I never knew just how awful bipolar disorder could be
December 11, 2012 11:22 PM   Subscribe

What do you do when brain chemistry has turned your beloved partner into someone who doesn't seem to like you and who you, well, don't really like that much either? Please help me understand how to live through and survive my significant other's first manic episode.

My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 years. We live together. We've been through thick and thin. He has always been extraordinarily loving, sweet, caring, compassionate... Etc. He's been horribly depressed in the past, and I have been there to help him through it. It was always extraordinarily hard for me (let alone him!), but I made it through because, deep down, even through all the anguish, he was loving and good to me.

This is different.

This manic episode has probably been going on for about two weeks now. We thought the worst was over (stupid naivety!). Then, I had to go out of town this weekend. A friend stayed with him while I was gone. When I got home, he had a psychotic break. He accused both me and the friend of reading his thoughts. He thought he could predict the future. He spent a while terrified I was turning into a monster. I really should have called 911, but I didn't. Because I was tired and confused and scared and made the wrong decision. He finally slept, and the psychotic symptoms passed. All in all, for a psychotic break, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been, but it was still the most painful, disturbing, and horrible night of my life.

During the weekend while I was gone, he determined (decided? Concluded? Revealed? I don't know) that he's transgendered and gay. His psychotic break may have been triggered by fear of telling me this when I got home?

Now, he is barely talking to me, or even looking at me. He is angry. Last night, he told me I'm his enemy... Although he did recant that a few hours later. He answers questions in single syllables. If I ask for information about what he's doing, or what he has been doing, or what he's about to do, he completely refuses to answer. I see no love in his eyes, or compassion, or kindness, or concern. He does things he know will upset me, almost as if he's daring me to get mad at him. Yesterday and today, he has spent all of his time in the bedroom, mostly naked, masturbating. He is eager to have sex with me, but I really do not feel comfortable doing so.

He has seen a doctor since the psychotic break. He's on lithium now, but in a very lose dosage, and I'm not sure if he's taking his pills. (He won't tell me.) There are gears in motion to get him the psychiatric treatment he needs -- but they are slow, poorly funded gears that, from my point of view, are taking forever. And, in the meantime, my life with my partner is hell.

I do not know how much truck to put in his crossdressing and claims to be gay. Especially since he's trying so hard to get me to have sex with him all the time. Especially since, clearly, his brain chemistry is messed up. But if he is really transgendered and gay, that means that our relationship is pretty much done. I mean, I'm a woman. And I want my sexual partner to be someone who participates in the masculine gender. That's just how I am.

So, here I am. Right now, my partner is terrifyingly ill. And he's being mean, and off-putting, and clearly does not want to be with me. And if I could just say to myself, "This isn't him at all, we'll survive this, we'll come back together and our relationship will get strong again once his brain starts working right again," then I'd probably be able to get through it. But I don't know if our relationship will get strong again -- for all I know, it's practically over! He tells me he's gay, he's dressing like a woman, and if that's just who he is, for real, rather than a symptom of his disorder, then I have no idea how to live with this.

I'm sorry if my description is insensitive with regards to to LGBT concerns. I want to emphasize that, most definitely, being transgendered and being gay are not in any way mental disorders. But clearly, my boyfriend does have a mental disorder. And I have no idea how to make sense of his claims about his sexual/gender identity, or the status of our relationship, or how the hell I'm supposed to stay sane with all this going on around me.

I also want to note that "manic episode" and "psychotic break" are NOT official diagnoses. They're just the best way he or I can make sense of what is happening to him. Again, he hasn't really been able to get psychiatric evaluation yet.

Please help me. Can you give me any advice about living with a partner's manic episodes? Can you help me understand why he's so distant and angry with me, and how I can live with that? What I can do to help him, and what I can do to keep motivating myself to help him when he so clearly doesn't want it or appreciate it? Can you point me towards any information relating to sexual/gender identity and bipolar disorder (if there is any)? Do you have any advice for living with a partner who's clearly experiencing hypersexuality?

This has only been a short while now. I read online that manic episodes can last months. I'm already so scared and alone and terrified, I have no idea how I could handle this anymore.
posted by The Puppet of Secrets to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Hey - I'm really sorry you're going through this. There's lots of links out there for supporting your manic partner, but not many for supporting those who love/care for a manic partner. It sounds like you love your boyfriend a lot and want to do whatever you can to help...

