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Q:  HELP!!!!! My boyfriend of over a year and i believe he has bi-polar  disorder along with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.We are both young(22yrs.old).He and i have been having problems for a while now.  He agrees with me and says he knows he has bp, because his dad did.  He refuses to be put on medicine.  He thinks its a mind issue and he can control  it himself.  He has all the symptoms, except contemplating suicide.  My family and friends think i am being naive.  They are begging me to leave him.I love him and dont want to lose him,but also dont want to be a victim of his rage.  He has never outright slapped me or punched me in the face.  But he aggravates me ex: pinching, pulling me, pushing and so on.  I think he is verbally abuse, and he's getting worse. but when i tell him it hurts me and to not call me stupid or worthless he turns it around on me. he says "you know i didnt mean it and would never lay a hand on you".  Now i am trying to figure out if i am being naive and if it is worth me staying with someone as hardhead as he is.  We fight almost everyday now.  if he is tired or hungry he will over-react to anything i say.  he also doesnt have health insurance and though ive made an effort to call around and try and find a clinic to help him he doesnt seem to see this as a big deal.  am i being naive?  does he sound bi-polar?

PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear H,
     You are being physically and verbally abused by a hardheaded person   who refuses to get help (in your own words) and then does not apologize for his actions because "you know I didn't mean it and would never lay a hand on you".  H, put the psychiatric labels aside for a minute.  These things your boyfriend does are his CHOICES, not some mystical influence caused by a mental illness.  You really need to look inside yourself to try to find the reasons why you continue to need this kind of attention from him and not a kinder, more gentle approach like the one you might imagine or prefer in your mind.

     Having a father who had BP does NOT guarantee that his son will have BP- it increases ones chances by up to 30% on the average.  Untreated BP disorder ALWAYS leads to trouble. Your boyfriend should know this.  Bipolar disorder is a biochemical disorder much like diabetes and requires lifelong medical treatment and re-evaluation.

      Select a physician or psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about bipolar disorder.  Be relentless in getting the correct diagnosis.  Encourage your boyfriend to communicate openly about all of his behaviors and symptoms and select a psychiatrist who is persistent in getting as much accurate information from him as possible.  Keep appointments to properly manage the disease and encourage your boyfriend to stay on his treatment.

     H, you cannot force your boyfriend to change but you can get clear and set clear boundaries about what you need and expect him to do in order to stay together.  The choice is yours.

David Schafer, M.Ed.
Staff Psychologist

Published May, 2006


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