A Brief Note About Abusive Relationships and Bipolar Disorder

Many people write to me about a number of different things. I find myself pointing out that a number of these people are relating red flags of an abusive relationship. I’m not talking about the general difficulty that can come from mental illness or an unwell cycle. Sometimes, we Bipolar people can do awful things during an unwell cycle that are entirely out of character for who we actually are.

I’m talking about consistent, long-term abuse or severe red flag behavior.

There is a camp of people where those terrible things are a general part of their personality and character. They have toxic qualities about their personality that goes past what Bipolar Disorder is actually responsible for. A well-adjusted person who is open, loving, and accepting makes for an ideal target for a predator. That well-adjusted person can easily fall into the cycle of excusing awful behavior because of their loved one’s problems.

I’ve read a crapload of literature on “identifying abusive relationships.” This literature typically focuses on identifying the negative markers, but does not provide a lot of context. In answering these messages, I will typically point out the red flags and then provide links to good resources that point these same things out.

A majority of the time, I get one of the following responses:

“But they are such a great person because XYZ reason!”

“But we really synced on a deep level! Things were great until they got unwell.”

“But they have all of these really great qualities!”

“But I’ve never met anyone so intense, passionate, and wonderful!”

Here’s the thing I find myself repeating on a very regular basis that isn’t often covered in resources.

Abusive people are rarely completely awful people. Most of them have positive qualities about them. Media likes to depict bad people as damaged to the core, which is the only reason I can think of for this perception. Real life is rarely that black and white.

It really doesn’t matter if he’s amazing with puppies and children if his insecurities make him so jealous that he undermines his partner’s self-confidence, edits her friends and family, and forces his partner to sacrifice key components of herself to be “loved.”

It really doesn’t matter if she’s a vibrant, well-liked person by everyone she meets if she is unhinged and violent when angry.

If abusive people were 100% awful then no one would ever end up in abusive relationships. You’d just go, “Oh, that person is an asshole. I better avoid them,” and that would be the end of it. But that’s not how it works. Instead, the abusive person wears whatever mask is socially acceptable. As their partner gets more emotionally invested and the relationship continues, that mask starts coming off more and more.

I should also note that this isn’t always a willful act of manipulation either. Yes, there are people who are master manipulators, will get in your head, and use whatever your weakness is as leverage to tear you apart. Other people grow up in terrible situations where abuse and shittiness is the normal that they know. Sometimes it can take years for that person to realize that isn’t how they should conduct themselves. Others never realize it.

But no matter the case, that person is not going to change unless they want to change themselves. I’ve heard so many rationalizations to the contrary.

“But if I just love them better they’ll be inspired to change.” No. No, they won’t.

“But if I just do what they ask, then things will work out.” No. It really won’t. They just keep taking more.

“But what if I can’t ever do any better?” That’s a matter you should discuss with a therapist.

Simply put, you’re better off not being in a relationship at all rather than staying in an abusive one. An abusive relationship takes a very drastic toll on the abused in the long-term. That kind of relationship destroys a person’s self-esteem and confidence. It can completely destroy one’s ability to trust and the damage carries over into future relationships; assuming the abused doesn’t decide to stop having relationships altogether.

Let’s specifically talk about new relationships and Bipolar Disorder.

The most frequent inquiry I get goes something like this.

I met this wonderful person about six months to a year ago. They were so smart, charming, intense, vibrant, and passionate. I’ve never experienced anything that wonderful. Now, they are a completely different person.” Sometimes they are just different, sometimes they are acting in awful ways.

That is a very intoxicating experience for the second party. I’ve talked to several people who fall into the trap of thinking that they can get the person they originally met back if they just tough their way through whatever the Bipolar person is putting them through. The truth is that the vibrant, passionate experience was likely an unhealthy anomaly.

But how can anything that felt so pure and right be bad? It’s love!”

