When I started dating my bipolar partner 15 months ago, I didn't know that he was bipolar and just assumed he was bad at handling stress. His own business was not going well and he had been going on many job interviews, but had no offers. He withdrew often, pushed me away, and would stop speaking or returning my calls. I used to think it was my problem, that I had done something to upset him.
When I finally confronted him and asked why he wasn't happy, he said he could not see a future with me and that the relationship wasn't going where it needed to go after 10 months together. He said he loved me as a friend, but that was it. So we broke up in June.
After several attempts to communicate with him and suspecting that he was clinically depressed, I finally heard from him in August when he asked to meet to talk. He confessed that he was bipolar - he was diagnosed almost 25 years ago at age 13 and explained that he decided to end our relationship in the middle of a manic episode, which he was on medication for, but the pressure of the relationship and the job search just made him believe that ending it with me was easier than explaining everything. He assured me that he was taking his medication consistently and managing it well. He saw his psychiatrist only once every 1-2 months, and even though he was not in talk therapy, he said he'd start going once he could afford it and even said he was open to couples counseling with me.
He wanted to reconcile, which I wanted, too. I told him that one condition of getting back together was discussing the future and working on building one together. I told him that I didn't want to just date, that I wanted to be married and have a family. He said he wanted that, too.
At first, I was extremely scared that he was going to leave abruptly again, but he convinced me that we were going to be open about everything and try to make it work. Things were going great. The passion was back. He was attentive and affectionate. He talked about what a great relationship we had. He even wanted to move in together and was more motivated to get a good job instead of continuing to try at his own business to be responsible and provide for a family one day.
About 2 months ago that he was starting to feel manic again - he was going on more interviews and could feel the stress triggering another episode. The meds didn't work as fast or effectively as he was used to. During this time, however, he finally got a great job offer, but starting a new job after 4 years out of the workforce was stressful. I think after months of everything being about him and his problems, I started to worry for myself - when am I ever going to be a priority?
So last week, I asked him just that. I wanted reassurance that things weren't always going to be like this, that he still loved me and could see a future with me. He seemed ambivalent about me and our relationship and told me that career right now is his first priority because he's very stressed and wants to be successful.
I should add that he also stopped taking his medicine too soon because he thought he was feeling better, but I think he relapsed. I'm just not sure if he changed his mind because he can't stand me anymore or if it's the stress/bipolar to blame.
It would be pretty scary for any guy to have to face questions about marriage and the future, but I what I forgot was that he is bipolar and still manic. The next day, I saw him and asked why he didn't want to talk to me, he said he wanted to end it, he needs a break, we want different things and the relationship wasn't going where it needed to go, and he only loved me as a friend. I asked him if he wanted to wait to talk about this and make the decision when he was feeling better. He said he didn't think it would make any difference. He was singing the same tune he had sung in June. Was the relationship just too much pressure for him, and he couldn't handle it anymore?
I think if your boyfriend is not stable at the present, it will be difficult for him to visualize his future regardless of his lifestyle choices. He needs to get back on his meds and continue to take his meds if they are helping him to control his bipolar episodes. There is a lot of information here about bipolar illness and the treatments available. Bipolar for Dummies is a good read to start with, and there are many other books written about this topic that may help both of you to have a better understanding about bipolar illness.
I think if your boyfriend is not stable at the present, it will be difficult for him to visualize his future regardless of his lifestyle choices. He needs to get back on his meds and continue to take his meds if they are helping him to control his bipolar episodes. There is a lot of information here about bipolar illness and the treatments available. Also, Dr. G is the expert on this community board and may be able to answer any questions you may have.
Bipolar for Dummies is a good read to start with, and there are many other books written about this topic that may help both of you to have a better understanding about bipolar illness.
I looked into NAMI support groups and may try one in my area.
He seemed fairly stable, but then again, he could have been hiding just how much pain he was in. I would love to know exactly what was going through his mind. I, as a "healthy" person, do get stressed out at times from job pressures and everyday environmental/relationship factors, but I always seek solace in those who I love and who love me the most. Does someone in bipolar just want to run away, regardless of whether or not they are medicated during an episode?
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