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Advice needed for a bipolar carer of 11 years - Carers UK Forum

Advice needed for a bipolar carer of 11 years

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Hi all,
I hope that you might be able to offer me some advice. I have been with my partner for 11 years, but I am seriously wondering if now is the time to leave, as I am not able to cope with his bipolar(which was bipolar 2 but has now changed to bipolar 1) any more.

I feel like I have been very understanding and patient with him, listening when he's down, ignoring him when he calls me every name under the sun, picking things up when he's smashed them on the floor etc etc. I have also tried, when he's shouted at me, to gently tell him that this is not very nice, and it upsets me, but this makes the rages worse and then he goes into a period of self loathing and says things like he wants to die, and that I don't love him, which is very hurtful considering what I do as his carer. I feel very much that I cannot communicate with him at all, and when I do, he doesn't listen to my feelings, or picks out a specific word or turns a phrase on its head to make it sound as though I am attacking him, which is not the case.

When he is himself, he can be a good companion, and will thank me for what I do, give me cuddles and do things that are fun and spontaneous, but this is rare and I feel more like his mother than his partner. He has not been intimate with me for a very long time, and I never push him about this, as I try to understand the effects the drugs could be having, but it seems that every time I go out he's on the computer, looking at other women and storing hundreds and hundreds of images on sd cards that get found all over the house. I have tried everything to please him, without being too pushy or demanding, even suggesting I just give him a massage or something- anything just to be intimate - but he's only interested in his online conquests, which sickens me, as I'm willing to give him real affection. It has made me not want to go out and if I confront him about the fact that this really hurts me, he says I make too many demands on him and make him feel bad as a person as I want too much from him. This breaks my heart as I only want the basics, to be smiled at and cuddled every now and again, and not to be put second to some pixels.

Since being diagnosed, he has lashed out at me, thrown things at me and my car, and has held me up against a wall and shouted in my face among other things. Every time he has a melt down, I'm strong, remember what I've read, and calm him down so he doesn't self harm or do something else (he has tried to commit suicide before). Normally he gets his bag and threatens to leave and if I ignore him, he just ups the breaking of things, or banging his head against the wall until I respond, which really upsets me. Yet if I ever cry or let things get too much for me, he shouts even more saying things like 'what's f-ing wrong now' as if I'm the problem. He doesn't usually swear either, which makes these rages all the more frightening for me. I get abuse when I eat too loudly, if I'm too happy, if I go and have a secret cry in the bathroom, it's like walking on eggshells every day. I flinch at loud noises and have nightmares all the time about things I have been through with him. I don't sleep much and if I try to go and rest in the spare room he will come in and turn the light on and force me to come back to sleep in the bedroom. But this is only when he's manic, as at other times he understands my need for a rest and comes in to wake me up with a kiss and a cup of tea. It's like living with two different people, but I never know which one he will be from day to day!

There is so much more, including the fact his parents are so close to where we live but wont help me, and have said they don't even want to hear from me about it. It's like if he's my problem, he's not theirs- and even though they could have him for a weekend to give me a break, they wont. I feel so alone and scared all the time, fed up with his behavior, as even though he's on medication, it keeps changing all the time, as he had a very bad reaction to lithium and became very very nasty and spiteful. Olanzapine 10mg is what he's on now and it makes him really sleepy but takes away none of the angry outbursts and self loathing. I am asking for advice everywhere and finding out what counseling, courses and groups we can attend, either alone or together. I know it sounds crazy, but I do care for him very much, but the way he treats me is dragging me into the ground. I know he's ill, but he's making me so depressed by the way he speaks and acts. I cannot trust him, he lies about everything, spends all his money so that he has no savings and cannot help with saving up for a deposit on our house, and even stole the £500 I had saved up for my wedding dress. Everything is so me me me, and to everyone else he is happy and pleasant, no wonder his parents probably think I'm making all this up! But it's awful, and I need to know if anyone else has or is going through this. What is the next step? When is enough enough? I feel awful thinking about leaving a sick person, as I would hope he would stay with me if I was ever that ill, but I honestly don't think he would. It's like he wants me to leave, and is pushing as hard as he can to force me away, by being heartless and cruel, but I know he's not evil deep down and has a lot of issues that he he needs to deal with.

