Waiting for the Other Bipolar Shoe to Drop


I was at one of the bipolar support groups that I attend the other night. And I was talking to this woman whose husband has bipolar disorder. I asked her how he was doing. And she said, “Great.” But she didn’t say it very enthusiastically at all. So I asked her how come she wasn’t

very excited about that. And she said, ‘I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

I asked her what she meant… And she said, “Any time he does great for awhile, it seems like the next bipolar episode is right around the corner, so it’s like I’m just waiting for the next shoe to

drop. Like I know it’s coming any time now.”

She was telling me how uncomfortable a position that places her into, how she can never relax when her husband is doing “great” – she never feels like she can enjoy his times of stability, because she’s afraid of an oncoming episode.

I told her that’s no way to live – that they should be able to enjoy his periods of normalcy and stability much more.

She said she would love to, except that she just can’t get the thought out of her mind that he’s bound to have that next episode any time now.

If your loved one is doing what they are supposed to be doing to manage their bipolar disorder, they will begin to have fewer and fewer bipolar episodes. So it’s up to you, as their supporter,

whether you feel and think and act like this woman from the support group and wait around for the next bipolar shoe to drop… Or whether you enjoy your loved one’s periods of normalcy, understanding that, if they are managing their disorder the right way, they will have more and more of them.

Bipolar episodes are hard enough to go through, you know that. And there is a period of time after each of them that you don’t trust your loved one, because you are afraid they will “slip” into

bipolar behavior. This is normal. However, after awhile, you can begin to trust them again.

After awhile of non-symptomatic behavior, your loved one will be acting stable. This is called a normal period. And, like I said before, with proper management of their bipolar disorder, they (and you) will enjoy more and more normal periods, longer periods without bipolar episodes. You don’t have to sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop. You can enjoy these periods.

Do what you would enjoy doing. Go places, do things, especially those things you were putting off doing because your loved one was episodic. As long as your loved one stays on their medication and adheres to their treatment (goes to see their psychiatrist and therapist) and takes care of themselves and their bipolar, there is no reason you can’t do the things you want to do when and where you want to do them.

If you cower or give in to fear, like this woman from the support group, you are letting the disorder manage you instead of the other way around. And that’s not right. You need to be the ones managing your loved one’s bipolar disorder. And part of that management is controlling

the time between episodes. The normal periods. Like I said, be determined to enjoy them as

much as you can. You shouldn’t be spending those normal periods just waiting around for the next bipolar episode to hit.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. This made me smile and a little sad. Thank you for putting words on what it feels like. My husband is Bi-Polar and I often go through the “whens-it-going-to-happen panic. Makes me wonder about my sanity sometimes…

  2. Hi Dave:
    Your emails are so helpful and I thank you so much for this aid.
    I do worry like that woman about when the other shoe is going to drop, because my husband does take his meds, but does not get therepy to talk things through and is very quiet. He hates to be asked questions or give answers, so we don’t communicate very well but live a normal loving life. Routine is the answer and lots of rest on his behalf. I find the less I worry the better he behaves, and for about 6 years now, no episodes in his life. It takes a lot of tougue biting on my part as we must never nag, but compliment them on the great things they do. Again thanks for the good work you do and your an inspiration for all of us imperfect humans.
    Fondly Alice

  3. I too wait for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the next bad episode to occur with my son. I am so convinced he has this bipolar disorder but I can’t find a doctor to accept it. He is not on any medication right now. He was first put on depression medicine and something for seizures. I don’t think these were helping him and the side effects were awful for him so he just refuses to take them. I had the pills thrown at me so I gave up. He is doing well right now. I believe he is in the manic stage and I wonder when it will happen and the bad episode will come out. He has threatened our lives more than once when he goes into this stage. You can see it in his eyes. He looks so different and I know it’s the disease controlling him. Maybe I’m naive about this but I do not fear him. Maybe I should but I can’t be afraid of my son. I feel he is using this to control us. I refuse to give in to these threats and allow him to control me. I almost had a glass thrown at me but he stopped himself at the last second. We are at a huge loss as to how to get him back on medication. He won’t see a doctor or a counselor anymore. He is over 18 and the doc and counselor he was seeing refuse to talk to us because of the new privacy laws. He are out of the loop and no one will help us learn how to deal with him. How do we get someone to talk to us and listen to our concerns?

  4. Dear David, I understand what this woman was talking about, my husband goes thru the same thing, however as the bi-ploar person in our relationship, I can say we too are waiting for the other shoe to drop, it is not easy for us because we know what happens first hand, being on the recieving side is bad but knowing what is about to happen and being unable to stop it is worse, it is hard to determine weather medicine is working and that is why we feel happy or if it is our disorder. I juat want to let everyone know it is not easy for us either, we know what happens and we are unable to do anything about it, unless we are on medicine and in therapy, but most of us aren’t.

  5. I know that a lot of your post are geared toward bipolar supporters and my wife really appreciates that. However, I also find as a person with bipolar that even the ones meant toward supporters can help me. I enjoy reading your posts because I feel like you understand this more than anyone I have ever listened to, Including every doctor, therapist, or councilor that i have spoken with or seen on a professional level. To be honest, I have been reading your post for almost 2 years, and have just recently started to write comments here. I had an extended period of depression that lasted nearly a year. Hard to imagine looking back at it now, but true. I really enjoyed this post, and look forward to my wife reading it. I feel like she does fall into what you are describing, but I can hardly blame her, because it is inevitable that i will eventually go back to that dark place. I can understand how she feels, I feel the same way. I think she is afraid that if she pushes me too much it will trigger another episode.And it does take time after an episode to trust that I’m going to be ok for a while. My disorder is so unpredictable, at least for me, that trust is really hard to come by. It does not take much sometimes, even just a sad song will trigger me…its very weird. So anyway, just wanted to share what I was feeling while I am feeling well enough to share. Keep up the great work Dave. Someday we hope to get your full system, but for now we will continue to read your post, and I will continue to post comments while I am able too. Thanks.

  6. I don’t know if my response is necessarily connected with today’s article, but—I recently had an episode in which I thought I was doing the right thing to and for somebody I knew, when all I was really doing was making myself feel better. I am not sure how to relate this without all of the dirty details, but, in short, I tried to make a relationship out of a casual acquaintance, and am worried that I did something bad that will harm the acquaintanceship overall. If I had done nothing, no harm would have come, but now I feel as if I have done major harm to the person I was trying to make the relationship with. Does any of this make any sense to anyone out there?? I would appreciate feedback. Keep up the good work, Dave. It is well-received by me and others.

  7. Hi David,
    Thank you again for all your info to us. It is a very easy thing to do after a loved one has just gone through a bipolar episode. But it is the worse thing you can do. It can cause the supporter to go into a depression, which in turn is likely felt by the bipolar person. We take one day at a time and try to enjoy it to the fullest. We are just so thankful for the good days given to us. You just keep your mind open. You will know when the person is going into an episode. There are different tell tale signs in all. The best thing to do is to address the issue ASAP to the Dr. or therapist (or whoever is in charge of their medical issues) Avoiding stressful issues is important. Not always having to be in agreement to make things right, but there are ways to go about things without being entagonistic or threatening. Good communication is a clue. Sometimes the bipolar person will be unwilling when an episode is coming – you can skirt around it sometimes by just changing the subject (yes, it can be that simple) until you can reach the Dr. or Therapist to discuss the issues with them.

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