To have a partner with bipolar and PTSD

(105 Posts)
Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:24:49

Judging by the constant comments made to me it seems I am. I am 34 years old and don't have children as yet, perhaps in the future, perhaps not.

I got together with my partner and saw him for what he is, a funny, good looking, loving and gentle man. We were friends initially and when he moved here he stayed with me and we got together so pretty much lived together from day dot!

He has many emotional problems and is very sensitive, his moods are also very up and down although he is not dangerous, he can get very angry with himself. After a long slog to help him as he couldn't keep a job, I managed to eventually get the support we need, we have healthcare visiting us daily and the doctor comes 3 times a week, he also goes to weekly therapy. He was finally diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD, he takes medication now for Bipolar and is continuing therapy for PTSD. The doctors and support team have been excellent, his meds have no side effects either and his moods are now very stable and he is looking to start a new career with the help of the healthcare team.

My parents tell me I am wasting my life with this "loser", when I mention it to other people or colleagues they ask why I am with him. I get lots of these reactions. It is extremely upsetting for me, especially with the comments from my parents and friends. I feel like saying just because someone is mentally ill it doesn't mean they can't be loved. I have worked extremely hard to get this support and his parents told me I have saved his life.

Why do people judge others so badly, for what it's worth I also suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety but I have managed it and it's fine now so I feel strong enough to cope with his. I am so sick of being told that I am wasting my life and this "loser" will pull me down. I feel I have so much to give and I have lived such a rich eventful life that I can now give to others and help them and I love him for who he is.

Do you think the same way or would you also think I am wasting my life?

MrsWinnibago Sun 17-Aug-14 11:38:01

I would not wish such a relationship for my dds. But it is your life.

Doingakatereddy Sun 17-Aug-14 11:40:04

It's your life, but having had a mother who has bi-polar plus a very similar psychiatric condition to PTSD I wouldn't wish that parent in anyone

ilovesooty Sun 17-Aug-14 11:41:49

I agree with you. It's your relationship and people should respect your choice. Your partner is more than his illness. Best wishes for his recovery.

velocity1 Sun 17-Aug-14 11:43:08

I think, as long as you are both happy, you aren't wasting your life at all. My mother is bipolar and, with medication and appropriate help, was stable for over 20 years, so there is no reason you shouldn't have a long and happy life together.

tobeabat Sun 17-Aug-14 11:45:05

I think that if he is funny, loving and gentle aside from his illness you are probably doing better than a lot of people!

LadyLuck10 Sun 17-Aug-14 11:46:57

I agree with MrsW. I wouldn't want this for my child. Have you thought about when you decide to have children and the impact on your life.
End of the day it's your decision to make but I can understand why your parents are concerned.

BookABooSue Sun 17-Aug-14 11:48:08

After living with relatives with similar conditions, I know how difficult it is and also how it impacted on me. For that reason I'd be concerned and want to be sure you had considered it fully. I'd then support your choice.
It's interesting that you've said you 'can give to others and help them'. It would concern me that you were seeing yourself as a rescuer and not viewing this as an equal relationship.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:50:08

Thanks everybody for your responses. He really is a sweet sensitive soul and it's heart breaking that people won't give others a chance just because of an illness they didn't ask for. We have such good support now and the fact that his meds don't have side effects is an added bonus. I just wish people could see past his illness and see him for who he is. I lost all my friends due to this ;-( He is so grateful to me for helping him and he thanks me daily. I feel personally that if I help even one person then I have made a difference in my life. I just wish especially my parents, that they would support me with this and not put him down all the time, he does hear what they say and it causes him alot of distress.

OhFFSWhatsWrongNow Sun 17-Aug-14 11:53:30

Op, you can't help who you fall in love with. My dh has severe physical disabilities that have a big impact on our lives. I, myself have aspergers and am bi polar. As you say why do people think people with mental health problems/conditions shouldn't be loved?

I actually think that's awful attitude to have and it makes me sad there are people who think this sad how horrible.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:54:31

You are right in a way Book as sometimes I do like to be a rescuer. I am forever helping people! I think people with problems just seem to gravitate to me, I was forever bringing in lost people to my house and we had a couple of people living with us as their home life was awkward. I was always the one that befriended all the children in our special needs class at school too. I don't know why I am like this, I just am. I am a manager so I am very confident and can manage well but maybe I was just born to help people.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:55:49

Thanks OhFFS. That's exactly how I feel. Can you imagine not being with your DH just because people told you he was a loser. Or can you imagine being rejected because of your bi-polar? It's just not fair.