Anytime I hear the words “intense and vibrant” in conjunction with Bipolar Disorder, my first question is, “Was the person manic?” When a Bipolar person is manic, their mental illness is creating a lot of false emotions and impressions. That includes feelings of love and attraction. No one can simply trust a Bipolar person’s feelings that are founded in mania because they likely do not represent that person’s actual feelings.

I catch a lot of shit from Bipolar people for that sentiment. “You don’t know me. You can’t tell me how I feel!” Correct. I do not know how everyone else feels. I do, however, know how an unwell cycle of Bipolar Disorder can cause delusional thoughts and feelings. And if you are Bipolar and thinking that, I would challenge you to look back at your previous manic cycles and compare feelings you had during those cycles to feelings you had before they started, after they ended, and see how consistent they are.

I digress.

Putting up with abusive behavior to get that “intense and vibrant” person back is not a solution. I would conclude that the “intense and vibrant” Bipolar person was manic until proven otherwise; because people aren’t usually intense and vibrant without some reason. In Bipolar people, mania is a pretty common reason.

I know it probably felt amazing; but I’m told heroin does, too. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to indulge in it. Feeling good does not necessarily mean it is good.

As I’ve stated many times, my rule of thumb is simple. Is the person trying to help themselves? And I don’t mean just talking about it. It’s easy for a manipulator to lie and say, “Oh, I’ll go to the doctor and do what needs to be done.” Managing mental illness is hard, tedious, frustrating, and fucking annoying at times. A person that is not actively working to be well and following through on all of that tedious crapwork is not going to stay well.

No amount of love and compassion is going to inspire that person to want to be well or not be shitty. For every one person that claims that to be the case, there’s a thousand who wind up an abused, damaged husk of who they used to be.

Every situation is different. If you feel you are in such a situation, I would highly recommend that you speak to a counselor about your situation or reach out to a local organization that deals with abusive relationships. They will be able to provide better insight on your specific situation and may be able to provide resources to separate yourself from that relationship.

Compassion for the mentally ill and people that struggle is wonderful; but there must be limits. If you hold on too tight, you’ll just sink to the bottom and drown with that person.

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27 Responses to A Brief Note About Abusive Relationships and Bipolar Disorder

  1. Jeannie says:

    Spot-on, Dennis. Well-said.

  2. SRC says:

    As usual, great stuff. Even though members of my family have BiPolar, or at least are undiagnosed, this article rings bells for me in a past 10 years of hell…took ages for my man of 20 years to convince me things could be good again. Now I am watching my grandaughter, who got out of a similar situation, act out on her poor current partner, whilst telling me she still loves the previous tosser. Trying to gently guide her to seek help as I think she has PTSD . The man she is with now will certainly have it soon if she keeps going

  3. Jess says:

    Your blog is really helpful Dennis. My brother, who will be 40 this year, was diagnosed with bipolar at 18 and ever since, my family has had to watch his life spiral out of control, then he’s fine for awhile, then spiral out of control again. The older he gets, the more frequent his episodes. He is also an alcoholic though will not admit it. I can’t tell you how many cars he’s had repossessed, how many apartments he’s been kicked out of, jobs he’s been fired from, and friends he’s lost over the years. My parents took him back in for years in spite of his lack of work to stay well, but once my father passed away, my mom just could not deal with him anymore (and I was definitely an advocate for her not taking him back in). Often times we don’t even know where he is but then a counselor or social worker will call with the same old ask: “your brother needs some help – is he able to stay with you?” and none of us will let him stay with us anymore. We go back an forth between anger and guilt over his health and state of being, but I feel from reading your blog that we are right to not help him if he won’t help himself. The last time he was off the rails (for lack of a better phrase), his SW suggested he go to AA meetings and work on understanding sobriety and develop coping skills – which he was all for until he got a job and had money and his own place again, and then all he does is work and he’ll start drinking slowly and then he’ll end making friends with the same kinds of people and it’s just the same old story. Sorry for the book but you’re the first person I’ve come across who is BP and has given me some insights into this word. I really appreciate it!

