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05/31/2012 09:01 PM

Bipolar withdrawal in relationships-confronting

gsulove
 
Posts: 15
Member

My boyfriend and I have now been together for over a year and a half. He is possibly undiagnosed bipolar or he is not telling me he has been diagnosed with it. He goes to therapy twice a month and takes depression meds. I have depression/anxiety, on meds and go to therapy on occasion. I have talked extensively about my relationship at therapy and my therapist think there is a good chance he has a mood disorder. On to my questions...

The last 2 months or so he has shut down, crashed and withdrawn. Mostly this occurs during the week. Negative, cold, unemotional, and very depressed. When we are together on the weekends, typically he is in a much better mood and seems more like himself but not manic. Is this multi-cycling?

We used to communicate with each other throughout the day at work, via text, phone calls, etc. Now I am lucky if he calls me when he gets off work. Very unlike him. He's very cold and distant. I don't see him as much during the week as I used to. I have asked him several times how to handle this mood. He usually says, "I don't know." I don't know if he wants me to leave him alone or be their to support him.

He doesn't communicate much at all these days. I try to be very supportive and non confrontational as I don't want him to think I am criticizing him when he is this depressed. This is wearing me out and I don't feel like I am getting what I need out of this relationship, but I am grateful when I do see him come out of it on occasion. I am a single mom and we have discussed marriage, etc. I'm not sure if this is something I want to involve my child in...and she adores him and he adores her. He is never violent or angry but pushes people away. I'm not sure how things will turn out if we were to take the next step and it scares me. I truly love him and I feel he loves me too. I would stand by and be supportive if he were to get the right help and meds. I would fight for this relationship.

My two questions:

1. What do I do when he withdraws? Should I withdraw too?

2. I feel like it is time to confront him about the possibility of him having bipolar/mood disorder but I worry it could cause the breakdown of our relationship. How do I do this without causing him to withdraw more or worse, leave?

Any help/advice is greatly appreciated.

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06/01/2012 03:17 AM
MsAspiring
MsAspiring  
Posts: 1614
Senior Member

Welcome to the group gsulove. My first step would be to ask him if anything has changed that you are not aware of. Maybe he has issues with your relationship that you are not aware of. Maybe his best friend from childhood died. You just don't know until you ask.

A lot of times our friends/family like to put the blame on our bipolar illness when we act different, when in reality a lot of the times, it has nothing to do with bipolar. Wishing you well and best of luck. Please let us know what happens. We care.


06/01/2012 07:47 AM
gsulove
 
Posts: 15
Member

This is a pretty typical cycle for him. I dont think it is our relationship. His depression seems to overhwelm him. And yes, I have asked him many times. He says he is just depressed. He doesnt like his job, hes struggling getting his CPA, becomes very sensitive about his appearance, etc. He frequently says he is overwhelmed and depressed. I tell him I am here. He always tells me how ssupportive I am. My concern is his meds, which are for depression, do not seem to work and may be making him worse. Hes been in therapy for over a year and on the same meds. He has also told me he doesnt talk to his therapist about his depression. I dont really understand that. He recently said to me, that he will be ok for a few months and then he seems to crash for the next few months. Ive experienced depression since my teens and I have never experienced anything quite like this. It seems as if every three months or so he goes in and out. He has told me if let himself, he would stay in his house all day. My hope for him is that he can get this under control so he can enjoy his life.

06/01/2012 07:58 AM
uppitywoman
uppitywoman  
Posts: 42739
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

Hello. Before I give my opinion to your questions, I must say that unless your boyfriend goes to a psychiatrist and is evaluated for a mood disorder, there is no way of knowing whether or not he has bipolar. A second hand appraisal by your therapist isn't a legitimate diagnosis. Having said that, I think Ms Aspiring's post is good. Talking first about the relationship in general should be the first step. If he says nothing is wrong, then you have to decide if you want to continue with the status quo in the relationship or go ahead and talk to him about your concerns regarding his behavior in terms of mental health. You have stated you concerns about the relationship and how his behavior would affect your daughter. That's something to really think about. If he continues or withdraws further, then you need to make the hard decision about whether or not this relationship is really worth continuing to invest in. As far as withdrawing when he does, just say I am here if you need me and then give him space is what I would do. Let him be the one to initiate contact. I hope it all works out for you. Best wishes.