I am not in denial (I like to think I'm fairly level-headed and clued up on what is happening around me), and am aware that I am in a very volatile situation and need to look after myself first and foremost now. But it's not as easy as just walking out as I am scared for him, and for my things if I left them behind. My family are a long way away and as I moved to be with him, don't have many close friends I could rely on to help in an instant. My parents are amazing and understand mental health issues and have said I have always got a home with them, but moving is a long process and I'm not sure if I'm ready to 100% give up and go back to my mum and dad- even if it would be temporary. I am trying to work out a crisis plan but I'm scared he will find it as he's already started to get nervy and has convinced himself I'm going to leave in the middle of the night, even though I have always said I would never do that.

Seriously, any advice would help me right now. I am loosing the battle that I found so easy to fight at first. He's chipped away at my amour and those I thought would support me have been nowhere to be seen. The doctors tried to put me onto antidepressants, but they made me very sick and I refused to go back on them. There must be a better way to cope than with drugs- but I was willing to try anything a few weeks ago.

Sorry this was so long, but I could have gone into even more detail. I feel like I have been bottling all this up for ages and just need to let it out. Thanks for reading though, and many thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

Huge hugs,
Hi Bryony,
I didnt want to read and not comment even though I cant offer much advise. My husband is Bipolar too and we are going through a rough patch at mo, but I am lucky in the fact he has never been violent or aggressive towards me.

Your the only one who can decide whats best for YOU. If your not happy with the situation then only you can make changes. You cant stay with someone because you fear what they might do. As his parents are close by, maybe they will help him more if your not there.

Remember, your important too. You have needs.

D. X
Hi Bryony,
I dont care for someone with bipolar, but there is a carer on here who would certainly relate to your story - she had to move out into rented accommodation.
It sounds to me like your position is untenable. Do the people who are sorting out his meds know that he is violent towards you? This is a safety issue and I dont think I would stay with someone who is aggressive like that. When my hubby first had his accident he was very aggressive, kicked down the bathroom door when I was having a bath and hit the children, so I did start to make plans to leave him, but then his meds were changed and he calmed down. Only you can make that decision, although from your post I think you have already made it. DO NOT feel guilty, if you do go. There is a limit to what people can cope with.
Hi and welcome Image
Sorry I don't have any experience of this sort of care, so can't offer any advice. Just wanted to say hello.
Hi Briony,

I am sorry to hear of all the difficulties you are having with your partners and their bipolar-ness. I did not ever have to deal with mental health issues. I cared for my dad who is now deceased. He was nearly 87 when he died and had all physicial health problems and operations etc.

There is one thing that sticks out here for me. You have parents who care about you. Think how it is for them! Their beloved daughter is living in a volatile situation. In this case the cause is illness. I have a daughter who used to be in a volatile relationship and the cause was drugs. I lived in terror for years. One night a policeman arrived at my door and I absolutely hit the panic button. He came in, we discussed why I was so frantic at his appearance, he did understand my reaction. He was only asking if I had seen any damage to a car in our street. My daughter would never understand my worries and even when I ended up having a stroke she could not get why I was constantly stressed out my box. Even now she still cant get why I never know if she is really alright with her new partner.

I would not want your parents to be in as much stress as I was and still am. It was awful. I wished I could be the target rather than her. I had a much younger child who would have to be dragged around at all hours of the night to try to sort out situations. Think very carefully about the damage this is doing not only to you but also to your parents and all those who care about you. Placing someone in a state of fear or alarm is a criminal offence.


PS His parents sound so lovely (NOT)
Hi Bryony,

you do not sound as if you can carry on as you are and you should not have to. I think you should take a break and go and stay with your parents for a few weeks to give you time to think. If your partner needs help his parent's are close by and he is their son after all. I also think you should inform the professionals involved with your partner's MH what life at home is really like and let them know that you are taking a break. Whilst away either talk it through with your parents or try and arrange yourself some counselling so that you can formulate a plan.

