My head's all a-jumble, please help me.
December 11, 2011 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Relationship with bipolar SO--please help.

We are both under 30. We’ve been dating for two years, are living together, and SO has been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar (not sure if it’s I or II).

He’s unmedicated and not in therapy, and refuses to consider either. To be fair, he has tried both in the past, found therapy unhelpful and hated the side-effects of the drugs. I’m completely unfamiliar with the territory. I don’t want to pressure him to try something that actually won’t work. However, it’s been excruciating and frustrating and maddening to watch him waste over six months of his life and seek no help. In addition, when we would talk about it, he would often say things like, “You need to make me go to the gym/study/be productive.” This made me feel like he honestly believed he could get out of this pattern if only *I* were good enough to help him out of it. He has since told me that that was the depression talking and he doesn’t actually believe that, but it made me feel so helpless for months on end. I am not confident that I could do that again if he enters another depressive episode.

He has a night job at which he has access to alcohol, and he takes liberal advantage of that access. He admits that he is self-medicating, but he says that he’s not actually an alcoholic (he’s a heavy user but not addicted). I think the night job and the drinking contributed to the depression, but he won’t consider stopping the drinking, since he doesn’t think it’s excessive. To be fair again, I’m not sure if he actually has a “problem,” either. However, he definitely drinks a lot, and I just think it would probably help him to treat his body better.

He also has a non-serious but cosmetically unpleasant medical issue that would probably hurt his chances at most job interviews, which makes leaving the night job difficult. This issue is easily fixed if he would make the necessary appointments to do so, but a combination of the depressive episode, the ADHD, and (I believe) an avoidance of the issue have stretched this out into months. He has lived rent-free, first with his roommate and now with me, since the issue arose so that he could save money to pay for it. I’m getting really fed up with not at least having some idea of the total cost of the procedures, simply because he can’t pick up the phone.

Lastly, since getting out of the depressive episode he’s been making some violent comments. These aren’t directed toward me, more toward people in general. For example, he says things like, “I hope the political unrest comes to a revolution, because if it does I am grabbing a gun and shooting people.” I honestly don’t know if he’s saying these things because he’s still somewhat depressed, or because he’s switching toward manic, or because he actually believes them. He also has a history of non-violent, but disrespectful language toward me. I’ve gotten better at asserting myself when things like this happen, but I think I reinforced some bad behaviors early in the relationship, and progress has been slow.

Even with all of this, most of the time he’s attentive, sweet, and caring. I’m just so confused. Is the bad stuff coming from him, or the disease? Do I really have no right to expect him to ever be an adult because of his disorders? To ever be able to take care of an errand on his own? He really really wants kids, but I just cannot see myself having kids with him if all of a sudden he could go depressive and for months I’m left completely alone in raising them. Could medication and therapy actually help him, if I can just get him to go? Or is he right that I just have to wait it out when he has an episode? Do the violent comments mean I should be taking immediate action, like calling a hotline or something? Is there anything I can do to save this?

I’m sorry this is so jumbled. I feel like I’m so far in that I can’t recognize what’s acceptable and what’s not. Really any advice is helpful at this point.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Is the bad stuff coming from him, or the disease?

If he is not attempting to mitigate the effects of the disease, the answer to this question doesn't matter.

Being in relationships with people with mental illnesses of various kinds is in and of itself not a problem, but people who won't seek treatment [and to be fair, sometimes the mind sabotages attempts to get well] are not, in my opinion, doing their part. Putting the responsibility on someone else whether it's a partner a co-worker or a friend when you won't take steps yourself is a non-starter in the "Can this relationship work?" book in my universe. I'm not sure I understand why this is worth it. There are a lot of attentive, sweet and caring people in the world who take better care of themselves. Yes, medication and therapy could help. No, they won't help if he refuses to get them and/or puts you in the position of being responsible for "forcing" him to get them. Maybe you had a family member on your past who was like this and this feels normal to you, but let me assure you it is not normal [though it may be typical in some cases, it's not healthy].

