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Topic: Bipolar partner

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. Rustler
    Rustler avatar
    7 posts
    7 December 2017
    My bipolar partner has recently moved out of our home after 12 months living together. From reading other threads it seems it is common for them to leave... he also said I would be better off without him. In some ways it is much easier to be in a relationship with him living apart but it's not ideal. It is easier for him to push me away or hide if he's not living with me. He moved out when he was in the process of transitioning to a new psych and new drug regime as he had been in an extended low... It seems the new regime that has been in place for 3 months now is not really working. He has had ECT before and said it was effective but he is reluctant to consider it again as he says it is "embarrassing". Any comments around this situation would be helpful.... Is living apart an effective solution for a couple with a bipolar partner (especially long term)?... is ECT good/bad?... I've learnt not to take his comments/disconnection personally but it does get tricky when it doesn't feel like he's there for me so how do others manage this?... I know I can't fix it but does it get easier with time? I really enjoy our time together - for 2 years he managed it well but the last 8 months have been awful... At what point do you walk away for your own health? Thanks in advance.
  2. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    J.M.12345 avatar
    46 posts
    7 December 2017 in reply to Rustler

    Hi Rustler,

    Thanks for reaching out and I'm sorry to hear that you and your partner are facing a difficult time. Bipolar like many other illnesses is not easy to manage and it is equally difficult to be the carer or loved one of someone with the disorder.

    As you pointed out, some of the things your partner does or says would be due to his illness and the best way to address these things is encourage him to continue searching for a good psychiatrist and psychologist who can help him find the right medication. Finding the right medication is a long process, and sometimes even if you find the right medication, it works for a couple of months or years even, then it seems to stop working! This was the case with me, and I found from my experience that whilst medication really goes a long way and helps, there will always be periods of tough times and having to reassess. I think it's great that you're supporting your partner and he is finding his way out of this low. Has he been through something like this before? If so, it's always helpful to remember that it will pass, and it's all part of the illness.

    HOWEVER, the other question is you, your health. It's hard for you and it's really important that you take care of yourself so that you don't get sick too. Sometimes you need to take a break and step back from the situation. Do you have other loved ones, family or friends, to lean on? Go out, go for regular walks or swims, eat healthy and make sure you're engaging in as much self-care as possible. It might also be helpful to see a counsellor for yourself. A professional might be able to guide you in making the decision of whether or not you should walk away for your own health. I don't think others will make it for you - it's up to you to decide - but people like counsellors can guide you, can ask you the right questions so you can see what's best for you.

    Regarding the ECT, unfortunately I don't have experience with that which I can share. The treatments that work for me are medication and therapy and I have never tried ECT. However different treatments work for different people, and the best person to make a judgement is the doctor and your partner. In saying that, embarrassment, whilst understandable because there is a lot of stigma around mental health, should certainly not be a determining factor in making that decision. If the doctor does recommend ECT, then no one needs to know. But again, do ask for different medical opinions before deciding.

    Josette

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Rustler
    Rustler avatar
    7 posts
    7 December 2017 in reply to J.M.12345

    Thank you Josette. I appreciate your feedback.

    He has been through this before and like you said... it does pass. One thing I find difficult is it takes him so long to seek outside help... in the meantime he doesn't practice a high level of self care (ie; poor eating habits, not doing fun things he enjoys and returning to smoking) - fortunately he has refrained from alcohol!
    It sounds like you have bipolar too... was there/is there anything loved ones say to you that makes you want to seek treatment or does it really seem to depend on the day?

    This current low started in Feb when he decided he was in a great place and so stopped his meds...and he did the same a couple of months ago when he decided that (after 2 weeks) the new meds weren't working... he just hasn't been able to get back from there.

    I completely agree with you about not being embarrassed... even my 13 year old daughter thinks he's brave every day just facing this crap!

    Thanks again for your time

  4. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    9377 posts
    7 December 2017 in reply to Rustler

    Hi Rustler, welcome

    I have bipolar among other issues. Yes I use to leave the property.

    It had to stop. So we developed our own rule.

    Google

    Topic: relationship strife? The peace pipe- beyondblue

    Also

    Topic: talking to men, some tips- beyondblue

    I hope they help.

    Ive had 4 long yerm relationships. It takes 3-5 years to get to know someone. 6-9 years if one has bipolar. Then you are more comfortable with each other and conflict is less often.

