It's frustrating and at at times frightening, but nonetheless it's true that many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder resist seeking help. When they're depressed, they don't believe help is possible. And when they're manic, they'll often be irritated or offended when someone suggests that they need help. (If the mania manifests itself as euphoria, then they really don't want help. Everything feels too good, though it can be hell to live through for family and friends).
Some with bipolar disorder refuse treatment their entire lives. Others resist at first, but ultimately acknowledge that they cannot control this illness by themselves. The reasons most often cited are fear, mistrust and denial. But if you're the caring spouse, it boils down to this:
If your spouse doesn't want treatment, there are only a few circumstances in which help can be forced upon him. In the US, unless your bipolar husband or wife presents an imminent health and safety danger to himself or others, he or she cannot be forced into treatment or "committed" to mental hospital.
This is the bitter medicine you, as a wife or husband, must take when you watch someone you love self-destruct. The hard truth is, you can't override your bipolar spouse's decisions for themselves--as much as you might want to. And your spouse doesn't have to listen to you, as much as you may think that what you're doing is for his own good.
Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder or manic depression, who pursue conventional psychotherapy, have better quality of life outcomes than if the illness is left untreated. Often your bipolar husband may decide to pursue alternative therapies and treatments--either after traditional medical treatment fails or because he distrusts doctors and drugs. These therapies may range from quackery to "interesting and promising". Outcomes in these cases vary widely, but, often, if you *believe* that something will help you, it does: it's the power of positive thinking, (no different than those in the general population who believe "The Secret" and "The Law of Attraction.")
Sometimes those with bipolar disorder put their faith in spirituality to "heal" them or help them as a coping regiment. As misguided as some treatments may sound to you, you cannot live your sick husband's life for him. Instead, turn it around and be glad that your bipolar spouse or bipolar partner is taking responsibility for his own care.
When you're in a bipolar relationship or you care very much for a person with bipolar disorder, remember to look out for yourself. As much as you want to help and protect this person, you can't let yourself become a financial or emotional victim. Join a family support group and take advantage of other resources available to you. You are not alone in dealing with this terrible illness.
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