Bipolar Disorder: What Would You Say?


I got an email this week that I want to share with you, to get your opinion as well:

“Dave- My girlfriend has bipolar disorder. At least I think she does. She hasn’t gotten formally diagnosed, but she seems to be showing all the signs, at least from all the research I’ve done on it. She goes into these mood swings all the time, I mean, I never know what kind of mood she’ll be in when I come to see her, and even if she starts off in one mood, she could change in like an instant, you know? And I never know what causes it, just all of a sudden she’s mad at me, and I don’t know what I’ve done! And she can never tell me, either. And just as quickly, she’s over it, too. Then she’s the “good girlfriend” that I know and love. It’s driving me crazy! I can’t keep up with her. I’ve read a lot about bipolar disorder, and it sure sounds like she has it.

One minute she’s up, and the next minute she’s down, and when she gets down, she gets really down, and nothing I can say will help to cheer her up. I know, because I’ve tried. I tell her that she’s beautiful (she is, to me), and talented (she’s a great teacher), and fun to be around (when she’s not depressed), and that I love her (which just makes her cry when she’s depressed). It just seems like everything I say to her when she’s depressed makes her cry – I don’t know what to do then. But she eventually comes out of it and gets back to normal, not through anything I do or say. It’s really confusing for me. I mean, I was thinking of asking her to marry me, but with these mood swings, well, to be honest with you, I don’t think I could take them on a full time basis. What do you think I should do? –Marty”


Well, first of all, I’m not surprised by anything that Marty wrote. He said that even though his girlfriend has not been formally introduced, that he thinks she has bipolar disorder, and from what he says, it sure seems like she could have it, with her mood swings.

However, I am not a psychiatrist, therapist, counselor, or any other health or mental health specialist, so I can’t diagnose anyone, especially not based on an email – I can only make an

educated guess and advice her to seek professional help based on her symptoms, and her symptoms point to the possibility of bipolar disorder.

As for Marty actually marrying her, that has to be a personal decision, I can’t advise on that


Maybe you would have better advice for him on that? What would you say to him, coming from a supporter’s point of view?

Because I would just say that it’s too early for any kind of serious decision like that, since if

she does have bipolar disorder, she can seek professional help, and she can get better, and

he won’t have to deal with her mood swings if she gets better.

There is a good prognosis for people with bipolar disorder who seek professional help early – there is no cure, no magic pill, but there is treatment, in the way of medication and therapy, that can help her to manage her symptoms (the mood swings) and to attain bipolar stability in the long term. At that point, when she has achieved stability, certainly the possibility of marriage could be approached.

Many people with bipolar disorder have gone on to live perfectly normal, productive, happy

lives with treatment and good management of their bipolar disorder. They take medication on a daily basis and go to see their psychiatrist, doctor, and therapist on a regular basis. They also do other things to take care of themselves – Things such as good sleep habits (8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night), healthy diet, and exercise.

They are also productive individuals – whether they can work a full time job outside the home or not, they at least keep a part time job or a volunteer position, or have hobbies that keep them busy so they are not idle, realizing that

idleness can lead to depression, and depression to a bipolar depressive episode.

These people, by making some lifestyle changes, have learned to manage their bipolar disorder, and this man’s girlfriend can do the same thing, thus becoming more stable with her mood swings. But first she must see a professional and get diagnosed so she can be put on the right medication and a treatment plan.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. It sounds to me like hormones are involved in this situation because the moods rapidly come and go. She may also need some therapy. I would recommend that he holds off any marriage or even the proposal until she gets stablized.

  2. I would question how she was on her job, I think he said she was a great teacher, do the mood swings happen when she is working? If not then it means that there is some sort of control. I believe that if she is a teacher than she should have some very good and expansive health coverage and I would encourage him to encourage her to seek medical diagnosis. A good course of medication and counseling would go a long way. If she can maintain a job and a bank account and no out of control spending, then she and he have a bigger advantage than those that are completely out of control. the right medication taken as directed and acknowledging what is wrong is the direction you want to be going and then a marriage or a future together is possible. I would say that while this is going on support is critical and if he is still in love with her I would live together and keep all finances separate until all is managed and that he must insist that medication is taken and counseling is kept. One slip up can cause devastation and financial ruin.

  3. Very sad to read about Dave’s situation.

    I will share that, I believe 100% in the proper diagnoses.
    I do believe Dave wrote that he believes she has bipolar disorder. Maybe, she needs to seek some help to get her on the right track.

    I know from my own experience that there is no way that I could sit around and do nothing. I had to seek help.

    I am currently not on any medication. However, I have a very loving, supportive family. I eat very well and, exercise everyday.

    I am also very well connected to support groups and like minded people in recovery who believe strongly in the success of self will.

    Mental illness runs in my family and I have watched it take the lives of people I love.
    I am determined not to let that happen to me.

    My advice to Dave is to be supportive and love her as he is doing but, it is crucial that she gets help and finds out exactly what is wrong.

