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Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

Hi,

My husband of 7 years has just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and is currently in a mental health facility trying to get stable on meds and to deal with trauma that has surfaced from his childhood. I am over 1000km away from him in the bush where we live and am feeling scared and alone. The last 6 months have been absolute hell. I am barely keeping things together myself and live with an anxiety disorder.

 

i know very little about bipolar and have been looking up a bit about it but I just don’t even know where to begin. Everything is a mess. He is now on lithium but is still all over the place telling me he loves me one day and the next day never to contact him again. 

 

He he has had memories come up of traumatic bullying and abuse by his family as a child and I am walking on eggshells when talking to him at the moment because he is taking fairly normal things I am saying and accusing me of trying to control him and bully him. Eg. yesterday he asked for some space, I left him and then texted him a few hours later asking if it was ok to call him about something and he flipped out, told me I was not respecting his boundaries, that I am trying to control him and I am bullying him just like his father and to never contact him again. 

 

He then apparently broke down and cried in front of one of the nurses but would not tell her what is was about but asked for some medication. A little while later after taking the medication he messaged me and apologised saying that he is sorry how he is over reacting to certain things and that it’s out of his control at the moment. 

 

I am scared to even say things to him now in case he gets angry again. I don’t know what all this means now for our future, I just want my husband back but I feel like I have lost him forever. Last week there were a couple of days of him being more like himself but the memories of his childhood showed up and that person has gone again now.

 

During a manic phase last year he got up to all sorts of things which I don’t hold against him as it was the disorder but there was a fair amount of lying and that has stuck with me. He is not telling me a lot about what he is doing for treatment etc at the facility he is in  and it feels very secretive which has really upset me. I want to be a part of his treatment.

 

i could go on for hours about everything that has happened/is happening but I should stop now as this is getting quite long.

 

I would appreciate some advice/support. Thanks

 

6 REPLIES

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

Hi @Cloud9

It is an awfully confusing time when bipolar enters our loved ones lives and things change.

 

There is a lot of grief in a diagnosis both for the patient and their loved ones and as with a lot of chronic conditions can put a strain on the most resilient of relationships. 

 

I am assuming as his in in hospital hubby is in an acute episode and as it is "early days" in relation to his diagnosis.  He may as not yet see the benefits of including you in his care. (It is well documented that appropriate carer support leads to better outcomes). 

 

Hopefully he has given his permission for you to be contacted and the treatment team are in communication with you. They should be able to provide you with information about supports available to you. Even without permission, as a caregiver, you are still entitled to generic information. If he is in a public hospital there are rules about working with caregivers, particularly if he is involuntary.

In very remote areas the Flying Doctor provides mental health services in conjunction with GP services. (https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/what-we-do/mental-health/

 

There are online and over the phone support services available. Carers Australia offer a number of free counseling services which can be done over the phone (   http://www.carersaustralia.com.au) and I believe GROW are soon to have online meetings (https://www.grow.org.au/join-a-grow-group/). I am not sure if these will be for patients only or for carers but perhaps worth checking out. 

 

Tele consults are often used for specialist or psychology services and ramping up your own care might be helpful.  A lot of us carers do see counselor or psychologists to help us cope with the ups and downs of our loved ones and to provide psych education so we provide appropriate support.

 

Other organisations may also provide services, if you let me know what state you are in I can send you a list.

 

My husband has a BPii+ diagnosis (more depression, less mania), some of us seasoned travellers,  feel free to ask anything at all. 

 

Darcy

 

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

Hi,

Thankyou for your reply. I am going to give carers Australia a call and see how I go for a bit of support. 

 

When I went with my husband for admission to the hospital he told them I have permission to talk to anyone there about his meds, treatment, how he is going etc. He has been there 2 weeks now and nobody is keeping me updated with how he is going except him and I am not sure if I can believe some of what he is saying. Every time I have called I get a different nurse who most of the time appears to not know what is going on. I have been trying to get in contact with his treating Psychiatrist but she has not phoned me back. He is also not getting any one on one therapy in regards to living with bipolar and is only going to group which is revolves around anxiety and depression. I am worried for him. This is all new to me so I don’t know what to expect from him being in hospital.

 

I am heartbroken. I just want my husband back. I feel like I have lost him forever. I have barely seen the husband I know in many many months. I’ve had a couple of moments but then he is gone again. He told me this morning “I miss being me”. Will he ever come back? He has been on his medication now at a therapeutic level only for about a week or so. How long can it take until he starts to become stable again?

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

@Cloud9

Meds can take a while to work (varies between patients)  and it is important to understand that they are not a cure but rather the goal is to reduce the severity of mood swings enabling a patient to function better.  Not all meds work for all patients either so it can often be  trial and error to find something that works and is acceptable (a lot of trial and error in our case 😬.) My Mr Darcy has a paper mood chart to monitor his moods but there are online apps available too. Mr D is not at all medically literate and I am the one that keeps an eye on interactions for the meds he is on - i.e. should the need arise for pain relief (NSAIDs are out), antifungals are another potential problem for us - you can check the CMI for this.

 

Meds are not without side effects and  this can lead to non compliance in a lot of patients.  While the risk.v benefit should have been explained to your man (along with the necessary monitoring needed) it is important to have open communication on the subject as there are a few options available.  As you are possibly aware the word 'recovery'  is used in MI whereas 'remission' is probably more reflective of what is achievable.

 

Whilst one on one therapy sessions have not been started, hopefully the premise of taking responsibility to take steps to manage ones disorder is being instilled.  Having a safe place whether it be group or individual counseling where learning how to move forward and not be stuck in the dysfunctional responses as a result of childhood trauma is an integral part of the recovery process and hopefully psychology sessions will be set up prior to discharge.

 

BP is a bit like diabetes in that to maximize wellness it takes more than just meds to manage the condition. Lifestyle factors such as sleep hygiene, alcohol restriction, exercise, stress reduction etc. all make a difference. Looking at what can be gained from these changes rather than focussing on loss can be helpful. 

 

There is a lot of grief in a diagnosis both for the patient and their carer.  Accepting the new reality can be difficult. As you say we want our old husband's back. The approach that worked best for was reassuring my husband I was there for him, I would support and encourage him to live well in spite of his diagnosis, tackling issues together as they crop up. It is not all doom and gloom and there is still enjoyable life to be had.  

 

Setting boundaries around what is and is not acceptable behaviour  might be necessary to help protect ones heart. Things done in depression are often easier to forgive than the excessive spending, sexual transgressions or other offences done in mania.  

 

Coming on the forum to vent is one of the ways a lot of us carers deal with the negative emotions. There are also social threads as we often need things to lighten things up a bit as the cares we have can be a bit heavy duty, are you a dog or cat person?

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

PS @Cloud9

On Friday evenings they have a "Friday Feast" on the lived experience side. They usually pick a travel destination for a virtual visit. 

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

Hello @Cloud9 and welcome to the forum

My husband has Bipolar 11 and inherited depression and anxiety

when my mr shaz was in hospital he only wanted me and his daughter there , no one else

we live 60 kms away from the hospital so I was able to stay atthe red cross accodation which was nextto the hospital

and they also had a family meeting which is was just meand mr shaz

@Darcy

Re: Advice and support - husband just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1

How are things going @Cloud9

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