How do other long-term couples handle the illness? Do you write a contract? Therapy together? I have been with my partner for 13 years and love her dearly. When she gets manic, she can *sometimes* be reasoned with - if I go back to our 'agreement' that she works with me sees her doctors and takes her meds then she can stay out of the hospital - she hates the hospitals and so do I but if she is a threat to herself or others and she can't get control with her doctors it is the only thing that can be done to get her back on track. Does anyone else have an agreement with their partner that works?
The first eposide that we went through together was after 5 years. Then the episodes started to occurr much closer together and seemed to last longer. She is BP - mania - extreme mania with delusions, paranoia, etc. I know her meds and help to track that and I also know her doctors, etc. I don't want to 'take are of her' in an unhealthy way - but should I be discussing with her when she is back to normal additional medications she can take? This doesn't feel normal - I mean the progression of the episodes. When I ask the doctors about why she is cycling so much now - they tell me that there is not a 'recipe' for preventing episodes. Should I accept this?
Am I right to question if something is not working when she has been manic for 6 months out of the past year? The episodes went from 5 years, every 2 years, every 18 months, 1 a year and now this? Anyone have any experiences with meds that worked and didn't work? TIA.
This is really a question my wife could answer better, shes had 11 years with me and 7 years of marriage to come to grips with my illness before and after diagnosis and she could no doubt tell you a lot of things.
First thing is looking at the resources out there - there are some excellent books for spouses and families of bipolar patients which can be incredibly effective and usefull - Id advise a dig through amazon on this.
There are some excellent websites around as well - some i like which are both australian and can be googled are Black Dog Insititute and Beyond Blue - both have excellent resources and downloadable fact sheets for families.
Contracts are not going to work sadly - a contract implies rationality and we are not always rational beings, we are slaves to our minds and mood states and one of the things my wife struggles with is understanding that just because she thinks something is reasonable and rational does not mean I do - we do not think like other people and when in episodes we may not think remotely like other people - the very worst thing a partner or spouse can do for a BP is pushing them or trying to drag them to do things - its the major cause of fights in my relationship and other BP's I know.
My wife and I do have several ground rules rather than agreements.
1. My drugs never get touched - they kept getting moved and forgotten
2. Never ever back me into a corner or block the exit to a room
3. No means no not argue with me some more
4. If I need to go to hospital I go - no arguments
5. I tell her how I am feeling so she understands
6. Communicate as much as possible
7. Alone time is important for me
8. respect each other
Those are basic but important things - My wife is going through this with me and she also needs respect, she's not perfect but she lives with me and the last few weeks she has been a rock as ive gone through suicidality and ideation and hospitalisation. We all need our partners.
As to medications. Those are solely up to the patient and his or her psychiatrist and doctors. They are the people who will judge the best meds for a patient and no one else should be advising people on meds - no medication is right for everyone and rapid cycling is hard as well - and no there is no recipe for preventing it.
It seems to me your wife is going through a pattern of accelerating episodes? Has she been under any unusual stressors? Job changes? Family illness? Physical Illness? These and other things can actually contribute to thia - the balancing act is getting things stable again.
Last thing I would suggest is getting yourself a psychologist to talk to - you need this as much as she does and people you can talk to outside of the relationship are vital - you are like my wife, living with this 24 hours a day and its important to talk to someone - not a month ago she had to deal with my suicidal ideation and plans which would have left her with a dead husband and a body in bed to deal with - I have no idea how she dealt with that but her psychologist is likely the reason she didnt go out of her mind.
In my case - the cycle of episodes got closer and closer and I got older. Now that I have become stable (for now), I don't see one on the horizon.
I got divorced before I got diagnosed, but have recently over the last 6 months been open and honest with my exhusband about things that happened in the past with my disorder. We are better now than ever - best of friends. He doesn't take any c*ap off of me (respectfully) and when I hurt his feelings he tells me. When I am feeling out of control and something happening, I tell him.
My advice is being honest and realizing that if she is in an episode she might not be receptive, but be patient. It's not easy to be involved in any relationship, but with BP, it seems to be a bigger challenge - but not impossible.
Just remember that just because she has BP - that doesn't give her the right to treat you badly or you to become the ultimate care giver.
On no relation to the above here's you BIG Hint: When we say we want to be by ourselves - we really do and it doesn't have anything to do with anything you have done wrong or anything.....we just need it.)
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