Larry Married to Bipolar

January 8, 2009

My wife suffers with Bipolar and Depression. She recently was hospitalized due to her trying to take her life over the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately we did not have insurance, so she was at the mercy of the State and their programs. While in there they did diagnose her as Bipolar / Depressed and I believe Schizophrenia. She now takes Lithium, Lexapro, some other medicines I don’t know the name of. In total its like six medications that she is taking from before where she was only taking Lexapro.

We have 3 kids together. 2 are ours and the others are hers through a previous relationship. Obviously she must keep contact with the father for our daughter which I have no problem with. However, he calls my wife about everyday and they spend at least an hour or more on the phone. If it’s not about our daughter, then why the need to talk so long? I expressed to her my dissatisfaction with this; however, my feelings are never considered.

Most recently, the father decided that he was going to give my wife a car. During a conversation, she hands me the phone and says speak to Shawn about the car. That’s his name. I said, “What car?”

“The car he is going to give me,” she says.

I say “I don’t need to speak with him about the car,” and got rather angry.

Later on, she comes back and says, “Why are you mad?”

I said, “I don’t need another man to buy or give my wife a car, especially since we already have a working vehicle for you to drive.” Then, I said, “What’s he going to do next, pay my mortgage for me? I am the man of this house and it emasculates me when I have another man from your past who is offering to give you things that I should be giving you. It doesn’t matter because you are going to do what you want.”

She says, “Yeah, that’s right. Whatever you say doesn’t matter.” And walks away. Let me say, that hurt. There is nothing wrong with our other vehicle – she just doesn’t like it. I want to buy her another vehicle and will be able to in a few months.

She said that I was blowing it out of proportion. It’s like me accepting a rather substantial gift from one of my past girlfriends just for the hell of it.

Well, as a result, we are not talking now, and she sent me an email telling me that I pout whenever she doesn’t do what I want her to. Honestly though, it’s not that. It’s pride. It’s a man’s pride, which she obviously doesn’t understand. Because of her illness, she is very impulsive. She wants what she wants when she wants it. On top of that, she never considers my feelings in anything. All I want is for her to place herself in my shoes, but it seems she can’t.

I’ve been reading several stories on here, and it seems that I am not the only one who is going through similar problems. There is no reasoning with her, and I feel that I am always the enemy, even though I’m the one who is always there when things don’t go right in her life. I just feel like I’m needed when it’s convenient for me to be needed and when she doesn’t need me, then to HELL with me. I am tired of always giving and giving and never getting anything in return. I tell her that her illness is at the center of all our problems. However, when I say that, her reply is you always say that, and it’s not. This is how I feel. I feel like I am always the one who is bending and giving in, and my feelings never count.

Is there anyone going through something similar and if so, do you have any advice?



  1. Hi, Larry–

    Thanks for sharing your story. My wife didn’t have another man buying her stuff, but what you describe is exactly how I felt during what I refer to as our “worst years.” I even used the word “emasculated” to describe the way I felt during that time to my wife.

    I can honestly say that when my wife is being properly medicated, she is an entirely different person – she’s loving and caring in addition to being intelligent and funny.

    When she’s over-medicated to the point of dulling her, she loses her wit, passion, and insight (and usually suffers some memory loss). She’s easier to live with, but it’s not pleasant for her and is certainly sad to those who know her, including me. (I only say this to assure readers that my goal isn’t to have a zombie Stepford wife, and I don’t think anyone wants that for their spouse.)

    When the medication isn’t working for whatever reason, she becomes more irritable and seems less able to empathize, even if she’s not experiencing full-blown mania or depression. It’s almost as though she’s just waiting for an opportunity to hurt me and others who are closest to her. And there is no reasoning with her. It is frustrating beyond belief to try to communicate with her when she is like this.

    When I first read your story, my gut reaction was, “Boy, these two could really benefit from marriage counseling.” But I’ve been down that road, and although it helped us a bit, what really seems to do the most good is when my wife is taking medication that works.

    I think you have every reason to be upset by this ex stepping in and offering to buy things for your wife. She probably wouldn’t like it very much if you had a similar relationship with another woman.

