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Author Topic: Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please  (Read 3768 times)

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Offline whoknew

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Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please
« on: April 08, 2012, 12:06:54 PM »

Its been a while since I have posted here but its been a difficult few months. My husband and I are both hiv positive and both on medications. He was diagnosed after coming down with PCP and I subsequently was diagnosed at an earlier stage we have 3 beautiful children and over all are pretty happy. HOWEVER....

My husband is in the process of being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder something he was diagnosed with as a teenager when living in the united states which had been overlooked in the uk due to different diagnosis criteria, as a result of this he has been unmedicated for years and managed to convince himself he did not have bipolar at all.

Over the years he has had "episodes" ranging from short term depression to manic episodes where he has made some very bad choices and decisions finally he has started talking about this and how it makes him feel and it has been enlightening for me as his wife to hear and also a bit scary. He is a wonderful man and a caring husband and father but for years he has gone between despondant and supercharged in varying degrees. His usual way of dealing would have been to drink or in his teen years to substance abuse but he has not touched alchohol in any sence for over a year and drugs have been a no go since he was 20.

I am here to ask if anyone has experience of being bipolar or living with someone. I feel like I am on a rollercoaster ride with him and I am exaugsted. He is getting help soon ( next week appointment) and I am hopefull that at least they will be able to do something about the fluctuating moods. Many people in his life have encouraged the manic phases and enjoyed being near him at these times he is the life and soul of the party and has provided entertainment for some of those people that he used to call his friends but this allways ends badly with him hitting rock bottom and having to rebuild his life from the ground up.

I am writing this on this forum because here is where I am totally honest and you all know what its like to live with HIV so I don't need to hide or explain any of that.
He is on Atripla which I personally don't think is a great idea when he has ongoing mental health issues but his Drs just seem to think its the best med so are reluctant to discuss changing it.

At the moment he is in a crisis where he is suffering ongoing panic attacks which he describes as hightened stress and a feeling that everything is going toblow up aparently this usually preceeds him doing stupid things like spending all the money or taking drugs or leaving the country or making any number of irrational choices but this time he does not want to he is trying his best to fight it and he is asking for all the help he can get but I just dont know how to help.

I hate to see him like this and I am guilty to say that its like living with a ticking timebomb not in the way he treats me but just in his fragile mental state.

Please can someone maybe message me if you have any experience of living with this disorder and hiv. I want to be able to support my husband in his time of need and to stay well and healthy myself.

Its all so blimmin complicated :(

Offline Joe K

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Re: Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2012, 12:37:34 PM »
Hello Who,

I'm sorry to hear about your husbands mental health issues.  I suffer from clinical depression, which can include wide mood swings, so I can empathize with what he is experiencing.  I treat my mental illness with drugs and by the use of therapy.  I believe, when beginning serious treatment of mental issues, that it is imperative that both types of therapy be used together.  The reason for this is that mental illness, generally involves some type of chemical imbalance within the brain, and there are medications that can help to restore that balance.  This is crucial, because talk therapy cannot work, until the brain becomes more "balanced" if you will, so the person is responsive to therapy.

I suggest you take a list of ALL the meds/supplements your hubby takes when he sees the psychiatrist.  The shrink can prescribe many different forms of meds to help treat various aspects of your husbands condition.  I take antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and Ridlin, which improves my mental acuity, or ability to think clearly.  I have fine-tuned the meds I use, to take as little as possible, while maintaining that chemical balance.

It also may take a month or so, for any new meds to become effective, so he has to give them some time to work.  Also, while he is with the shrink, they can review his HIV meds to see if any might be contra-indicated with the meds they prescribe.  Once the shrink has diagnosed the situation, hubby needs to take that list back to his HIV specialist to make sure there are no problems using all of the drugs suggested.

It is absolutely critical that both the shrink and HIV doc are kept in the same loop.

Once the drug part is established, I think that both of you should enter into some type of therapy.  The shrink can make suggestions as to the "type" of therapy they think will be most helpful, but some form of therapy is certainly warranted in the beginning of treatment.  The reason hubby needs talk therapy is he needs a "safe" place to express his feelings.  Therapy can present many challenges and the only way to do that, is if the patient knows they can express themselves freely and confidentially.  Regarding any therapy he undergoes, please remember that right now, it's what he needs to do to get better.

That is not to say that you would not benefit from some therapy yourself.  Nothing major, but I know by reading your post, how concerned you are and having someone to explain what is happening can be very beneficial for you.  Mental illness can seem so foreign and almost impossible to understand, by those unaffected and I think you need someone to tell you that it's OK to be angry, hurt and confused and that none of it reflects on the love that the two of you share.

I suppose that's the most difficult part of mental illness; the unaffected only see the actions, never the symptoms that precede those actions.  It's virtually impossible to explain how someone affected by mental illness thinks, because often we don't really know ourselves.  For me, my mental illness is the greatest challenge I have ever faced.  Much more difficult than being poz and I've been poz for 27 years, so that says a lot.  Yet control it I do, sometimes in fits and starts and I have the love of a good man to catch me when I stumble.

I can feel the love you have for this man and that will go a long way in helping him heal.  The best thing you both can do is to do what is best for you.  That means using whatever resources you believe will help you and to refuse to be shamed about treating mental illness.  I believe that you will both get through this, but it all starts with the first step.  You are taking action which is great, just remember that mental illness can affect everyone in the family, so be aware.

I think with the right resources you will overcome these obstacles, however it may take time, sometimes a long time, but it will happen.  In the mean time, take care of yourself and the kids and make time, each day, to do something you truly love, if only for 15 minutes.  It's important to feed yourself, in spirit, mind and body.

I hope I provided some clarity for you and if you, or your husband, ever want to talk, you can always find me here.


Offline thunter34

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  • Posts: 7,361
  • His name is Carl.
Re: Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2012, 04:15:07 PM »
Hey.  I just saw this.  I am with Joe.  And hon, I've lived (am still living) with it.  So yeah...I know all about it. 
AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline BT65

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Re: Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2012, 05:28:28 AM »
Hi, there are many meds to be used for bipolar, very effective.  Going to see the psychiatrist should help immensely with this.  And not just Depakote etc., there are "mood stabilizers," such as Zyprexa etc.  I'm sure the psychiatrist will prescribe what he sees fit as the best therapy.  In my personal opinion I don't think Atripla is a good choice.  I couldn't take it due to underlying depression/anxiety issues.

I also agree with Joe about talk therapy.  There can be suggestions as to how to handle the mood "swings," which should get better with the meds.  But warning signs can also be discussed and what to do when these surface.  If your husband has been suffering with this since teenage years, both meds and talk therapy are imperative. 

Bipolar is devastating, but also treatable.  Don't get too grim, and hang in there!
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Offline Ann

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Re: Bipolar wife .. need someone to talk to please
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2012, 07:38:08 AM »

He is on Atripla which I personally don't think is a great idea when he has ongoing mental health issues but his Drs just seem to think its the best med so are reluctant to discuss changing it.

You're absolutely right. The Sustiva in Atripla is probably the worst med to be on when you have mental health issues. He's going to have to insist that his doctor changes it out for something else. There are far too many other meds he could be on instead that don't have the psychological side effects that Sustiva does, and they are just as effective in fighting hiv. What meds he takes is ultimately HIS decision, not the doctor's. Maybe you could attend an appointment with him for moral support and back-up.

It drives me nuts when doctors refuse to acknowledge the psychological problems associated with Sustiva. >:(

Hope things get better for you both soon. Keep us posted, ok?
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