Embarking on a new relationship with bipolar man -yes or no? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 08-01-2010, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently met a man who I really like. He is diagnosed bipolar/OCD and..? I'm waiting to learn if there is more. We haven't dated very long, but in our short time he was off his meds and I have witnessed a very manic state and also what I would consider psychotic behavior (hearing voices..). At one point he suggested he admit himself and I encouraged hospitalization. He's becoming stable on his meds. I can already tell the difference on the phone. And I intend to find out which they are- because I have been told it is a combo of 7 different meds.
(yikes!)

Here's what I want to know...whether you would ADVISE someone like me to pursue a relationship with someone ill in this way. We have only been involved with each other for a month, so it isn't a very evolved relationship, but something about him touches me deeply inside and he is incredibly creative and we but now I wonder if some of what he told me might have been fabricated due to his illness. I worry about starting something where I constantly have to wonder if he's taking his meds or when the next shoe might drop.

I guess I'm seeking out success stories for those living "normal" lives with bipolar illness. Would you advise me to continue this and if so, under what conditions, if any. Or would it be best to walk away before it becomes too serious?

Thanks~
Denise


Thanks for your assistance.
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#2 of 16 Old 08-01-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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Well, one of my siblings married someone who has bipolar and the relationship ended in divorce b/c the person with the bipolar condition wanted divorce when off medication. She'd go off the meds and in addition to all the manic behaviour and delusions, would engage in adultery, spending sprees, etc. It was really rough to watch. So that is a bad story.

A success story is another family member's wife - she is stabilized on medication and has had no huge issues. Not to say they don't have issues - just not like the ones above.
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#3 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 05:52 AM
 
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The success rate for marriages in which one person is bipolar is pretty abysmal. OTOH, I'm not too impressed with the rate for those without mental illness either.

My husband & I have been together 12 years, married for 6. I am bipolar. Being bipolar has been a struggle at times, just like a physical illness would be. I've been hospitalized, been on many combos of meds. (Just FYI, psych meds typically take 6-8 weeks to reach therapeutic levels, and with adjustments, someone can take a year or more to get on the right combination/dosage.)

We have adjusted in a number of ways. DH usually sees depression coming sooner rather than later, and he will work really hard on convincing me to get up and do something rather than lie down. That doesn't always work, but it helps. We also have tiered coping mechanisms that help. For example, we will move to disposable plates/utensils/cups when needed for a week or so to limit the amount of work involved with feeding everyone.

Manic states are more difficult to recognize and curb. I usually start out hypo-manic, which is kind of like being super happy and really productive. I usually take on massive projects during this time. Once I turn manic, then I'm overwhelmed with thoughts running through my head & more energy than I can handle.

As for things you mentioned, has he given you any reason to doubt him? I don't ever lie, really, (other than the occasional white lie - "yes, that dress looks fine on you" - that sort of thing), so I'm not sure why you assume you cannot believe what he said. If you think he's lying, that may be, but it's not necessarily because of the BP. That brings me to another thing - if you stay, don't blame everything on him being bipolar. I absolutely hate it when people do that. I can be angry or sad or happy without it being clinical. We're just like everyone else, only more intense.

In only 1 month, you really don't have any sense for where he is. I cannot even imagine that you've really had time to see the full range of what would be Normal, Manic, and Medicated in one month. That would be a pretty rapid succession.

Hearing voices can be the sign of a psychotic break but not always. Sleep deprivation, which is common with mania, can cause you to hear voices. That happens to everyone eventually if your brain doesn't get rest and is nothing more than a sign that you need more sleep. There also is something called "bipolar psychosis." I have experienced this, and unfortunately I didn't have anyone who was able to explain it properly. Essentially you will hear voices & see things that don't exist. Unlike with a psychotic break (such as with many schizophrenics), you *know* they aren't real. You just cannot keep your mind from forming the images/noises. So if he knows that he's hearing voices that aren't real, then it's not a good sign but not a sign of a psychotic break either.

That may be far more than you wanted to know. In general, I think that it's hard to be with someone through any crisis. Couples often have difficult times through a child's serious illness or injury, for example. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness. It will not go away, but that doesn't mean that it's not possible to live a happy, productive life with someone who is bipolar.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#4 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dear Visionary,

Thank you for that insight. It is very helpful. In regard to your question about lying it stems from the fact that during this recent episode of mania/voices I reached out to his ex-wife (okay..best to consider the source) and she said that there were times he told half-truths or believed something to be true but really wasn't. So that is why I asked. Good to know it isn't necessarily a symptom of the BP.

I think the thing to do is to proceed with eyes and ears wide open and continued dialog. I think that, at least at this point, dialog is something we are extremely good at. (and I didn't have in my "normal" marriage).

