Posted in Mania on December 16, 2009
I found this conversation between Stephen and Joe posted on another site and leveraged it. Have a read and see what you think. Whose approach is best? What point of view would you adopt?
Stephen says –
I’ve been married for 19 years to a woman who was diagnosed as BP 8 years ago. To say that we’ve been through a lot is an understatement. Hypersexuality, mania and the resultant infidelity are things that we’ve had to deal with several times.
There are times when people with BP simply cannot exercise good judgment. Any competent care provider will tell you this. People with BP WILL do things that affect their families. That’s just part of being related to them. Although its really impossible to separate the illness driven behaviors from their personality, spouses and other family members need to understand that BPD changes the way people, think, feel and act. Allowances must be made. Not to do so is unfair because it holds people to unrealistic standards and disappointment becomes the inevitable outcome.
It is very hard to know that your spouse has sex with other people, becomes infatuated with other people, and can even turn against the people that love them most.For many people, these are unbearable behaviors. However, the reason they are unbearable is that they conflict so strongly with expectations. So you have two choices: moderate the behaviors and/or moderate the expectations.
It has taken years for us to come to grips with the fact my wife has BP. Fortunately, my wife is really good about taking her meds and seeking therapy. Even so, she has the occasional bout with mania so, for example, we now have an 11 month old girl by another man.
I could get all upset about that, demand a divorce, etc. But the truth is, I love my little girl and I still love my wife.
Joe says in response –
I think you must be more tolerant than the rest of us mere mortals, because I’m not sure I would put up with quite so much. You mention two choices: moderate the behaviors and/or moderate the expectations.
First, “moderate the behaviors” can mean all sorts of things from the person with bipolar willingly taking her medications and putting an honest effort into maintaining mood stability to forced commitment. Too much tolerance, I believe, can lead a loved one to inaction, which can actually be harmful to the person with bipolar, not to mention yourself and everyone else involved.
I would question whether too much tolerance would be beneficial to the person with bipolar. If the person has no limits, faces no consequences for destructive behaviors, she has license to do anything. This is not good for her or her loved ones.
From my experience, a certain amount of tough love is required.
Oh yeah, my second point is that there’s a third option – leave. I’m not advising anyone to take this step lightly, but if the person with bipolar is doing nothing to help herself (or himself), I couldn’t fault anyone for taking this choice.
To read the entire article go to Dr. Candida Fink’s Bipolar Blog Information and Support site.