It just seems like you and he want very different things. He won't manage his drinking. He won't take steps to manage his mental illness. He talks in scary ways and is unreliable as a partner. He has a job and doesn't pay rent (?!). He's not interested in changing the situation. He does not seem troubled by this state of affairs. You are. I'd say it's time for a good "Come to jesus" discussion with him, deciding what things are dealbreakers, enforcing those boundaries, and then moving forward and getting on with your own life.
posted by jessamyn at 10:00 AM on December 11, 2011 [32 favorites]

Is the bad stuff coming from him, or the disease?

IANAPsych, but the answer is likely "yes."

Do I really have no right to expect him to ever be an adult because of his disorders?

No. No. No. You absolutely have the right. And he has the right to do diddly about it. You can't help someone who doesn't want it, and you can't make him want it.

Is there anything I can do to save this?

Probably not, if what you mean by "save" is "make him deal with his disease like an adult." What you can fix is how you handle it. Your choices include: putting up with it, and dealing with all the drama that entails; not putting up with it, by breaking up with him and getting on with your life. I'm sorry you're in this position. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

There's an awful lot to unpack here, so I'll start with the bit that sticks out to me:

“I hope the political unrest comes to a revolution, because if it does I am grabbing a gun and shooting people.”

Personally and professionally I've met a lot of people with serious mental health issues, and this is not 'normal'. Bipolar disorder can make people irritable and aggressive, but it tends more towards impulsive actions than this. This sounds like a considered, intrinsic violent tendency. Coupled with his lack of respect towards you this puts up a very big red flag for this relationship and your safety in it.
posted by Coobeastie at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

If he didn't have the mental illness as an excuse, I'd say he sounded like a bum with a shitty personality who was taking advantage of you.
posted by facetious at 10:07 AM on December 11, 2011 [14 favorites]

He’s unmedicated and not in therapy, and refuses to consider either.

I stopped reading, right there. You need to leave. He's sick and refusing treatment. That's understandable, the side effects of bipolar drugs can be rough. But he needs to be on meds in order to be functional, there are no ifs, ands or buts there. He needs to accept responsibility for his condition and take steps to care of himself.

There are all sorts of reasonable reasons why a bipolar would not want to be any meds. There are ethical and moral and philosophical questions about whether being on meds changes their personality, denies their true self or is society trying to make everyone normal via a narrow definition.

The bottom line is that most bi-polars can not function without being on some sort of meds. They self harm. They harm others. They can not take care of themselves without medication. So he needs to get treatment

I'm telling you this as guy married to bipolar wife.

I'm also telling you this a human being. The basic rule of relationships is that either party should be able to take care of themselves to a large degree. It sucks that he's bipolar and no, it's not fair. But it is reality and he doesn't get to mess up other people's lives or lay guilt on you just because he's cycling or whatever.


Now that I've read the rest of your post and hear that he's making violent comments, my opinion has only grown stronger. Leave. You're not a babysitter.

Finally, you need to take care of yourself. His behavior and what's he's saying and/or doing impacting you in a negative way. He's an anchor and will drag you do if you allow it. Do not make that mistake, for your own sake. This is the time to lay down an ultimatum: Either he gets back on meds or you're leaving.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2011 [33 favorites]

Is the bad stuff coming from him, or the disease?

What is the difference? I don't mean medically or metaphysically. But as far as it relates to you, what difference does it make? The only difference I can see is that, if it's "him," you will blame him for his behavior but, if it's the disease, you won't blame him. But here's the thing: as person doesn't have to be blameworthy to be a bad partner.

This guy has serious problems. He is not seeking treatment for these problems. These problems are interfering with the quality of your life. That's what matters, and those facts aren't changed by what's causing him to not seek treatment.

Do I really have no right to expect him to ever be an adult because of his disorders?

Of course you have this right. Why do you think you wouldn't?

He really really wants kids, but I just cannot see myself having kids with him if all of a sudden he could go depressive and for months I’m left completely alone in raising them.

I just want you to notice something: do you want kids? How odd that this sentence is solely about whether he wants kids, and completely ignores whether you do. The same thing happens all throughout your post. You pay so much attention to HIM, that you've written almost nothing about YOU. Where are you, in your own life?

Could medication and therapy actually help him, if I can just get him to go?

