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Doom family with a crazy man?


Dear Jellybean,

I understand quite well your dilemma. I dated a man
who, though not exhibiting signs of bipolar disorder
(manic depression) himself, had a mother who was
strongly Bipolar.

To be frank, her situation took a strong toll on our relationship and caused me some serious introspection about whether or not I was willing to continue dealing with it.

I took into consideration a lot of the same issues that you find yourself wondering about. However, in my situation,
the person with the disease did not take responsibility of it nor did she try to manage her own life.

It was an extremely unhealthy dynamic, and that was what I did not want to be a part of. Just the fact that your boyfriend IS Manic Depressive is truly not enough of a reason not to be with him, anymore than someone who has cancer or diabetes.

Research the Disease

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder and therefore less accepted in society. But there is a lot of information available on this disease ...symptoms, treatments, how to live with and deal with someone who has it.

People with Bipolar disorder live normal, healthy lives every day. They marry, have children and contribute to society. But the best way to live a normal life is not to ignore the disease, but to understand it as best as you possibly can.


As part of this, they should visit his therapist together.

If you are considering a life with this man, then a very important step for you would be to research as much as you can and learn for yourself what this disease is about.

It is an honest, understandable concern that you would want to make a decision for yourself whether you can deal with this in your life...having been there and having made that decision myself.

How Does He Deal With His Disease?

A much more potent question to ask yourself (and your boyfriend) is how he deals with his disease. He admitted to you that he has does he take care of it? Does he openly work at living a healthy life? Does he follow his doctor's orders to the letter? Does he take his medications religiously? Is he honest with himself, does he take responsibility for his own illness?

Jeannie My Experience

In the situation I was in, my ex-boyfriend's mother did not and it caused a tremendous amount of difficulty in our relationship as it left him with the responsibility of trying to keep her on track. In fact, one of my considerations going forward was whether or not I would be capable of dealing with the intrusiveness of her disease in our relationship for
the rest of my life.

And more accurately speaking, that was a problem between my ex-boyfriend and his mother. There were no clear boundaries set. Again, for me, the decision was about the unhealthy dynamic the disease had brought into our relationship, NOT about the disease itself.

You cannot convince another person to take care of themselves, and at times people with manic depression are not totally capable of caring for themselves. Once they are into an episode - whether it be a manic or a depressive episode, they are not usually aware of their need for help and more often, won't want it.

He'll Have A Regimented Life

It is a fine line to walk to stay healthy. It requires a fairly regimented life. It requires continual medication and doctor
assistance. It requires a constant awareness of the disease, and the potential setbacks that can and do occur.

It Is Genetic

One thing you do need to be aware of is that this disease is genetic. According to the National DMDA (, bipolar disorder is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the disorder.

Jeannie Statistics About Passing This On Genetically

When one parent has bipolar disorder, the risk to each child is estimated to be l5-30%. When both parents have bipolar disorder, the risk increases to 50-75%.


But she shouldn't worry about this too much. Genetics is a crapshoot.

So another honest truth to ask yourself is if you are prepared to deal with the potential of your children also being Manic Depressive.

I'm not going to tell you that your boyfriend's having Bipolar disorder should not be something for you to truly consider before moving forward with him. It should. But don't look at the disease as much as you look at the man WITH the disease.

A Normal Life Is Possible

Granted, there will be times that are harder than others and it will require more efforts into making a normal life, but a
normal life IS completely possible. You and your man could have a happy, fulfilling life ahead of you. But you both have to be honest with yourselves - about his willingness to take responsibility for his disease, and your willingness to accept what it means in your life.

You cannot look at his in "spite of" the disease. You have to accept it as a part of him. But also remember that his disease has been with him the entire time. He is still the same person you fell in love with before you knew about it.

Good luck, and I hope it works out for you both.




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