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bipolar girlfriend...

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Posted · Report post

Hi, this is my first post... I've heard my girlffriend talk about this site and I decided to check it out...

My problem is that I'm having an impossible time coping with my girlfriend's behavior.  About 2 months ago her doctor changed her diagnosis from depression/anxiety to bipolar.  That in itself was hard for me to believe because she never seemed manic.  She explained that she has a type of mania where she just gets agitated and pissed off vs. the usual euphoric high-energy mania.  So the doctor switched her meds as well.  She is now taking lamictal and seroquel (I think that's all), and I believe it's devastated our relationship.  Prior to her med change, we were inseparable for seven months.  Now, we barely see each other.  Most of the time she seems cold, uncaring, and unloving, like she doesn't give a shit about my feelings or my point of view.  She's become very argumentative and intolerant of me, and displays a huge amount of illogical and irrational thoughts.  I don't want to break up with her, but she's just a totally different person.  This is incredibly difficult because I do love her but I just can't tolerate being treated this way any longer... I know the new meds must be at least part of the culprit, but I don't think she sees it this way.  Incidentally, she's also studying for the bar exam, which is adding a huge amount of stress to her life on top of her mental illness.  What should I do?  What can I do?  This is crushing me because I remember how great things were before the new diagnosis and meds.  I'm at my wits end...

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Posted · Report post

Mercury,

You are to be congratulated for making the effort to come this site to better understand your girlfriend.  Bipolar without mania is basically Bipolar II.  If you want to read more check out www.psycheducation.org  which is specifically for BPII, or go buy "The Bipolar Survival Guide" or one of the other new great books.

In my humble and non-professional opinion, I don't think Lamictal and Seroquel, will in general cause people to have illogical and irrational thoughts.  Seroquel if anything should help thinking and be calming. Some people (myself included) feel that while Lamictal stabilizes things, emotions can change more rapidly. Also, the Lamictal may not really take hold until around the 3 month mark, I understand she is on it for 2 months now. The improvements with Lamictal will probably be slow but steady, improving month to month.

You should be very cautious about telling her what meds she should and shouldn't be taking, unless she is directly harming herself or others.

Regarding her attitude, studying for the bar is one of the most stressful things a lawyer does in their life. The fact that she is even attempting it while dealing with BP is quite something.  That kind of stress is going to strain even normal people to the edge. Compare that to some of our denizens who can't manage to shower or take out the trash on a bad day, even drugged to the gills.    I don't think that you have any right to demand more time with her than dinner once a week until she takes the exam.  That is where her focus is and should be.  Once she is done with the exam she will do much better.

Good luck, A.M.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks A.M. for a very informative and helpful reply.  It's good to hear another point of view, especially one from someone with experience in the matter.  I know how much stress she's under, because I have several other friends also taking the bar, although none that are also dealing with bipolar concurrently.  I hope I'm not being too demanding of her.  It just seems impossible to talk to her now, because I'm never sure how she will react.  Plus the seroquel knocks her out so hard that she splits her time solely between studying and sleeping.  It's a tough situation, but thanks to your reply I'm starting to see it in a different light...

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Posted · Report post

Glad I didn't come across too harsh.

Seroquel can be an absolute blessing in knocking you out to sleep.  It is also good for anxiety, and after a while your body gets use to it. My Pdoc tells me that people take it during the day at low levels and are able to function.  I never got that far with it.

Cheers,    A.M.

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Posted · Report post

I totally agree w/ AM - just for someone to tell you you're bpis a really big huge deal. I am on lamictal and  seroquel also. It took me a long time to get to the point where I am stable. I actually had a nervous breakdown at work and had to take medical leave , so the fact that your girlfriend is under so much pressure and coping is impressive. Also, you must be a really strong person and a really good catch for her for the same reasons AM said. It WILLget better! mel

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Posted · Report post

Not to belabor the obvious, but are you telling us your girlfriend is posting on this same site, very likely about you some of the time?