However, your own sanity needs to come first. Do you have friends or family you can talk to about this? His mentioning sexual identity and orientation troubles can explain some of the behavior, and his increased sex drive may be himself trying to find out where he lies on the spectrum. With proper treatment, there IS hope for him. If he does come to the conclusion he is gay, it would be devastating to end the relationship but so much healthier for you both in the end.

This may be rambling (it's almost 3am local time and I'm sleepy), but I created this account and paid the $5 to specifically respond to you. Do you know where/how to find help? Check into your local crisis center/United Way/211 for resources, including some that could help pay for evaluation if you can't afford it.

I worked in crisis centers/mental health hotlines for four years and talked to many people in your situation. Don't give up hope. I know it may make you feel guilty, but take some time to yourself every once in awhile to recoup. Message me through this account if you have any specific questions or need help finding resources in your area.
posted by laurahaye at 11:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is far beyond what you are capable of handling on your own. Please, for your safety and his get him to ER before he hurts himself. This is a life and death situation.
posted by JimmyJames at 11:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]

Yes to what JimmyJames says. My sister went through psychotic episodes, came home to mother, was finally diagnosed with bipolar, but her marriage has survived almost 2 decades. You need family and/or a social network asap for help. My parents were there for my brother in law, knowing he has/was family made a huge difference for him as they were all able to deal with this together. Not alone.

Also, do you know if he has access to any drugs (from the suddenness of the psychotic break)?
posted by infini at 11:46 PM on December 11, 2012

Response by poster: Let me reiterate, we saw a doctor this morning. (I do not know why we couldn't get in to see one on Monday.) We also saw someone from the psychiatric health center at the hospital -- the doctor called her in. Hospitalization was considered, but rejected for the time being. My boyfriend and I were both told what to look out for -- under what conditions I should take him to the ER for immediate help.

I completely agree, this is far beyond what I'm capable of handling on my own. I don't want to handle it on my own. I should have taken him to the ER Sunday night and, if I had, he probably would be hospitalized right now. But I didn't. And this is where I am now, doing what doctors have told me to do, but not really understanding how to survive it.

I don't want advice about how to make my boyfriend sane again, because I'm pretty sure the only thing that can do that is drugs, of the right dosages. Right now, he has access to lithium, caffeine, and nicotine. He swears he has had no other drugs.
posted by The Puppet of Secrets at 11:52 PM on December 11, 2012

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I have a lot of experience with bipolar disorder, as my father and two close friends have it. (One of those friends is currently manic and showed up in my office this morning in the middle of some sort of psychotic break, and I was just thinking afterwards about how hard it is to be her friend right now, and how IMPOSSIBLE it would be to live with her.)

My own experience tells me to never ever believe anything the person says or shows you about themselves during a manic or depressive episode. They are really just not themselves. While someone above suggested the hypersexuality might be a way your boyfriend is dealing with sexual identity issues, I would say it is as least as likely to be the other way around. He might be struggling to understand his sexual feelings right now, with the hypersexuality that is frequently part of mania, and maybe the only way he can interpret them is to decide his sexual identity is different from what he thought.

So wait it out as best you can. You are right that it could take months. Can you handle that? I would say you should get yourself to a therapist for YOU as soon as possible. You need someone to talk this through with. You might be lucky that your boyfriend's psych manages to find the right medication for him and that it works right away, and so the situation might only last a week or so. But either way, you need help for YOU.

And for what it's worth, my father and one of my friends can go years in between episodes. The friend because (I think) she takes her medication religiously and has something that works well. My father despite not taking his medication properly or often. The other friend has been in and out of episodes with only a few weeks of normality in between ever since I've known her (like the past 10 years), but that is not at all the usual experience.
posted by lollusc at 11:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Then what you need right now is a hug.
posted by infini at 11:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

What part of the whole that you've written about is causing you the most anguish?

How can we best offer to be here for you right now?

