Am I To Blame Or Is Bipolar Disorder?

This post was inspired by an off-handed comment made by a Bipolar woman I know. I hope this perspective can help you see yourself in a more positive light.

We Bipolars are no strangers to screwing up and destroying the things we care most about. Behind each of us is a trail of ashes, shattered dreams, and broken relationships. The way you look at those things is important. I’ve talked to many Bipolar and Depressive people who shoulder the blame entirely. They feel that since they couldn’t control themselves in a moment of “weakness”; that they are only to blame for the situation. They shoulder the responsibility and do not want to use their illness as an excuse.

There is a problem with that. Let’s say you break your arm. The cause of the broken arm is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you did it to yourself out of stupidity or if it was an accident by someone else. The bottom line, you have a broken arm and you’re not going to be doing any heavy lifting with it until it heals. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, the circumstances, how pissed off, sad, or judgmental other people may get about it; your arm is presently not working correctly.

An unwell cycle is the same. An unwell cycle means your brain is not working the way it should be. You’re sick and your decisions will be tainted by that sickness. How is a Bipolar person supposed to make decisions with clarity when their mind is feeding them misinformation about the world around them, their feelings, and their lives? Is it fair to hold yourself to the same standards that you would a normal person even though you have a “broken arm” at the time?

We wind up getting assigned or assigning ourselves the shitty labels of society for our actions. Are they deserved? Let’s look at an example…

A devoted Bipolar husband is faithful to his wife for 8 years. He loses his job, money and stress become an issue, his mind takes off into a manic cycle. His Bipolar brain concludes that the arguing is because his wife hates him and is preparing to leave him. His emotions are distorted due to the Disorder and that devoted love flips to smoldering hate. He walks out the front door and shacks up with another woman.

Eventually, his brain crashes and corrects. His thoughts are now clear and he can see the situation for what it is. His wife didn’t hate him, their arguments stemmed from the lack of income, a common stress in relationships. The husband’s emotions are snapped back to what they were before he swung unwell because that is the real him. The devoted, faithful husband who walked out on and cheated on his wife is back to being the devoted, faithful husband.

A common statement is that the husband had a choice. That’s absolutely true. He did have a choice. But how hard was it to make that choice? You don’t believe things when you’re unwell, you KNOW things with the same kind of ferocity and fervor that you know you love your mother (assuming you do, fill in someone that doesn’t suck if yours blows). He didn’t think his wife was planning to leave, he KNEW. And that knowledge fueled his rage and hate which made it even harder for him to make the right decision.

So where does that leave the couple? The husband’s perception of himself? The wife’s perception of him? Any family members or friends that happened to be privy to what was going on?

Everyone is going to be sympathetic to the wife when in actuality, the husband probably needs it more. He just ripped up and destroyed a core tenet of who he was, hurt the woman he was devoted to in a way that can never truly be repaired, and now everyone that doesn’t understand the Disorder thinks he’s an asshole. But he’s not an asshole. His brain was broken and not working correctly at the time. The wife knows he’s not an asshole because she knows there’s a difference between the loving man that she married and the stranger he becomes. It may or may not make it any easier to swallow the situation; that is really dependent on the individual.

Is it a reason or an excuse? Are you using the Disorder as a reason or an excuse?

Ideally, he would confess to his actions and do what needed to be done to repair the relationship. Sick or not, the onus is on each of us to take responsibility for our unwell actions and try to make it up to the people we damage in our wellness. Some people can forgive and move past it, others cannot.

Is it fair for the husband to think of himself as a betrayer and adulterer? I don’t believe so, even though he had an affair. What happens if you remove Bipolar Disorder from the equation? What are you left with? You’re left with a loving, devoted husband who would have not had that affair if it weren’t for that unwell cycle. Had he been “normal”, it would have just been marital stress and a spat that had needed resolved.

Once you add back in the Disorder, the metaphorical “broken arm”, now his actions take on a different meaning than what you would hold a normal person to.

And I can hear it now, “What about the wife? What about her feelings on the situation?” It’s not my place to tell someone how to feel about a situation, so I do not. I wouldn’t tell her that she should just get over it or even forgive him, because that’s not my decision to make. I don’t know her emotional tolerances, what she’s willing to shoulder, what she’s willing to try to work through. She has to decide that for herself. She is entitled to feel whatever she feels and it should be dealt with in a way that makes sense for the couple; not to everyone that has an opinion based on their stereotyped perceptions of “correct”.

Many of us Bipolars and Depressives have poor opinions of ourselves because of our long lists of failures. I was no different for a long time. I saw very little positive about myself though plenty of people tried to show me otherwise. After I was diagnosed, I was able to objectively look at my history, actions, and path in life. I came to realize that I wasn’t all of those negative things I thought I was because I wasn’t like that when I was balanced. It was only when I was unbalanced did things really come off the rails.

I know that’s a narrative a lot of Bipolar people out there face as well. They haven’t learned to see who they really are versus who they are while unwell. The person may think they are unlovable, unworthy, irresponsible, hateful, unfaithful, or just plain old crazy. But what happens if you set aside the mental illness? Who are you when you’re balanced? Do you even know? Or have you been dealing with it for so long that you don’t really know who that person is?

You are not your illness. You are not the walls you had to build to minimize the damage of the Disorder. Somewhere behind the Disorder and the walls is a person smothered by the weight of the illness and the pain it created in your life. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself a little leeway when the Disorder fucks things up for you. No one will ever get it 100% right. Most people won’t get it or “understand” our personal circumstances even if they want to; that’s just something we have to come to terms with. It doesn’t mean everyone won’t though.


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87 Responses to Am I To Blame Or Is Bipolar Disorder?

  1. Karrow says:

    It is very hard — VERY hard — for people who are not bipolar to understand the position of the husband in your above anecdote.

    You acknowledge that having the affair was his choice, but it was a choice based on perceptions from an ill mind, i.e., he is “convinced” that his wife hates him and will leave, etc.

    Okay, I’ll grant that. But that still doesn’t explain his behavior. It only explains his (misguided) rationale for wanting out of the relationship.

    Specifically, it doesn’t explain why the husband CHEATED on his wife, as opposed to say, urging a trial separation, or some other less-emotionally-violent manner. There is a href=””plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that bipolar people don’t merely end their relationships; they end it in such a way which is cruel to those they leave behind — like simply disappearing with no explanation, or having an affair.

    As Paul Simon said, there must be 50 ways to leave your lover. I suppose leaving your lover always involves administering some hurt….. but it seems to me (<a href=""and many others) that bipolar people “choose” the cruelest ways. A misperception might cause a bipolar person to end a relationship when it is fix-able, but why must s/he end the relationship in the most hurtful way imaginable?

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for the in-depth comment and thoughts.

      Bipolar Disorder is an illness of extremes. In the example I give, the husband’s Bipolar mind is sick. A sick mind is not a rational mind. There’s nothing to say that the husband couldn’t urge a trial separation, disappear, or even stick a gun in his mouth and blow his head off. They could easily decide that since this person did such horrible harm to them, they’ll do it back to them. It’s far easier for a husband to hurt a wife or wife to hurt a husband because they are intimately familiar with one another. They know where all their weak points and soft spots are. And in the extremes of unwellness, those things can easily become weapons to tear down the enemy that your brain has constructed for you.

      The simple, and probably unsatisfying, answer to your question? Mental illness. You’re not thinking rationally or clearly when you’re in the extremes of a cycle. Your reality is warped, distorted, and anything can seem like a good idea.

      Even though disappearing or cheating hurts like shit- it’s nowhere near as bad as the real extremes possibilities. A majority of people with mental illness are no threat to anyone but themselves; but a Type 1 in a REAL bad mania could take it upon themselves to exact revenge on whoever their brain tells them their significant other is banging or their significant other. Suicide is a far more likely scenario given that we’re far more likely to do damage to ourselves than other people because our depression convinces us we’re not worthy of love, respect, and life. The illness tells us our lives will always be shit, we weren’t good enough for our significant other, so boom. I sometimes wonder how often that scenario has actually played out that we’ll never know about.

      So yeah, personally I would say that disappearing or an affair are on the pretty minor side of things. They’re relationship destroyers absolutely; but the possibilities of an extremely unwell mind are far, far worse.

    • Dennis says:

      A thought occurred to me I forgot to include in the first post. You also want to consider that what you read about online is not necessarily indicative of what is actually occurring. You’re going to find a lot less “what do I do” questions about a Bipolar person wanting a trial separation than if they disappeared. Asking for a trial separation is fairly straight forward stuff for both parties.

      Stuff like walking out or affairs is far more likely to be talked about because it is extremely confusing.

      To put it into perspective; I get a lot of emails from people asking those kinds of questions. I can recall one mention of a trial separation as opposed to many affair or disappearance oriented emails. But that could just mean that people aren’t talking about it the same.

      I would venture to guess that things like cheating and walking out are dominant because extremes are more normal for unwell Bipolars than otherwise, but probably not as dominant as internet research would indicate.

  2. Steve says:


    Thank you for having the courage to share this article. I am a licensed occupational therapist and I live with a bipolar condition. My commitment is to ALWAYS take responsibility for my actions, regardless of circumstance.

    With that said, I have also experienced the significance an altered state of reality can play on reasoning and that actions taken during a state of illness are not the same as actions taken during a state of balance or challenge. I was hospitalized and diagnosed in 2002 after I cut myself during a deep state of depression. To this day I still don’t fully understand myself what led me to that act, let alone explain to another who hasn’t experienced that intensity of experience.

    Thank you for this food for thought Dennis,

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Steve. I’m with you on the responsibility for actions regardless of circumstance. My general rule of thumb is; “I”m sorry I hurt you and I’ll do whatever I can to make it up to you. I can’t promise you I won’t do it again or worse in the future though. That’s life being Bipolar.” And I never apologize for being Bipolar.

      Anything can seem like a fantastic idea if your brain is far enough unbalanced. As an extreme example, there’s the case of this gentleman. Sometimes all you can do is just shrug, say.. “I’m Bipolar and my brain sucks sometimes.” That’s our reality.

      Good to hear that you’re doing well enough to maintain a career now. I used to self-harm when I was deeply depressed to see if I could actually feel anything. Fun times. Fun times.

      Take care Steve. Thanks for reading my piece and taking the time to comment.

  3. anon says:

    My first comment is, that although as the partner of someone suffering with bipolar, I completely agree that they are a completely different person when the disorder grips their brain. However, my fear is that the more I understand and the more I forgive the same mistakes over and over, the more I am giving license to just keep doing it, and sometimes I fear that mistakes that are made outside of an unwell mindset could always just be blamed on bipolar also. How can I truly distinguish, and how can I help my partner take responsibility for the hurt caused? How can a partner assert the absolute need, after being willing and able to forgive and understanding of the fact that it was not the “real” them who made these poor choices, for their partner to make ammends? Promises can be made, apology upon apology, but it seems that in a great deal of cases I have read about (including my own) the partner with bipolar seems to think that once they apologize and make promises of what they will do to fix it, their partner should “get over it” and move on whether or not they’ve done any or all of the things they’ve promised they would do to attempt to repair that broken trust. In ANY relationship when a mistake is made by one partner, you fully expect that partner to do anything and everything possible to rectify the situation. It seems that the attention span focused on fixing dies down quite quickly, and, in my case, focus always comes back on finding things wrong that I’VE done (real or imagined issues from digging things up from 20+ years ago to laundry being done the wrong way). In no way do I think I am a perfect partner, but I feel like my partner gives me little to no credit for sticking around when things are really tough, when my emotional state has been drained and I barely want to get out of bed because I feel so rotten. When you love someone, and you know that the person who is interacting with you on a daily basis is not that same person, you just want to do anything you can to help them get back. But sometimes it beats you down. I can only imagine what it must be like inside my partners head, but I try to put myself in that position so I can better understand. I feel that my partner is not capable of doing the same thing for me.

    When a partner can see you headed down a bad path, when a partner has seen you make the same mistakes over and over, most of which hurt them over and over, but sees the warning signs, how much can truly be done to help “steer” their partner who suffers from bipolar away from hurting you again and back into thier “right” mind? I have no interest in leaving, but I will be honest, I also have no interest in being emotionally or physically cheated on again either because of the way it made me feel the many times it has happened. One can only forgive so much, and everyone deserves to feel “safe” in their relationship. How much of this will medication alleviate? I know that there is no promise of perfection, but I’m just trying to ascertain what the odds are that I will be cheated on again.

    • Dennis says:

      It’s easy for someone to fall into that kind of comfortable cycle unfortunately. The words of people mean far less to me than their actions in situations like yours. If they continuously do the same shit without ever trying to actually correct it or minimize it, I would take great exception to it and be far less likely to forgive. Some people don’t realize that they do actually have to invest a lot of time and work into making sure that these breaches of trust are actually patched over.

      Some of the things I would look at are the frequency of the occurrences, what efforts are being made to prevent it from happening again, and whether or not he’s actually manic when it occurs. I would suggest you guys look into finding a therapist or a marriage counselor with experience in mood disorder relationships who can assist him with learning to manage and repair things better. A lot can be done by you to help point out and minimize the damage of his unwell swings provided he is able to hear and understand you when it’s starting to take off. If I have a partner that points out to me that I may be getting unwell, I can start to really analyze my thoughts and decisions before I make them. It’s easier to know that “hey, I don’t actually believe this. It’s the Disorder fucking with me” if someone points it out- but I also embrace the fact that I’m Bipolar and these things will happen to me from time to time.

      That’s a mentality I would like to see more people like your partner embrace to help preserve relationships before people such as yourself hit the end of their patience and understanding. I’ve known parents that had to distance themselves from their adult, Bipolar children as well. Everyone has limits and you should not feel bad about having your own, a desire to feel safe in your relationship, and the desire for dedication from your partner.

      The correct Bipolar medication should eliminate the unwell cycles and make the person’s life livable. If the person’s mania is in check, their manic infidelity should go away too. If they are still able to cycle then their meds are still not quite right. Poor impulse control and hypersexuality (assuming hypersexuality is there) are both manic symptoms that should go away with the right meds.

      As for the chances and feeling totally safe? Unfortunately, you’d be foolish to feel totally safe even with the right meds. There are no perfect fixes. The body gets resistant to meds over time, requiring them to be tweaked to a working dosage or cocktail again. Your partner will be Bipolar for life. They may get it strongly under control, but there will always be the chance that an unwell cycle creeps up on them from weakening or missed meds.