Oh, here you are. You show up in your post, only in relation to trying to fix him. Here's a better way to word this question, here: "Could medication and therapy actually help him, if he would just go?"

Note, he's responsible for himself. He's responsible for being a good partner to you. He's responsible for living like an adult, making adult decisions, taking or avoiding treatment. You can't make him do anything. It sounds like you're killing yourself, trying to take responsibility for the things only he can do.

Or is he right that I just have to wait it out when he has an episode?

You can do whatever the hell you want. Say that out loud! "I can do whatever the hell I want." Say it, scream it, over and over again, until it starts to sound like truth.

Look: I have mental health issues. My significant other has mental health issues. My mom does, my brother does, my biological father does, my SO's mother and sister do.. Everyone in my life has mental health issues, basically. And here's one thing I know to the very fiber of my being and you need to know too: sometimes, people are too sick to be good partners. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is what you need to do. Sometimes, all there is for you to do is abandon ship, because the ship is sinking, and the only alternative is to go down with it.

Just because someone's sick doesn't mean you have to let them treat you like shit. In fact, sometimes the best way you can help a sick person is by making very clear that, no, you won't be treated like shit just because they're sick. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a person is to make very clear that your needs are just as important as his.

And, all the time, you need to remind yourself that your needs are as important as his--and, really, should be more important to you than his needs are. When you're with someone who's sick, it's so easy to concentrate only on their (very real, very important) needs at your own expense. If you focus all your energy on fixing them, you don't have to spend any energy thinking about yourself, your needs, or how unhappy you are. But that's just feeding into the sickness. That's bringing someone else's dysfunction into your own life. That's not helping anyone.

You're a person. You have needs, wants, desires, and a full life out there ready to be lived. Take it from someone who dearly loves a fair number of bipolar people: you don't have to put up with this shitty treatment just because he's bipolar. Do what you need, do what you want, and let him be responsible for his own life.
posted by meese at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2011 [21 favorites]

hated the side-effects of the drugs

I've only known a handful of people with bipolar disorder, but this was a common theme. They hated the down part, but loved the manic, up part. The drug side effect they hated was that they would not have manic times -- they all felt this is where their specialness, their sparkle, their personality, came from. It's called non-compliance, and it's a real issue that you should consider when thinking about your future with your SO.

“You need to make me go to the gym/study/be productive.”

This is absolutely not your responsibility. It was an unfair thing for him to say. Taking medicine is his responsibility, and just as you can't force him to take it, you also can't be responsible for getting his life aligned. And honestly, there's nothing you can do to fix him.
posted by Houstonian at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I wrote this as an answer to a person who was also dealing with a SO who had bad behavior and wasn't aggressive about seeking treatment. It applies here. Your can't force your SO to do anything, but if they want to stay with you they need to "own" their illness and not take it out on you.
posted by Anonymous at 10:25 AM on December 11, 2011

Is the bad stuff coming from him, or the disease?

What is the difference?

This. His behavior may be explained by his disease, but this in no way makes it alright for you to be in a relationship that makes you feel unhappy, trapped, or threatened. I know that that's an awfully hard idea to swallow, and I know that it's hard to put your own happiness first when someone you care about it struggling. It is in no way alright for him to make you feel responsible for what he's going through, even if he is not doing so intentionally.

What he's going through dealing with this mental illness is painful and unfair, of course it is. But remember that YOU deserve a relationship that always makes you feel happy, cared for, and safe.
posted by one little who at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Get out. If he refuses treatment this has nowhere to go but down. It takes time and effort to find the right meds etc. Plus if his sleep hygiene is poor that makes it even worse.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:48 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm bipolar and absolutely unfit to be in a relationship off medication. I was lucky enough to find a combination that's practically painless. I'm not saying he'll ever find a type or a combination of types of medication that isn't bad news, everybody's different, but giving up after one failed attempt isn't good enough. Twice wouldn't be good enough either. If he's only tried medication once and won't try again, he isn't taking you seriously enough. Don't let him do that to you. On the other hand, if he's been through several types (I would want to know whether he'd tried lithium and lamictal, which are typically the most effective for bipolar depression) and says he can't deal with any of the side effects, you need to get out simply because it won't get better. You don't owe him your life.
posted by Adventurer at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]

When I read your post, it sounds to me like you are being used. If he wasn't bipolar, would you put up with this? I don't like the bit about not taking meds because of the side effects. There are many folks out there who have to take meds with side effects and don't have the option of not taking them, and yet somehow they suck it up and deal with it like an adult. He has no right to take anything out on you.

