Bipolar Supporter – Think Very Carefully About This


I got this email the other day that I’d like to share with you, as it really concerned me:

“I so often feel like my husband’s mother instead of his wife. I know I’m being manipulated by him, because if I don’t do the things he should be doing for himself he simply doesn’t do them

then blames me. He’s not on medication, has only ever seen a psychiatrist once – didn’t go back

because he didn’t like what he was told, so now resists any suggestion of going again, which is

frustrating. I’m now wondering whether all the years of support I’ve given him have been a waste. I’m on the point of leaving him because I am just so very tired of his games, and it’s time he had to face up to his responsibilities. I worry but think this is the only way to either get him to face reality, or if that fails, for me to get a life without the constant anger, abuse and manipulation. I know he loves me, and I think I still love him, but it’s just not enough anymore, and our relationship is becoming toxic for me.”


There are so many points that this woman brings up in her email. Many are points that other supporters deal with themselves. For one thing, she says: “I know I’m being manipulated by him, because if I don’t do the things he should be doing for himself he simply doesn’t do them then blames me.” I have had supporters complain to me that their loved ones try to manipulate them as well. But when you do things for your loved one that they should be doing for themselves, that’s called enabling, and it’s something that you really shouldn’t do, because it doesn’t help your loved one get any better. They should be trying to get as independent as they

can be, and you should be trying to help them get that way. And if they’re not, they could be manipulating you, like this woman’s husband is. If so, you need to put a stop to it.

One of the biggest problems is probably what this woman stated right out in her email: That her husband is NOT on medication. We know that although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the best hope for your loved one to get better is for them to be on medication for their disorder. But the only way this will work is if they are compliant – willing to take that medication every day.

And this woman says her husband isn’t doing that. So, obviously, that is going to lead to some pretty big problems, which she goes on to talk about. In fact, she says that she wonders if all her years of supporting him have been a waste. You can get to feeling that way when your loved one doesn’t seem to respond to your efforts. But one thing you always have to remember is something I continually tell you: Don’t take it personally! You are a good supporter! If your loved one doesn’t seem to be responding to your best efforts as a bipolar supporter, it isn’t your fault. It could be because of them, or because of their bipolar disorder itself. Some people just take longer to respond than others. You can only do so much, remember that. Your best is always good enough.

I worry when this woman says in her email: “I’m on the point of leaving him because I am just

so very tired of his games, and it’s time he had to face up to his responsibilities. I worry but think

this is the only way to either get him to face reality, or if that fails, for me to get a life without the constant anger, abuse and manipulation.” Although I can understand her frustration. Sometimes it does get to the point where you wonder if your loved one will ever get any better, or if this is the best it will ever get. You wonder if this is the way things will always be, and you’re not happy about it. I always encourage supporters not to give up on their loved ones, not to give up hope. But this woman says in the end that this is becoming toxic for her. If things are becoming toxic for you, or becoming unsafe, making you sick, etc., you may have to consider leaving the situation, at least temporarily as well. Either way, it is a very tough decision, and I urge you to think about it very, very carefully. Maybe even talk to a professional about it?

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. Hello Dave,

    of course the spouse was manipulating the partner. You see, it seems like she was more the child but she felt “forced” to parent this person of equal ability and of course she ends up feeling robbed of her “childhood” hopefully this makes sense.

    unfortunately when it is a loved one, like Parent or Adult Sibling with the disorder – you may feel manipulated to play “RESPONSIBLE” ADULT IN THE RELATIONSHIP BUT THE REALITY IS THAT YOU ARE THE CHILD AND THE ONE DOING THE MANIPULATING WAS THE ADULT ALL ALONG…….i also like when the wife said i’m tired of playing game, on the point of leaving…

    it’s like hearing Your adult sister with a small daughter calling you her daughter’s name, isn’t it?

    this is a wake up call to our friends and family who may be a tad bit “manipulative”

  2. I am sorry to hear your pain. My sister was on meds since 1997, after being sentenced to a state mental hosp. She had a few periods of depression and mania while on her meds, but was able to control and come out of them. She recently went off her meds and is in full blown mania, and we are unable to reach her. She will be 60 this week, and probably spending every dime she’s ever made, so know that it doesn’t get better unless they’re on the meds. I was an enabler of many for most of my life. 3 years ago I really learned I have to take care of myself. No one else will, nor should they. If we don’t care for ourselves, we will become a burden to others, which is not what we want. Who would want to inflict this life of ours on anyone else? But, if we continue to sacrifice ourselves and enable our loved ones in not taking responsibility for themselves, no one wins. We can’t manipulate them into taking the meds or getting professional help (because I believe it takes both)… we can only do what is right for us, and hope and encourage them to get the help they need. It is never easy, but it is better when we start honoring ourselves and treating ourselves the way we deserve to be treated. Hoping they will treat us appropriately and allowing their illness to be an excuse for treating us badly does not change their behavior. This has been my experience. I pray you find peace, which I got from seeing a therapist for myself. I couldn’t have done it without help. I keep hope in my heart for my sister, and I leave it in God’s hands (where it belongs… we did not cause this, we cannot cure it, we cannot control it.)

