Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Loving a Manic Depressive

posted by Beyond Blue

Among my favorite essays on loving someone with a mental illness are those penned by Anna Bishop, my blogging buddy James’s wife. She’s written five outstanding posts on what it’s like to be a passenger on the rollercoaster of a marriage with a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Here are the links to her first four articles:
“The Depression Dialog”
“Know the Enemy”
“Trigger Unhappy”
“Keeping Your Mind Together”


The fifth piece in the series is called “Loving the Person You Care For,” and I have excerpted from it below.

I’ve written a lot about being a carer in my last 4 posts, but in this one I’d like to share with you the book that really saved my own sanity. It is “Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder” by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston.

In the first few months after James’ diagnosis I read a lot of material to educate myself. The problem was that most of it was factual information on depression and bipolar, but it didn’t tell me how to manage practical things like James’ irritability. The info simply described the symptom without ideas for its management.
From pages 1 to 2: “This book can provide you with the tools you need to be a resource and support for your partner instead of a crisis manager and constant caretaker.” This is exactly what I needed!
The book was written specifically for carers. Julie Fast has bipolar disorder, as does her partner of 10 years, and the result is a book with real insight.
At its heart is the idea of creating a holistic treatment plan.
The first aim is to develop a symptom list that you can use to identify when your partner’s behavior starts to change. Once that has been worked out the second aim is to create a “what works list” to treat those symptoms before they progress to a full blown episode. The third step is to work out what triggers the symptoms in the first place. These are often outside events, situations or behaviors that once modified or eliminated really make your partner far more stable. Once you understand the triggers well, then the goal is to stop the mood swing from starting in the first place. If it does start then the “what works list” comes into play.
Of course this strategy requires recording your partner’s behavior over time e.g. by keeping a journal.
The rest of the book focuses on the needs of the carer. (Obviously your partner achieving greater stability is already a significant help).
The chapter on “Your Emotional Response” starts you on the road of looking after your own needs. It discusses issues like anger, grief, guilt and feeling trapped. For me, it was almost a springboard for seeing a counselor.
The chapters on work, money and sex cover practical issues that cause distress. They were all helpful chapters, but for me the chapter “The Hard Truths” had more impact. This chapter really lays it on the line and forces you to face the reality of your relationship. Are you prepared to stay with your partner if things don’t change? Tough reading.
My favorite chapter is “The Bipolar Conversation”, which teaches you how to avoid pointless fights when you partner is baiting you. The book ends with “Laughter and Joy”, an inspiration to leading a normal life again. From this I learned to structure in happy times in our lives.
A brilliant book. It may be about bipolar, but the application is much wider and relevant to all mood disorders. It would greatly help any carer living with a depressed partner.



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Larry Parker

posted May 2, 2008 at 12:52 pm


My girlfriend is reading the Fast/Preston book right now.



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Oneida Chippewa

posted May 5, 2008 at 6:31 pm


How I wish I had known about the book you referred to years ago! I lived with a manic-depressive for nearly 42 years. My husband went undiagnosed for many years and when I tried to consult our family doctor regarding his behavior, I was made to feel I was the one with the problem and not my husband. It was not until he had a complete and total break-down and had to be hospitalized that he was diagnosed.
My four children and I all suffered the consequences of living on a roller-coaster and none of us understood what was happening.
At the beginning of our marriage things went as well as could be expected of newly-weds. It was only after about ten years that I began to notice things were really beginning to be distorted. We lived in a state of constant “feast or famine”. One moment we had no money worries……….the next we were barely able to keep our heads above water. I was a stay-at-home mom for the most part and he kept a tight hold on the purse strings. He was angry and irritable most of the time with occasional bursts of a good-humored sunny disposition.
His condition was made liveable by medication, however, these were constantly in need of adjustment and he was in and out of the hospital.
His hospitalizations were often the result of his refusal to take his medication. Living that way was pure hell and I fought a constant battle with myself to remain in a marriage that deteriorated as the years passed.
He suffered a stroke which aggravated the illness and once he was able to get around and manage on his own, I moved into an apartment for a little over a year. He promised to take his medication as prescribed and I moved back home. He had two more strokes and I felt obligated by my marriage vows to stay and care for him even though I eventually had to place him in a nursing facility several months before he died of pneumonia. That was a little over 3 years ago.
I have experienced a vast “realm” of emotions and for the first time in adult life, I feel free.