I think the questions you need to ask yourself are: am I really happy? Do I want to deal with this for the long term? For me, I would want someone who could contribute equally to the relationship. I also would want to be with someone who can manage themselves as an adult, rather than someone who does what they want (the "All About Me" show) and expects you to 'deal with it' and pick up the pieces. And if it were me in your relationship, I would run like hell and not look back.
posted by bolognius maximus at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

You are not unique in facing this situation, if that makes you feel any better. To get an idea of what a healthy relationship with a bipolar SO can look like, read this article.

Re: meds and therapy. A week or so ago on the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance forums (DBSA = very helpful, BTW) someone came around and asked us all if we'd ever tried going it alone, without medication (they called it "the natural way.) I thought I might be the only one who responded with a "heh, yeah, and boy that was stupid" kind of answer, but in fact everyone did. None of us were functional when off our meds. None of us. And all of us have had terrible experiences with bad therapists or lousy side effects or whatever - and we all still know that things are better once we're on the right meds and doing the work in therapy and everything.

As far as being an adult (errands, etc.) that one's trickier. I'm bipolar and I have OCD and ADHD (and social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder and I'll just stop now.) There are times when, even when I'm on meds that seem to be sort of working, it still isn't really at 100%. I'm sort of jazzed because yesterday I did two errands - two errands!! - without letting them sit for weeks, needing to be done. I give myself major props when I deposit checks (as in, let myself have access to money people have sent to me) before they're a month old. I'm a work in progress, as are most people with chronic mental illness.

I think it's unlikely you're going to see this person living up to an idealized version of himself no matter what kind of treatment he gets. If there are aspects of your life that are really really important (like the garbage being taken out frequently, or a regular date night where he's dressed up nicely, or really excellent behavior when eating dinner with your folks on Thanksgiving) you're probably going to have to trade off other things that aren't as important to you. It's also frankly stupid to expect an ADHD person to remember lots of stuff or be somehow organized without external support. External support doesn't have to be a person, but you can't indulge yourself with magical thinking on that issue.

You have in any case a right to expect to be in a relationship with someone who is working hard to keep the relationship good. You may have to exert that right by leaving this relationship for a better one, though. You can't fix someone who doesn't want to be fixed or doesn't think he's broken.

Anyway, self care and education for you.

1. Read I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help. Consider also The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide. Also check out the NAMI, DBSA, and NIMH information sheets on bipolar disorder.
2. Look into Al-Anon, DBSA, and NAMI support groups. For yourself, I mean. Don't worry about trying to get him help just yet.
3. Enroll in the NAMI Family-to-Family course.

Memail me if you have any questions or just want to chat with a bipolar/ADHD person who isn't your SO. :)

(Oh, and the "make me do it" line is complete bull, but if you're OK with helping him set up a system to remind himself, and/or gently nag him [with his consent] it will, realistically, help things get done. Depression and ADHD suck the "this really should be done" motivation out of a person in a big way, and in fact a frequently suggested workplace accommodation for mental illness is a reminder/accountability system. Since I came back to work after my disability period last month, I now meet with my supervisor weekly to give a status report and make sure we both know what the expectations are and how I'm living up to them, and things are MUCH better than they used to be.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2011 [10 favorites]

Relationships are work -- and a good part of that work is done on the individual's side to make themselves a healthy and happy part of a functioning whole. Each person has their own special brand of baggage to work on to make themselves a better partner. Your SO is not even trying to work on his. He's intentionally not doing his best for you and the relationship. It doesn't even really matter that he is bipolar -- he still owes you and the relationship his best efforts. Just because he has a mental illness doesn't mean he doesn't need to put in some work -- in fact, he really needs to put in more. Otherwise, he's not respecting you and he's not working to make this an equal partnership.
posted by imalaowai at 11:18 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Known many people with bipolar and for some of them, it takes till they hit rock bottom during a severe depressive episode for them to seek help. Never known one to seek help during a manic phase, unless they broke the law and were committed for observation.

