Alcohol And Bipolar Disorder: What Are They Thinking
Bipolar disorder affect the entire family, not just the afflicted person. Psychology Today magazine has estimates that the divorce rate among couples where at least one partner is bipolar is more than 90%.
Self-medication is a worrying aspects of bipolar disorder, and many diagnosed with bipolar disorder turn to alcohol. Both men and women with bipolar disorder are more likely to become alcoholics as compared to those without this condition.
Bipolar alcohol abuse often occurs because it can be one way to eliminate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as anxiety, depression and fear. However, this often backfires because as dependency on alcohol increases, the patient ends up with a dual diagnosis with debilitating symptoms.
Furthermore, alcoholism worsens bipolar symptoms, and it becomes more difficult to treat this condition because not only does alcohol complicate the symptoms, but it also makes it difficult to use certain medications that cannot be used with liquor.
According to a study by Oxford University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and mentioned in www.bphope.com, 21% of patients with bipolar disorder and a diagnosis of severe substance abuse were convicted of violent crimes, compared to 5% of those with bipolar disorder but without substance abuse, 5% among the unaffected siblings of bipolar patients, and 3% among general public control individuals.
Get Involved With Treatment
Ask if you can be involved with your partners treatment, which may include occasionally going to the psychiatrist together. Being a part of your partners treatment has multiple benefits, including:
- Gaining a better understanding of the illness.
- Providing additional insight for the psychiatrist.
- Learning to spot signs of impending episodes.
- Alerting the psychiatrist about mood changes.
Even if your partner hasnt signed off on you exchanging information with their psychiatrist, you can still report worrisome signs . This gives the doctor a chance to make quick medication changes that may help your partner avoid being hospitalized.
Bipolar Symptom Prevention Is Best For Managing Relationships
Learning how to safeguard a connection from the troughs and tempests of bipolar, as Charlie does with his son, may be the most important part of reweaving relationships. In some cases, an ounce of prevention can head off a break in the first place.
After all, its not always the other person who severs a bond: The person with bipolar may be the one who turns away from a relationship. In toxic or overly stressful situations, thats a healthy move.
Sheryl, for example, ended one romantic relationship that she felt was an energy suck, with nothing left over for the other people in her life or for her own needs.
Its a matter of measuring how much stress you can take in a relationship, she explains. Every relationship has stress, whether its with a parent, a friend, a child, a lover. Its how much stress versus the benefits.
Then there are situations where misunderstood or unmastered emotions play a role. Thats what happened when Charlie left his sons mother: He says he interpreted the self-absorbed rush of euphoria as lack of love for his wife. And thats what happened when Annette, of Nova Scotia, stopped speaking to the sister shed felt closest to.
Annette, 41, says her volatility damaged a lot of relationships before she was diagnosed with bipolar II. Even at her job as an administrative assistant, she would lay into coworkers and superiors without thought of the repercussions.
Prevention, she adds, is much easier than damage control.
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Ners May Profoundly Disagree On Exactly How To Manage The Ups And Down Of Bipolar Disorder
Managing bipolar is exactly the sort of unsolvable problem that John Gottman describes as afflicting most couples.
It is a dance of give and take around negotiable issues, and a heart-to-heart dialogue concerning each partners non-negotiable gotta have issues.
Its common for somemanaging partners to want to take over treatment as a way of managing their own stress. But attempting to marriage your bipolar marriage by managing bipolar symptoms is a never-ending conversation. It is, in the truest sense, a perpetual problem.
If Your Spouse Has Diagnosed Bipolar Disorder
Recurrent or extreme changes in mood can have a significant impact on the spouses of people living with bipolar disorder. There can be a level of unpredictability in the relationship that causes distress.
On the one hand, the partner experiencing the mood episode is affected by their symptoms, leading to changes in behavior and level of functioning. On the other hand, their spouse may feel responsible for their partner and the family, and may begin to feel burnt out.
These dynamics create challenges in marriages that can be difficult to overcome. Research indicates divorce rates are higher in couples in which one partner has the condition.
Bipolar And Infidelity: Whats The Truth
Heres the truth about bipolar and infidelity: being bipolar doesnt mean you will be unfaithful to your partner, but it does make infidelity more likely, according to statistics. If you have bipolar disorder, that doesnt mean you get a free pass to cheat nor does it mean you should chastise yourself if you do have sex outside the relationship. Just like everybody else, people with bipolar disorder have to accept responsibility for their actions while learning from their mistakes.
Infidelity is a little more complicated for people with bipolar disorder, mostly because this kind of behavior is usually fuelled by mania. The cause of the infidelity is not so much about the person but about their symptoms, such as poor judgment, lack of impulse control and hypersexuality all of which are hallmarks of a manic episode. In fact, sexual indiscretions are such a common marker of bipolar illness that this symptom is listed in the DSM-5s diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder.