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Jess.

      People like your brother, and even myself, often have to fall really far before they can realize that the way they conduct their life does not work. That is often the case with mentally ill, alcoholics, and addicts. Not everyone does though, unfortunately. You and your family needs to do what’s best for yourselves, first and foremost. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped. Sometimes all you can do is step back and let them deal with the repercussions of their choices in life.

  4. Jeff says:

    My ex was abusive in how she ended the relationship, and over the months since ending it. After she blamed me for causing her anxiety, I looked into anxiety disorder and sound that unwell cycles, even in anxiety disorder, can lead to people doing terrible things. So I excused her behavior.

    When seeking the solace of my friends, I found myself hiding the worst and majority of her behavior, telling myself that they “wouldn’t understand and would call her abusive,” which they would have, since the parts I didn’t hide they still tried to warn me about the abuse. Even then, I excused her behavior and told them and told myself they were wrong. That they just didn’t understand.

    I found myself saying they were a great person, that we connected on a deep level, that there are so many wonderful things about her, all while she was lashing out at me, making me feel awful about myself, seeking to control me. When a combination of things finally got through to me, I told her how hurt I was and minimized contact.

    The following months I watched her fall deeper and deeper into depression, during the brief spans of contact we had, she would tell me about how busy and exhausted she was, but could not come up with any specifics other than that she lied on the couch after work each day, waiting to go to sleep. Or that everything was in a deep fog “but I’m doing ok”. I got scared, so I started contact up with her again.

    After I set a few limits over an extended period of time, the fact that she followed through with one let me pat myself on the back, tell myself she was getting better, and that things were different this time. I ignored that every limit I tried to set was a battle that I would always fail. I ignored things that she did that were controlling. And when she started doing things that were flirtatious, or things that would not be acceptable between people that were just friends. I treated it like it was real, not just the abuse returning.

    How could I not have seen it? You see what you want to see, especially in the people you care about. You hope things will get better, and then you take small signs that they are and inflate them. You do so because you loved them, loved the person they were, and want that person back so badly that you only see that person, not the person they became.

    I do not know why she did what she did, or continues to lash out in anger at me, 3 weeks since I last talked to her. But I think regardless of if your partner is bipolar, or has a different mental illness, or just has no mental illness at all, read Dennis’s advice, and listen to it. It is not worth it. I don’t care how tough you are, or caring you are, or how great they are, you fill fail, and you will be the worse for it.

    And for those who’s partner have UNTREATED mental illness. My best suggestion is to expect from them what you expect from everyone else. Balancing caring with avoiding enabling is very difficult, so the line I have come up with most recently is for as long as someone doesn’t feel they are ill, that they don’t need help. Don’t give them the help they haven’t asked for, treat them like everyone else. Let them see for themselves how far away they are. That doesn’t mean you can’t be compassionate, or that you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you can’t be more open to compromise when asked, or that you shouldn’t give them all the forgiveness you can manage if they do you wrong and regret it. It just means protecting yourself, and letting the other person decide for themselves if they want your help, or that they can manage normal responsibilities, or that they need treatment finally, or that they only want to surround themselves with people who will bend over backwards for them. And the 4rd lot, you are better off without. [Dennis may disagree with this, or may agree in concept but probably has a much better way of explaining it. I would love to see Dennis write an article on the line between caring and enabling. And the line between being encouraging and being pushy].

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you for the poignant, well-expressed statement Jeff. I pretty much agree with everything you have commented here. And I can most certainly write a blog post about that as well!

