having a horrible panic attack. His psychiatrist called him and told him to speak to his wife, and that what he was doing was abuse and needed to stop. They brought me upstairs and he immediately started crying saying that he didn’t want a divorce he just wanted some time away. During this hospital stay I found out from his mother that they knew early on he has mental illness and chose to do nothing about it. I also found out that his father is very serious bi polar and was never treated. His mother is very controlled by his father. Through further details I found out that my husband saw and endured much emotional abuse on the hands of his father. I will note that they are no longer a large part of his life because through future recovery he began to realize it wasn’t healthy.

    After he was released we immediately began seeing a new counselor. It took her one session to realize he was bipolar. The next 7 months however the fights were constant. He would consistently threaten to leave and he would say he hated me, then he loved me two seconds later. Everything in the world that could possibly go wrong is my fault and I am the reason he acts like he does. He denied having bi polar and would not even consider medication. Finally she assisted in getting him on Lomictal (spelling?) but that was not stabilizing his moods. She knew he needed more but he was so unstable it was impossible to get him to go to the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. During this time I am missing an enormous amount of work, and the kids are seeing this. He would take off for a couple of days and come back. He would lie about dumb and simple things that did not need to be lied about.

    Finally, in November all of the behaviors came to a head. I dropped him off at work (as usual) and I realized that my bank card to our account was missing. I had a feeling he had it, and so when I got to work (one hour away) I checked the balance on my found and saw that 20 minutes after being dropped off from work, he withdrew all of the money. I immediately called the police and stated that I did not know what frame of mind he was in. They located him behind my house with his bags packed. I went to the hospital where he told the police to have me arrested if I tried to talk to him. He had them ask me to leave the hospital. They realized him because he was no suicidal. I went up to Target and saw him up there waiting for his friend to pick him up. He was going to go stay in a motel alone because he hated me and wanted a divorce. I started talking to him and telling him how he gets like this and it isn’t normal to love someone and then hate them. Eventually he calmed down and called his job back and admitted his mental illness. They agreed to give him the job back. We got in the car and went to a hotel and stayed for the night. We spent the whole night talking. In the beginning he was insistent that he needed to leave and we needed a divorce. Suddenly, he began talking about his failures. How he feels he doesn’t make enough money (I make much more than him as an investigator) and how he knew he was sick.

    After that night he went to the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. He was initially put on a medication that did very little for the outbursts. From November until January we had very frequent outbursts continue, but no threats to leave. Then in February she put him on Lithium and the outbursts have dampened. Overall since November he has done well. Even though the outbursts continued, they were quick to be over (he’d go outside and smoke a cigarette and they’d be done, or at most by the next morning) and the vulgar names stopped. Every once in a blue moon he would say I was a bitch, or that he was sick of it. However, he never threatened to leave or belittled. In February, as I said above, the behaviors really were minimal. Maybe one anger outburst a month. His mood was stable and he seemed very happy.

    I have now come to the point where I can tell these outbursts are coming. It’s almost like he’s just waiting and looking for a fight. He will become cold and distant and snippy and then when I call him out on it, he has a reason to fight. Two weeks ago I noticed he was becoming this way. He was with me, but not with me. I was living alone but he was right next to me. He is normally very attentive and affectionate, and when that goes away I know he is no longer himself. Sure enough the fight started over how I said goodnight to him. He took off and told me he was going to throw his wedding band in the street because he was done with me. He told me I needed him etc. It took me five hours of texting to convince him to come home and sleep so that I could ensure he would wake up for work the next day. The next day was a Friday and he was completely nasty to me. My mother tried speaking to him. Finally on Saturday he started acting like nothing had happened. I went out to the living room and accused him of not taking his lithium (he doesn’t like the way it makes his stomach feel). He of course as always denied this and stated that I was wrong. I then hit him with the facts that I had counted his lithium pills on Wednesday (when he started acting weird) and again today (Saturday) and he only had one. I told him that I have put up with more than any one woman would, but that our marriage would most certainly end if he refuses to take his medication. He got up and took the pill. He called the pharmacy for an emergency dose to last him the weekend, and then called the Nurse Practitioner on Monday. He had avoided seeing her (he hasn’t been since February) and stopped seeing the regular counselor. He now has an appointment on June 9th with the Practitioner. Since two weeks ago he is again stable.

    I have started trying to focus on the good things. Even when we are fighting I have started trying to say that he has come so far, and I’d hate to see him go back. I try to tell him how proud I am of him. It is very difficult though. I live in this constant fear of when the next outburst will be, or when he will take off again. And although he hasn’t “left” since November, I know that won’t be the last time. I ask myself every day if this is truly worth it. We are best friends and he is a phenomenal man when he is well, but when he is unwell, he is gone. At times I don’t know the right way to respond or deal with the things he says. I scream and yell back. Obviously that doesn’t help, I know that deep down, but in the moment I am so flabbergasted that someone could treat another they “love” this way.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jenn. Thank you for taking the time to comment. First of all, have you seen a counselor at all to discuss the situation with your husband with them? Because I would very much recommend that you do. The situation you’re dealing with is going to take a drastic toll on your emotional and mental health; and like the psych pointed out, his actions are abusive and damaging.

      The thing with abusive and toxic people that a lot of people don’t understand is that they are never 100% evil or bad. Very few people are 100% bad or evil. Even Hitler loved his dog and animals. What you need to look at is what you are putting out, what kind of effort they are putting out, and what you are receiving; both good and bad.

      The following may be hurtful or triggering to you, so proceed only if you’re in a good emotional state.

      When it comes to mental health treatment, there are really two camps of people.

      There are the people that understand they are mentally ill and want to be well, they do their best to comply despite the periodic hiccup. We all have them. I’ve had mine, where I was just so enraged at the idea of needing to be slaved to psych meds to maintain some normal degree of functionality. But eventually, we stand back up, we get back on the horse, we keep going.

      And then you have the other camp of people, the ones who are being forced into it, which is the camp your husband is in. He doesn’t like the way the lithium makes his stomach feel. Obvious question, is he taking it with a meal like you’re supposed to? Because it feels like hell if you don’t. Otherwise, a person who is serious about being well would not just cut their medication and lie about it in most cases. But in your husband’s case, he’s got a long, long history of lying, so I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt of it just being a poor, one-off decision.

      Look, I can’t tell you what to do with the situation. Only you can decide that for yourself. But I can tell you how I see the situation and what I would do if I were in it.

      The stuff you’re describing waves many orange flags; not mild enough to be yellow flag behavior, not severe enough to be red flag behavior. But the kind of behavior where a manipulator keeps their victim compliant by just doing, giving just enough, skirting just below your “this is it!” limit to keep the victim wrapped in the situation. Or, to put it another way, the person holds you underwater long enough so you can feel like you’re start to drowning, then pulls you back up to get enough air to keep you alive. And that process can go on for DECADES.

      You see, your husband isn’t just struggling against Bipolar Disorder, he’s also got whatever issues came from the relationship his parents share and the toll it took on him there. Wouldn’t be all that surprising if he turned into a compulsive liar to protect himself from his old man. Unmaking that kind of damage is a tremendous, tremendous hurdle. One that the person needs to be passionate about wanting to overcome, same with Bipolar Disorder. And from your description, he just doesn’t. He doesn’t grasp the severity of the problem because he’s been fighting it the whole way and trying to manipulate it into it being a problem with you, and it’s not.

      Unless he really takes his mental illness serious, unless he’s willing to go to a therapist and actually work on dealing with the damage that his early life did and learning how to live with Bipolar Disorder, he’s always going to be this way in some form. You’ll never be able to “trust” him because of the person that he is.

      Realistically, it could be years before he truly understands and accepts that there are problems both from Bipolar Disorder and from the way he was raised. And on top of that, it could be years of work and effort before he can really adjust or fix the damage that’s been done to him. You could be looking at decades of dealing with this. Can your mental health take that? What about your son’s? Because it’s most certainly having an affect on him, watching all of this unfold and how he treats you, and your still being there with him.

      Does your husband have a chance of recovering? He absolutely does. But it’s going to take a drastic shift in his perception and perspective for that to happen. And who knows when that will happen. You don’t strike me as the type of woman to suffer in silence, so I wouldn’t be shocked if you wind up divorcing him sooner or later.

      In the meantime, you MUST protect yourself from his unwellness. It’s very common for people in these kinds of relationships to maintain separate financials; you absolutely need to do that since he’s already tried to steal from the joint account. Do NOT co-sign for anything, eliminate all joint everything as much as possible, so he can’t use it as leverage against you later.

      Do NOT do anything via word of mouth, especially if you happen to get pregnant. I would definitely not PLAN a child with him for many years down the road, if that was something you wanted with him. Not until he’s been well and stable for a significant amount of time. Document as much as you can. You have a smartphone? Look into apps for exporting text, phone calls, voice mail messages and keep it stored for a rainy day.

      And I would start building an emergency fund for a divorce attorney, you’re going to need one if you reach that point. I would expect him to lie about and manipulate everything to be your fault, and act accordingly in any separation or child support arrangements. That’s when it’s going to be really helpful to have evidence to present of the way he functions.

      I would very much encourage you to not take the money you’ve spent on this, the wedding, being with him, as a reason to stay in the relationship. Believe me, the price you and your son will pay for being in this relationship is far, far greater than any amount of money after a couple decades. A good businessman, or woman in this case, accepts that sometimes one must cut their losses when things aren’t going well.

  69. SEBASTIAN says:

    I have a question. A little about me I’m 24 was hospitalized for a week and diagnosed with bipolar in 2013, I can’t hold a job I did graduate Film School and am currently working as much as I can in the jobs I like Acting, Writing, Directing, I’ve made some connections to a entertainment law firm interested in supporting me but I need $800 for there monthly services to begin and after that I should have investments supporting me, my Film project and paying the Law Firms monthly bill. Here’s the thing is it really me? When I tell most people from my past or present that I am bipolar most don’t believe me, but most people have no idea what the illness really looks like.

    So my predicament when Is it that I’m being walked on because I don’t want to come off as bipolar I cut ties to a lot of friends most of which I realized weren’t great influences on me they try to contact me through text or email sending me messages with pity or something positive. The very same friends who talk about me behind my back to my ex so they can try to get with her or say I’m fat or I’m like the Grizzly Man the Bipolar guy who was eaten by bears because I love animals. I’m told I am passionate and I stay positive is it just me or do people want to bring me down? My friends I feel guilty but I used to go in and out of depression from hanging out with them and its not just me, they insult everyone around them. I still live with my Mom and the thing with her is, is she’ll as me whats wrong and I’ll tell her and she’ll basically tell me to get over it, I tell her I need help finding a therapist since I’m under her insurance and she tells me to figure it out. The worst thing is my Mom is in remission from Breast cancer I helped her through her entire treatment more than any of are family or her friends or even boyfriend, I love her but the thing she says really just hurts. I sometimes think It’s me I ask say things to her like how am I ever going to be in a relationship and she says I’m being ridiculous. My meaning my own Mother says ignorant hurtful things about my disability so and this is the one thing that really makes me go into depression, if she won’t look into my illness to get a better idea of what I’m going through, will anyone? My point is I am in some certain senses a quiet but when called on outspoken person but when people just insult me and I’m always trying to be a true empath even in my worst moments I hide away so no has to deal with me. I’ve never insulted my Mom or any of my friends the only thing is they spot me for food or I live with my my but I collect food stamps and general relief. I had 3k and around the time I went to the hospital I gave it all to my Mom for rent because she got a house with her ex boy friend and when he left she needed the money. The money I could have used for my career or the 800 for the law firm that I really need to get my life and films started. I keep hearing how to deal with a bipolar but how do I deal with people who, I hate to say it but use my illness as a shield to insult me. I tried to work I got a job as a roofer and I could’nt do it because of my sleep hygiene which I’m constantly working on. So while my Mom and everyone I know goes out on the weekends I stay home, I write, I believe in self education I love to learn on my terms. But again, I’m tired of people being mean to me then trying to be nice to me and treating me like I’m delusional, paranoia, I’m medicated I take Lithium and this other drug I can’t pronounce or spell. Am I paranoid does it sound like I’m trying to manipulate my world to just sound like a sick person hiding behind my illness and expecting everyone to follow what I do?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Sebastian. I reply to comments when I am able to.

