Submitted by Carole on June 6, 2011
The “beast” is a manifestation of my significant other’s disease: Bipolar 1. The “beast” is what I call his mania. As I sit here in my office writing this, the beast is once again an unwelcome visitor in my home, once again causing my loved one to lock himself in our bedroom to contend with the lunacy in his mind. I always feel so helpless, as there is nothing I can really do when he is like this. I have tried it all at one time or another. All I can do is eat dinner alone and hunker down on the living room sofa with the dogs and wait for this to pass…again….over and over…again and again…his psychiatrist says he is a rapid cycler….hopefully this episode will be a short one. With some luck, he will emerge from the bedroom tomorrow morning, after a night of not sleeping and chain-smoking, totally exhausted and will sleep for two days then be very depressed with suicidal ideations for a few days. Then the man I fell in love with is back… maybe for a few days or a few weeks. Then I can feel the build-up to yet another visit from the beast: he starts sleeping maybe only 2 hours a night, his favorite topics become the “string-theory” of astro-physics, aliens/UFO’s, the intense hatred he feels towards his family for not accepting him for who he is. He throws himself into his artwork (he is an artist) and brags that he has an IQ greater than Einstein. He starts to shower 4-5 times per day. Lately, he has been shaving his entire body. His appetite vanishes. He engages in bizarre compulsive behavior I am too embarrassed to write about. The beast is back, the bedroom door closes and is locked, and here I sit… again.
His official diagnosis of Bipolar 1 was made three years ago by several VA psychiatrists. He is currently taking Lamotrigine in the am and Lithium in the pm (although he sometimes misses the Lithium if he relies on himself to remember). I cannot be his nurse 24/7. He is a 57 year old man who functions as an 8-year-old child during an episode. The person I fell in love with 8 years ago is still there, although I rarely see him anymore. I consider myself a loving, kind and tolerant person. However, I feel this disease is slowly ruining my life, bit by bit.
I feel like his disease is holding me hostage in our relationship. If I end the relationship, I fear he will become homeless on the streets or commit suicide. If I stay, I fear all the life will be drained out of me. I am exhausted from the constant roller-coaster ride I have been on. I fear his disease has gotten progressively worse since his diagnosis, despite the meds.
Any advice would be so appreciated.