Which part do you want to discuss or share or hear about?
posted by infini at 11:56 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

One thing to remember when someone is going through a manic or depressive episode, and this is so very hard to do, is to keep in mind that your partner will say and do so many things that make no sense and it's the illness talking. He is not himself right now. And I understand from talking to the people in my life that it's very difficult to disconnect the familiar face from the strangeness of their actions, but if you can find a way to do so then getting through his ups and downs will be easier for both of you.

Also, it may take some time to find a medication or combination of medications that will bring your guy back to stability. The name of this game is patience. I wish you both the best of luck.

Feel free to memail me if you need someone to talk to.
posted by patheral at 12:24 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

First, my sympathies--what a scary situation. The one thing I would recommend is to stop trying to model your boyfriend's thoughts for now. You keep saying he's angry, he wants this or that, etc. Those are attributions of intentionality and ordinary significance to thought processes that are at least partly on vacation. You're worried some of what he's saying will still be true in a couple of weeks, but if it isn't then neither you nor him will want for you to have adjusted your mental model of him, so just don't. Describe his words and actions to yourself as clinically as possible, as if you're observing someone having a waking nightmare, where there's just no sense in saying "He thinks" or "He wants." You're in more of a "Subject stated words to the effect ..." situation for a little while. Treat connections between what he says and does essentially as accidents until they resume a pattern that seems sustained and predictable.

Bear in mind I'm not saying the information you have here is necessarily irrelevant long-term, but for now all that matters is everyone's safety and reasonable care.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:39 AM on December 12, 2012 [12 favorites]

But if he is really transgendered and gay, that means that our relationship is pretty much done.

I have absolutely no idea if your boyfriend is transgendered and/or gay, but I would not put any stock into anything he says right now. I mean, he may think he is gay right now, but he also thinks you're his enemy and he also thinks sex is a great and welcome idea. What is in his head and pouring out of his mouth is not rooted in reality. I know it seems impossible because it's so threatening, but of all the issues before the two of you right now, I would rate this one with the least seriousness. Give it no truck.

As to how to stay sane, contact NAMI on 1 (800) 950-6264 and talk to someone there. They can provide immediate telephone advice and support to you but also refer you to a local support group. And you really need that support right now, it's really important.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:45 AM on December 12, 2012 [15 favorites]

I might be a bad person for saying this, but if I were you, and this were my husband (assuming it was out of my power to get him serious medical treatment ASAP), I would remove myself from the home. I would check in on him regularly armed with our friends and family members. But I would not live with him until he was diagnosed and receiving effective treatment. It may be cold, but until that point, I would keep my distance.
posted by murfed13 at 1:06 AM on December 12, 2012 [15 favorites]

Ditto-ing removing yourself from the home. The behaviour you describe is abusive. Just because it is ostensibly arising from mental illness doesn't make it any less harmful to you, or any less abusive. You need to protect yourself. You need to treat yourself the way you would treat a loved one. Would you tell a beloved sister, mother, or friend to stay in a home where she was being treated this way?
posted by parrot_person at 1:10 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

In response to the 2 people above me, please do not leave him alone. By all means call on someone to support you, or take over for a while, but do not leave him in the house alone.

I would suggest trying delaying tactics in his lucid moments. Suggest watching a movie or going to bed early or anything other than talking. He knows that he is on medication, he knows he is awaiting more treatment so use this against him as best you can. Just go along with it for now and keep saying 'Let's not talk about this tonight honey, lets just wait til we can talk to someone about it... etc'.

Get yourself some support, talk to friends or people here or whatever.

He is sick, if he was on deaths door from some physical illness you wouldn't leave him alone and you wouldn't blame him for symptoms he can't control (not saying you are, just pointing it out), so if you love him, and I read loud and clear that you do, please stick around until he gets help.

I don't want to scare you but my husband suffered from depression which progressed into somewhat of a psychotic episode and eventually I couldn't stand it any longer. I asked a friend to keep an eye on him while I took a few days for myself. My husband told his friend he was going to his parents and not to come over that night. That same friend found him dead in his car the next morning after I reported a suicide email sent to my work email account. Please, please, don't leave him alone!