      First, many people do not have any decent understanding of Bipolar Disorder. They only know of and think of the extreme examples, which is typically Type 1 Bipolar Disorder. But Bipolar Disorder is actually a classification for a spectrum of mood disorders that fall into that category. You can take 100 people with Bipolar Disorder, and on the surface, the mental illness can look different in each and every one of them.

      Second, about your friends and even your mother, the simple truth is a lot of people are assholes, even mothers. A lot of people who profess to care, simply do not. Why? Because it’s easy to say you care about someone and then not do any of the work that is actually involved with caring about a person. Is that the case with a majority of your friends or your mother? I have no idea, because I really only have your perspective to operate from. Would it surprise me? Not really. Because a lot of people that write to me have similar complaints.

      Were I in your situation with my knowledge and experience, this is what I would do.

      1. You need to NOT make any long-term commitments until you are sure you are well and stable enough to handle them. I realize the film thing may sound great, but if you’re unwell or unstable, you can’t really trust that you’re making a right decision; and I sincerely doubt they are going to be doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They will probably have demands of you. Though, I’m not at all familiar with the film industry, I’m immediately skeptical and suspicious of “Pay us $800 dollars so you can make money.”

      2. You need a counselor to talk to about your mother, your friends, and relationships. I only get to see a small sliver of who you are through a post like this. I don’t know you, your life, your friends, your mother, or why they are doing what they are doing. This is something you should explore with a counselor to gain a neutral perspective on, and if there are boundaries you need to erect, they can help you with that. They will also be able to help you separate who you are versus who the Disorder is more effectively as well.

      3. You need to start working to understand Bipolar Disorder yourself. I would recommend that you look into local support groups where you can be around other people who have lived similar lives and are experiencing similar difficulties. Your mother and friends are never going to “understand” in the way you would probably like, because they aren’t Bipolar and have not lived your life. The only place you’re going to find real understanding is with other people who share that similar bond. I would also suggest that you start reading and researching Bipolar Disorder more so you can understand what it is. Once you understand what it is, you’ll have a better understanding of what it’s not. And then you’ll be able to start separating who you are versus who the Disorder is.

      My impression of who you are through your writing is that you are a person who does not yet understand themselves or their mental illness. I don’t think you’re using it as an excuse. I don’t think you’re manipulating the world. I think you’re just confused and lost right now. So, the best course of action is to stay focused on better understanding yourself and your mental illness.

      I would very much recommend reading through my blog. There are hundreds of pages of information about Bipolar Disorder that I’ve posted. I would very much recommend checking out my eBooks, which are available on a “Pay What You Want” basis, meaning you can grab them for free. I have been specifically working to help make this all more understandable to people like yourself.

      It will get better, Sebastian. It sounds like you’re on the right path, you’re just very early on it is all.

  70. samantha says:

    I’ve been reading your website for about 9 months now and finally thought it might be worthwhile to comment. In a way, I get overwhelmed and simultaneously bored by the reoccurring themes in these relationships but I’m also moved that people care enough to be supporters and are trying to understand their bipolar partners.
    I have to say, in the beginning, I was quite un-accepting that my partner’s behavior was bipolar related. His off/on again, distancing during episodes and reluctance to commit in a relationship simply felt like irresponsible, hurtful and using behaviors. It wasn’t until he kept coming back, month after month, that I realized there was something deeper going on. The relationship was deepening, but the episodes (though I didn’t know what they were then) continued. Naturally, this has resulted in a lot of hurting, arguing and accusations. I will say, since coming to understand my partner’s bipolar episodes, that I’ve become forgiving and patient. This doesn’t always control my tongue when I feel hurt or wronged, but the end result (if he’ll receive it) is forgiveness and patience and trust that he’s well intentioned.
    Here’s where things get confusing. I never know what to do when he’s in a manic episode. Do you have any articles about that? When he’s depressed, I follow the protocol of being there but not overbearing, being a friend but not pushing him to cheer up, supporting without judging and limiting my expectations as I know the focus needs to be on him getting through the day (his focus at least). But, when he’s manic, it’s much harder to know how to support him. My experience is that he doesn’t want me around when he’s manic. Is this normal? Is he pushing me away to protect me? Does he push me away simply because his unwell mind tells him it’s over or does he push me away because he doesn’t want me to see who he can become. Even in his well states, he doesn’t commit. Is he not committing to protect me and himself or is he not committing because he’s simply not THAT interested and that’s why I get the shove off in manic states.
    This last string of questions is rather important in knowing how/if to support him. I’m not sure, when a person doesn’t communicate, appears fearful and has bipolar, how one can know if their bipolar partner wants support. I feel so completely isolated that it’s humiliating to approach him in these states but then too, he always comes back to me after them, sometimes with apologies, always with an intent to do better but never with commitment.
    I suspect that as long as we’re not committed, he can feel easier about what happens with us in episodes but this lack of commitment makes it hard for me to know what’s appropriate and what’s not in terms of handling his episodes. My heart says, reach in, stay in touch, he loves me (he has told me once) and this is just a phase. My logical self says he’s given me no commitment, I’m getting the push off and it’s embarrassing to offer support at this time.
    Where’s the line between being there to support a manic partner and accidentally pushing them away forever?
    Not that my story is different than others but the short of our last break up is that we were together every night for almost a week, we got incredibly close again and then he disappeared. His social media writings didnt’ sound like him, when I confronted him on disappearing he was harsh and insensitive (not like him) and, living in a small town, I learned that he has been behaving in a manic manner.
    I feel stuck…. when do us supporters know when it’s okay to support and when space is what’s needed. I suppose my concern with the space/time approach to things is that it could all be for nothing and if moving on is the inevitable, why prolong it? Are there signs that it’s really over or does the episode make that impossible to discern? Is there any way of addressing this to a person who has bipolar while they are in a state?
    Any insight is appreciated though I do realize most of this has been covered, I guess I could use some help shaking these specific questions I keep tossing around in my head.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Samantha. I will be answering both of your posts in this reply.

      First of all, if he’s having manic episodes while medicated, he needs to bring that up to his doctor because he’s not supposed to be. The correct medication should drastically reduce or eliminate them altogether. If it’s coming up as often as your post suggests, the medication isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing; and that’s assuming he’s actually medicated for Bipolar Disorder or is taking it as directed. Given the other behavior you describe with the drinking, erratic sleep, and the level of instability your post implies; I wouldn’t really count on it.

      Second, you can’t help someone that doesn’t want help or to help themselves. In the case of mania, many people shove everyone away and just ride what they are feeling and thinking. The questions you asked relation to why he’s doing the things he’s doing during mania? It could be anything from “the sky is blue” to some deep emotional process. There is no way to really know for sure. Anything can seem like a good idea when you’re manic and it doesn’t always make rational sense. In fact, most of the time it really doesn’t make rational sense; hence those choices being the result of mental illness and instability as opposed to just quirkiness or some difficulty.

      Does his choice to keep coming back to you have anything to do with the fact that you keep welcoming him back with open arms and no expectations? At least, that’s the perception your writing gives, with him not committing to you and seeming to just do whatever he wants while he’s unwell.

      Words mean absolutely nothing. The intentions of people are shown in their actions. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. Mood is just another synonym for emotions. Asking an unstable Bipolar person to sort out their feelings while unstable is pretty much like asking a person in a wheelchair to run a marathon. They just can’t do it. They may firmly believe what they are saying and know it to be true, but what they firmly believe and know to be true may change in an hour, or tomorrow, or a week later.

      Even if he did commit to you tomorrow, you would be ill-advised to trust it or believe it because it could change with a shift in stability.

      Granted, I’m sure there are a ton of details and circumstances that I don’t know about; but the situation you’re describing sounds more like you are enabling as opposed to being supportive. And he may very well be taking advantage of that. I would very much suggest that you have a visit or two with a counselor to discuss the situation with them in-depth.

      From your description, it does not appear as though your partner has any understanding of what Bipolar Disorder does to him, how to manage it, or even the desire to do so. And even if he says he did, I would want to see some long-term commitment towards pushing towards wellness. It’s a long, hard road to walk. It’s far more than just tossing some pills in your mouth and calling it a day.

      As for how you support someone with mania and instability like you’re describing? You really don’t. You take a step back behind the healthy boundaries you’ve erected to keep yourself safe and healthy, work to minimize the damage the person can do to you and your life, and ride out the storm until the cycle ends. Your writing suggests that you may not have good boundaries with him; which is something you should ask a counselor about. You NEED them to be in a relationship with someone with Bipolar Disorder or you will get swept up and under by the mental illness.

      • samantha says:

        Thank you for your response.

        As many others before me have said, it’s really kind of you to take the time. This is by far the best blog I’ve read on bipolar disorder.

        I hadn’t considered how unhealthy my behaviors have been and that I’ve been enabling rather than supporting. That’s a great take home point.

        I suppose if anything he has insinuated that I’m too hard on him, pushing him away and calling him out on unfair behaviors when he distances and does not communicate. Generally what happens is that he drops out of the relationship, I wait patiently but after sometime, I confront it. At these times I tell him it’s not okay or acceptable and I draw some lines. He feels betrayed and abandoned at these times but doesn’t offer to step in any further or hear what I need (understandably, he cannot provide me with what I need).

        So it’s me that does puts up boundaries. I’m just not good at keeping to them. He acts hurt and accuses me of ending the relationship (which feels manipulative to me) and then after some point, I am open arms because I feel guilty that I put up a wall when he was in a state. I have tried not to do this, to wait for him to come out of his state but I haven’t had the strength yet to pull that off.

        Ultimately I agree that by taking him back without commitment and continuing to take him back, there is a boundary problem (no matter how rational I have tried to make that process).

        What I really took from this was a few things:
        1. he’s not managing his disorder (absolutely, I agree)
        2. I’m asking too much from a person who has bipolar. I want consistency and commitment (too high of expectations)
        3. I need to learn not to try to work though his experiences, thoughts and feelings when he’s having an episode because they won’t make sense anyway

        I know most of these things but somehow, I can’t seem to accept them. I’m always hoping he’ll change, not that the bipolar will go away but that he’ll make a bigger effort to communicate, be open to hearing that his actions don’t match his words or our previous relations and that when he does come back, we can work to make sure our next experience is smoother. I don’t feel like that’s too much to ask but it is that hope that causes me to push for more than what he can ultimately give and a hope that to date has left me with open arms.