    Mental Illness goes miss diagnosed far to often especially Bipolar and, this can be very, very, dangerous.

    I wish you all the luck in the world. my heart goes out to you and your girlfriend.



  4. Marty does seem to be describing a mood disorder, whether it be bipolar rapid cycling or something else can only be determined by a professional.
    He should encourage her to see a psychiatrist ASAP! With medication the mood swings well be further apart and less severe but, in my case, never fully disappear but become manageable. He will have to understand that things will get better but relapses do and will happen and he needs to be supportive and realize he will be a major player in her treatment forever.

  5. Dave,
    As far as advice about the man marrying the woman with bipolar, I think you can safely advise “don’t do it”. I married a woman with bipolar when neither of us knew it. We’d actually been married for about 4 years when she was formally diagnosed. She drank like a fish, starting on our honeymoon; spent money like a drunken sailor (without my knowledge) on credit cards issued in my name but with a separate PO Box from our address; tried – not too hard – to kill herself; completely alienated my kids; took her medications but refused therapy and support; was occasionally promiscuous; and finally left without saying a word. If I had known what I now know before I married her, I would have gone to vacation in Somalia instead. While I can’t really blame her for the things she did, I would have avoided them at any cost had I known. If I believed in God, I would certainly ask for a mulligan on the last eight years of my life. And from what I have learned, I know my experience is not terribly different than those of many many others. So, if you can hear me, noooooo. Don’t marry her.

  6. I have Bi-Polar and it has been hell for my husband, I would not even cosider marrying her until she is on the proper meds

  7. Dear Dave, On the e-mail of the person that wrote to you about he thinks girlfriend is bi-polar. I would suggest she be evaluated by a mental health professional. There are many reasons for mood swings that mimic symptoms of being b-polar. However, he maybe one reason for her moodiness towards him or deep rooted issues within herself that has not been dealt with. The decision whether of marriage is up to him. But, I suggest they both get christian counseling before they make that serious step in the future.

  8. I do not believe in Psychiatrists or the medicine’s they give me. Because of the bipolar and antidepressant medicine’s they gave me, I got sicker and my liver is not good. People should be aware of these side affects.

  9. Hi there: thanks for sharing that helped me so much, as I am being supportive of a friend who has bipolar and wasnt on meds, I insisted that if we were to continue the friendship that he would have to reach out for help or not to call me anymore. He obviously wanted help as he checked himself into the hospital and is on meds and taking group thereapy, he has improved big time, although still has some mood swings that by the time he is finished with me, I feel like a lion came out of the cage and bit me, It hurts……… although I am learning not to take things as personally, just listening to your comments doesnt make me feel so alone in dealing with my friend. I truly believe that anyone that is supporting someone with bipolar needs as much love and support from supportive people or you start to get drained. Thanks for all your comments. Mel

  10. By the way the symptoms of what the writer spoke of in the letter. It sounds like the same symptoms that my ex-wife has. She was diagnosed with boarderline personality disorder. there are similler symptoms. Marty’s girlfriend needs to seek help.

  11. Of course Marty’s girlfriend should be seen by a professional for a proper diagnonsis. From what I gather reading his email, I would say he should HOPE she has bipolar. Years ago I had a girlfriend who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and what he described sounded a lot like what I lived through for 3 years. Knowing what I now know …. yes, a vacation in Somalia would have been more desirable than living with her.

  12. Dave, I am a supporter for bipolar. My doctor has diagnosed my husband with bipolar of which he tells me he’s not. Although he does take meds because the doctor talked with him about his anger issues. I can tell when he’s not taking them on a regular basis because that’s when he seems to get agitated the most. I agree with you that it does sound like bipolar but would need to be professionally diagnosed so that proper treatment can be given.

    I would give this gentleman the same advice I gave my son when I found out he was starting to date someone with bipolar…Make sure that you are strong mentally before you even THINK about making a lifetime commitment. I promise you will be challenged more than once with figuring out just how much you can take. When in an episode you will be told things just because they want to hurt you. Maybe within 5 minutes you will get an apology that is heartfelt… But it doesn’t mean that you still won’t feel hurt. It doesn’t mean that even though they are sorry they won’t do it again. There are so many days that I just feel like I want out…. I can’t take it any more… When do I get to find happiness and being treated all the time like I deserve? Then I look at the reality of knowing that without me, my husband would be alone at least for a little while and maybe the next person would give up. You see the cycle? How is this loved one ever going to have a chance of getting better if they have no stability in their life? Of everyone keeps giving up on them?

