Skip to main content
Forums Home
Illustration of people sitting and standing

New here?

Chat with other people who 'Get it'

with health professionals in the background to make sure everything is safe and supportive.


Have an account?

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Our stories

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

Hey @SJT63


I'm sorry to hear the impact this has had on you. We know a lot goes into writing and sharing a post, and members may not find the edited post reflects their experience. The forums being safe, consistent and in line with our community guidelines is really important to us. 


What you are going through sounds so serious, so I hope you continue to use the forums for support. Please email us at if you have any questions. We are always keen to work with members on how they can use the forums in a way that benefits them and the community. 


Warmest 🌻

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

Hi @SJT63 


Sorry it's taken me a few hours to write to you, I'm pretty run down myself.


I read your post, read it, not just skimmed it.


I hope that means something a least, that you've been able to openly share with just one other person.


I'm glad you had a nice couple of days to yourself with only a couple of interruptions.


I'm wondering...who else are you actually talking to about this? Do you have even one close friend you can honestly share with.


I've been sharing with two close friends and it has helped so much.


The hardest part in my relationship is the chronic and constant feeling I'm not being listened to and considered.


I have tried to express myself to my partner many times and he has three ways of responding:


1) Ignore

2) Take it as a criticism and get defensive

3) Tell me I'm wrong


I've found some comfort in this forum (you in particular), talking with the SANE counsellors (I have called 3 times) and my two friends.


I've also been reading a great book, "I'm not sick, I don't need help" by Xavier Amador. He explains how to better deal with someone with a MI. I actually think some of what he explains is relevant to all relationships, business, personal. Specifically 'reflective listening'.


As I mentioned, I'm now in a hotel.


How this came about was my partner finally surfaced from the hotel yesterday. We were able to talk about things (which I know is a lot more than you can manage in your situation). When he asked what should we do from here, I said give ourselves some time to work it out.


I said here are our options:

1) You stay with your parents (we're in his hometown - I know no-one here)

2) We stay in separate rooms in the apartment

3) One of us goes to a hotel


He chose number 3. And has he had been in a hotel all week, I offered to go to the hotel.


With my abandonment issues, this is actually quite triggering for me. But you know what, I thought to myself, at least I'll have a chance to hear myself think as his 'crisis' is now over.


I don't have a lot of extra cash, and I would usually be quite budget conscious, but I realised this was not a time to be stingy with myself. I needed to be really generous (nurturing).


So I booked a really nice hotel with a great pool. I checked in yesterday and went to the pool as that's always been my happy place.


I actually wish I could do the same for you. 


You know how it's easier to do these thing for others than it is to do them for yourself.


Anyway, I got up, went for a training session. Took myself to breakfast, read your post, chatted to both my friends, ate lunch, cried a bit, heard back from a support group about a meeting tonight and now I write to you.


Part of what I've learned this week is mismanaged/unmanaged bipolar makes it difficult for the person to get outside their own head. EVERYTHING is about then. And they can't help it.


I've read the posts on her from carers and those 'living with it' and you know what. We carers spend a lot of time/energy talking about them. That's not a two way street.


Back to your situation at hand.


I would recommend staying somewhere else tonight. What exactly do you have to lose? Nothing!


I would highly recommend being more generous with yourself that what you're currently considering.


Another small tip I've learned over the years. A gym membership is an awesome way to ensure you always have access to a hot shower and a hairdryer.


Also, you made reference to your neighbours, how they could overhear what was said. I could hear how painful that was for you. I understand. 


I guess you get to decide if that's where you draw your boundary? From all your posts, I've yet to get a sense of where you boundary is exactly. He eats (melts) icecream in your bed, your up helping him get ready for his hobby, your raising his boys. I don't even know how to describe the beanie situation??


Except to say this... in a previous relationship, my partner and I did a holiday in a campervan around Canada in May. One night, he woke me up because his head was cold and he needed a beanie.


I remember saying to him it was not ok to wake me up from my sleep to solve your beanie problem. And he never did again.


I was hugely supportive to this partner (too many details to go into here), but that was crossing the line.


So in summary, my advice.... yes, get to a place where you and hear yourself think. Stay there until your thoughts clearly. Be generous to yourself. Why else do you work if not to care for yourself?