        I suppose it takes a really strong, understanding and secure person to be in a relationship like this. I’ve tried to change my own expectations, but to no avail and I think being honest with myself about what I need in a relationship is important.

        Right now we’re on speaking terms, just friends and I’m already doing it again… I’m asking myself questions such as how much of a role did I play in our last break up, maybe I didn’t support him well enough, maybe he’s sorry but he doesn’t want to talk about it because he doesn’t want us to hurt each other again and so on because here is, in my life again and “leaning in” as I’ve come to describe it.

        He’s a sweet soul, there is no using going on here. I’ve sorted that out and am convinced that he has zero ill intent so it’s very difficult to close the door on him when he appears to be in a normal state and wanting to connect.

        Right now my goal is to appreciate what connection we’ve managed to salvage in all of this and understand that we can’t provide each other with what the other needs.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome on the response. And thank you for the kind words on my blog and work.

          I’m glad to hear that you can see that your behavior is unhealthy as well. A lot of people think that giving love and kindness without boundaries is the way to go; and it’s really not, especially when it comes to mental illness. A mentally ill loved one may not always be able to see, respect, or follow those boundaries when it is churning along. Thus, if you want to say sane and healthy yourself, you NEED to have your own limits and boundaries. You have to get better at holding the line and keeping them.

          It is fair and reasonable to want to have your emotions and needs taken care of after a bout of difficulty. The problem is, from the way you’re describing things, it doesn’t sound like he actually is well and mentally recovered. Thus, his mind is probably in a regular state of emotional difficulty and may be prone to destabilizing again when pressed. Hence, creating that push/pull that you’re describing.

          In regards to your takeaway points:

          1. Agreed.

          2. Yes and no. Yes, you are asking too much from him right now. No, it’s not too much to ask from a Bipolar person who is well and recovered. Proper medication and management and we can function in a pretty typical way. It’s just at this point in time, he’s unable to. In my case, after I was diagnosed, I spent about three years single and avoiding relationships because I was tired of dragging women I loved through the shit with me. I focused on myself, pursuing wellness, and getting things fixed as well as I could with fairly reasonable success. Still have my glitches here and there though.

          3. Agreed.

          Don’t waste your time and energy hoping for change. He either will or he won’t. Dwelling on it won’t change the outcome. It’ll only cost you valuable time and emotional energy. Assuming that you guys did salvage a relationship at some point, it may be worthwhile to visit a couples therapist (preferably one with experience with mental illness) to work on better communication practices. But from the sounds of things, I don’t know if I would expect it to go that far. It sounds like he still has a fair amount of work to do on his path.

          It does take a certain kind of person to be able to deal with these things, both in life and in relationships. People are just wired differently. They need different things and they can handle different things. Mental illness is incredibly tough and not everyone can do what needs to be done. And that’s okay.

          I wouldn’t spend too much time questioning your break up. Granted, I only know your half of things, but it seems like instability probably played a major role. So any conclusions you reach, even if they are rational, may not make actually make sense.

          I think your goal is a good one.

  71. samantha says:

    reading my own post I’m not sure what I’m waiting around for.
    I should add that he’s medicated but has drinking problems. He stays up until 5am most nights and generally speaking isn’t managing his states well. He seems to be rapid cycling as I feel like the “inbetween” person is 2-4 weeks here and there and the mania is far more common. Depression seems to only hit him once or twice a year and can be long. in a sense, his mania is the him I see the most. sometimes, I’m a part of his manic episodes…other times, he makes what I consider poor choices and he disappears.
    He always disappears before an episode and never tells me why. When I ask him, he gets angry and defensive and accuses my upset/frustration as why we can’t see each other. He’s actually said to me, “we’d be together right now if this hadn’t all happened” when I got upset with him after he didn’t contact me for a week. Is this manipulative abuse or is this something I can try to understand from what he’s struggling with?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Samantha,

      I feel like we are dating the same man. Although I have the same questions as you, is it weird that i feel better knowing someone else is in this crazy world, too? Thank you for your post.


      • samantha says:

        Hi Amanda,
        No, it’s not weird. Knowing that others are going through it help us to remember that this isn’t about us. One thing that’s hard to deal with in a bipolar relationship is the feeling that it’s personal. Anytime someone rejects you, is inconsistent in their love or otherwise takes you for granted, it hurts. It’s easy to blame the bipolar or the person but at the end of the day, somewhere in us, we wonder if it’s us and even if we know it’s not us, we still just want to be loved by that person. Knowing that others are going through it really helps to make it feel less personal and I think that’s an important element to keeping perspective and healing.
        My guy came back again, as I expected he would. He came back strong and lovely for about a week. I told him we really couldn’t do this if he was going to just offer me more of the same (romance with no commitment) and not to my surprise he said okay and backed off. We were still in touch a little but he basically said “yes, i’m back!!! No, nothing’s different.” He knows I’m in love with him and have been going through a hard time with him for a year. It baffles me that he’d keep coming back with nothing new to offer because I know he genuinely cares about me and my well being, but as Dennis mentions above, we have to be the ones to create boundaries because the bipolar brain isn’t necessarily going to be able to keep them. On one hand I ask, how can that jerk keep coming back and doing the same thing again and again and again…. but then the more important question to ask is how can I, the emotionally healthier person keep allowing him to come back again and again and again. He can’t be held fully responsible and whenever I take him back, I’m setting him up for failure as I already know he’s not capable of giving me what I want.
        Now, this is not to say that all bipolars cannot but my particular bipolar sweetie is a hot mess of a human right now and he and I are both better off not trying to make anything sustainable of a relationship.
        I found out that during his last disappearing act he started sleeping with a 19 year old girl. He is 41. Now, he may not have disappeared for her, he’d never admit if he did, but I believe that’s why he did disappear. Of course we’re not committed so he sees this as okay behavior, but it was sleezy, there was no communication around it and generally speaking it is using behavior. After I moved on from this situation, he started poking around again, inviting me out, flirting, getting pretty heavy in a romantic sense and this is when I asked him if anything had really changed and he said no. He played a few games lying to her and lying to me and finally I told her what was going on. It was a little underhanded but I felt like I was sparing her some of what I had been through.
        The difference between my bipolar man and others, at least some others, is that he likes to go with his manic phases and get the most of them that he can. He lies, cheats, sneaks etc. He asks for casual relationships, I suppose so that he can get away with all of this as it’s bound to happen but even in casual he lies and disrepsects. That’s where I drew the line. He’s also very convincing that he’s not doing this until he can no longer deny it and allows women whom he won’t commit to to fall in love to him while he puts up the front that nothing strange is going on, he’s just moody, just emotional, just down etc. It took me a whole year to understand that bipolar is not an excuse in his situation. He’s a player and I’m sure that his unstable nature plays a large role in his decision to be a player but at the end of the day, the things that make him most difficult are not related to his bipolar disorder.
        Consider that with your man as it is possible. Again, it took a very long time for me to seprate the person from the mood swings from the jerk but after some pretty low and undeniable acts…which he will never apologize for, I think I’ve got it.
        When I told this woman what he’d been doing (girl really) she said thanks for confirming what I had thought. When I told him I went to her, he tore me apart in the nastiest of ways–saying he hoped bad things would happen to me, to get out of his town and that he hated me, would never engage with me again. He flew into a narcisstic rage when he got called out in a big way, prior to that he thought he had his game all sorted out. This rage showed his true colors. I know that’s too much information but I just went through it all.
        I think it was cleansing, for me… the pushing and confrontation were worth it. I still feel for him. I know that he’s manic right now and will at least regret her age if nothing else but I also know that he won’t apologize or try to do any better next time. That makes it awfully hard to think I did the wrong thing. What I did caused him to hate me and you know what, I’d take that over the off and on stuff that we were going through any day.
        Try to tease out the bipolar from the just plain inconsiderate behavior…and if you can and do, try to move on with the understanding you come to. I’m finally done and just relieved not to be one of those women that played this game for ten years.

  72. Finally done says:

    I’ve been with my wife for 9 years. We have two young children together. She has left me 8 times in 9 years. She will tell me she loves me and then a couple of days later she hates me and leaves. The previous times she has gone back with her family three hours away taking our kids with her. She usually has stayed with different people each time. However, all of those bridges are now burned. She has cheated with three different ex-boyfriends when she has left and who knows what else. She gets depressed right before she leaves and then she says she hates me and suddenly believes she is going to conquer the world. She leaves with no money, no place to live, and takes the kids with her. Everytime she leaves she starts smoking and drinking though she doesn’t when she’s home. Her behavior is extremely erratic. She will call the police to try to get me in trouble for no reason. She has almost cost me jobs. She literally acts like she doesn’t care about me at all when she’s like this. Then after a couple of months she is crying and begging me to let her come home. Usually, when I tell her I’m done and ignore her she changes up and wants to come home. We are now back here again and she has nowhere to go. She can’t leave. She is starting to mess around the neighbors house at night and hang out with the guy that lives there. She is neglecting her kids as well. She moved into the kids room. She has no money. She said I can’t make her leave. I told her she can stay for the kids but she wasn’t going to be running up to the neighbors house that was my only stipulation. She says she will do what she wants. I only asked for that one thing. I’ve told her to seek help as she has before but her mess are wrong. She says she is fine and she hates me. I’ve finally reached the breaking point and I want her out of my life. She hasaid put me through hell. I’ve fought for the kids sake but I can’t do it anymore. She will straighten out but I’m tired of picking up the pieces. Can you help me?

    • Dennis says:

      That is an incredibly difficult, complicated situation. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot I can tell you past seek the assistance of a counselor. Given the severity, it definitely sounds like you should definitely have professional insight on how to move forward. They should be able to help you navigate the situation as well as provide meaningful support to you as you work through it. Given the inclusion of kids and marriage and all; there will undoubtedly be local legal considerations as well. A local counselor who will be familiar with these things, this type of situation, the processes surrounding it, and help you deal with the damage that all of this is doing to you and the kids.

      • Finally done says:

        Do you believe there is hope for her? Should I fight for my family or do you believe this is a lost cause?

        • Dennis says:

          I believe there is hope for most people. However, people like your wife often need to hit a point where they realize that they cannot conduct their lives the way that they do before they can start the process of meaningful recovery. That’s the way I usually see it work, anyway. That could happen tomorrow or years from now; or it may never happen. You just have to decide how far you are willing to go on that path. The desire for wellness is not something that can be imposed on another person. It has to come from within her, because it is a massive amount of tedious, bullshit work that can be very frustrating; thus it is easy to just say fuck it and quit if the person isn’t passionate about doing it.

          Until she decides to start working to get better, there really isn’t a whole lot you can do with that situation.