    Tony WK

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Rustler
    Rustler avatar
    7 posts
    9 December 2017 in reply to white knight
    Thanks heaps Tony. I'll look up the links you mention.
  6. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    J.M.12345 avatar
    46 posts
    11 December 2017 in reply to Rustler

    Hi Rustler,

    It's tough when your loved one doesn't seek outside help. I think the best you can do is encourage him to get help when you think he needs it.

    Ahh no! You should never stop meds without a doctor, because meds are what keep you stable. That's okay though - it's understandable. Sometimes we think we are better and don't want to rely on meds anymore. It might be a pride thing, especially given there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness. But again, it's crucial to let your partner know that like a broken leg, like diabetes, bipolar disorder is an illness and needs to be managed with meds + therapy. Does your partner have a psychologist they see? Finding a good psychologist he feels comfortable talking with might help with learning more about the condition, learning how to be okay with asking for help and that medication is necessary. Of course, it's a bit of a tough one because you need to convince him to see a psych, and that's hard for many people. But if possible, psychologists are really important in recovery.

    In terms of the medication, it can take a couple of weeks for meds to kick in and start working. So it's very possible that the medication he was taking is good for him, but it just needed more time. In saying that, I'm not a doctor and I don't know what med he's on, but it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor next time he is prescribed a medication regarding the expected time for it to work. This may help your partner wait it out longer knowing that it will work at some stage.

    I don't have bipolar disorder and my diagnosis is a bit iffy but my experience was as follows. I was diagnosed with unipolar depression and given antidepressants, which made my hypomanic. I didn't realise it at the time (just felt really elated and all the stuff that comes along with it!) but eventually it felt like my antidepressant just suddenly stopped working. My dosage was upped, and this led to more severe hypomania and hospitalisation. Now I am on a very low dose of antidepressants and I know I have a "diathesis to mood switching". So I just need to be very careful when taking antidepressants, but I don't switch without meds if that makes sense.

    I have learnt from my experience that the most important thing with depression/bipolar/mania etc is to keep your doctor constantly updated as it can be very dangerous having untreated mania or depression.

    Finally, please also take care of your own mental health as well.

    Hope this helps

    Josette

  7. Rustler
    Rustler avatar
    7 posts
    12 December 2017 in reply to J.M.12345

    Thank you Josette. I've got tears in my eyes as I read ... it seems like you care.

    The good thing is that we you have described is what I have learned from my experience and research so it's good to know I'm doing the right thing. It doesn't make it easier I guess but at least I haven't missed anything.

    I have finally got him to go back to his psych next week for a review. That's a start. Psychologist - no. Eating well - no. Exercise - no... it's a work in progress i suppose. For him it's a mix of embarrassment, shame and no feeling good enough. He is at least in a position where he said last night that he can't go on like this for much longer and he's looking forward to seeing the psych next week. I do keep asking the question around self harm/suicide. He is clear that although he often doesn't want to be here he would not suicide. A small comfort really.

    Thank you for your considered responses and for caring. Good luck with your own journey.

  8. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    J.M.12345 avatar
    46 posts
    17 December 2017 in reply to Rustler

    Thanks Rustler. I'm glad my post helped a little - it's my absolute pleasure to be of some help. If there's anything else we can do here on the forums let us know and keep us updated!

    It sounds like you're doing so much for your partner, so really, well done on all that kindness and support. Make sure you're also taking enough time to take care of your own mental health too by continuing to do the things you love and that help you de-stress.

    As you said, it is a long journey and usually improvement is in small steps. It's good to hear that your partner is not thinking of suicide despite his hopelessness though. Have you heard of the BeyondNow app? It's a beyondblue app that helps with safety planning surrounding suicide. Check it out!

    Again, don't hesitate to keep asking questions and sharing your thoughts/experiences on the forums as we all really do care - from my experience, I understand firsthand the value of having support during tough times like this.

    I'll leave you with an uplifting quote I like for hardships. It's by C. S. Lewis and he says that "hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny". So yes, it is a tough time for you and your partner, but I firmly believe that with the right help, recovery IS possible and you both can go on to live a peaceful, happy life and show the world what you've got!

    Cheers,

    Josette

    1 person found this helpful

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