On the one hand BP can be a huge big deal and it is something to take seriously. On the other, you're doing the right thing to be looking into ways of understanding it and understanding her (2 different things). WHen you can understand better, it's not necessarily as big and scary, and when someone is understood sometimes they don't get as crazy, if you know what I mean. Not saying she's acting -- definitely not saying that -- just that people can relax and be themselves when they know you care enough to want to understand, or whatever.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Congratulations on caring enough about your girlfriend to come here.

Edited by JBella

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for the words of encouragement.  It's tough, because I just want things to be the way they used to be before she switched to all these new meds.  The doctor added Abilify to her diet today.  I don't know what that's supposed to counteract, but i did read a post about it possibly counteracting "emotional flatness."  Hopefully that will be the case with her.

Here's my biggest question/worry right now, and maybe you guys could help answer this:  Is it ever possible to arrive at a point where the treatment works and she will just be a 'normal', happy person?  Or do the drugs lose their effectivness over time, sending her back to the drawing board?  I'm just kind of scared about the future and the potential of dealing with this for years to come...

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Posted · Report post

I'm only a year into this game so I have no experience. My Pdoc tells me that once stabled out, her patients get on with their lives, rarely come into the office and that I wouldn't be able to tell they are psych patients on the street.

The majority of the current drugs have been out less than 10 -20 years so there isn't long term data.  But they are a hell of a lot better with more choices and options than 20 years ago.

Can a diabetic go back to drinking coke, eating ice cream sundays, binging at the baked potato bar?  No, but they can manage things and go on.

Can a BP'er go back to late night partying, missed sleep, alcoholic binging, high stress jobs with endless hours?  Probably not, but they can manage things and go on.

A.M.

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Posted · Report post

That's a toughie. ;)

This is one of the hardest mental illnesses to treat.  And they keep coming out with new drugs.

There are people on the site who have had this for a really long time, hopefully they will see this and respond.

I believe that it will probably always be a challenge, sometimes harder than others, but its a commitment that you have to make.  If you're not up to it, ship up or ship out.  That might sound harsh, but that's what I recently said to my bf.  I want someone I can depend on for the long haul, not someone who's going to turn and run when it gets too hard for them or they don't feel like dealing with it.

You sound like you really care about your girl.  It's not like you have to make any hasty decisions right now.  The poor thing just started a nasty drug regiment and isn't herself now.  Hold out and see how you deal with it.  You may or may not be the right person for her.  But at this moment, it sounds like she really needs you even if she isn't acting like it.

I hope this helps and I don't come off sounding like a bad Dr. Phil show. I hate that guy.

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Posted · Report post

Anything is possible, many people DO recover from bipolar, though it will always be a prt of who they are, good and bad, like anyone else has their good and bad. Things are worse the more we fear them, and better the more we try to understand them, have some faith, and some humor.

When you can laugh at things, anything is possible.

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"the seroquel knocks her out so hard that she splits her time solely between studying and sleeping"

Not surprised. When my husband was first put on Seroquel he slept all the damn time. Since our kids were very young (newborn and toddler) I was stuck doing everything around the house, plus my part time job kept us afloat. I was ready to kill him. But over time, the sleepyness faded and he is still alive...and our kids are now teenagers ;)

18+ year later, we are still together. He has gone off and on meds several times...it has been very frustrating, but we have also had a lot of great times with no problems at all.

Getting involved with a "mentally interesting" person is a risk...but my marriage to my bi-polar guy has lasted longer than most of my friends...even my dad is searching for future ex-wife #4...and he is supposedly "normal".

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Posted · Report post

...even my dad is searching for future ex-wife #4...and he is supposedly "normal".

Haha! I LOVE THAT!! Cause I'm surrounded by normies, my husband and his friends and I'm sick of their uppityness.

My husband wishes they would "fix" me permanently too. Poor guys, they are all in that "fixing" mode.  It just ain't never gonna happen with me. I've been fighting bipolar seriously for over 20 years and the meds keep on changin,' along with the moods. Maybe other people know what "stable" feels like; not me.

Everyone married should read this link:

http://www.smartmarriages.com/does.divorce.html

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