      But from the sounds of it; I think you two would benefit greatly from therapy with someone who can help with relationships with a mood disorder. They can help you understand, establish boundaries, address the pettiness you alluded to, and more. For your partner; it will be good to have a neutral party facilitating communication, provide information on how to repair breaches, and help develop a better understanding of how to keep it from continuously happening.

      As for the odds of being cheated on again- really depends on how passionate your partner is about getting well, managing themselves, and preventing that damage from occurring again. If they’re not interested in those things at all and don’t bother considering future unwell cycles and how to manage them- chances are pretty close to certain. If they are passionate about it- far less likely.

      Really, it all depends on your partner.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my work and comment. Also- I don’t recall you mentioned sexes so swap any mentions of him/her as appropriate.

  4. Shane says:

    Hi there,
    I’ve been reading through your blog for a few weeks now because I found this the most real to anything I have been reading. I’ve been going through a lot personally lately. I kind of want to share my story and see what I can get from your perspective.

    My now ex and I have broken up a few weeks ago now. Almost with each other for a year. We broke up about 6 times and the last month of it we broke up 3 times.. Which was rough on me.

    My ex was diagnosed with schizoeffective disorder. Been taking medication for it for 3 years now and was stable. At the beginning of our relationship everything was perfect. About a few months into it, he wanted to try coming off his pills to see if he can be “normal” without them and I kind of encouraged that because I wasn’t aware that medication like that can have take a toll on someone like that because I was clueless about the disorder. He was fine until a month without the meds he was starting to lose it. He went back on his medication but it wasn’t working for him. His mind wouldn’t respond back to the medication. So the doctor gave him other medication and more and more until it piled up to 5 different meds all for different reasons to help him stabilize. It eventually worked but we broke up for a month and a half while he was recovering. We hung out still all the time while he was recovering and it got to the point where one day we kissed while watching a movie and kind of worked things out a bit. But then I noticed something different about him. He was becoming more and more of a zombie. He wasn’t all there. His mind was lost it seemed like. Back when he was 19 he tried to kill himself and overdosed on a lot of medication and he is lucky to be alive today.

    Anyway, he got to this January where he was showing no emotion. He was like dead to the world and just was there. Never excited about anything but put on a fake smile. I was telling him for a month or 2 that he needed to go get a second opinion from a different doctor. We broke up the last time around because he said he felt nothing for me. He said he lost what he had and it seemed like he couldn’t give a shit about me and I lost it. I didn’t understand how a person that loves me all the sudden lost everything for me. It blew my mind. Him and I were always so good to each ther and he was always there for me no matter what. Always was there. He told me he is in a deep depression and as well as certain pills that he is taking can intensify the feeling. He said he never wants to be back with me again and I know from the bottom of my heart that is not true. He pulls selfish crap like this all the time and is one sided and doesn’t go for another alternative and always gives up.

    Anyways… He got a second opinion a few weeks ago and was misdiagnosed this whole time and actually has bipolar disorder with depression. It kind of explains a lot then why he feels the way he does. I was trying to prove it to him that he actually does love me and meant it when he wanted to fix it for us until he made it right. For some reason I am holding so hard onto those words. I know the real person I know Is underneath ther
    Cover of the person that he is now. He just needs to stabilize.

    I showed him facts about our situation and he didn’t believe me and thought I was lying to him but ended up believing me because of the things I’ve been reading on your blog to help me get through to him. Anyways he said he wants to have space and I don’t want him to forgot about me and I want to be able to work on thins when he gets his emotions backs because I know they are in his heart but his mind is not letting him feel if that makes any sense?

    He has been taking new medication for his bipolar disorder and well as 4 other meds but isn’t really feeling different and I’m hoping his docotor can fix that for him.

    I just want to know what to do. I am so heart broken and all I want to do is be there for him and hangout with him but he seems to just ignore me till I force it to talk to him.

    I just don’t know what to do because this isn’t the same person I know anymore and it makes me really ducking sad. When he got diagnosed with bipolar disorder a lot of things made sense to me as to why things happened the way they did.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Shane. First of all, thank you for the kind words about my website. I’m glad it’s proven to be helpful in your understanding and working with your ex. I need to correct a couple points so you can have a clearer understanding of what to expect and what may go on with this.

      1. All Bipolars have depression. To be Bipolar, you have to have episodes on the escalated (manic) side of the spectrum and depressive side of the spectrum. I note my mental illness as “Type 2 Bipolar with Severe Depression” to denote that I spend way more time down than up. So don’t make the mistake of chopping them into separate illnesses. They’re not.

      2. Don’t convince yourself that now he has the right diagnosis. Remember, at one point, he was medicated and doing pretty well when he was diagnosed schizoaffective. It’s perfectly possible that this second doctor could be wrong too. I don’t know how much you know about schizoaffective disorder, but it has components from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. So it can be very easy to mistake them for one another. This second doctor may or may not have it right. Mental health is a very uncertain discipline.

      3. His loss of feelings for you is because they are gone while he is mired in depression. It’s not like when you’re angry at your partner, kind of pissed at them, but you still love them. No, the depression takes that, stuffs it into a sack, and tosses it into the river. It’s just gone because of his mental illness. Does that mean it’s gone for good? No. Not at all. When he rebalances it could very well all come flooding straight back to him; and if the circumstances hold true from what I usually see, it will. You just have to be patient.

      Here are my suggestions to you.

      -When you talk to him and he talks about how he feels nothing, remind him that’s because of the depression. Do it matter-of-factly, without tears, without screaming; as commonly as you would relate what the weather is like to someone. “I know you feel that way right now and it’s because of the depression. If you really want to break up and want me out of your life, it can wait until the depression is under control. If it’s still a good idea to you then, then we’ll talk about it.”

      -He needs to be proactive on the medication front. Trading one debilitating condition for another is fucking retarded and NOT a solution. The goal is to get one’s life livable and manageable through the use of medication. Not let it turn oneself into a zombie. If I was in his position, I would go to my doctor and tell him, “the way this medication makes me feel will not work. It makes me numb, a zombie, and makes my depression worse. We need to do something else.” And explore other options from there; even if it meant weaning off of everything and restarting the entire process over. Yes, it fucking sucks and is a shit option. But spending one’s life in an emotional void is monumentally worse.

      -I realize you learned this lesson yourself already, but I’m repeating it for anyone that may be looking at replies. NEVER convince or suggest someone go off their psych meds. If a person wants to try and go without, convince them to talk to their doctor about it first. Even in his present state, it’s a terrible idea to come off without professional supervision because it can severely unbalance the person and make him worse.

      -Get back in touch with him, even if you have to “force” it to an extent. Given that he already has a suicide attempt under his belt, it is not a good idea to leave him completely to his own devices while he is this numb. Encourage him to start doing more research, point him to resources you’ve found, point him here even. Do what you can to get contact reestablished; that may even boil down to a phone call and a message of “hey I’m coming over on X day at Y time to see you. Be ready.” People in severe depression will just shoot down anything and everything.

      I would also encourage you to have him email me too. Having been in similar depression, I’m very familiar with its nuances and can help point him towards knowledge to start working to get this shit turned around. And my email is . I check it twice a day even though I can’t always reply immediately.

  5. Shane says:

    I really appreciate your reply.
    I actually did show him your blog and multiple articles when I was proving facts about his love and feelings towards me. He kind of agreed to some points.

    I’ve also seen him in a couple out of control situations. Where he was losing his mind and lost it completely. I calmed him down on one occasion but it took a few hours because he was seeing things and same with a second time but he was like I never want to see you again good bye and it was intense. He was pointing flaws to me that weren’t true. I was confused because everything seem so one minded.

    I’m going to hangout with him tonight just watch a movie but I don’t think bringing anything up to talk about will do me any good because he said he wants his space and I think if I keep pressuring about talking about things it might ruin it.

    I know it was a huge mistake… Huge huge mistake. I should have never encouraged him coming off his medication and his doctor said ok to it which was weird to me but it was what he wanted. He came off it slowly making the dosage smaller.
    The only reason as to why I think he is bipolar is because his father is as well as his grandpa. But he might have a little schizoeffective as well.

    He is on treadadal or something like that for bipolar meds and I spoke with him about it and since the few weeks he has been taking it he said things are a lot better for him. He said he’s doing things and it’s getting better. And his mood is lifting but I didn’t ask the emotional aspect for it and what he feels for me is the same or not about feeling nothing. I feel so mixed in my head and I wish I had all the answers right now. I really do.

    I saw him ask another guy out on a date and I’m afraid he is trying to figure something new in his life and trying to completely remove any feeling for me that he has but I’m confused to what if all his feelings for me come rushing back? I thought he wanted to be single and not see other people because that’s what he told me but it doesn’t seem like that to me. Or do you think he was just tryingn to see what could possibly happen with someone else and just doesn’t want to be with me at all.

    He said our relationship felt forced which it never was. It was his depression mixed with his disorder and he texted me that before and told me that was the reason. I just want him to understand that and get it in his head He is seeing his therapist weekly right now. even his therapist said that that was the reason why he feels nothing.

    He was shutting me down a lot. He doesn’t even reply back. I have to force a text or call back out of him and that’s what I did for today to hangout with him. I told him I just want to be friends right now so we can at least have that but I don’t want him to just leave me as a friend I want to reestablish my relationship with him eventually when he is completely better. I want his feelings to come back for me 🙁

    I’m sorry I’m ranting and all over the place I just don’t know how to go about things.
    I just don’t want him to lose his love that he had for me because of all this.

    He is still on 5 meds including the bipolar medication that is helping him adjust but some of the other medication is from his previous diagnosis which ihis current doctor is trying to get him off his other medication but I’ll find that out tomorrow.

    Thank you for replying to me I just don’t know what to do with him. 🙁

    • Dennis says:

      Most of what I’m seeing in your writing is just stream of thought venting, so I’m not going to reply to everything because I don’t feel like everything is really in need of a reply. I’m just going to hit the major points. If I overlook something, please feel free to point it out.

      I think you may mean tegretol as the mood stabilizer? If so, that’s a good thing to hear. His doctor’s proactive approach to getting his medication under control is a very good thing. Just will take time.

      As for his feelings for you, wanting to be single, etc. Don’t bother tying yourself up in knots trying to figure out how he feels or why he’s doing what he’s doing right now. He’s still in transition on psych meds which means his emotional state will continue to be unpredictable for awhile yet. He could decide he wants another relationship today and then tomorrow decide he doesn’t. There’s really nothing you can do about that but ride it out and try not to take his actions too personally. I know it sucks and it hurts; but he doesn’t have a typical emotional function.

      Family history is a strong indicator but even that isn’t 100% reliable. Schizoaffective Disorder is relatively under the radar and not well explored; so even his father or grandfather could be misdiagnosed too. Many could be’s. Many possibilities. But what is important is that he’s trying to meds and treatment that will hopefully help him get balanced. Trial and error is all we have sometimes.

      Your best bet is going to be swallow the pain and just keep pushing forward. If the medication takes root and works for him, his emotions should come back assuming they were his real and genuine emotions to begin with. Perhaps they’re not. The only way you’ll know for sure is to be patient. And try not to take his actions personally while he is incapable of functioning emotionally in a typical way. Because the simple truth is, so long as he’s convinced he doesn’t love you or want that relationship, that’s how he’s going to act. And that is probably going to hurt you a lot in the process.

      And then there is always the possibility that he never reaches that point where he wants to rekindle things. You have to decide how far you’re willing to go and how much you can take towards that end. Be patient, and walk as far as you can on that path.

  6. Katelyn says:

    this entire article describes me perfectly. i am the husband in the situation. i am only 18 years old and i am a teen mother. i have a lot of things that stress me out so my brain is never really balanced. my entire life has been a roller coaster of shit. i was molested at a young age by a family member resulting in ptsd, and i have been diagnosed with bipolar 1. i have my own apartment now and things are a lot harder now that i became an adult so quickly and no longer have help from my parents. let alone taking care of a toddler in the process. i never really had treatment for my disorder and i stopped going to counseling shortly after i was diagnosed because i was so busy when i got pregnant at age 15. now 3 years later i cant seem to stop cheating on my boyfriend. i have episodes of mania ALL THE TIME. sometimes its every few days. i love my boyfriend more than i have ever loved anybody (other than my son). and it hurts so bad that i physically cant control myself. my health is poor, my sleep schedule is poor, i guess u could say things have gotten pretty severe. my house is always a mess and i feel like a failure. i have poor hygeine and i want to get into counseling but every single day i have no motivation to do anything. i never leave my house unless im having an episode and then i cheat. its a horrible thing and i feel like the worst person. i want to stop but in the moment i think what im doing is okay or its fun or thats the only thhing that makes me truly happy. then the episode ends and im left feeling guilty, and hating myself. ive slept with 8+ ppl since being with him and i feel so ashamed of myself. he has absolutely no idea either. it eats at me just thinking about it. i want to change but i cant. i cant help myself and i cant tell anybody because nobody understands. every time we get in a fight im convinced hes “verbally abusing me” and then i just want to go out and cheat. i just want to live a normal life and be happy. i want to marry this man but im scared im going to ruin our relationship. i truly cannot control myself when i get in those moods and my life is hell. any advice would be extremely appreciated. :'(

    • Dennis says:

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

      Simply put – you have to force yourself to do what you need to do. You will never accomplish any of it if you wait for motivation. The only way that you’re going to get your mental illness under control is by fighting it and pushing forward on what will make you well. Not a doctor, but from the sounds of things you’re most likely going to need medication and therapy. Therapy can greatly help you control yourself and the swings, but it doesn’t prevent you from swinging altogether.

      Make yourself a list of goals. Create a list of steps that will get you to each goals. And just force yourself to knock out a step on your path when you’re able to. You can do it. You’ve already survived so much; you can do this too. No one just jumps from zero to being well. It was a hard struggle for me too, especially since I have a severe depression component of Bipolar Disorder. It’s been extremely difficult to force my way through that, but I was able to. I’m not unique or special in that, I formulated a plan and I tried. That’s what you have to do too.

