Bipolar Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Sleep

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

my bf who is bipolar expects me to stay up all night because he cant sleep. i have been up for 20 hours and have to be to work in 5 1/2 hours. i say i cant function on no sleep and need at least a few hours of rest before i have to drive to work, come home, and get kids off bus and everything else. he says this is not supportive and even though im exhausted if i really wanted to help him i would stay up 36 hours or more. am i wrong in wanting to get a few hours of sleep? am i not supporting him?

A: No. You are not wrong to want sleep. Contrary to what your boyfriend thinks, it is not being supportive for you to twist your life around his illness. He needs to get treatment for himself rather than insist that you join him in his manic state. When he is worked up, your boyfriend becomes a selfish bully. He wants his idea of support from you but isn’t willing to give you the support you need to be a mother and effective worker.

Put your foot down. Insist that he get some treatment. It isn’t healthy for him to be so wound up he can’t sleep. It isn’t fair or loving for him to demand that you do all that you do to maintain the family and also keep him company through the night.

Bipolar illness is a huge burden for those who have it. However, most people do respond to treatment. Those who have a healthy attitude toward their illness don’t try to drag the people they love into their spin. Instead, they develop a plan for how they and their partner can weather the next emotional storm in a healthy way. If he is unwilling to work with a psychiatrist so that the two of you can have a reasonable life, maybe you should reconsider this relationship.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Bipolar Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/07/bipolar-boyfriend-wont-let-me-sleep/