More threads by Othea


I am new to this website and new to this illness. My husband is bi-polar. He was diagnosed in his early teens. He is now off his medication and my life is a roller coaster. When he takes his medication we are happy and everything is managable. He has a cycle. He takes his meds for a couple of months. Then, he feels like he can manage w/o it. After 2-3 weeks off his meds things get unbearable. He refuses to talk. He becomes paranoid and cruel. It is a battle just to get through everyday tasks. He requires so much attention. He has been in and out of institutions. I am afraid I will lose him to this. The thing that concerns me most is he thinks he has no illness. Is there anything I can do other than just support? I have become familiar with the illness through research but I need more insight.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
That is often one of the major problems with bipolar disorder.

It's not true for everyone, of course, but many bipolar patients do not have a lot of insight. I find that with some patients, most of my work is just aimed at medication compliance.

"I'm feeling better. I'm not sure I need to stay on the medication. Do you think it would be okay if I stopped taking it?"

I answer, "No. If you stop taking it you will become ill again. It's the medication that's making you feel better."

That will often be okay for another week or three and then we do the cycle again.

The best bet is to speak to your family doctor if you have one and see whether there's any way to have him schedule regular monthly or bimonthly appointments.

If that isn't successful, you may have to face the fact that sooner or later you might have to deliver an ultimatum.

I'd suggest you look for bipolar support groups in your area - NAMI is an organization that might be a source of information in that regard.


hey Othea! I wish I could be of better help, but I don't really have any answers but I did want to let yuu know that you're not alone and that I understand some of the frustration that comes w/ bipolar (my sister is bipolar). She tends to go through those exact phases of wanting to go off her meds, having gone off her meds, or threatening that she will go off of her meds b/c after all "what's the use". However, as you have realized and David has said, it's the meds that are making them feel better. One of the things I find so hard is that even if you have general knowledge about what bipolar is etc. it's so difficult when it comes down to those situations, the fights, the desperate moments- and I wish I knew how to handle those better. I read that it helps a lot for those around the person w/ bipolar to set up a regular schedule and act in predictable and consistant ways. Someone also told me that if you do that, no matter what happens, it's setting up boundaries, which are much needed. Find out as much as you can about bipolar and get yourself some support, b/c you need some help dealing w/ this and only then can you really help your husband. The organizations that you check out for support groups might also have support groups for your husband to join... good luck!


Hello Othea,

My exhusband has bipolar but lucky for him he has very good insight and takes his medication regularily. it can sometimes be frustrating for him to go through the continual trial of differnt meds but he was only diagnosed about 8yrs ago and just now seems to be feeling the best with 1.5mg of Risperdone and 1000mg of Epival.

He is a very good co-parent of his son with schizophrenia (now that he is on medication) but he has been placed on disability due to the stress of his life.

I attend a support group regularily and it has been my life line in an otherwise unsupportive society. We have members dealing with bipolar in a spouse and children as well as family members with loved ones with depression, schizophrenia etc. We are a family member only support group but the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario has groups for both those with the illness and loved ones. Some of our members attend the mixed group as well and benefit a great deal from the "inside" perspective and help of those living with bipolar.

I would highly recommend taking NAMI's 12 week Family-to-Family course as you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about bipolar and mental illness in general. You will also find out where your local resources are and I'm sure there will be at least one you did not know about.

This site is just for spouses and other loved ones of someone with bipolar:
BPSO Public Pages

The book: Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers, is one that family members really like.
Amazon product

Here is another book just for spouses:
Amazon product

Have to run...hope this helps.



Hi Othea,

I can relate to you, even though I have the disorder and your husband has it. When I was first diagnosed 20 years ago, I didn't want to accept it. I denied that I had an illness. At first I took the meds. When I felt good, I went off them. I ended up back in the hospital. I have highs and lows and never anything in between. I become irritable, irrational, and spend days in my bedroom. I try to block everyone out of my life. I have learned that when I am getting sick again, I call my doctor. Sometimes I call her twice or three times a week. Having a good support system helps. There are a lot of support groups out there. I don't know if he sees a therapist, but that helps also. It sometimes helps the family members to find a group also.

As far as doing something other than supporting him, I have found out that my children and my parents offer a lot of hugs and reassurance that it will get better. It is never easy on anyone, especially my children. We have gone through a lot of tough love. My daughter worked three jobs this summer and my son babysat to pay the bills when I couldn't work. My son used to come into my bedroom and say, "Mom, you need to get up and find a job." I wouldn't cook, clean, or do their laundry. They have had to grow up fast.

If he can stay on his meds, that is the biggest step. I know it gets frustrating when he is down. There are times I am okay for a few years, and then there are times when I am high for a week and then I am low for three weeks.

Hang in there!!
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