      Based off of your description, you really need professional help to get your mental illness under control, Katelyn. It’s not going to get better without it. I would also recommend you look for local Bipolar support groups. It can help a lot to be around other people who are waging the same wars. Takes a lot of the loneliness out of the battle. They may also be able to help you get connected with services that can help you. A lot of places have more extensive services available for single mothers.

  7. Lynne says:

    I have read through all of the posts above and I can see both sides. I am a woman married to another woman and have been together for over 20 years. My wife was recently diognosed with BP and has not accepted it. She tried only one mood stabilizer and did not like it and is now only taking a SSRI. She has been spiraling down over the last few month and has also been cheating on me right in front of my face. She has also asked me for a divorce. I am trying to hold that at bay until I can get her to go back to her therapist as well as see a new doctor for meds. I am dying inside with all the hurt but deep down I know that she is not the same person right now.

    I know that there is no time table to when she will crash but I am at my wits end with all that is going on. What makes it worse is that she says she wants to get a divoce but does not want to loose me as a friend. It is hard to just be her friend with her telling me all that she is doing and running out overnight to be with the person she is cheating with. This person is also telling her that they love her but they really don’t know the true person.

    I don’t know what to do at this point and I don’t know how long this will go on. Can anyone give me any feed back if they have had a similar issue like this and what they did?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Lynne. The situation you’re sharing is one that quite a few people have shared with me. The simple reality is, you’re most likely going to need to let her go and take care of yourself, first and foremost.

      Her refusal of her diagnosis means she isn’t likely to actually do what she needs to do to be well. When you put a Bipolar person on an antidepressant without a mood stabilizer, it usually just rockets them into an extreme escalation and keeps them there. That’s very likely at the root of her drastic instability. The only way to really correct that is for her to get and stay on a mood stabilizer with it.

      If the break up actually does end up happening, you’re going to be better off not staying friends with her because she’s just going to continuously reopen those old wounds and keep you from healing. Additionally, so long as she isn’t correctly medicated and refusing her diagnosis, you can expect her to continue to be erratic and unstable which is going to take a drastic toll on you as time passes.

      How long can it go on? Years. Acceptance of one’s mental illness, willingness to seek help, willingness to commit to all of the tedious work that goes into being well, and actually finding treatment that works well with side effects we can manage can take a long time. And who knows how long she is going to be on this path.

      I know it sucks, and I know you don’t want to lose your 20 year relationship; but nothing is going to change for the better until she accepts her mental illness. And unfortunately, love is a product of the mind, so a mental illness can most definitely tear love to pieces.

      All you can really do in this situation is keep yourself well and healthy. I would also recommend you talk to a therapist about everything that is going on as well, to help cope with what you’re dealing with. Your friends and family, most likely, aren’t going to understand what you’re going through. So do reach out to a professional if you feel you need that support.

  8. Tess says:

    Thank you so much for this! I am haunted by all the horrible things I have done in my manic episodes. All the bridges I have burned. I make jokes about how I should have been an engineer because I build so many bridges and then burn them all down. I just laugh about it so I don’t cry. And I joke about how I hate people. But I really don’t. I just know that eventually I will push them all away. I know I have bipolar disorder, I’ve accepted it. I’m manic right now and I’m working hard to “fix” it(well, more like get it under some semblance of control) . And trying to convince myself that it’s my brain, and not everyones’ actions that are making me feel act up…but it really feels like they are making me feel like this. Reading your articles though, they described me perfectly. They’re helping convince me that it is illness, my brain, not other people. It’s me.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my work and comment! You are very much right that it’s your mental illness just screwing with you right now. The joke I like to make about my bridges was something to the effect of, “I not only burn my bridges, but I stand on them and piss on the ashes while it’s still burning.”

      Are you in therapy or have you been to therapy? I would highly recommend you ask about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the express purpose of managing your unwell swings, identifying and heading off triggers, and mood disorder management. Your post suggests that you may have already done it, because it is spoken like someone with some of the knowledge of these things. But if you haven’t, it would really build on it and probably help a lot. I learned things in CBT I’ll use the rest of my life.

      Keep up the fight, Tess! You can do it. And if you need to, isolate yourself from your stresses as much as possible to give your mind more time to wind down and avoid triggering unfortunate behavior.

      Are you on meds?

      • Tess says:

        Yes I’m on meds…again. I was on a lot for a long time but got physical health issues so I went off. A bad idea. Then recently I after fighting with my whole family and alienating all my friends, my primary care doctor suggested topimax and also gently talked me back into going back to a different psychiatrist. I have no idea how he found this particular psychiatrist but we clicked and now I take gabapentin as well. I was well known to be fighting tooth and nail against meds and doctors and sometimes I still wonder how I got to this point, but I don’t want to hurt anyone or myself anymore, emotionally or physically, and I don’t want to spend any more time locked up in the mental ward. I’m tired of fighting and I really just want peace. So when I I start to wonder how I got from” never trust doctors!” To having alarms on my iPhone for meds, I tell myself just don’t question it.
        I saw a therapist for awhile after my dad died and every now and then I see one, once again, my old doc suggested it. I sometimes pull out my CBT workbook from therapy for a refresher when I feel motivated but these days I’m more motivated into fixing broken things around the house or not really broken things, I keep finding projects. The house is easier to fix than my brain right now I guess but I keep coming back to my brain when I get inspired. But I am becoming an accomplished repair person in the meantime. I’m trying to put the energy to good use now, not like before.
        My new psychiatrist says I am improving. Even though I have no friends. My husband is still with me and I can’t understand why. My kids say I’m weird and still love me. People I meet say I’m crazy in 20 minutes and then everyone laughs and I’m like ‘ crazy good or crazy bad?’ In my head so now I’m like 20 minute limit person. This is definitely my head messing with me. CBT says’ you gotta talk yourself out of this ‘ head talk’. It’s so rapid fire and persistent. But maybe I can wear it down. I told my psychiatrist, I live by: I bang my head against the world till it breaks or I do.

        • Dennis says:

          Aye. Medication is usually a matter of balancing how much the side effects suck versus how much the mental illness is sucking. For more severe people, it can be very difficult if not impossible to find a reasonable balance. Unfortunately, doctors are a necessary part of our existence. And our brain and mental illness will tell us a hell of a lot when things go awry to convince us that we think we ultimately know best while standing in the ashes of our lives.

          It’s good that you’re sinking your energy into the repair thing! Just beware the expanse of mania. You don’t want to plan a bathroom remodel or something like that and lose it in the middle! You’d be surprised at how many Bipolar people I’ve talked to that still haven’t finished upgrading their kitchen cabinets!

          That’s really great that you have good rapport with your new psych. It will make a world of difference in approaching your care. Have you considered a Bipolar support group? It would be a decent place to make some friends that understand our strain of crazy. Most of them don’t require you to talk at them until you feel comfortable with doing so. So if you wanted to just go check one out, depending on your location, it may be an option for you.

          Let your hubby know you love and appreciate his presence if you haven’t. Best way to go when you start wondering “why are they still with me?” Turn that thought into an action of affection for them to further reinforce and keep the relationship happy.

          • Tess says:

            Hi again 🙂 thanks for your encouragement! And suggestions! It’s funny about the repair thing, I finish 99% of my repairs. The only thing I didn’t finish was something I didn’t quite plan out. I was too short to finish painting the walls and no ladder can get me high enough! Now I have a paint stick and am waiting for a paint sale because I’m super worried about going on a spending spree. So my walls have been half painted for almost a year. ( can’t push the furniture around and put a ladder on top, it won’t fit) anyways, that’s the only thing right now that I have to stare at…every day!
            I’m scared to talk to my husband about bipolar. I’m afraid he will think I’m trying to explain everything away. I always admit when I am wrong and apologize when I say or do shitty things and I honesty try hard to prevent doing them again. I swear though, sometimes I feel like a super hero. I’m not the biggest person in the world but I feel like I could pick up the house and run down the street with it. I feel strong and powerful and so full of energy and I can smell things no one else smells and I finish sentences…
            And I wonder why they can’t do that. Why they can’t keep up.
            Why are they tired?
            Are they really angry at me for being like this or am I imagining this?
            I said I was sorry for the stuff I did a long time ago and never repeated it. In 16 years I have run the house and except for my crazy brain and erratic moods and having to keep going to the doctor, I do everything alone. I set up my alarms to tell me when to pay my bills, take my meds, get up in the morning. I made a list of my wellness plan. I mark my calendar of my appointments. My husband called me Jekyll and Hyde. He says he doesn’t want to know anything. So there is a sort of generic support group at the mental hospital in town here. I was afraid to go because I was locked up there once, it’s a scary place and every where you go in there they lock the door behind you. Even if you just go to visit someone. Im gonna go see what it’s like. Maybe they use a different room.

          • Dennis says:

            You’re welcome, Tess! You know they make telescoping paint rollers, right? And there are some rollers where, inside the handle, there is a screw thread so you can just take the head off a broom and screw it onto a broom handle so that short people can do their painting. Unless you’re talking cathedral style ceilings or something. Unless that’s what you meant by “paint stick,” in which case disregard that! 🙂

            It’s really unfortunate that your husband doesn’t want to be a part of it. It is so much easier on both halves of the relationship if they are working together to manage the issue, which is pretty much true of any trials and tribulations that a couple may face. Looking into the support thing at the local place sounds like a good idea though. Hopefully they do use a different room. I can understand your fear and trepidation with it though. Perhaps if you looked at it as a measure to avoid ever being locked there against your will again? Management and additional support will help you maintain your stability on a longer term, more consistent basis; which will also help you stay stable enough to stay out.

            Overall, it sounds like you have a very healthy perspective on your mental wellness and management though. And that is very good to hear. Keep up the great work!

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi Dennis,

    This blog has been helpful to me. I just discovered it- I am up in the middle of the night sad and worried sick about my marriage. I have been w my husband 16 years- married for 7. We have 2 small kids. He was diagnosed as bipolar in college after a severe unchecked manic episode went on for months. This was 2 years before we met. He suffered another episode about 9 years ago- before we married and it just required an ER trip, a shot, therapy and he was back to himself in a couple of months. Since then he’s had about 2 or 3 “flare ups”- spending exorbitant amts of $$$, taking a woman in a date in another city and hiring a prostitute to masturbate for him. With these flare ups I’ve been able to – with the help of his family- get him to see he’s off track with meds (depakote 500mgs- even though dr prescribes him 750mgs), sleep, etc. he usually sees this and gets back on track w some help.
    I’m no perfect partner- I’ve learned (in the midst of this crisis) that my overwhelming fear of losing our family causes me to very controlling and non-trusting Of him. He has often spoken over the years of feeling he had no voice and everything always went how I wanted it to.
    So, our current crisis is worse than anything we have experienced. He (who has been faithful outside of the flare up one time incidents) has started a full on affair with someone. He stared staying out all night late last year (about 10 times) which caused terrible arguing with us. I gave him ultimatums (even though I never really wanted to end things) and made a comment once that if he didn’t want to be with me let me go now while I’m still young enough to find someone (I said this totally to get his attention and make him change his behaviors- definitely do not have a desire to do this). Somewhere in there the affair started. He does not know I know. A few weeks ago he talked about taking a possibly separating- the spark he had for me is gone- we are no longer connected- things are boring with us. I have looked at his bank records and see he’s spending a ton of money on delivery food for them and he spends about $30 at a liquor store each night he goes to her place. He’s off his meds. He does not seem full on manic – it’s weird. He’s a little keyed up sometimes, but he’s staying at her place later and later each morning- brushing off work and is becoming nonresoonsive to family. He has his own very stressful law practice and also suffered the loss of a close friend just 2 weeks ago.
    Tonight we revisited our discussion and he draws it back to my comment about letting me go while I’m young and how he wants to be happy and he’s miserable with me. I told him I very much want to work it out and I understood his frustration with me. He says he’s not sure he wants to work it out/ just a small part of him does- mainly for the kids.
    I do not know what to do- I’m feeling terrible, losing weight and not sleeping. I want to shake him back into himself, but he thinks he’s fine. I told him I was concerned about him not taking meds and he’s showing signs that he has in the past of being off balance. His family is trying to help with things but he’s annoyed with them. His dad and I went to his therapist today and he found out and was very pissed.
    Ultimately, what can I do? It’s never been this bad before. I still want my marriage but it seems he may love this woman or at the very least enjoy her company way more than mine. The heavy drinking with her, the high spending and him not being on meds scare me. Have I lost him? And if so how in the world am I going to deal with this?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Michelle. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Before I dive into this with my thoughts, how long has he been off his medication? Also, are you seeing a therapist or doctor yourself? If you’re losing weight and can’t sleep from the stress, then you really should be talking to a professional about those things as well. That kind of anxiety can do significant damage to your health; which you don’t need on top of everything else right now.

      • Michelle says:

        Thanks, Dennis. Yes, I saw a therapist today. He is calling my primary care physician to get me on Lexapro for a little while- I’ve never taken anything before but I am not doing well and need some relief. For my husband- I’m not 100% sure. I do know for sure for the last week or two it’s been no meds at all. Prior to that- it was sporadic for a while, like 500mgs every 3 or 4 days maybe for the last few months. Here and there maybe a couple of days in a row, but not daily. And FYI- his friend and colleague that died suddenly was a young, single guy with a heart condition (diagnosed a year ago) was very charismatic that partied hard. He had a very strong seize the day, don’t let anything tie you down kind of lifestyle. He also had a lot of musician friends and clients. I noticed late last Year my husband had this thing going with “is this what I want for my life? All these limitations? it’s most important to be happy” kind of thing.

