My wife was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/16/2009 1:36 PM (GMT -6)   
My wife was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She has been in therapy for over 15 years and is now also seeing an APRN per my request. Several different medications have been prescibed but the outcome seems to be worse. It's almost like I am dealing with a child at times. If I so much as look at her wrong, she flies into a rage and says extremely hurtful things. She will then try to find a reason for her anger. Usually it's directed toward me. I have been researching the disorder to try to find ways to deal with her anger. The most helpful thing so far has been to give her space and time to calm down and think things through. The thing that concerns me most about this is when she does calm down, the guilt and shame make her feel "defective".  I love my wife with all of my heart and meant it when I said that I would forever be by her side but I can't help feeling like I give and get nothing in return. Every morning I wake up thinking of ways to make her feel loved. At what point are my needs met? Have I entered into a one-way relationship? One minute she tells me that I am the best thing that ever happened to her and the next she's blaming me for all of her unhappiness and making me feel totally unloved. It really sucks!! Also, whenever I try to give her any kind of advise when I see her making bad choices or acting impulsive, she accuses me of "trying to control her".  I can clearly see when she is having an episode. How do I go about getting her to identify an episode without her mistaking my care and concern for control?       

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 3715
   Posted 2/16/2009 9:07 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Shelovesmenot,

Welcome to HealingWell and to the bipolar board. I hope we can help you find some of the answers you're looking for. There are plenty of spouses on this board looking for the same things you are. There are also bipolar sufferers who can do their best to try and explain the bipolar side of things.

Let me suggest a couple of books for you. The first is called the Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide by David Miklowitz. It's a basic guide to the disorder and all it's ins and outs and how it works -- what you can expect from episodes, how they work, how to manage mood swings, things like that. It'd be for both your wife and for you. The second is called “Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder” by Julie Fast and John D. Preston. Maybe this will shed some light on your situation and help you navigate the scary waters that she's swimming in.

It's going to take your wife a little while to get stabilized. Until she is, you're in for more of the same rollercoaster, I'm sorry to say. But as long as she's taking her meds, and (hopefully) seeing a therapist, and working on getting stable again, you will see improvement.

Co-Moderator, Bipolar Forum
Bipolar II

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 156
   Posted 2/17/2009 9:04 AM (GMT -6)   


Welome to the board! You have come to a great place in your search for answers & suport. We might not be able to answer all questions, but between all of us that are married to a BP & the folks that have it themselves we can lend a tremendous amount of support for each other.

As you are starting to see, you aren't alone. Many of the spouces got thru the same things that you do. Finding out that alone helped me tons when I first sighned up on here. Unfortunatly although many of the symptoms & actions are the sam, everyone is different so there is no absolute if you do this when they do that, but we all cam offer advice on how we deal with the things that happen. Your situation is a prime example. If I tried to give my wife space when she is having an episode, it would probably escelate things, rarely does it help. I have to try to ride it out & keep my cool & not let her goad me into a fight. That is extremely hard to do sometimes. There is only so much criticism any person can sit and listen to before they snap back.

Did her regular doc diagnose her or was it a psychiatrist? Hopefully they will get her in with a therapist that can help her see how her condition makes her act sometimes. My wife had to actually hit rock bottom & be hospitalized before she realized that she had a problem & was going to need help, hopefully yours won't get to that point.

The main thing is getting the right combination of meds & her putting the effort towards getting better & taking ownership of her condititon & treatment.



"The struggles make you stronger, and the changes make you wise, and happiness has it's own way of taking it's sweet time.
Gary Allan- From "Life Ain't Always Beutiful"

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/17/2009 3:07 PM (GMT -6)   

Thanks for recommending the books serafena. I'll def pick them up.


