One of the most enduring posts I’ve ever written here is Bipolar Disorder and Dating. Comments have come in continuously, as people are very concerned about relationships with partners who have bipolar disorder. Some think it’s worth it and some do not. What I’ve noticed is that people who love and support partners who take care of themselves too, who aren’t in denial about the diagnosis and who stick with a treatment plan and want to be well, are those who want to stay and those who say it’s worth staying.
On the other hand, being with a partner during an untreated manic episode can be bad for your mental health and in some cases physical safety as well. Although it is a myth that mentally ill people are more violent, as shown in epidemiological studies, it is also true that there are risk factors that increase the probability of violence. Among them are untreated illness accompanied by substance abuse, and a history of violence. With domestic violence there are patterns involved and habits stick. So if you’re already with a partner who’s assaulted you, well, as one commenter, Melissa, movingly describes:
If I try to approach to console him he sees it as confrontation and lashes out like an angry monster. He compares himself to a wild bear actually. His eyes bulge out showing no mercy and his hands go around my throat and he can barely stop himself from chocking me. And all I have done to bring this on was try to console him, try to nurture him so he may not go into a deep depression because when he does he goes into very self destructive behaviour.
When he is in a BP rage his eyes look like in the movie The Shining, like the eyes of a psychopath, they are filled with pure hate. Yet he says, even in that state, that he knows that I love him, as he shoves me away with all his strengths and demands that he be left alone. I have waited sometimes without moving, wondering will he attack me again, will he kill me this time? And what brought on this response from him? He seemed in a down mood when he came home and I asked him how was his day and I had missed him, he came home late. He turned away instead of answering me, I mentioned that that response hurt me, what was he thinking would he please tell me. And this horrid sound came out of his mouth, an alien growl so loud that made the tenants (2 guys in their late twenties who ride motorcycles) upstairs flee out of the house within seconds after hearing it ….
Ah, that is like to be with a BP partner who will not go for treatment.
How I survived him so far is that I have a safe home to flee to, as long as I can get out.
I replied and mentioned the Hot Peach Pages:
…the illness does not excuse the violence and your safety is more important than your partner’s treatment (although it might also require that he or she gets treatment for both your sakes).
The Hot Peach Pages link to domestic violence shelters, hotlines, counselling services and more, worldwide. It’s an excellent resource and I recommend you find out what’s in your community before you might need it in an emergency. They can also advise on how to approach your partner to talk about getting help for you together, if that’s appropriate.
I am glad you have a safe place to go. Please stay safe. You matter.
And to all the bipolars who’ve ever been violent to an intimate partner now reading – it’s not okay. Get help before regretting a bad episode and losing a relationship, and even going to prison.
To read her reply, visit the original post and scroll down.
Being bipolar doesn’t mean, by default, being violent. But this is one more reason to get help if you’re not getting it now.