To Those Appalled By The Notion Of Leaving Someone With A Mental Illness
To those appalled I say this: be abused by an individual for years at a time. Have him hit you. Have him steal from you. Have him vandalize your home. Have him refuse treatment. Have him call the cops on you. Have him get addicted to drugs. Have him rage at you when they see you. Have him endanger your children.
Only then can you start to judge the people who have lived this reality daily. Only then can you understand what its like to truly need to protect yourself from another human being.
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Dating With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can become an issue from the very start of a relationship. When you first meet someone you like, it’s natural to want to make a good impression. Introducing the fact that you have bipolar disorder may not make for the most auspicious beginning. There is always the fear that you might scare the person off and lose the opportunity to get to know one another. At some point, though, you will need to let your partner know that you are bipolar.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to introduce your psychiatric problems on the first date,” Haltzman says. “But once you sense that there’s a mutual attraction and you decide to become more serious with this person, when you decide that you want to date this person exclusively, I think at that point each partner needs to come clear with what the package includes.”
Bipolar Anger Towards Spouse
People who suffer from bipolar are sometimes notoriously irritable, fussy and verbally abusive.
Couples need to have a way of processing these incidents to avoid building up resentments. This is another area where the non-bipolar partner can dialogue about how this unpleasant banter can be managed, repaired, and processed.
Temper tantrums can be a powerful source of resentment and stress for the managing partner in bipolar marriage.
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Establishing Strong Lasting Relationships Can Be Complicated And Attaining Stability With Bipolar Can Be Complex But Having Bipolar Doesnt Mean You Have To Turn Your Back And Run Away From True Love
If only life came with a reset button. One push and voilà: Relationships unraveled by the behaviors of bipolar disorder would knit themselves back together.
Of course, its not that easy to mend whats brokenbut its not impossible, either. What bipolar symptoms put asunder, effort and understanding may repair.
Not all rifts can be mended, and sometimes letting go of the relationship is the best way to move forward. Yet healing can happen through a commitment to self-care on one side, education and acceptance on the other, and lots of communication to work through hurt, anger, and fear.
When Barbara B., 53, and her husband, Gary, 57, separated after nearly 15 years of marriage, she was pretty sure the split would be permanent. Garys escalating bursts of rage, coupled with a growing emotional distance felt by both partners, had eroded the El Cerrito, California, couples bond to a thread.
Both mania and depression often leave those with bipolar unable to interact with the people around them, explains Mamdouh El-Adl, MD, MRCPsych, an assistant professor in the Psychiatry Department at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and a clinician and researcher at the Providence Care Mood Disorder Research and Treatment Service.
They dont seem interested in maintaining the relationship, and this can be misperceived by other people, he says.
Keep Your Own Identity
Marriage vows dont signify that two people merge into one blob. Doing so would be especially detrimental for the bipolar marriage. In her classic Gift by the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg likens a loving relationship to a double-sunrise shell, comprised of two symmetrical shells joined at the center. Each person in a bipolar marriage needs the space to maintain their own identity and grow emotionally. This separateness leads to deeper intimacy and appreciation.
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Emotional Ups And Downs
It is natural to be worried about your partner when they are experiencing hypomania or mania since they can be quite impulsive and unlike themselves during those times.
When their mood changes towards the depressive spectrum, it can be upsetting differently, especially if the partner mentions suicidal thoughts. This can take you through an emotional rollercoaster, leaving you confused, worried, and feeling helpless.
If Your Spouse Has Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder
Its sometimes possible for a person to have bipolar disorder and be unaware of their condition, particularly during a manic episode. One reason is that symptoms may be confused with other conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety, substance use, and more.
If you believe your spouse might have undiagnosed bipolar disorder, you might be noticing the following behaviors.
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Thoughts about death or suicidal ideation
If you observe some of these symptoms in your spouse, talk to them about what youre seeing and see if they are open to seeking help.
If they are open to the conversation, make sure that you:
- Let your spouse know what youve noticed without being judgmental.
- Let your partner know that your concern comes from a loving and caring place.
- Ask them about how theyve been feeling and if theyve noticed changes in their mood as well.
- Listen to what they think and what this might mean for them.
- Inquire about their thoughts on seeking help.
If your spouse is open to seeking treatment, let them know they have your support. If they are not open, you can let them know you want to support them, and ask how you can provide support or at what point they might realize its time to seek help.
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Considering Your Spouses Feelings
Compassion from both partners toward each other can go a long way in a marriage in which one spouse has bipolar disorder.