  10. Michelle says:

    Hi Dennis,
    I thought I would throw in an update while you are thinking through this. I did confirm that he is having an affair with a 25 year old self described ‘muse’. I also found a packet of cocaine in his wallet. He was always anti drugs- except for marijuana. I am extremely alarmed and want to intervene. He’s an attorney- and this is reckless. Of course I am devastated about this affair- but, I do believe he is not well. He still does not know I know. But, he’s acting even keeled for the most part. We are in The car on the way for a family trip as I type. He’s told me he doesn’t really think he wants to give it another try with me – only a small part of him wants to for the kids. If he had a friend leaving his wife and kids for a 25 year – he would have been the first one to tell them they’re crazy and would try to help.
    His mom will be in town in a few days. He has emotionally shut me out, but I think his mom could help to open his eyes to at least take medication. How should we approach? This affects our kids, his career, how aggressive should we be? He’s acting ‘normal’ around most people- he’s just escaping and drinking a bottle of liquor, smoking weed and apparently snorting coke now every other day staying with this woman so I know this is not the real him. He’s not as attentive to his work either. He’d never jeopardize things like this and I’m surprised how quickly he’s seemed to let me go. How do you think we should approach/intervene? How do I and/or his mother address the affair? He was already extremely pissed to learn that his dad and I visited the family therapist without his knowledge- and said he felt ambushed. And can he be cycling not if I’m not seeing traditionally manic behavior? FYI- he’s still it taking meds.
    Your blog is very well written and has been a calming force for me as I grapple with how to handle this.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Michelle. Pretty much any kind of confrontation has the potential to go badly. I think, were I in your situation, I would bring the mother up to speed and see what can be done about conversing with him about the situation. And both of you had better be prepared to deal with the resulting anger that is probably going to deal with it. Being that he’s a lawyer, the best approach is probably going to be direct and factual.

      But, I would also like to point something out that may be difficult for you. Have you considered that he may not actually be manic? People who are manic don’t tend to be unsure about their course of action. Most of the time, it’s FUCK YES THIS IS THE BEST IDEA I’VE EVER HAD; without any real due consideration to the fallout of the situation. But your husband has mentioned that a “small part of him would want to for the kids.” I wouldn’t expect that from a manic person. I would also expect him to be a hell of a lot less civil with you as well if he was manic. You would be the focus of whatever his negative manic symptoms happen to be. Granted, I’m not there, I don’t know him, and I can’t see him.

      Yeah, the drug use is cause for concern. So is quitting the medication. And maybe he is mildly manic. But, what you’re describing could also be explained by someone who does want to end the relationship that they are in. You mention that he’s never felt like he really had a voice in the relationship, and you stated that you’ve never felt you’ve been able to trust him, thus maintaining an iron-clad grip. So, it makes at least a little sense in my mind that he would find someone like a “self-described muse”, someone you would associate with being free-spirited, an attractive choice. Same with the drugs and the alcohol.

      I feel like you should steel yourself for worse case scenario, Michelle. Everyone has limits. Maybe he finally reached his. Or, maybe he’s manic. Either way, direct and to the point and dealing with the fallout is probably going to be the only you can go about it. Because if he is manic, you can pretty much expect a lot of rage from “getting in his business” given his response to you and his dad talking to his therapist. So, be prepared for that as well.

      Thank you for the kind words on my blog. I’m glad you’ve found it helpful in this difficult time, Michelle.

  11. Michelle says:

    Whew! Ok, a little in shell shock, but I do appreciate the information. So, you think the over spending and alcohol use could moreso be just how someone could act having an affair (not necessarily manic)? Also could a bipolar person be unwell and acting mostly normal. Meaning- could mania or depression mask as something else? Thanks again!

    • Dennis says:

      Yeah, that’s essentially what I’m thinking. It’s very common for mentally ill people to self-medicate. I’ve known a lot of Bipolar people who would use cocaine or another upper when they were depressed to bring themselves up. And a lot of people use alcohol (a downer) to either temper hypomania/mania or just numb themselves them completely. Could a Bipolar person be unwell and acting mostly normal? Yeah. But for the situation you’re describing, I feel like it would be a REALLY slim chance.

      Your husband is off his meds. Your husband is engaging in substance abuse. These are two things that typically have a drastic affect on a Bipolar person’s stability. Then, you add on an affair and whatever emotions are associated with that. The potential for a major life change with the loss of his family unit. And whatever he feels towards you. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder. It’s rooted in how drastically it warps and screws with emotions to the point where it causes delusion. All of these things are major emotional things. And your husband is off meds and presumably engaging in substance abuse. He’s acting far too mild, far too methodically for someone who is in a manic cycle.

      Manic excessive spending isn’t money at the liquor store and take out. It’s “let’s go to Vegas tonight, I’ll pay!” It’s “of course I’ll buy you that $2000 necklace you like! I love you, baby!” It’s “sure, take my credit card and get whatever you need!”

      In a situation like you’re describing, I would have already expected a Manic spouse to be “madly in love” with the person they are having an affair with and probably moved in with them. It’s not usually a long, drawn out process because it’s mental illness. The fact that he’s still expressing “a small part of him wants to try and fix it for the kids” would be very uncharacteristic for mania. For a manic person, it would be “I’m madly in love with this new person. My spouse/family is the source of my misery. Bye.” Especially with someone like your husband who is a lawyer and actually has the resources to leave.

      With that in mind, could I be wrong? Absolutely.

      I don’t know the guy and I only have your perspective to look at the situation from. Mental illness is full of gray areas. He may be very mildly manic and appearing functional. But from where I sit, and the numerous times I’ve seen and heard situations like you’re describing, I don’t believe he’s even mildly manic. It’s strange that he’s so stable while off meds while going through a situation with a lot of emotion attached to it; but that could be the substance abuse mellowing him out.

  12. Sunny says:

    Wow !!! Dennis , Michelle’s husband sounds as if he’s manic and possibly swinging cycles .

    • Dennis says:

      I can see why she and others would say that. But like I went on to explain in further replies (I’m not sure how many of them you read before posting. The one I wrote this morning further explains my perspective.) I just don’t see it.

      Supporters and loved ones tend to forget that we Bipolar people are certainly capable of having emotions not related to the Disorder as well. And to me, that’s what it seems like. Nothing about what she said suggests the extremes and instability that comes with Rapid Cycling.

      Supporters and loved ones tend to automatically assume that any negative feelings, perceptions, or actions are the result of an unwell cycle. Which is also a major problem because it breeds a great deal of resentment. Angry? “Oh, you’re manic.” Sad? “Oh, you’re depressed.” It’s a minimization of feelings. Like when a man associates a woman’s anger or opinions with being bitchy or PMSy.

      Again, I could be wrong. I only have a limited perspective and Michelle’s perspective. I find it odd that he’s off his medication yet still as stable as she describes. What she’s describing is pretty mild compared to what normally happens when a Bipolar person quits their meds, particularly with his stressful career and the death of his friend on top of it all.

      I mean, it’s also possible that the recent death of his friend has finally nudged him to change a situation where he’s been unhappy for a long time, but staying with it for the benefit of the kids.

      It’s very clear that there is some behavior present that is out of the ordinary for him, as related by Michelle. But, it’s not clear that he’s manic. Because a lot of this behavior could also be attributed to someone who’s reached the end of their rope in living a stressful, tightly controlled life in a relationship where he hasn’t felt trusted.

  13. Mary says:

    My husband was diagnosed as bipolar a year and a half ago. His first manic episode was largely identified because of infidelity, a rapid succession of sexual encounters with prostitutes over the course of three days (100% out of character for him). We worked through that as a couple, and we thought it would never happen again because of the late onset and extreme circumstances/triggers the caused his first manic episode (too long of a story to get into, but in summary– significant sleep deprivation, stress from a severe trauma while in a forgein country, returning to work immediately, all while buying our first home). This feedback was given to us by the psychiatrist and confirmed by our marriage therapist . I found out that it did happen again a year later– again under some more extreme circumstances – he went back to school for a rigorous graduate degree, which caused a great deal of stress. At the time he was only on one mood stabilizer that addressed the depressive symptoms only, because his psychiatrist thought/thinks it’s bipolar 2. We had a year with no mania (but some depression) when he was just working (not in school) and he currently has still a diagnosis of bipolar 2. He became suicidal when the second infidelity happen – he thought that was never possible to happen again. I wonder how realistic it is to move forward together, believing that infidelity won’t happen again/on a regular basis? Especially if he can return to his normal job and manage stress with a routine. The infidelities have been devastating for me emotionally. But I still love him when he’s well. I don’t know if I’m being unrealistic to hope that the infidelities could be something that would never happen again if we organize his life around reducing stress and prioritizing healthy habits. He has taken this very seriously – he’s medicine compliant, went to an outpatient program, has a psychologist etc. He tried taking the mania medication regularly but it had really poor side effects (weight gain, restless leg). The plan right now is for him to have it on an as needed basis, and take it when he feels a manic episode coming. I don’t know if he has the insight into his illness at this point to make that judgment. We are currently separated as I figure out what I want and can handle. I am wondering your thoughts on what a realistic future may be?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Mary.

      1. Who decided it was a good idea for him to take his medication only “when he felt a manic episode coming on”? Because that’s not how most of that medication works and can make his unwell cycles far, far worse. That’s very much something he needs to discuss with his doctor. If he is having side effects he can’t deal with, then he needs to speak to his doctor about trying something else or make lifestyle changes to accommodate those changes. (Ie. Regular diet and exercise to help control weight gain, for example.)

      2. A realistic future is essentially flipping a coin. He can work as hard as humanely possible at being well and still not attain his goals because mental wellness is difficult to attain. Will he ever have such bouts of infidelity again? Hard to say either way. Should you consider that he might? Absolutely, because a plan that doesn’t account for a worse case scenario is just wishful thinking. There’s no reason to suspect it will NEVER happen again.

      Your choice is going to boil down to what you can handle. If his affairs have been emotionally devastating to you and have undermined your ability to trust him, then they have. There’s nothing wrong with that. It can be a very hurtful, difficult thing to deal with. Only you can decide what you are able to deal with.

      So, to recap:

      1. Typically, taking a psych medication only when he feels a manic episode coming on is only going to make his cycles worse, because that’s now how the medication works. Whose idea was that? And if he says it was his doctor’s, I think I would make it a point to attend his next doctor appointment with him so you can ask and hear it from the doctor themselves. (Bearing in mind that I am not a mental health professional of any kind, so there may be extenuating circumstances that I am not aware of. Emergency mood stabilizers are a thing but they aren’t generally used like that.)

      2. You can’t really plan for or against future infidelities. It might happen, it might not. Given your description, it sounds like he’s trying his best. Unfortunately, best isn’t always good enough. I think the best choice is to consider how it’s going to affect you if it does happen again and make your decision based off of that.

    • Tess says:

      Bummer. There is no” as needed” medication I think. At least in my opinion. I tried ” as needed” medication for bipolar mania and , nope, it didn’t work! By the time you think you “feel it coming on” it’s too late. The medicine won’t have time to take any effect, even so there’s probably damage already done.
      The hyper sexuality is one of the hardest and saddest parts of bipolar. It tears up the most loving relationships sometimes. But it doesn’t have to. It’s illness, not him being a jerk! Most times after the mania induced hyper sexual incidents(or months of incidents)the person comes back to his or herself and just is like” I hate myself, why? Why? Why!?!” And then gets suicidal cause they see the pattern and are just sick to death. Literally. Tired, just done. Tired of hurting everyone they love over and over. No matter how hard they try to make it different this time!
      He’s trying. The side effects from the medications are daunting. I had those so I changed meds until I found some side effects I could live with. As for the sex? I treat the opposite sex like heroin. Except my husband:) but every one else is heroin: they are off limits cause one slip and it will kill me, plus I don’t want to see that look of pain on my husband’s face ever again! There’s still stuff on the planet I want to do. To make sure I keep treating them like that I don’t drink alcohol either but I got lucky cause I just can’t tolerate alcohol anymore. That’s probably a good thing:) made me more manic. Nothing worse than a hyper drunk.
      You don’t have to do the whole forgive and forget stuff. Just keep moving forward, just hopefully you guys can do it together since you still love each other. Marriage isn’t all TV pretty. It’s usually pretty messy. Even reality TV is fake. Real life is much harder but still has it’s cool moments:)

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks for the insight, Tess. The perspective you gave here is valuable.

        • Tess says:

          Welcome 🙂 sorry if I just blurted it out I just do that a lot! All the time. I hope the best for them.

      • Mary says:

        Thank you Dennis and Tess for your insight. What you said about preparing for the worst to possibly happen in the future and deciding what I can live with is particularly helpful. I have the time while we are separated to consider this, and I really appreciate your realistic description.

        As far as the meds, he has been told by 3 different psychiatrists that he can do this PRN/take as needed thing. I was present at the first appt when the first psychiatrist recommended adding this to his regimen but only as needed. He does take 2 other meds every day (lamotrigine and gabapentin). Maybe their recommendation is based on his presentation: manic episodes are relatively mild (minus the infidelity) with no psychosis, and last only 3-5 days (prior to us intervening)?

        • Mary says:

          To clarify– it is a third med (zyprexa) that he is supposed to take as needed. The other two he takes all of the time. His psychiatrist added this third med after the second manic episode, and I think the reason she did that was that she still thinks his presentation is more bipolar 2, so he may not need zyprexa all of the time. I was there at this appt. His plan is to start taking it if/when he starts sleeping poorly or not at all, bc that is a big trigger/warning sign. He recognizes that the effects of the mania are worse than the side effects of the meds.

        • Tess says:

          i take gabapentin too everyday. I used to take lamictal..but that side effect for females at least, was my undoing. but the gabapentin has been lifesaving, we are still working on the dosage, the psychiatrist and I. But it’s a good one, side effects aren’t “insane”. hopefully not for your husband either!
          Is the other medication or medications, he is allowed to take PRN, is that because the side effects are so bad? The restless leg and weight gain and other things? So the doctors said he is allowed to only take them as needed? Just wondering if one of them might be seroquel or olanzapine( sometimes even lithium) by any chance? Asking because seroquel did the restless every muscle in my body thing to me and I had to stop. And other bipolar meds, one of the side effects in the beginning sometimes is weight gain, but after a few weeks( or months) it stops and plateaus…then you either don’t care or you feel better and start losing it( it happens, really!) But it depends on what state your body is in sometimes. When I was younger, lithium worked, weight gain for a couple months, then it came right off and I was back to normal, mind and body. Ten years later…did not work, mind or body. yes, tried a lot of different things, body sometimes doesn’t like them, brain sometimes doesn’t like them. It’s a process..But never give up hope!

        • Dennis says:

          Well, it’s strange but every situation is different. I’m sure they have a reason for it. And if it is three different psychs saying the same thing, then I would be less likely to conclude that they are ALL making a similar mistake.