Good luck, my thoughts are with you and I'm praying that this will get better quickly for the 2 of you.
posted by Youremyworld at 1:52 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Does he have family that you can call?
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:57 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

For down the road, since the cross-dressing/transgendered/gay thing clearly distresses you... The world is full of straight crossdressers who incorporate this aspect of their lives into healthy happy loving relationships. However, when coming to terms with it, many young crossdressers wonder if it means they are gay or where on the transgendered spectrum they fall. If he is a crossdresser (vs that behavior being an artifact of his current brain chemistry), he may also be acting out the euphoria of having told/shown you that side of himself... including the chronic masturbation and hoping for sex with you. Take care.
posted by carmicha at 3:21 AM on December 12, 2012

No one can single-handedly protect and monitor an extremely mentally ill loved one 24/7. I am by no means suggesting that the OP entirely abandon her boyfriend in his time of need. But if she were my best friend, I would tell her that he sounds like he his is potentially dangerous and not himself, and that she should take a break and call for reinformcents in the form of a much wider support network of his and her friends and family as well as medical professionals.

Although not a partner, I had an extremely close friend whose behaviors at one point sounded much like the OP's boyfriend's behaviors. He really, really scared me to the point I was fearful he would hurt me. He never directly threatened me, but when I looked into his eyes I couldn't see his true self anymore, and in his place was an irrational, unpredictible imposter. I did not trust him. I don't want to get into too many details, but I have seen another friend in a manic state brandish a kitchen knife at one of her closest loved ones, and later behave with such a high level of disregard for human life that she is lucky no one was killed. These two people are both wonderful, loving people, who now have their respective mental illnesses under control. But at their worst, it was not healthy or safe to be around them. They were both hospitalized.

Listen, I'm not trying to scare you out of your wits OP, or to suggest that people who suffer from mental illness are dangerous lunatics who don't deserve our love. Your boyfriend does deserve your love, but you are not a martyr, and you shouldn't sacrifice yourself at the base of a mountain that is too big for you to climb alone. I don't know him in his well state, but I'm sure he wouldn't want you to do this alone either. It IS okay to take care of yourself, and if you think the best way to do that is to temporarily leave and let friends, family, and professionals step in, then you should not for one second be made to feel guilty for making that decision.
posted by murfed13 at 3:44 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was in a six year relationship with a man who had untreated bipolar, and in the fourth year he had a several-week manic episode that culminated in a psychotic break. Like you I had no 'language' for discussing this, so my terms are not clinical, only the best way I can describe what happened. During this period he was also hypersexual (it was the 'only thing that made him feel better'), mean to the point of deliberate cruelty (which he would retract within a few hours but it didn't stop the behavior in the long term), refused treatment until the point that he reached self-harm, and then he only completed the mandatory inpatient - and afterwards, blamed me for 'forcing him to be committed'.

I tried to take care of him to the best of my ability given his state and refusal to cooperate or trust me, and in the process, I lost my job of several years, had to drop out of school, spent thousands of dollars on emergency medical bills to get him into care because I was terrified he was going to hurt himself, and so much more that I am too sad to even type out. Ultimately he 'snapped out' of the worst of the manic/mean behavior and went back to a more or less normal existence, but he never stopped blaming me for the actions I took while he was incapacitated, and eventually he left me for another woman - one who had never seen the mental illness and 'didn't believe he could ever be like that'.

I shared all this painful stuff because I wanted to provide some context for my suggestion to you, because without it, it sounds harsh: If I were faced with the situation again, I would IMMEDIATELY have him put in inpatient/psychiatric hold, begin removing my stake from the relationship (ie move out), end the physical relationship, define the limits of your interaction going forward, and begin grieving the end of the relationship. This is not the 'normal' mental illness those with depression experience, and the typical refrains of not abandoning the ill or 'dropping the depressed person' are irrelevant and dangerous here. You are not a sacrifice for his issues, and you cannot be expected to be sucked over his event horizon simply because you're the one who cares enough to get him the help he's refusing to get on his own. It is a painful, horrible fact that mental illness treatment for this level of problem is difficult to access, slow in receipt, extremely expensive, and has little to no resources for the partners of those who break. I am so sorry that you are going through this and I wish I had a better answer, but four years after my own experience with this I am still cleaning up the mess, paying off those bills, and dying a little inside every time I pass him on the street with his 'new' partner and they ignore me as the crazy bitch who tried to have him committed.