  3. i AM BI-POLAR , i TELL PEOPLE THIS BECAUSE ITS A WARNING TO THINGS THAT WILL COME , i SPEND MY DAYS ALONE BECAUSE i KNOW i HAVE TO , Its not easy but I have too, I need to be on the right meds but I need a car to gr=et to phyicatric help , I live where there is no buses and no help for people like me, I live in this world alone

  4. Please take my advice when I say you have no idea what you are talking about unless you are bipolar like me. We so appreciate our friends and family supporting us, never forget that. Please know that without your support we truly would be living on the street. I get a kick out of some people at times saying “mentally ill people don’t NEED meds” and “meds aren’t forever ” and “don’t enable your bipolar friend /family member ” and the countless other things I’ve heard. Well, David here definitely has a grasp on both sides of the “disease “. However, I see a lot that some people misinterprete what he may mean. Heck, maybe I do! 🙂 However I was 32 when I was “diagnosed ” as being bipolar. Oh man. THAT did not go over well in my all “too perfect don’t tell anyone ” family. WOAH 2 week long hospitalizations and a suicide attempt from this”always been so perfect daughter! ” WHAT HAPPENED TO HER! well, they hung in there for a few years with me. I learned so much through councillors.and my psychiatrist. For example : I was showing these signs if mental illness when I was little. Hmmmmm. However, my family STILL wants to live in the dark about it. I try my HARDEST to be the BEST daughter EVER like I use to be. However, the more I worry, the more I try, the more I feed my sickness ….the sicker I get. I am a college graduate, Singer, play piano, love to garden,vegan,love to help others and can not pass up a homeless person without giving them money (it’s not for me to judge what they are going to do with it-God should be our only judge). I LOVE animals and it’s hard for me not to help sick animals when I can. However, as I sit here, I am 6 years into my “diagnosis “, (I pit that in quotes bc I think it’s funny how we are LABELED) , I’m taking my medicine like I should, my mind is so clouded with thoughts I can hardly function and can not hold a job, I have many dreams and want to be cured, my I’ve never been married and don’t have a husband, I’m wishing someone would come rescue me from my thoughts but everyone has given up on me once I became this imperfect person. Well, too much more to say, however, DO NOT give up on your “bipolar “family,member or friend. They DO appreciate your support and need it so much. Until 6 years ago I use to be my parents pride and joy. I’m NOT looking for a pity party, however, I am offering a little insight to all you “enablers” out there. I WANT to feel loved. I don’t want to issolate mysekf off from the world anymore. My pets are my best friends right now. If it werent for them I’d probably never go out of the house now. But I want to provide the best life for my pets so I do. AND NO! I do not get government help! Furthermore, my parents, sister, brother? I swear they are embarrassed to even be near me. I DREAM of living a normal lufe again someday. Please take it from me. Dont abandon your bipolar loved ones. I feel my family misinterpreted “enable ” for abandon, look down upon, treat differently now, “she’s an alien now and can’t possibly be the same person or have the same feelings “…..something ….just don’t leave your family member out in the cold and lonely as hell like me. PLEASE! ….cause I miss my family and friends. I’m losing the frame of mind to help myself without them.

  5. To the wife of the bipolar husband not on meds – I can relate after spending 36 yrs in a similar situation. It only gets worse! If he is abusive and threatens you, the only way you can get him help, if he doesn’t get it himself (and they usually won’t as they don’t think there is anything wrong with them) then you can go the the courthouse to get help. Once forms are filled in the police can take him to the hospital and then they’ll assess him and hopefully keep him for a while and get him on the proper meds. God Bless you and be strong. I pray for you that this turns not only his life, but yours, around for the better.

  6. I understand exactly what you mean. My husband is bi-polar but unlike your husband he does see a physciratist and he does take his meds everyday. But it seems to me he has been on every type of med they have out there and after awhile they quit working. He is on disabilty due to his illness. He has a Phd in psycholgy and is highly intellegant. I have thought about leaving him at times when it has gotten really tough but have stuck it out. If I were to leave he would then have axcess to his meds and I am afraid he would finish himself off with them I couldnt live with that guilt. I feel this because he has tried overdosing in the past with his meds before I started locking them up. You just have to remember you are strong and how much you love the person he really is when is illness is at bay. Best of luck to you.

  7. Hi Mister Oliver,and All Concerned, I do appreciate all of your writings Thank You very much. The man that receives all of my care and affection was diagnosed as having the bi-polar syndrome in 1988. My first encounter with him was in 2009. He started to take all of his medications on time when we were first together. That is a point to bring up that is extremely important. One of the medications that he was given was Depakote. It started to cause him to suffer from Tremors that keep getting worse and worse with no relief in sight.The reason that this is being mentioned is to be very careful when you are taking your Meds. be sure to take them but make certain that they will do no harm! As sure as you can be, when first taking them. Also when you first tell someone that you love them mean it with all of your heart and soul and mind. With All Love And Affection Robyn

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