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Dating Someone who is Bipolar 1- Need Advice and Help


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I'm a 47 year old lesbian dating a 44 year old who is bipolar 1 for almost 2 years now. When we first met, she told me she was doing ECT treatments to help, but after about 6-8 months in, she stopped doing the treatments because she was doing very well. She is also not on any antidepressants. We connect very well and overall, have a very good, healthy and solid relationship. She is very good about keeping a structured routine that helps her manage the bipolar. Lately, she has been going through some major changes and stresses. She quit her job, dealing with family issues (her brother is an addict and parents are enabling and controlling of both of them....which triggers her a lot). She has been trying to cope and maintain healthy boundaries, and slowly detach from her family dynamics while also trying to create her own life. All of this has also brought us closer, as I've tried to be there for her during these difficulty times.

 

In the last week or so, she has been bringing up an issue that I first brought up when we first started dating. I own an investment property with 2 other individuals, one of which is my ex husband. We've been divorced for over 8 years now (were married for 15 years) and only maintain the property for business and have no other ties. When I first mentioned this, she said it kinda bothered her because it reminded her of her ex and how her ex was "controlled" and "manipulated" buy her ex and how she still had ties with an ex of 15 years. Her ex was also raped and sexually abused by men. She made it very clear that this was a "trigger" for her and she needs to be with someone who can "stand up" for themselves and come to a relationship with a "clean slate".

 

Lately she has been asking more questions about the investment property. The other night, she started getting very accusatory and didn't "understand" why I would still choose to have an investment tie with my ex. I tried to tell her it is only an investment and there are no other ties, which is completely true. She started to draw parallels between her exes situation and mine, and accusing me of being "controlled" "manipulated" and "weak". I felt very confuse and side swiped, almost like I was talking to someone else. No matter how hard I tried to explain, I didn't feel she was hearing me and she had already drawn her own conclusions. Basically, felt like she lost trust.

 

My questions are: Is there anyone who can give advice or share experiences with being in a relationship with a bipolar person? Also, am I wrong for owning an investment property with my ex husband, there are no emotional ties, only financial. Am I truly being "controlled" by my ex husband and just need to wake up, cut the cord, and move on? Or is she projecting her experiences with her last ex on to me?

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I think your last sentence says it all. I see no reason to not own an investment property with an ex spouse if that's all the contact you have. It's not up to her to decide who you have business dealings with.

 

Perhaps she needs to see her doctor and get back on her meds or program as this doesn't sound good to me. I have no experience with bi polar people, this is just my opinion.

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Tough situation.

 

Some questions: Has anything changed in terms of your investment/relationship with ex in recent weeks or months? Have you needed to focus on it a bit more, for instance, in these moments of economic uncertainty? In the two years you've been together, has your girlfriend met your ex-husband or heard you having a professional conversation with him or been to the property? Prior to this moment, did you have the sense that this was a resolved issue or something still lurking—a "trigger," say, that hadn't been fully defused?

 

Just trying to understand the context here a bit more.

 

I have no experience with bipolar—just going to put that out there—but what I see in this is someone who is stressed and lashing out a bit at the person they're closest to. Happens. Is likely happening more, in more households, these days. Never easy. Throw in a mood disorder, and one is bound to deal with unexpected shifts in mood, regardless of how well that's all treated, or not, at any given point in time.

 

With that in mind, I'd try to be compassionate without being infected by whatever she's saying, assuming, judging. You know the truth here, which is that you have a healthy business relationship with your ex—far from an uncommon scenario. Remind yourself that that is a fact, no different than the earth being round, regardless of how she's feeling about it at present. Then lean into that fact for comfort, as her winds blow a bit. That's how you avoid fanning them, even accidentally.

 

Ideally the winds die down a bit, and later, at a calmer juncture, this can be talked about, as needed and if needed. If the winds keep coming—if she continues to tie it into her past, and her exes—you can tell her you're very sorry for those feelings, are feeling overwhelmed with how to support them, and suggest that she finds a way to process them without making it about you, and your ex. Basically, you want to communicate that you love her, feel for her, but that for your health and the health of you relationship you can't go down this wormhole.

 

That's respecting her, and her feelings, while also respecting yourself, and your truth. In any relationship, there needs to be room for that full spectrum.

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Someone who is not seeking treatment for a chemical imbalance is almost impossible to have a relationship with. My father is bipolar 1 and has lost every single person and every single thing in his life. I could personally never have a romantic relationship with a person who was bipolar because being raised by my dad was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I have PTSD because of it. If she doesn’t want treatment leave, period.

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Tough situation.

 

Some questions: Has anything changed in terms of your investment/relationship with ex in recent weeks or months? Have you needed to focus on it a bit more, for instance, in these moments of economic uncertainty? In the two years you've been together, has your girlfriend met your ex-husband or heard you having a professional conversation with him or been to the property? Prior to this moment, did you have the sense that this was a resolved issue or something still lurking—a "trigger," say, that hadn't been fully defused?

 

Just trying to understand the context here a bit more.

