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Realities of being a carer to bipolar.

Community Member
I was on a phone call with my best friend after my partner had a manic episode during one of Melbourne’s 250+ lockdown days and I said, “do you know what sucks. Doing the regular 9-5… pretending to smile and act normal because I’m in a leadership position, pretending I’m totally fine during client meetings..the appearance that everything is fine. And then finishing my job and immediately needing to mange a my partner who is at risk of taking his own life. I mean where do I even go to figure out how to do this. How is this normal?”

She replied almost laughing, “absolutely not hun, that is not normal.”

Enter, my life. As a carer to a partner who is bipolar, I’m always on, I’m on high alert. It’s like I’m triggered every second of the day because I’m trying to foresee what could go wrong. It’s crisis control. 24/7.

Can you imagine living in that heightened state and bedding down a high powered agency job that takes up 50 hours a week and managing a household (thankfully no children!!))

Jeez, I must be superwoman. The truth is, I am fully broken inside. Because I dont know what normal person could function like this.

I long for the days when I hear couples on the street speaking about small talk. Going out for a lockdown picnic with their takeaway cocktails, just enjoying the company of being with each other. Reality is, when you’re with a bipolar person that is like a distant dream. Social outings pretty much disappear.

I know what you’re thinking. Well why are you still in this relationship.

I ask myself that everyday. And the simple answer - love. I do it because I love.
He loves me. He challenges me to think bigger, do better… and I am all those things. You push yourself harder than you have, and you realise you love that version of yourself. Its this incredible sense of being and togetherness. This sense of security and intense vulnerability.

But of course it comes with a cost. And the cost is expensive. Its a cost that just isn’t sustainable. Because I’m in his realm. His mood defines mine - and thats if I let it.

As a carer - it is vital that I see a therapist. Someone who helps me set boundaries. Someone who cares about my mental health and helps me every step of the way. Realise what is, and what isn’t in my control.

Whilst some days I execute it flawlessly, other days, I dont. Otherdays, I can’t…. because when someone is at risk of harming themselves. You can’t set boundaries. You go into survival.

Anyone else can relate?
8 Replies 8

Learn to Fly
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi TheDreamer,

Thank you so much for reaching out and for your most honest post. You are such an articulate person and the way you described your life, emotions and feelings is raw and in its purest form. You moved me deeply, even though I can't relate to your example. You seem to be leading a dream life, in a sense of loving and being loved, being successful at work, loving challenges and busy life and welcoming what life brings you with open arms -please forgive me if I misinterpreted. You are a superwoman but even superwomen have limits to their amazing abilities and positive willingness to tackle any challenge. It seems you have reached your limits and thankfully you are aware of that fact. I am glad you are thinking about getting some professional help. The first thing that comes to my mind after reading your post is: you need to rest. Apply self-care. A daily rest from everything that is happening in your life. "Simple rest" might not be however so simple to achieve, especially in your case, as you had mentioned your high levels of being alert because of your partner's condition.

You are the best expert when it comes to yourself and the way you lead your life. Could you think of any ways that would suit you and the situation you are in? Something you could incorporate into your life daily? A half an hour or one-hour walk after work? Or same time but laying down and resting? Meditation? Relaxation techniques?

What are your thoughts on this?


Hey TheDreamer,

Welcome to the community and thank you so much for sharing this with our online community. Please know that you've come to a safe, non-judgemental space to talk things through and our community is here to offer support, advice and conversation.   You sound like a truly dedicated and loving person.

Your partner is very lucky to have you and I am happy to hear that you have found such a sense of home and safety within one another. I can’t imagine how incredibly difficult it must be to be worrying every day if your partner will try and take their life. The emotional load of caring for a person with a mental illness is a lot to carry no matter how strong a relationship is and how much you love each other.  

I am glad you are thinking of finding a therapist for yourself and can see the importance of boundary setting and self care as this is crucial when being a carer to someone. I hope that you do strive for a sense of balance between looking after your partners needs and taking care of your own. It its so important to prioritise your own mental health and wellbeing and put that first and continually remind yourself to take care of you as well. You are just as important here and you deserve a happy and joyful life.  

If you would like some help finding mental health support or just wanted a safe to talk some of these feelings through, we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport

One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals.    

You can also find information on support groups is available on the Black Dog Institute site here - https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/support-groups/ It might be helpful to join a support group to try and build a social network in your area.  There are some support groups that are specifically for carers, depending on where you live.  

The following is a link to an article on our website that you may find helpful:   https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/supporting-someone/supporting-someone-with-depression-or-anx...

