Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

Bipolar and honesty - what's your opinon

(22 Posts)
TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 08:56:58

A little history on this, DW is bipolar 1. As well as other symptoms of concern (all of which concern me greatly), she also unfortunately suffers from hyper-sexuality whilst manic. This seems to be the symtom that comes out most on every episode. Although I have to admit I'm more afraid of her erratic driving, but that's a different story.

She was diagnosed following a major episode some time ago when she slept with a friend. I was (and really still am) extremely angry with him (who I consider guilty of rape), but I can’t be angry with her as she really wasn’t in her right mind at the time.

Now, she came clean as soon as she was sane and got the help she needed. But she recently had another episode. The medication helps things, but she still suffers from the same symptoms when unwell.
During the episode, she has crossed some lines with another male friend, without actually sleeping with them. Without going into details, had she been sane I would be very angry about it. Under the circumstances, I’m not happy with him but I can move on. Her psychiatrist and CPN’s knew about these indiscretions, but advised she didn’t tell me anything that happened.

She says it stopped over a month ago. But I recently found out thanks to DD (2yrs next week) accidently pulling something up on her phone and inadvertently showed me. Personally, I’m angry that she had been lying to me as I knew something was being hidden and this was causing strain on our relationship.

I think that after episodes there needs to be honesty, otherwise the secrets drive a wedge into a relationship that is already going to be difficult. And she is going to be sane and know that she is keeping secrets and this can’t be good for her anyway. The psychiatrist says she should hide things from me because it will put undo stress on her. The other problem is that now that I know she’s been hiding things, how am I supposed to be certain she is being honest now? She swore that nothing was happening and that it was all in my head, but clearly it wasn’t.

What do you think? Is honesty the only way a relationship can survive with this problem? Or should the partner with the disorder hide things from the other to avoid stress?

cestlavielife Thu 03-Oct-13 12:14:05

have you spoken directly to the psychiatrist or is it her telling you what they said?

if it is her telling you what psychiatrist said - well ask if you can have an appoitnment together with her where this element is discussed.

if his isnt possible then i would ask for some family therapy/couple therapy sessions where these things are explored openly so you have a strategy plan and agreement together as to whether she will or wont tell you. then you both know what the score is....

i think you both need to agree (during a calm phase) what the score is on this and what you both can live with, during an episode .

(personally i dont think things should be hidden from you like this to avoid her stress - you have to set your boundaries and this seems to be crossing them...)

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 12:48:19

It's what she has said they told her to do. Obviously, I wasn't there when they said not to tell me. I have met her CPNs, but not her current psychiatrist. They confirmed a few details about her symptoms and dicsussed a plan of action, but not this exact issue. But I agreed with DW that she tell me what happens when she on an episode.

While she was manic, she asked me if I'd mind her having phone sex with someone to stop her from actually sleeping with them, which I said to a certain extent I would overlook.

But obviously, being manic, she took this further than she knew I'd be comfortable with. Specifically, involving photos and videos being shared. What also concerns me is the depth of the relationship between her and this friend. She says that as he refused to sleep with her when she tried, they became very close and she trusted him a lot. To the extent of exchanging in excess of 4,000 text messages a month (not exagerrating) and spending several hours on the phone each day. As well as spending a lot of time with him and hardly speaking to me at all. As well as the issue of what content they were sharing, I still feel very betrated by the emtional reliance she has developed with this person. I felt I couldn't talk to anyone about this as no one would believe that she wasn't having an outright affair.

Things are slowly getting better. She's talking to me a bit more now.

But I think it's going to take a long time and a lot of work before we are back to how we used to be. As I was the first partner she'd had who stayed with her and helped her get help, we grew closer after the last episode. She had a depressive episode a little while ago where she trusted me enough to let me talk her out of harming herself, which her old psychiatrist was impressed by. At the moment, I feel as though I couldn't do that but this friend could.

But I don't want it to be just about me. I want to help her through this illness, and I want her to achieve some level of success in life that her illness has denied her. I want to help her and I really do love her.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 12:57:56

What I'm also trying to get at, Cestla, is that whilst I'm not happy with sending photos of her private parts to someone, it's not the actual act that I'm most hurt by. It's the denial and lying about it after the event. That she kept saying this friendship was completely innocent.

fedupandtired Thu 03-Oct-13 14:44:31

I have bipolar 1 and whilst hyper-sexuality with others has never been a problem I do think absolute honesty in a relationship is crucial although in your wife's situation I can understand her reluctance to tell you certain things. I work on the basis that someone's ability to help me is hindered if I'm not completely honest, be that my doctors or my husband.

