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Hi everyone,
This is the first time I have ever posted and thought I would give it a try...

My wife has recently been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder. Since we met, she has always had this "light switch" capability. She could easily go from one extreme to the other when it came to her mood. I mentioned some concerns about it several times early on in our relationship (we have been married for 6 years and together for almost 10). She said she had always been that way and agreed to work on things. Though things never really changed, our ability to talk about things and my fairly laid back attitude seemed to smooth things over. She eventually met with a doctor about some anxiety issues and was put on some medicine. Recently, after several years on this medicine, things began to change drastically. She was eventually forced to come forward about a huge amount of credit card debt that she had racked up on her own private cards. She claimed that the mounting debt didn't phase her and that she felt good about spending the money. As a result, she sought further therapy. She was diagnosed as bi-polar, which really brought a lot of things about her into perspective. The mood change, mounting debt and fact that she hid it, along with the side effects of the medication has REALLY taken its toll on me and our relationship. We have had our problems in the past and have worked through everything as a stronger team. In fact, a lot of the issues we had revolved around her moods and attitude. Now it all makes sense. However, I am finding it hard to adjust to the way the medicine makes her. She is essentially a zombie. No energy or motivation, no sexual desire (and I have a high sex drive), and a general lack of interest in me. I do pretty much all of the house work, do the majority of work raising our 3 year old son, and work a stressful job. We actually work together in the same company, but interact very little during work hours. I suggested that, now that she knows what the problem is and that she is seeking therapy, we try to work through things without the medication. She kinda feels the same way, but her doctor has suggested that she stay on the meds. I still feel that she should attempt life without meds first and then go on them if needed. I also don't know that I can accept any future poor judgement on her part as a result of the disorder (To me, it is kinda like letting someone get away with murder because of the insanity plea). Any advice, life stories, comments, etc would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I do know several people with bipolar and they have to stay on their meds or they start over spending and spinning out of control. Their brain gets overwhelmed and they can't control themselves.
But every case is different and unique. Perhaps her case is less extreme than theirs.
Can you both sit down with her doctor and tell him that a weaning off the meds may be attempted? Or perhaps a medication change?

It's a very stressful situation for you.
 

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You should protest to your MD or find another one. Psychotropic drugs take CONSTANT tinkering. Your wife could be on 2 dozen different regimens until she finds one that works.
 

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My wife has recently been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder.
Lefty, welcome to the TAM forum. I strongly recommend you become familiar with the symptoms (i.e., the red flags) for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). I advise this for several reasons.

One reason is that a recent study of 35,000 American adults (pub. 2008) found that half of those diagnosed with bipolar-1 also have full-blown BPD.

A second reason is that her "light switch" capability -- where "she could easily go from one extreme to the other" -- is NOT typical of bipolar. Rather, it is a hallmark of BPD mood changes. Because bipolar moods are caused by gradual changes in body chemistry, they typically take two weeks to develop and another two weeks to fade away. And they usually are so infrequent that just 4 mood swings a year is considered to be "rapid cycling." (Granted, ultra-rapid bipolar cycling can occur every day or two but is rare.)

In contrast, BPD mood changes typically occur so rapidly that no "swing" has time to occur at all. Instead, the person flips from loving you to devaluing you (even hating you) in a few seconds. The result, of course, is that the abused spouse has the feeling his BPDer mate has "flipped a switch" on her feelings toward him.

This rapid change is possible because BPD mood "flips" are not caused by body chemistry changes. Rather, they are event-triggered by minor things you say or do. Importantly, you don't have to do a thing to CREATE a BPDer's anger. It has been there since early childhood. You therefore only have to do some trivial thing that TRIGGERS the anger that is already there. If you would like to read more about the major differences between bipolar and BPD behaviors, I suggest you read my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/anxiety-depression-relationships/59344-confused.html#post1175425.

A third reason for learning to spot BPD traits is that, if your W is diagnosed with both BPD and bipolar, it is very unlikely her therapist will mention "BPD" to her. Nor is it likely he will mention it to you, even if you are the one paying his bills. It is widely known -- both inside and outside the psychiatric profession -- that psychologists and other therapists usually withhold this information from their BPDer patients (for the protection of those patients).

The therapists know, for example, that all Axis-1 disorders like bipolar are covered by insurance but BPD and the other Axis-2 disorders typically are not. And there are several other important reasons for withholding the information. If you would like to read about them, please see my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/48178-its-official-im-getting-divorced.html#post811909.

Finally, Lefty, if you would like to read more about spotting the red flags of BPD, I suggest you read my description of them in Maybe's thread at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If those traits sound very familiar, I suggest you see YOUR OWN psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with. Although it is easy to spot the red flags, only a professional can determine whether those symptoms are so severe as to meet 100% of the diagnostic criteria for "having BPD."

Whenever BPD is a serious risk -- as is usually true whenever bipolar-1 is diagnosed -- relying on your W's therapist for candid advice would be as foolish as relying on her attorney for candid advice during a divorce. It is important you see a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers. Take care, Lefty.
 

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I was diagnosed in 2006 due to a severe reaction to anti-depressants. I was put on several meds and was barely there.My husband had to do everything like you except we did not have a kid. In 2007 I went got pregnant and went off meds against medical advice. Thank goodness because on of the drugs I was on is now proven to cause sever birth defects. At the time I was told by the psychiatrist it was safe and more dangerous to be off meds. Throughout my pregnancy, and my son's early years there have been tough stressful times but I have not needed any meds.

Some people do need them but I recommend coming off them and doing intensive psychotherapy with a qualified psychologist. The drugs are experimental. Use caution and remember the doctors do not know as much as they act like they do. Go slowly. If she is suicidal, get her into an out patient mental health program. Come up with a plan so she cannot over spend, she shouldn't have credit cards at this point and you should monitor bank account. Find ways to give her a break from stress but keep her busy & responsible for son, household & job duties. If she can't handle, work with a therapist to get her back on track in a safe way.

My husband recently reminded me I begged him to divorce me when I was on the meds cause I thought I would never be a good wife (or have kids). Today I work, have a son, and I am a great wife. It isn't easy but struggling isn't terrible. As long as you keep trying and get back up when you fall
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Mine has bipolar, not like Rihanna's, I'm afraid. Living with her has always been a challenge but it has grown progressively more so. In all honesty, I don't have a wife or a partner. I have a mental patient and a duty. Sounds cold and cruel but that's the reality. I do love her but I'm in this thing alone. She gives really no indication that she even knows or cares that she's married.
 
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