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Q:  Dear David,

     Thank you for your forum for questions regarding bipolar and relationships.

     I was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2000.  I have been out of work twice ( both times for eight weeks for depression)  I have been stable on a mixture of  mood stabilizers and at times antidepressants.

 About 18 months ago my husband lost his job  and I returned to work full time for our medical benefits.  He has since found work but is not making the money he was making before.  I really want to cut back my hours (about 20 hours) because I am feeling overwhelmed much of the time raising two teenagers.  He thinks that because of the income he lost as a result of his being laid off I should continue to work so we can rebuild or savings.  Our house is always a mess , I would like to spend more time with my aging parent  and be able to spend once in awhile getting together with my  friends.

How can I make him realize how important it is for me to stay healthy for our family's sake?

Thank you!

Dear K,
     You really have several choices for yourself here......you can continue to work until the level of stress becomes too great for you to work in which case there will likely be a heavy toll on both you and your family, or you can anticipate this "trigger" as you already feel "overwhelmed" and head it off before things get too out of control.  Try to sit down with your husband and explain it too him in this manner- for individuals with bipolar disorder, stress will eventually influence your mood state which will influence your day-to- ay job performance.  Your ability to work needs to be based on your mental health, not your husband's earnings otherwise you will soon be forced out of working altogether by your own health needs.  Since you have been out of work before, you know (and I believe) that your best advocate in these circumstances is your doctor in justifying the need for a break.  Try bringing your husband to your next appointment and ask your doctor to help back you up in explaining the need to 'stay healthy for your family's sake'.  Good luck.

David Schafer, M.Ed.
Staff Psychologist

Published June, 2006

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