  5. Anne S. says:

    I was married to a person with bipolar disorder who would not take medication for twenty years. It was quite fashionable then to blame all mental illness on upbringing re R D Laing. As others have described the relationship started as caring and supportive. It was intellectually compatible, exciting, interesting, but but after six months deteriorated. I spent years trying to put things right. It was only when I realised that I was in an abusive relationship that i made moves to get out and once I said enough the ‘shit it the fan.’ I discovered things about his sexual activities that were very destructive for me. Once he could no longer be directly abusive to me he continued to ‘get at me’ through his behaviour towards our children. They were living with me but still seeing him. I will not detail this but it was very destructive for them and impeded one of then from attaining the academic success that they could have. I have long been out of this relationship and am now in a loving and supportive one but the old memories continue to surface nearly twenty-five years after the facts.

    I just want to thank you for your blog on bipolar disorder and abuse. I excused much because I knew he had an illness but he made no effort to become and stay well and I am told this is still the case.

    I can’t change the past but it is affirming to know that in the end I got it right. Also it is good to have the issue brought into the open. While I was undergoing the abuse I could get no help. In fact people did not believe me because the abuse was always verbal and psychological not physical. In those days you needed to be able to show bruises. Thank goodness that has changed.

    Thank you again for your blog – keep speaking out. Anne

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Anne. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your own experiences. Also; you should never use a full name on the internet when discussing mental health. Google will index it sooner or later, meaning it would show up if someone looked up your name. I edited the last name to just an initial.

      I don’t have a whole lot to add about your comment. What you’re describing is unfortunately common, particularly for women. A majority of the people that end up reaching out to me, trying to help someone else, are mothers, wives, and girlfriends; often in abusive relationships. Progress has definitely been made in many avenues, but there is still a long ways to go.

      If you find that memories of those situations still plague you, you may want to consider talking to a counselor about it. Trauma is a thing and abusive relationships can leave long-standing damage. It wouldn’t shock me if it did for you or your kids; particularly since he’s still doing the same things.

      Thank you for your kind words on my work and your support, Anne.

      • Mary B. says:

        I am a 57-year-old woman fairly recently diagnosed bipolar. My initial reactions were both horror and relief. Due to many extenuating circumstances, I have been misdiagnosed and given meds and therapy that seemed useless since early adolescence. Those feelings of confusion, remorse and despair felt like life was nothing more than treading water with 50 pound floaties. If I didn’t maintain a good front friends and family concluded I wasn’t trying or non-compliant or just plain evil finding pleasure in hurting them.
        The rapid cycles and alternating feelings of deep shame or grandiosity were exhausting, confusing and hopelessly inexplicable. Once I succeeded why didn’t I continue on a logical continuum? Many, many hours I hid on my bed screaming and keening into pillows. If only I had A name for this “evil” that haunted my life. Outside of shame and remorse I had no rhyme or reason. My experience of being chronically misunderstood robbed me of any real identity.
        It’s so new, I’m excited to become proactive and have so much to do and learn. Thank God for this blog filled with those brave pioneers speaking out. Maybe if others understand I can understand myself. I feel the cold, cold shame start to melt with each brave precious word I read. Sorry to ramble but I owe a deep debt of gratitude for any who can hear me.

        • Dennis says:

          Hello, Mary. I want to say congratulations on your diagnosis, but that isn’t quite the spirit of what is meant by congratulations. It is definitely a life-altering experience, particularly when you start to see that you can break the chaotic patterns that have followed you in your life. I do want to pass along an important piece of advice about taking in this information on the internet: treat everything with skepticism. Everyone experiences their mental illness in a slightly different way. So you may end up reading things on Bipolar Disorder that are not relevant to you. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, they just might not align with your life experiences.

          There are people out there that will promise you answers. They cannot give them. You will have to figure them out for yourself. I highly recommend supplementing your own research with the assistance of a trained counselor and/or a support group. You’ll make progress much faster with the help of a counselor.

          I hope you find some peace for yourself with your diagnosis.

