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Husband of 27 yrs with bipolar disorder . Unappreciated and unwilling to help himself. I'm feeling isolated and lonely. Would like to contact people with similar situations for tips and advice. Need help and advice.

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Contact NAMI - ASAP - and tell them your looking for local resources. Depending on where you live, there may be a day program that you can take your husband to for respite relief. Where we live (Arizona), there is such a program; members participate in activities (like going to the movies, going to the State Fair, overnight camping trips and the such) or they stay at the local center and do arts/crafts, take GED classes, etc. Transportation is provided. It's a fantastic program. NAMI may also help you find group homes that are specific to residents with any SMI diagnosis for caregiving respite relief. Arizona also has these. I'm the birth daughter of parent who has schizoaffective disorder. I grew up in America's mental healthcare system and our family story in dealing with a parent with an SMI is an Oscar-winner. No doubt.
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I am the daughter of a mother with lifetime untreated or mis-treated mental illness. Bi-polar, Cluster B, periodic psychotic breaks, anxiety, depression.
This affected her ability to control her many other physical diseases & problems that aggravated her mental illness symptoms. Welcome to the carousel of crazy.

This can't be fixed with tips and ideas. That's like putting a bandaid on gangrene.
You can't make him do anything. Only a court order can. You can't fix him. None of this is your fault. I am so sorry you are caught in the middle of this hurricane.
You can't reason with a hurricane to quiet down and be a little spring shower.

I can tell you the toll it took on my father aged him very quickly. He died at 56 from his 5th heart attack, just a few months after a stroke. It was the stress of living with this woman and trying to be my human shield so I didn't grow up too damaged. The afternoon before he died, she had been on a rampage all day long, screaming, threatening, stomping, snorting, acting like a ticked off bull. When he died, she instantly became the surprised grieving little steadfast wife who could only talk about how wonderful their marriage had been and how she didn't know how she could go on. It made me sick to hear it.

YOU have got to take care of YOU. You may have to take some steps that seem drastic out of self preservation. Doing so does not mean you no longer love your husband or value him as a person or have given up on your marriage. It means you are not willing to go down with the ship. Don't go down with the ship. I often wonder if dad would still be here if he had been able to cut us loose from her. I can tell you who I'd rather be taking care of instead of who I am caretaking.

My mother would never accept she had these problems, and therefore would not accept treatment. Everything wrong was the world's fault. She was a helpless victim in her own life. If a doctor wanted her to go to counseling or see a psychiatrist, she would become exceedingly angry, tell him off, and never see that doctor again. She wanted pills. If she couldn't walk out of the appointment with a new script for "her nerves", she would keep trying until she did. It is a total miracle this woman is still alive and never overdosed herself. She had erratic, unpredictable behavior, and would sometimes adopt a different personality. It was a real treat.

Next time he is cycling up & down and behaving abusively - even just verbally - leave. Plan ahead for this. I don't know if you can walk out the door to a coffee shop or get in the car and go to the mall and walk for a while (which is what dad & I would do). If he tries to stop you, call the police and place a domestic abuse report. Prepare for a great big show on his part when the police show up, and how it's all your fault for misunderstanding him.

Use the words "I do not feel safe here with him for a minute." Do not let him persuade you to back off.

Do not announce what you are going to do before you do it because that gives him the upper hand. Just do what you're going to do. No explanations. No warnings. Say "I'll be back later". Find a way to hide money and duplicate house & car keys somewhere he can't find them. Like with a neighbor in a flower pot or something.

When he's calm you may be able to say that "I leave when you get so agitated it's scary. I will come back when you are calm and in control again." Don't get pulled into some long discussion about whether or not you love him or are loyal.

There will be gaslighting, manipulation, and mind games like the Olympics. You will see some award winning theatrics. Stand fast.

If you don't stand up for yourself, get your own help and coping tools, it will be very destructive to you physically and mentally. You can do this. Please connect with local resources in your community for yourself. And let us know how it's going.

Stay safe. Be smart.
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NAMI, online.
NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL, families of.

Start with the local 6-8 week class, learn about the illnesses.

If your spouse has a co-occuring condition such as drugs or alcohol, or dementia you will need this class.

Get your own therapy, and/or attend an alanon support group. Alanon because they teach how to detach with love, have your own life, and work through your own safety issues of whether or not you should stay.

If your husband is not in treatment, things could get more difficult very fast.
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Star, I don't have any experience in this area but wondered if your husband is seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, and if they might know of some support groups that you could join. You probably will get some responses to your question here, but there's a real benefit to being in a live support group and interacting spontaneously with others. The trick is to find one for people with bipolar disorder.

You could also contact your local hospitals and ask if they either sponsor a support group or know of any, but I think trying to find one through the psychological or psychiatric profession might be a better route.

There might also be some forums specific to bipolar disorders that could be of help.
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