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03/03/2012 08:55 PM

Feeling Lost in a Bipolar Marriage

daffylexer
Posts: 6
New Member

I've been reading the posts here for a few weeks now hoping that coming here might help me better understand bipolar and to just to know I"m not alone. But honostly today I'm feeling very alone and very lost. My husband of 7 years is bipolar. It's been a rough time between misdiagnosis, wacko doctors and the recession hitting us very, very hard and losing our house to foreclosure due to the bank screwing up. We also had 2 children in that time. Last year we relocated back to the area where we used to live for a slower and calmer life, and a chance to rebuild. In many ways it's been a huge improvement, but the past few months have been rocky. He's on deprakote, and switched to the time release version of it in January, and that's when things seem to have become rocky. We've had some additional strains in our lives during this time too, so am not sure if it's the meds or the strain that is causing the rockiness. There are times when he just turns off when we're faced with something big. I've always had to been the rock, the one that fixes everything, the strong one, the problem solver, and usually I'm okay it, but the past few days I've had a rough time dealing. I've tried talking to him about it, telling him that I need a bit of support, but it's like talking to a wall. When I got frustrated, he told me I'm a nag and b*&^% all the time and to leave him alone. And now I feel I'm left alone to pick up the pieces and fix all the problems and make sure everything is okay when I'm not sure how to do any of that on my own this time. On top of that, I have to do it with a smile and keep it together cuz he can't handle it if I'm anything but "together." In the past he's been supportive (after being medicated), but now he says he's incapable of it (all I asked for was a hug, and I couldn't get even that). He's also sleeping a lot more, like he did when he wasn't medicated, and playing video games to no end. Basically, I'm not sure if the new time release med is what's causing this (he was like this before diagnosis), or if I'm just blaming something that's not bipolar related on bipolar, the way my husband says I do. All I know right now is that I feel very alone. I don't know anyone else who's in my shoes, and there are no local support groups in my area (another reason why I turned here). I'm sorry for going on and on. I just needed to get stuff off my chest, especially to a people who know what it's like to live with a loved one with bipolar. Thanks for listening.
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03/03/2012 10:21 PM
marriedtoit
marriedtoit  
Posts: 11201
Group Leader

Daffy, welcome to the group!

Do you go to the pdoc (psychiatrist) with him? If not, I would work hard to persuade him that you need to go. Our loved ones with bipolar can't always accurately describe what is going on with them. It really helps the pdoc to hear from a family member. Also, men usually (but not always! don't hate on me, gentlemen!) have a harder time talking about their emotions and feelings to doctors. So your input could really help all around.

If you were a part of his "treatment team" already, you could just phone up the pdoc, tell him or her (or a nurse at the practice) what you are witnessing and that it seems to have started with the XR... But even if your husband has not authorized you (via Hippa, the privacy laws/statements/forms) with his doctor, that only bars his doctor from sharing data with YOU. It doesn't mean you cannot share info with his doctor. So you should consider calling your husband's pdoc and describing what is going on. This is certainly something you should consider a failsafe, if nothing else.

Now, some of what you talk about IS the burden of being a spouse to a loved one who suffers from bipolar disorder. Our loved ones sometimes cannot cope. It can come at the worst possible moment, but if they are depressed, or hypomanic, or stressed, or anxious...they can just need a real break. To people outside this world, it can seem really unfair! (And to those inside too, I have to confess.) A scenario I know and have read lots about on MDJ: It is a holiday. You are having family over. There are fifty million things to get done. You need to clone yourself several times to get it all done! And then...your husband (or wife) can't cope. They might get angry at you for asking for help, avoid helping by playing video games, be unable to get out of bed, or go hang out with buddies at the worst time. Anything to avoid the stress and triggers that come with a holiday party.

The thing is, stability with this disorder means meds, it means therapy, and it means a lot of lifestyle changes (for your husband) and expectation adjustments (for you).

None of it is easy for either partner!

But...all that said, it sounds to me that your husband needs a med adjustment. Most bipolar people are not on one med alone...maybe he needs a second med...or to go off the XR... A pdoc can really help if he or she has the right information.

You might also check out the spouse forums here: Bipolar Spouses and Spouses of Bipolar in Active Relationships. Alot of people here have walked in your shoes.


03/04/2012 06:19 AM
Laurac17
Posts: 2
New Member

I had a user name and password ect and had not been on in a while. When I read the original post I had to check to be sure it was not me who posted. It is almost identical to what is going on in my life. I think the shut downs in a crisis situation is the worse. It seems like that is the time others rely on their spouse or partner and mine just shuts down.

