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MSN.com asks: Leave bipolar wife?


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Saw this on MSN.com today...it was actually one of the "picture leads" on the front page.

It posed the question "Can I Leave My Bipolar Wife?" It had a picture of a woman with her face blurred from her turning her head from side to side...I guess to denote her crazy swings from pole to pole or something.

Anyway, the link sends you to this advice column at Slate.com...the letter writer describes his bipolar wife (she was diagnosed shortly after they got married) as "an emotional terrorist" because he never knows "where or when the next bomb is going to go off" and he wants to know if leaving her will send him to hell. I guess the guilt would really get to him, her being mentally ill and all.

The columnist assures him he won't go to hell for leaving a bipolar woman. She says, "You're not going to be condemned to hell

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I'm going through a bit of a rough patch right now with the whole "being bipolar" thing so- maybe the columnist thought she was being reasonable. Maybe some people think she is being reasonable. Maybe she should go fuck herself.

She's not offering any coping mechanisms or him and his wife can manage the stress in a responsible way so that they can look at their marriage beyond the bipolar [because a marriage is so much more than any illness]. She's telling him, pretty much "Hey buddy, you're fucked. How'd you manage this one?"

Maybe the best choice for him is to leave his wife and maybe it isn't, but the columnist certainly seems ready to trash the wife.

Yes she was irresponsible and needs to own up to it.

Though Prudie does say 'it can be treated and controlled' she sounds doubtful that anyone with bipolar could ever be stable and like she really has little knowledge of the illness.

I would love it if she would please kiss my never-to-be-stable ass.

This is not a "mental illness" issue. This is about how to support your spouse and figure out how your marriage functions under stress. They can sit down and reason out what to do or divorce. This is still a grown woman that they are talking about. Not a monster or a child. I don't know.

Sorry if I'm not making any real sense here. I'm generally pissed off about stuff but I wanted to respond.

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I will add that there are complications to his story...she didn't disclose some unnamed mental illness issues (not bipolar) prior to the wedding and she had big debts that she also didn't disclose and these things really pissed him off...he felt lied to...

Complications? NO! This is the gist of the entire matter! She lied about being mentally ill, she lied about her financial debts. He doesn't "FEEL Lied to", he WAS lied to.

That is the pre-existing situation. The current situation is she is still bouncing checks. Counseling didn't work. They haven't slept in the same bed for a year. The husband says "There is no possiblity of intimacy, equality or trust".

Marriage hangs first and foremost on trust, and that was broken from day one. It is pretty clear that the husband is living in hell, and has pretty well made up his mind that he should leave for his own best interests.

This advice is extremely fair and even handed, one of the best I've ever read. She isn't derogatory about BP at all. I don't think she would be doing this fellow a service by trying to convince him to stay in this situation against his own feelings.

a.m.

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The writer does bring up a couple of valid points. The wife did enter into a contract witholding information such as debt and mental illness.

However, I found the writer completely irresponsible throughout the majority of the article. The husband is not blameless for his part in all of this. When you get down to it, a marriage is in essence a contract. Think of the wording people. Sorry to squash all of the romance out of it for those of you with hearts and stars in your eyes, but that's what it is.

He even admits his irresponsibility early on with the statement -- "after a probably too-brief courtship". All I have to write about this is "Buyer Beware".

Personally, I'm pissed off at the writer who apparently has a bias against bipolar if not all mental illness period. Take a look at the language she chose to use, especially in the environment we live in today. I don't know what any of her past lovers have done to her to obviously make her so bitter, but it shows.

The two people in question, for all their faults are both equally to blame for their marital problems and if I were to be a judge sitting in on their case would find them both 50% at fault for their marriage failing. If not out right recommending (if possible in their state) an annulment.

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Hi,

i read that article, too before logging into CB this evening. the article kind of put a bad taste in my mouth....kind of bewildered. yeah, the financial past not being disclosed is a very bad thing...my first question would be why didnt the man or woman want a pre-nup agreement?? that would certainly disclose any financial issues on either side. and i totally encourage anyone thinking about marriage to get a pre-nup agreement.

marriage is definitely a legal document. it gives each party certain legal rights that just are not available to people to cohabitate. even though cohabitating non-married partners are getting more rights....a married couple still has more.

and depending on the state laws the financial issues may qualify for an annulment based on fraud.