It's really great that I found you guys. My wife was diagnosed by her Psychiatrist and goes to therapy weekly. I was questioning the diagnosis all the way up to me finding these forums. I guess I was in denial or something like that. To read through these boards and hear about you guys going through the same type of stuff that I go through is very helpful to me. Your "wish me luck" story sounded like an evening with my wife. She has to have something to obsess about at all times. In the beginning of our relationship she was obsessed with me. (that was kinda cool), then she got addicted to pain killers. (not at all cool). She just got out of rehab a couple of months ago and this is the first time in three years that she has had to deal with her disorder sober. I give her alot of credit for coming this far. She's doing really well with staying clean but the minute everything seems to be going smooth, she has to create this madness that really takes a toll on me. It's like a top . . . it spins nice for a while but when it slows down it starts to wobble and lose control. When things are good, our marriage is truely amazing. All that can change within minutes though. I think you know what I'm saying. I just want to get myself educated about the disorder so I can understand how it all works and help her in any way I can. Everyone I've talked to (family/freinds) would just tell me to divorce her and I really didnt want to hear that. We made our vows before God. Call me old school but . . . I gave her my word and that means everything to me. I am happy to hear words of hope for better days with regards to her getting stable on her meds. I really look forward to that day. She has a beautiful heart and I just want her to get better.  





Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 94
   Posted 2/17/2009 3:34 PM (GMT -6)   

Hi SLMN.  I live with a husband who is bp (10 years).  I was in denial myself about my husband's condition and since he was always taking antidepressants, thought he was handling the meds part himself- until he flipped out on me like never before in August (on break from work) and in December (again on break from work).  I started to research the illness and found this forum and learned that I am not the only one in this world dealing with a bp spouse.

The only regret I have for now is that I didn't take a more active role in helping him manage his illness earlier in the marriage.  No excuse, just didn't do it.  Since researching and educating myself about bp, I got him to see his GP and got his meds adjusted.  He's allowing me to help him and is cooperating so far.  Waiting to see the p-doc. 

I, myself am seeing a therapist to help me cope with his behaviors.  At some point we will need to seek marriage counseling.  You may want to see a therapist yourself so you can learn some coping skills?  What is an APRN?

It's certainly a rollercoaster of a life when you are living with someone with bp.  Like you, I take my marriage vows very seriously and have decided to do what I can to help my husband stabilize his illness so we can live in harmony- we have three small children. 

Unfortunately, I too feel like you do in that I give and give and feel like my needs are never met.  Slowly though, I have seen a change in my husband in the past couple of weeks since getting meds adjusted.  I think we will survive this.

I wish you luck.  It's nice to have you join this forum!






Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 175
   Posted 2/17/2009 4:14 PM (GMT -6)   

dear shelovesmenot:

i and many others here understand what you're going through.  does your wife acknowledge her BP?  if she does and actually wants to help you help her, i wondered if you'd ever heard of a Ulysses Agreement?  This is something that my husband and I are working on with a counsellor that involves him and I and his and my family so that we can recognize when he's "going into" an episode and what steps we need to take to prevent it (or) lessen the damage caused by them.

A Ulysses Agreement is an advance planning document which spouses (or anyone) complete when “well” with their community team (informal & formal supports) to direct care of their children, should they become ill. For example, it gives a person at risk for relapse, the assurance that the support team will monitor and respond to early warning signs in ways s/he would approve. While it is not a legal document and depends on good faith, just going through the advance planning process has many benefits.

Advantages of making a Ulysses Agreement (a care plan for children in case of a parent’s relapse) are that it:

• honours the parent as a good parent at times when they are unable to parent well

• addresses the needs of children for ongoing care, consistency and predictability

• helps children have a voice about their parent’s mental illness and provides a mechanism for them to act in a way that maintains connection and support

• helps parent understand the impact of his or her mental illness may have on their child

• empowers parent and enables them to have their wishes, concerns and intentions be clearly known before they may be feeling out of control with their illness

• allows parent to minimize disruption for the child by communicating about their child’s particular needs

• assists the parent to identify and build their support network by opening up therapeutic conversations about their illness and its impact on their family fosters increased commitment and responsiveness from the parent’s network of support

• helps their support people to take action in the moment (support people often say they feel more confident that they are doing the "right thing" when there is a plan in place)

• allows the parent to determine amount of information to be shared with support network rather than leaving this to the sole discretion of mental health workers during a crisis

• helps support people to understand that the illness is causing the problem (eg: a lack of insight in the moment of relapse) and allows for easier reconciliation afterwards if the parent tries to rescind consents or refuse intervention
(some of what i'm going to post below is for children to deal with an unwell parent) i've tried to change the wording to generalize it or make it applicable for spouses.

