Q: Hi David,
I hope maybe you can give some input as to if I am dealing with a bipolar
man or something else.
I met a man a year ago who was everything I could ever want. We talked of
marriage but because he lived in a different state and my children were in
high school we decided to wait. He would write and tell me the most wonderful
things in the world. We talked on the phone daily and managed to see each
other monthly. He all of a sudden stopped calling. No warning. I called and
e-mailed without response and finally came to the conclusion it was over. Two
months later he wrote to say that he had been very busy and overwhelmed with his
business and a few personal things. He said this has happened to him
several times in his life and during times of stress he shuts down. We resumed
the relationship but again he started to get overwhelmed by his workload and he
has again stopped calling or answering my calls. The last letter he sent
stated that he was working long days and he sounded very stressed.
Is this something that sounds like bipolar? He also stated that his mind does
not work normally when he is pushed. Apparently he has "shut down" several times
in his life. I would really appreciate your input and if this is bipolar
behavior how should I respond.
Thank you very much
You need to know that it takes an average of 7 to 10 years from the time an
individual with bipolar first shows up on a clinician's doorstep to the time
they are actually properly diagnosed- this describes the complexity and course
of the disease and diagnosis. In other words, it's almost impossible to say if
what you are describing is bipolar disorder or not and it would be inappropriate
and unethical for me to say so. You certainly talk about some personality
and/or behavioral features that would raise some questions about the possibility
of some sort of unusual patterns/traits. Only a psychologist, physician, or
psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about bipolar disorder with whom the patient
can communicate openly about all of their behaviors and symptoms over time can
diagnose the possibility of manic depression via complete psychiatric
history/interview. Sorry I can't be of more help in answering this particular
question. Whether or not you might be dealing with bipolar disorder,
concentrate on the behavior and actions you are dealing with and not so much on
what the label might be. How might you manage someone who "shuts down" and
locks you out for long periods of time numerous times during their lives?
How do you handle someone who will not be "pushed"? Like any other relationship
issue, I believe that communication is the key. See if he is receptive to
sitting down and at least talking about these issues. If he recognizes his own
"shutting down" as a problem, it may be that he will be willing to accept help
to work on this with you. Perhaps the two of you could pursue counseling at
some point in the future. Again, this need not be a bipolar issue.....this can
be a relationship issue with a communication approach to solving your concerns.
David Schafer, M.Ed.
Published July, 2006