I completely agree with maddy. why didnt this dude get to know the woman before they got married? why was there a quick rush to get married???

and then to add in the bipolar....that just sucks. it seems like this guy is trying to think of 500 reasons to get out of the marriage. whatever.

db

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I think maybe I wasn't clear. I'm sorry. I was just saying that I thought that some of the language in the column and some of the "selling" tactics used by MSN.com and Slate.com for the article/column was kind of hurtful or dehumanizing. I tried to imagine the story with the title, "Can I Leave My Diabetic Wife?" I didn't think MSN.com would run that story...

I had a particularly bad reaction to the use of the term "emotional terrorist" for someone with bipolar disorder. Likening someone with an illness to a terrorist is really wrong, I think. Terrorists are horrible, evil people that do what they do on purpose. People with bipolar disorder are not doing what they do to harm anyone on purpose...we get sick...it's a sad thing. We're not evil.

And living with us may be difficult. But reading on a news web site that living with a bipolar person is living in hell...I don't know. That can't be good for building understanding. I have been hurt and my family has been hurt badly by misperceptions and stigma. I guess I'm oversensitive.

That's all. Sorry.

Sallie

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And now for the minority report....

I am with AM in this. And yeah, I have been in the position where I had to consider leaving my bipolar husband...not because he was bipolar, but because he wasn't managing his illness. Even the few times in the past he was taking his meds, he was just blindly taking them, not paying any attention to oncoming manias, not wanting to call the doctors as things changed and deteriorated. He made no effort to educate himself about his illness and TO THIS DAY there are things he STILL doesn't totally get (like why you just can't stop taking lamictal COLD TURKEY because you FEEL BETTER. ;) )

Obviously I didn't leave, but her not disclosing debt AND HER CONTINUED FINANCIAL IRRISPONSIBILITY is enough of a reason for him to pack his shit.

Did the advise lady use some crappy language and show insensitivity? Yeah. But that guy still has every right to not feel guilty if he goes.

I did try to imagine if it was diabetes or cancer instead of bp. If it was diabetes (or cancer), but she wasn't following her doctors recommendations, taking insulin (or chemo), but not really monitoring her blood sugar, still eating twinkies (or still smoking), if she lied about having it before marriage....HELL YEAH he is justified in leaving. ANYONE with a lifelong illness that requires constant monitoring and treatment to some level (Physical or mental) and doesn't disclose this to a spouse IS AN ASSHOLE! You are obligating someone else to the particulars of an illness they may not comprehend or even WANT to comprehend. You obligate future children to the consequences of the disease and have the possibility of them inheriting it in many cases. A spouse has the right to know what they are getting in to. It is just plain evil to obligate someone else to your problems without full disclosure.

Regardless of cancer, diabetes, bipolar, moon spots, or anal fissures.....still no excuse for financially fucking someone else up because you can't leave the credit cards and check book alone.

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Though Prudie does say 'it can be treated and controlled' she sounds doubtful that anyone with bipolar could ever be stable and like she really has little knowledge of the illness.

I would love it if she would please kiss my never-to-be-stable ass.

Yeah, that sucks. An ex told me a few weeks ago that he doesn't "trust" me now because I went off my meds and therefore the deepend when we were dating. He is all concerned about what happens if we have kids and I wig and he has to handle everything, and if I can have kids on meds, etc. All of his concerns are surrounding MI. This sucks.

So that's my knee-jerk reaction. Saying someone is an emotional terrorist is really bad. How about narcissist or whatever those actual, clinical names are.

Everyone else has good points. But personally I say ouch.

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Hi.

The reason I said I was imagining the "sell" for the story being "Can I Leave My Diabetic Wife?" was because BP is an illness, not something we choose, not something we do on purpose, not a hell we put others through for kicks or because we can't control ourselves. That's how I see it, that's how my doctor talks to me about it.

Wifezilla, I'm sorry if anything I said angered you. But in the story...

1. The woman is taking meds.

2. She did not know she had BP until AFTER the wedding. They learned the diagnosis together, as a couple.

I would never suggest that someone go into a marriage with BP and hide it from their future partner...or that such an action be considered okay.

I also would never suggest that a person married to someone with BP who is not seeking treatment or not complying with treatment and is nearly impossible to live with MUST stay with the BP partner. There's no moral imperative there. People need to look out for their own safety, sanity and well-being and decide what they want to do. I understand that.

