I am 26 years old and was just married in September 2010. We have been together for almost 4 years, but have known each other for 7. Just two months before the wedding, my husband was diagnosed with BP. I always knew there were emotional issues there, but it is an understatement to say that I was shocked at the diagnosis. I didn't want to accept it at first, even when the diagnosis seemed to give him peace. All the turmoil he had been struggling with on the inside had just been justified, and he actually accepted it fairly quickly.
I am new to the group, and still not sure how I feel about blogging. However, after an episode tonight, I'm not sure where else to turn. I have not told my family or friends, which is an agreement we made together. We have told his family, and they are supportive. But I don't think any of us know how to handle it, and I now play the role of wife, friend, therapist, life coach, etc. He doesn't have close friends, so it's really just me.
He is on meds and is good about taking them, but that in itself has been a roller coaster that hasn't stopped. I'm not too comfortable with the doc he is seeing now, and we are working on some insurance issues so that we can change docs. His lithium levels have never been checked, and to top it off, the doc has not even suggested lithium. He started off with lamotrigine and a couple other meds (I can't remember the names), but was told after increasing the dose a few times that he was allergic to it. Since then he has been on at least 10 different meds, and nothing is working.
I guess I just need some direction. Some words of encouragement and advise to help me get through the bad days. The good days are still great. But I haven't found a way to control my emotions so that we can focus on his. At this point, anything will help.
Oh how I can relate!! Your story sounds very very similar to mine only we have been married a bit longer.
Was the lamotrgine increased rapidly? There can been very severe reactions such as rash etc with drastic changes in lamotrigine.
My husband has spent four years on lithium, lamotrigine, qietipine, propanolol ( to counter effects of other meds) and ritalin with the levels of all being changed and shifted as they never really seem to work to much. We have recent moved and my husbands new doctor has changed his meds around completely - he is doing very well. He has had levels dropped slowly of old meds and we are increasing levels of new meds slowly. I guess all of that is leading to say to you there is hope to find the right meds. Do you live in a state where there is state offered health care? Maybe that would allow a doctor change till your new insurance is in place? finding the right doctor is key. I was very worried when the new doc immediately started changing things. I am first to jump in as protective "crazy" wife - My husband is a veteran so we are dealing with VA health care where it is easy to slip through the cracks.
Have hope the right person will figure out your husbands meds. Be persistant and strong to try and push through.
I joined this group not long ago because neither my husband nor i have many very close friends. And the few I have and small family im in touch with has no understanding of what bipolar is like. Everyone is extremely supportive. even just reading through posts brings a glimmer of hope.
Times can be tough, very tough, but with time the good times that are great increase and things level out.
I've learned little things that trigger situations even though sometimes it kills me i make sure those situations are directed another way.
now that i am rambling i hope i have been of some help.
Hey newlywedbp!!!! And Dixie, your post was absolutely EXCELLENT!!!! I agree with everything you said wholeheartedly!
newlywedbp, the biggest thing I feel will help you right now is to post, post, post on here. Get those big feelings out of you. If you hold them inside you will continue to become more depressed. We are all here to support each other!!! I've found there are alot of people here who have experienced alot of the things I've gone through and they are readily available to impart their experience and wisdom!!!
So please continue to post you feelings, fears, worries. We will listen to you. And also, if you need to just vent about something, feel free. Take care and again, WELCOME!!!!!
Welcome to the group, both newlywed and dixie! Newlywed, one thing really stuck out in your post. You said your husband was diagnosed 2 months before your wedding and you got married in September of last year. You said he has been on 10 different meds and none of them worked. It sounds to me, and I could be wrong, that the doc didn't really give the meds a chance to work. My husband has been on 4 different mood stabilizers in 4 years with one of them always being a constant, trileptal. Granted he went too long on depakote, it wasn't working, but I had no say in the matter at that time. I would recommend that you go along to your husband's appts. if possible, keep a mood chart of his moods, sleep patterns, activity level, and whatever else is important to track for the dr. I have found this practice to be of a lot of help in remembering incidents with my husband's moods and keeping track of is sleep, which is very important for anyone with bipolar. I would also recommend that you both go to counseling if you can. Go together and sometimes go separately. It's good to get some good professional help when you are dealing with a serious mental health issue like bp. You've already done a great thing by joining mdj. You will find that there are a lot of wonderful people here who have a lot of experience dealing with being married to someone who has bp. You will find that most everyone can relate to things you are going through. So again, welcome to the group!