          • Tess says:

            I met a man at group who took zprexa twice at different times..he’s bipolar and skinny! I asked him didn’t he have weight trouble? And he said the first time he did, but now the second time, years later, no weight issue at all. Trippy right? A lot of the people in group (It’s not as scary as I thought) have bipolar. Lots of medication issues. The biggest one is to make sure to stay on track with the medication, and keep a sleep log. So you can keep track of your symptoms in time with your sleep. And also, the least amount of stress possible. There’re people there who could be doing high stress jobs, but who aren’t because they know it would trigger the worst mania ever. So they might be making boatloads of money, but they would be paying their lives, their relationships, etc.
            Like bipolar itself doesn’t put enough of a strain on a relationship 🙁
            anyways..those are my observations from group so far..when I can keep my mouth shut for two seconds.

  14. Tess says:

    my kids, two of them, they aren’t bipolar, they are on the autism spectrum but they were going through horrible teenage aggression and they are way bigger than me so their psychiatrists put them on zyprexa…for a year. Anyways, it chilled them out. It really, really chilled them out. They also gain like 60 pounds each, exactly 60 pounds in like 4 months, ( this was not at the same time, they were on it at different times). But after the 4 months, they stopped gaining, they plateaued, and they only stayed on for a year each. They since they are are both pretty smart and verbal, after a while they told me they didn’t like how it made them feel and I told them why they were taking it, so we agreed they could stop. One of them lost the weight. The other one, still has weight problems. They’re in their mid and late 20’s now. But, it did stop a lot of physical damage from happening. I actually decided to call for help after I had to sit on my son when he was 12 cause he was freaking out and I couldn’t talk him down. I got hurt in the process and I realized, he’s bigger than me, this is not going to work!
    So, zyprexa definitely works. I can understand why you’re husband only wants to use it PRN. I’m even too scared to try it. Never tried it. I’ve seen other bipolar people who take it. But I have never taken it. Maybe one day, the pharma companies will tweak the formula and come up with a zyprexa 2 that has all the benefits, and less detrimental side effects. Then it won’t be so scary!

  15. Lou says:

    My partner began a (undiagnosed) manic episode at Christmas 2015. We went away after Christmas and he told me that he didn’t have the same feelings for me anymore. We have a 6 year old and I had become pregnant (both what we wanted) in November 2015.

    My partner, then told me that he was moving out and it was for the best – to figure out what he wanted. He moved to his mother’s. He was calling round in the evening to see our son for an hour after work. I would notice that he would leave and he would constantly be on Whatsapp. I got suspicious. I asked him if he was seeing someone else. He told me that I was crazy for even thinking it.

    He was going out drinking all the time and spending time with people that don’t know him at all. He went out on New Year’s Eve to a big dance night and said it was the best night of his life and left his family at home. He said he didn’t want to spend time with me and my family.

    Fast forward to February and he was coming round and we were getting on really well. One Friday, we decided to watch a film and order a take out. He used an app to order the food and on the check out screen was a woman’s name and address. At this point, I knew he’d been seeing someone else.

    I put my son to bed and then we talked. He started to self harm. He kept punching himself in the face and gave himself a huge black eye and then drove off in his car. I called his mother and she told me when he got home safely.

    He continued the affair and said that it was our relationship that had caused his depression (he has always suffered depression and has in the past 12 years had two other manic episodes – one other being an infidelity that I forgave him for) and I was to blame for everything. He’s said some really hurtful and horrible things. The worst being that he was going to call social services on me as I wouldn’t be able to cope with our son and our daughter (when she arrives) and that he was going to say some really dreadful things about my family and anything else he could throw at them.

    He’s also said that if I ever get with anyone else, he’ll stop any payments to me. He hates me as I went to the CSA to sort out a payment plan for our child(ren) as his spending had become so reckless (we don’t have lots of money, but on investigation, he was spending money on hotels and lavish restaurants with this other woman).

    He recently broke his leg and relies on me making sure that he gets to see his son. If it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t see him as he says he misses him, but doesn’t sort out solutions to see him while he can’t drive.

    He moved in with the other woman at the beginning of April – they’re both renting a house together. Before that, she was living with a friend and he was living at his mum’s. I guess he spent most of his time at his new woman’s house. He was mad that I moved all his stuff into the garage.

    He told me that he wanted my son to meet the new woman. I told him to think about carefully and if he wanted to, it could happen. He replied ‘Are you serious?’. I said yes, as it was going to happen at some point. He then replied saying that he can see now that I’m going to make things extremely awkward for him to see his kids. I’d just said that he could introduce his son to this woman and I’m being told I’m being awkward? He will argue for argues sake.

    I try to ignore most of his messages, but then he gets annoyed that I don’t reply.

    He’s told me that if I ever get with anyone religious, he will seek child custody of his kids as that would be classed as child abuse. He has accused me of seeing other people when I’m pregnant, because I was putting make-up on one day when he called round to see our son.

    He has said that he hates my nephew, but then recently sent him a birthday card signed from him and my son.

    He keeps asking me if we can get along for the kids and that he wants to create a nice and friendly atmosphere for them, but in the next message he will tell me I’m a manipulative and controlling B&*^%. I ask him to stop the abusive messages, but he says he’s not being abusive.

    There are moments between all this madness that he seems quite rational and I wonder if he’s just moved on, but I am certain this is bi-polar, as I’ve seen these high’s and low’s before, but not on this scale.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It sounds like a very difficult situation you’re facing. Bear in mind that the following information is general knowledge and not specific advice, as I do now know the details of your situation or the specific legalities of where you live. I can only give you general information that you can confirm, deny, or see if it is applicable to you through whatever medical or legal professionals you can access. I’m going to put this in a numbered format because there’s a lot here.

      1. You mention that he had an (undiagnosed) manic cycle. What does that mean exactly? Is it that he is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and a manic cycle got overlooked? Is he totally undiagnosed altogether? If he is diagnosed, what kind of treatment has he undertaken or is undertaking?

      2. You mention a payment schedule and arrangement through the CSA. If this is ordered by the state, he cannot pick and choose when to start and stop payments. If there is a court order and he refuses to comply, talk to the cops and/or legal counsel about the matter to force compliance. He does NOT get that choice. Same goes for visitation rights. This can differ and may change depending on local laws. You should look for professional advice on the matter. Either way, it is very unlikely that he has the choice to just not pay child support.

      3. Again, you should see what your legal responsibilities are for visitation with the son. Most people in your situation will generally go farther, often too far, to make sure their children sees the other parent. The unfortunate reality is this gives an abusive or toxic individual a great deal of leverage or control over you. You should find out what your legal responsibility is and go no further than that. If he wants to see his son, then he can put forth the effort.

      4. Make him get his shit out of your home. A lot of people like him will try to keep one foot in, one foot out; and a lot of times they do it by claiming they don’t have any place to put it. Tell him to get a rental storage unit. Him still having his stuff there also gives him an easy way to step in and out of your life at his convenience. “Oh, well I just need one item. I’ll be over to get it at 6.” Then you sit around and wait, he doesn’t show, makes excuses; or just shows up out of the blue.

      5. “He’s told me that if you ever get with anyone religious, he will seek custody of his kids as that would be classed as child abuse.” Cute assertion, but entirely false. In fact, that would be a good thing for you, because it would demonstrate to the courts that he is unstable and trying to manipulate the system.

      6. If ever he starts self-harming, being violent, or threatening to you again; do your best to get to safety first, then notify authorities. That kind of behavior is not something to be underestimated, overlooked, or forgotten about.

      7. His threat to call children’s services on you is misinformed blustering. The state is not going to take your kids away just because you’re a single mother. I would highly recommend that you call your local agency and talk to them immediately. Inform them of the situation that you are facing, ask if they have any advice for you on handling it, and see if they can start a file or something where a note can be left in your file of the situation you’re dealing with. Now, in most states (if not all), they are legally required to investigate any allegations made. So if they show up at your door about it, don’t be afraid or intimidated. Treat it like you would any other situation and let them do their thing, see what the situation is for themselves. Now, the other major point is that it is illegal in many states to make false reports to children’s services. So you want to ensure you understand your legal rights and options.

      8. I would highly suggest that you look into local charities and organizations that help women in abusive relationships. They may be able to connect you with additional, relevant information to your situation, point you at affordable or charity legal counsel, and help you deal with the situation.

      9. Document. EVERYTHING. You will want to double check what the legal ramifications are of recording information in your statement, something else a lawyer or organization can likely advise you of. Have a smart phone? Look into phone apps that will let you record calls and export text message conversations. Let him bluster all he wants about whatever he wants, compile it and keep it for a rainy day. You do not want to enter a he said/she said situation. Evidence trumps hearsay. But again, you need legal counsel to ensure it can’t be contested if it hits a courtroom.

      10. Now, assuming that this is all a result of a severe manic cycle. He may eventually crash out of this and try to come back to you. It wouldn’t shock me if it happens. If it does, do NOT just forgive and let him back in. You need to decide if you’re willing to forgive the shit that’s gone on, that’s something only you can decide. But if you do, you MUST established limits and boundaries and enforce them. In relationships like yours, I’ve commonly seen mandatory rules like. “You must attend your doctor/therapy/support appointments and take your medication as directed. You may not keep anything relating to it hidden away from me. If you do not, you can’t stay here.”

      11. Do your best to avoid getting sucked into arguments with him. You won’t win. Ever. Toxic individuals will just turn it around and use anything you say as ammunition against you. If he’s going to get annoyed and rant, well just more evidence for your files. You typically cannot rationalize with someone in severe mania. There’s no point in trying. It will just end up draining your own emotional reserves dry.

      12. Do not give him any more information than he absolutely needs to have. Silence is a powerful tool and can give you a great upper hand in dealing with the situation. Do not make decisions based on what you think might help him later. I’ve seen a lot of women in your position not want to separate or pursue child support; and wind up completely screwed because mental illness and/or toxic people don’t play fair. You’re going to hate the way he treats you, he acts towards the kids. All you can really do is weather the storm and do your best to not let his bullshit damage you and your children any further.

      And if he drops out of the cycle later, deal with that if and when it ever comes. It really doesn’t matter if he’s the greatest guy in the world when he’s well if he’s toxic while he’s in a manic cycle. You have to be equipped to deal with and survive the toxic mania first and foremost.

      You’re going to need legal assistance. Look into local organizations that help women in abusive relationships. You can also call local county offices and they can usually provide you with relevant 800 numbers. Talk to children’s services before he gets the opportunity to start filing complaints.

      And a reminder, I am not a professional of any sort. These are just things I’ve seen play out over and over as well as solutions that I’ve known people to use on a regular basis for these problems.

      • Lou says:

        Hi Dennis

        Thank you for your reply. It is really appreciated. I am in the UK, so appreciate some of my ramblings might be UK specific. Sorry about that.

        I’ll try and reply to you as best I can.

        1. You mention that he had an (undiagnosed) manic cycle. Yes, he went from being severely depressed, to what I can only describe as manic. He went off spending money like it was going out of fashion, he turned against me – hates me in fact. He hooked up this another woman, blames me for his depression as he’d not depressed anymore. He’s always suffered from depression and has 2 other episodes that I can only describe as manic. The first was 4 years into our relationship, when he was training to become a teacher. The stress was too much for him. He’d be crying, staying up all night to get work completed. He then went from this state to detaching from me completely. He said he’d found new friends that really understood him and spent as much time away from me as possible. We’d also just bought a place together. He said he wasn’t sure he wanted to be with me. 2nd episode was 8 years into our relationship. Again, he made new friends. Got involved with taking drugs, hated me, but didn’t leave the home. By August, he went on holiday for what was supposed to be 1 week and turned into 2 weeks with his new ‘friends’. He took out pay day loans to fund it and spent a lot of money on booze and drugs. When he returned, he confessed that he’d been seeing another woman, but he had come to his senses. He said he didn’t know what happened to him. This is completely out of character for him. He said that he didn’t even like this woman and he didn’t understand his motives.
        At this stage, we went to a GP and he just gave him antidepressants. I was furious and I wanted the GP to refer him to a psychologist, but he thought I was being over the top and all it was, was depression. I begged the doctor, but he refused.

        Fast forward to 12 years into our relationship and at the same time as the other 2 episodes (winter time), he declares he doesn’t know what he wants and then hooks up with a work colleague. This time though, they’ve moved in together in the space of a couple of months of knowing each other and we have a 6 year old and one on the way.

        So, he’s not diagnosed as it’s really hard to get access in the UK to a proper psychologist for dignosis and he doesn’t see that he has a problem at the moment.

        In between these episodes I’ve described, he is mostly depressed, but I also see times when he’s his normal self.

        2. You mention a payment schedule and arrangement through the CSA – Yes, this is government run scheme to help with childcare payments where there is some kind of contention. I didn’t actually want to do this as my ex isn’t mean when it comes to money, but I needed to protect myself as I didn’t want him to turn around and say he couldn’t afford to pay me after a spending spree, but also when he said he was going to contact social services, he also told me that he couldn’t pay any money to me for our son because I was being awkward and he needed it for a solicitor to gain access to his son. I’ve never stopped him seeing his son.

        3. I have a meeting with a solicitor and citizens advice bureau to gain some clarity on what I am legally obliged to do. After the weekend, I realise I really need this. I took my son to his grandma’s this weekend, so my ex could see him as he’s still not able to drive. He decided to introduce the other woman to my son, although subtly, it didn’t work. My son knew that his ‘friend’ was his new girlfriend and came home extremely upset. The OW apparently only stayed 10-15 mins, but in that time, she gave my son an Xbox game he’s wanted, saying she’s had it ages, but didn’t want it anymore and did he want it. When we got home and I was getting my son ready for bed, he asked me if daddy’s new friend was his girlfriend and basically answered his own question as I was frozen to the spot and didn’t know how to answer. He then said that daddy had lied to him. He said he’d never leave and he has. He was sobbing and made himself sick.

        I then asked my ex what had happened and I asked him to be a little more considerate of his feelings and how perceptive he is.

        He turned around and blamed me for telling him, which I didn’t do. I asked him to make arrangements for next Saturday and rather than putting his mother in an awkward situation where she has to deal with me and the other woman, I would drop my son with my sister as she is around the corner from where they live and he could collect him from there. I also asked him to make arrangements for the school holidays (traditionally as a teacher, he has always had him every school holiday). He’s now refused to see him this Saturday or in the school holidays as he doesn’t want to be responsible for breaking my son’s heart. He can, however, still make it to band practice (a hobby of his is playing guitar).

