Asking For A Friend: How to Deal with a Bipolar Spouse…

Josh Spurlock

Asking for a Friend | Bob in Houston | MyCounselor.Online

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Question asked for Bob in Houston, TX 

Question: 

“How does or should you deal with a spouse that has mild bipolar or cyclothymia? One or twice a year there seem to be extreme highs that he can’t even talk his wife about without her thinking he is just against her or doesn’t care. Once it is declining she feels that she just bit off more than she can chew. He is really confused as to what he can do to help even out the highs and lows. He says they aren’t as bad as full blown bipolar but they are lifestyle affecting.”

Answer by: Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST

Video Transcript

(Transcript is generated by a software and may have discrepancies from the video.)

Cassie

Hi, welcome to my counselor online. I’m Cassie, and this is asking for a friend that’s where you submit your questions and then I tracked down one of our awesome counselors to answer your questions.

And today I have Josh for live with me to answer questions submitted by Bob from Houston. Josh, thanks for meeting with me today.

So here’s what Bob Asks

How does or should you deal with a spouse that has mild bipolar or cyclothymia.

Once or twice a year, there seemed to be extreme highs that he can’t even talk to his wife about without her thinking he’s against her, or he doesn’t care about her once it’s declining she feels like she’s just a bit.Like she’s been off more than she can chew.

This gentleman’s friend is really confused as to what you shouldn’t do to help even out the highs and the lows. He says they aren’t as bad as full blown bipolar, but they are lifestyle affecting So Josh, take it away.

Josh

Yeah, this is one of those situations, like many situations of dynamics, where the family member, the person who’s in a seeking out help is not necessarily the person who, as the struggle.

And so there’s an element of powerlessness and helplessness and grief that is a part of acknowledging that there’s a limit to how much you’re able to do

That God hasn’t given you the ability or the responsibility to control the other person, even if that is a for their best interests in your mind.

That we’re just not given that by God. And so we have to respect the limited autonomy that God has given to individuals in our life.

Even when they make decisions that we would prefer them not or we don’t think are in their best interests and that’s really difficult because it leaves us with a only the ability to control ourself and decide what decisions. We’re going to make in terms of relationship with the person

The there’s a element of codependence or codependency that we see oftentimes in situations like this where a

Spouse, who is in a relationship with someone with a struggle of some sort. Well over function for or try to get the other spouse to do what it is they feel like they need to do. And it creates

tension and conflict within the relationship and feelings of disrespect within the relationship, while at the same time, the

Other spouse is feeling alone on a roller coaster ride that they didn’t ask to be on And this feeling disrespected not cared about in their spouses unwillingness to address the struggle that they face. And so what I would encourage

Individually, the situation to do is a have your own support network in structure because you’re going to need people who you can bring in the circle with you and process the difficulty of what it is you’re facing.

There’s a tendency to isolate. There’s a tendency to not share what you’re going through because of

Not wanting to hurt the other spouses feelings or create conflict in the relationship. Or maybe there’s embarrassment or struggle on your own part

But you’re not going to be able to get through this in a healthy way. If you don’t have some support.

And so rather than be in the form of professional counselor or just a close mature friend that can keep confidence.

You need some individuals in your life from you can bring the struggle to process it out loud and bounce ideas off of in terms of how to handle the situation so that you’re not alone in that struggle.

Second thing that I would encourage is just really to work on the relationship itself with the individual that for

For most people, to be challenged, especially around a mental health issue to take action is really scary and uncomfortable and really requires a depth of relationship and closeness.

And really feeling like the person who’s challenging them on those things really does care about them deeply

And if there’s if there’s not a strong relationship there then it just feels like criticism. It feels like attack and is likely to result in a real defensiveness on the part of the other person.

And so I’d encourage you to get your own support as well as focus on the development of the relationship that hopefully enables you to be able to communicate the impact on you.

That their experience has and your request that they would engage in of seeking out help for that, ultimately, you don’t have any control over that and they may choose not to. And that’s a hard place to be in and put you in a position of needing to make some tough decisions about

What it is that you need to do in response to their unwillingness to work on those things. If that’s something that you can forgive and that you can

Live with that you can have boundaries with and continue to live with forward or do you need to have separation have space that says the impact of those choices is so significant that it’s unhealthy and helpful to

Continue in close relationships. So we need more distance until they choose to address those things.

Those are tough decisions to make. And oftentimes, having a counselor that you can talk those things through with to determine what’s the best course of action in the specifics of your situation can be very helpful.

Cassie

Yeah, that’s, that’s a big situation so. Thanks, Josh. For that information for us and

For answering that question. I appreciate it. And Bob, thank you for submitting this question for your friend. You’re a good friend and hopefully your

Friend has you as a resource, and I’m sure that’s very helpful to him.

If you are watching this and you would like one of our awesome counselors to answer a question for you. You can submit that question on our Asking for a friend page just go to my counselor.

online and search for Asking for a friend, it’ll pop up and then I will track down counselor and get them answer that question for you. And you can look for the answer on our weekly e newsletter.

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