Newlywed, welcome to the group! There is hope! Like Wife said, you really have to be the advocate for your husband. I don't know if it is because they are men or because they have bipolar or both, but our experience here (with some exceptions) is that our husbands tend not to do the research to be their own advocates. In fact, too common when there are adverse side effects, we see our husbands just stop the med, without his pdoc (psychiatrist) knowing it.
So first off, I would say that you need to learn the names of all the meds he is on. Research those meds. See what they are supposed to do and what their side effects are. (And my own opinion is that Lithium is rarely prescribed because it is not patented any more. You can get Lithium very cheap at WalMart. Pdocs will often prescribe the newest meds, that have no generics. Some of these are good meds, but the amount of reliable data on those meds is much smaller than with Lithium. Thank heavens there is generic Lamictal now.)
Second, it sounds like a new pdoc is just what you need. I am so sorry that you have to wait to do this. (It makes me angry whenever I hear things like this. People say we have the best healthcare in the world, but unless you are rich, it often doesn't feel that way.)
Third, he needs his own therapist. I am my husband's cheerleader, chief confidante, wife, and friend, but not his therapist. Can you get him into therapy? It will make a huge difference if he sees therapy as part of his whole package.
Finally (I could go on much longer, but will stop here!!!), what kinds of episodes is he still having? There will still be depression and hypomania, even with meds, but they should be short-lived for most people. If your hubby is manic or clinically depressed, his meds aren't right yet. (He knows he can't mix alcohol with his psych meds, right?)
I know it seems wrong that YOU have to become the expert on HIS mental illness. But I promise you that you will not be sorry when you have the knowledge. Knowledge is power, and you will have so many tools in your toolbox with that knowledge.
Again, welcome to the group. Ask us anything. Share anything. Vent. Start a joke or cooking thread. Feel at home here.
Thanks to everyone for your support. I already feel very welcomed here. Sorry, it's been a few days since I've been on, so let me back track.
When he was on the lamotragine, he was being increased about every two weeks. It was working great, but then he developed a rash. With so many med changes at the time, it was hard to tell which med was causing the reaction. But the doc told him that the dosage he had reached on the lamotragine had caused the allergic reaction.
I agree that his meds have been changed far too often. It hasn't been a year since his diagnosis, and I feel like we have gone through a lifetime of meds. He was going to follow-up appointments every two weeks, and would come home with 3 new prescriptions every time. He's tried fluoxitine, zyprexa, ritalin, aderol, saphris, and a number of others that I can't remember. I finally got fed up and went in with him to meet his doctor. I was not impressed. I didn't feel like he was listening to my husband, or myself for that matter. He seemed to have an agenda when we walked through the door, and he followed it no matter what our concerns were. So we will definitely be changing doctors as soon as this insurance issue gets worked out.
The Emsam patch he is on now seems to be working most days. To answer your question, Married, his episodes do last just a day or two, so I think he is finally out of the major depressive stage that he was in for months. But since I am so new to this, I think I often mistake his episodes for lashing out on me, and I get very emotional. Definitely something that I am learning to cope with over time. This last time I contacted his parents because he left and was sending me very scary text messages, but wouldnt' pick up the phone. They were able to make sure he was okay, and make me feel better at the same time. So I'm happy that I at least have them for moments like that until I am strong enough to handle it on my own.
About the therapist, I have talked to him about it, and he feels like he knows and understands his problems, so he doesn't need it. I figured at least for now, I have to be thankful that he is proactive about his meds. He'll bring home the prescriptions and do the research before he even fills it. He is very involved in that piece, and I trust that he will continue taking his meds. We also both have psychology degrees (go figure!), so I think he believes he has a one-up on therapists, because he has himself figured out long before they do, lol. For the most part though, he is right about that. He can analyze his feelings and thoughts all day long, and come up with a logical reason for why he feels a certain way, but that doesn't always change his actual behavior.