  6. CJ5401 says:

    I have married to a bipolar spouse for over 20 years, who was only recently dxed. Although I had previously told his doctors about his manic behavior, it was always dismissed because he seems so docile and thoughtful in therapy sessions,

    He has been taking medication, and although his rages don’t last as long, and may be less frequent, they are still damaging to our family. Although he has never hit me, his past behaviors do fit the legal definition of abuse including destruction of property and attempting to take my phone away. The question I have struggled with is whether he is a abuser with bipolar, or bipolar with abusive behaviors. What is striking to me is his lack of responsibility for his actions. Last weekend he was spitting on the floor in front of our daughters and yelling that we are “f*ing squatters” and filthy pigs.

    When I called him out on his behavior, he blames it on being frustrated and blames us for not cleaning often enough or to his standards. The ironic thing is that we have been unable to use our living room/dining table for most of the year due to his papers spread out all over which can not to be moved. He occasionally makes this point clear by stringing tape across the entrance to the living room.

    Knowing the my daughters have a greater likelihood of bp due to a strong history of mental illness in his family makes it tricky. Do I show compassion for a person who is clearly struggling or do I give up realizing that his abusive patterns are more than his illness and are unlikely to ever change?

    • Dennis says:

      Hello there. Do note that I changed your display name. It’s generally a good idea not to publicly associate your real name with this subject matter on the internet so Google doesn’t connect it with your name in the event someone looks you up later.

      In response to your comment: I don’t think it matters which it is. We cannot control the fact that we are mentally ill. We can, however, work to control what we do as a result of it. If his response is to be verbally abusive and destroy shit, you are well within your rights to say, “Hey, this is not okay. You need to go to therapy and learn better habits with coping with your anger.” And then hold him to that. Will he get it perfect all the time? No, probably not. But, it is not unreasonable to expect effort out of him to create a more peaceful home for you and your daughters. Chances are pretty good that he’s just used to allowed being able to do whatever he wants to express his anger.

      On the other side of the coin, it’s something you should discuss with a counselor of your own if you want to push back, in the event that things get worse. Setting up and enforcing boundaries can elicit drastic reactions, so it would be a really good idea to have professional support to lean on if you decide to go that route.

  7. Sarah says:

    These are words I need to read over and over to keep reminding myself what is going on. Dating a bipolar person is full of emotional gaslighting.

    • Dennis says:

      It can. It really depends on the person. There are those of us that strive to minimize the damage we do to the people we care about, because we understand our problems and work to keep them under control. However, there are a lot of people that don’t understand their own problems and don’t want to work on them, and that is certainly not limited to just people with Bipolar Disorder.

      Don’t let yourself get destroyed by abusive behavior. It does take a deep toll.

  8. Marc says:

    Hi Dennis.
    Thank you for your blog. My wife has since August 2016 given me my first experience of what it is like to be on the receiving end ofa more serious episode. I didn’t know what it was until a few weeks ago.
    It started in August when she told me one morning out of nowbere that she wants a divorce because she has become a cereer woman and Im holding her back. Needless to say I was knocked out of my boots and my brain became exhausted thinking of what thereal reason could be. She has in the meanwhile bravely left the house (no idea) where she is.
    My question is, how she wil be likely to behave when she comes down (recover) from her episode.
    I am worried that she will want to come back. I dont know if I sgould take her back jjst out of obligation or is it possible to have happy normal lives withthe right medication

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Marc. There’s a lot of other considerations about all of that. Does she have a history of being mentally ill? Is she diagnosed? Was she actually unwell when she decided this or did was she just acting on personal desires?

      There’s no real way to know how she will act when she comes down, assuming she was up at the time. She could be calm and clear thinking, she could also bounce into another cycle if she is mentally ill, or she could stay up for a long time if she’s making it worse with substance abuse. No real way to know until you’re actually there.

      As for what you should do if she does come back, well that’s really only something you can decide for yourself. Yes, she could have a happy, normal life when she finds the right meds and takes them as directed. But that process could take a very long time.