    My mom always told me God never puts more on our shoulders than we can handle. My response: I understand. I just didn’t understand when God built me strong and stout that I was going to be a linebcker!! LOL

    Seriously, make sure you ask yourself how much are you willing to go through to be with this person? Are you mentally able to take the abuse you will be dished out and brush it off your shoulders and under the rug? I remember one of Dave’s e-mails telling us we had to be able to put it behind us and not let it hurt (or something along those lines) and I remember closing his email, thinking THAT’S NOT FAIR, and crying for a few minutes… Only to look back and think that was probably some of the best advice I could have ever received. Now every time my husband gets mad at me and calls me names and accuses me of cheating knowing full well I wouldn’t… I just think to myself… He knows what he’s doing and I’m not going to let him hurt me. I will be thee world and all to him again in just a few minutes.

    Good luck whatever decision you make. Be honest with yourself and know it’s better to be selfish about your needs now rather than later.


  13. Rapid cyclers change moods throughout the day and usually it is very sudden and without provocation that is obvious. A trigger that will never be figured out and you will have whiplash from all the mood swings. And the walking on eggshells. . .it is just not worth the time spent trying to keep someone or make someone happy that is not going to be happy no matter what – when hypomanic they are agitated, when manic mean. We actually came to prefer our family member being depressed b/c he was less abusive when depressed.

  14. Hi Marty

    I’m a girl with bipolar and have been in a long term relationship with my partner of 13 years. He has gone through everything that a support can and he’s still here with me (I must be doing something right, good cook).
    My advise to you is that love is the most important thing, not bipolar, if she had cancer would you put your relationship on hold or would you still want to move forward. Its an illness and should be treated as such.

    Its a hell of a roller coaster, with the extremes of good times and bad. I reckon my partner would not change it for the world. Its so much more fun than your average person, even when the bad times are bad.

    Get her help because you care for her safety and cause she is probably in a lot of pain, don’t think of yourself at this point. When she’s got the help and is feeling better then start putting yourself and the relationship first.

    Good Luck

  15. I agree with Dave 100%! She should see a psychiatrist before getting married! But keep in mind, the majority of bipolar disorder patients are in denial! They don’t realize they have these mood swings, they lie to cover up their actions and you end up being the bad guy! Marriage at this time would certainly end up in disaster! I admire bipolar disorder supporters because it’s a living hell if you’re not dedicated full time and you don’t have support from their family ( whose story would they believe, yours or their own blood relative?) because they appear to be very normal and are usually very intelligent and unfortunately many psychiatrists don’t care enough unless they’re in crisis or suicidal!! Finally if she has Cyclothymia (rapid cycling) bipolar disorder I feel sorry for the kids she’s teaching if she’s not on treatment!

  16. I am bipolar and have rapid cycling. I think love is the most important thing in a couple, and sharing. Since bipolars are sensitive about rejection, I would recommend Marty to marry her if he is in love, and if he really wants to help her be the best she can be. I recommend Marty to ask her firmly to control her moods, because bipolars ARE conscious and CAN control their actions and moods, to a great extent. I have learned to control mood swings with self-control. Bipolars have a creative side, they are also caring and loving, Marty, marry her, don’t be scared, love is the answer!

  17. Marty,
    I have been in a relationship with a beautiful young lady for 9 months. When she told me she was bipolar I had no idea what that meant. In 9 months I have gotten quite an education and I am a PhD Psychologist though I am not in practice but I am no dummy. Trained in rational emotive therapy but I will tell you that doesn’t work with someone with BP. Their thinking is so screwed up trying to use logic with them does not work because they only believe in their logic. The young lady I am with won’t take her meds. She was a complete drunk before I met her and seemed to work through that. After nine months of a long distance relationship I found out from a friend of hers she is a cocaine addict. Her highs which I attributed to manic phases were only highs from cocaine when I saw her on weekends. The love she professed for me. All lies. She was having affairs right after she told me she loved me. BP can’t see the consequences of their actions and how it impacts others. I bought David Oliver’s course and on one of the CD’s the person he interviewed said that 70% of the men in prison are BP. BP is a sociopathic disease. People with that disorder do not and cannot see what they are doing is wrong. It is their logic. If you want to live with someone who cannot be honest with you for the rest of your life that is what you are in for. If you think you can be the answer to their problem and help them, forget it. Love will not change them. The chemistry in their brain cannot let it. They do not feel the way a normal human feels. Yes, I am hurt. Terribly by what I have dealt with but no normal person deserves what a person with BP will do to you. When I found out the lady I loved had BP I searched the internet about it. There were posts by people who had been in realtionships with those with BP and I remember one that said, “Run, run as far and as fast as you can. No matter how good lucking she is. Run.” If only I had taken that advice earlier because I thought I could help her but in the end I was the one who suffered, not her. You are young. There are many ladies out there for you to meet. One’s who do have normal feelings. You can’t fix a person with BP. I thought I could if I loved her enough, did enough for her, helped her though her tough times but it didn’t make a difference. Love is not the answer. BP doesn’t have the same emotions you do. It will only be a life of misery. So run. There are thousands of normal ladies out there. Meet someone who isn’t BP. Always remember the lady you care about but know that because of her condition she can never care about you like a person without this condition can. Good luck to you.

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