JerseySpud Sun 17-Aug-14 11:57:59

I have a DH with mental health problems and yes sometimes it is hard work. He gets angry, frustrated and wants to be left alone.

But he is still the man i love, a fantastic dad to our kids and i don't care how hard is is sometimes, we've been through more than most couples have been through in a lifetime and we're still standing together

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:58:10

His parents are very supportive of us and they also send money over for his share of the bills until he is well enough to work again. He did have a good career but when he went through a devasting event which caused his PTSD and it also brought out his bipolar as he wasn't like this before. The Dr said it was developed. That's why he gets upset with himself as he used to be very self sufficient.

ClayGhost Sun 17-Aug-14 11:58:41

I don't think you're wasting your life, as long as you're happy. Does the relationship make you happy?

Lots of people have mental illnesses. That doesn't necessarily make them bad parents. There are people with "good" mental health who are not great parents. If someone has an illness that they admit to and seek - and get - help for, then that's a very different situation to a parent who has an illness and just lets it affect everybody around them and does nothing to try to improve the situation.

I also think that if your DP was my child, I'd be very happy that he'd found such a wonderful, warm, caring and compassionate person. My concern would be your happiness.

If you were my daughter, I'd worry that you were giving more than you were receiving and that if that was the case and not properly addressed, that in the future it would make you very unhappy. As your parent, I'd not want you to be unhappy. That's all.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 11:59:36

That's great Jersey. That's what I would like our outcome to be. We seriously have been through hell and back but we are as strong as ever. I love him dearly and his good seriously does out weigh the bad but nobody else sees it that way.

lodgerstressohno Sun 17-Aug-14 12:01:33

He is so grateful to me for helping him and he thanks me daily. I feel personally that if I help even one person then I have made a difference in my life

This raises warning flags for me, just because I don't believe it's a healthy dynamic. My ex had severe depression. He used to thank me for being with him. I just felt it was like I was with him out of pity when he did that, which was patronising and a bit demeaning. Also you can't go into a relationship being a rescuer, it doesn't work like that. You can't fix him or help him, ultimately, these illnesses are bigger than that.

That said, I wish you well. No reason why you can't have a long happy relationship with each other, especially if he is engaged with managing his illnesses. That is the crucial thing, imo (it was the thing my ex refused to do). I have health issues, I hate the idea that some people out there might tell a man not to be with me because of those. They are one part of me.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 12:06:26

I do see ourselves as an equal, it may not sound it but I do. I rely on him for other things, I think he says that because he is very emotional and he did nearly die so he just says it. I do tell him not to thank me though as I am doing it out of love but he just does anyway.

Why have you lost all your friends?

I don't think the question is whether you should be with someone with MH issues -- many people are.

The question is whether you should make your entire life revolve around them, which it kind of sounds like it is. I don't think that's healthy at all.

lildupin Sun 17-Aug-14 12:09:20

I have bipolar disorder and I would think there was something wrong with someone who wanted to be with me when I was at my worst. From the way your OP is written it sounds like he was in a very bad way from the start of your relationship. I would be very wary of anyone who tried to forge a romantic relationship with me when I was having an episode.

Iwasinamandbunit Sun 17-Aug-14 12:17:49

I'm the equivalent of your partner though different diagnosis (does include PTSD) that has changed more than once and have been with DH for coming up 19 years and was already diagnosed when we got together. I had been an in patient in a psychiatric hospital by this point. I have been hospitalised for a few months since we got together and had other assistance at home.

Your DH sounds like me willing to do everything he can to be as well as possible. If I hadn't cooperated there is no way I would be alive now.

Most of the people I have met through MH services are single. Lets not pretend we aren't hard work sometimes because we can be. I always think though our behaviour can be difficult its because we are ill and not because we are out and out bastards.

People are petrified of conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia because when portrayed in the media it's usually because a person with schizophrenia has killed a stranger, very rare thankfully. Hence peoples reactions. Of course lots of people will know Mrs Smith down the road or Mr Jones from their gym a little and comment on how nice they are whilst not having a clue they can have been chatting to a person with bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD etc.

I don't think your wasting your life but it is building a relationship with someone who will at times be unwell and that it itself will be challenging which is why your parents are worried. Its interesting you have experienced problems of your own, it has switched your empathy button on. My DH has never had any kind of MH problem so to me it is almost more of a mystery why he remains. Because we are comfortably off it has eased the burden, we have paid for private therapy at times.