      But I do see you mention that you’re not sure if you should take her back out of obligation, and that, I feel, is always a bad idea. All that will do is breed anger and resentment. If you do take her back, it should be because you love her and want to be there with her as she fights this battle, so long as she actually does.

  9. Dani says:

    Thank you so much for this article Dennis! And all of these comments are so helpful for me in understanding what I have experienced. I have only recently come to the realization that my husband had (undiagnosed) bipolar disorder. He committed suicide 4 years ago as a result of all of the things this disorder caused him to do. He did a pretty great job of hiding his mania until everything imploded on all of us. For the last 4 years I feel like I have been untangling the invisible web that I was caught in. Realizing, after the fact, that what I experienced for ten years was abuse. And now realizing that he also had bipolar disorder adds another layer of confusion, yet also relief. Relief, because I now know that he was sick, but confusion because of that gray area that lies between tolerance for the mentally ill and disgust for abusive behavior. Can I be a victim of bipolar disorder? Is that a thing? -probably not a socially acceptable thing, but never-the-less a real experience that I have lived thru. And you’re absolutely right! There were many wonderful things about him! He was fun, people loved, almost flocked to him. He would light up a room when he walked into it. These things are also what makes it difficult for those around you and yourself included to wrap your mind around the damage that this person has done. I’ve been peeling the layers of abuse off for years now. Slowly but surely becoming a much stronger and wiser version of MYSELF! Thank you for your truth and wisdom. There are many people who need to hear it!

    • Dennis says:

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

      Can you be a victim of Bipolar Disorder? A lot of people are. Personally, I don’t really care if it’s socially acceptable or not, it’s the truth. People like yourself who suffered abuse are, people like your husband who end up killing themselves or destroying their lives are as well. Far too many people can’t or won’t get the help they need.

      I think it’s fair to be disgusted by abusive behavior and accept that the cause was mental illness. The thing is that “tolerance” is a different word than “acceptance.” You can tolerate something, but not like it. Not that I’m condoning tolerating abusive behavior of any kind. You should not. No one should. I tend to look at these things from a point of rationality, rather than feeling. I may love someone, but if they are abusive, I’m not hanging around to be abused by them. One must love themselves first and foremost.

      I think that it’s a situation you can look back on and try not to find a silver lining on it. Some situations are just awful all around and have no silver linings. Sometimes there are just things we survive. And it sounds like you are working hard to be a better you and come to terms with it all, and that’s a really great thing. Investing that time and energy into yourself is a good investment.

  10. Anna says:

    Hi,
    thank you for this article, I’ve been dealing with the after effects of such a relationship and some days it hits me worse than others. My ex was Bipolar and very medication compliant with a wonderful doctor but sometimes they still weren’t enough to help in his manic episodes which saw me on the receiving end of all of his anger and frustration. I suffer from my own mental health problems and don’t really have any friends, so it was hard when he would lash out at me or behave in ways I wasn’t comfortable with. I also felt that because he was unwell he wasn’t himself – a fact which he rubbed in to excuse his actions or words, he was good at manipulation. A lot of what you talked about in your article and the comments was the difficulty of staying around for someone who doesn’t want to fix themselves, yet in my case my ex was getting help and was trialing out new medications and therapy groups. I stood by him regardless of how much he hurt me and it wasn’t until my psychiatrist got me to talk one day that I found myself moving out and telling him it wasn’t ok. He seemed horrified at what he’d done and vowed to get better, he got his medication sorted at hospital and even completed an anger management program. We stayed friends because I enjoyed his company and when I saw that he had improved and was doing well I tentatively started seeing him again. A few months later and he started showing signs of previous behaviour which ended up in him doing things that brought all of the old memories straight back. It’s been a few months since then and since I cut him out of my life for good but I still find myself constantly stressed and unable to open up to people, I’m worried about knowing who to trust and I find it hard to read other people’s intentions. I’m hoping that as time goes on things will start to get better.
    Thank you for your article as not many people talk about the difficulties and experiences people go through when having a bipolar partner.

