I had a man write to me, and I wanted to share his comments with you: “What do you do when you are all that and because of their condition they decide they don’t need you anymore? My wife is Bipolar ( we think) she went to a psydoc this week and the doctor said there was nothing wrong with her. She could not describe her symptoms very well (at times she is delusional and has no idea what she has said or done) My wife is 8 weeks pregnant and has been gone for a week now and of course blames me for everything and now can’t decide whether she wants to be with me or not (says she loves me and does not want to be with anyone else but has cheated on me in the past) what do you do???? I am there for my wife whom I love dearly but how do you help someone that does not have an official diagnosis and does not want your help because they are manic???? what do you do???”
Wow. I truly sympathize with this man, don’t you? What an awful place to be in if you’re a supporter. Well, first of all, like I always have to say, I’m not a medical or mental health professional, so I can’t give any kind of professional advice in that way. I can only speak from experience and from all the thousands of emails and posts on my blog and all the other supporters who have contacted me and who I’ve talked to. When someone has bipolar disorder and they are in an episode, they are not in their right mind. So this man’s wife just up and deciding she doesn’t need him anymore is a sign of that.
But many people with bipolar disorder are also good at manipulating other people, like doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists. They can also be in denial. Especially in a manic episode, when they are so “high,” and feeling so good, that they really do not believe that anything is wrong with them. They can even act as if there is nothing wrong with them, and that’s how they can “fool” the doctors into not diagnosing their bipolar disorder, like this man’s wife did.
Unfortunately, many doctors will miss the diagnosis for this very reason. It’s easy to see depressive behavior, because it’s pretty much hard to hide, so a diagnosis is pretty easy to make.
But a manic episode is different, and that’s what this man is describing.
Many times someone in a manic episode cannot describe their symptoms because they just don’t know them very well, so the fact that she couldn’t describe them to the doctor very well either may not be just because she was delusional, but because she was just not aware of the symptoms of mania. He also could be right about her not having any idea about what she says or does. This is a big part of a manic episode.
There are several problems he describes in his post, some of which I can address, and some of which I can’t. Like the fact that she is 8 weeks pregnant. That really concerns me, but I am not a doctor. I would urge him to get her to a doctor, though, because this could be very dangerous both to his wife and to the baby. As far as her blaming him for everything, that is also typical manic behavior, and part of the irrational and delusional thinking I talked about earlier. He says, “She has cheated on me in the past…” and that is also part of manic behavior. One of the signs of a manic episode is risky sexual behavior. This can include affairs, no matter how loyal the spouse has been in the past.
Now, comes the hard part. Two questions: How do you get someone diagnosed? And how do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped because they are manic? As far as getting someone diagnosed while they are in an episode, you have to find a good doctor, or get them to a hospital, while they are acting out and the symptoms are obvious, so they can’t manipulate or “fool” the doctor. As far as the other question, it’s a little more complicated. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. The best you can do is try to get them to see that they do need help. If you can’t do that, you are going to have to consider involuntary hospitalization, where you will have to hospitalize them against their will. And that’s not easy.
Well, I have to go!