Love, Bipolar Disorder, and Being Worth It

Last Updated: 25 Sep 2018

My husband could say I am “worth it” despite my bipolar illness, but he does not. Instead, we both say that is a question that should never be asked.

Photo: Maderebner


When it is below zero and I am ice fishing on a frozen Alaskan lake, I concentrate all my energy on catching fish. Each time I fish, my husband—who knows I love fishing more than almost anything—immediately goes into support mode.

“What do you need?” he asks. And then he brings me food. He hauls wood with his snowmobile and starts a campfire. He carries more bait to me.

When I am ill, when the bipolar disorder takes over and I lose all focus and concentration, my husband again goes into support mode.

“What do you need?” he asks. “How can I help?”

He asks me the very questions I often cannot ask myself. Instead, I ask him my own questions:

“Am I worth it? Am I worth the struggle, the frustration, the pain of the bipolar episodes?”

He could say that I am worth it because of simple things, like the way I smile at him, the way I love the people in my life, the way I love to nurture him and my stepsons, the way I can spell words he has never even heard before, or how I can laugh—a pile on the floor—at my own silly clumsiness.

But he does not say I am worth it, because he says that is the answer to a question that should not be asked. Being “worth it” implies that I am somehow defective, and as he says, over and over again, I am not defective. I am a whole person, and even though I happen to be an individual diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he loves all of me.

Am I worth it? I ask myself, over and over again, especially when I am deep in a bipolar depression. Am I worthy of this man who cares for me equally when I am happily fishing or when I am sick? Am I worthy of his patience and understanding, his love and sympathy?

Like so many people struggling through bipolar depression, I often scrutinize my very value as a human being, and particularly as a spouse and a partner. The question of whether I am worthy of life and love—a hallmark of my depressive episodes—becomes my only reality. When my brain malfunctions, I become convinced that something is deeply and indelibly wrong with me. The belief that I am defective is often unshakeable, along with the thoughts that the pain will go on forever and that I am the proverbial bipolar “burden”.

My husband could say that I am worthy because I am constantly committed to the improvement of my mental health. He could say it because I try my hardest to be well, and because when I am not fishing and when he needs me, I too go into support mode. I help him, and I care for him and my family. When I am well, I do not think I am defective. Instead, I do what I need to do to prevent the recurrence of the cycles—I take my medications, I set a routine for myself, I go to sleep every night, and I do the very best I can.

“You are a very lucky woman to have such a wonderful husband,” said my former psychiatrist.

I know that I am extremely fortunate. But as I walked out of that doctor’s office, and as his words made me feel defective again, I had to remind myself that I am not the only lucky one. My husband is also lucky to have me, because I am not just “worthy” of him—I am a whole person with my own qualities and strengths that go far beyond just being a woman with bipolar disorder.

And so I try. I give it my all so that he knows that we both know that I take responsibility for my own condition. It is often difficult, and I often fail, but although the chemical functioning of my brain may occasionally be defective, I am not. Unbroken by living with bipolar disorder, I love and I nurture my husband and my family. I give them absolutely everything I have—except for maybe when I am fishing.

Well or unwell, when I smile and laugh with a fishing rod in my hands or when I am trapped in my brain’s own civil war, I can now answer a question so obvious that it should not even be asked: Yes, I am always worthy of both life and love.

Learn more:
5 Truths About Maintaining a Loving Relationship When You Have Bipolar Disorder
‘You Want Me to WHAT?’ How Trusting Friends and Family Can Help Ease Bipolar’s Grip on Our Minds


About the author
Carin Meyer is a lifelong Alaskan who works in public relations. Her academic writing has won numerous awards and her science writing and other articles have been published in university magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets. She has a blog at She enjoys writing essays about bipolar disorder and mental illness. Carin has drafted a book about bipolar disorder, The Smartest Girl in the World, for which she is currently seeking publication.
  1. I love my husband very much. He was diagnosed with Bi-polar 3 years ago. He tried going to a psychologist but he only did it few times. He did not continue and he do not want medical attention. He did not continue medication. We continued living together after his diagnosis. When he is on his manic stage he fight with me and break TV’s or computer. He explained that he rather break things than lay his had on me. He never physically hurt me but emotionally abused me. I took it, I tried to understand because I love him. He doesn’t believe so.

    He had also used drugs and he had excessive spendings. We broke up once and he went back to Hawaii, but his parents persuaded me to come and live there with him and fix our problem. I was open to it and I moved to Hawaii with our 5 year old. Life was so nice for few months and it went going down after that.

    He had to blame me for everything that was happening to him. In my point of view I was supportive of him. In his point of view I wasn’t. He was fighting with me a lot, none-stop, he keep on saying that I should have not moved back to Hawaii with him. His life would have been better. He continuously say this for few months.

    Till one day we had a big fight and his parents heard and intervene, this is when we both decided that we would need to separate and I have to move back to NY with our daughter and he will follow eventually.

    It’s been 5 months now and our conversation on the phone are still continuous fights. He always tells me that he will forget me and our daughter.

    I think he is using drugs again but I don’t know if he has been making himself available in the market. He always say that I can not make him happy and that he has needs that I can not provide. This really confuses me. I told him already that we should make it official and separate but he does not want too.

    I am very confused right now. I love my husband and I am willing to whole heartedly take care of him. I know living him wasn’t the best for our relationship but I think it was best for our youngster who doesn’t see and hear too much fighting and and yelling.