  73. Amanda says:

    Hi there,
    I am so confused and heartbroken. I started a relationship with a bipolar man while I was still married. I know this was wrong, but it happened and I fell in love. He told me very early on about being bipolar.
    Our relationship was never rainbows and unicorns, but it had fireworks, passion. He would start fights with me and end things quite often. I always fought back and I always told him how much I loved him.
    Our fights are always about stuff from the past. Even stuff that happened before we dated. He gets in a stuck in his anger and rage. I could get 15 texts in under an hour telling me how much I suck for no reason. I do make mistakes, but I have done nothing to make him react like this. I actually worship him. I try to see him every second I can. I tell him how much I love him and accept all of him. I tell him I will never leave him. This is truly how I feel.
    The other day he ended it again. Went on and on with why we are a terrible match and why I am not good enough for him, but still telling me he loves me. I guess my question is how do I know how much of this is delusional and how much is what he really thinks? How do I know if when he is not caught in this stage, does he still believe the things he says? Is telling him I love him and I will stand by him despite the things he says to me a good way to pacify him or am I letting him walk all over me?
    I don’t really have great days with him. Just moments. We could be watching tv and he would look over and say- Are you sure you can handle this for the rest of your life? Or- I am really lucky to have you.
    It’s been a year and a half and I am in the early stages of my divorce. We are separated. I know that this relationship has a lot to do with why I finally decided to end it. I am wondering if it is the only reason. Either way, this man is my soulmate, my true love. I know that.

    • Dennis says:

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

      Listen, it’s perfectly possible to be in an emotionally or mentally destructive relationship where the other person isn’t choosing to be malicious. A lot of times, the relationship is like 95% decent or good; but the remaining 5% is just awful and toxic. In your short post here, you’re already describing damaging, toxic behaviors that are going to negatively impact your mental and emotional health. You’re also using very absolute language (“I actually worship him. I try to see him every second I can. I tell him how much I love him and accept all of him. I tell him I will never leave him.” “Either way, this man is my soulmate, my true love. I know that.”) and seem like you are very serious about those things. That’s not a good thing. Healthy relationships stem from a healthy sense of self and self-love. That means not making promises like, “I’ll always be here for you to abuse me or treat me badly.”

      You cannot destroy your own mental and emotional health for another person.

      I would very much suggest you speak to a counselor about the situation, get their input on your plans, divorce, actions, and keeping yourself healthy in the long-term. It’s a far more complicated situation than you may realize, right now.

      To answer your questions.

      “How do I know how much of this is delusional and how much is what he really thinks?” You can’t and won’t. If he’s been unstable since the two of you have met, you can’t even really count on his “love” being real. It can all potentially be manufactured by the Disorder or be a small infatuation that was blown out of proportion by mental illness.

      “How do I know if when he is not caught in this stage, does he still believe the things he says?” You can’t and won’t. If he’s unstable enough or doesn’t understand how his mental illness affects him very well, then he may not even know. A lot of people don’t.

      “Is telling him I love him and I will stand by him despite the things he says to me a good way to pacify him or am I letting him walk all over me?” You’re allowing yourself to be walked all over. Arguing doesn’t do any good either, really. Because you really can’t “win” arguments with an unstable person and it just feeds their instability, making them more unstable. And it may escalate to physical violence. You should definitely be very careful in those situations.

      Now, some questions of my own. Is he medicated or trying to be medicated? Does he go to the doctor or see a therapist? What is he doing to control and overcome his mental illness?

  74. Amanda says:

    Thank you for replying so quickly. I guess I left out a lot of information.
    He has never been medicated and self medicates. But his I mean drinking occasionally and drug use quite often. They are pills, but I am not sure what. He has been honest about it. In a good moment, he tells me he will talk to a doctor and go on medication. He has said this a few times in the past year. I don’t believe him anymore.
    You are right, I am extreme with my feelings. I am not sure why- I have never had true heartache or have been deprived of much. I am a pretty stable person with a very stable upbringing. It might be that I feel this way because I think he needs protection and security. Or maybe I want that so badly from him?
    I do think this is toxic, but I am not ready to give up. I don’t want to abandon him and I cherish every moment I have with him. Sadly, even the bad times.

    • Dennis says:

      You’re welcome.

      Self-medicating never works out in the long-term. It’s basically like putting a bandaid over a hemorrhaging wound. It doesn’t give any real benefits at all, other than making the time the person is drunk or high not as shitty as the rest of the time, which isn’t a solution. Not knowing what he’s actually taking is also a big problem if he’s self-medicating, because it may be opiates or some other addictive drug. And if that’s the case, that is a whole different problem on another level, as well.

      Words ultimately mean very little in situations like that all around. You can’t put much faith in words, only actions. The fact that he understands he has a problem but isn’t doing anything about it is not good. It means he either doesn’t accept the problem, doesn’t understand it, or simply doesn’t care. He may genuinely mean those words in those moments, but it really doesn’t count for anything.

      I’m really not sure why your emotions are what they are or why you feel as you do. I think it’s pretty normal to want to take care of someone that you love who you can see is suffering. Unfortunately, in the case of mental illness, he’s the only one that can truly help himself. He’s the only one that can address his substance abuse and/or addiction, talk to his doctor about his problems, and actually invest the time and the energy into fixing them. That is a long-term process.

      It’s good that you identify that the situation is toxic. Are your feelings always to extremes? Do they prevent you from taking care of yourself in dealing with other people? For example, if this situation got worse, would you be able to walk away from it if you needed to?

  75. Amanda says:

    I seem to be only extreme with him. I feel a need to protect him and take care of him. I think about him all the time. Those butterflies you get and intense feelings in the beginning of a relationship is what I feel a year and a half later. I love him so much.
    This relationship is not keeping me from doing my job or everyday tasks, but he is in almost every other thought.
    Do I think I can walk away at any point? No.

  76. William says:

    Omg you were spot on with this. My wife’s bipolar but she dont see it she Denys it fighting with her is like fighting with a fly on the wall nothing get through absolutely nothing! So we have been fighting every day all day its like a horror show ive tried the hard approach nothing ive tried the soft approach (just like right now im doing the soft thing) still nothing. Im to the point now to where I feel like there is no other option but to leave her I feel life im always walking on glass any wrong move im cut deep. By the way I am a man ive got tough feelings but the last few days she has tore my feelings to shreads (my birthday was 2 days ago) and she pretty much killed my emotions dead that day thats the day i realized my choices either stay and be miserable or get out and finally have some peace but we have 3 kids been together off and on for 7 years this last time we been back together for about 3 months (her idea) I was content with where I was. But she wanted this and me loving her the way i do I came back but geez man enough is enough if she would just realize she is unwell maybe things will be better. Please someone help me im drowning in my own misery here

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, William. Unfortunately, there often comes a time when you have to choose self-preservation over helping someone you love. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. If your mental and emotional state is in such a difficult place, it may be time to consider which direction you should go.

      I would very much recommend that you talk to a therapist about the situation with your wife before making any decisions. Tough feelings aside, what you’re dealing with and have been dealing with for a long time is very difficult. A therapist can help you sort through the emotion and land on a clearer path on how to move forward, as well as help you learn coping skills for dealing with the situation if you feel you need it. Personally, I hesitated about going to one for a long time because I’m not a person who likes or liked to talk about my feelings, which probably seems odd given why we’re here. But I ended up spending a year and a half in therapy to work on a variety of things with myself. I’m not suggesting you’ll need that long either, but I highly recommend it.

  77. stressed says:

    I don’t know what to do. I will keep it simple, my bipolar gf and I go through the typical cycles where for a week everything is great, lovey dovey, then one of us gets upset and it ends up in her saying that she wants to be done, that she wants to be friends, however nothing relationship ever happens and we always ended up ok. We have gone through this so many times and in the beginning it wasn’t as bad and I usually had faith in that it is just another fight we will get over. However lately the last couple times we have gotten closer and closer, but to counter this the ‘breakup’ discussions have been more and more convincing, to the point where every time I think ‘this is it, its actually done’. I don’t want to smother her, and when she told me in the past that she wants to be done and I agree, she says ‘why are you giving up,’ or later when she cools off ‘I’m worried you don’t feel the same about me anymore’ which gave me hope again to stick around. But as I said lately it has gotten worse, and I am BARELY getting the ‘cues’ to stick around anymore.

    This last discussion on ending things she said really convinced me to leave her be, saying things like ‘she never wanted anything special with me, that shes been trying to tell me for months, that I’m pressuring her and not letting her go, that she knows we will never be anything more. that we are just friends now’ Like most people I tried to rationalize with her, explaining all the things she did that showed me other wise. But she always seemed to have the perfect rationalization to explain her lovey behaviors towards me were different, and how she knows how she feels now is how shes always felt. Is it pointless to try and rationalize her past behaviors/feelings while she feels this way?

    What to I do? How do I know if she really does want to end things and be respectful of her, or if she just feels like this temporarily? The one thing that is bothering me the most is how she says ‘she’s been trying to tell me for a while, that I’m not letting her go’. I just don’t know what to think when she tells me that. Is it true that people with bipolar are incredibly good at convincing us of their bipolar feelings? I have laid ground rules, she knows that if she crosses a certain line (not being loyal) then we end our intimate relationship. I just worried from our last incident, if it is temporary, since she feels ‘we are friends’ now, she will have no problem crossing the line…any feedback is appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, stressed. Thanks for taking the time to comment. A couple questions before I can give you a reply…

      1. How long have you known your girlfriend? How long have you two been dating?

      2. Is she currently being treated for her mental illness? What’s her history regarding being treated, if any?

  78. Mark says:

    Firstly I would like to thank you for this post as I was feeling alone in this situation. I met a guy at the end of June whilst I was on holiday. We clicked and literally fell in love. We ended up chatting every single day. Near the end of July he booked a flight to move to my country as he told me that he can’t cope with his mum being both bipolar and an addict. During this time he was always nice, apart from a couple of times were he blocked me from all social media for no reason what’s so ever. He came, I paid for his first rent as he didn’t have a job but the somewhat ‘dream’ turned into chaos. I found him 3 jobs and he just quit them, he was always moody with me, turned very verbally abusive, blamed me for moving, said that sex was horrible, eventually after one month he I convinced him to move back to his country during a massive argument. We lost contact for about a month as he told me that he was seeing someone else but started talking again ever since I visited his home town again in October. We were supposed to go to a gig together, he even got me a ticket but I did not meet with him even though he insisted. Ever since then, it’s been a roller coaster, from I love you to I hate you, from I want to be with you to you’re an asshole and we are not a fit. I managed to convince him to see a doctor, but instead of diagnosing him with being bipolar, they gave him antidepressants which turned him suicidal. The distance is driving me crazy; he tells me that he’s going to kill himself, he just disappears for a couple of days and then comes back. He ignored my texts whenever he feels like, and when I try to discuss with him he says I’m needy and a paranoid asshole. I just don’t know what to do as he doesn’t have reliable family nor do I know his friends. I did block him a week ago but he kept reaching for me through his mum’s phone so I caved in again. I love him too much to let him go but I feel like I’m living in torture. He says he wants to come back to me; I am lost on what to do. I am scared that he will hurt himself if I block him out.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Mark. Listen, this isn’t your battle to fight. Threatening to kill oneself is a common technique for emotional manipulation. And given that you two are at distance, it makes it all the easier for him to go about doing that. You may love him, but you’ll have to choose to love yourself more. His choices are not your responsibility. Even if he does end up doing something to harm himself, again, that’s his choice to make, not yours.

      I would very much suggest you talk to a counselor about the situation, for emotional support for yourself, and for help in extracting yourself in the situation. Given that there is a threat of violence, it’s going to fall into the realm of needing professional assistance.

      He doesn’t love you. Someone who is that unstable, telling you you’re a paranoid asshole and needy because you’re concerned for his mental health, ghosting on you, yanking you around, using you…that’s love? No. It’s abuse. Talk to a professional and separate yourself from the situation as soon as you can, Mark.