In some ways it comes down to whether it is better to love and feel love (even for a day) that to shun it in anticipation of what might happen.

Still processing this and will have to see what develops over the next several weeks. Thanks again for your comments.
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#5 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 11:44 AM
 
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my brother is bipolar and has been happily married for 8 years. They dated for a couple of years before marrying so his wife had the chance to see him at his best and at his worst before determining if she could make the commitment. Really, I could not be more thankful for her presence in his life-- she supports him fully and talks to him straight when it seems his meds need to be re-evaluated. She is a not the sort of person to become someone's caretaker; she sees his illness in the same way she would view some other chronic illness -- she likens it to living with an insulin-dependent diabetic (off balance blood sugar can cause a lot of problem behaviors in diabetics so it's not actually that far-fetched).

For myself, I would not rule out falling for someone based on being bipolar. There would have to be other issues at play. I would, however, be concerned that I would fall into the role of caretaker and that would create an unequal relationship -- plus, I would take on a sense of responsibility for the person that wasn't mine to shoulder. However, that's particular to me -- based largely on my situation with my brother -- so if you don't have that sort of predisposition, and you are willing to go through some bumpy times, I wouldn't close the door based simply on that.

Joy, mama to Aquaboy (10), Goldilocks (8), Squidge (4)
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#6 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Joy,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. It is good to know there are successful relationships out there. I am concerned about my predisposition to being a caretaker. It has been my family role since I was in my early teens and continued through my marriage. I am trying not to repeat that behavior. It is most definitely something to consider long and hard.

Thanks again for the response.
~ Denise
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#7 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 01:22 PM
 
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I have seen many people with that diagnosis live normal, productive lives--when they remain adherent to a successful medication regimen. I have also seen many people with that diagnosis who do not have good outcomes. It is, IMO, very dependent upon a person's committment to maintaining good mental health, his or her access to mental health resources, and also on how good their medicated baseline is.

What concerns me is that you've only known him 1 month, and you've already observed him unmedicated/in crisis

I would want to know if it is a pattern of behavior for him to be discontinuing medications against medical advice, or if despite med compliance, his medications regularly stop working. I would want to know how many crisis events/hospitalizations/suicide attempts or gestures he has had in recent history. I'd want to know if there is a history of drug or alcohol use that might contribute to lack of med compliance. If any of these are significant factors in your friend's situation, I'd walk away.

Best of luck, and I hope your friend stabilizes and feels better soon.

Cami, wife to a guy and mom to some kids. Expecting someone new in Februrary!â¢â¢â¢â¢5â¢â¢â¢â¢10â¢â¢â¢â¢15â¢â¢â¢â¢20â¢â¢â¢25â¢â¢â¢â¢30â¢â¢â¢â¢35â¢â¢â¢â¢40
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#8 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Those are excellent questions. Thank you Bunny!
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#9 of 16 Old 08-02-2010, 02:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tuesday View Post
Well, one of my siblings married someone who has bipolar and the relationship ended in divorce b/c the person with the bipolar condition wanted divorce when off medication. She'd go off the meds and in addition to all the manic behaviour and delusions, would engage in adultery, spending sprees, etc. It was really rough to watch. So that is a bad story.

A success story is another family member's wife - she is stabilized on medication and has had no huge issues. Not to say they don't have issues - just not like the ones above.
I have a close friend who is bipolar. It took many years for her to come to terms with the fact that she needs her meds and should not come off them. Now that she stays on her medication, she is a great wife and mother. But when she used to go off them it was a real trainwreck - the hypersexuality, the rent money blown on stupid spending sprees, the friends she lost through lying and manipulating, the complete and utter inability to make good decisions.

If you choose to pursue a relationship with this guy, at least use reliable contraception and don't consider having kids until you've been together for several years and truely believe he will stay on his meds.
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#10 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 01:53 AM
 
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My advice to you, based on my own, personal experience is NOT to get involved with this man. Personal info: I was with someone dx bipolar, personality disorder, extreme mental health issues..he spent time in and out of psychiatric facilities for acute care off and on...he was a cutter, he took pills...he drained me emotionally, physically, and financially...do you have kids? If you do, is this something you want your children to have to deal with? Do you want to spend your time and energy on dealing with this individual? Please, seriously think about this! I gave you my advice, because you asked. Please don't make the same mistake I did. If i could live my life over, I would have gotten out of my relationship with an exteremly mentally unstable man at jump street. Good luck!
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#11 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Choli and Pamela,

I appreciate all the advice - it helps. It just seems so sad, that some people have to go through life with mental illness. And I ask myself, if I met someone I cared for and they told me they had cancer and I would have to face that illness with them - would I walk away? This too is an illness - and I want to have compassion, but not at my own expense!

