IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Lost My Boyfriend to Bipolar Disorder

I live in our apartment by myself, with most of his things still here. He refuses to be on medication, so he is still manic.
Publish date:
February 18, 2016
relationships, mental illness, bipolar disorder, cohabitation, Psychotic Break

Only two months ago, I was living with my partner. We were performing together most nights, and we were making plans for our future. We had been together for about 10 months, had been friends for close to a decade, and were crazy about each other. We had felt strongly that moving in together was the first step in our seemingly rosy future.

We had been living together for three months when, sometime around Thanksgiving, my partner decided to stop taking the lithium that had contained his bipolar disorder for the last few years. I don’t know why he decided to stop taking it. The last time he went off of his medication, he lost everything, including his wife and job. He had spent the last four years rebuilding his life. He had a full-time job, his art career was going well, and we were deeply in love.

Looking back on it now, he started acting odd the last week of November. I knew that he was bipolar, but I didn’t realize at the time that something was going on with him. He started to work out obsessively, and we would wake up in the morning drenched in his sweat. He couldn’t seem to stop talking, and he would burst into tears over nothing. I thought he was just stressed out about work or our arguments over chores, but it turned out to be a lot more than that.

One evening in December, he had a full-on psychotic break. He seemed a little off that morning before he left to drive three hours for a show in his hometown. I didn’t think too much of it because he had been drinking the night before and had a pretty severe hangover. I kissed him good-bye and wished him luck. I went to work and had a completely unremarkable day.

Hours later, I began receiving dozens of texts and phone calls from people who he was interacting with in-person or sending mostly-gibberish messages to. According to his friends who were there at the time, he started speaking in Latin with intermittent bouts of crying. He also did some terrible things, such as punching one of his friends and then chopping up this person’s furniture with an ax and trying to start a fire with the pieces.

He then ran away for a few hours while his mother and the police were out looking for him. His friends finally found him out in the backyard, chopping up their patio furniture. He was outside in 30-degree weather, barefoot, and not wearing a coat.

He was taken to the hospital where he was determined to be psychotic and a threat to others. A nurse called me from the ER and wanted to know about his behavior in the weeks leading up to this. Suddenly, the compulsive talking, the excessive exercising and his mood swings made complete sense. I felt like an idiot for not realizing that he was having a manic episode. I think deep down I knew, but was in denial.

He ended up being committed involuntarily for 10 days.

It took me a few days to be able to leave work and drive the three hours to the city he was hospitalized. I stayed up there for a few days and went to visit him several times, bringing him food and art supplies. I felt like we could get through this and planned on sticking by him. He seemed to be doing a lot better and almost like his old self.

At the end of the 10 days, there was a court hearing to discuss his commitment, and they agreed to release him into my care for Christmas, the only requirement being that they send him home with medication.

He came home, and everything seemed fine for the first hour. We had sex and made dinner. But later that evening, throughout night, and all day on Christmas, it became very apparent that he wasn’t okay. He put me through the most hellish 48 hours of my life, in which he tortured me psychologically, verbally abused me, and tore my house apart. He proposed to me twice during this time period and maxed out a credit card buying outlandish things online.

A few days after Christmas, he left on a bus to go back to his hometown. He asked me to come with him and gave me an ultimatum of getting engaged or breaking up.

So we broke up.

He now sleeps on people’s couches, on the street, and with women who are taken in by his charm and good looks. I live in our apartment by myself, with most of his things still here. He refuses to be on medication, so he is still manic.

I barely recognize the sweet man that I fell in love with. He now looks like a wraith, with sunken cheeks and circles under his eyes. He looks like the man I love but it's not him.

I’m trying to be okay through this, but it’s not okay. I come home to an empty house. Everything reminds me of him. I can’t fathom dating, and even if I could, everyone knows that I’m "the girl whose boyfriend went insane."

And this story isn’t over yet; I’m scared that it is not going to end well for him. As for me, I’m trying to move on with my life, but it’s not going to be easy.