He is now playing the aviodence game, we have a basement remodel project and he acts like he doesnt live upstairs (only eats and sleeps up here). People dont get it.


03/06/2012 08:41 AM
getolife
getolife  
Posts: 95
Member

Talking to the doctor is probably the best first step when you are concerned that the medication isn't working for any reason. Your bipolar partner is just going to take it as personal criticism and get even more defensive--and the psychiatrist who prescribes the medication is the one who can actually do something about it.

My next step would be to cut myself some slack. You are not a rock. You are the designated sane person, but you are still a person--first, last, and always. You need support and you can also be harmed by excessive stress. That's not just a bipolar thing.

Choose the most important things to handle and don't even think about the rest or about the big picture at this point. Just do what you can do and let life happen.

Let your husband know where you want his help, but don't put a lot of pressure on him or expect much from him for now. You can't talk rationally with an irrational person and it sounds like he just isn't stable right now--so do what you need to for yourself and the family and don't expect much help.Sometimes choosing not to expect help makes the task easier because you can plan ways to get things done yourself and you aren't spending a lot of energy on getting him to help.

One thing to check: Are you sure he is taking his medication as prescribed? It's not unusual for someone with bipolar to start thinking that they are "cured" and don't need pills any more so they just start to forget them once in a while--until they aren't taking anything at all. Be careful how you find out. If you ask about the medication he could also take it as criticism and start a whole new rant. If he isn't throwing them away, you may be able to figure it out by counting the pills (or by checking his daily pill box if he has one) so he wouldn't have to know unless you found a problem.

My husband takes both lithium carbonate and divalproex delayed release and is relatively stable and back to work. He has been stable on just the lithium, but needed to be too close to the toxic point for comfort and the divalproex (generic Depakote)wasn't enough at any does. He is diagnosed as bipolar 1 and every case is different, but combining two or more medications to get the best possible results is very common.

I'm one of those researcher types--when my husband was diagnosed I read everything and joined support groups online, so while the conclusions I draw are my own, they come from a wide range of sources.


03/09/2012 08:30 AM
kimmykkh
Posts: 1
New Member

Wow, i feel like you just read a page from my life. I too am the one who has to keep it all together, I am the one who has to make everything work. When my husband isn't hiding his head in his games, or dope (yes, he self medicates with pot) he is bouncing off the walls. I feel like not matter what i do, it's just not enough. I WANT MY HUSBAND BACK. the one i married, not this guy.

I mean i love him with all my heart, but i feel sometimes like im being sucked down a super massive black hole...

He is medicated on lithium, celexa, respidol and trazadone, he sees a therapist. It just doesn't seem to be getting any better.

He is out of work indefinately because his unability to "cope"... sometimes i just want to grab him and shake the snot right out of him... I know it's a disease, and really not his fault, but i feel like he isn't even trying to get better... I just don't know what to do,, and i want you to know that you aren't alone...

Im right there with you... I just hope it gets better for both of us...


03/09/2012 10:05 AM
marriedtoit
marriedtoit  
Posts: 11201
Group Leader

Kimmy, welcome to the group. Do you go to the psychiatrist's appointment with him? If nothing seems to be getting better....something is wrong. He is on FOUR meds and you don't see any improvement?

Here are some ways out of this hell:

1. Call his pdoc and report what your husband is doing. Sometimes our spouses cannot really "see" what is still off or unstable about their behavior and it is up to us to report that to the psychiatrist.

2. Arrange for a consultation with a new pdoc==preferably a bipolar specialist.

3. Tell your husband that things have to change or the marriage is over. I would put "no dope and alcohol" on the list, for starters.

It is true that our bipolar loved ones, even when stable on meds, can face triggers that mean they will want to retreat (watching TV, playing video games, repairing old cars...just some of the retreats I have seen on here), but if he is retreating EVERY DAY, something is terribly wrong.

You don't have to live this way. Something is not right with his treatment yet and you might have to jump up and down on some desks to get it fixed.


03/09/2012 10:33 PM
daffylexer
Posts: 6
New Member

Thank you all so much for all your support. On the one hand, I hate that we're all in the same boat. On the other, it's nice to have the company. It amazes me how similar all or our stories area. Knowing this has really helped me finally, after so many years, accept that bipolar is a part of my marriage, almost like a mistress would be. I jokingly said to my mom the other week, "Princess Diana said there was her, Charles and Camilla in her marriage. In my marriage it's me, Scott and bipolar." It's never going to go away, and although I "knew" this, I never really accepted it before, and I think that acceptance is helping me deal with it all.

