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Bipolar and relationships

(13 Posts)
Theala Mon 29-Apr-13 12:08:20

Does anyone here have a successful relationship where one or both participants are bipolar? I'm asking because I'm currently "taking a break" in my relationship with bipolar DP.

Frankly, I'm not being strong about things, and I went to the doctor this morning for a referral for depression.

So. The doctor (a locum) went on and on about how hard bipolar relationships are. I mean, I know, I've been in one for the last 4 years. But she kind of made it sound like Mission Impossible.

Is it? I am mad for even trying to work out ways me and DP can sort out our problems and have a healthy relationship?

nenevomito Mon 29-Apr-13 13:22:59

I'm bipolar and have been with my husband 11 years and married for 8. It does put stress on him and the children when I get ill, but I'm taking a lot of care to take my meds and do my best to manage my condition to keep it stable.

I don't see relationships with someone who has bipolar as any more problematic as other relationships. People can have problems with their partner / spouse / relationship for any number of reasons when no MH condition is involved.

If you are having problems with your DP, are they because he doesn't manage the illness very well, or are they because there is something else going on.

Theala Mon 29-Apr-13 14:59:06

Hi babyheave, thanks for replying. I suppose like all relationships, it depends on the people involved, but I keep reading things like this that suggest that bipolar relationships are twice as likely to break down as normal relationships etc, and that coupled with what the doctor said this morning has got me thinking.

DP (or ex-DP) I don't know yet, is being managed by a psychiatrist and is taking his meds, but he's still extremely irritable, loud and complains all the time and its stressed me out to the point where any little bit of irritability just makes me want to scream at him to shut up. He used to follow me about the house shouting his complaints about the world in general at me, and I could never get him to understand that I needed some calm and quiet and not to be shouted at.

He thinks I'm being unreasonable and that he's within his rights to complain if he feels like it, which he is to a certain extent, but it's like my needs are just effaced completely because his takes precedence.

I suppose I'm just trying to work out if it's something that we can address. Is this extreme irritability a part of him, or is it because of the illness or what? His psy says he's over-stimulated in the city and needs to move somewhere quieter, but if we do move out and he's still like this, I think I will end up killing either him or myself.

Crawling Mon 29-Apr-13 15:18:09

It depends on the type of Bipolar imo I am type 1 i get hyposexual and sleep around I get hyporage and sometimes I wonder If It would be kinder to leave dp. But the kids stop me doing that as far as Bipolar relationships go we have a good one but the issues are higher than a normal relationship.

We have been together 8 years so I guess Its working. I believe typ2 relationships imo would be easier as they dont become abusive to their dp and sleep around as such because their highs are lower. But I do believe that Bipolar relationships can be successful If you want It enough.

TirAnna Tue 30-Apr-13 11:30:38

I don't have any experience with bipolar in a romantic relationship but a very close friend of mine has bipolar I with psychotic characteristics. In the year or so I've known him well it has never once been an issue (actually at the moment it's me who's being difficult with MH issues, but that's another thread!) and I don't imagine it would be if we were in a romantic relationship either. In fact I'd say this is probably the closest and most stable of all the friendships/relationships I've ever been in. So bipolar doesn't automatically mean that a relationship won't work out.

On the other hand, by the time I met my friend he'd been on medication and seeing a CPN for two years, and he's now been off the medication altogether for about half a year and seems to be fine. Having seen his assessment form from the beginning of his treatment, I'm not at all sure I could have coped in even a platonic friendship with someone who was suicidal, withdrawn, refusing to eat or look after themselves etc. So I suppose technically it would be more accurate to say that I have a successful friendship with someone who's recovered from the disorder (for now), but that also shows that it's possible to recover and go on to have normal relationships afterwards.

How long has your DP been having treatment, and how long do his depressive episodes last? You don't really mention the periods in between, what are they like? (I imagine there must be some, or presumably you wouldn't be in the relationship in the first place). From your description of the situation it sounds like you've done the right thing, at least for the time being - if you have MH issues as well you need to be around supportive people, not someone who's having problems themselves. And please don't take this the wrong way, but the same goes for your DP if you're depressed. That's not a judgement or criticism in any way - I'm speaking from my own experience of depression, and I'm not saying you'd be a bad partner because of your issues or that you're to blame for his problems in any way, but you do need to be very careful that you don't end up dragging each other down, at least temporarily while you're both working on your problems.

Having said all that, I think my main aim in posting was to tell you not to give up hope smile If you really want a relationship to work out between the two of you (do you?) then it's definitely not impossible if the timing and circumstances are right.

TirAnna Tue 30-Apr-13 11:32:38

Just to add - my battery's about to die, but one thing I would like to say is that a referral for depression doesn't in any way mean you're 'not being strong about things' smile

Samu2 Tue 30-Apr-13 13:23:02

I have been with my H for 8 years and he has bi-polar, pretty severely too. His mania is well controlled but his depressive episodes are very regular and meds haven't helped so much with that.