06/01/2012 11:26 AM
freeemysoul
freeemysoul  
Posts: 335
Member

I think that I am like your boyfriend..... so I will try to explain what I think may be going on.... but like uppitywoman stated, you won't know until he is diagnosed by a professional.

If I get stressed and/or overwhelmed, I shut down (almost like a guy going into his "cave" (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus). I cannot help this, it is overwhelming. I cannot have anyone near me because I have such little energy left just to live (at that particular moment). During this period, I struggle to take care of the basics in life (taking a shower, washing dishes, walking the dog, etc). It is not that I am lazy or that I don't want to do these things, I just can't muster up the energy to do them. It is like a vacuum was placed into my mouth, sucking out my soul. My bones hurt, my veins hurt, my brain hurts.

If I shut everyone out (for even just a little while) I can rest and renew. Usually I have to be totally alone, with no noise or distractions. Once I "regroup" I am "myself" again.

This is hard on friends and significant others. Luckily I have several friends that understand this, but there are many people that do not.

Once I renew, I am energized and ready to talk and go out and have fun.

I cannot explain it. It is depressing being like this because you are a slave to your moods.

I would just have a sitdown with him. When he is feeling overwhelmed, maybe he can give you a special hand signal so that you will know that he is going in his cave for awhile.

The best advice is to not take it personal because I think he means well. He may act distant because he is fearful to lash out. Sometimes when people try to prob me or ignore my requests for private time, I get so frustrated that I push them away (not physically but emotionally) because obviously they did not get the message. It honestly feels like life or death. You feel like you will die if you do not get the space you need.

I hope that was helpful and made some sense. Wink


06/02/2012 02:01 PM
gsulove
 
Posts: 15
Member

I confronted him today. He has been more depressed than he has led on and admited to feeling suicidal. I did bring up the the bipolar and he said no doc has ever brought it up before. I told him the antidepressant he is on is obviously not working and could be making the depression worse if he does in fact have a mood disorder. That definitely took him by surprise. He said he has considered breaking up with me because he feels he is a danger to me and my daughter. Not in the literal sense but due to how he treats people when he is this low. He worries how this will affect everyone when we move in together. Ive offered to go to therapy with him. He has admitted that he is not totally honest with his therapist because he's worried he will be put in a hospital. If he doesnt let me go with him, i have thought about calling his parents. They have no idea how bad he is right now. Hes pretty good at internalizing everything.we will see what happens.

08/08/2012 06:25 AM
gsulove
 
Posts: 15
Member

Over two months later...We went to see his doctor together who re-diagnoased him with Bipolar 2. I never once brought it up and let she and him do most of the talking. He told her this is the worst he has ever felt. She put him on Lamictal and he has been taking it these last two months. He was very appreciative that I took him to the doctor. I think it made him feel very loved which obviously he needed even though I have been supportive. I do realize I need to not let the depression go so long without confronting him about it. I am not a confrontational person in relationships and which in turn makes me become too accommodating. Communicating about how he is feeling and keeping the communication lines open is definitely a must which we are both working on. Since the appt with his doctor I believe it put him in a somewhat hypomanic mood for two months, which now he seems to be coming out of. For two months he was emotional, loving, happy, excited...We again talked about our plans for the future although I tried to take things slower than he was. He really pushed the idea of buying a house and getting engaged. Things have been going well for him with his career. He was promoted and offered a new and better job all within one week. He doesn't seem as happy about the job as I thought he would be considering this is what he has wanted the entire time I have known him. Maybe it is the stress of it all? I believe the stress of being promoted and getting the new job caused his mood to transition. Too much too ssoon for anyone to handle. I just hope this doesn't mean a spiral into depression. I have had to switch therapist due to a change in insurance during all of this. It has been an emotional and stressful time for me. My new therapist has a much different style of counseling. She is much more straightforward and I feel like at times really puts questions in my mind if I am making the right decision to stay with him. I am going to see her again today. I was hoping to find someone who would give me the tools to help me succeed in this relationship. sometimes I do not know what to do when he becomes withdrawn or depressed. I feel like his mood controls our relationship and that is very frustrating. Any thoughts on how to cope?