      • Mark says:

        Dear Dennis,

        Thank you for your reply.

        The more I try with him the more I feel like I am failing. On another note, I found his ex’s blog online by coincidence last night and this hit me : ‘I ran away from him today. I walked and kept walking 25-30 miles in 12 hours but I needed to escape and not having a penny. Months of physical and mental abusive, never once complemented for being me. “your fat, vile, ugly a tramp,” stopping me from talking to friends, is all I really got but when saying you’ll change and doing the same, isn’t changing’.

        Same words he used to call me. He called me petty because I wished him good. He called me vile because I wanted to see him better. He called me vicious because I fought for us. He called me selfish because I put him first and gave him my food when he was hungry. He never believed me when I said I love you because ”You have a nice thick arrogant air around me and a smug nasty person who used me as a social stability.” I’m a liar. I never acknowledged him. I’m the epitome of the worst person in the planet. I’m his worst nightmare. He said that associated me with hate.

        The thing is, I keep forgiving him because I made myself believe that he only says such words when he’s having an episode. Letting go is the hardest thing I’m finding since I have never loved someone this way. I grew up learning on how to give hope and love to people and it kills me knowing that I have to go against my beliefs, especially to a person I love so dearly. But you are right. Love shouldn’t tear one apart. Love is beautiful and I will hold on to that thought till my very last breath.

        Thank you once again.

        • Dennis says:

          Mentally ill and/or toxic people will say a lot of horrible things to try and undermine who you are. And if you take those words to heart, it will definitely do so. You just can’t let that occur.

          Unfortunately, the idealized vision that many people have of compassion and selflessness really doesn’t hold up in reality when faced with situations like these. It’s just the way it is, unfortunately.

          You’re very welcome. Please do consider signing up for blog updates and announcements if you haven’t already!

          • Mark says:

            Thank you Dennis. I have an update on the situation.

            As you know, I have been struggling to understand him but as I said all of these mixed emotions are getting to me really bad. His mum informed me that he actually overdosed on prescription pills. I decided to be supportive again, but as usual after calming him down he ignored my texts for a couple of days.

            I felt helpless and useless when I was giving all I can, and I was willing to give more but I feel like my limit has been reached so I decided to eliminate any contact point possible.

            I am having anxiety attacks and can barely sleep at night thinking that he will have done something again. I will also take your advice and will be going to seek treatment.

          • Dennis says:

            It’s unfortunate to hear he has gone down that road. I think the choice to take care of yourself and seek your own support is a good one.

  79. Christina g says:

    Dennis.. hi firts and fore most im a “unwell” sounds weird almost coddling perhaps not the best words but its all i got lol. (Not offened) anyways im bipolar 1 mixed rapid cycling w psychosis. (And opps as im sure my post will show manic so sorry my thoughts jump around). Its nice to see so many people taking the steps to try to understant their unwell loved ones. Specially since we dont even understand ourselfes most of the time. I wish the people in my life cared as much as your followers. Ok my question is ive been married 4 yrs to a narcisitic man. How could determine weather my thoughts are my own or even real vs thoughts hes put in my head. Please any input is appreciated. Only fact i know is in 14 yrs of being bipolar i went from bipolar 2 to 1 ect… in 4 yrs of being with him. Mr.perfect… thank you and everyone for trying to love your loved ones past being unwell… ♡♡♡♡

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Christina. I totally get what you’re saying about “unwell” often feeling like coddling. Personally, I don’t mind saying I’m crazy or out of my mind if I am at the time, and often do refer to myself that way in my own writing. But, those words and connotations can have a negative impact on some people due to their own personal demons.

      First, it’s very common for Bipolar Disorder to not necessarily stay in one diagnosis. The Types are really more like averages. A Type 1 can have unwell cycles where they only climb into hypomania, it’s just that a majority of their unwellness tends to be more severe. And for a lot of people, it does get worse with age, which can mean more intense unwell cycles.

      Now, if you’re with a narcissist, or someone who doesn’t care much about you at all, that could certainly be contributing to your instability. If he’s emotionally abusive, it’s going to be hard to separate out the damage that he’s doing to you from unwell thoughts. The thing I tell people, on a regular basis, is to look for facts that have no emotion. If you can drive situations down to facts, then you have a greater chance of seeing what reality is.

      Do you have a counselor or any friends that you feel you can trust? If I’m unwell, I run my “great ideas” through people that I trust to get their perspective on the situation to see if I’m nuts at the time or not, if I’m not sure.

      If you happen to be in an abusive relationship, then it’s going to be really hard to separate that out when he’s present so often because he will keep reinforcing his own negativity on you.

  80. regretful-girl says:

    Hi Dennis! First off I want to thank you for posting this and secondly you are amazing for taking the time to talk to every single one of these people!

    I’m bipolar and I think I read in one of the comments that you yourself have struggled! it all makes sense that you understand how to approach a bipolar person.

    I ran into this article several months ago and found it helpful to understand kinda how an unwell mind works and how its so unfair to the other partner, but the bipolar person also surfers to we don’t like it. I know I’m bipolar anyway,my thoughts right now are a bit scattered so I apologize about that! I just have bad insomnia and have no one to talk to right now. And actually going through a bipolar rut my moods have been cycling up and down nothing extreme on good days I get to clean and feel decent and social and on bad days I just fall behind on chores feel sick and sad and want to talk to no one I even get the aches and pains of depression. I’m actually needing to get some blood work done because everything right now seems so off that I’m concerned about my health.

    Anyway, I have been having some problems with letting go of being hurt, so I have been arguing with my boyfriend on and off since I found his porn history ahhh yes I know its a guy thing and I have been telling my bipolar mind that woman and men are very different creatures, being a girl with a bipolar it really hurts it still hurts and i’m having trouble letting go.( This happend about three months ago I honestly should be over it right?) not only was I triggered from his porn history but other things around me caused some stress and more triggers. you wouldn’t believe the things I have gone through at times I’m proud of myself for being so strong. I’m a survivor I was raped about 8 years ago I’m open about it I don’t care, the reason why i’m talking about it is because this is how much I know my boyfriend loves me we have been together for about 8 years and he was the reason I knew that not all men are pigs hes so good to me, so good that before I found the porn I assumed he was different that he didn’t look at other woman that made me feel so special and i’m just so delusional that it feels like that image was shattered and for a while that hurt alot mostly because im bipolar and for some reason it just sucked! He uses this approach on me or trys to he just knew how to talk to me he never read this article. I love him for being here still with me, but I’m so ashamed and angry with myself I push it sometimes and he just gets frustrated and its a bad cycle that I’m finally ready to break. I’m tired of bipolar wasting my time with my boyfriend life is to short and I want to stop, not only do I want to stop but I also hate myself so much that I don’t know how to forgive myself for my behavior. How do I forgive myself? how do I know he knows its not me? I know I should talk to my counselor about this but its so bad that right now we are mostly focusing on my insomnia and shes new and I haven’t gotten to open up about this. You seem to know so much I would like some advice or tips about bipolar disorder how to forgive and move on or stop myself from arguing. All the fighting and arguing is getting exhausting he mostly says it but he doesn’t know its also exhausting for myself too. we don’t live together yet and this is also why I am searching for advice we both know that being apart is what is making it hard for me to cope since in my head I feel that he doesn’t love me but obviously he does to be able to forgive me I don’t know how he can forgive the things I have said I know I can’t forgive myself. I know your no counselor and I’ll have to eventually open up with a professional I know that your advice is just advice and I wont take anything wrong I just want tips anything you think may help me in this situation. I seemed to love all the advice you gave everyone and thats why I’m opening up. I do try to stop myself and have finally put together that I turn my hurt into anger. so I have to tell him I’m feeling sad and might not be myself I get easily triggered when i’m feeling “ugly” I know I also need to open up with a professional about that too. ugh its just so much is going on for example my old counselor was just let go, so right now its hard to open up about this when its kinda personal along with everything else I need to work on.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Thank you for the kind words about my work! Before I get into an in-depth reply, I do have a couple of questions for you!

      Are you prescribed any psych medications? Are you taking them as directed? If you are, how long have you been taking them? Have you had any adjustments or changes lately?

      You mentioned a counselor but not if you’ve been prescribed or are taking anything to help manage the disorder.

  81. Amanda says:


    It’s been months since my last post. Although my bipolar man and I have not been together, I am still fighting for the relationship. Sometimes he seems open, other times he shuts me down. I am trying to take you advice about this being toxic, but I don’t feel right abandoning him. My issues, I realize that.
    The reason I am writing today is because I am confused. After I get frustrated with the back and forth, I give an ultimatum. I ask him if he wants this or if he wants me to let him go. He won’t answer. I ask him all different ways. I’ll ask if he wants to be free of me, if he wants to take a break, if this is not what he wants. He will go on and on about what bothers him and why he thinks this may not work, but he won’t answer the question. Even if I say- just say yes or no, he will not answer. But he always says yes when I ask him if he is in love with me. Is his unwillingness to end it a bipolar reaction or is it just a reaction of someone who wants the attention?
    I am sorry for all my questions these last few months. I just feel lost.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Amanda.

      It doesn’t have to be either of those things, really. Some people just don’t want to take responsibility for their own feelings or actions. They ghost or make refusals in situations like that so they won’t perceive themselves as the bad guy. There’s really no way to know the exact reason since he won’t communicate his own feelings about it.

      Most likely, you’re going to have to make the decision for yourself, Amanda.

  82. Lu says:

    Good morning Dennis,

    Great info I’ve been reading all stories since yesterday, very interesting to say the least.
    One thing that keeps popping up are the meds, differnet types etc. I would be very interested to know what people are taking because there are so many on the market that I am curious to know, what is out there and what works for who. I myself take EFFEXOR- XR, before that was PROZAC, before that was ZANAX…I find that the EFFEXOR-ER is truley the miracle meds for me. ps I’m 58, and have taken meds since 14…curious to now the age ratio versus meds.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      The funny thing about psych meds is that you can’t really rely on what other people are taking, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them as any kind of accurate assessment of how to proceed. It means little to nothing. Why? Because everyone’s body and brain chemistry is unique. So even if a med works great for 99 people, it may not work worth a shit for the 100th. That’s largely why psych meds are basically a throw everything at it until something sticks approach. Plus you can never be sure if the person was taking them as directed, was missing regular doses, wasn’t chasing them with beer, or any other number of things that can make shit go sideways with psych meds.

      Take any statistic with a HEAVY dose of salt.

  83. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    Hello to everyone on this site and thank you Dennis for taking the time out of your day to respond to us all. Awesome work! I have found great solace in this thread. It is much appreciated. I am going through a lot of the same stuff right with a bp 1 gf and would like a little feedback on my situation. I have wrote some pretty long posts on other websites but just recently found out that those threads were from years ago and responses are few and far between at the moment. Not to say that the people on there weren’t hepful, I’m just trying to find another site with more recent followers. I’m not sure if it’s ok to share a sister site on here but to avoid writing my huge paragraphs again I have a link instead. If linking another site is frowned upon then I definitely apologize ahead of time. I’m just confused and seeking answers about my relationship. Thanks.