We are very happily married, it can be tough at times, it does add extra stress onto us and watching him go through it is heartbreaking.

I think your relationship has to have a very strong foundation to get through it and the person with BPD needs to be on the ball with managing it, taking meds, going to appointments etc. My husband is the most loving and gentlest man ever but imo it does add an extra complication to a relationship, just like my anxiety does too smile

Samu2 Tue 30-Apr-13 13:32:20

My H can get irritable as well but he knows never to take that out of me. If he is feeling that way he goes to his room or goes for a walk. Sure, it is a part of his illness but he knows it is unfair to take it out on others so he doesn't.

I don't know much about your DP but IMO having bi-polar is never an excuse to shout at someone else. Of course my husband can get a bit short with me like every human being out there does but he makes a conscious effort to deal with it himself when he is at the stage where his irritability is going to affect me badly.

His low moods can be hard to live with for sure, but we work together on finding ways to lessen the impact, like him going for a long walk to lift his mood, exercising etc.

HeyBabyBaby Tue 30-Apr-13 15:36:52

I have been in a relationship for 4.5 years (2.5 years boyfriend, married 2 years) and my husband has bi-polar II. He had always suffered from depression throughout our relationship although diagnosed with BP one year into our marriage and when I was 4 months pregnant. He behaved so badly whilst I was 4 months pregnant (drinking, name calling, shouting, crazy, threatening, etc) that I ended up moving out of our house. He was so unstable, when I left he kept begging me to come back, say it will all be okay, then if I didn't agree would effectively throw a tantrum. Eventually I did move back when I was 7.5 months pregnant and our baby arrived early at 8 months pregnant. He was very supportive at the hospital, but one week after coming back went into shouting and screaming, and quite frankly wasn't supportive with a new born. I guess it was the stress. Then my Mum arrived (I'm from the other side of the world, so no family support here) when our baby was 4 weeks old, my Mum had been here for 5 days, then he ended up getting drunk. So, drunk that the police took him to hospital and he had to spend a night in A&E. Then somehow blamed me and my mum for his behaviour and the fact he got drunk and ended up in hospital. Yes, he takes his medication and has counselling, has done now for 1 year. I am still here with my 9 month old baby, but to be honest, I'm not sure how long I will be!! His bad behaviour has continued, however hasn't been as bad, but still not to an acceptable level. I don't know if its the BP or just him.

So, in answer to your question - I would leave him. If I knew what I knew now about my husband I would not have married him, let alone have a baby together. It is really tough and whilst I realise that life isn't meant to be easy, it's not meant to be this tough either!

Theala Tue 30-Apr-13 18:39:57

Thanks, all of you, for replying. Crawling, DP has BP-II.

How long has your DP been having treatment, and how long do his depressive episodes last? You don't really mention the periods in between, what are they like? (I imagine there must be some, or presumably you wouldn't be in the relationship in the first place). From your description of the situation it sounds like you've done the right thing, at least for the time being - if you have MH issues as well you need to be around supportive people, not someone who's having problems themselves. And please don't take this the wrong way, but the same goes for your DP if you're depressed. That's not a judgement or criticism in any way - I'm speaking from my own experience of depression, and I'm not saying you'd be a bad partner because of your issues or that you're to blame for his problems in any way, but you do need to be very careful that you don't end up dragging each other down, at least temporarily while you're both working on your problems.

He doesn't seem to have depressive episodes. He's just hyper, hyper, hyper all the time. He's always full of energy, always making loads of noise, always doing things, until he falls into bed at night and sleeps like he's dead. He's slow in the mornings for about an hour, but that's it. He smokes grass also from when he wakes up in the mornings until he goes to bed. He says it slows him down a bit, but I can't say I've seen any evidence of that. Sometimes I think I don't know him at all, because he's always under the influence of grass (or shit if he can't get grass).

You're right about us being bad fo each other at the moment, TirAnna. We've had a very unhealthy dynamic, where we feed into each other's issues, and we both recognised that and that's why we decided to give each other space.
I love him so very much that it breaks my heart to think we might not be right for each other, but if we can't resolve this than obviously it would be best if we separate.

Crawling Tue 30-Apr-13 18:57:56

I think If he is bp2 You have a good chance. Also from what You have said I think You can do this. Your allowed to struggle and be depressed and maybe Its his turn to look after You.

noisytoys Tue 30-Apr-13 19:11:14

I have bipolar II. It's has put a strain on our relationship at times but we have been together 10 years, married 7 and still going strong. It is workable, the doctor may have been airing his personal experience rather than saying all bipolar relationships don't work

fedupandtired Tue 30-Apr-13 19:57:27

I think it depends on the two people in the relationship whether or not its going to work. Some relationships are just not meant to be regardless of any health problems, mental or physical.

I have bipolar 1 and have been with my husband for 20 years, married for 15. It's not been easy for him but our marriage is far stronger then a lot of people's. I couldn't put up with me though but he loves me and wants to be with me, craziness and all.

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