We hope that you will find some comfort here on the forums. Please feel free to keep reaching out here on your thread whenever you feel up to it.

Kind regards,

Sophie M

Community Member

I relate to this incredibly!!

Some days you manage the situation and the moods better than others. I just feel like my life is unbelievable at the moment. The difference is we aren’t in a lockdown state and my husband has been in hospital for the last 3 weeks, but I’m managing full time corporate work, visiting my husband for hours after work and travelling 50kms return to see him at hospital each day and managing his suicidal talk/ mood via message whilst I’m at work.
I just feel like my survival mode is only on auto-pilot now.

Hi Bubbleb, 

We are reallly sorry to hear about your partner and how caring for them is impacting you. It is incredibly difficult to support someone in who is experiencing a mental health condition and we want you to know that how you are feeling is just as important. 

You can see our other post in this thread and we think that a lot of that applies to you as well. You are clearly a caring and dedicated person doing what they can to support someone they love. We hope you can also make time to look after yourself. 

If you would like some help finding mental health support or just wanted a safe place to talk some of these feelings through, we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport

Thank you for joining this warm, welcoming and supportive community. Please feel free to let us know how you are getting on or to join in on other conversations. 

Kind regards, 
Sophie M

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I'm bipolar. I'm nowhere as extreme as your partner however. I enjoy outings, dining and function quite well. Having said that my younger sister and my daughter have bipolar. My sister and I have attempted suicide and my uncle and brother did suicide. So suicide for bipolar is around 15-20% of all bipolar according to google. It is a sad fact and this should be kept in mind for carers of bipolar sufferers. BUT!

Sufferers have responsibility. They are also responsible for your happiness to their capability. As well as- not burdening their carer over matters they can deal with themselves.

A carer is not a 100% devoted minder of their subject.

Put simply all sufferers of mental illness have responsibilities. Foer example- If a person with depression stays in bed all day everyday which is common, but is capable of attending the toilet, making themselves a meal or a drink, watching TV and talking on the telephone then they are capable of making you a cuppa when you walk in the door after 8 hours of work and one hour of travel or even more- shopping on the way home etc. This might take effort and 10 minutes later they might declare they want to return to bed but the tokenism can be magical.

So my message to you is- if your partner is showing signs of comfort in not doing as he is capable of doing and you feel the instinct that he is choosing to not pull his weight, then the problem you have personally is allowing this to continue and therefore therapy or even marriage guidance counselling could be a beneficial move.

I hope I've made sense.


Community Champion
Community Champion

The dreamer, I want to say thanks for your love and devotion to your partner. I can feel your exhaustion through your words,

Like Tony I have bipolar

I was diagnosed nearly 50 years ago. I have always looked after myself but when I was in denial I caused havoc for my family.

I wonder do you get practical support and have you contacted carers australia as they helpful and supportive.

Keep posting here if you want to.

Bubbleb welcome and thank for posting.

the dreamer and bubbleb, thanks for letting people reading your posts that you are not alone.
We are listening.

Community Member

Hi Dreamer,

This is my first visit to this forum. I was looking for a forum with caregivers for bipolar to see if I was the only one feeling the way I am or if there is anyone with whom I can share my feelings when I came across your post. Your post is an exact replica of how I am feeling, with the exception that my husband has never considered suicide and I have children (17 & 14).

We've been married for nearly 21 years, and after 6 years of marriage, my husband was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and he's had 7 episodes so far, some of them very bad manic episodes with psychotic thoughts, and he won't trust me during those times and it's extremely difficult to keep myself alert 24/7 to pick up his triggers because they're so quick and instant. I believe I am on top of my emergency plan, but as soon as his triggers appear, my entire plan is jeopardised, and I believe everything is beyond my control.


I believe I have been caring for his illness for 17 years, and I am exhausted managing him, my children, and my work. I wonder if I should really leave him and go, but I can't because I know he needs me, and I love him, and I can't leave him just because of his illnesses!


So, Dreamer, thank you for sharing your story...it inspires me to take care of my loved ones!!

Hey Wisher,

Welcome to the forums, and thank you for sharing here. It sounds like there's been some really difficult times and it's been exhausting at points, but we agree, sharing with others is a powerful action, and it's really good to find connections like this and share your experience. 

Just a heads up, since this discussion hasn't been posted to in a while, it might be a bit harder for the community to spot your post and get back to you here. TO get the most out of the Forums, we’d suggest starting a thread of your own if you’d like to share more of your story and your perspectives.

Thanks again for sharing, Wisher!

Kind regards,

Sophie M