Alexandra’s Bipolar Husband

February 9, 2009

My nightmare started a little over a year ago. We have been married for almost 23 years and have been together for almost 27 – ever since we were teenagers. We have 3 teenage children ages 17, 15, and 14. My husband started drinking probably about 10 years ago. It was sporadic at first, a couple of times a week, but progressively got worse and became a daily affair.

Around October of 2007, I started noticing changes in his behavior, but it never crossed my mind that it could be a sign of a mental illness. We had been together so long, and I had never observed anything that would make me think that there was anything wrong with him. He started being very preoccupied, avoiding my calls, and seemed confused and disoriented. I thought it had something to do with the drinking. Then around Christmas I left out of town with the two younger children, and he was supposed to follow the following week. To make a very long story short, he was in an accident that night, speeding his car over 100 miles/hour on I-95 and lost control and hit the median. Thankfully no-one else was involved.

Instead of being taken to the hospital he got arrested (not for DUI, he never drove drunk) but for disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic. Apparently he was dancing in the street, claiming he was Jesus Christ. His friends bailed him out and took him to the hospital. He ended up being Baker Acted because of he things he was saying. When I saw him the next day (after I flew back), he was in full-blown psychosis, thinking the FBI was after him, that there were spies in the hospital, etc., etc. He was released 4 days later without a real diagnosis and grabbed his passport and flew back home to Greece because he believed he was not safe here anymore. It took his brother about one week to figure out what was going on, and he got a court order and hospitalized him again. This time he stayed for 3 months.

He came back home in May of 2008, and we kept going to regular visits to a psychiatrist who, because he was not sure what was wrong with him, decided to take him off all meds and treat the symptoms as they arose. My husband had difficulty sleeping; actually, he claimed he could not sleep at all, so he started on Ambien 10 mg of which he needed 2 to sleep just a few hours. He fell into a depression and took Wellbutrin for about 6 weeks, which worked great for him.

Towards the end of 2008, things seemed to be moving along, he was constantly apologizing for everything he had put us through. He had not had anything to drink, and we thought that he was making remarkable progress. Then, about a month ago, everything changed. This is why I am convinced now that he is Bipolar, and his doctor agrees. He started behaving very erratic, sitting in his car in the driveway and playing the music very loud. Constantly going in and out of the house to the car and back again. Leaving for a few minutes and coming right back and leaving again. His speech became very rapid and his thoughts even faster. He is stressing out everyone around him. He gets very aggressive very easily and refuses to see his doctor. He started smoking cigars one after the other (about 6 or 7) even though he never smoked in his life. He has no self control; when you tell him to stop doing or saying something, he stops and starts right back up.

He started taking 3-4 Ambien per night and sleeping only 2 hours. He is very mad at me for not getting him out of the hospital in Greece, something that he had thanked me for previously and now he accuses me of ruining his life. He has become overly obsessed with religion and thinks that he was possessed. The situation at home got so bad for the kids that in my desperation I asked him to leave the house if he was not going to see the doctor. He left two weeks ago after he threatened to kill me if I try to Baker Act him. I turned to his doctor for help, who said that there was nothing he could do since he had not seen him lately.

I turned to a lawyer who said that the only way to force involuntary inpatient treatment on him is to declare him incompetent or if he gets arrested and then the state can force him to. To declare him incompetent is a 2-3 month process, and he would hire his own attorney and fight it. I turned to the police who said that he would have to be homicidal or suicidal in their presence for them to Baker Act him. But the Baker Act will only put him on hold for an evaluation. It does not guarantee the inpatient treatment that he so badly needs. I will not risk everything for a 72 hour observation during which he will not come across as suicidal or homicidal and then will be released to come after me.

Since he moved out 2 weeks ago, things have calmed down at home. He now says he wants a divorce. The reasons are because I keep thinking that there is something wrong with him and keep asking him to go to the doctor and because I do not believe in God according to him. I love him so much, but I don’t know what to do. It is very clear that he is having a manic episode. It is hard for me to describe all of his erratic behaviors.

If anyone has any advice, PLEASE HELP. He is my life, and I don’t want to loose him. I am inclined to try an approach of tough love. Let him run out of money, because in his condition I cannot see anyone giving him a job. Maybe he will fall back into depression and will be more inclined to accept help. The hurt that I am feeling is overwhelming at times. I am left to take care of two businesses we have as well as our three children, while at the same time the love of my life says that he wants to move on without me.

I know it is not him talking but the illness, but I don’t know what to do other than go along with his demands at the moment. If he doesn’t get his way, he becomes very overpowering, threatening, vulgar, and scary, and I feel that the system has let him as well as me down.