The week has been a roller coaster, which has been very stressful. On a good note though, I was able to have a good talk with my husband about his meds and he agrees that the time-release depakote isn't working as well as the regular depakote. He's very dillegent about taking his meds (it's a condition in our relationship, and since he loves his family he makes sure he keeps up with it), but he's no longer able to cope with some of the tougher stresses, and even minor ones are starting to mess with him. On the regular depakote he handles the stresses much more easily. He's also on an anti-depressant but that med hasn't changed so I'm pretty sure it's the time-release depakote that's messing with him. Anyway, he's going to call his pdoc on Monday to get a new prescription for the old med.

I've also started reading "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder." It's hard to be open to the solutions it talks about because honostly I'm jaded and very angry, but I still want to try. One thing the book says to do that I'm definitely going start is writing in a journal every day. It think it will help me get out my anger and frustration, as well as be a good way of keeping track of my husband's moods.

I know this is a battle that we'll have to fight together for the rest of our lives together, but it's a hard one. I'm just glad I found this site and know you're out there to talk to when I need to hear from people who walk in my shoes. Thanks again so much! I don't feel so alone anymore.

Alexa


03/09/2012 10:42 PM
daffylexer
Posts: 6
New Member

Kimmy, I agree with marriedtoit. Find a new pdoc who specializes in bipolar. My husband was misdiagnosed by the Navy in 2005. They told him he had anger management issues and blew him off. Working the clean up after Hurricane Katrina just made him worse (let's add PTSD on top of un-diagnosed bipolar and ADHD). In 2009 I finally told my husband that he had to go get another opinion or I was taking our son and leaving him (and I really meant it). Anyway, the dr he went to wasn't much better than the Navy dr. He put my husband on meds, but when they weren't helping the dr refused to listen and just changed the dosage, making my husband feel worse, not better. I finally found him a bi-polar specialist and she got him on the right meds with the right dosage. Once that happened it was like having the man I fell in love with back. Even though we're having issues with his meds now since he changed to the time release, at least we now have a benchmark by which to measure. Oh, and he tried both lithium and celexa and neither did anything for him, but deprakote with his current anti-depressant (cant' remember which one off the top of my head) was like the magic elixor we were looking for. No meds will make it completely go away, but the right meds will at least allow your husband to control the bipolar instead of bipolar controlling him.

Alexa


03/14/2012 02:44 PM
getolife
getolife  
Posts: 95
Member

Usually any anti-depressant can keep someone with bipolar from being as stable as possible. Sometimes they are necessary to drag someone with bp2 out of a serious depression, but they are usually discontinued once that happens because they tend to keep a person in mixed or ultrarapid cycling episodes indefinitely. Even if he has been using anti-depressants for a long time, it is possible that dropping them and going to just mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, and other specialty meds will be more effective. (I'm just a housewife who's been on the forums too long, not a doctor) Also, if you are looking for a book that doesn't assume that you can drop everything and become a full time caregiver, you might check out my book (see below) about how we make our marriage work without losing myself, my sanity or my sense of humor in the process. I found the books I was reading to be pretty intimidating in the "you can't have a life while being a bipolar man's wife" way.

03/14/2012 09:08 PM
marriedtoit
marriedtoit  
Posts: 11201
Group Leader

It is pretty common for bipolar people to have an antidepressant in their med cocktail. If you go to the BP boards on here, many people list their meds with their signatures and you can see how common it is. But getolife is right to have some concerns about antidepressants for bipolar disorder. Why?

1. Most people present to the psychiatrist with depression and not mania. (Mania feels MUCH better than depression and some people are so addicted to mania they refuse meds to stabilize their moods.) So a common experience is that people are (mis)diagnosed with depression until they have a manic episode because of antidepressant use. (I have seen a lot of cautions that a manic episode solely from antidepressants is not enough for a BP diagnosis....but those cautions are very new....so stay tuned.)

2. Being solely on an antidepressant is a recipe for hypomania/mania.

BUT if a person is on a mood stabilizer that prevents mania, it is not unusual for a pdoc to ADD an antidepressant to the regimen.

Daffy, wow, I can't imagine my bipolar husband doing post-Katrina work. (He has PTSD too, but I think Katrina would cause PTSD.) He would be psychotic as he is so empathetic to human suffering.

I think being jaded and angry right now is really healthy. Do you have a therapist for yourself? I think a therapist could really help you work through these issues. You can read the books later, when you have been through therapy.

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