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rajubhati

posted May 6, 2008 at 1:40 am


dear friend
god bleese you
this is my favright program and ilike this ,
thank you
raju bhati



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Lynne

posted May 7, 2008 at 7:01 am


Loving a manic-depressive pretty much unavoidable. I’m surrounded by them. (My family, my boss, some of my friends) It’s either love them or homicide…take your pick.



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Hope

posted May 7, 2008 at 12:17 pm


Hi ((( Lynne,)))
I’m assuming you chose Love…because you posted a letter. ^I^
We’re all blessed to have (a) Lynne in the world!!



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Monica

posted May 7, 2008 at 4:18 pm


Hello everyone,
I almost feel obligated to tell a little of my story. I dated a guy for 5 years who was diagnosed with this horrible disease. What makes this story so bad is because first off I didn’t know that he had this disease. It wasn’t until he tried to commit suicide and hospitalized is when I found out. His mother knew and never told me. He was also on drugs very badly. All of what Anna has said in her blog is so true and necessary. Also, I have a daughter, and there were many, many times when we both were scared to death of him. Although, once I found out about him having this disease I began to do like Anna did and research it. Along with trying to be there for him, and help him I just didn’t know what else I could have done. I also read everything that I could get my hands on that talked about bipolar. I felt that I had to do this to protect myself. Still to this day he never told me of the disease that he has. He continues to blame it on the drugs. He don’t want to admit that he has bipolar. I am no longer dating this person. It’s only been 9 months since we have been apart. I still do care about him and miss him a lot, because underneath all of that confusion and illness he is a wonderful, and beautiful person.



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Lisa

posted May 8, 2008 at 10:45 am


These tools are great, however, without the individual with the illness inable or unwilling to take responsiblity of their illness, they become moot.
This is a two fold thing, ultimately the person with the illness needs to take responsibility for their illness. one of the most common consequences of the failure of the individual to do so is the damaged, often beyond repair, relationships in their lives. Although I am glad to see more information out there for those who love those with these challenges….None of it will work, if the person who has the illness doesn’t recognize and take responsibility for it.
My mother was “bi polar schizophrenic” and often battled the “she was fine”, that stage destroyed all of her core relationships. My last relationship, used depression as an excuse for behavior. And there in lies the issue, at least in my world. Often an expectation of “special handling” because one has “insert issue here” vs. making the best of the challenges and taking personal responsibility.



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Linda Bemis

posted May 9, 2008 at 6:58 am


My ex husband,son and several friends have this condition. Omega3 is
helpful. There are no cures. Helpful hints can make the situation
easier to handle.



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Rebecca M Incandela

posted May 26, 2008 at 11:55 am


My son had bipolar disorder. Loving him and caring for him was the easiest thing i have ever done in my life, while being the most difficult at the same time. Watching my amazing, bright, funny son suffer with this cruel and insidious illness pained me every day, but he was such a joy to love and be loved by. He died as a result of complications from his illness. I would give anything to have him back in my life to care for. While that will never happen, I can love him forever. I am grateful for every moment we shared, the good as well as the bad.
(see http://www.dbsalliance.org/goto/Gabriel )



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Teresa Cooper

posted May 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm


I also had a boyfriend a very good friend of mine that had this disease and also did drugs, and I was also very scared of him when I found out through a rehabilitation counselor that he had this disease. I was scared of him and I did not have a lot of information about this illness and it was not talked about a lot in the early 1990′s He consequently died by committing suicide (Which I have been told a lot of drug addicts, do) He had a lot of problems in which I did not know how to help with because I did not understand the behavioral problems that he was facing in his life, I will always miss him as a friend and the experiance taught me what not to do as far as judging someone who is facing a challenge in their life. To have more compassion for people and more empathy in the situations they are facing in their lives.