    Unfortunately, I can’t offer much of a solution. If you go the marriage counselor route, though, assuming your wife would agree to it, make sure you get someone who has experience with bipolar. When you throw bipolar in the mix, it goes way beyond your average everyday marriage counseling.

  2. Joe, thanks believe it or not, that really did help me. I hate to repeat myself but it is comforting to know that I am not alone out there. Finally we did have a talk, and I calmly explained what I was feeling and that my objection was not to her having the car but rather how it made me feel. How it ate at my pride and ego. I think sometimes when my wife see’s me objecting to something she may be saying, that I am more or less rejecting her. Or that I am just being difficult just to be difficult. But thats not the case. Honestly all she had to say was, I understand baby, and you dont have to worry. No one can take your place, you are the provider for this family and me accepting this gift from him is no way to make you feel less than a man. Now maybe I’m dreaming or living in a fantasy land to think that a woman would ever say those things to a man, but for me it would of made all the difference and I probably would have been less apprehensive about the situation. None the less I still have feelings about it and she is still taking the car, which to me makes no sense since we already have a working car for her drive. Like I said before I guess thats just impulsive side of her wanting what she wants when she wants it. I just wanted her to consider my feelings thats all.

    Can I ask you what medications that your wife is taking? My wife is on Lithium for mood, Effexor for depression, Abilify for mood, Trazadone for sleep & depression, and Vistaril which is also to help her sleep. After talking with her the other day she tells me that is experiencing tremors, shortness of breath. She feels agitated, irritated, figity, restless legs, cant sit still, cant sleep at night and feeling like she has no energy. She has been on all this medication for about a month now since she left the hospital. I told her that she is going to experience side effects, but didnt now how long they would continue. She is contemplating just discontinue using the meds all together and I told her that was a bad idea. I know that there is no silver bullet and each person is different. I just feel so powerless because I am no doctor and I dont have any viable answers for her. Obviously I know that she needs to relay this information to her doctor but she tells me that she did just that and his response was to continue taking the meds.

    Could you offer any suggestions, that have helped your wife. Anything no matter how small you think it is, would be helpful. Thanks for the advice Joe.

  3. I’ve seen doctors overmedicate my wife and apparently think they were successful just because she wasn’t manic anymore. She felt like crap, she looked like crap, her thinking was dull, but they were perfectly willing to keep her on whatever concoction they prescribed because she wasn’t having a manic episode or causing trouble.

    I’m no doctor and everybody’s different, so you really do need to work through a psychiatrist, but your wife may need a little assertiveness training when it comes to dealing with her doctor. In a few cases, my wife simply threatened (the doctor) that if he didn’t do something, she was going to stop taking her meds. (She wasn’t bluffing, either.)

    My wife experiences very little, if any, depression except when she gets depressed over how she feels on certain meds, so she doesn’t take an anti-depressant. Right now, she’s taking Lamictal, and we’ve had the first Christmas holidays in several years without a meltdown.

    Sounds like your wife is on a lot of meds. I could see a concoction like that for when she was in the hospital, but if her moods are relatively stable, the doctor should be able to make some adjustments now to make her feel better.

    As you fear, if the doc won’t adjust your wife’s meds, she’ll probably get fed up and stop taking them.

    If the doc seems unresponsive, maybe try shopping for a different one.

    Best wishes to you and your wife.

