Q: I have been dating a lady who is bipolar. I
have been there for her on many occasions when she has needed me. I have left
work early to take care of her.
My question has to do with what appears to be childish, inappropriate
behavior. For example, she became upset with me and left my house when I
suggested I use protection during intercourse. This behavior seems total
strange to me.
She is on medication (effexor and Welbutrin), and yet even when she is
stable she seems "strange".
Any advise or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
You are to be commended for trying to view the "childish, inappropriate
behavior" and poor judgement of your partner as "behavior", possibly part of her
illness and not her personality. This suggests you already have a healthy
point of view with which to work. Remember to consider your needs as well in
your relationship. In other words, just because your partner has bipolar
disorder does not mean you have no right to explanations of how she treats you
or acts around you. Please bear in mind as well that even "normal" individuals
are prone to acting "strange" from time to time. Close communication between
the two of you about words or actions that are not well understood are critical
as they are in any relationship.
Treat the bipolar disorder first. If your partners' medications are
limited to effexor and wellbutrin, I would strongly suggest a visit to her
psychiatrist. The FDA has approved both Effexor and Wellbutrin for Depression.
The use of antidepressants alone for the treatment of bipolar disorder is
questionable and may explain why the more manic expressions of your partners
illness, such as impulsivity, irritability, etc., continue to break through on
a regular basis. This may provide at least a partial explanation of her
"strange" behavior during times of relative stability.
Encourage your partner to confirm her correct diagnosis. Assist her to
communicate openly about all of her behaviors and symptoms to her psychiatrist
and or therapist who is persistent in getting as much accurate information as
possible. Make certain she has chosen a physician or psychiatrist who is
knowledgeable about bipolar disorder.
Sit down with your partner and discuss what both of your needs are in your
relationship. Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate
and then stick to what you both say. This is a process of communication and
negotiation that can take place in any relationship. Good luck in your efforts.
David Schafer, M.Ed.
Published April, 2006