I guess I would only add that there is surely another side to this story...and that the woman has only been in treatment for a year and a half. That's how long I have been in treatment. I am happy for the patience and love my family has given me as I have struggled my way through this period of trying to find meds that work, dealing with breakthrough episodes, etc. I see that everyone is not so fortunate...

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Hi Sallie,

Don't confuse mad with passion. I am not mad, but I do have a different perspective on this for obvious reasons. Plus I am a bit of a weirdo in general in my philosophies and ideas. (Just ask anyone who has been on the boards for a while...LOL)

That being said, I thought this line was key " she had a previous history of mental illness that she had concealed from me". Its not like he KNEW his wife had mental health issues, but there wasn't yet a label. It is that she didn't disclose it at all. Very big difference here.

And while she is taking meds now, I would need to see a history of continued treatment before I would tell this guy to go ahead and build a future with this woman. How many BP people go on, go off, go on, go off meds for years before they....

1. Comply with medication

2. Find an effective med combo

3. Realize it isn't ALL about meds and there may be other personality issues as well

4. Understand that bp (at this point) is forever

5. Realize the things in their lifestyle that they have to alter or change because it exasterbates their symptoms. Then actually go about changing them.

Like he said, the trust is totally gone. She blew that. If he feels he can't rebuild that with her, what is the point in them being together anymore anyway? I am just glad they didn't bring some kids in to this mess.

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The columnist is Ann Landers' daughter, FWIW.

I have long, long years invested in my stability and I have made huge sacrifices and literally destroyed and rebuilt myself from the bottom up to become stable. During all this I put my husband through hell. I think the term "emotional terrorist" pretty well describes some of the things I did when I was manic because I knew what I was doing but I didn't care because I was above petty little things like other people's feelings. My mania is a vicious, nasty thing that runs over anyone and anything in my path.

When I would crash I would stay in a dark room for days and my husband would have to force me to eat and to come out and tell my children I wasn't dead.

Either end is hell - and I'm not sure who's hell was worse. Whether what happened was under my control or not does not alleviate my responsibility for the fallout. The woman in the letter also has a responsibility for evading and lying.

My advice to the guy would be to haul ass.

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being bp leaves us, and i'm not trying to use this as an excuse for poor behavior, but it leaves us in a state where we may not have the best judgement sometimes. sometimes bp people just have issues, despite therapies or medications. this article is incomplete and misleading about bipolar disorder.

it is his choice if he wants to be with someone who will have issues sometimes, with those issues sometimes being minor and sometimes major, or not. there are of course things she can do on her own to help manage her disorder, and things they can do as a couple to help their relationship.

what it comes down to is their mutual desire to commit. if he sees that because you never get better from bp and that bp symptoms are no excuse for bad behavior (they're not, but the symptoms are symptoms is what i'm saying), then he does need to haul ass. but if he is willing to understand that we live in a different world in a way and that some things are really beyond our control, and that we're not emotional terrorists but victims of a terrorist inside of ourselves, then he can work with her to make their relationship work.

i've been on both sides of the fence. my ex husband had depression so bad that he wouldn't get a job, wouldn't do anything productive, and spent a lot of time in bed. i was supporting us (even though i was very sick at the time) and one day, couldn't take it anymore. i knew he was sick and it wasn't his fault, and that he put up with a lot because of my bp just like i dealt with his depression. but even i couldn't take it anymore. i left him during a mania. my mania lasted 3-4 months and nothing my pdoc did could bring it down. when i came to my senses i was sorry i had left my husband, but glad in a way too. he had chosen not to live life. this is a symptom of depression and is no reflection on depressed people, just like the "terrorism" of bp is not a reflection on bp people.

i still wonder what could have been. we were both young- we were 22- and i guess i just wasn't mature enough to handle that kind of enormity. i couldn't handle my own sickness and his too.

now this guy is "normal". can he understand that she isn't a terrorist but is a victim herself, and be by her side? we can and can't hold her accountable.

i think the article is too harsh on bipolar people and makes us into criminals. we shouldn't feel that way about ourselves or let society paint us into that box. those with MI have come a long way towards bringing MI into the mainstream and getting others to understand and help. we don't have to support things being said about us that are incomplete and misleading.

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