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My bipolar disorder is destructive - can I maintain a stable relationship?

Community Member

I’d like advice from people on dating/marrying someone with mental illness, and burden.

I'm a new member; I like the success stories. I have Bipolar I, Epilepsy, and I'm an alcoholic. Recently diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (obviously my new psychiatrist has a crush on me)

Two months ago I had a seizure after a year of successful treatment. Was embarrassing and I dislocated my shoulder. I started drinking again, then a week later I quit my job, broke up with the girlfriend I lived with, and flew to Thailand. Bangkok was an exciting whirlwind of delusions, voices, hypersexuality, and risk taking (drugs, unprotected sex). I stopped taking my epilepsy meds and had seizures almost every morning but still every night I was out engaging in high-octane debauchery. And somehow I spent nearly $13,000 in two weeks, in a country where everything is cheap. I don't remember most of it.

Returned to depressing situation- no job, lonely apartment, big chunk of my savings gone. I entered a mixed state (like mania but less fun) I sought treatment but even on a mixture of meds I slept only a few hours a night. Louder voices, lots of whiskey. As of last week I’m starting to feel normal and put pieces of my life back together.

The worst part of all this is losing my girlfriend, and hurting her so badly. She’s an amazing person and I wanted to marry her. Thing is, this happens every 2-3 years, like clockwork. I build up some success, in career or romance, and then destroy it all in just a few weeks. But I never cared for someone like my ex, and I can see that as I get older, I have more and more to lose. I know some people like me end up alone, in jail, or homeless. But I'd like to have a family one day.

What will define my success story is a successful relationship. I want to be a good husband one day, so I have decided to commit to treatment more than I have before. Doing everything I can. But even if I do, I know it will be a burden on my family. I would love to hear from someone who has a successful relationship with someone with chronic mental illness, any type. What can the disabled person do to ease the burden? What about kids, what do you do when the parent enters a depression or mania? I’m just trying to have a clear picture of a goal I can work towards; I need to believe its possible. Thank you.

11 Replies 11

Community Member

Hi Positive Vibes,

I think it is very much possible to have a very successful relationship whilst having a mental illness. I think the hardest part is simply wanting that relationship to be successful and by what I read it really sounds like you want the relationship to work out, part of having a mental illness is just making sure you keep up your treatment and any medication the doctor or psychiatrist thinks you should take. I am the mental health sufferer in my relationship but I do my hardest to not let the mental health impact our lives, it does in ways but I try to keep it on the low but knowing my partner has my back makes it 10 times more easier to deal with. This is part of the key to any successful relationship in general, having each others back through the good and bad. I can't answer the kids aspect as I do not have kids. I think your goal is to have a successful relationship, it is pretty clear to me. You can do it and not let mental illness define who you are.

My best for you,


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi again PV

I have bipolar2, depression, dysthymia (low constant mood and melancholy) and anxiety I conquered a few years ago.

I have two grown up daughters, one I'm close to the other I don't see. I was emotionally abused by their mother for 11 years and that and my unstable mother led to me attempting suicide (not quite) and I left her. I then had a 10 year defacto with a lady I loved dearly however two issues- she was the step mother from hell and she was a closet alcoholic. Both issues and my instability resulted in breakup. I was diagnosed half way through the relationship.

In 2011 I married my long time best friend. She has depression. That helps because we can help each other, we know the depths of despair we face.

I was originally diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar1. This was mainly because of my spending sprees when younger...25 cars owned before the age of 30yo, sign the dotted line who cares! But I had mania not ADHD although we know illnesses have blurry lines so likely had some ADHD when young.

Clearly after all this I believe I found the several ingredients by which to find happiness and stability in my life. I discovered city living contributed to my ill health and symptoms. I moved to a small country town. I found that my sensitivity was a target for toxic people so I stopped joining clubs like car clubs and distanced myself from nasty destructive people (my mother you may recall). I began after years of grief over my youngest daughter stopped seeing me at 14yo (brainwashed) to learn that I cant save the world and although it still hurts its her decision not my doing. I pursued the medication aspect to get it just right for me. I was lucky that I got onto DSP at 57yo 4 years ago and stopped working my investigations business which was draining and stressful. I took up gardening and built our caravan etc.

From what you say above, I'm only concerned about the alcohol abuse. IMO it is the main roadblock to success with achieving your goals. All other issues can be dealt with by the various resources you have available including this forum. As a bunch, this forum, your GP, psych's, meds, good friends, distractions and determination you can achieve what you want. Then find the right person to fall in love with that will be on the tolerant side.

The next post is some threads you can google that might help

Tony WK


use google. You might only wish to read the first post of each thread.

Topic: the balance of your life- beyondblue

Topic: be radical- beyondblue

Topic: 30 minutes can change your life- beyondblue

Topic: boys and their toys, a woman annoyed- beyondblue

Topic: planning a healthier mind- beyondblue

Topic: DNA, what you cant change- beyondblue

Topic: the balance of your life- beyondblue

Topic: symbolic tokens to assist the mind- beyondblue

Topic: the best praise you'll ever get- beyondblue

Topic: tolerant partners- beyondblue

Topic: who cares for the carer?- beyondblue

There are thousands more PV. Repost in those threads if you desire.