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Era Flowers

posted May 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm


HI I AM 74 FEMALE UNEDUCATED AND AM MANIC DEPRESSIVE.
I THINK MY DAUGHTERS HAVE BEEN WONDED MOST BECAUSE I NEVER KNEW HOW TO TREAT THEM BUT, WITH MY LOVE AND PROTECTION, WHICH SOME TIMES I WAS TOHARD ON THEM.
MY HUSBAND DID NOT TO THIS DAY BELIEVE IN THIS DIESE SO AFTER DIVORCE IT MADE IT VERY HARD FOR ALL OF US.
I FINLY LEARNED THAT I HAD AN ILLNESS IN MY 40,S BUT THE ONLY MEDUCATION WAS VALIUM, U GUSSED IT THIS BECAME A MEANER PROBLEM,
I READ EVERY BOOK I COULD FIND ON PEOPLE AND BEHAVIOR, THIS HELPED,
WHAT HAS HELPED IS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, I CAN TALK TO HIM AND HE LEADS ME, PLUS I OPENLY ADMIT OUT LOUD I AM BIPOLOR ! IF PEOPLE RUN FROM ME, IT BECOMES THIER PROBLEM ! I HAVE NO SECRETS TO HIDE ! THIS HELPS MOST , BECAUSE WE DO THINGS WE R NOT PROUD OF.
I STAY TO MY SELF MOST OF THE TIME, MY CHOICE , I SUFFER LESS.
NOW I HAVE A DAUGHTER THAT IS FIGHTING IT,
PLEASE NO DRUGS OR ACHAL , THIS MAKES IT ALL WORSE !
ERA



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SuzanneWA

posted May 26, 2008 at 9:30 pm


I agree that “knowledge is power.” Howevever, or wherever, you find discussions/material that enlighten you about bipolar disorder, you will become empowered to cope with it. I was about to say, “empowered to ‘beat’ it,” but, unfortunately, there is no cure.
By realizing and recognizing that you have this disorder, and becoming willing to follow through with taking medications religiously, and going to your psychiatrist/therapist on a regular basis, the better you will become at managing bipolar.
I have had bipolar for 40 years; it was initially misdiagnosed as schizophrenia (back in the 60s, there was no such thing as manic depression). By 2000, bipolar disorder became the “designer disorder” that has Big Pharma jumping on the bandwagon and creating medications that promise the “magic pill.” Unfortunately, even the best of these medications won’t do what they’re promised to do – if you don’t take them. I just read an article that said 1 in 17 people have bipolar! Is this the result of more doctors recognizing the symptoms – or Big Pharma promoting “cures” with the ease of which they are being prescribed??!!
If you want more information to become more empowered, I highly suggest checking out BipolarCentral.com, written by Dave Oliver. Although he sells courses at an outrageous cost, there is enough real information for FREE that is offered on the site.
At this point in time – after having 3 major full-blown manic episodes which required hospitalization – plus several mini-episodes that did not – I have become a somewhat highly functional bipolar. Although I’m on Social Security disability and my therapist says I CANNOT work, I spend 5-6 hours a night on the computer, doing mystery shops, answering surveys, and opening emails for rewards of cash or prizes. It keeps my brain occupied, and gives me something constructive to do.
Unfortunately, I am a 60 yo widow with no supporters, aside from the Community Mental Health Clinic, which stays on top of my meds and therapy. But – on top of it all – I’m relatively at peace with my bipolar, and feel I have reached a detente with it. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!