  4. I am bipolor and I am 37 years old. I took Lithium for fifteen years. I still had mood swings on that med., just not bad mood swings. Lithium is out dated and extremly harmful to the human body if taking to long. There are other meds. that can help. Mixing meds isn’t good either a lot of times it can make a person sicker. Finding one med or two is the best way to go. And taking your meds. the way they are prescribed is very, very important. People with Bipolar love to play around with their meds. I take only one med called Tegratal. When I was pregnate with both are girls I took nothing and while I breastfeed(for 2 years). My husband uses my illness as a way to put me down and treat me like SHIT! He tells me anytime I am outgoing that I am Manicing. In secure, I always ask my Doctor and she says that those are normal behaviors and he is wrong. Just two weeks ago, I wanted to get a job. He has fought with me for two full weeks and made me feel so bad about my self that I declined the position because I don’t want my children to continue to get hurt by my wanting to go to work. He claims that if I wasn’t on a Manic than I would be happy being a stay home mom with a 18 month old girl and a 5 year old girl. He is gone 50 hours a week working. He tells me I have it easy!!! I manage are household finances which he claims I am running us to the poor house and I am stealing from him. All I buy is food and gas and pay normal household bills. I told him he could take over if he feels this way but instead it makes him feel powerful to put me down in front of our children. I am embrassed to say as tears roll down my checks as I write. And at the end he tells me if I wasn’t Bipolar our family wouldn’t be so damaged. It is sad!!!
    Your wife only wants the car because she wants something new and I bet she really is not out to hurt you. The long phone calls with the x is a little much but he seems to be listening where your not. People who are Bipolar tend to talk a lot and love to feel important. Make her feel important and listen to her. Fighting with her is pushing her away and making her talk to the x more. Promise her a car of her choice just not right now.


  5. watch the tremors on abilify. the literature says they can be permanent. find a better psychiatrist asap.

  6. it is very heartening to read others experiences living with a bipolar spouse.
    My husband has not been formally diagnosed mostly because he is mildly bipolar and gets away with little or no meds. However, he is very noncompliant with meds, and still does not believe he has the illness, despite his classic behaviors.
    He has left the family numerous times (can’t remember how many, there have been so many), can be verbally abusive, explosive, humiliating me and his children through his exposivness, irritable, overly activated with multiple projects, spending money unncessarily, fatigued/depressed as a result of his hypomania. The list goes on…..
    I had an epiphany the other night after another explosion on his part: that I have been enabling his illness for years. I allow him to return to the house after his remorse, things improve, and then there’s the next explosion. I have not given him an ultimatum on taking the PROPER meds (ie mood stabilizers) and has been allowed to be a rageaholic in our home for the past 10 years.
    Has anyone else had a similar experience?
    I have told him I want a divorce – finally, I am doing what I should have done years ago.

  7. Hello,

    my wife has not been diagnosed as bipolar but there’s every reason to think that’s the case. She’s always had mood swings, but for the last year and a half has had six sudden depressive episodes which she can’t explain, which lift after a few weeks. In the midst of one of these, a couple months ago, she left one morning, leaving behind her beloved cats, her CDs, clothes, photos, everything. She spent the summer bouncing around the country doing drugs, and is back in town now crashing with one of her friends. She is absolutely obsessed with not talking to me, can’t bear th sight of me or the sound of my voice. No explanation, we have a fantastically strong and communicative and happy marriage, beeen together ten years. She’s not talking to any of her friends who think she should get help, just hanging out with new people and pretending the last ten years of her life didn’t happen. Told someone she wants a fast divorce so it can all be over with. It’s been less than three months! Now she says she’s full of anger and doesn’t know why. She doesn’t think she needs help, though, won’t return calls from our therapist. Am I crazy to think this is a manic phase? Again, she hasn’t been diagnosed, but her father’s bipolar and her grandmother committed suicide. Has anyone else been scapegoated or demonized by their partner during a manic or hypomanic episode? I’m in this til death do us part. She won’t even meet me to talk about an amicable divorce! There was no cheating, abuse or fighting.

  8. Hey Doug,

    I can relate to the demonization you have described. My partner, too, is not diagnosed to my knowledge. She had been diagnosed with depression/anxiety a few years back and takes Effexor regularly.

    While our relationship was certainly not 10 years like yours, I have known her for 15 and only in the last year and a half, following both of us getting divorced, did we become involved romantically. It was an incredibly intense involvement and a very, very happy relationship, but after we broke up (which was my doing), I have tried to reach out to her and see if we could work everything out.

    Her responses to me started out as “We need time”, escalated into Angry phonecalls and letters and then reached delusional status. She began going to the police saying I was stalking her when I hadn’t spoken to her in months.

    She has become estranged from her two closest friends and they have both come to me and told me that she is “psychotic” and “delusional” and shared with me the stories that she had told about her fearing for her life with me.

