My husband has bipolar. Like many of you, there are a thousand stories I can tell about our life together with this illness. We have three children. My husband doesn't have the depression-can't-get-out-of-bed thing, but he has the hypomanic-with-lots-of-anger-and-irritability. He can be paranoid and delusional when episodes are really bad, is an alcoholic, and has crippling anxiety. If it wasn't for the anxiety he probably wouldn't stay on his medication.
He's been on medication only a year. He is in his mid-30s, so he spent most of his life trying to use self-control to keep his mood swings in check. After his moods were cycling so rapidly he was having an all-out-episode every few days and it was dangerous to be with him, so I took the kids and left (first time ever). He had always been terrified of taking meds, but our 18 years together had not brought stability, rather he was getting more and more unstable as time went on. Something had to give, thank God he decided to say yes to treatment and medication so our family could be back together.
On meds he became more stable than I'd ever seen him. He was suddenly concerned about myself more than himself not just for fleeting moments but for days, then weeks at a time. He didn't get angry when stressful things happened. I kept waiting for the anger to come back, worried it was too good to be true. When our car was broken into he did get mad, but it wasn't taken out on me, didn't sent him into a drinking binge, just mad him mad at the situation. A day or two later the anger was gone. It didn't derail his stability. After that I embraced the "new life" and was in a constant state of gratefulness, often to the point of tears (and I'm not a big crying type).
A month ago his irritability started to return. First it was stress at work, he insisted he wanted to change from day shift in the warehouse he works in to the early-morning shift. Said he was tired of sleeping too much and could get away from the irritating things on his current shift. He started drinking daily again, but not as excessively as before. They finally let him transfer just in time for holiday overtime. Instead of starting at 4 am, he was going in at midnight. That's when the hypomania started. Every day he'd come home hyped up, have his beer, then come in and eat. He'd be happy and talking non-stop but I started to react with fear when I saw this instability return, and when he sees this fear it triggers his anger. Weekends when he rests bring the stability back again. But every morning he does the same routine until he finally falls asleep....usually too late to get sufficient rest.
He refused to let me go to the psychiatrist with him. I don't want to be his mother, want him to take responsibility for his stability, but maybe this just isn't going to happen. He came home and said the doctor did not adjust his medication and said he'll stabilize with time as his body adjusts to his new sleep schedule. He admitted he did not tell her about the two manic episodes he had over the holidays. I wonder how clear a picture she had, although he went in clearly hypo and angry to his appointment.
All this led to me diving into research mode again...books on bipolar, Stephen Fry's documentary on bipolar, youtube diaries for bipolar couples (one bipolar one not), articles online, and a search for my own therapist to help me with what I'm calling "Post Traumatic Eric Syndrome". Anytime I see him hypomanic I get hyperviligent and scared, I feel like crying, I walk on eggshells so I won't trigger him. If I do trigger him (usually my fear is written all over my body language) he gets verbally abusive and blames me for his mood.
I have found it impossible to find support with friends because no one understands the disorder. I'm hoping this forum will help along with my own doctor (looking for one with bipolar experience). My battery is running out, nice to meet you all, sorry if this post is all over the place.