Is she remorseful or indifferent? It's easier to forgive if someone's truly sorry.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 15:07:24

It's hard to tell if she feels remorse right now. She was very down after I found out, but I was pretty angry. I had just seen a video of some guy jacking off on her phone (and that squelching sound is gonna haunt me for some time. Eurgh.).

She's said sorry several times. She says she's sorry she made the videos and pictures and for keeping them. But it's more the telling me there was nothing that is the problem.

It does make me feel quite bad that I want to see her show geniune remorse, even though it's not really her fault if you know what I mean. It's like I want proof that it wasn't really her, but in order for that to happen she has to be sorry and suffer. I don't like that it makes me feel better because she feels bad about it.

cestlavielife Thu 03-Oct-13 16:07:30

are there children involved? that might put a diff spin on it.
myexp in thoroes of major depression anxiety etc broke thngs and assaulted people - that became a no - regardless of how much he could or could not help it. it wasnt safe to live with.

if no Dc involved then is your choice to decide how to deal with it. intellectually you need to rationalise whether you accept it because she "cannot help it" or not. that is your choice.

read something like this (not that what she does is a crime but it has some interesting discussion about automatism, responsibility for acts committed etc.

if she isnt responsible for what she does why should she be honest or remorseful about it? (i dont know the answer)

try getting some counselling for yourself to sort thru your views and maybe joint sessions with w with someone qualified in this area - might not be usual remit of a relate counsellor...

when i did do therapy with my exp they were very much about him owning his depression/anxiety - so it's her bipolar...but as h and w you both are impacted. you need to agree how to deal with these episodes if you to move forward.

TheSilverySoothsayer Thu 03-Oct-13 17:33:51

Do any of these male friends have mh issues? Manic people can egg each other on, not deliberately, but in a mutual manic spiral iyswim.

Perhaps she should be honest with her male friends about her manic episodes, and warn them when OK not to be drawn in. I gave trusted friends permission to tell me if they thought I might be heading towards mania (not that I would necessarily have believed them, but might have if early on - luckily I don't have these episodes any more.)

Snipface Fri 04-Oct-13 08:33:12

My Dh has bipolar 2. He doesn't have true manic episodes but he has had hypomania when he behaved very strangely - not sexual, but uninhibited, illogical, over sharing etc. it took him a long time afterwards to really have insight into the fact that his behaviour wasn't normal, and that other people really couldn't understand him. If your wife's episode is very recent, could it be that she hasn't really 'come down' enough to understand fully what has happened?
Fwiw I do think that honesty is very important. Your wife has a harsh illness, but you are living with it too, and you need to be able to trust each other in the good times to get through the bad. I also think going to one of your wife's appointments with her is a good idea, and joint counselling

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 09:30:56

Cestla - Yes, we have 3 DC's. The issue become's complicated when you start to think how far do you accept? Should we be working towards controlling the episodes, or do you get to the point where you say, she's on an episode we'll just break up and wait for her to come back and never speak of it? The fact that she was doing this to try to stop doing something more shows that there was a modicom of self control involved, and I guess this is a good thing but does that mean she will have to start acceptin blame? If she's not to blame, why does she have to pay the speeding ticket she got?

Soothsayer - Neither were/are bipolar, but vertainly mental health issues are relevent. Her current friend has long term depression, which she says is how there friendship began. She says he refused to actually sleep with her when she tried at one point, saying he wouldn't have an affair with a married woman. I suspect that if that's true, then she's bullied him into this by threatening to sleep with other people. She can be quite manipulative and convincing when she's manic.

The last friend was, I am now aware, pushing her to follow the voices. This is why I believe he should be charged with rape. He was completely aware she was experiencing psychosis and that she was behaving severely out of charactor, and yet he egged her on to sleeping with him behind her husbands back. At least this current friend (as far as I know) tried not to. Although she has (during this episode) began talking to this scumbag again, and says that most men would do the same. I disagree. Or maybe I put too much faith in people's humanity?