Wishing you much strength and courage. Please feel free to memail me if you need an ear/shoulder from someone who has been through this.
posted by par court at 4:07 AM on December 12, 2012 [30 favorites]

I also was in a relationship with someone who was bipolar once. (I didn't diagnose him, but it did fit the symptoms, and the force protection people who ended up having to evaluate his threats against the base I was posted to believed that was accurate.)

On his psychotic break he thought that he was part of an elite paramilitary organization that he had betrayed and were coming to kill him. His hypersexuality manifested in him trying to rape me when I didn't want to have sex with him, and the other stuff manifested in him trying to kill me.

It was one of the scariest times of my life, and it did not get better, it only got worse.

Please get out. I know you have loved him, but please get out. That person is not the person you loved at the moment. That person is dangerous. Do not return. It may seem to get better for a time, but it will always return.

Memail me if you need more details or support.
posted by corb at 4:20 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

doing what doctors have told me to do, but not really understanding how to survive it.

Because the need for mental health care exceeds the available resources most Drs and hospitals are happy to push health care onto family members while they deal with either the easy cases or the crisis situations. You need to make it clear to him he must be hospitalized to obtain stability and that he can only return home when stable and taking his meds in an open and transparent manner with you.

I'm not sure if he's taking his pills. (He won't tell me.)

Leave. His illness is his responsibility and if he isn't practicing self care - as directed by his doctor - then you have no further obligation to look after him. Let his support network know but you need to get space and time to yourself to process your trauma. Maybe later he will be in a healthy place to resume a relationship. Just like if he was diagnosed with diabetes, you would not be obligated to eat salad while he gouged on ice cream all day, you cannot be the "healthy" one in an unhealthy relationship and expect anything except him treating you worse and his health deteriorating.

I am so sorry. It is very hard to go through but this is his journey and he will be the one deciding the path. You can offer to meet him partway on the path but first make sure he is on the right path with medication, constant medical monitoring, major life style changes and a commitment from him to get better.
posted by saucysault at 4:49 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

He is your BF, not your husband.

If one of your prominent thoughts during his mental illness and episodes is how this is affecting your relationship, then I genuinely suggest you get a family member or close friend involved.

Objectively speaking, no judgment - you are not in a good position to help him given the relationship question; best left to someone for whom this is not a consideration in response and treatment.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:24 AM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

You mentioned he had been depressed in the past. Has he been proactive in the treatment and prevention of relapses? Did the health care professional who he has been seeing regularly to monitor his depression not notice the manic phase? If he has not been responsible in his care of his previous health crisis then he most likely will not be responsible in treating this one. He should have already built up a large support network of friends, professionals and resources to help him through the previous depression; he can lean on it now. If he had NOT built up this support network (beyond leaning very heavy on you) then you definately need space and time to yourself to beak this unhealthy dynamic of him drowning and pulling you under in order to survive.
posted by saucysault at 6:00 AM on December 12, 2012

You need help dealing with this and you should not be alone with him in the house. I think, if you can afford it, you should hire a home care aide service who is experienced with dangerous mental health issues to come and deal with this for you, and that you should leave until he's back to healthy.

There are two reasons I suggest this: one is to protect you (obviously), but the other is to protect your relationship.

The way he is behaving now is NOT who he truly is. It is NOT representative of his real personality. But the longer you stay with him while he's like this, the more you'll come to associate this with him and the harder it will be, later, to remember that this is not who he is. Bad/ scary memories are more powerful than regular good ones; a frightening experience can create a neural pathway immediately which can override pathways created by pleasant or unremarkable experiences. The word for this is trauma, and if being around him is traumatising, it's going to make your future relationship very hard to deal with. There's also the possibility that his mania could escalate and result in physical harm to you. I am not trying to scare you, but it's true.

Some posters have suggested that you shouldn't leave in order to protect him or likened leaving to abandoning someone with another illness. But here's the thing: if he does decide that he's really determined to hurt himself, he's going to find a way whether you're there or not. And if your loved one had a highly contagious illness that could seriously harm you both, the wise thing to do would be to quarantine him and let the professionals handle it.