    The 2 long posts from Coojo78 are mine. If anybody could shed some light on this fiasco, it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, DDL (what I’m going to short your user name to for convenience, in this reply.) As far as linking other pages, I basically don’t allow advertising and or potentially harmful bullshit, but your link was fine. I went and read your two posts and updates there. So, some points.

      1. What you’re describing is a full-blown manic cycle. You mentioned at one point you thought it might just be hypomania. No, that’s mania with detachment from reality and heavy delusion. The mental illness of a person who is in that kind of extreme is producing a reality that just doesn’t exist. That’s a hard thing to wrap your brain around if it’s not something you’ve experienced personally. And even if you have, it’s still hard. Because the mental illness just creates this fictitious reality out of nothing. A lot of people will take this as straight lying or manipulation. But here’s the problem with that. If an unwell mind is telling the person that what they are thinking is absolutely true and then acting on it, is it a lie? You cannot take words spoken in that kind of extreme and just brush them off because they aren’t true. If I were in your situation, “If I had a gun I would shoot your face off” would be an immediate call to authorities, because if her mental illness was telling her she wanted to kill me? It’s impossible to know whether or not she might follow through on that.

      2. You mention a couple of times your own pain, lack of apologies, remorse, and so on. You shouldn’t expect any until after the cycle and instability is finally over. That can take anywhere from days to months or even longer if she refuses to medicate properly or she can’t find working meds. Being that she’s been on 30+ meds, it’s also hard to know if she will find the right med combination again, any time soon. There are people who are medication resistant, as in their bodies do not react well to the meds.

      3. Unless the person is going into some kind of in-patient program, they usually cut the person loose once they find that they are no longer a threat to themselves or anyone else, not necessarily balanced or stable. So yes, multiple hospitalizations within a short time frame can occur. There really isn’t a lot of fast processes when it comes to dealing with unwell cycles. Most of the time you just have to wait it out for the cycle to end, which again, can take a long time.

      4. What you wrote about is a pretty severe manic cycle. This is what Bipolar Disorder can do to us. You have every right to be angry, upset, and hurt about what transpired. You have every right to decide that this isn’t something you can or should deal with. But, I will point out that the way you were raised, to always give 110% for the people you love? That shit doesn’t work with mental illness. You MUST take care of your own mind and health FIRST. Bipolar Disorder, and many mental illnesses, are for life. They will wear you down and turn you inside out if you do not have solid boundaries and coping skills. If you aren’t now, you should really consider talking to a counselor about the situation who can help you with appropriate boundary building, coping with the stress, and figuring out how to proceed. If you’re in the States, you may also want to look into NAMI’s Family-to-Family program, which is a free course for people like yourself who have a loved one who is seriously mentally ill.

      5. It’s hard telling if or when you’ll get back the woman that you love. There are a lot of things that can go wrong between now and then. In times like this, all you can do is keep your head above the surface so you don’t drown. Boundaries, threats, and ultimatums aren’t going to do much while she is in this frame of mind. She’s more likely to just tap dance all over them while she’s so unstable. These things need to be laid out in calmer times once she’s rebalanced. Why? Well, the force of an unwell cycle builds up over time. So boundaries and such are helpful in derailing an unwell cycle before it gets going. Think of it like a train leaving a station. It’s much easier to stop before it gets moving, but once it reaches full speed, it’s just going to plow through everything in front of it.

      That’s not to suggest that you should tolerate or put up with being abused. But do understand that arguing with a manic person will get you absolutely nowhere. No one wins in that scenario and you’ll just throw fuel on their fires. You’ll just end up wasting valuable emotional energy by throwing it into the pit of manic thinking. The way I handle it is typically, “I’m not okay with you saying that to me. Do not say that to me.” And if they persist, I just say goodbye and either walk away or hang up.

      Past that, there’s really not a lot you can do except work to minimize the damage she can do and wait for the cycle to end.

      • DattyLawngLaygz says:

        Wow, thank you Dennis for the lightning fast reply. You are the man! I wasn’t expecting a reply that fast but it’s definitely appreciated.

        I totally agree with everything you said. Lucky for me even though I have probably given way too much time and effort to help her, I have at least kept up my physical health. The mental aspect not so much. I think the problem is that I included her in everything I did. We were together practically everyday. It’s a case of too much together time. I became part of a unhealthy routine and now I’m feeling the void of not having it. I still work, run errands and keep busy like I always have but the girl has invaded my thoughts. Sometimes I’m driving and catch myself daydreaming about the situation. I have to tell myself “snap out of it you idiot, your going to get into a car accident.” It’s scary. I have days where I don’t let it get the best of me but when the bad days come, they are horrible.

        As for boundaries, we did have many good things in place until the mania hit then BOOM out of the blue all of our hard work got thrown out of the window. She started doing the complete opposite of everything I told her I could not deal with in a relationship. I didn’t even recognize her anymore. It’s as if I was dating her evil twin.

        I need to start thinking with my head and not my heart. My heart tells me to stick it out and be there for her but my head sees only a future of heartache and drama. It’s a curse knowing that this will not end well but that I still want her in my life. I’m not sure if I’m just a glutton for punishment, a sucker, stupid or all of the above. Everyone around me keeps telling me to leave it alone and that she is trouble but it’s not that easy when you love someone. The cold part about this relationship is that I do not put up with too much BS . I have walked away from numerous relationships for less but I think I’ve always given her a pass just because of her illness. I try to see the good in her and forgive but in the end all I’m doing is repeating myself and enabling her to do it again. I honestly think that if she was normal, I would have left a long time ago. Maybe it’s pity, maybe it’s our extreme good times that I’m holding on to, maybe it’s our amazing compatibility, I’m not sure but something has kept me around this long and I know it’s unhealthy. Not sure how much more of this I can take. I have numerous opportunities to go out and date other women but my heart is not in it at the moment. I can already see myself out with another woman and instead of enjoying myself and focusing on her, I’d be feeling guilty or finding that I still have feelings for my ex. Rebounds are never good for anyone so I’ve remained calm and haven’t jumped into another situation but damn it’s hard. If I start a new relationship and she comes crawling back, what do I do? If I wait on her to get better and she never does, what do I do? Either way you look at it I’m screwed.

        Anyway, thank you again Dennis for your words of wisdom and thank you for allowing my link on your page. If there’s anything I can do to support the cause just say the word.

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome on the fast reply.

          I have a couple questions before I respond to this current post. How long have you known her? How long have you two been together?

  84. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    We have only been together a year. I know that sounds ridiculous but we have done more in a year than most couples have done in 3.

    Already today there has been more news. She called me out of the blue and told me that she was at a 30 day facility called Manzanita that allows visits between 2-5 and that she is allowed an hour everyday to go out but has to make it back for a curfew. She sounded the best I’ve heard her in months. She apologized to me for what she put me through and said she would love to see me. She stated that it was going to be hard to just remain friends but that she missed me. So, silly ol me got in the car and went to visit her. Everything went pretty well. She looked beautiful and bright eyed again. She was flirting with me again and talking about how she loved me more than life itself and AGAIN how sorry she was for the pain she caused me. However, by the time our hour was over, something changed, she looked a little sad and mentioned that she still needs more time to recover and that as much as she wants to have sex with me and be with me, she feels the need to take 2017 off from everything. No sex, no stress, no relationship, no nothing, only treatment and therapy. She then promised me that it had nothing to do with me, that I was hard to resist but she vows to not have sex with anyone else other than me but I’d have to wait til 2018 and asked that I wait for her to recover. I was a bit stunned because of how she was so flirtatious with me one minute, then fighting the urge the next. I told her that sex wasn’t the reason I was there and that if I still chose to be her friend the flirting should stop because it only confuses matters. We are such hornballs around each other and it definitely doesn’t make it any easier. Right now I’m only trying to help but I’ll be honest, if she thinks that I’m going to wait on her for 8 months, she might be out of luck. She didn’t say it rude. It was sincere and I truly think that she’ll come back around but the hot, cold, push, pull, up, down thing is getting old. Luckily I’m seeing improvement so I’m a little bit hopeful that she will recognize my unconditional love for her.

    • Dennis says:

      It sounds like she is in a much healthier, clearer head space. Glad to hear that she’s in-patient.

      I don’t believe in total unconditional love. It’s a romantic fairy tale that is romanticized and sold by the entertainment industry to make money. All love is conditional. All of it. Even a mother’s love. Because at some point, if a person only takes from a person offering a love without condition, sooner or later that well will run dry. It must be replenished. This is a condition. I believe that people can offer unconditional love for chunks of time. But in any intimate relationship, romantic or otherwise, there are always going to be conditions of some sort, whether they are easily visible or not.

      In regards to your girlfriend’s request, it’s not unreasonable. It may be hard to relate to if you don’t have mental problems of your own, but it’s impossible to jump straight back into total functionality after a serious unwell cycle like she had. Let me use an analogy. Let’s say you’re crossing a street and a car hit you, fracturing your leg in multiple places. It may require surgery, pins or other hardware, and a cast to heal over the course of months. But once it does heal, can you go out and run a marathon? No. Because you’ve lost muscle mass and may even need to learn how to walk again if you’ve been confined to a bed or wheel chair for months. You have to go through physical therapy, exercise, rebuild the muscle, and rebuild your functionality.

      What your girlfriend is looking at is a similar process. She had her “car accident” in the form of a severe unwell cycle. Needs to get her medication adjusted and into a good spot to regain her stability. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder, which heavily influences our moods and emotional state. Trying to have a meaningful, healthy relationship with another person requires a lot of work and emotional energy that she just cannot give right now and maintain her stability. The less emotional interference she has, the easier it will be for her to recover. She can’t run a marathon right now and probably won’t be able to for months. She will need that time to rehab herself back to a mentally healthy place.

      The point on whether or not you should wait? Well, that’s really something you have to figure out for yourself. In doing so, I think I would consider the following points.

      1. Sooner or later, you’re going to need the same thing from someone that you love, that claims to love you. It may not be mental illness. It may be a car wreck, cancer, or some other illness that makes you challenging to love because you won’t have the emotional energy to put out. Is she the type of person that would stand by you through that? Or would she flake and disappear on you when you needed her?

      2. Loving a person with mental illness is challenging. It requires a skill-set that most people don’t inherently have. It’s something they need to learn and develop through other resources. They get swept up in the turmoil of the immediate, as you referenced, the hot and cold, back and forth that is common with Bipolar instability. This is not who she is as a person. This is Bipolar Disorder. Once she gets it back under control, she should go back to being the person she was before, assuming she was balanced and stable then. But that will require time. And unfortunately, there’s no guarantee of success in that happening, because mental illness is a complicated thing where a lot of things can go wrong.

      3. What is it you’re actually look for in this relationship altogether? Someone to spend your life with? Or just someone to party with? Because if you want a life partner, sacrifice is part of it. If she’s someone you can see spending your life with, then giving her a few months to get herself well and healthy again would be a reasonable sacrifice, in my opinion. You may disagree, and that’s fine. And yes, it’s possible that she may not be recovered by then. It’s also possible she might get worse. There’s really no way to know for sure. So any decision you make on that, do it with the understanding that it may not have a positive outcome, either.

      But, to me, that’s what love is. Love is something to be given and received without expectation. I’ve been in a similar position as you are now, because I’ve loved a couple of different severely mentally ill women. And one of those relationships had similar themes, with a similar break, that eventually ended amicably. Personally, I don’t see it as lost or wasted time. I supported her decision to stand aside and let her work on what she needed to, even though she couldn’t really give anything back to me in a meaningful way.