Reach out - your friend, your daughter?? Can you stay with someone? Even if you don't want to share the details, being around someone stable is a helpful thing.


I hope this is helpful!


Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

@HoneyOne how to describe the beanie situation? People with BD and people who have had ECT have memory problems, he has both, so he can never remember where he's put things. I spend a lot of time finding things for  him. I stop whatever I'm doing (turn off the stove, pause the telly or wrap a towel around me) and search until I find whatever it is. Losing things is a huge trigger and if I don't find whatever it is quickly enough the situation escalates into "voicing his concerns" about things that may have happened to him up to 20 years ago. At various times I've been instructed to purchase 20 torches (pairs of scissors, beanies, reading glasses, sun hats etc) all the same, so he can have them positioned all over the property to maximise his chance of finding one when necessary. I haven't done that (yet).


I don't have boundaries, I am a professional doormat and always have been. I am aware of it and control it as best I can. About two years ago I had some therapy where we drilled down and I was able to let go of continued and desperate attempts to make my son love me. Things got a lot easier when I stopped trying to please him and got on with my own life; he moved out when I dared to suggest he should contribute to food and bills (he was 26 at the time). I could never tell my daughter about what is happening, she'd be furious and possibly send her uncles around to throw my partner out. Easy to hide it when she lives in England.


A lot more than the eating of ice-cream goes on in my bed during the night to wake me up every couple of hours. Not last night. I booked an airbnb close to work for the rest of the week so last night I woke up a lot of times but not for hours, just enough time to have pee and panadol and go back to sleep.


The phone calls started about an hour after I should have been home. I didn't pick up and four messages were left "please call me". I sent a text saying that seeing as his last instruction to me was not to come home I had chosen to stay elsewhere and that I was safe, he needn't worry about me. He feigned confusion. I left it at that. On one hand I feel guilty and ashamed of myself for doing this to him but I called his sister last night (on your advice) and she is fully supportive of me, she doesn't understand why I put up with as much as I do.


A couple of times in the past I have popped down to his mum or sister who live just south of the closed border but that hasn't been an option this year, even when the borders were open, as mum is 80 and it's just not worth the risk of taking covid from the big city to a small regional community.


I am glad you are taking care of yourself. I wish I could be more pro-active about such things. I also know what it's like to live in a strange city. Even though I've been here 17 years, when you get divorced and move interstate in your 40's you don't really make new friends. I have a lot of family here, but when he had his first breakdown, about 6 weeks after I'd met him, I didn't cut and run. They didn't understand so no one really contacts me any more. At the time I simply couldn't turn my back on any human being who needed my help as much as that man did at that time. Martyrdom is hard work.


I have tried to express myself to my partner many times and he has three ways of responding:

1) Ignore

2) Take it as a criticism and get defensive

3) Tell me I'm wrong


Mine takes it at criticism, tells me I'm wrong, and then somehow turns it around so that I am the bad guy again. Not helped by my mea culpa attitude to life.


Abandonment issues do not apply. You are not being abandoned, you are taking refuge from an untenable situation... or doing the abandoning yourself. Deep down, I don't think anyone wants to be alone. I know I certainly don't.


I am booked in (6 minutes from my office!) until Friday morning. I don't know whether I will last that long or if I will cave and go home. I have a hair appointment on Thursday night (near home) so I might cancel that or I might go home afterwards... I dunno. Today I have to try and catch up on all the work I didn't do Thurdsay, Friday or yesterday but the boss is off-site today so I get a lot more done without constant interruptions. He knows something is up (I've worked here 12 years) but would never comment. They are all men in my office (engineering) and while we are not close, we are very comfortable in each others' presence after so many years (I am still the new girl).


I will leave you with this, that I wrote not long after I first met him. 


The human marches through the urban struggle

breaks his back and breaks his heart and soldiers on

amid the chaos and the choking weeds of reality


Through lonely nights and busy days and what we must

and what we can and what we should

to make the world within our view the best we can


The human was not made for ruts and sameness

which is not the same as safe and warm which crave all hearts

from underneath the blankets of alone


We crave the touch, deserve the warmth

and function on a higher, braver level when all our strength

is drawn from not just one lone human heart


For life was made and will be taken, maybe soon

and what the human chooses to become, or not -

to share, to feel, to love, to live -  or not –

has always been a choice



Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?