Snipface - I think you are right about that. It took about a month after the last episode before she actually started coming back, mentally and emotionally. Though the full recovery took quite some time. At the moment, it seems to be that the manic perceptions are not quite gone, but the actual symptoms may be.

cestlavielife Fri 04-Oct-13 09:55:46

how old are the dc ? might they see phone messages or witness anything? is that an issue?
what impact do the episodes have on them?
what support do you have for yourself and dc?

you can only set your own boundaries as to what you accept...allwoing her to go off do her thing then come back? I dont know - something for you to decide. how damaging or not is that for dc? what do they see/witness?
how often are the episodes?

persnaly i dont think that an excuse for behaviour eg MH makes it ok to live with...if it is behaviour you would not accept otherwise.

and if there is modicum of awareness/control on her part then it needs serious talking. how much was she willing /aware? you can only push charges on her behalf if you realy believe she was incapable of making decisions /was v vulnerable.... maybe she was....

would she be happy to change meds to reduce the manic episodes?
could you also speak to her psych with her agreement about meds or change of meds or therapy?

(you dont need to answer on here btw, but mabe some quesions to think about - that is why you talking to someone profresisonal like a counsellor might be really helpful to explore diff scenarios and see what could work best for all)

TheSilverySoothsayer Fri 04-Oct-13 10:01:24

Sadly, yes she does have to pay the speeding ticket. Others with mania have run up huge debts, and still have to pay them sad During my first hypomanic epi (fuelled by dope and drink) I was hyper-sexual, a 'friend' and my DH got the 'benefit' of this. I felt v guilty, but did it anyway. I also fessed up quite quickly. Even though proper friends, and DH, told me I was (hypo) manic, I wouldn't listen. And even though DH was one of the ones telling me this, he never really forgave me I don't think.

Is she on meds? Does she get any warning signs? My psych warned me to watch if I wasn't sleeping. I try to go to bed before 2am at the latest (am retired!), and make sure I eat regularly.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 10:15:18

Although for one thing, she's not violent towards the kids. Sometimes when she's manic she'll try to push me into violance because it's funny; and after a while I have to go outside for a while in order to stay calm.

Her disappearing off was an extreme cenario - though one she asks for when manic. It was mainly to show the extreme of what is acceptable. DD2 (2 next week) who found the video is too young to see anything. If DS (7) had found it, there would have been a problem. What they normally see is that Mummy goes out a lot and barely looks up from her phone.

She keeps insisting at the moment that it doesn't affect them, but it's just not true. She just about sees to their physical needs while I'm at work, and I come home and usually have to do the cleaning and she often insists I don't cook and instead orders take away. The lack of quality attention has to be affecting them.

MIL was helping a lot with this earlier on, but kind of wouldn't help much more after a while. DW is getting better at this, but to pretend it's not harmful is quite deluded.

At the moment, maybe there's a sort of denial going on. Her meds aren't completely stable yet; it was a change of meds that brought this all on. She's agreed to take the meds and is OK with changing them, but isn't really willing to make other allowances. She always reacts badly to alchohol, and agrees to stop drinking until there's an offer to go out and then it's "just try it one more time", for example. But it's like, if I had diabetes it wouldn't be enough just to take insulin; you have to watch your diet to.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 10:20:15

As for myself, I have no real support. I don't have any friends outside work, and I am no longer in contact with my family. I feel as though DW has lots of support from family, friends and professionals; but I have nothing.

It's easy to say go out and get friends, but maybe I have a few MH issues myself. Being borderline ASD and quite possibly dysthemic, it's very hard for me to talk to people.

TheSilverySoothsayer Fri 04-Oct-13 10:23:22

Bipolar UK is a v good organisation, they have support meetings that sufferers and their family can go to. And Mind has good info as well. I also found somewhere on the net a v good guide for those living with people with the condition, I googled for it, but didn't bookmark, sorry.

It is also worth backtracking to see what the long term pattern of normality, mh condition, duration and intensity is. And whether there are any stressors that trigger stuff.

You sound like a lovely bloke, btw.

TheSilverySoothsayer Fri 04-Oct-13 10:24:49

x-post, but a lucky one... Am being assessed for AS myself (at age 60!)

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 10:40:04

Thanks Silver. I've read a massive amount of information on the subject of bipolar, and can explain everything from the biological to the psychological and how to live with it, I've read Mind's Handbook of Mental Health First Aid and I do the best I can with her.

I can spot her signs coming before she starts with the sleep disturbances. It's difficult though, because she won't believe me and then she starts saying the same things; she's bored of our relationship, this is just who she is and she's not in any way unwell. It's very frustrating to hear. Stressers can trigger it, but it's also hard to tell what stressers have brought it on and what's she's making worse with her symptoms building, if you know what I mean.