      Ultimately, only you can decide what you’re willing to go through. But if you do decide to take a step back and give her the time she needs, she will probably go back and forth on it since she loves you. Set it out ahead of time, “We agreed no romance until we readdress the issue on Jan. 1st.” And stick hard and fast to it, no matter what flirting or how great she seems to be doing. A person in her mental space can appear fine when their mind is still in turmoil. Just shut it down and point back to the January 1st date. That will also help keep you from getting your own emotions sucked in and twisted around.

      Mental wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take time, so there’s no need to invest your emotions in every up and down along the way.

  85. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    Thanks Dennis for the info.

    I guess what’s making it so hard to grasp is that we did have future plans in place. We spoke of growing old and grey together. Now everything has come to a screeching halt. Another thing that has been bothering me is the fact that when she was with me, I took great care of her. The months when she felt like something bad was coming on, we got out in front of it and prevented the episodes early. I helped her with taking her meds, going to bed on time, meeting appointments, doin things that were therapeutic, documenting her moods, the list goes on. She made a little comment that she didn’t want to be controlled anymore and it hurt because I never controlled her. What she might consider control, I considered structure and routine which she mentioned being vital in her wellness. I have numerous cards from her thanking me for that structure and now she wants to be free. She admits that I took great care of her so I just don’t understand the distance she is putting between us because right now she is worse off then when I met her. She needs all the love and support she can get. Her license has been suspended, phone turned off, owes a ton of money, needs to find new housing because her time is up at Interim, her ankles are so swollen from walking the streets crazy, she really needs help. I don’t mind helping her as a friend but I told her that the flirting needs to stop because it doesn’t help me and only confuses matters. She has a bad habit of being a tease and when I tell her that she shouldn’t do that, she does it more. If am to be there for her as a friend I don’t want to act is if we’re more. I don’t want to here “I love you.” I don’t want to be groped or talk about sex. I want to know where I stand and stay there until she’s well. I’m not trying to rush her into a relationship, just sometimes I feel like she’s putting me on the back burner and stringing me along just in case something better comes her way and like she’s told me in the past. No one has ever done for her what I’ve done for her. If I were to list all the things I did for this woman, we’d be here all day. It’s just irritating that I go to see her as a friend and I am not the one to initiate the bf/gf talk. She acts as if we are still together one minute then not the next.

    As for the 8 month wait. It’s not like I wouldn’t do it for her because all I’ve ever done is sacrifice in the relationship but it’s the fact that she put a time cap on it. She doesn’t even seem open to saying “maybe I’ll be better sooner and we can try again.” I know I should be more patient because I do think she’ll eventually give in to love sooner rather than later but damn it’s hard. EDITED.

    Again, I just want to separate the 2. Am I your friend or am I your lover? She doesn’t know what she wants. Even though I’m hopeful I also have that feeling of impending doom. I’m not sure what will come of this but I imagine it will only end with me hurt.

    • Dennis says:

      So you’re aware, I did clip out a portion of your post that I felt was too personal to be on the internet.

      Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. It has a drastic effect on our moods and emotions. If the way she felt about something shifted dramatically, it may have been tied to her starting to get unwell. Or it might not have. She may have started to see it as controlling rather than helpful. In a situation like that, I would just say something like, “I’m not controlling you. You have a choice in what you want to do and how you want to do it. If you want to do it yourself or differently, that’s totally fine.” And then let the other person take the lead.

      As for defining boundaries, you’re going to have to be the one to do that if she’s unstable. That may mean saying, “We agreed to be friends only. You need to stop with the love stuff or I’m leaving.” And if she persists, then leave. In many scenarios, the only way you can enforce a boundary is by removing yourself from the situation so the person understands you’re not playing around about it.

      And yes, you may very well get hurt in this. But really, that’s life. You’re going to hurt in some way, shape or form. The key is to be with someone with hurting for, and deciding how much hurt you can deal with.

      I’d like to be able to tell you that everything will work out with the proper support and help, but there are plenty of times that it doesn’t. I’m not a fan of false hope. The reality is that Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness that destroys a lot of relationships and so much more for people. Things may go great and she may recover soon. Or they may not. There is no way to really know until you get there.

      That’s why you focus on a single goal and not read too much into the individual ups and downs. If you decide to stay in it, you focus on that end date and disregard the back and forth. It’s very likely you’ll hear, “I want to be your friend” one day, and “I want to be your lover the next.” But those words matter less than what she needs to do to get well and stable again. And that is take the time to go through the process. Like she said, it’s better for her process if she is not in a relationship and focusing on herself. That is a fact that will not change, though the way she may feel about that fact will. So you stick to the fact. That’s how you retain your own sanity and balance your mental health.

      As for issues of faith and trust…I don’t know the woman so there’s not much I can offer on that. I’ve known people with Bipolar Disorder who remained staunchly faithful even in unwellness, and I’ve known people that haven’t. Again, it’s not something you’re going to know until you get there.

  86. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    Yeah, going to see her definitely didn’t help. If anything it made me feel worse. We have both suffered these last few months. Her with the illness and me with the sleepless nights of worrying and not being able to be there for her. I too am going to have to draw my line in the sand. I could care less about the sex thing. It’s the relationship as a whole that I miss and can’t just wait around on something that might not ever happen. I told her that I would gladly help her out as a friend for 3 more months until she gets back into the swing of things but once June or July rolls around, if I don’t see any hope, I would have to walk away. If she was my wife then I could see myself waiting as long as needed but she isn’t. I just have to come to grips with how much I can deal with before I give up on her. I can bend but I won’t break. She made her vow and I made mine. Hopefully we can meet half way and work things out before I walk out the door.

    Thanks again Dennis. I appreciate you.

  87. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    Well, I guess we’re back to square one. I just can’t win with this woman. Again, I made it VERY clear to her that I have no problem being her friend but the mixed signals need to stop and she replied with “If we cant be friends right now then lets take some healthy space. Let’s do no contact. That works best for me right now.” She’s just not getting the point. We CAN be friends if she acts as such. Maybe that’s her subtle way of saying that she can’t control herself around me and the flirting is going to keep happening. Which ever way you slice it, I’m going to back off and respect her wishes. I’m going to do one last good deed for her and drop off some supplies that I promised her to the facility and just leave. It’s obvious to me that she doesn’t know what she wants at the moment. Everyday is different with her to the point of me not knowing what to expect. It’s ok though because maybe some healthy space will help me get over the hump. I tried my best to do right by her and it was never good enough. I could repeat myself til I’m blue in the face and she will never respect MY boundaries. Only her boundaries matter. She wants to be able to have her cake and eat it too and that’s just not going to work for me. It’s time that I take some time for myself and quit dwelling on shit that’s out of my control. I’m not going to put anymore energy in to it. If it’s meant to be, it will be.

    • Dennis says:

      Sounds like that may be best. You can’t expect stability and consistency out of an emotionally unstable person. The back and forth and disconnect you’re describing is pretty typical for Bipolar unwellness. And a lot of times, it boils down to the person in your situation drawing and enforcing a hard boundary.

  88. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    Very true! You know what they say “Stability is a place bipolar people visit, but never to live there.” Anyway, I’m at peace with it. I found closure last time I saw her. I’ve been doing well. I wish her no ill will and I hope God blesses her on her travels.

    • Dennis says:

      That’s good to hear. I hope things go well for the both of you on your paths. I disagree with that quote though. I know quite a few Bipolar people who have had several years of stability with the right meds and therapy. Getting to that point is challenging though.

  89. DattyLawngLaygz says:

    I understand why you would disagree. No offense intended. I know a few bipolar people who also have had years of stability which is awesome but let’s be honest, there is no miracle cure for it yet. I hope to God that one day science and medicine will find one because nobody deserves to go through it. It is a lifelong illness and even after years of stability, anything can go wrong, whether it be the meds not working anymore, or something catastrophic that triggers it off, etc. It’s truly sad. I couldn’t imagine what one goes through during these episodes. All I can do is sympathize. I definitely salute those that are able to identify the signs early and responsible enough to manage them accordingly for the sake of not only themselves but for those around them that care and suffer right along with them. Thanks again Dennis. Much appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      No offense taken. I don’t really get offended. I mostly corrected the statement because there are unwell people who may read this who need to hear that there can be a positive outcome for them further down the road. You’re right, there’s no miracle cure for this or really anything else for that matter.

      It is a difficult, complicated road.

      Anyway, you’re very welcome. And if you haven’t, please do sign up for future updates and announcements!

  90. JJ says:

    Hello Dennis,

    First- this is a great blog and u have provided some real good insights. Thank you. I am hoping I can get some help as well. I have been married to my husband for little over five years. Few months into my marriage I found out that he had bipolar along w alcohol abuse. We have been thru cycles of having him in rehab, which works for some time and then stops. Things got worst in Jan 2015 and we got separated for 6 months. That was his first manic cycle after our marriage. After that he agreed to see doctor, and if diagnosed agreed to take meds (he was in denial till then). Things were smooth for a few months, till last year. In jul 2016 his father passed away…in a different country. On his way to the country, he got into an accident and broke his leg. I did go to the funeral and stayed with him for 8 weeks. But I had to come back to continue w my job. He was still on meds when I came back. He has been out of meds for over 4 months, his behavior is getting verbally abusive… even so far away all he can do is use filthy language. He needs meds, but obviously he is in denial, he his in a full blown mania for at least 2-3 months. I m afraid that this will never subside. And there is no one telling him to take meds. I don’t know what to do. Our phone conversations r getting very limited too, cuz all he does is blame and curse. He is not ready to listen to anything. He needs help, but he is not recognizing it.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello. Thank you for the kind words about my blog and my work.

      About the only thing you can really do in a situation like this is work to minimize the damage he can do to you while he is unwell. It should subside at some point, but it’s hard telling when that may be. If you’re in the United States, I would really suggest that you look into a program that NAMI offers called Family-to-Family, which is a free course that is designed to help people like yourself navigate and stay healthy in these kinds of situations. I would also suggest you look into talking to a therapist about the situation as well.

      Don’t try to convince your husband to get help while he’s manic. All that’s going to do is throw more gas on the fires. A person in that state of mind isn’t all that predictable, so you don’t want to add more fuel if you can avoid it. That does NOT mean that you should put up with being abused. The counterargument I hear on a regular basis is, “But I need to stand up for yourself!” Sort of. What you need to do is have healthy boundaries that you can retreat behind to preserve yourself. But engaging in arguments with an unstable person is pretty always going to end badly for you. Because even if you put together the most coherent argument imaginable that somehow manages to convince them that something’s wrong, all it takes is another mood swing to wipe all of that out.

      Do look into that program if you’re in the US. Do look into talking to a therapist about the situation before you do choose to do anything in regards to your husband’s instability, because you just can’t be sure.

      • JJ says:

        Hi – thanks for your quick response. I had joined NAMI in 2016. But I found that too be more depressing. I had a group were majority of the parents were there with no hope for their kids. I got even more scared, and decided that was not the best option.

        In your opinion, what is the best way to talk or not talk with my husband now? Should I just block his calls? or do talk with him, and if it gets bad, hang up the call. I feel like he is in a stage where nothing bothers him…if I talk or dont talk.
        Also, personal question for you. I read about your past, what made you realize that you needed help? And what was the driving point where you decided to continue to take your meds?