That doesn't mean he's a bad person, but the tendency for him to say derogatory things to you and make statements about violence is worrying. You've become better at being assertive, but why have to put up with that in the first place?

Not your job to fix him. Doesn't mean you can't care, at a distance. You can even feel guilty, at a distance, if you want. But for your own mental and physical safety, err on the side of caution and disengage from this person. You're not married and don't even consider having children with someone untreated like this, can you imagine what the kids would go through?

Imagine he went away today and you didn't have to feel all of this. Would you feel really upset or relieved? Because it seems like you are asking if it's okay to get out of a relationship that's very unhealthy for you, mentally, financially, and perhaps physically (due to stress, if not potential violence). It's okay. Trust me, if he can hold down any sort of job he can pick up the phone and make inquiries and other things. He's using you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:32 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you value your best interests at all, leave him.

Drinking a lot, disrespectful language, (alleged) inability to run an errand, living rent-free so he can get help and not getting it... and seemingly good at coming up with reasons why things are not his responsibility... the word "parasite" comes to mind.

If you are determined to stick it out, here's hoping you are taking careful responsibility for birth control. Wouldn't put it past this guy to try to get you pregnant.
posted by ambient2 at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

if this makes it easier to consider, recovery from bipolar is not unlike addiction recovery. if he's not willing to actively participate, it's not going to happen. you can't fix him, and you can't do anything to make him get help if he's unwilling. without treatment, none of the other stuff you talk about will ever get any better. (this doesn't mean he HAS to be medicated, just that he needs some form of treatment. probably including meds.)

if you'd like to memail me, please do. i'm bipolar I + a bunch of other shit, in a committed relationship that is surprisingly healthy considering all the challenges i bring to the table.

above all, keep yourself safe. i know you love him, but if you are not emotionally and physically safe, you are both in trouble.
posted by unlucky.lisp at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2011

[I'm just a young person, who spent two years with another young person, during which he got diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I know it's not easy.]

Yes, a lot of the bad stuff can certainly be attributed to his disease.

What's more telling to me is the fact that, right now, he refuses treatment. It suggests a certain complacency on his part. Yes, therapy can be unhelpful and meds can suck ass in so many ways, but there are a wealth of resources, in books and on the internets and probably elsewhere, that can help him figure out what to try, or where to start. As a SO, you might want to help point him to some such resources, but you should not have to do the work for him.
My honest opinion is that if he were as unhappy about the current situation as you were, then he'd make an effort to change it.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2011

Do I really have no right to expect him to ever be an adult because of his disorders?

Of course you have the right to expect that your partner -- any partner -- will be an adult.

By the same token, if your partner -- any partner -- actively refuses to take all the necessary steps to be an adult, then you have the obligation to prioritize your own personal and emotional well-being, and move on. That's the real expectation I would advise you start to internalize. I know, it's scarier, because it's an expectation of yourself and not of him. But, as you've written this, it's the only healthy option you have.
posted by scody at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

It's really not fair that you're unhappy and worried about someone who refuses to take care of himself. He won't feel motivated to change as long as there is a parade of people willing to feel sorry for him and subsidize his laziness. He get to do whatever the hell he wants, while you have to be the adult and do the heavy lifting.

It's really not fair to you.

I mean, he has every right to seek help or not, but you shouldn't have to foot the bill for it, and those who do are probably not doing him any favors in the long run.
posted by SillyShepherd at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a flippant comment in some ways but when I read this after the previous facebook msgs question I thought 'how great does the sex have to be for these people to be putting up with this and essentially paying (via rent and/or car insurance) for the privilege?!'

I think this disease like alcoholism requires the person with the issue to deal with the issue by getting help. Enabling is not helpful and is obviously painful. I would give him one more opportunity to seek help- for the BP and the other medical/cosmetic issue- and then get out.

Sorry to be unsypathetic but it seems like sympathy is NOT working for either of you.
posted by bquarters at 1:02 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Your situation is so difficult -- you want to do the right thing and to be compassionate. He's rationalizing and wants to blame you when he's feeling depressed. You know about the good in him, but a lot of the time he seems like a completely different person.