        4. All his stuff has been removed from the house, with the exception of an amp and cab and his gran’s cardigan that he treasures as she’s passed away (he wanted me to keep at the house until he got sorted).

        7. His threat to call social services frightened me that much, that I spoke to my midwife as I was scared that they would find out and deem me an unfit mother (I am also seeing a counsellor – so that might go against me). The midwife referred me to a local charity who called me and helped. As my ex is a teacher, I didn’t want social services involved as it could affect his job and then when I go on Maternity leave I would have no money from him, if he lost his job. I am also meeting the midwife and the health visitor next week to discuss plans for when the baby is born.

        9. I do try to document everything and I try to keep everything to a message or email. Talking with him on the phone just turns into a battle of contradiction and I struggle with it.

        10. This is what I’m not sure of… is this actually a manic cycle or is he just so riddled with guilt he’s projecting his guilt onto me. There is a clear pattern in how he’s behaved and when he’s come down from what I would only describe as a manic cycle, he goes into a deep depression and is really remorseful for what he’s done and hates himself. If he does come down, which I predict he will, I am not sure that this other woman will give him up that easily as she seems extremely needy, self absorbed and insecure to hook up with a man who has cheated and is aware that he’s cheated on me and is willing to continue, breaking a 12 year relationship where there is a 6 year old involved and another on the way. I’m not sure if I would take him back. This is the 2nd time he’s cheated and it’s gone so far. He keeps telling me that he’ll regret what he’s done in 6 months and at that point, I’ll have moved on.

        11. I do try not to get sucked into arguments and I was doing quite well. On Saturday morning, he wanted an argument. He messaged me to ask me to ask our son if he wanted to see him today. If I’d have asked that to my 6 year old, he’d have thought of all sorts of other places he’d like to go, simply because at the moment, as my ex’s leg is in a cast, there’s not much they can do together, so I didn’t get drawn into that. I just replied that he would see him at 11am as planned. He replied ‘That’s nice’. Later on, he asked me to collect our son as he was bored. I was in the cinema and just simply replied ‘I will collect at 6pm as I’m at the cinema’. He replied that he was bored and wanted to home NOW, but enjoy the cinema.’ He wants me available at any time when he’s had enough to collect my son and I want to be able to have a day when I can do something for myself.

        12. I am doing the silent treatment and it is driving him mad. I get messages like ‘Arraggghhh. Why are you ignoring me?’ I only discuss our son and the sale of our home.

        It is so hard. He hasn’t really acknowledged the pregnancy, apart from to ask if he can see the baby when she’s born and to tell me that I’m going to be controlling and manipulative with our children and continue to take money off him for the kids. I’ve done nothing but be accommodating considering the circumstances. He has had a rage because I’ve come up with a name that he doesn’t like. He liked the name before this all happened and we’d agreed. I also wanted our daughter’s middle name to be his gran’s name as we both adored his gran. He asked me not to do this as his gran didn’t like her name. I did say that I wasn’t sure if the baby would have my last name or his. I want it to be mine as he’s been absent this whole time and showed very little interest. He hit the roof over this, which I understand, but what does he expect?

        I really appreciate your response and I hope that this gives you a little more insight into what has been going on.

        • Dennis says:

          Don’t worry about the UK ramblings! I’ve talked to quite a few people from across the pond.

          1. That certainly sounds like Bipolar behavior. Next time he surface to sanity, if you’re still talking and interacting with him, he needs to do whatever he can within his power to get in to see a psych. It’s unfortunate that first doctor made the choices that they did. Such a small thing with such severe and devastating repercussions.

          2. You need to check into your local laws about support enforcement. It doesn’t matter what he says or what hardships he is facing, at least in the States. In the States, if a person does not comply with court ordered child support, they are in Contempt of Court. I imagine the UK probably has similar protections in place. Call your local agency and talk to them about it. Don’t bother trying to rationalize with him while he’s unstable, you won’t get anywhere and it’ll just cause you more pain and misery. I know you didn’t want to do it, no one in your position ever does. But you have to do what you have to do for the well-being of the youngins.

          3. Glad to hear you have those meetings. Neutral third parties can help you through this situation a great deal. It’s unfortunate the effect it is going to have on the kids. I wish I had something useful to say on that, but I don’t. Just know that I know it’s a terrible situation and I sympathize with you and your children on it.

          (You seem to have skipped or cut out a couple numbers here!)

          7. I don’t feel right commenting much on this because I don’t know the UK’s systems at all. All I can say is, for context, in the US, they wouldn’t look at going to counseling as a problem at all because it means you’re actively working towards fixing or addressing a situation. So long as the kids are cared for and safe, that’s all they really care about.

          10. What you’re describing is consistent with a severe manic cycle. I imagine that when he crashes it’s not going to be pretty. She can hang on all she wants, but given the length of your relationship and how happy he was with being a dad and all before, he should return to somewhere around the same mental state once he finally crashes out. Operative word being “should.” There’s always details and other considerations. But if it is Bipolar Disorder and it is a manic cycle, there’s a pretty significant chance he won’t feel a thing for her once he crashes.

          11. Yeah, don’t let him dictate your time or actions. That’s a very common manipulation technique.

          12. Limiting communication is going to be best for you. I really don’t have anything to comment on relating to the naming and all; that’s something you need to decide for yourself how you want to handle it. But, given his mental state and actions, I wouldn’t expect him to be fine with or okay with anything.

          You’re very welcome on the response! And it does.

  16. Ashley says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I’m having a really hard time right now. My husband is 29 and I have no idea what’s going on. We’ve been together for ten years and married two years.
    Six years ago he went into a major depression for a month and a half where he wasn’t able to get out of bed. He talked about how he was reflecting on his life and how he wanted to go on a road trip to visit people. Some triggers were his dad having open heart surgery, him finding out his mom was getting married and graduate school. We got him to a therapist who diagnosed him with severe anxiety and his PCP put him on Zoloft.
    Fast forward to four months ago. We were just talking about starting our own family and he wanted to come off of the Zoloft – come to find out later that he just quit cold turkey because we were both agreed to ween him off because he said he felt cloudy. Some stressors were I was trying to encourage him to advance his career and find a job that paid more money, his dad again has to have major heart surgery and may not survive, and his mother wants a divorce.
    Three months ago I remember he told me that he felt great, never felt so alive that when he was driving he saw smoke and everything was so clear. He was running 13 miles a day because he wanted to train for the marathon, a lot of energy and hyper sexual.
    I should also say we’ve always seen a therapist together; to deal with issues from my past and our relationship – he never wanted to help me with finances or he would blame me and tell me that he didn’t take a job because he felt like I as unwell. Looking back at things he really scripted a lot to be directed at me and blamed me.
    A couple months ago I brought up the fact that I felt like he was become emotionally attached to a 22 year old who student taught with him. He was researching like crazy ailments that she “might” have and sending it to her – he even asked me to research a doctor for her. He would be late to work because he picked her up on the way and he would be late picking me up because he would drive her home, text her all the time and email her long passages about how he was so impressed with her. In therapy he was able to convince my therapist that it was me not him where my therapist told me that “normal women are not concerned about these issues.”
    Intimacy was different – he wanted me to punch him in the face?
    For two weeks prior to him telling me he wanted a divorce he told his friends that he had told me about the young girl. I found out because he went to stay with his friend and I saw an email to his mom about her and how she encouraged him to go talk about divorcing me. Enraged he drove through the night – an hour – to see her for maybe 5 minutes at 2am and then at 6am came home and collapsed on me and told me that he doesn’t trust me and I betrayed him. That I could ruin his career because of my false accusations. He told me that I’m too strong for him and he’s too weak. I deserve better than him. He asked me if I cheated on him. Told me that he kept having reoccurring dreams that he was looking for me and couldn’t find me. Finally he told me that he loved and cared about me but wasn’t in love with me.
    A couple days past by and he wanted to talk again. We went to dinner and he told me we would be intimate later that night and was acting normal for five minutes. He disappeared to the bathroom and came out and was not the same. He just kept shoving food into his mouth without any eye contact. We went home and he shut me off completely. Wanted his own space. He sat me down and told me he hasn’t been in love with me for ten years, he used me to fill a void in his parents divorce, he had to go onto medication to propose to me and that he felt like he had to marry me and that he discovered all of this because he wanted to figure out how his parents divorce affected him before we had kids and he realized that he didn’t know what true love was but it wasn’t me. The thing is I know all about how his parents divorce has affected him.
    He slept in the guest room and I slept in our room. He woke up in the middle of the night crying hysterically to the point where I had to comfort him. He slept in the same bed as me that night like normal times.
    I went to work, he picked me up and said that we should talk at home. Something switched in him in a matter of ten minutes and he told me he had to go back to work. In the car I told him that I guess I had to let him go but I believed that we were meant to be and I would wait for him to catch up.
    He called me at 3am to pick me up because he had a flight to see his dad in another state. I packed his bag and he told me that he didn’t know where our relationship stood but he loved and cared about me and that when he came back we would celebrate our two year anniversary. I confronted him about the email and he convinced me that “she” was anyone. All day while he was gone he was texting me like he normally did – I love you, I miss you, everything will be okay baby.
    The next day didn’t sit well with me cause he wasn’t texting me. I found an email he sent to her where he professes his love for her and says that she’s his true love. The sentences are not of a coherent person – restraining order, hiv/AIDS cure and a lot of made up stuff about him that I would have known for ten years of being next to him every night for those ten years.
    I ended up texting his friend and told her that he would have to find his own way home from the airport. He was upset that I found the email. He never came home. He has a layover in Chicago. He spent $5500 in a week on a car and hotel rooms. He drove all night from Chicago to Pennsylvania (where she is temporarily) then paid cash for a hotel room in Pennsylvania so he wasn’t tracked there. He kept driving up to a New Jersey hotel and back to see her. This actually was during our two year anniversary. He texted me that he never had or would have an affair or cheat on me. His feelings have just changed and it’s not fair for either of us if that’s the case. There’s no remorse. He told me that I’m emotionally dead to him. He has only said once “hope you are well” other than that it’s him continuously telling me that he is not cheating on me.
    So when he finally came back he told his friends he was crazy and agreed to see a therapist. Well our joint therapist is awful and told him to go see someone else and call his PCP to check in his Zoloft and gave him the crisis number and a psychiatrist number with bipolar written on it.
    He keeps saying that this divorce will be fast and amicable so he can be with her (I only know this because his friends tell me).
    He also thinks he’s a hero because he tells his friends he hasn’t touched her.
    He left the duffle bag at our house for me to see. In it is her name written over and over again in marker and on construction paper. There’s some profanity on there. He plays hangman and it’s a women smiling. He writes her name and her boyfriends name and then crosses it out. I know she was with him because there’s handwriting that is joy his and I know it’s hers. Also, while he was gone he got another cellphone and is carrying around two phones now – like a double life. Also, in the duffle there’s “strategies to get with her” “our divorce and how my family can better me” “don’t get mad get even; severe anxiety and hospitalized” I think he wanted me to go through this and find everything.
    She broke up with her boyfriend and he drove all the way down to Pennsylvania to be with her for the day and then drove all the way back to go to work the next day (6hours from where we live)
    I went home and he left pubic hair in both our upstairs and downstairs bathrooms – this isn’t the man I love, the man I love is really OCD and clean and tidy.
    He’s been sleeping in the basement and moved some of his clothes downstairs.
    We have not seen each other since I packed his bag for his adventure.
    He keeps trying to talk to me, I’m just trying to preserve the man that I was in love with for ten years because he’s gone right now.
    Now, he’s telling his friends that he’s sane and even got his PCP to write him a note stating that he is mentally sane.
    I think he’s living with her.
    He’s been emailing me like we’re business partners, not his normal, goofy lovable self. His friends say that he seems to be acting coherent and functioning normally but they know he’s not him. He’s pushed two of his friends and his aunt and uncle away because they told him to get help.
    He thinks he’s going to save me from my past by dealing with it and apparently save this 22 year old from anyone who has hurt her. He also thinks that I’m the crazy one.
    I am so lost right now. His dad is going to have surgery in a few weeks. Is he manic or just wanted to leave me?
    If he is manic will he crash soon? He’s going on four months now. I just want to help him but I’m hurting so much inside. If he is manic I hope his dad’s surgery will make him crash – he told me he doesn’t need his dad and that he’s his own man. He idolizes his father and considers him his best friend.
    I’m torn, maybe he just wants to be with this 22 year old who he says believes in him because I’m a realist and pushed for financial security for us to have a family. So, maybe it’s me that’s at fault? I am seeing a therapist to help me through this.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Ashley. The kind of behavior you’re describing could easily be attributed to instability related to Bipolar Disorder. This isn’t your fault. A person with Bipolar Disorder can trigger off of about anything; ranging from a great deal of stress to it raining outside. Just depends on where their mind is at and how volatile the person is.

      I wouldn’t expect his dad having surgery to force a crash. In fact, I would lean the opposite way. I would expect it to cause more instability. Think of it like throwing gasoline on a fire. How long can this last? IT’s really not possible to say. He could crash tomorrow. If he refuses to accept he has a problem and won’t talk to a doctor about it or take meds for it; months or more, depending on other factors like if he’s engaging in substance abuse or misusing medication. There are so many factors that could be affecting him at this point, or in the future, so you can’t really plan on when he might crash.

      All you can really do is wait, and work to minimize the damage he can do to you and your life until that times arrives. If you have joint accounts, I would really recommend that you form your own bank accounts and separate your finances as much as possible so he can’t frivolous spend it. If he does a 180 and starts talking family and children, definitely hold off on that as well. If he refuses to see he has a problem and won’t get help for it, he could be on this rollercoaster for a very long time.

      Hopefully he will crash before he does something like files for divorce, but you should definitely work with your therapist to prepare for the eventuality that it may occur.

      In looking at this, it seems like you’re venting off and just trying to paint a clear picture. There isn’t a whole lot I would comment on here, other than what you’re describing certainly sounds like a typical hypomanic cycle. And by typical, I’m not trying to diminish what you’re going through and feeling. I just mean that it’s a very common scenario I hear on a regular basis.

      • Ashley says:

        Thank you Dennis for your input. I really do appreciate it. He has already started trying to divide our bank accounts and is emailing me every single transaction he is making. So mentally I’m preparing for him to file for divorce.
        It is so hard to see the man that I love drown like this. All I want to do is be there for him but I know I can’t because he doesn’t want me.
        I really appreciate your input. It’s very hard because my family does not understand mental health and thinks that he is making all of this up.