Where you live is where I'm from. Right now I'm in the most farthest spot form there.


If I tell you I'm actually an engineer, you'll likely have a better appreciation for my direct and solutions-focused communication.


I'm trying to be a better listener, but forgive me if my advise is bossy or annoying.


But at the same time, you've got to be highly logical, pragmatic and solutions-focused. 17 years with Engineers. And you know what, Engineers are very stable people. They won't ever ask you directly if something is wrong, I imagine, but they're extremely consistent.


So that's good, great choice to get a place near the office, near stability and familiarity.


The hotel I'm staying at is right near 'our' meaning 'his' apartment. Which means I'm more familiar with this area, which gives me a sense of stability.


Last night, I went to a group counselling session. It was REALLY helpful. It is specific for carers for those with MI.


We spoke about symptoms of Bipolar and behaviours. What is bipolar and what is personality. 


I know for me, that when I understand what's going on, my logical brain kicks in and I can start making rational (safe) decisions for myself.


I borrowed the car from my partner to go to the session as it was 1 hour drive each way.


On my way home, he message me and asked if I'd like to have a home cooked meal. I declined for a few reasons.


First reason, I had already purchased some dinner for myself. I knew I'd want to eat as soon as I got back to my room and didn't want to wait for room service or in a restaurant.


Second reason, I enjoyed the night before. A bath with TV and a champagne. I didn't feel like seeing him. I sense he was lonely and wanted me to again fill that void.


So I went to my room and enjoyed the peace and tranquility. For the first time in a while, I can hear my own thoughts and wants. It feels so nice.


I'd already had a week, last week, in the apartment dealing with the 'abandonment' issues. The week was really tough, my central nervous system was seriously activated. I felt let my nerves were going to catch on fire.


I wonder how it was for you, you've now had a couple of days by yourself? Have you gotten over the initial shock of being alone?


Following those messages from my partner, I invited him to write to me about his feelings. The first time he did such a thing was the day prior, before then his feelings were locked away.


I think the research he'd done on abandonment for me had a significant impact on him also. He mentioned being able to see his own traits in there. Something he'd never been open to hearing about previously, despite YEARS of one-on-one counselling.


He sent me this video which I watched this morning and I thought it was great.


I would highly recommend watching it for two reasons. One, you never know if it will resonate with you??? Two, it's good to have 'healthy' activities waiting for you for when you're alone.


I know you like sewing. I'm hoping you have your machine with you this time? But if you don't. Maybe you can plan what you want to make next.... spend some time choosing fabric, etc.


The video on abandonment explains a little about connection with self, particularly the inner child.


I know that's been a big problem for me since being with my partner. Because he's so noisy with his needs etc, I can't hear my own. So I liked that video because it explains why connection is so important and the difference between things that are 'good' for you and things that are 'indulgent'.


I'm not sure if I've previously mentioned this videos which I found on this forum. They are great also. For me, it's helpful to understand what Bipolar is and what should the person be doing for themselves.


I got more value from the first video (it's 1 hour). If you don't want to watch the whole thing, maybe just the last 5 mins of the first video. It covers what the person should do for themselves.


I would suggest evaluating your partner against the list in the videos. 


(think forum doesn't like the link to videos so I'll try to put them in a different post)


And my final piece of advice, please stay at the airbnb until Friday. There is a reason YOU booked it until FRIDAY! 


This will give you some space to think and feel for yourself and yourself.




Month: July 2015Speaker: Dr Patrick McKeonTitle: Bipolar Disorder: what it is and what to doSummary: Dr McKeon's lecture explores in detail: - What is Bipola...

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?



Found these talks about bipolar by Dr Patrick McKeon really helpful

Bipolar - what is it & what to do

Bipolar - Preventing relapse

Month: July 2015Speaker: Dr Patrick McKeonTitle: Bipolar Disorder: what it is and what to doSummary: Dr McKeon's lecture explores in detail: - What is Bipola...

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

@HoneyOne thanks Honey, I didn't look at the videos last night because I really needed to stop thinking for a bit but I will tonight.