Hello Bryony
I have experience of caring for someone with a chronic mental illness, and I know how selfish it can make them.
I think that now is the time to think of yourself. You shouldn't have to put yourself in physical danger like that.
I would agree with Melly's advice.

Look after yourself xx
Gosh, reading this you could have been writing about my Brother.
Your partner needs his meds sorting out, and proper councilling. Does he visit his GP often or have a Mental Health worker?
All too often it is up to the family/partner to point out that our loved one isn't well, I know my Brother could charm the professionals then come home on a rampage!

I agree with Melly, you need a break and a plan
Very best wishes
Hello Byrony,

I care for my husband who was diagnosed firstly with cyclothamia in 2009 then Bipolar II in 2010 and now, this year, Bipolar I. I have known him since 1982, we married in 1986.

I would say that he was always cyclothamic, and looking back I would describe him as being a 'functioning bipolar', and one that was always on the high side, rather than the depressed. This meant he was on the go, didn't need sleep, had loads of business ideas, which were more often than not successful. He had a breakdown in 2004, and that is when things took a turn for the worse. His moods became quickly elevated after this, and he showed a lot of 'self importance', to the point of him being so above his station he felt invincible. When we were first married, he was a hard worker, never stopped, made a lot money, employed people. I helped him with book-keeping and wages etc. Things went well, though I now realise the few times a year when he would have three or four days of extreme high activity, with totally selfish and unreasonable traits, this was the illness; because it was transient and he returned to his normal but eccentric self I dealt with it. I mean, every partnership deals with tears and tantrums from time to time.

When his father died in 1990 I put his low mood down to that. I suppose that is when his 'episodes' became more noticeable. Then our daughter was born at the end of that year, I left nursing and started to work part time for him, as it was easier to work from home. Our son born in 1994, and our business's were doing well, so I continued to work for him. Money was no problem, though I wish we had of done more fun things when that was the case. My husband could work round the clock. He'd go about his self employed work during the day, look after his workers come home have a bite to eat and then go to one of the houses he'd bought and work on those until 3 or 4 in the morning, come home sleep for couple of hours and go out at 8am and start again. I couldn't stop him, if I complained he was doing too much he'd turn it around saying 'other women would be happy'. And the funny thing is, this made sense. This went on for many years, right up until the move to Cornwall in 2002....how can a person keep up this kind of workload, and not get tired?

There were other things beginning to show, and his character changed more markedly. In 2004 he had what we now understand to have been a breakdown. In 2005 he abandoned us and lived in a tent for 8 weeks. He put it down to marital problems. I hadn't a clue what he meant. Then he came home, and couldn't understand that there was something wrong. He's be down for the next year, and in 2007 there was a massive and unexplained madness with psychosis, where I was evil, a liar, I was out to get him, the authorities would find out about me and I'd be locked away, I was holding him and his new ventures back. He left home again, this time spending money on a caravan, he started to drink, and it all became worse. There was no foundation in his arguments at all, but he believed in his mind the things he was saying were true. To the point I thought it was me going bonkers. He drank so much he ended up in hospital....he never drank like this up until the 2007. He stayed away that time for around 7 months, and couldn't fully understand what had transpired. In 2008 he was depressed, but carried on working, he kept his business going throughout, relying heavily on his lads to carry on . In January 2009 he ripped out our kitchen, threw it out into the back garden, along with the Aga single handedly in three hours flat....I had been at work. He took on loads more work, was up all night for weeks, and then he left. No kitchen, no windows, no water. He rented a very expensive flat in Fowey and it was then he was diagnosed.

He came back in the August that year, and again couldn't fully understand that it was his illness and not marital discord. I would hold his hand whilst he called me 'the daughter of Satan'. I had read up and had begun to understand this terrible illness. Others that knew him in his more normal years, couldn't believe it to be the same man.

In 2011 he showed the signs again, and being as he was now under the CMHT I thought we'd have help, for him and for me as his carer. He didn't get the help, I wasn't listened to, and he was allowed to remove me as his carer without any question from his CMHT. I was directed to call the police from that point on.