        • Dennis says:

          Well, that’s better than him straight cleaning you out and bailing, which is often how those things work out.

          I know it’s very hard, especially without any meaningful support around. It’s very common for family and friends to not understand, especially with as much stigma-based belief and misinformation there is out there about mental illness. You can feel free to reach out any time.

  17. Susan says:

    Many of these stories could be written by me about my past three months. My husband of 20 years seemed depressed this winter. There were a few odd volatile arguments that weren’t resolved – he just lashed out irrationally and it made no sense even when I tried to discuss them with him. He was very affectionate and normal until mid May when he began to swear in front of the kids, kick the dog, and seemed very angry. A few days later he told me he wasn’t in love with me, had no feelings for me, and wasn’t sure he cared about our kids or home (our dream home which we just bought less than two years ago). He began to drink heavily which he had never done and couldn’t seem to even be in the same room with me. Constantly leaving to drive around and coming home late – he was home by 5:30 every night out entire lives. He began to get colder and even his eyes seemed dead. There was no empathy or concern at all for the kids.
    This is a complete 180 from who he was before. Family man, athlete, and would never condone divorce with young children – and even with none! He left on Fathers Day without even speaking to his kids. Fast forward – he has an apartment, a girl he has been seen with, told me he has thoughts in his head that don’t stop, isn’t sleeping, and told someone else he hears voices telling him what he is doing is right. He is pushing for divorce and I’m trying to hold him off. If he is told no about anything he flies into an absolute rage.
    I see signs that he may have had two episodes in our relationship but they were chalked up to cold feet before marriage and possible behavior hange due to endurance training. Both times he seems to “come back” in October. Now I am pretty much sure that he is bipolar and he will not hear that anything is wrong with him. A friend told him he was crazy and he went ballistic and ended the friendship.
    His anger has definitely escalated and he frankly scares me. There is zero emotion. It is bizarre.
    My question is how does mania end? All at once or gradually? Are there signs it’s reached a peak and coming to an end? Does this last months? I guess I need to know how long I need to try to delay the divorce and get him help. He seems hell bent on it and is moving super fast. He won’t get help unless he crashes. I also need to preserve his financial stability for our family. He seems to be still working and is making money and paying our bills.
    Thank you for your reply. Our marriage therapist who we started seeing on my insistence said he felt this was mania. I know you have no definitive answers but an idea of how long this usually goes and how it ends would be so helpful. I do believe he was depressed prior to the mania – will he just even out back to his normal mood then?
    And our marriage truly was fantastic. This has and will come as a complete shock to all that know us.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Susan. The length of an unwell cycle depends on numerous factors that it is really difficult to pin any kind of number to it, because there are undoubtedly factors in his life and body chemistry that are at work as well. For the most part, I’ve only rarely seen a “natural” unwell cycle, that is, one not fueled by substance abuse or extreme stress, last longer than a year. I have seen people in high stress jobs or abusing drugs have them carry on for longer than a year with a great deal of drastic instability along with it.

      Escalated cycles typically end with all of the grace and subtlety of a freight train hitting a mountain at full speed. For most people, it’s like a light switch turning off with a severe crash that comes with it. However, it is worth noting, that if it is Bipolar Disorder, cycles aren’t always clean. He can cycle down to a deep low but spike back upwards due to instability. Again, there’s no real way to know how things will go.

      Plus, unwell cycles tend to get longer and more intense as a person gets older, because the mental illness causes damage in the sections of the brain it affects. So this episode may be or look more intense than previous ones. I’ve known quite a few people who had very mild cycles for most of their lives, largely attributed to things like anger issues or “just not being a happy person” who were eventually diagnosed because the cycles got worse later in their life. And then you also have people who don’t cycle all that often as well. They may appear normal and functional for extended periods of time, but every once in awhile, their mind will trigger and run off into instability.

      But yeah, given the rage angle and how he responded to his friend, it would definitely be a good idea to hold off on trying to get him to accept that anything is wrong. Make sure you stay safe as well. Rage, impulsiveness, and recklessness can be a very dangerous combination. Don’t hesitate to notify authorities if you feel you are in danger.

      • Susan says:

        Thank you Dennis. We are all just so stunned at this complete change. Does the unwell cycle you reference include the depression that I believe preceded this manic episode? So the total process of down to up to down again would be less than a year – from what you’ve experienced? Are there ever any signs that it may be coming to an end?
        I guess I’m looking for hope. I’m looking for something to hear that will help me to continue to love him through this nightmare. So that the chance that I can come out the other side still loving him isn’t gone. And I completely understand that you have no way to give an answer. It is comforting though.

        • Dennis says:

          Again, it entirely depends on how he experiences the Disorder. There are some people who are relatively balanced/normal most of the time and only swing every so often. But then there are other people who are on the rollercoaster 24/7. And then there are some people who are mildly unwell, but people don’t recognize it as such because it’s very mild and only minorly disruptive.

          Any “signs” that it may be coming to an end are irrelevant until it actually does come to an end. Because there’s no reason that unwellness can’t just take straight off again.

          Any hope I can offer you would either be false or misleading, and that’s not what I’m about. I don’t know what his unwellness will do to your relationship or your love for him. I know that it wouldn’t be the first or last time Bipolar Disorder has destroyed a relationship. All you can do is the best you can, keep yourself safe, work to keep yourself healthy, and wait. You may also want to consider visiting a counselor to help navigate the turmoil and work on building boundaries so you can survive the rollercoaster.

  18. Susan says:

    Just a note – I am not sure if he is still drinking a lot. He says he isn’t.

  19. Susan says:

    Also he did seem much more interested in sex (with me) in mid to late April. Much more than usual. And I remember he said he had tons of energy and felt like a puppy. Could the episode have started before he said something “snapped” and he woke up one morning (in May) and didn’t want to be with us and had no feelings for the family and home?

  20. TR7681 says:

    Hi Dennis, I would love your feedback. Me and my husband were married in Feb 2014, I found out in June 2014 that he had a history of drug addiction, he went into rehab and we found out in Aug 2014 that he is Bipolar Disorder and Borderline schizophrenic, we have had manic episodes, never any infidelity, a lot of love and I’ve stood by him. In Oct 2016, he went off his Latuda, was referred to a Mental illness stabilization facility, he cuts all communication with me, changes his number and refuses to have anything to do with me, now mind you just a month ago we are so in long planning a weekend to the theatre.

    I find out Nov 17th that the Licensed Case Manager at his facility is having sex with him, not to mention he’s been screwing everything because he’s got lesions on his penis according to his MediCal info. I talk to his psychiatrist and he says he’s having a Psychotic Manic Episode and I find he using Meth. I have filed a lawsuit against the facility about the Case Manager, but we still have no contact, I have left him a message on his cellphone and he listened to it and saved it and I have sent pictures of our family. He hasn’t been on his Med’s since September 2016.. Now I’m sure he’s living with this woman. I am heartbroken, both his therapist said that I have to just wait for him to crash, and that he will hate himself and all he’s done. He goes into a court ordered program Jan 17th. I’m devastated by this affair but I also know none of this is my husband. I did file for divorce even though I didn’t want to and I still don’t, he filed a response but I believe this woman is manipulating this situation because g or someone who works in Healthcare, she knows he needs his medication, but she also know he may snap out of this and she out the door. Your insight is AWESOME, any input would be appreciated.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Please note that I have changed your display name so Google never associates your name with this post.

      The first thing that stands out to me: how do you know he’s been faithful to you prior to this, as well? Your post implies that he has a history of addiction that he hid from you until after you were married. I’m obviously not a mind-reader, I don’t know what he did or didn’t do. I just have a hard time not being skeptical about his honesty on that front when he hid something as massive as addiction from you. Especially since he’s apparently shacking up with at least one other woman, and using meth, while in this unwell cycle.

      The therapist is right in that he needs to crash. They are wrong in making the assertion that he will feel horrible about what he did. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. A lot of people don’t or minimize it. That’s not really something you can absolutely count on.

      To me, from the sound of things, all you can really do is be patient and wait for the cycle to run it’s course. That, however, could take a hell of a long time, particularly if he is abusing stimulating drugs like meth which absolutely can continue to fuel an unwell cycle. He’s not going to make rational or well-thought out decisions until he finally does come down. But, given that he also has a history of addiction that he hid from you, well, it would be foolish to take his word at face value on anything.

      It’s good to hear that you have a therapist of your own for support in this difficult time. It is certainly very painful to watch someone you love go through something like this. I hope things smooth out for you both, soon.

      Thank you for the kind words on my writing and work.

      • TR7681 says:

        You are right about there could be previous infidelity, I just find it hard to believe because I’m self employed and we practically spent all our time together, but one never knows.

        I know you could never know this but, I know he’s out of his mind and so I stay clear of him he acts as if he hates me and I’ve done a lot of research and so I’m trying not to take things personal. I left him a voicemail message of love and sent him a picture of us, do you think that might help him snap out of it?

        Also I know infidelity is the common cord with this illness, is it possible that when he crashes that he will snap out of this affair crap?. If it wasn’t for his mental illness I wouldn’t consider being with a man that has an affair, but I know this isn’t him and I know his mental illness is driving it, he hallucinates as well, hears voices and when off Med’s doesn’t have a good grasp of reality. He’s always been awesome and has tried hard to do and be a good husband and like everyone else I love my husband and I have been committed to supporting his mental illness and addiction that he was born into.

        Thanks Dennis

        • Dennis says:

          The picture and voicemail could have varying affects. It’s not going to stop the physiological and physical processes that drive unwellness. In fact, it may just throw more fuel on the fire by stoking the negative emotions that the mental illness is creating. But, if he’s in a decent enough mental space, it could serve as a positive reminder, but I feel like that’s a very slim possibility to the point where I wouldn’t have done it. Trying to reach through mania or severe mental instability is extremely difficult, even in a best case scenario.

          As for snapping out of the affair crap, well, I really don’t know. I don’t know him. If his infidelity is the sole result of his mental illness, then yes, that could be the case. However, if there was more to it than just his unwellness, then there’s no way to know either way. But I do see where you’re coming from and have thought about it a lot myself. If I were dating someone Bipolar, they swung manic, and had an affair; I could forgive that and let it go because I get it.

          My concern is what other information he might have withheld from you, in addition to the addiction thing. That creates room for a great deal of doubt, really.

      • TR7681 says:

        Oh also I forgot to add that Jan 17th he is court ordered into a lock down treatment facility for one year and I made sure to let the DA and his probation officer know that he has mental illness and has to take medication to stay lucid. I’m hoping he crashes by then, but if not hopefully he will be back on Med’s and comes back to reality.

        • Dennis says:

          I hope it helps him!

          • TR7681 says:

            HibDennis, o just had a development that I would like your input on, I had contacted my husband’s probation officer last Wed, Dec 21st to let her know that he needs his Bopolar/Schizophrenic medication while he is in his program. I find out today that he went to court Thurs, Dec 22 to file a Domestic Violence Restraining order against me, the court denied all counts and set us a court date for Jan 10th. I was so hurt by this, Dennis when I tell you this is not my husband and this is not his behavior I can’t put it into words to express.

            I don’t call or text him, I’m just leaving it alone, I don’t contact anyone that he knows at all, I’m just hoping he can break this mania, or maybe this is him, I don’t know, but this man I don’t know at all. The woman that he is having this affair with was his Licensed Case Manager and I’m suing her and her company for this happening, he still isn’t on medication and I’m certain still doing Meth. Is this disease this powerful Dennis, I’m just heartbroken over all this, but I know whoever this is, he’s not my husband. Please your thoughts.

          • Dennis says:

            Hello. The short answer is: yes, this mental illness is this powerful and greater. It destroys people and their lives, that’s not even including what addiction can do to a person. It’s unfortunate to hear about the struggles you’re facing in dealing with the situation. It’s not all that unusual for a person in his position to try and use the legal system against another person in the way that he has. Do make sure you are sharing this information with your attorney so you can get their perspective and guidance. It sounds like the court saw through his claims though.

            It could be mania, it could be meth, it could be the influence of this other woman. It could be a combination of all of these together, as well. Right now, you really just need to focus on your own survival as best as you can. A therapist may be something to consider to have a neutral place to vent off and receive meaningful support for dealing with the emotional turmoil of everything you’re going through.

          • TR7681 says:

            Thanks Dennis, WOW, this is out of this world. Well I just keep praying and praying for me and him. But I have no contact at all and I don’t intend to until he comes out of this message.

            What I don’t understand is why so much hate of me, we were just so in love in September and I get this disease but he seems like he has extra hate for some reason.

          • Dennis says:

            The answer is mental illness and drugs. It’s not going to make rational sense a lot of times. Don’t waste your time trying to rationalize it. You’re not going to “understand” it in the way that you want to. It’d be like asking a man what it feels like to give birth to a child. He simply doesn’t have the context to understand it. Bipolar Disorder can create delusional, totally fictional emotions out of absolute nothing. And the meth certainly is not helping.

          • TR7681 says:

            Thank you for your valuable input, certainly puts it back into perspective. I have to watch my back and what he may try to do until he goes to the program Jan 17th, it appears he’s out to destroy me and I can’t have that.

            Thanks Dennis

          • Dennis says:

            You’re welcome. It is unfortunate, but that’s the way you have to look at it so you can defend yourself properly.

          • TR7681 says:

            Hi Dennis, I do have a question that you may or may not be able to answer, in the Domestic Violence restraining order, my husband is asking for protection from this woman he is having the affair with, I don’t have any contact with her but due to her being a Licensed case manager and abusing her power and according to the law my husband, because he wasn’t on his medication and having sex with him, she was fired and lost her license and I’m pursuing criminal charges against her.

            Is his mind telling him that he’s in love with her because he’s fabricating these lies, obviously due to his mental illness, but I guess he feel he’s protecting her and retaliating against me, I don’t know. That was very hurtful to me and he listed her as his girlfriend, I’m like he is F%$king insane. This is crazy. Why would he do something like this to me? I know Bipolar is a beast and substance doesn’t help it and she’s clearly manipulating him, but WOW.