Don't worry about the gay/ transgender stuff. It's probably about as legit as his ability to read the future was. If it is genuine, that's something you can discuss once he's healthy again, but it's probably nothing.
posted by windykites at 6:29 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think this is one of those times where you have to declare a state of emergency on your life and make it so its ok to focus on the short term things that need to get done in order to get through the immediate crisis.

So what I think you should do is:

1. Protect yourself.

Make sure you're safe, if you feel unsafe call the police and leave. Ask friends and family if there someone who can come stay with you both so you're not alone or you can leave and do things to take care of yourself without worrying.

Look after your own mental health. Try to find a therapist so you can talk about your feelings and have a safe space to deal with them.

Postpone major decisions, such as breakups, till after the crisis has passed while doing everything you can to make sure you're ok right now.

Look into support groups and other resources for people who have loved ones with mental illness. You're not alone.

2. Deal with the immediate crisis your BF is going through.

Maybe post your location so people can give more specific advice about medical treatment/options.

Do what you can to make sure he sleeps.

If you think he's going to hurt himself call 911.

I think those are the big priorities followed by putting your relationship back together and developing a plan to stop this ever happening again, which is totally possible and many people lead normal and functional lives despite being mentally ill.

The claims of being gay and transexual, despite being understandably upsetting are probably things best left till after the immediate crisis is over. Your boyfriend is not the man you know right now. The really harmful and pernicious thing about mental illness is that it changes people and makes them act in was that if they had any control over they never would.

Best of luck.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:33 AM on December 12, 2012

I also think this sounds INCREDIBLY unsafe and that you need to leave the home.

It is time to call in his family. This waaaay beyond you.

I'm so sorry.

His condition has gotten worse and worse. Unless you have his medical power of attorney, you are NOT legally in a position to handle this.

His condition has gotten worse and worse. You are alone with him. You are NOT in a position to live alone safely with him.

- Can you get him to voluntarily commit himself?
- Will they notify you if he leaves the hospital?

This is the only way you are safe in your home. Otherwise, you need to make other arrangements for him, and for you.

Again, I am so sorry.
posted by jbenben at 9:11 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Okay, I've been on both sides of this picture. I have been manic or depressed many times and had loved ones stare at me in terror or awe and wonder if/when I'll be my normal self again. And I've also having dated a man with sever bipolar whom I left because he would not get help for his bipolar and it did manifest itself into psychosis which turned extremely dangerous.

OP, if he sees you as the enemy, then your home is not a safe place for you right now. You need to remove yourself until he seeks proper attention and you know for sure that he is taking his medication and that his medication is working. Just because he is on Lithium does not mean his bipolar condition is under control. Taking Lithium sent me further into mania and deeper into psychosis. I thought the neighbors were spying on us... it wasn't pretty. As always with any medication and mental illness, it is hit or miss.

Here's the thing. You've known this man for seven years. You know who he is. What he is right now not who you know him to be (as I mentioned before). His illness has hi-jacked his mind, which is why they call it "not in his right mind." I know that it's harder to stay objective when he's treating you like an enemy, but he's not seeing YOU, he's seeing a warped version of the world and you're a character in some play that his illness is writing for him. --It's so hard to explain to someone who's never lived it...

Anyway, if he seeks professional help, if he gets on the proper medication(s), and if you two can communicate with each other about this without judgement, then he can once again become the man you knew before this. Except for right now. Right now, if he is treating you like an enemy, and if you feel truly threatened, it is probably in YOUR best interest to remove yourself from the situation. You do not have to explain yourself to him. He will probably not accept the explanation anyway, esp if he sees you as an enemy, just pack a bag and announce (or leave a note) that you'll be staying somewhere for a few days. By all means, check in on him (I'd do it via telephone or internet) or have friends check in on him, but put yourself and your health first.