I studied engineering for a couple of years in the 80's before the pull of the stage took over. In the end it was easier to marry an engineer than to finish my degree but that only lasted 25 years. I've done a lot of things but now I'm sick of working in an office so I'm training as a civil celebrant in my spare time.


I have not  heard from him, which is good, but also has me worried. Today I will try and knuckle down and get some actual work done. I have files all over the place and emails from last week I haven't even opened yet, let alone processed and created job files for. What I had the most is Operational Works submissions and I have three to do this week...ugh.... Council Box-Tickers who have never even seen a pipe drive me nuts.


What sort of an engineer are you? Ex-husband was a materials engineer, I work now in civil/structural, bipolar partner was a architectural draftsman before other physical conditions saw him have to give up work, now he's too volatile to hold down a job even if his body would let him.


Have a good one x

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

Hi @SJT63 


Really nice to hear from you and to hear about you!


I'm currently sitting at a cafe after just having my hair washed and blowdried. I think that's my fav 'self-care' activity.


I'm a Civil Engineer. When I was studying at University, I got asked a few times if I followed a boyfriend into Civil Engineering. Ha! No I did not. I actually topped my mathematics class in Year 11.


I'm amazing at your combination... engineering and theatre! Very unique.


Being a marriage celebrate would be great! Focused on love and happiness.


I often wonder why I'm drawn to work that's more problem solving focused rather than love, enjoyment, joy focused.


No one's ever unhappy walking into a ice-cream shop, for example. Why don't I do that?


Anyways... I had a very lovely friend explain a concept that came to him in the middle of the night.


Responsible for v responsible to


He explained, you are not responsible for your partner, however you are responsible to your partner.


Things you are responsible for include your children and your pet. As well as YOURSELF, most importantly.


It's not your job to be responsible FOR your partner. They are responsible for THEMSELVES and you are responsible for YOURSELF.


I try to remember this.


So, yes, things might be bad at your house. But your are not responsible for him. He is.


You might have to deal with the aftermath, but quite frankly, you are already.


There must be ice cream on those bedsheets already hey??


My partner and I spoke about our emotions and needs for 6 hours yesterday. That is the first time I feel like my feelings and needs have had proper airtime.


He said, during his research on abandonment for me, he realised this also applies to him.


He was worried that he was again making things about him. However, I was welcoming of his interest in self exploration.


He asked me specifically about my relationship previous to him. Which during the last week, I've come to realise has impacted me more than I thought.


With his questions to me and the research he's done, I feel more acknowledged and seen in the relationship.


So we agreed to each work on our abandonment issues separately and together.


We have a list of things that should shift the dynamic of the relationship to be more balanced.


So we're going to try those things and see how it goes.


Along this journey, I've realised how hard I work to get people to love me. I'm tired. And this approach has never worked.


So now, I'm not going to work for love.


I'm not too sure how that looks /operates right now, but sometimes you don't know the answers.


So how are you feeling about your situation? Has your body had a chance to unwind yet?


I too have a lot of work mounting up... I know my body is accustomed to running on adrenaline. I know I need to change this too.


Hope you're having a clam and productive day!




Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?


I think calm and productive are beyond the realm of possibility at the moment. I'm sleeping better than I do at home, but not well enough to wake up refreshed. I'm suffering from not being in my own space as I do at home now that my space has been stolen from me. There is no solace anywhere except maybe in my car, which I love, but I also can't just keep driving. 


I'm so pleased you and your old mate are talking about important things. They always make everything about them don’t they? That’s not just the MI that is generations of entitlement. I get accused of making everything about me all the time if I dare to suggest something, anything, isn't all about him.


One of the things I dealt with in therapy a couple of years ago was this visceral need I seemed to have to please men. Partners, sons, colleagues – it all goes back to upbringing and the not-so-productive relationship I had with my mother. My folks were super old when I was born, my siblings are 25 years older than me, so I was very much raised with pre-war attitudes to gender roles. My head knew that was wrong, but my inner psyche kept trying to be Grace Sullivan (who you're probably too young to remember - that's what Google is for).


I got sent to do engineering because I was good at maths and physics. I was actually admitted to the Melbourne Conservatorium to study clarinet but my parents wouldn’t let me go because music isn’t a real job. (I still play.) After a couple of years I was just so disinterested that I started failing a few subjects so I ran away from home (aged 20) and deferred.