As for having children, I'm finished with that, so it doesn't factor in. And as far as integrating this person into my life with my daughter (8yo) that would never happen for a LONG time regardless of mental illness or not.

I will try to be a friend and build some distance. Hard though, this person touches me deeply.

Thanks for your replies!
~ Denise
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#12 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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Well, the only experience I have with bipolar is vicarious. I have a couple friends who were married to bipolar men, one medicated, one not. And my mother in law was bipolar. I know for a fact her thinking was just..off. What she thought was reality was not, but she reacted with ferocity to what she thought was real. She also decided a couple years after her diagnosis that she wasn't the one with the problem, everyone else was and quit taking the seroquel. She blew through 36 thousand dollars in 2 weeks gambling when she cashed in her husbands retirement plan. Then because she'd forged his signature to do so, she checked herself into a mental hospital so she woudln't get arrested. I think if he were stable on meds and had been for a long time, I might make an effort at a relationship, but since you already know that he goes off medication at will, I would stay far far away.

Wife to one : Mama to 4 Gramma to 1 :
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#13 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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but since you already know that he goes off medication at will, I would stay far far away.
You cannot make that kind of statement without knowing more about him and his experience. For starters, psych meds, especially if he's on anti-psychotics, are hard on people's bodies. They often cause more problems than they fix. Though I have not taken Seroquel in particular, I've never talked to anyone who took it who didn't have significant problems. When I took Invega, for example, I could not turn my head to the left because it seized up my muscles. I took it for 17 months and lived with it because the Invega worked, but it's tough. (Think about facing excruciating pain every time you turn your head. Wouldn't you at least consider not being on the meds?) Within a week of not taking them, voila, I had full use of my neck.

It's also possible to be on meds for a long time, and they lose their effectiveness. Many people who are BP can live for periods without meds and be fine. There's not a definitive answer on medications.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#14 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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I wouldn't NOT advise you to continue your relationship solely because he is bipolar. Bipolar is not a one size fits all illness. There are some people who have it quite severely, and for others your barely notice its there most of the time. It seems to me, he was VERY responsible about it, suggesting that he be hospitalized. Many people in a manic state do not recognize they need care at all, or actively refuse it. He, on the other hand, sought help. This is an excellent sign.

I also agree with VisionaryMom, there is no one answer to medication for mental illness. Many of these meds have awful side effects, and some people CAN function well without them a majority of the time. We also don't know WHY he was off his meds. Perhaps he was experiencing a side effect- some sorts of meds you have to wait until they are completely out of your system for a few weeks before you can start another med or it causes serious complications. Perhaps there was some sort of financial barrier. Maybe he is one of those folks who is ok 99% of the time and you just happened to catch him during that 1%, when he made a responsible decision and got admitted.

You seem to really like him otherwise. I would perhaps suggest taking it slow. I wouldn't rule out a relationship, but going slowly will give you a chance to learn a bit more about him and his illness and decide if you can deal. I would suggest talking to him about it and doing some reading on your own. I would not decide the fate of the relationship based on the opinions of strangers on an internet board. Yes, bipolar CAN be hard to live with, but there are also many wonderful people out there with bipolar for whom it is not an insurmountable issue either.
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#15 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Oubliette8!!

I appreciate your viewpoint. Going slow is how it HAS to be, if it is going to happen at all.

Thank you,
~ Denise
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#16 of 16 Old 08-03-2010, 08:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BunnyMcFluff View Post
I have seen many people with that diagnosis live normal, productive lives--when they remain adherent to a successful medication regimen. I have also seen many people with that diagnosis who do not have good outcomes. It is, IMO, very dependent upon a person's committment to maintaining good mental health, his or her access to mental health resources, and also on how good their medicated baseline is.

What concerns me is that you've only known him 1 month, and you've already observed him unmedicated/in crisis

I would want to know if it is a pattern of behavior for him to be discontinuing medications against medical advice, or if despite med compliance, his medications regularly stop working. I would want to know how many crisis events/hospitalizations/suicide attempts or gestures he has had in recent history. I'd want to know if there is a history of drug or alcohol use that might contribute to lack of med compliance. If any of these are significant factors in your friend's situation, I'd walk away.

Best of luck, and I hope your friend stabilizes and feels better soon.


(btw I have a bpII dx and am married)

I would also ask about how he feels about meds/his psychiatrist and therapist and pursue a relationship only if in his recent past (aside from going off the once) he has continued to stay connected with his mental health care providers and is accepting of the need to medicate. If he does not have a good relationship with a therapist and psychiatrist (or at least psych.) and is not committed to finding and staying on the right med combo I would absolutely not continue a relationship until that was well established and demonstrated.

Amara ~ Married to my HS sweetheart, we're having a blast with baby Z (1/29/2011)

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