Components of a Ulysses Agreement include:

* the nature of the mental health problem

• typical symptoms noticeable in the parent

• early warning signs of illness onset

• what their personal wellness looks like

• the strengths of the patient

• information about the children and any special needs

• specifies plans for the children if the parent becomes ill.

A Ulysses Agreement should be developed with individuals who have close contact with the patient and their family. Most importantly, support people who can fill in some of the parenting role for the parent and those who can provide support to the children in times of hospitalization should be part of this plan.

For the agreement to be a good plan it requires ongoing review to meet family structure changes and child development considerations. It is often a work in progress.

Elements of Advance Planning

Details: lists the date, the people named in the agreement and phone numbers; also contains a list of people to inform about the agreement

Statement of Purpose: the purpose of the agreement is to provide a clear set of guidelines (actions) to be taken by members of the individual’s support team if the person exhibits illness symptoms that interfere with his or her ability to provide good care for the child.

My symptoms: lists specific symptoms the parent experiences that others can notice and respond to. See Common Early Warning Signs:


Plan of action: describes the most helpful way to respond to early warning signs/relapse and records how the parent would like to deal with the issue of confidentiality as well as attaches signed consents if desired. Even with consent, no more information than is necessary for the implementation of the agreement should be shared.

Record of parent’s wishes for support services: advance plans can include planning for therapy (if necessary) and support for the child, even if alternate care arrangement is not needed.

Record of parent’s wishes for care of child: any information about special needs such as allergies, sleeping routines, etc.

Cancellation: describes the manner in which the agreement can be cancelled. It is recommended that cancellation agreements include a period of time and a set of steps.

Periodic Review: describes the manner in which the agreement will be reviewed (eg: annually)

The agreement is named after Ulysses who ordered his crew to lash him to the mast of his ship and disregard his orders when he was being serenaded by the sirens as he sailed his ship through dangerous waters.

A Ulysses Agreement may take extra time, but it holds significant benefits

This is a good link: 

as is this: 


Again, it isn't a legal document but it enables you some control over a potentially uncontrollable situation.  It's something my husband and I are doing and it can be done on your own as well.  (second link).


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do."

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/17/2009 5:24 PM (GMT -6)   
thanks for the info bd_spouse. I will mention it to her but I just might get my head ripped off. I'll let you know . . .

Earlier this week she agreed to let me go to the doctor with her seeing that I am with her more than anyone else and I am able to observe her reactions to the many different meds/doses she is on. She acknowledges her BD but she is unable to recognize when she has a bad reaction to a medication. For example; One of the medications they put her on made her full of anger and resentment and she was convinced that I was the one creating the problems. When I would advise her to let her doctor know how she's been feeling, they would put her on a different medication and she would realize that her anger and resentment was a product of the medication. Like I said . . . she is well aware of her disorder but there is no reasoning with her during an episode. She's right and that's it. After the damage is done she is full of remorse and shame and it gets to a point where I feel like a push-over for putting up with it. That's where planning ahead would benifit everyone. I am looking forward to them getting her on the right meds. I have also been writing down a quick rundown of her moods and behavior on a daily basis and noting the combo of meds she is on. Hopefully this info will help the doctor get the mix right. I pray for her every day.


Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 175
   Posted 2/17/2009 5:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Good for you for being proactive for her! Keeping a journal of moods vs meds she's on will definately help the doctors to get her on the right combination. And don't worry about how you're feeling, it's normal. We've all asked ourselves at one point or another "WHY DO WE STAY?" But it's because you love her and are commited to her why you stay. Can there really be another reason? If there is, then you're staying for the wrong reason. If you truly love her which you say you do then you'll be there for her - don't get me wrong though... we all have our breaking points and points that we say we can't take it anymore, and you wouldn't be a bad person to walk away.
I guess i'm kind of rambling because i know how you feel and can't really get it all out at once. But i do understand what you're going through.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do."

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