    I’ve had no choice but to walk the other way and leave her to her own path of discovery, which is incredibly, incredibly difficult to do.

    Without a diagnosis and treatment, I am not sure if the delusions and paranoia will EVER subside and more importantly I am very worried about whether or not she may be capable of harming herself if and when she crashes. I have heard that a diagnosis and treatment for anxiety/depression can actually increase the length and intensity of the mania, which may include delusions and paranoia.

    I can only say that I can feel for you. I pray, but I don’t know what else to do. I have asked around as to how you can “encourage” someone to seek help and get treatment without actually being in touch with them….as I cannot risk that she will blow any contact I attempt to make with her into some harassment allegation and put me in some sort of legal trouble.

    I wish her well and I certainly have very strong feelings for her and a hope that she will someday be well, but you need to watch out for your yourself as well, first and foremost.

    If anyone has any comments or thoughts on whether or not paranoia and delusions can subside over time, I would be interested in some hopeful stories and guidance.

  9. I have been married for 7 years and I really put my husband through hell and back. He has been patient but still feeling no friendship or connection to me until this week when I finally realized he isn’t the bad guy trying to control me. I realized how much he loves me and wants me to care for him. I was only diagnosed last december and finally having a name for this craziness is comforting. I am currently taking Seroquel 100mg its like night and day. But I still have to manage myself with it. Anyway I just wanted to put something out there in the world. I am amazed to see how other husbands feel like mine and the wives are like me kinda blind to their husbands and all the true love that is just waiting to spill forward when the wife returns that love.

  10. I have been reading many of these posts and feel so low today. I have been married for 9 years and my wife and I have always had issues but she was not diagnosed with anything up until a year ago, up until then I thought she was just a woman who had the worst temper on earth.

    During our courting period the lust factor and harmones raged on, creating our story. The I experienced the first phases of her anger before we got married. We would start arguing constantly and then one day before I knew it we were married. That day was an Oprah interview in itself. My mother says I didnt even look like me in the wedding photo, a shell of myself.

    So we got married, she already had an 8 year old son. When she got mad, she got mad, and sometimes it became physical on her end. I would stand there and try to fix it like a begging dog not to be abused, whether verbal or physical, those years were the hell years of my life. I would cry in the shower every day for God to save me from the marriage. I never cheated, even though I wanted to escape in my mind with someone else every day, maybe that was betrayal in itself. Everyday during the marriage, I would go to work for a few hours and escape to my parents place, talk to my mom, be around my siblings. Feel safe and secure that life would be ok. But there was always the emotion of fear, what if my wife found out I was here all this time? I better get home quick or there will be a fight! That was my life EVERYDAY for 5 years.

    Anyway, one day the emotions came to a boil, I could not bear it any longer, so I left. This after many times of being abandoned by her, kicked out, left, yelled at, screamed at, spit on, sometimes slapped.
    She was in such a shock that her life had just done a complete turn. A month went by we did not speak. Finally during a telephone conversation we spoke and she cried and pleaded and begged for forgiveness. It took a little while but I went back. Still fearful and full of doubts, yet she vowed to never be that person again.

    It was all roses for a while, yet I still found myself going to my parents for a few hours sometimes, escaping work, my back issues, my internal issues, plus I had been use to escaping for 5 years. Anyway, slowly we began to bicker again, about her issues with me at my parents, me not putting her and her son first. It was never as explosive as it once was, but she found ways in her passive agressive behavior to argue with me, make her anger knkown and then tell me to leave her alone. I would again, always beg for a solution. To not be angry, to discuss in calm. Yet when her anger had reached her, she did not react the way she once did, but she still would abandon me, get angry.
    I understand I had made my own mistakes but I did not recognize reality anymore. Why can two people just talk to eachother kindly, without anger, despair, resentment? Why was I always the one begging to fix it?

    That became our struggle for a little while and then she went into a depression shortly after she quit her job. I was always the major financial source. It always ate at me how I was bringing in all the money and she could spend it, spend it on her son, yet live in fear and uncertainty when it came to bills if my cheque was lower. Anyway, she tried, she could not help her depression.