    • Dennis says:

      Hello, Anna. Many of those narratives about offering support are very generic, meant to appeal to a wide audience of people that it may be most relevant to. The reality is much more complicated. A person can do everything in their power to succeed at being well, and it still may not go great. Quite a few people get on medication that doesn’t help them, but they don’t discuss the issue with their professional because they assume that just because they take it, they must be doing better. Taking the medication is important. But if it’s not working for the person, then it doesn’t. And when they don’t communicate with their professionals or understand that there is an issue, you wind up with situations like your describing.

      At the end of the day, all you can do is the best you can. No matter how much you love or want to support another person, you must take care of your mental and emotional health FIRST. If you do not, it is really easy to get swept in and under by another person’s problems.

      Are you seeing a counselor at all? If not, you should. Living in that kind of emotionally abusive relationship does take a toll. With the help of a counselor, you should more effectively be able to work through these hurdles you’re facing. If that isn’t an option for you, you may want to look into local support groups where you can be around other people who have faced similar challenges. Most mental illness support groups welcome the friends and family of those people as well. But, it definitely sounds like you need to be talking to a professional about what you’re dealing with.

      That’s an environment that can be a safe place to open up where you won’t need to worry about the other person’s ulterior motives.

  11. Adrian says:

    I recently started seeing a person who is type 2 bipolar…if I understand correctly. I think she is amazing and I could notice a type of anxiety that would come over her on occasion and she was very upfront about it. Things were going great, then bam…she told me last week she can’t do relationships…totally blind sided me. Seriously thought she was the one and everything she said to me led me to believe. From what she has told me, her form of bipolar is mild and she does take medication for it.
    From what I read here…it does not sound as thought she will come back around, although she still wants to spend time with me and seems genuinely conflicted about her decision.
    I respect that she has to do what is best for her, my problem is she is the most genuine, gentle and kind sole I’ve ever met, so it’s tough to not want to hang around.

    • Dennis says:

      Actually, Adrian, if I were in your shoes, I think I would be patient and give her a little time. Is she engaging in any destructive behavior? Abusive at all? Because it sounds like she’s aware enough of her mental illness to know to include you and medicates for it. It sounds like she may have at least a decent handle on what she’s dealing with.

      I would ask her why she feels she can’t be in a relationship and see if it is something where a little time may help her clarify her emotions and path.

  12. Raven says:

    Hi, I am a 55 year old professional woman and bipolar. I have been medicated for several years and mostly well. After divorce about a year and a half ago, I met a great guy, extremely dynamic and caring. I fell in love head over heels. For some time I have suspected he may be bipolar. Your blog was spot on as to his behavior. His mask has dropped. He has become abusive when manic, accusing me of cheating, lying, wanting him for his money. The majority of the time he is a caretaker and kind. Friends think he is the best. He has told me not to tell my family or friends what goes on behind closed doors.. but I’ve started to. Being bipolar I understand mania. Although I would like to believe I haven’t behaved in this way, I can’t say I haven’t been there myself with my ex husband. I’m seeing myself in your description as well. It’s not so pretty.

    • Dennis says:

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

      It’s incredibly common for abusers to try to limit the amount of communication that a person has with the “outside world.” That is, people who can spot that you are being treated badly – friends, family, professionals. A lot of times a stringent demand and hyper control of privacy is to ensure their victim is isolated and can’t effectively flee for help, or so that they can easily convince other people that everything is fine when it is not.

      The fact that he’s only that way behind closed doors suggests he has some degree of control over the way he acts. If I were in your shoes, I would discuss the situation with a certified mental health professional who can help you see the situation more clearly. Just in your brief description here it’s showing a few different red flags that should be not overlooked or brushed off.

      And congratulations on your wellness and stability! Do be careful though, being an unstable person a lot can easily destabilize you too. Particularly if there is abuse of any kind involved.

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