11/28/2012 12:06 PM
freeemysoul
freeemysoul  
Posts: 335
Member

Hi,

I know that it has been awhile since you last posted, but ironically I was online, trying to look for help again and found my own post (to you!) lol

First, I hope that things have improved with your boyfriend. You say he was diagnosed as bipolar II, ironically I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II as well. I took a 2 month break from my meds and now I am really messed up, so I thought that I would respond to you again because I have again "shut-down" so I can offer an even better perspective (maybe) on what your boyfriend is going through.

I have been dating a man for 2 months and already I am "shutting-down" and pushing away. Why? I need every ounce of my energy to survive right now. I cannot be there for anyone else but me. This may sound selfish, but it is survival (mental and emotional survival) Think back to a situation you have been in that has seemed insurmoutable (the intense anxiety, heart rate increase, racing thoughts) and then picture yourself being in it for days. Nothing anyone says helps. No love from others changes anything. You are chained and a captive and you can not escape. You can think of nothing else but getting away. Ironically, this mood will not last long, but while you are in it it is all you know. You cannot picture happiness. In a few days (once my meds kick in) I will be "me" again. But in the meantime I am a slave to my emotions. All I can muster (activity wise) is searching frantically online for answers...... (even though I KNOW I am bipolar) I want it to be something else (a food allergy) or that I am simply a "highly sensitive person", an empath, etc but I know what it is. ;(

I hope that wasn't too depressing. And I hope that it was helpful. On a positive note, "we" can be sooooo loving because we are really in touch with our souls, but we need someone that understands us and doesn't take it personal. Hopefully he stays on his meds because that will make all the diffeence in the world. I started back on my medication today, so when I read this in a few weeks, I won't understand why I typed this to you because I won't be in this mood any longer. I will probably worry that it was too negative and that I can't believe I posted it. This is one of the weirdest parts of the disorder (to me). Emotional amnesia. When I am hyper/manic, I couldn't explain depression to you. But when I am down or anxious, I cannot envision happiness for the life of me. But when I am medicated I am stable. I am not manic/hyper, nor depressed..... I just am.


12/03/2012 06:58 PM
gsulove
 
Posts: 15
Member

Freemysoul it is good to hear from you again and just at the right time. You do a great job of putting this into perspective for me. Emotional amnesia. Wow. That really makes sense. I had to confront my spouse the other day regarding his behavior and depression. His depression has spiraled out of control. Over the last three months it has slowly become worse. I'm even starting to feel like he resents me which is new. He is totally withdrawn, apathetic and has shut down. He says he is giving up. He doesn't want to discuss his depression anymore because it is not doing any good. He says he has done all of the right things to make himself happy and yet he is still not happy. He is still going to therapy once a week and to my knowledge he is taking his meds. I have never heard him talk about giving up at least not to this extent. I asked him if anything makes him happy. He said no. Not even his family. That was a shock to me as his family is very important him. I told him I believed in him and have faith that he can get through this. It was like talking to a wall. The talk was pointless. He can't communicate. He said he wanted to make me happy but didn't know if he could but that he had been trying. He said me and my daughter are very important to him. This withdrawal has lasted 3 months. I dont think it has ever been this bad. Somehow he still functions quite well at work.

It's very difficult not to take this personally. When he is around us, he makes a huge effort towards my daughter. She adores him. It's like he is himself for a few hours. This has caused me to become more depressed. My stress and anxiety became uncontrollable. I lost 15 pounds in two months. I am already a small girl. I had people confronting me at work. It has affected every aspect of my life. My friends and family find it difficult to understand why I am still with him. Although my mother is very supportive. We had a few months of wonderful. It does seem like there is a pattern. I'm hoping he comes out of this soon. I dont know whether to continue to be supportive, understand and patient as I have been. I have always been there for him as much I could. I'm exhausted. What does he need from me right now? I feel like I should stop contacting him? The more he pushes me away. The more it makes me want to give up. I love him very much.


01/22/2013 05:56 PM
emeraldisle922
Posts: 1
New Member

I randomly found this forum when I was googling on how to support my undiagnosed boyfriend. Your posts have enlightened me so much!! Thank you!! He too was being treated for both anxiety and depression for the last 3 years. He finally went off his meds in November because they weren't doing any good and actually making things worse. He shuts down all the time now. His anxiety controls his life as does the depression. I was looking for answers on how to approach him on it without him becoming defensive as his mother is a Psychologist yet seems to be his ultimate trigger and he is now living under her roof, under her conditions.
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