 

I have shared recently that I am trying to get out of the investment. That for my own reasons want to get out, but I also do not want to make an impulsive financial decision. It seems to trigger her situation with her last ex, who probably was being used and controlled/manipulated. She has never met my ex husband nor heard/seen anything with me making contact. I have very minimal contact with my ex, if any. She said from the very moment I told her I had the investment, that it was unsettling but since we were not very serious yet, I think it was overlooked. Now that we are getting closer, I think it is bothering her more.

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Tough situation.

 

Some questions: Has anything changed in terms of your investment/relationship with ex in recent weeks or months? Have you needed to focus on it a bit more, for instance, in these moments of economic uncertainty? In the two years you've been together, has your girlfriend met your ex-husband or heard you having a professional conversation with him or been to the property? Prior to this moment, did you have the sense that this was a resolved issue or something still lurking—a "trigger," say, that hadn't been fully defused?

 

 

I have shared recently that I am trying to get out of the investment. That for my own reasons want to get out, but I also do not want to make an impulsive financial decision. It seems to trigger her situation with her last ex, who probably was being used and controlled/manipulated. She has never met my ex husband nor heard/seen anything with me making contact. I have very minimal contact with my ex, if any. She said from the very moment I told her I had the investment, that it was unsettling but since we were not very serious yet, I think it was overlooked. Now that we are getting closer, I think it is bothering her more.

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I have shared recently that I am trying to get out of the investment. That for my own reasons want to get out, but I also do not want to make an impulsive financial decision. It seems to trigger her situation with her last ex, who probably was being used and controlled/manipulated. She has never met my ex husband nor heard/seen anything with me making contact. I have very minimal contact with my ex, if any. She said from the very moment I told her I had the investment, that it was unsettling but since we were not very serious yet, I think it was overlooked. Now that we are getting closer, I think it is bothering her more.

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Seems like a much ado over nothing if she knows you want to get out of the investment.

 

You care a lot about each other and have been dating for two years. Sit down with her and have a frank discussion about your plans with the investment. You don't have to go into the nitty gritty details but state that you're no longer interested in keeping it but would like her understanding and support without the excess judgement and assumptions while it takes time to get things in motion.

 

She has to come to some sort of understanding that being in a relationship with you means accepting you and trusting your choices. Let things cool off for a bit. If she continues to hit you with hostility and aggressive language, tell her to stop and it's not appropriate that she assumes those things. You can mention you are open to a more civilized discussion but without the rudeness.

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If she's not taking medication or treatment, the baggage and stress might have led her to have a bipolar psychosis - they have a hard time seeing things clearly, see things in a misrepresented way, their insecurities can manifests in to delusions, etc. When you said it was like you were "talking to someone else" - that makes me think she might be needing to get back on a treatment plan or maybe medication to help stabilize her. It seems that the ECT effects have wear off.

 

With my experience, I want to say it was a year and a half together with my husband when I first experienced one of his episodes. I had zero knowledge about bipolar or mental illness before we met so I was utterly stunned because like you said, I felt it was another person. His first episode with me, he accused me of a lot of crazy things and I could not get a word in. He was dead set I had said this or that I must have meant this no matter how crazy it sounded. He was loud (he's naturally soft spoken), pacing around while nonstop accusing me of x and y and being incoherent all at the same time about random stuff that circled back to accuse me of something else or reinforce what he had accused me of. It was so confusing to me more than it made me angry... It dawn on me that night, his issues were way over my head.

 

Yes your girlfriend's issues are way over your head, and you need to first admit that. Secondly you need to ask yourself, do you want to be with someone who has a disorder but doesn't think they need treatment/medication along with adopting a healthy lifestyle? If you do these two things, I think you will be able to find a peace with your next move is.

 

Back to husband... We've been together for five plus years. Now he has been good about taking his medication - but it wasn't always like this. In fact I would know sometimes when he was about to have an episode (he would to) and it starts with the pacing. You start seeing the signs fast. Currently he's taking them and hasn't had an episode for a year now... I am not going to lie, some days we are talking and everything is great and he will say, "I don't think I need to take meds any more because I really feel better - normal." Which is great BUT I know better because every time he gets off his medication, another episode is just looming. I always tell him let the doctor determine this because we have seen what happens when he's off them. Fortunately, he's agreed with this sentiment and I can only credit this to his self-awareness and him just growing up with a bipolar mom who he is close with.

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Thank you for sharing your post and your story. I am heartbroken and really do not know what to do....do I try to salvage all the wonderful things we have and stay in it longer? Or do I cut my losses and move on...but with the feeling of never truly knowing if it could work out. Do you have any advice on what to do when she is having these "episodes"? Do i just step away and allow her to be?

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My mom is bi-polar is I know what I'm talking about. There is NO WAY you can maintain this mental illness without medication. When she met you, she was happy so she went off her medication and lied about it..yes she lied. She is irresponsible and in denial. Typical to blame everything on stress, and YOUR PARTNER, and whatever else, making life confusing and heartbreaking....even with medication, they can have relapses. They are mean, condescending, lash out at you, feeling like you are walking on eggshells because you just don't know when it's gonna happen. It's a horrible existence to live with someone like that trust me. That's why I say get the hell out now!! That lovey you met, is gone. The mask is ripped off, and you now see what's underneath. Run....just run for the frickin hills!!!

