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Should I stay with my bi-polar bf?

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My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 1/2 years. He had depression when he was younger, but nothing lately. About 2 months ago he had a major manic episode with psychosis. It was the first one he ever had and it came on so quickly, within a couple days, it was pretty shocking to me. He was having pressured speech, paranoia, and grandiose ideas and made his friends and parents come over so he could explain his “big idea” to them, which he couldn’t tell us directly, but we had to figure it out for ourselves (Which turned out to be that he thought everyone was insane except for him, and that he could help everyone). It got so bad the next day that we ended up having to call the police to take him to the hospital cause he wouldn’t leave willingly. Right before we took him to the hospital I was alone with him and he was talking really fast about conspiracies and was threatening to kill himself if I didn’t stay in the room with him. I don’t want to be alone if that happens again. It was too scary. He was in the hospital for 3 weeks and since he has been out he has been ok.

All this has been very stressful and confusing for me and I feel like I have been becoming more distant from him since he got out of the hospital. I am trying to help him and understand what he must be going through but it feels like we don’t connect like we used to. I love him very much and do not want to just give up on almost 5 years of my life. We used to talk about getting married after we got out of school. I can’t help to think that this will cause problems for our relationship forever. I don’t want to have to be a parent to him and make sure he is taking his meds (which he has been skipping doses lately). What if we have kids? They might have bipolar also. Lately he’s been talking about going for a different career. He is so close to getting a degree now and he wants to throw it all away it seems. He doesn’t have a good job right now and he can’t afford to just keep going to school without getting a real career first. Last night I told him I would like some time to be on my own just for a few days because I feel like I need to figure some things out in my life. I’m so confused on what to do right now that I think it would be good not only for me, but for our relationship to have some time apart. He doesn’t think this would be good. He said he would rather just break up. All I want is some time for myself but he won’t give me that. Finally after hours of crying and mostly me talking to him he said lets just get it over with and that he would go to a hotel cause he hates being at his parents’ house. I didn’t let him go because I don’t want him to be alone. I’m afraid he is depressed and I don’t want him to hurt himself (he had attempted suicide in the past over a broken relationship, before I knew him). I just don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t do what I feel would be good for me because I don’t want to hurt him and maybe worsen his condition.

Should I stay with my bi-polar bf?

Answered by on -

A.

I’m sure this has been very confusing and scarey. You have been with this man since you were only 19 and have invested almost 5 years, it’s true. But before you think seriously about marriage, it’s important that the two of you talk seriously about whether he is going to responsibly manage his illness. Bi-polar disorder can’t be cured but can be effectively managed by taking medications faithfully and participating in regular therapy. If you are both willing to factor the requirements of his illness into your relationship, you can have a good life together.
If, however, your boyfriend is already skipping doses, I’m concerned. That suggests that he doesn’t yet quite believe that he must take care of himself or risk putting himself and everyone who loves him into crisis again. I’m also worried about the unspoken threat that he will do harm to himself if you don’t stick by him. That isn’t love. It’s emotional blackmail.
I understand that he is probably afraid. I understand that it is a big adjustment for him to accept that he has a chronic illness. But part of being a grown up is dealing with hard things and taking care of personal business so that it doesn’t hurt the people we love. If he isn’t yet adult enough to do that, he probably isn’t adult enough to be getting married.
You are both young. This is the time of life when people sort out who they want to be with and what kind of life they want to have. You can’t make your boyfriend come to terms with his new reality if he isn’t ready to do so. All you can control is your personal decision about whether there is enough good in the relationship for you to want to wait until he does it.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Should I stay with my bi-polar bf?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Should I stay with my bi-polar bf?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/05/11/should-i-stay-with-my-bi-polar-bf/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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