Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Jane" writes: "My husband thinks he is bipolar. ... We can be fine for days at a time but then he gets upset over the smallest things. He always accuses me of flirting with other people that I'm friends with. ..."
Says "Jill": "My husband was diagnosed (kinda) with bipolar about two months ago. ... I'm not sure if he is just a control freak or if he truly has bipolar. Most of the time when he has an episode it is over something stupid. For example, one time I stayed at Walgreens too long. He put all my things in the yard, kicked me and his three children out of our home. ... Right now, he will not let me sleep in the bed (says it is his cuz he bought it before we got married) or use the computer ... "
"Sally" asks: "Do all bipolar people lie or is it just my husband? He will lie about anything, even trivial stuff. He told his work mates his father had died, not for sympathy. He didn't know why he had said it."
"Sue" wonders: "I have been dating my boyfriend for well over a year now and he has been struggling with bipolar and a heroin addiction. ... He is in denial and thinks that everyone is is crazy and he is the only sane one."
I come across many questions like this as an "expert patient" on HealthCentral's BipolarConnect. I'm not God. I'm not all-knowing. I cannot make problems go away. But I can address in a general way the numerous issues these questions raise:
First, abuse is abuse, whether bipolar-related or not. Bottom line: Whether a person chooses to break off the relationship or try to save it, no one should have to put up with abuse.
But is it bipolar? That seems to be the real question. It's as if these women are wanting me to reply in the affirmative. Please, I'm hearing, let it be bipolar. Let that be the cause. Finding a cause, of course, implies a solution.
If only life were so simple. Needless to say, the behaviors these women describe are not exclusive to people with bipolar. True, bipolar may be a contributing factor, but the real culprit may lie deeply embedded in the individual's personality.
It seems as more and more people are being educated about bipolar, the more willing they are to finger bipolar as the primary suspect for all manner of human failings. Cheating, stalking, anger, violence, verbal abuse, drinking, gambling, sexual promiscuity, fraud, unwillingness to communicate. Again, yes, bipolar may be a contributing factor, but these behaviors and others are endemic in society, independent of bipolar.
Loved ones, of course, need to ask these questions. So do those with a diagnosis, as well as those wondering if they are candidates for a diagnosis. Human behavior is very confusing. We want to know why things are happening, why our lives are going so badly. Then maybe we can change our behavior, or help change the behavior of those we love. Then maybe we can get our lives back in order.
Is it bipolar? Keep asking. But also keep asking: Is it something else? Believe me, even if bipolar is an answer, there is always going to be something else.