We love who we love we can't switch that emotion on or off, sometimes it's reciprocated and sometimes it's not. I wish you both all the best, he is lucky to have you.

Whatamessiamin Sun 17-Aug-14 12:18:57

He wasn't actually in an episode when we first came, his first episode came after about a month together. But I didn't want to give up on him, at first my life did revolve around him trying to found out why he was like that as he didn't even know and trying to manage his illness but now that he is on meds, it's only been a month now, I am starting to do things for myself now, his therapy is helping alot and he is becoming more independent and we are starting to have a "proper" relationship whereby we know what the problem is now and we can now move on as normal people, whereas before we didn't so I had to give him 100% of myself.

MrsBoldon Sun 17-Aug-14 12:19:01

Lots of red flags here.

Have you had relationships where the person wasn't so utterly dependent on you?.

Listen to what you're saying 'always been a rescuer, people with problems gravitate to me, if I help just one person, I've made a difference, he thanks me daily'.

I'm not sure you'd want to be with him nearly as much if he was 'together'.

LadyLuck10 Sun 17-Aug-14 12:21:11

There are lots of flags here from what you're posting. If this is what you've been telling your family then I can see why they are so concerned.

LookingThroughTheFog Sun 17-Aug-14 12:22:07

OP, I am bipolar and have had PTSD (well, I've been in therapy for a long time, so it's a lot more diminished. I still have anxiety which is better and worse at different times.)

So in my totally biased opinion, no, you are not wrong to be in love with someone who's mentally imperfect. There are lots of mentally imperfect people about, and lots of us can also be quite lovable.

If my child had bipolar, I would like to think that they wouldn't have to go through life alone.

With regards to your situation, I think you're not unreasonable, but I think it's worth taking stock every now and checking that you've got your eyes completely open.

The fact that your DP accepts the diagnosis and is getting treatment is wonderful news. It's really commendable that he's comfortable and is doing what I know is extremely hard work to better his situation. It is serious work.

With regards to the medication and no side effects, it's worth knowing that sometimes with these meds (depending on what they are) side effects are not always as instant as they can be with other drugs. I'd been on mine a year before I realised I suddenly couldn't produce enough saliva and was struggling to swallow. I reduced for a bit and it cleared. It's also worth knowing that there's a really irritating catch-22 with these things, in that often, when you feel you really want to come off them, it's because they're not working properly. So rather than coming off, you need to have them reviewed and either changed or increased. It's one of those irritating things that I know for sure when I'm 'well' but I'm convinced it isn't right when I'm not. It goes with the territory.

His dose may well need adjusting from time to time. Mine is varied by 50mgs through the month. There are days I need less, there are days I need more. I was fine for the first year before this variable increase needed to happen.

In his care plan, it's worth putting in support and breaks for you. Particularly when he's recovering from a 'blip'. It's hard work. I'm horrified when I think of some of the things I've put DH through, though he manages it very well (he finds it fascinating, and he loves me). It's important to us both that when he's able to take breaks, he takes breaks. He goes to stay with his mum in London and kicks back and goes out with his mates.

The children know that there is something wrong with Mummy's brain, and that she's working with lots of doctors and nurses and because of that, we're all fine. I'm fine to go to work and to pick them up from school and to do homework and play with them. Sometimes I do things just because my brain is 'fizzing'. It's important to me that afterwards, we identify them and explain. I had a bad spell the other day - a really short one, 90 minutes for the bad bit - and afterwards I was able to point out how Granny had looked after them and my sister had looked after me until we were all well - that's what happens in our family, and it's OK. The school know and the children know who to talk to if they're worried.

Finally (sorry for the mega-post), your mum probably reacted with shock. My MIL reacted with shock and fear, and then quickly read up, learned stuff, and got on board with what she might need to do in certain situations (not a lot, in fact, but the list of emergency numbers are on the fridge, so that's worth her knowing).

All of this makes it sound as though we're constantly living in fear of this stuff. We're not. I'm looked after and medicated and we have a lot of plans simply so we don't have to live in fear. These days it's problematic for me only for a couple of days a month, and I manage that quietly by myself, and problematic for other people for maybe an hour or two every month or two if that. The bad spell I had the other day was the first one in a long, long time.

So good luck to you, and I hope it all goes very well!

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