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Just Hanging On

The post by iluvu was absolutely right about the part that you have to remember and love the true person they are inside. I did not know about my husband's illness when we married and I ended up diagnosing him (depression) and getting help a couple of years into our marriage. The bipolar diagnosis is recent after finally recognizing the pattern of severe swings. Come to find out he did have strong ups and downs, mostly downs, before we met. Too bad I didn't know. It is a hard life but I have held on for 16 years knowing there is a sweet, funny, smart, friendly person inside and waiting for him to be "himself" longer than 1 or 2 days at a time.  After 16 years I am feeling very weary and unsure of how much longer I can hold on.  The hardest part is that I feel like I can't be honest with him about how I feel most times (have to bite my tongue) because I don't want to send him into a downward spiral again.   That is really stressful. I hope some new medicine will help us turn the corner to some more stable normal times together. I am feeling like it is really hard to plan for the future with our relationship as it is now.  Thanks for reading. Any wise advice and understanding would be appreciated.

seekingsunshine seekingsunshine 41-45 4 Responses Aug 5, 2008

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I am also the wife of a bipolar husband of 22yrs. I always try to remember this is NOT who he wants to be. He hates him self when he is destructive. Its like a whole different person. I tell my kids he is sick. Its not our fault and Daddy will better soon. alot of the situations can be controlled if you respond to their mania with out freaking out back at them.......sometimes it is the response to the first action that triggers.Be strong , keep God on your side

I respect your reply. I too am 20 yrs + with 5 kids. My H refuses medication and he is becoming physical and also has PTSD. Our kids want out.

My true question was, after all that you do to protect family, do you have a Life you enjoy for yourself. Are you truly happy?

I don't and am scared to death to go,

Twenty years into this and all I can say is that it won't really get better. You have to decide if you can take it for the long haul or not. Yes, there are numerous experts involved in "managing" my wife's condition, an entire economy of psychiatrists, counselors, pharmacists, priests, not to mention mental institutions. But this never gets managed, really. <br />
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Some days are ok, some, like today, are hell. As the person who is the most stable in her life and most responsible for her care, I at the same time am the whipping post for all the blackness and bitterness and delusional whatever that boils over. I try to avoid her, accommodate her, talk sense to her, be nothing-but-nice for weeks, and still get all the blame for being an unloving husband, "controlling," poor example to the children, irresponsible, etc. All that while being the person who bears nearly all responsibility for bills (including her medical bills), cooking, house upkeep, etc. <br />
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You have to make a decision on whether or not staying in the circumstances are worth it. I have children in the home and can't afford to set my wife up in her own residence so really feel rather like I have no choice to keep plugging away --at least for today. Also, I have no desire to cast my clearly ill and struggling wife onto the streets. Twenty-years ago I said "I do" in front of God and everybody. But this is not a recipe for long-term happiness and you need to face it that you have no good choices. <br />
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The one piece of advice I can give is to remember that you're the sane/stable one and to remind your husband of that as well. My wife becomes enraged when I refuse to get led into one of her arguments based in delusion and obsession. But I've discovered you can't win arguing with a mentally ill person so just say, "I'm not going to pursue this with you any further, you're not stable right now." And go somewhere else. Otherwise, the crap will just keep getting dumped on you. For years she's nearly had me convinced that I'm a border-line abusive husband. Finally, I just started to push back. Now she's avoiding me for several days because I'm abusive, controlling, unloving, see above references to same.<br />
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Even though he's not completely responsible for his condition and behavior, the fact of the matter is that he is at least somewhat responsible and needs to know his actions have consequences.

Hi Seeking: You are not alone! There are many people who are married to spouses who are bipolar. I am one of them.<br />
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From experience, my husband did want to be mentally stable with his disease. He hated the manic hi's and low's.<br />
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I do know that my husband is extremely sensitive to many medications and even prescription meds for pain can push him into a depression.<br />
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Hubby was seeing the same psychiatrist for years. The Psychiatrist was prescribing medications and was having him take herbal supplements. <br />
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After one terrible manic episode, husband was eventually put on a "hospital hold" and finally a "court commit" into the Psych Unit. <br />
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When he was finally released, he realized that he needed and wanted a new Psychiatrist who he could relate to and feel comfortable with. <br />
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He has found a SUPER Psychiatrist who is also a family physician. Hubby is taking Depakote and Invega doing wonderful.<br />
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An all new medical team and treatment plan may just be something to consider. We have: A Psychiatrist for Medication Therapy, a Psychologist for hubby to talk to and a Family Counselor who we both see together.<br />
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Just remember, be honest to yourself first and then to your husband. I did and it is working for us!!

Sounds like you need a holiday..........and some pampering..it must be hard.