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She is not refusing to get treatment. She is in regular contact with her drs and trying to find a medication that works for her. She also is very sensitive to medications and most of them make her feel tired/zombie like....so that isn't good either. Are there any medications out there that don't make you feel like you are a zombie????

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Yes step away. If she is irritable, combative and confrontational because of an impending or in progress manic episode, it's best to stay out of the line of fire.

 

If she is in your presence in your home, you can call for a wellness call (look it up in your area in the mobile mental health crisis section). Trained people will come to try to talk her down and get her help in a trained deescalating fashion.

Do you have any advice on what to do when she is having these "episodes"? Do i just step away and allow her to be?
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She is not refusing to get treatment. She is in regular contact with her drs and trying to find a medication that works for her. She also is very sensitive to medications and most of them make her feel tired/zombie like....so that isn't good either. Are there any medications out there that don't make you feel like you are a zombie????

 

Not a medical professional but I know of people with bipolar who have had success with lithium. I also had a friend who is bipolar -we are still in touch via facebook -her first husband divorced her because he couldn't take it anymore -mostly her manic episodes - and I had to distance myself from her as a friend because she just got too unreliable/unpredictable. In addition I now have another friend who is bipolar and takes meds but also smokes a lot of pot and is regularly getting obsessed with new business and non profit ideas, stays up all night, spends her family's money they don't have, and I also am distancing myself -I just can't take the rollercoaster stuff and that she is using drugs when she has a young child to take care of. I can't imagine what her husband is going through -we are friendly but it's inappropriate for me to be in personal touch with him - if he wants to reach out for help with her I would communicate of course.

 

So all told if it were me I'd separate and see if you can help her from a distance.

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The point of their medications IS to make them even keel without mania and depressive states. The truth is many of them love their mania because they feel like Superman and Mr Incredible bundled into one when manic. So they want to refuse meds so they can have their mania. After over 5 decades with my dad... NOPE.

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The point of their medications IS to make them even keel without mania and depressive states. The truth is many of them love their mania because they feel like Superman and Mr Incredible bundled into one when manic. So they want to refuse meds so they can have their mania. After over 5 decades with my dad... NOPE.

 

That's fascinating. Never thought of it that way. My dad had it and the manic part really wasn't the main thing at all. He complied with meds and therapy for many decades. So when they are manic it feels good - not you know disorienting/crazy??

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Apparently they feel excited and invincible while manic.

 

I'm not sure how the irritability and confronting, accusatory behavior is a part of that because I'm not an expert.

 

A friend of mine had it and she went back and forth between suicidal and frantically excitable. It looked exhausting.

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She is not refusing to get treatment. She is in regular contact with her drs and trying to find a medication that works for her. She also is very sensitive to medications and most of them make her feel tired/zombie like....so that isn't good either. Are there any medications out there that don't make you feel like you are a zombie????

 

Yes they all say that and it's kind of bs. I mean they are being honest, but it's the sort of thing where if you told a drug addict who is high as a kite to take a neutralizer to kill off the high - they won't want to do it. So bipolar high is kind of like that - they are high and taking something to neutralize the high is not welcome or desirable.

 

Problem for you is that their high can manifest in many different ways - can be intense fun, risk taking, lots of energy and laughs, can be paranoia, wild accusations, picking fights, can even be complete full on psychosis that leads to a physical attack.

 

Basically, you are playing with fire when you are dating someone who is making excuses for not taking meds to control their condition. Even with meds, there are no guarantees that this person can stay reasonably stable. Also, with age, these conditions get increasingly worse. What makes your SO irresponssible is exactly the attitude of "I'm feeling fine so I won't take my meds anymore combined with I like being high and don't want to be stabilized." If she was responsible, she would not ever seek to discontinue her treatment.

 

In all of my life experience, I've only met one person who was genuinely in control of her mental illness and taking her meds, doing treatment and was super successful in her job as well as having a stable and happy marriage. However, she did not live in denial and was very vocal and open about what she has, how it may affect her, etc. Even with everything she was doing, she was also very blunt that meds can fail and if they do, x,y, and z may occur and she would be very specific about what to do and how to help her with that - namely call for ambulance and give them x info. She was determined to control her illness to the max. Unfortunately, people like her are rare. Majority are like your SO - irresponsible, in denial, resistant to meds and treatment, looking for reasons to go off their meds.

 

Consider also that her behavior IS affecting you and your mental balance. There is nothing wrong with maintaining a business investment with your ex. However, here you are questioning that, questioning if you are being manipulated because ....well....a mentally unhinged partner made these accusations and it's starting to sound plausible to you even if it's nuts in reality. No doubt she presents her arguments in a forceful, convincing manner with an energy that runs you over. The danger for you here is that when you get involved with someone like that, your own health and mental health will be affected. Is already being affected, whether you are aware of it or not.

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