Tony WK

One of the things that I realised early on was that alcohol was never going to be a part of my life again, it just doesn't mix well with bipolar. At the least it tends to make me feel slightly depressed from only a couple of drinks. At worst I start trying to set speed drinking records.

I miss not being able to open a long neck while preparing dinner at the end of a long week, but what is important to me is stopping a fairly unstable Bipolar II from becoming even more unstable. I realise that some things in my life are beyond my control.

Community Member

Hi, thanks all for your support. I agree regarding the alcohol- it doesn't mix well with bipolar or epilepsy.

Doc also said the alcohol is the first hurdle, plus the personality disorder, together they make me hard to treat. Now taking this medicine that gives me a lot of stomach pain and nausea even if I have a tiny bit of alcohol. Its no fun but definitely works. Apparently if I keep taking that for a year or so I'll be conditioned just like Pavlov's dog to not even want to drink.

Bball I appreciate your input. I have had some really supportive partners but unfortunately mania is a pretty hard thing to ask a partner to bear. I'm the type of guy who suddenly runs off- last time it was Brazil, left a job and a girl and stayed there for a few months. Had a bit of trouble w the law... Exciting life but I hurt people and myself, and feel like I'm getting too old for this (only 30). Always rebuilding. My last ex has been amazing, she even talks to me sometimes and we're trying to support each other, you're right there are very supportive people out there.

So my main goal is preventing relapse of mania. Stop alcohol, behavioral therapy, meds, etc. Its just from experience with medicines, side effects alone can be a burden. I have to take a lot, and constantly searching for the right mix. Gaining or losing weight, changing moods, sexual problems, sleep problems, etc. Either way I'm committed to treatment now and I really appreciate all your suggestions.

White knight that is exactly what I'm thinking of! Moving out of the city and a high-pressure career to somewhere more laid back. Actually it was my ex who recommended that for me. I was never meant to wear a suit in the CBD. Thx for positive response on the other post too, I'm new here and its making me more optimistic.

Thanks PV

Your attitude is remarkable.

Progress for you is real.

A psych told me once "you know the theory, its the practice you have trouble with".

So I got working.

Tony WK

Community Member
Hi PV, I am also Bipolar, however my manic episodes are not as severe anymore, like they once were. I think it has a bit to do with a balance of medication. However, the key I think is repetition, and learning from the experience of those repetition manic episodes. Firstly, I know it is not always easy when you begin to climb that ladder to think hold on something is going on I need more pre-manic support. This is where repetition helped me, I began to know and learn to seek more professional help than I would when I was stable before I got to the stage where I was unstoppable.
I know it is not always that clear cut, but by now you must know what some of the triggers are that can bring on a manic episode through experience. If one of those triggers occurs to you, then more than likely you will climb the ladder. In the case of the seizure, you now know it could be a trigger, so act before it even gets started. Go and double up on your sessions, don't drink alcohol no matter how much it seems like a brilliant idea at the time.

I stopped drinking 15 years ago, and because I no longer drink when I do start to climb I am now conditioned as a non-drinker. so that is taken out of the equation.

As far as a long term relationship, it is possible. I am an a Aspy, I'm also bipolar, additionally I'm not physically well, plus I have PTSD. However, I have been married for 28 years, so mate it is possible, but you need to own your part and not use your Bipolar or Epilepsy as an excuse to run. If you do run this most definitely will lead to mania because you will go off your meds, you will start drinking and do other recreational drugs, spend big etc. Then you will definitely hurt the person that loves you, thereby putting your relationship in turmoil and danger of ending.

It can be done mate, I did it... You just have to use your symptoms of both Bipolar and Epilepsy as a tool to react early, before you can't react.


Hi Postive Vibes,

You have a great outlook and I think you understand what needs to be done to get better, the fact you see it, makes the possibility of getting there so much easier, once you know what you are aiming for, you stop looking and start focusing on it. Once you feel you are better within yourself, you may be able to open up another relationship, weather is be with an ex or with a new partner, positivity is the key.

My best,


Community Member


I have Bipolar 1 and have been married for 7 years.

What I have found to help our relationship is honesty and communication. And that can be hard when your getting mania and depressed but it's key. My partner needs to know where my head is 24-7

Also when I feel an episode coming on I can't be laid back and think I can get through this. I go straight to the doctors. I get the support I need before the high or low comes.

My husband is also my biggest support and fully understands my illness and loves me regardless of it and you need a partner that 100% accepts it.

We also do though have support for my husband because gosh we all have the thoughts how can anyone want to be with me! He's health is as important as mine.

Also regardless I'm sick I'm responsible for what I do and have to face the consequences which can be very damaging so that makes me want to get better.

I'm of late reading blogs about having a family and talking to my doctors and I'm beyond scared. Not of rasing a family but being a female not medicated for 9 months and what having a high chance of going mania.

For me I just try and stay a step ahead of my illness. Sometimes I'm not successful and disappear for days but the more treatment I'm getting the better it is. All the best.