  1. Alexandra,
    Doesn’t sound like your husband’s doctor has prescribed the right meds. I take Seroquel for sleep and depression. I hope your husband can get some relief. What are the doctors saying after he is hospitalized?

  2. I am so sorry for all that your going through. My husband is bipolar too, and from Athens Greece. I didn’t know until he started behaving totally erratic himself. What sent him into an episode was learning that our then 8 year old daughter had brain cancer. While I was tending to her (I have 3 kids) he started seeing another woman. We had been together 18 years at that time. neither he nor this other woman spoke the same language but had been seeing each other for about a year until I found the condoms hidden in my car. He is still in denial that he had “relations” with her even though I caught them both at local hotels near our home.

    He has jumped out of moving cars, he became obsessed with the other woman, jumped out of the car on the 5 and 134 fwy interchange and walked about 10 miles home. Just crazy.

    I can tell you this. He is better now and takes good care of the family financially. However, if I wasn’t alone in the world and had a family that could help me, I would have divorced him during that time. But because for various health reasons, I couldn’t get any job training, I am stuck.

    You see, money of your own and family or friends help is what is required. Stay for love is isn’t practical to me. I love him but what he did was unforgivable to me. But since I have nothing else to support the family without him then I am stuck.

    One day, though, I am going to leave and that day will come when my youngest (who is autistic) hits 18. Then I will hopefully have only myself to support. Then one day I’ll be gone.

  3. Man. This is freaking me out. I’m the BP one in the family. I’ve been diagnosed with BPII–which is supposed to be the more ‘benign’ version. i asked my doc point blank what the chances were of me ‘going’ BPi–he said ‘zero.’ ‘Zero’ because there is no chance of onset of those kinds of symptoms this late in life (i’m 42).

    But your spouse was presumably over 40 when his began. Now I’m running over to my doc to make sure i give him a waiver so my wife can talk to him when i freak her out (which, thankfully, isn’t TOO often, or TOO bad–at least, according to me).


  4. My husband is bipolar and it so bad. He sat on our couch for 4 months not doing nothing.and he make everything i do or say is wrong I’m always against him.I’m getting so depressed i beginning to think one day I’m not going pull out of it.we been together almost 24 years and we have 8 kids from 24 to 2 1/2 years old and i just don’t know what to do .I’m so unhappy I just what to be happy i never ask for much in life just everyone not to be hurt and healthie and i was find i don’t drive new cars or have really nice thing if we have food and were together we were find now it just seen to be a nightmare being with him all he want to do is fight and made me feel like it my fault. What can I do? Just want to be happy.

  5. So your husband didn’t show any signs before this episode? I think mine may be Bipolar, but he refuses that anything is wrong with him. He says that the Lord has told him that he is perfectly normal. We are a religious family so this doesn’t sound abnormal to me. Except I don’t feel that God would tell him such a thing. We are on the road to a divorce. I am just trying to comprehend all the crazyness that has happened.

  6. I have included my blog, also I am bipolar myself. Whats hard is that you do love your husband I can only speak from personal experience i can not force religion or God on you. It is my experience that prayer changes things maybe not right away but it does. For example pray that God would bring clarity to your husbands mind. What is really at stake and can be harder is to work on yourself. You need a healthy support system a councilor and a close friend you can trust with your feelings, and don’t let your emotions and feelings guide you. Your husband isn’t bad he is just sick pray that he would humble himself and be teachable, don’t get mad at him love him that is your commitment, don’t live in the past where you wish things would be before he got sick. He was always sick their were crisis and triggers that made his sickness more known all i can say is just love, pray, and commit. I hope this helps.

  7. help, i donot know how to handle my husband. he is either the sweet’s husband or he will say the mean’s things to me or want’s me to stop talking or just want’s me to go some where else. help please. because it is a a very big strain on our marriage.

  8. Don’t give up. Sometimes you have to be ‘cruel’ to be kind to save the ones you love. I had my husband put into hospital over the Easter period three years ago and even moved out with my kids to my mothers to get the message accross that he needed help. He refused to see me for 2 weeks, but eventually saw reason and we have talked about it when he was a bit better. He understands it was difficult and painful for me to do but it was done out of love. I have struggled with my husbands BP for 22 years and although we still have our bad times, things are a lot better. It has taken him 17 years to agree he has bipolar, and that realisation helped. Then there is the acceptance of needing to stay on the meds. He also has trouble sleeping and has gained alot of weight because of some of the medications. This has resulted in severe sleep apnia and consequently a CPAP machine. This has helped his sleeping and feeling tired. It is a long road. There is no easy path, and although no one can tell you what the right road for you is, if you love him, fight for him, he can’t do it on his own, things will get better. (but if you feel your life is threatened you need to put yourself first)

    I wish you all the best, and hope you find some peace.

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