The devastation that followed was unbelievable. I had to leave my family home in August 2011, after begging for help from March that year. I rented a house 10 minutes walk away from our home. I continued to try and get the right help to no avail. I wrote letters, to the Trust, GP's , MPs. My husband from 2011, set fire to our home and himself twice, chased after someone with a knife, took overdoses, thought himself to be descendant of the pharaohs, a manager of a rock band, and still he was not sectioned. Our home was wrecked, and I couldn't do a thing about it.

The letters I wrote were then sent on for complaint at local level, when all I was trying to do was get the correct help so my husband wouldn't injure himself or trash our home even further. This ended up with the Chief Exec writing to me to say nothing more could be done as what he was suffering from was alcoholism. This diagnosis came after I had written my letters, and after my husband had his eventful time. He had been treated by the same CMHT for two years as suffering with bipolar and no alcoholism.

An investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has just been completed in July this year. They upheld that the nursing care and the medical care fell 'so far short of the applicable standard as to amount to service failures', they also found note taking to be absent and when there were notes they were perfunctory. There were also missed opportunities to take the correct action, and they even failed to give him a diagnosis. (Well they changed it once they made the mistakes).

I got an apology at the beginning of August this year. £1500 being given as a token for the upset these failures had caused. They did not uphold the outcome, that my husband suffered irreparable brain damage when he took his last overdose of tramadol in March 2012, a whole year after I started to ask for help, and whilst the investigation was still being carried out. My home wrecked, my husband for the first time ever in his life not able to work or drive.

You are indeed suffering, and it is an illness that 1 in 100 people are afflicted with. It is just that a few reach the crescendo that our husbands reach, our partners are amongst those few. It's so very hard to help someone with mental illness, because you first have to fight your own emotions, as the first thing we want to do is 'hit back' at the cruelty that overtakes their minds. We know what they were and what they have become.

My mother had dementia, her mind went, it was no longer my mum. Do you leave them, or do you help?

Sussex wrote recently that it take someone special to care. He's right. You do, however, need a break. Is there anyone at all that can help? I had no one nearby, but I did have a friend who was a rock, and that saw me through. My parent's were no longer alive, and brothers and sister were leading there own lives with their own problems many miles away in Manchester.

I found out once I'd opened up about the 'family problem', that there were many more people suffering in this way. I have always felt a bit of a fraud calling myself a carer, but I now realise we come to caring in different ways.

I can't tell you to leave, or to stay. When I left it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I did find out more about myself, but not enough! Try to get to a quiet place, you do need space, but it doesn't mean you stop caring, it just means you need a rest. I know it wont be a peaceful rest, but you won't be half awake listening to his restlessness. I pleaded for help, I phoned to let them know he wouldn't cope on his own in this state, the help didn't come. Our GP who has just moved to Cornwall, actually said to me she had come from an area where mental health facilities were good, and that the difference here was noticeable.

I wish you luck, I understand just how hard it is.

Take care xx
Hello Bryony, you posted this a while ago and I can really empathise with you. I am new to the group but have a husband with bipolar who is currently sectioned but seems to be getting progressively worse.

The advice by Treez is really helpful and I wonder where you are now? How are things? did you take a break, Are you okay?

I am at a similar stage to you were when you posted. I have a three year old who has only ever known his dad with bipolar. ( he has been sectioned 3 times in 4 years and hospitalised off his own accord on another occasion) He has been on medication but it has made no difference. He is verbally agressive when high, and I have had to endure the other traits typical of bipolar mania, porn, drinking gambling, lying, excessive spending, losing posssessions.
The support I have had from the crisis team was ineffectual and infact when he was at the community house they just let him do as he pleased, which in effect meant he spent 1,250 on his credit card in two days( he had lied about having it on him to his parents when they took him there)!

I have only just registered for a carers assessment as I have been struggling to look after my boy, go to work and keep the house going. It is not a role I am taking on with pleasure but am scared to take the next step as I worry about keeping my little one safe. My husband has never been physically agressive towards me but clearly cannot look after himself most of the time so I worry about what access arrangements he would get? It is all a big mess but I can't live the rest of my life like this, for me and for my boy.