Living with a mentally ill person takes a great toll on their partner. I suggest that you go to a therapist yourself. Clarify what help you actually can give, learn to set boundaries, and discuss what you can do for yourself when he's not making any positive changes.

I'm not talking about going on and on with therapy -- even one session could help a lot. It will feel like a relief to talk with someone who understands and who's on your side.

When people here say "What difference does it make whether the bad behavior is him or the disease," it sounds harsh. But it really means that when it affects you, the behavior is the thing you can or can't tolerate. You can feel sympathy because he's ill, but the real issue is that he refuses to get the help that would make the relationship worthwhile for you.
posted by wryly at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2011

I don't have bipolar disorder, but I have depression, generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. All those together = crazy, suicidal, isolating behaviors that affect me and ALSO affect my partner. I take medication every day, even though the side effects are unpleasant. They allow me to function as an adult in society and in my relationships. I thank the Creator that I live in an age when there is medication that allows me this opportunity. I have a responsibility to myself and to my partner to stay healthy and that means taking the meds that help fix my brain. I would not expect my partner to stay with me if I didn't stay on top of my mental health. It would be selfish of me to expect her to watch me self-destruct by my non-compliance with a regimen that keeps me sane and even happy.

As for "Is it the disease or is it him?" Well, my depression is part of me. I take responsibility for the things I've done and the people that I have hurt when I was not treating it. Is an alcoholic responsible for choosing to get behind the wheel? Most certainly! This is not to say that I haven't made my mistakes and tried to self-medicate and done a hundred different things to justify and rationalize my decisions. It's been a long road, though, and I have found a regimen and a lifestyle that work for me. So I keep to it. It's not always easy, but my life is so much better than it was!

Until he starts taking care of himself, I don't think you are obligated to stay with him. That's not to say that you can't love and support him, but I don't think you can trust him to decide what's best for him and ultimately for your relationship. I sincerely wish both of you the best. Mental illness is tough and tricky and sneaky, but there is more help out there than ever before.

As a side note, alcohol is a depressant. Self-medicating with alcohol makes depression worse. It feels better in the moment, but boy does it kick up the blues the next day.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:22 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bipolar disorder is the kind of thing you can't merely reason your way out of, because it is a disorder of your ability to reason.

It takes medication to get your brain right.

If your partner refuses to medicate his mental disorder, then you need to leave him until he acknowledges that this is wrong with him.
posted by edguardo at 6:49 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I feel like I’m so far in that I can’t recognize what’s acceptable and what’s not.

As an uninterested observer this thing looks like a complete train wreck. If a friend of yours brought this situation to you, you would likely say the same.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:43 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with those above who say that you need to have a serious talk with him including an ultimatum. Your threatening to leave might actually be the catalyst for him seeking treatment (don't take it personally if it's not). However, you need to realize that treatment is a long process and he will never ever not be bipolar. If he goes off the meds (a very likely possibility) or stops treatment, he will be the same as he is now. It takes a very serious commitment to be in a relationship with someone like this, and you should think long and hard before you make decisions (e.g. kids) that will have long-lasting consequences.
posted by desjardins at 9:33 AM on December 12, 2011

I'm the bi-polar half of a couple. The ultimatum I had from my husband was (basically) "I can deal with this if you're working as hard as you can to get treatment, keep trying to manage the disease and keep talking to me honestly about how you're feeling." That means going through side effects, changing meds, increasing/decreasing dosages, finding the right doc, etc. Oh, and more importantly, it means giving everything I have when I'm having a good spell: 1) showing extra appreciation of how much he's doing when I'm in the Pit, 2) doing extra work around the house, 3) providing extra attention/help with kids and 4) just letting him know how much I love him. I want him to feel like it's worth it -- even in some small way -- and even when my own brain can't imagine it would possibly be worth it. For you? Before anything else, it starts with him saying, "I'm sick -- I'm so sorry -- I don't want to lose you and I'll fight like hell to get to a better place where I can treat you the way you deserve and we can be happy." If he can't go there, then neither can you.
posted by bluemoonegg at 12:17 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

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