I think the problem is that I am a very solitary person outside of our relationship. I can mange for a while, but this has been going on for most of the year and it's getting a bit much for me. Maybe I just needed to get a lot of this out, and that's kind of the point of this thread.

cestlavielife Fri 04-Oct-13 11:19:31

you can ask for a carers assessment from ss but you need to be clear what kind of support you want. what is needed eg support with dc when she has an episode? or not ?

with three small dc it is hard. are they all in school/nursery?
having DC does change the picture - what you decide to do as an adult is one thing;

what you do to protect and keep safe the DC is another. you know how much additional help is needed with DC if she is unwell.

speak to MIND, rethink, NSPCC about the DC and keeping them safe. you can call their helplines anonymously.
you need to reach out to other parents - maybe get some connections thru school? you dont need to be best buddies but knowing who are ds's friends, who he could go sleepover with on occasion, that kind of thing; is really important....

(hard if you working i know - but also maybe speak to other parents at work?)

- if she is unwell you may need support with dc? can you take time off work if you need to? you have rights to emergency leave as a parent see

espec if there is a chance your seven year old wil be party to or see images he should not - eg he might bring these up at school, mention something in passing to a teacher and then you could have issues.... schools have set policies for child protection (have a look online or ask to see your child's school policy) and a child talking about sexual things he may have seen innocently could trigger action and investigation to see if things were ok. so you engaging now with gp/health visitor and mentioning your concerns; even you making sure that DC never see her phone etc -well that would be being proactive to protect the dc.

there is also young carers - speak to them locally about support groups or things for the dc - for dc with parent with MH issues - you might not need it right now but might be useful at some point -some local young carers orgs are very good and if you focus on dc needs that might be an avenue for support for yourself too. as DC get older and maybe ask questions about their mother's behaviour you may need access to support.

for yourself - your first port of call is your own gp - book a double appointment and talk thru, ask about nhs counsellor at the surgery, if is a good one and you get good rapport it can be really helpful, eg to talk thru specific incident (that you have referred to ) and how you have respnded and what could be way forward for future.

speak to the health visitor too so you have lines of communication open and if there is an episode you have someone to call, if you need to.

cestlavielife Fri 04-Oct-13 11:22:48 is a good book and has a chapter on children and what you can do for them - to mitigate negative impacts. maybe more about depressive phases than mania ubt still useful i think - it's a good tome with lots of research references.

Sunnysummer Fri 04-Oct-13 11:31:19

Poor both of you, and poor kids - this sounds really tricky, and you are doing a great job in a challenging situation.

You absolutely need to discuss this together with her and her psychiatrist if possible, or at minimum with a suitable counsellor. Currently you are only hearing her version, and it is coming across oddly - the psychiatrist giving relationship advice, the manic episodes that appear to last over a month. Both of these things would be very unusual - which isn't to say that they are impossible, but especially given her lack of insight when unwell and the honesty issue you've already raised, it might be helpful for you to have some professional help hashing out your problems, and also to not always rely on second-hand information.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 11:37:49

At the moment, DS hasn't seen anything like that. And it's not likely he would have, and the chances of a two year old toddler randomly tapping the screen and bringing it up seemed to remote as to be almost comical. Something you'd expect to happen in Eastenders.

Their needs do get seen to, and MIL does help out as best she can as she doesn't currently work. I'm more concerned that as they get older, they'll start understanding what's happening and start questioning her odd behaviour if we can't sort this.

I will look up more about what can be done to minimise the effects on the kids as this is quite an important matter.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 04-Oct-13 12:20:33

I don't think it was relationship advise, as such. Just telling her to forget about it and avoid stress. I don't agree, but I think that was what he was saying. Hypomanic episodes don't last more than a few days, true manic episodes of type 1's can last from over a week to 6 months. A month or two is not unusual, from what I can gather.

I've tried going to one of her psych appointments, he just asked me to wait outside. As the CPN's usually visit in the week, it's hard to get a day off to speak to them. MIL again has sat in on them and told me in her words what they said, and she said as far as she could tell DW was telling me and them the truth about how she was feeling.

I think maybe it is about time we saw a concillor together. I will try to get to once again, but I have to get her to accept that the survival of our marriage is actually an important matter again before she'll agree to that.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now