          • Dennis says:

            At this point, trying to figure out what is going on in his mind would just be a pure guess. Don’t waste your time searching for tangible whys. I find that people who are in your position often look for tangible, concrete reasons why, when the answer is right in front of them. Mental illness and substance abuse are both very concrete reasons. The actions and decision making processes that these things create can range from uncomfortable to deadly.

            Why would he do this to you? Mental illness. It’s really not any more complicated than that.

            And to add to that, I personally don’t believe that mentally healthy people can actually “understand” in the way that they hope to. It’s like asking a man what it feels like to give birth to a child. You just don’t have the context to understand what is actually going on in that person’s mind, flooded with erratic thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, making decisions for God knows what reason. It’s mental illness. It’s not rational or fair. It’s often chaotic, painful, and destructive.

            The best thing you can do is to maintain your focus on surviving and getting through this, minimizing the damage he can do to you and your life.

          • TR7681 says:

            You are right and I know what you are saying to be true. Sometimes I want a magic answer and I know there isn’t one. This is the craziest stuff, but you are right until he goes away I’m taking all precautions to protect myself, I now consider him dangerous to me and I have to treat him accordingly.

            Thanks Dennis

          • TR7681 says:

            Hi Dennis, I wanted to get your thoughts on something, since I have to go to court on this domestic violence restraining order he filed against me, I’m not sure if he wil . Show or not but I will be there. Since get is still in his mania state, is there any suggestions on how to handle that day? My plan was to have no direct contact with him or talk to him at all, I was going to act as if he doesn’t exist. I don’t want him going into a rage so I thought that to be the best approach, please give me your thoughts. I already filed a response and gave the judge information on bipolar disorder and their behavior.

          • Dennis says:

            Yes, definitely make sure you go. I don’t know how it is in these situations, but there are quite a few where the court will just automatically rule against you if you don’t show up.

            Do your best to maintain a placid and civil demeanor the whole time, even if the process or his actions are enraging. It will only benefit you. I’m sure your attorney will vouch for that. But yes, it is probably best to just pretend he doesn’t exist and to not engage him. Of course, if he’s unstable, then who knows how it will go.

          • TR7681 says:

            Thanks Dennis, sounds like sound advice.

          • TR7681 says:

            Hi Dennis, I just wanted to give an update. So I went to court for the Domestic violence restraining order he filed against me , he never showed as I thought he wouldn’t and the judge threw the whole case out. So I’m so glad for that. I do know he’s been binging on Meth, but the woman had him do this in his mind state, because he’s been in so much trouble he stays out of the court for anything.

            Anyway he goes into his program on the 17th of January so that’s it. It’s still hard to believe he would go this far. So we will see what happens then, nothing for me to do but hope he reaches out so he can get help, if not then that’s his choice I’m fine with that too.


          • Dennis says:

            That’s good to hear that the case was thrown out. The courts have to deal with bullshit like that on a fairly regular basis so it’s not all that surprising.

            It’s good to hear that you have a grounded perspective on his seeking help and going in-patient. You should definitely be prepared that it won’t go well. People don’t change unless they want to and are willing to invest a lot of time and work into changing.

          • TR7681 says:

            Hi Dennis, I really appreciate your experience, but not only that opening yourself up to people like me that are lost and just need some insight.

            I was thinking the thing that haunts me the most about this is, what if his behavior is him, but I battle because since I’ve been married to my husband even with these episodes, he’s never acted like this, but it just scares me to think he won’t come back around, and then i say to myself if he does come back around, what then? who picks up the pieces? but I’m afraid that maybe this is really him, but it just couldn’t be.

            Can’t you tell how confused I am? I am taking care of myself. I’m still in shocked about him filing the restraining order, still shocked about.

            Thanks for your input.

  21. Rachel3085 says:

    I would just like to start out by saying this is by far the hardest thing ive ever delt with in my life! My fiance was recentlg diagnosed with bipolar, i was off work for lrwgnancy complications he got sick and was taken off of work right after our son was born, he was hanging out with an old friend and began an affair with his buddies wife, i could see it i could sense it the change in his behavior the extreame increase in his already high alcohol intake hell the look in im his eyes wasnt even the same. I had no idea what had happened or why, he helped them (his friends) move to florida and i am positive that he was in a manic state he was on this kick that we needed to pick up our family and move down there because it was perfect amazing and he just knew everything would work out if we moved, i refused we had no money no where to go and 4 kids ages 10,7,5, and 2 months i told him if he really wanted that we needed to save some money up and comw up with a plan, he started acting like a child who was told no, saying awful hurtful things to me saying he was leaving me and not coming home, i told him he needed to take care of his health and after that was under control if he still wanted to leave his family he could. He repeatedly lied about me to me to his whore as ill call her he fome home he was so unwell physically mentally it was like he was a different man a couple months later he was diagnosed with biplar and on medications but still depressed and having minute manic phases im taking a few minutes long id leave him to himself because my presents seemed to anger or annoy him sometimes id go to work and hed be texting me that he wanted me needed me not to leave him sometimes id go check on him and he would have his music blairing tears in his eyes twice he cut himself hed look at me and say im so sorry but refuse to elaborate on what he was sorry for more med changes the affair became something i knew had happened to something he admitted had happened after i found pictures he decided to quit drinking says he knows what he did but cant explain why he did what he did or put any time line on it like its all in bits and peices in his mind, hes on a ton of meds his blood pressure goes up and down he has headaches muscle aches chest pain anxiety shakiness still says he doesnt feel like himself like hes standing behind himself watching himself, he doesnt eat much of anything everything tastes weird.he cant follow a train of thought sad to say this is an improvment. Ive tried to get him to see a councilor he refuses, hes seeing an md. I am deeply wounded we went through some tough times in our 1st few yrs togwther with him talking to women online but never a physical affair before. Im trying to be compassionate and understand i feel bad for how lost he must feel. I go back and forth between feeling so betrayed and being so mad and feelimg bad for him. Ive searched what seems like the entire internet for information experiences of other bipolar people, searching in myself trying to decide how much more i can take if i can keep letting this man destroy me because i love him, because hes ill, because of our kids. I tried to leave him after our 1st 3yrs together because of all of the lies and extra curricular activities on his part ended up in the icu because he attempted to end it because he cant live without me. He regularly comments on how he wouldnt be alive if it werent for me. What can i do to help him?! I miss him i want him back things are someone better but we are almost a yr into the start of his 1st major “episode” i just dont know what to do, im trying to move on trying to help him trying to keep me together, i dont know how much infidelity i can take if it happens again i dont know if i can forgive him illness or not and that makes me feel awful. Idk why im putting any of this out there. Idk if itll be any help at all. Ive read everything i can find to read. I guess it just helps to hear others experiences to know that it is his illness and there is stability to be had.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Rachel. Thank you for taking the time to comment. The best thing you’re going to be able to do right now is talk to a counselor. The emotional damage and turmoil of loving someone who is so unstable can take a very deep toll on a person. Additionally, him threatening/implying suicide is not a healthy behavior. He is the only one that can truly help himself. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves.

      The best thing you can do for yourself and for your family is to talk to a counselor about the situation, his behavior, and how you can keep yourself healthy in trying to cope with it. There is definitely stability to be had out there, but for a lot of people, it can take years of work to get there. Furthermore, not everyone is willing to try to make that journey. It’s perfectly okay for you to take care of yourself in dealing with all of this. If you can’t forgive the infidelity, then you can’t. That’s okay. Everyone is wired differently.

  22. Rachel3085 says:

    I have stressed to him the idea of seeing a counselor, he is now regularly seeing a medical doctor who in my opinion has him on far too many medications, he is an alcoholic on top of it all. He has since quit drinking for about a month now. I am encouraging him to research his condition. His ups and downs seem to be under some sort of control although he has very short bouts of mania where he describes being very crisp and clear in both his vision and hearing. This is all very new to me after the diagnosis ive done tons of research, i am understanding that he didnt have control of himself. I have expressed to him that he is to remain sober and proactive for his bipolar or i simply cant do this. As for the infidelity i dont know if i can ever bear it to happen again or what i will do if it does, i know that this entire experience has amped up my own anxiety issues and has effected our family in ways i cant explain. I feel horrble for anyone with this disease that is unable to control it, i have a family friend whos daughter commited suicide while ahe was pregnant while off her medications while i didnt understand it much at the time, i sure do now. I appricate this place, as my mom cant understand how i am so understanding and a slew of friends who say thw same. I feel quite torn as i love him and i feel if would be cruel to leave him facing what he is facing alone, even the woman he cheated with thinks he is the devil, what a lonely place to be in. So ill continue to support him and help him through all of this. Sad part is i could see the change in him before anyone else but i didnt know what to do. I beleive i will be seeking counciling even if he isnt ready to yet. Thank you so much for making me feel like i have someplace i can go and just talk as all over the place as my posts may seem, it does help.

    • Dennis says:

      Your posts have been fine. I do think it would be very beneficial for you to see a counselor, for yourself. Particularly to help with the anxiety, sorting out the feelings about all of this, and ensuring you have solid enough boundaries to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Boundaries are very important in relationships involving mental illness. The mental illness will do damage from time to time. That’s just the way it is. It’s just what we have to deal with. You are the only one that can decide how far you are willing to go. And you’re right, your friends and family aren’t likely to understand. Their emotional investment is in you, not him. They see you suffer, see him as the cause, and want you to act accordingly. It’s a lot more complicated when you can see and love the person beneath the mental illness.

      It’s unfortunate to hear about your friend’s daughter as well. Pregnancy and after pregnancy can be a very volatile time for Bipolar women because her body has so many hormonal things going on, all of which can impact mental wellness.

      I’m glad you’ve found this space and my work helpful.

  23. Rachel3085 says:

    Thank you so much for your advice, I am currently looking into councilors in my area and have made a appointment with my doctor to discuss my anxiety.

  24. Jessica says:


    I just stumbled on this blog and it has really helped me. My husband was just diagnosed with Bipolar recently. We have been together for 10 years, married for 5 and have a son. Throughout our entire relationship he has definitely struggled with depression. Now that we know he is Bipolar, the bouts where he wasn’t depressed and was super happy make sense now that he was manic.

    This finally came to an end of being untreated because he checked into a mental health hospital because he was suicidal. He also admitted to having an affair with a woman 25 years older than him (she is also mentally ill).

    I am left here as the betrayed spouse in total shock and devastation mode. My husband has been on meds now for two months and is a completely different person in the best way possible. He is committed to making our marriage work. He is consumed with guilt and hatred towards himself for what he did. He said he would never have done that if he was healthy and he wishes he had gotten help sooner before he made this grave mistake.

    I don’t have any experience with others who have Bipolar disorder, so at first it seemed like a cop out to me. But honestly, my husband is a loyal person all around. To me, to family to friends… of course there were things that he could have avoided to not put himself in the situation of an emotional affair which then turned physical, but if his state of mind was altered, I guess it makes sense how he was able to do it.

    I will tell you that as the betrayed spouse who does not have Bipolar, it is extremely hard to understand and accept that this really may be to blame for the behavior. I feel like this is better then someone just going out and cheating, but at the same time I’m hesitant to put the blame on the disease in fear that he will just be “getting away with it” and leaving us open to have this happen again.

    I pray that this article along with counseling will open my mind and make me feel safe and secure with accepting, understanding and forgiving the act to due Bipolar.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jessica. Thank you for taking the time to comment. The thing that people tend to overlook about Bipolar Disorder is that it can include delusion. It can convince a person who is unwell that anything is a good idea – ranging from having an affair to suicide and several points in between. It can turn a person’s regular emotional state completely inside out and convince them of a reality that simply is not real. And then we can end up acting on those feelings and beliefs because it feels real to the unwell person.

      I’m not you. I can’t sit here and tell you what you should and shouldn’t find acceptable or forgivable. But I can give you my perspective from my own experiences as well as listening to many other people in similar situations.

      A lot of people in your position struggle with the “why” of the situation. The problem is that if you don’t have Bipolar Disorder and don’t experience that kind of unwellness, then you’re not going to understand what it feels like to be in that mental space. It’s probably never going to make complete and total sense to you. It would be like asking a man what it feels like to give birth to a child. He can read every book under the sun about it, listen to mothers talk about it, go to school for ages to understand it…but he still isn’t going to be able to really understand what it’s like. That’s a question you ask a mother. Same principle here.

      In regards to your situation, what I would look at is the following.

      1. You mention he is extremely remorseful and regretful. That’s a good sign. The other good sign is that he has taken responsibility for his mental illness, is seeking help, and taking meds. That is HUGE. Trying to get people to get the help they need is a very difficult task. The fact that he understands and embraces something was wrong and is working to get well is something that I view as a huge positive. It’s what a person with Bipolar Disorder needs to recover.

      2. The fact that he is a loyal person in his regular life. You’ve been together 10 years, so I’m sure you’ve had plenty of time to see through any facades. Could a loyal person do this while unwell? Absolutely. You also have every right in the world to be hurt and upset by it. Just because it happened because of an unwell cycle doesn’t mean it will sting any less. That is something that will need to get repaired over time.

      3. Could it happen again? Yeah. It could. You see medication doesn’t work forever. It requires adjustments. It can stop working because things change in the body. He could start having Bipolar cycles again in the future. So, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s a one off and there is absolutely no chance of this ever happening again. It could. That’s Bipolar Disorder. But, when a person does find the right medication that works for them, they can have years, even decades, of stability and peace of mind with no unwell cycles.

      I mean, you’re going to view it however you view it. It’s okay to be hurt and upset by it. But I can tell you that if I were with someone for 10 years who was generally a loyal and decent person, they had a bout of unwellness and had an affair, were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and started working to get well and balanced…I would do what I could to try to make the marriage work.

      However, I would do that with the requirement that the person is visiting their mental health professionals regularly and taking their medications as directed; and with the understanding that I won’t be as forgiving or understanding if it happens again.

    • Tee01 says:

      Hi Jessica, I have been through similar, my husband has been manic now for almost 1 year and it is continuing due to substance abuse as well. My husband has had an affair, but knowing him as I did, it could have only been brought on by the bipolar disorder, but like Dennis said it stings no less.

      I wish you and your husband all the success and we’ll wishing and hope what didn’t work for me and my husband, can infact work for you guys. Have patience, understanding, boundaries and most of all commitment and love for one another.

      Dennis is very knowledgeable and he is an awesome resource, keep learning.

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