I watched the second video last night, about preventing relapses. It's all stuff that we've talked about. We both know that when he stops sleeping things are about to take a turn for the worse, but knowing it and preventing it are two very different things. It takes hold of him very quickly and then he can't let go. 


A lot of what was said in the video was relevant, living in the past and remembering every little thing that's ever been "done to him". I say with confidence now that we have been in a mixed state of dysphoric hypomania, since May 26th, categorised by extreme irritability and aggression. No wonder we’re both exhausted.


I have kept a spreadsheet charting his moods for about 18 months now. This week I sent it to his psychiatrist. Dr Whatsisname in the video said charting moods was a very helpful thing so I hope it helps her even if it is from my perspective rather than his.


I can’t imagine NOT working hard to get people to love me, although since I recognized my patterns and motivations I am way better at saying no to people that ever I was before. Being really, really good at a whole lotta stuff is quite a curse because people are always asking you to do, fix, make for them. I am learning not to take on more than I can accomplish in the time available.


For example, the vege garden has been so productive over winter that I’m spending a whole lot of time processing and preserving on the weekend… ergo… I’ve had to call a halt to the soap and yoghurt making and just buy it for a while…. And after a couple of weeks I’m not feeling guilty about it (much).

Almost a year ago I thought he really needed something else to do besides build toy aeroplanes so I brought home a tomato seedling. Now the entire back yard and some of the front is all under cultivation (that’s the Aspy coming out). It’s been very good for his self-esteem and great exercise for him – not to mention a whole lot more work for me that just bringing it home from the market.


Celebrancy – my calling is much more for funerals than weddings. I’d lose patience with the Bridezillas but I am very, very good at empathy. I’ve spoken at a several funerals and have always been approached by the director to take it up professionally. I’ll get qualified to do weddings as that’s where the money is, but I want to help people through their hardest times, it’s what I do best and what makes me the most happy. I don't want to still be working 9 to 5 in an office when I turn 60 in a couple of years.


On the bedsheets will be ice-cream, chocolate, biscuit crumbs, cat hair, chocolate milk, dirt from his shoes – without me home he has probably also smoked in there. I smoke, but not in the house. He will not have bathed and will still be in the same clothes that he put on last Sunday morning before he went flying. Gardening, sleeping and getting up again in the same garments – lather rinse, repeat – but without the lather or the rinsing.


I have always found Julie's blog/articles on very comforting.


Love, S




Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

Hey @HoneyOne 

That was a tough read, I can't imagine where you've found the strength to cope in your relationship, it sounds incredibly challenging.


In answer to your question, how do you know when you're done, I'd ask you to answer this:

If your partner didn't have a mental illness and behaved the way they are, would you still be with them? If he still cheated, still controlled, but he didn't have a mentail illness, would you still be together?


If you really are determined to make your relationship work, which is entirely your decision, my advice would be to create and adhere to boundaries. Ask yourself what you need in your relationship, how you would like to be treated in your relationship, and what needs to happen to acheive those things. Write it out and if it's possible, talk about it in counselling with your partner. Your partner has a mental illness, yes, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your needs. You should be treated with kindness and if your partner is committed to you and your relationship, they should be open to hearing what your needs are. If they can't or won't accommodate your needs in the relationship, then is it worth it? Is it something you still want to fight for? 

Re: Living with a Bipolar partner - How do you know when you've had enough?

Hi @saltandpepper 


Thank you for your supportive words.


I have done just as you suggested and set some clear boundaries. I'll tagged you in the thread with post for today to @SJT63 so you can see exactly what they are.


I think life throws challenges at you, if you can handle them.


And my challenge has been knowing my needs and making them a priority.


I'm seeing this relationship as the place to FINALLY sort through that challenge.


Thank you again for your support


Illustration of people sitting and standing

New here?

Chat with other people who 'Get it'

with health professionals in the background to make sure everything is safe and supportive.


Have an account?

For urgent assistance:

Skylight Logo

Address: 5 Cooke Terrace,
Wayville SA 5034
Phone: (08) 8378 4100
ABN: 85 595 741 081

Follow Us

Contact Us

Client 1

Skylight respectfully acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of South Australia and celebrates all people who call this land home