        It is such a great relief to know that even after having such bad bipolar cycles, you are living a normal life…and helping out so many of us. Thank you!

        • Dennis says:

          You’re welcome on the quick response. That’s unfortunate about the NAMI group. It can be really hard to find hope when dealing with everything serious mental illness can bring.

          The best way to talk to any unstable person is minimally, in general. I can’t tell you if blocking calls or the like is a good idea, because I have no idea if that may push him into a violent place. And I don’t know the guy at all. Try not to let yourself get sucked into any pointless conflict as best as you can. And if you feel you’re in danger, do alert authorities. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful on that point.

          I realized I needed help when I had a Mixed Cycle episode that stepped into Psychosis that tried to convince me that harming a lot of people was all that I had left in life. That there was nothing else. My ex-fiancee made a comment about being scared of the expression on my face, which was unusual because she had never felt scared of me before. And then I really thought about what was going on in my head and realized something wasn’t right. The next day I called up to try and get screened. Took several weeks of waiting. I had also made the decision that if they didn’t find anything wrong with me, I was going to kill myself the evening following the appointment. It wasn’t a great time in my life.

          I take my meds because I’m terrified of where my mind goes in my worst unwell cycles.

          I don’t know how normal my life is. I still have plenty of problems and struggles of my own to deal with. I just do the best I can. That’s all any of us really can do.

          • JJ says:

            Hi – one more question. When a person goes thru the manic stage, what is his level of understanding or comprehending things that he is saying or doing? For example, my husband is using very bad language, and everything is my fault. Does he realize the level of filthy language he is using? Cuz I m sure he would never use those words otherwise.

          • Dennis says:

            It depends entirely on how manic the person is and what features of mania they are experiencing. It could be a malicious attempt to attack, it could also be the problem where the filter between brain and mouth disappears and words just pour out of your face before you realize what you’re saying. Mania tends to strip away inhibition as well, so saying whatever is on your mind, no matter how awful it is, is well within the ballpark of possibility.

  91. Flor says:


    Thank you very much for all the advices and the support that you provide to caregivers. My story is about friendship. I have a friend with whom we used to go out a lot. Previous year he stopped talking to me for few months and then he came back apologising for his behaviour. He is diagnosed with BP and is on meds. Since then we spent a lot of time outside talking about his issues , messages every day etc etc At some point I got sick and while I was unable to have any type of writing communication he started accusing me being cryptic. I tried to ignore and few weeks later he raged on me telling me stuff such as I have mental illness, I care too much and it is not normal, that I have smth bad for him in myhead etc etc I was hearing a person totally different from my friends. He asked for space and I gave it to him although we kept some contact only via some groups of people in common. As time passes he is getting more angry to me even if I ignore him he will find something and then a storm again. I know that cause other people tell me. I feel really ashamed but I keep trying not to talk with him as he seems that he doesn’t want to. What I should? I want to stay in the common group of friends but he brings so much tension and magnifies everything. Nb can stop him. Should I send him to distract his thoughts from me? I honestly I may have some mistakes here but there so much tension!I miss my friend but I cant even recognise him now! Thank you in advance!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello. Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to comment.

      Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do in that situation. A lot of people who start on psych meds exhibit changes in their moods and emotions, and they aren’t always rational or make sense. He may be having a bad reaction to the medication, he might not be. Were I in your situation, I would just continue to maintain a low profile, minimize contact with him, and not take anything he says to heart. Medication doesn’t always work well or correctly for people. Quite a few people have to try multiple medications before they can find one that works well for them.

      I would definitely avoid confrontation. That’s not likely to go well for you. Sometimes all you can do is take a step back and do what you need to do to keep yourself well and healthy.

      • Flor says:

        Thank you very much for your reply!
        I will keep your advice and try to ignore as much as possible everything. I wish I could help but it is up to him to help himself! I hold as much as I can cause these behaviours hurt me a lot and I know I cannot do anything. He is a wonderful person but we are clearly in the middle of a storm now…..hope he understands soon that he is mean to me know and everything is twisted! Thank you again!

  92. Sarah says:

    Hello I need advice. My poly bipolar xBF broke up with me over a misunderstanding. He hasn’t been on medication in over 10 years. Also we were friends in HS. So there’s some history.

    We’ve been talking for 10 months before I agreed to date him. That part was nearly 4 months. He’s long distance. A couple hours away.

    He used to talk about how important communication was and all that. I asked him how he felt and he went on about the trip he made up here. I wanted to know if he cared stuff like that. But he wouldn’t stop talking about the trip. It was a total misunderstanding mostly on my part I’ll admit. Then he told me he was so done and blocked me everywhere. Which hurts really bad. I miss him like crazy and it’s been 5 days.

    I told him a couple months ago I loved him. Because I meant it. I told him a couple other times and he told me he knows I love him. Even though he didn’t say it back.

    Last message to me was pretty hateful saying I didn’t care or love him and a bunch of other things along with not caring about my feelings. Which was a first. Also that he wanted a relationship! But the relationship he wanted was FWB and possibly of it growing. I don’t do FWB to start with.

    Our argument before this one he told me he was sacrifing so much and I wasn’t and how I don’t appreciate it. It’s always almost always been about how he’s feeling. Not me. Anytime I’m feeling anything other then happy then he’s mad about it even more so if it’s in regards to him.

    There was a couple red flags. He blamed all his ex’s for what they did. It was all their fault. The last 5 years he hasn’t kept that many stable long lasting relationships going. All lasting a month maybe four at max. He’s blocked them all.
    He constantly talked about people using him and or ghosting. He accused me a bunch of the possibility early on. Which I wasn’t and never was.

    Usually the longest we’d ever go without talking would be 5 days if he needed some time. It wasn’t often. He’s been hot and cold since we were intimate and did sound more down lately too.

    Will he come back?

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Sarah.

      He probably will. Now, whether you should get involved in an intimate relationship with him any further is the better question to ask.

  93. Dani says:

    Hello, I need a little bit of advice.

    My BF and I been together for almost three years and we’ve been living together for over one year. He told that he was bipolar on our first date. I thought I can handle it. I’m not sure if I could now. I’m emotionally drained. I’m 32 years old and this is my 2nd serious relationship. I fell in love with him. this guy is hilarious, witty smart, super talented, and attractive. I use to think I hit the jackpot(still do sometimes ).

    He doesn’t take meds because he doesn’t like how it makes him feel. He smokes marijuana. Im cool with it. Eventually the arguing came. I use to record it because some of the things he’d tell me was unbelievably low. I’m not a confrontational person, especially in front of other people. That’s changed. He disrespected me so many times in front of his friends that I feel like I have no pride Unless I’d argue back. He will snap out of it the morning after and be the sweetest thing and because I wasn’t researching this disorder , I would just give him the cold shoulder because I am trying to get over those terrible things he tells me.

    When I did begin research I learned about triggers, episodes, manic states, how arguing only makes it worse etc. I realized that a couple of his triggers are alcohol, holidays, stress, etc. he’s a bartender and when he gets drunk, he becomes impulsive and abrasive and will continuously put me down. Around the holidays he becomes depressed and introverted. There’s been one instance where hes had suicidal ideations. Scared the shit outta me (he called the suicide hotline)

    I came across your article and thought it was a definitely a good read as well as informative . I just need more ways on how to handle this. I feel like I’m losing. I’m still in love I’m just drained and embarrassed.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Dani. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m going to share with you a difficult truth. It’s very possible that you feel like you’re losing the battle, because you are. An emotionally healthy, well individual will not withstand the ebb and flow of uncontrolled Bipolar Disorder. It just won’t. The only way it can survive is if the person with the mental illness works at controlling it in whatever healthy ways they decide are best for them. If he’s intent on riding the roller coaster, then there isn’t a whole lot you can do about that besides protect your mental and emotional health.

      Even in a best case scenario, where you learn a ton of ways to cope or be compassionate or whatever – it’s still going to leave you changed, and not in a good way either.

  94. Leroy says:

    I don’t know what to do anymore. I found out my fiancé takes Lamictal, but they never talk about it. Things have got pretty confusing around arguments that don’t make sense. So I politely asked what’s been going on with their mood lately. It’s all over the place. So I asked why they take lamictal and they got defensive saying i better not be accusing them of being bipolar. I wasn’t, I just asked. But the more I read on this drug the more it seems it’s not for regular depression. It’s for manic depression/bipolar disorder.

    Now the pieces are starting to fall into place. The arguments that seemed to come from left field ect. But now, they say we’re over. They can never trust me to not judge them ect ect. Even accusing me of not asking for their help when I actuality had days before. I’m going crazy but I’m willing to stick with them if i can better understand

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Leroy.

      Frankly, you may want to reconsider if it is worthwhile to cling to the relationship. A relationship with a mentally ill person can only work if both parties are willing to be open and communicate about what’s going on. If she does have more going on than she is aware of or understands, then it is going to negatively affect your life and well-being. And it may not even be a purposeful act of manipulation or lying about it. She may just not understand what’s going on in her or why her doctor prescribed her that medication. A lot of people have no idea what all uses a medication can have in a person.

      I would suggest talking to a certified counselor about the relationship, her, and your own feelings before you follow through on the marriage. It sounds like you would benefit greatly from the perspective of a qualified, neutral professional.

  95. NIN191391 says:

    I believe my brother is bipolar 2 with hypo mania. He’s been acting very strangely for months now, nasty, stressed, distant. I’ve tried to approach him and he has been either avoiding me or responding with nasty and condescending comments. I’ve read many articles on Bipolar 2 and he possesses many of the symptoms. He said he was suicidal 6 months ago and no one cared. He’s been very moody & nasty- yet now he says his life is wonderful and he’s the best he’s ever been. I know he’s taking prescription meds, several different ones at times as well. I finally got the courage to tell my 80 yr. old parents was has been going on, as I am concerned he is or will drag them thru the mud. We tried to confront him about his odd behavior but, he had an excuse for everything we said. I just don’t know where we go from here, I try to stay away from him but since it is family it is quite difficult. He speaks to my parents everyday and he’ll text me occasionally (although I suspect he has unresolved feelings towards me). Its really quite a mess. Any advice?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      If your brother happens to have Bipolar Disorder, trying to rationally convince him to get help while he is an escalated cycle is going to go nowhere. Bipolar escalation just steamrolls rational arguments and warps perceptions, so that goes nowhere. Your best bet will likely be to bide your time and wait for him to swing lower and mellow out, which may be when he falls back into depression. At which point, you can broach the subject of the way he felt before and talking to certified professional about what’s going on with him. That is going to be a challenge too, because depression can be hard to crack through too.

      The best time I’ve found to try to convince someone to get help is to wait until they are in a relatively decent place mentally, whatever that means for that person. If they’re not too depressed or too unstable, they have a better chance of hearing the message and considering it from a rational perspective.

      Pretty much all you can do is wait.

  96. SHL1838190 says:

    Those are great examples, the first one is almost the exact “discussion” my husband and i have about once a year. On a sidenote, i was a bartender for many years and your strategy for arguing with mentally ill people works well for dealing with drunk people also.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for the feedback. And yes, I’ve spent quite a bit of time around drunk people for a significant part of my life. It’s amazing how much overlap there is in many things.

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