The partner with the condition may have feelings of guilt, shame, and fear because of the impact of a mood episode on the relationship. Meanwhile, the spouses partner may experience a range of emotions, including anxiety, resentment, loneliness, or feeling stuck.
Learning how to take care of themselves and support each other can strengthen the relationship.
Signs The Relationship Is Unhealthy
Its possible to have a healthy, happy relationship with someone living with bipolar disorder. However, there may also be specific indicators that suggest taking another look at the relationship.
Dr. Saltz said that several signs may indicate an unhealthy relationship, particularly with a partner who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder:
- feeling that youre a caretaker in the relationship
- experiencing burnout
- sacrificing your life goals, values, and needs to be with your partner
Your partner stopping their treatments or medication could also be a cautionary sign for the future of the relationship. Also, as with any relationship, you should never feel that your partner is putting either you or themselves in danger.
Unhealthy signs go both ways. A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder may see red flags from their partner, too.
A partner who is stigmatizing and very negative about mental health issues, which is unfortunately fairly common, may be a difficult partner to have, said Dr. Saltz.
They may be often condescending or dismissive of you, You dont really have bipolar disorder, undermine your treatment, she added. For a partner diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this may be a time to take another look at the relationship.
Explicitation Of The Data
We analysed the data by employing the steps outlined by Hycner . This explicitation process includes five steps or phases as follows
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Dramatic Changes In Mood And Behavior
Although the symptoms of bipolar disorder exist on a spectrum, both hypo/manic and depressive episodes are present with this diagnosis. One of the reasons why bipolar relationships fail is related to dramatic changes in the mood and behavior that come with the episodes.
For example, during manic episodes, a person seeks more pleasure through heavy drinking or partying. On the other hand, during a depressive phase, they might withdraw from the partner due to the heavy onset of hopelessness and despair.
Living with someone with bipolar can be challenging as it requires the spouse to find ways to cope with the experience of these tense and sometimes extreme fluctuations.
Keep Calm And Remember Bipolar Is Treatable
When we ask why bipolar relationships fail, we need to also ask why do some succeed.
What breaks apart one couple can make another stronger. It all depends on the way they approach the situation and how they handle the problem resolution.
Bipolar disorder can put additional hurdles to the relationship that much is true. But a diagnosis of mental illness of a partner is not a death sentence for the relationship.
Many couples make it work and live a happy, fulfilling life together. Focus on the person in front of you, not their diagnosis, make a point of NOT approaching a problem as a result of the illness instead, look for other causes and focus on continuous treatment and self-care.
Navigating a romantic relationship can be challenging, but we do it every day!
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Leaving A Person With A Mental Illness
And to be clear, no one wants to leave another person. No one wants to cut off contact. The people who do this are full of remorse, fear, sadness and pain. But I just want to reiterate that sometimes it is the right choice. You have a right to safety. You have a right to respect. You have a right to happiness. You have a right to a good life.
Drugs Alcohol And Sexual Acting Out
Its almost anecdotal that undiagnosed people with bipolar appear to be constantly self-medicating. Alcohol abuse in early adulthood is a typical attempt to modulate the roller-coaster ride of mood swings.
A recent study claimed that 37% of subjects who were bipolar engaged in sexual compulsivity. Bipolar marriage breakdown often follows serial infidelity and poor management of the disorder.
Intensely damaging to this bipolar marriage. Diagnostically, the presence of hypersexuality is an indication of a possible bipolar diagnosis.
It is possible to have multiple overlapping mental health struggles. This is called having co-morbidities. You could, for example, have a sex addiction, aggravated by bipolar disorder, Developmental Trauma, or both.
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Where We Are Today
Six months after Jeff walked into the house and announced hed filed for bankruptcy, we decided to get a legal separation. This would, hopefully, protect my financial record. The separation was final on September 17, 2015, three days before our 20th anniversary. The irony of the date saddens me. Jeff forgot the date.
Early this year, Jeff moved to the West Coast, where his family is. With help from my children, who came in from out of state, I was able to get the mounds of clutter out of the house and the repairs taken care of. I listed the house and it sold quickly.
I now live alone in a southern city, around the corner from my older daughter and her family. My finances are precarious. Im still reeling from all the chaos and change and sadness from the loss of my husband.
The failure rate for marriages in which one spouse has bipolar disorder is 90 percent. Some people are able to make these marriages work. From speaking with others, it seems that persuading the affected spouse to get psychiatric care and stay on medications is critical.
Jeff and I talk several times a week and text almost daily. I try to keep current with his health issues and encourage him to get the care he needs. I worry that in addition to hours of mania, he now shows the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Im very concerned about his physical health.