    I helped her through, doctor gave her meds. A few months later she seemed to be doing better, but it was hard on me as well. Then she opened up her own business. The issues were always there about me and my parents and family, her and her son not being first. Little bickering would lead to the “leave me alone” we were both afraid of being abandoned in the marriage and so on, and so on…

    Then she fell into depression number 2. Financial worries, she wasnt really making money, i was making way less. We had a new big house we bout after we moved out from the one we lived in for 5 years. Things were spinning out of control again.
    issues with her son, issues with me and her son, issues with the three of us. Her parents helped coming from out of town, we moved back and forth to their place….All the while my heart pounding and yurning to get out, to free me. Suffering in my silence. We would talk about certain things but it was clear to me I was depressed in the marriage. Would write blogs in secret on how much I wanted to leave her!

    Then she found a job she loved, and her excitment I began to see was astronomical. During that time I saw spending patterns arrise. Her money she would say, I’ll buy what I want. Lows were lows but her highs were crazy. Then she got into an altercation at work and the rest was history.

    Last July she was admited into hospital for a manic episode. Since she had post partum psycosis during her pregnancy, she was told the anti depressants she was on were doing more harm than good to her mentally. She was in hospital for 17 days, where I was submerged into a world of hell myself. She was released without medication at the end, doctors saying she just had a melt down.

    Anyway, a week back at home, alot of pacing and me trying to help her. I noticed our arguing a bit more, then one day she just got angry and was spewing heartfelt anger towards me. I had enough and after a few years of trying again, I left.

    Shortly after we began to talk on the phone, and decided to meet for coffee. She was tired but happy, she wanted to let me know that the marriage was never going to work, but wanted to be friends. The relief I felt was like nothing I had felt, it was freeing. We talked, shed some tears and parted. I knew looking at her though it was her…but wasn’t. Know what I mean? I even told her that.

    The next thing I knew later that night she is off on a mission of hers, ends up arrested and in jail. that was hell in itself. Her parents were there as she didnt want to see me. Then she ended up in the hospital for the third time. Where doctors were finally thinking this was bi-polar.

    During that time life became drenched in tears and uncertainty for me. I found freedom however during this crazy story and her stay in hosptial, when I found out that from the hospital she emptied our bank account and got a boyfriend in the ward, who was also bi-polar. I felt free at last. However, I knew that all her family she had pushed away was to tired to help her through. Even her son was so discouraged. I sucked it up, and stayed with her every day for up to 8 hours a day in the hospital for nearly a month. I kept telling her positive things and telling her that God had a beautiful life prepared for her. She was like a drone for a while but we kept going. Her parents moved in and out of my house every week to help me.

    Then nearly 4 months later being on the right meds, having family support there for her she texts me that she is still in love with me, wants the marriage to work. I tell you that the depression I started to feel was unbearable. All the self securing feelings I was holding onto instantly shattered.
    I told her that it was impossible, so much had happened, I needed to find my own place in the world. She cries out, wants it to work. we even met at a family counsellor where I was honest with my feelings. She took it all in as blame for doing this to me. I told her she was not responsible, we bother were for the mistakes we made. Yet the counsellor said he appreciated our honest emotions, how much emotion was actually there, but how different the accounts of our lives together were when being described by me and her. She described our life as having difficulties but getting through them, loving me. And I described them as me being depressed, always trying to find away to avoid arguments and when we would argue she would abandon me even though it was different from the beginning 5 years. She couldnt understand how I saw life like that. I told the doctor, of course we had beautiful momnents together. Going to movies, the park, the river. But I always felt inside that at some point there would be some bickering, soemthing bad happen. We left there and she cried a little, but knows how desperate I am in my own depression right now to find my own peace.
    I do love her, I always will, but I know life would never change with us, it never will. So do I return because of guilt? I think of the moments that were special, do I return because of doubt?

    Our house is going up for sale today. She wants to save the marriage and I have no strength for me. I want to leave this country for a while, move to italy to see my family, get away from this life. Some nights I have such sweats and bad sleeps that I beg God to heal me.
    A doctor perscribed an anti-depressant to me, I just sit and look at the box, never took a pill.