If fear of his reaction to leaving is keeping you in a dangerous situation, I leave you with these words... you can only control your own actions. His actions are out of your control. If you leave (or stay) and he does something unmentionable, the only person responsible for his actions are him, even when he is not in his right mind. Think of it like this, being manic or depressed does NOT absolve someone of their responsibility, just as being incredibly drunk doesn't. Being manic/depressed/drunk as hell takes away a person's control, but when that state of being passes, it's still up to that person to pick up the pieces of whatever mess they made. For example, if, in a manic rage, I happen to quit the only job I have, smash every dish in the house, and punch holes in the wall, I still have to deal with the consequences of those actions when I come out of that rage. The smashed crockery, holey walls, and lack of income are no one's fault but my own, just as the hurt feelings of the people around me are mine to heal, even if they know I was out of control. If your boyfriend were in a drunken rage, you'd probably remove yourself from the situation and allow him to sober up and calm down. This is very similar but it lasts longer and requires a bit more to "sober up" and calm down.

I really do wish you the best of luck. Also, I haven't been there in a while, but there is a support group online called crazyboards. I believe they have a board there for significant others, but I don't really remember. If not, I'm sure they can point you in the right direction. Sometimes it helps to know you're not dealing with this alone.
posted by patheral at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

I forgot to address the hypersexuality and potential gayness, but I'd like to since it seems to bother you the most, OP. When I was hypomanic and hypersexed, I found myself attracted to women, and I'm as straight as straight can be when I'm stable. I never actually had sex with a woman, but I considered it. Then again, I considered having sex with anyone that moved or breathed (it wasn't pretty inside my head). I seriously thought I might be bisexual. When I came down from the mania, I realized that I wasn't gay, bi, or even attracted to women anymore; it was a temporary thing. Seriously, this is part and parcel of the illness. It could be that your partner is finding himself attracted to men *because* he his hypersexed, and since he has never been attracted to men before (since he is straight) he has concluded that he must be gay. It may not occur to him that this is a symptom of the hypersexuality. I can't speak to the sudden need to dress in women's clothing though...

Anyway IANAD, but I did have a similar symptom during my hypersexed phases. Since he's still trying to have sex with you at every opportunity, I would probably consider it a symptom and not a sudden lifestyle change. Now, since I am not a doctor, or a psychiatrist, simply a fellow nutter, he might very well have turned over a new leaf. That's for him and his psychiatrist to figure out. I'm just here to relate my experience.
posted by patheral at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm really concerned about you. Who is hoping you? Who is supporting you? Have you called his parents or siblings?

This situation is not physically or emotionally safe for you. Despite your love for him, you are not the best person to help him through his.
posted by discopolo at 11:33 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

*helping you
posted by discopolo at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2012

*hoping is okay usage for this site.
posted by Doohickie at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm so sorry I have taken so long to follow-up. Things have been rough.

My boyfriend was finally involuntarily hospitalized (he was seeking voluntary hospitalization, but it was upgraded). I felt such relief, when he was admitted. Yes, I felt awful for him, but I also finally was able to realize just how stressful and painful the last few weeks have been. I was able to recognize how vigilant I had been, and I was relieved someone else now was making sure he didn't hurt himself.

In case anyone reading this is looking for advice about what to do, let me say a few things about what happened and what I learned.

He was finally convinced to go to the hospital by his therapist, who told him this: "Right now, the chemicals in your brain are completely out of whack. And I can tell you from experience, they will get worse. Here is what will happen. You will get worse and worse until, finally, it's no longer your choice, and you will be taken to the hospital against your will. That's not what you want. You will have lost control over your future. But, right now, you still do have that choice. And here is how you can take control over your life: go to the hospital, now, voluntarily. That's how you are in control. That's what you can do, to keep control. Do it."

I also want to note that I learned something important: The ER is where the resources are. I hadn't been too interested in taking him to the ER because I figured they would just watch him for an hour or so, maybe give us the contact number for some low-cost psychiatric clinic, and then leave us with no help and a giant bill. But that's not what happened. This is exactly the sort of thing the ER is meant to help with. My boyfriend was assigned a social worker, who made sure he got the help he needed. We had spent about a week and a half desperately searching for resources while not in the hospital, and we kept getting absolutely nothing. But once you're in the ER, all the doors open for you. If someone you love is in some sort of psychiatric emergency, take them to the ER.

All of your words, and your Memails, and your support was so helpful. Thank you.
posted by The Puppet of Secrets at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

« Older Travel agent, or magical booking site?   |   Need a magic little Holiday spot in LA! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.