I have been with my fiancé for 3 years and she has 3 children (one son age 17, diagnosed with Bipolar/asperger/autism and under pDoc care). She also has bipolar and takes medication, although she skips the meds at times due to lack of money or losing pills. About every 6-7 months she ends the relationship with me for no apparent reason other than she says the relationship will not work. She comes home angry, or the children upset her, and she takes it out on me. I am at a loss as to how to continue to help her and the children and stop having her break -off the relationship and then ask me to come back into their lives after a month. She illustrates her love for me and I accept the fact she has Bipolar however I must stop this cycle of “RED light-Green Light “
Red Light–Green Light may be one of the best description I’ve heard of a romantic relationship with someone with a bipolar disorder. It’s also been described as, “I hate you, please love me. Go away, please don’t leave me.” The duality of our feelings is inherent in our illness–bipolar. Two ways. Up and down. Back and forth. Following our swings each way is like watching a Wimbledon match.
I’m disheartened to hear that your fiancé is taking her meds inconsistently. For any reason. Proper medication, taken as directed, is one of the critical ways we are able to stay stable. You are seeing evidence of how strongly the meds affect her moods with her push pull and anger behavior.
Let’s take the meds first. Psychiatrists/pdocs may have discount cards that drug companies give to them. Most drug manufacturers have programs for people who cannot afford their meds. I take Seroquel, made by Astra Zeneca. Like most others, they offer savings programs for people without insurance. They paid for my Seroquel for a year when I couldn’t pay. Some states offer assistance as well. There is no excuse for her not to take responsibility for taking her meds. Losing them is is a sign that she is not fully committed to her treatment plan. This is where you can help her by stressing the importance of the drug regimen and finding ways to help her remember, such as using day of week pill containers.
Next, people with a bipolar disorder can leave happy, full lives if they follow these steps:
- See a psychiatrist on a regular basis to discuss and follow through with a med treatment plan. The pdoc purpose is to diagnose and prescribe.
- Taking meds as prescribed. Skipping, or inconsistency will thrust us into imbalance and mood swings,
- Therapy goes hand in hand with medical treatment. Learn coping and life skills. The therapist/tdoc purpose is to provide cognitive therapy to help your fiancé through everyday challenges.
- Exercise and diet are more important components. Exercise relieves stress, releases endorphins to battle depression, and eating complements this effort.
- Staying away from alcohol and recreational drugs. These will inhibit and counteract our meds. It’s never a good combo.
This is a basic plan. Many other elements can be added if one is committed to keeping in “the zone” in between the mania high and the depression low swings which define a bipolar over a time duration. You may still have swings, but with high self-awareness, it is possible to track episode patterns and recognize the symptoms, if you are swinging up or down, and take steps to move back into the safety zone.
You may have noticed these patterns with your fiancé. Her desire to break up every couple of months, and then changing her mind, is symptomatic of a mood swing. If you are committed to her, and want to make this relationship successful, here are a couple of suggestions for you to smooth things between you.
First, recognize she has a mood disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in her brain. Just because it’s invisible doesn’t lessen its severity. You surely wouldn’t abandon her if she had cancer or diabetes. Read everything you can about bipolar disorder. One book I would like to specifically recommend for you is: “Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner” (in paperback) by Julie A. Fast. You can find a two part interview with Fast by Christi on the Ask A Bipolar website that you may find helpful. Search the key word Julie Fast to find the interview. I highly recommend spending time on the NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) website, NAMI.com. Many helpful referrals and information are available on this site.
Second, recognize that her child with bipolar disorder, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, is a special needs child who is going to need a great deal of her attention. This factor alone will put a strain on any relationship, even without a bipolar disorder involved. Her son must be her first priority. But there is no reason why you cannot support him as well. Understanding and supporting him may help you better understand her.
And, lastly, I can tell you this. In my experience, a romantic relationship with someone with a bipolar disorder is like no other. We love intensely. Our loyalty is strong. We bring magic to everyday life with our creativity and sense of adventure. We are passionate. The down side? This intensity can take a toll. Sometimes we need space to ourselves to refuel and reflect. She may need time alone. Give her this and do not feel she is pushing you away. When she says the words, “Go away,” she likely means, “I don’t love me right now, how can you?” Tell her you will be there for her no matter what. These are soothing and reassuring words to someone who is battling opposing moods and a racing mind.
I wish you luck and hope that this information and the resources are helpful to you. The very fact that you seek advice for your relationship reflects your caring and kindness. In the end, it will be you who decides if this relationship works for you. You have needs, too, and it’s important to make sure that your own needs can be met as well.