    Need help and guidance. Maybe just a little faith, in myself. That finally moving forward on my own will open doors that I refused to look through out of fear before. I wish there were peace.

    God bless.

  11. God bless you and he loves you more than I. I was diagnosed after my 2nd car accident of being bi-polar. A chiropractor adjusted my central nervous system and in 3 months I was off both medications. It’s been 8 months and I have graduated from media arts school and I am functioning perfectly as if nothing was ever wrong. Prayer from my family and giving God any fear or disobedience in my life was definitely part of my healing. My husband of 4 years left me but I believe he’ll be back because the sickness is gone. It’s got to be hard–I’m praying for you and I have to write a book or website to help others. May God give you peace and whatever demonic forces that are plaguing your wife in addition to the medication–I pray that deliverance comes her way. May God get the glory out of our lives. Please e-mail me!

  12. I am a survivor. God can send healing to the brokenhearted, druggie, bi-polar, autistic whatever–he’s able. Don’t give up hope and the best advice is to pray that generational curses or whatever demons are plauging a persons mind be destroyed. Peace comes from God and having the mind of God. I was diagnosed bipolar but a chiropractor and the healing hand of God as I became obedient to the word of God is why I am free today. No psychiatrists or drugs. Thank you Jesus! I believe for others to report with testimonies. I know I’m not the only one. Let me know!!!

  13. I’VE been married to this woman almost 14 yrs in sept together 16+ she is bipolar. I never have hit her but when she starts insulting me ,belittling me screaming then sometimes i will verbally act out i have had to get a cheap motel for 3-4 times just to get away from all the craziness her accusing me of cheating when i don’t she now hates me doesn’t even want to be around me doesn’t want to be seen with me nor have any simple conversation she threatens divorce all the time she no longer sleeps in the bed with me she is simply miserable i always beleived when you marry you stay married through good times and bad but i am rethinking is that always the case i am so frustrated i am very low on money i recently lost my job if i had some reasonable back up money i think i would just leave a note and take the clothes on my back and just leave she would be fine her mommy will pay for the rent and take care of her my wife works part time and while i’m looking for a job she won’t help with any bills we lost our house 3 years ago she never contributed to help out she is miserable to be around WHAT SHOULD I DO ANYONE HAVE ANY ADVICE.

  14. I’d also like to say i am christian raised roman catholic. i don’t see any problem in having a cross on the wall in the household but she has not exaggerating approximatley 40 + RELIGIOUS ITEMS maybe more numerous crosses many pictures of Jesus Chist all around the apartment so many other items it looks like a christian book store
    it is so overbearing I just can’t wrap my head around these things she does if you were to walk in you would see what i mean AGAIN DOES ANYONE HAVE ADVICE ONE LAST THING SHE ASKED me to by her a fish tank freshwater i did to make her happy i shown and explained how to maintain it so the fish won’t die it’s only a 10 gallon she puts over20 sometimes 30 fish in it i tell her it is way overloaded they always die she then accuses me i am killing them or flushing them down the toilet I had a large salt water tank at one time very expensive fish the best filters etc my fish never die i know salt and fresh water tanks of keeping the fish healthy and comfortable and happy and alive I am not a peta activist but i do believe in treating animals kind even fish i could never hurt an animal i believe in gun rights i don’t have any problem with people hunting game but as for me i couldn’t kill an animal so AGAIN ANY ADVICE SHE IS DRIVING ME REALLY TO THE POINT OF JUST LEAVING WHAT SHOULD I DO ?

  15. The wife who talks daily to the ex for an hour or so is involved in an inappropriate relationship. And he is going to buy her a car! That would make any man angry. I have two exes and our relationship has bounds. This isn’t just pertinent to those with bipolar spouses, it applies to any relationship. I am bipolar and I have been medicated to the point that I am ‘dull’. Someone made the point that Lithium can be dangerous if taken for a long time. Can anyone offer proof of this. I have taken it for 18 years, would sure like to know. Bless everyone who is struggling to understand the bipolar.

  16. I can relate, as you can see from my blog. You just need to know that all her anger is not at you, it is from her illness, not her.

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