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ashamed

posted May 27, 2008 at 2:25 pm


If one was to listen to the song Because of You in it’s entirety by Reba and Kelly Clarkson you wold know my story. I’m a twenty-eight yr. old female in a relationship with a Manic deressive,bipolar, a severly paranoide man. Yeah, can you imagine? Now even though I have a back bone and never show fear, Im to the point were I do not even care anymore. I literally had to tell myself one day here recently “you are not crazy,so DO NOT let him convince you other wise. Instantly the power of speakin these words comforted me. We have nineconsecutive years between us pluse three adorable children. So There is a deeep bond. The Problem…. Literally for the better part of nine yrs. I’m being accused of wanting to cheat, not loving him or actaually already doing it. This include me not ever doing anything to warrant these accusations.I won’t even go into it(like writing a book).I read Chris and Susan’s story and know all to well what it may be like for them. But NOW I’m DEPRESSED all because I loved him more than myself obviously and allowed this to go on for so long that my feeling are basically numb. How do you undo what someone did to you when your only intention was to love and be loved. He is almost ten years older than me .He live breath,sleep bitterness,anger,basically anything negative and I WAS the total opposite. On top of all this I’m trying to get me Paralegal degree(two semesters to go) to help better our future. How do you undo so much that has been done without falling apart?



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tracy

posted May 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm


You don’t you go on from here. There is no way to undo what has been done. My husband has been bipolar his whole life. He is the best man I ever dated but I didn’t know he drank to hide his illness. He drank vodka and never smelled or acted drunk. He always smelled like pepermint. It should have been a red flag but at the time I was young and didn’t know any better.
We got married and he told me he drank. I was pregnant and he asked me, do you want me to give up the drinking or the smoking. I said the drinking.
Well he became mean as a snake. He would go off, always mad, depressed, dramatic, angry. He once hit me and strangled me. Thankfully he came to his senses and dropped me. At the time I didn’t know anything about bi-polar disorder.I had no idea what was wrong with him. His family was the same way so I assumed it was the way he was raised. I was raised with an OCD mom so who was I to judge?
When our daughter was born she never slept, cried all the time and was a very active baby. When I left her with someone she got so mad she cried and became violently ill.
When she was a toddler no one would take care of her. I tried to work to leave him but every babysitter quit on me saying she was the worst kid they had ever seen.
No one had any answers. My husband couldn’t work, we were homeless a lot . I had another baby who was calm and sweet. My oldest was insanely jealous and tortured her the minute I walked away. She sat on her, hit her, and bit her. I still tried to work to get some money to keep a roof over our heads.
Long story short our daughter was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 7. She was hospitalized for wanting to die and violent outbursts. When they asked about a family history the light finally came on.
My husband isn’t med compliant.He likes the mania , hates the depression.
My daughter is finally med compliant AFTER residential and criminal assault charges.She is doing well now and has a bright future.
My middle daughter has just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She showed no sighns until she was 9. Then it was as if she flipped a switch.
I can completely understand the depression. I have been hospitalized myself for depression and a nervous breakdown. I am on medication .
Your kids could also have bipolar disorder. In this house I am the adult. I am the voice of reason, I am the one who deals with the courts, social services and the schools. I have an AA in criminal justice and plan on returning for my law degree.
I also have a bipolar father in law who has had 4 strokes living with me.
My advice to you is TAKE YOUR ME TIME.
Take care of your spirit.
Journal
Their is an online support group called bipolar spouses on yahoo. I just discovered them. Thank God for them because I thought I was alone for soo long. I didn’t think ANYONE could possibly understand .
(((((big hugs)))))) You aren’t alone in this.



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james hughes

posted August 2, 2008 at 10:49 am


thank you for sending me this ,my girlfriend,has gone wild on me and we have had some bad fights, am lost on what to do. it only been 13 months, it been like going to hell and back, she has been with 15 men in that time and drinks, i drink also but not to get drunk. it like she love me when she’s not drinking and hates me when she does.she was raped as a child,homeless beaten up and on drugs before, for 35 year,she 41. help help i don’t understand all this and how do i help a loos friend and not go to jail???????????????
james hughes st.clould florida



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