Again, thank you to everyone for your words of wisdom and kindness. I haven't told my husband that I joined this group yet, I am waiting for a better day. So until then I will be logging on from work when I can.
03/16/2011 07:44 AM
Posts: 4891 VIP Member
Good to see you back newlywed! The one thing that stuck out in your latest post was that you called his parents when he was in an episode and was texting scary things and not answering his phone. You said you were glad you could depend on them to help until you were able to handle it yourself. I would say that if you have the support of his parents, use that support! You shouldn't try to handle this on your own if you have good support. I think a lot of people don't have the good fortune of having someone to support them during crisis situations because so many family members and friends don't get it, don't understand. When my husband goes through a crisis, I call my mom, my pastor, and sometimes the group leader from my bp support group in my area. I now can post in our group and get a lot of great support. Now, you have us to be there for you, so that is a very positive thing. I'd say as long as his parents are helpful to you, keep them in the loop! JMO, by the way...
03/16/2011 08:27 AM
Posts: 4281 Group Leader
Hey newlywedbp, I'm sorry you are still having to go through this stuff. My husband was only diagnosed last year in June and our pdoc seemed to be the same way you are describing. He just didn't seem to be interested in the facts, only his ideas of what needed to be done...and he made his choices seemingly before we even had time to express what was going on. Another thing I began to think about my husband, is that when he would become aware of some of the emotional side effects of some of the meds, my husband would suddenly have them....lol My husband runs in the depressive side more of his bipolar than the manic. Alot of people run in the manic side/mode more. It is very difficult to watch a person that is depressed very deeply and not be able to help them. I think it really takes a toll on the people who are closest to them and actually cause us to become depressed, as well. I'm not downplaying the individuals who suffer from mania all the time, because they keep everyone around them busier than a one legged man in a butt-kicking contest!) I hope you don't mind my humor...I try to keep things as light as possible on here, because the pain is almost too much to bear at times.) Hang in there and keep posting, we care about you. This is a close bunch of folks on this forum. Sometimes, I feel like the people on here are holding my hands as I go through things that hurt or are difficult. I hope the insurance situation gets resolved soon, so you and your hubby can find a new pdoc that will "listen" to you. That is absolutely imperative in your husband's quest for stability.
03/16/2011 09:06 AM
Posts: 3933 Group Leader
Welcome newlywedbp, I noticed on your list of meds for your husband he was prescribed ritalin and adderall, why is that? Does he have ADD too? The reason I say that is I was told by my husband's pdoc, that alot of people with bp are misdiagnosed with ADD and put on stimulants that throws them into manic episodes. My husband was diagnosed ADD before bp and put on those stimulants. Now with this new pdoc he immediately took him off of stimulants and diagnosed him bp and it has made a world of differents with the mood stabilizer Trileptal and then Wellbutrin.
I have learned so much on this board, it is truly a god send! Welcome and keep posting, it will truly help.
03/16/2011 08:28 PM
Posts: 14 Member
He was studying for the LSAT and applying to law school when he was put on the ritalin. This was after he was diagnosed with bp, and the doc just threw that at him and said he had symptoms of ADHD because he couldn't focus. But he never mentioned that the focus issue could have something to do with the new bp meds. He moved him to aderol for a while, and then the next thing we knew, he was off of it again.
My husband DEFINITELY lives in the depressive side. I realize that they both have their pros and cons, but it is really hard to see him in this state all the time.
Does your husband suffer from anxiety? He does, and is on Clonzapam (sp) for that. His anxiety ranges anywhere from mild to severe, and I never know what to expect from day to day. I am really feeling the struggle tonight. I feel very lonely at home because I have still not talked to him about his episode last weekend, and he lashed out again tonight. Called me a name, slammed the door, and went to bed. I feel like I'm waiting for him to feel better to bring anything up, but when he's feeling better, that's the last thing I want to talk about! We definitely have some communication issues to work out....
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