    I says he loves me but his action doesn’t say so. I don’t know what will happen. As of this point I lift up everything to God. There are alot of things that are beyond our control.

    Thank you for reading.

  2. My husband wasn’t strong enough to work with me and my bi-polar II and left after 19 years of marriage and two wonderful children. I struggle with being enough, with being angry at my disorder or myself, and with isolation. I am grateful for my caregivers and medication that I will have to monitor always.

  3. I came across this site today and I’m very thankful! Dealing with this illness is hard on me but also on the people that love me. I’m praying and fighting each day.

  4. This is a great article and it sounds like you and your husband have found a way to work with your bipolar diagnosis. The struggles that I am facing in my 17 year marriage are a little different, I think. My husband was diagnosed with bipolar 5 years ago when one day he started saying things that did not make sense. We have had what most say is a beautiful relationship, we do not fight, we are always rushing to be with each other when we are apart, we are affectionate and respectful. It’s just a great, a God given marriage and family. We are extremely blessed. This is why, when one day when I said, “Hunny are you ok? Are we ok? I’m feeling like something is wrong but I can’t pin point what it is?” He flew off the handle and said, “I don’t know, why don’t you look at yourself and see what’s, wrong, see if you can figure it out.” He NEVER speaks to me that way. Right after that comment he said he was going to go stay at his mom and packed an over night bag and left. He had never left the house or spent the night somewhere else unless it was for work. This was so alarming to me I started to completely freak out. We (basically his mom and I) did not know what was happening. One thing led to another and he saw his doctor who referred him to a psychiatrist and that is when my husband was diagnosed with bipolar. The next 2-3 months was a whirl wind. He was put on medication, the medication had to take effect, we had to get an understanding of what we were dealing with, he had to accept the diagnoses, we had to find a therapist. It was a lot. I will admit that the hardest part for me was that he was saying that he wanted to move out and possibly not be married anymore and that he had been having these feeling for a few years but never said anything. I was like what?!?! We have been living a life people dream of and your saying what now? I was ill. I lost 10 pounds. He lost 20 pounds. All in all it was a period of about 5 moths before we had a break through, he confessed that he said those thing because he didn’t know what else to say about how he was feeling. He then told me he was 100% committed to me our our kids.

    5 years went by and there have been a couple of days where he’s needed extra sleep or has been a little depressed but he comes out of it quick and we’ve been great – just like before. About 2 months ago, out of nowhere again, he began acting different, little affections, little communication and there this tension between us and it feel horrible. Again, I asked him what was going on and he said the same things….I want to be alone, I’m not sure if this marriage and family thing are for me. Again, I wanted to die. These words are like someone is stabbing me in the heart and stomach at the same time. I know it sounds dramatic but if you knew us you would feel the same. My marriage and my family are my priority in my life. I can’t imagine living in this world with out my husband and I certainly can not imagine even trying to explain a separation to the kids. It is so hard to not take these words personally. I question are these his feeling or is this bipolar. In reality this is all still new to us, this our second episode. I am scared. I want to be better about not thinking life as we know it is over and our marriage is over and the kids are going to go though the hardest thing they’ve ever had to face. I need to chill but that is easier said than done.

    I’m wondering if anyone with more experience in this field has experienced this kind of thing. Is it common for your bipolar spouse to say he wants out of the marriage? Is it the bipolar that is shutting me out? Why is he sleeping on the other side of the bed and making sure not to touch me in any way? Why is he not telling me what he’s feeling or thinking?

    I am new to this site and I did have someone responded to a post I made and I can not tell you had that made me feel. It was a GREAT feeling, like a life life was thrown out to me while I’m loosing stamina in this great big ocean all by myself. I am thankful for anyone that can relate.

    1. Bipolar is no easy task at all but God brings us into our spouses lives for reasons. Lots of love, patience and forgiveness is the key. Some have the patience and endurance it takes to stand by their spouses through it all. It sounds like you are just starting the challenges of bipolar. There are going to be times that he goes through moods and says and does things that are hurtful. But you have to remember he really doesn’t mean it. Your love is strong and can conquer. Bipolar is a mental illness that doesn’t go away and is who part of what makes them extra special. Its about learning to adapt and live with bipolar. I know that is a struggle everyday but its about learning the triggers, the ups and downs, being their through the good and the bad. But the key to it all I have found through the emotional roller coasters with my husband of 10 years is to keep showing them and telling them how much you love them. Giving them space when they need it but also always just letting them know you love them. Don’t get angry with him because it will spark even deeper, I have learned. If you can hold on and ride it through with him, you will get through it. I know its hard to stay calm when being yelled at, not talked to, etc, but it’s important and crucial to keep yourself calm. This will allow them the freedom to get whats on their minds off their chest, your like their punching bag. They don’t have many people to unload and its really hard for them to find someone who can ride the emotional roller coaster with them all the way through life. They feel its not fair to us to have to go through the bad times but its our choice to stand by them no matter what. I know we have been married for 10 years and he was clinically diagnosed about 4 years into our marriage. But I knew something was off when we first got together. He did and said things that he didn’t mean to, he would have high moments and low moments. His are extreme at times and its a daily struggle but we always seem to manage through the storm. We have 3 kids and they fully understand that dad goes through things and needs extra love sometimes and patience. No matter what we forgive him, no matter what he says or acts like, we forgive him and love him. He is our world and I know we are his world. You know to be truthfully honest, I wish I could take away the pain, anger, depression from him. I think that is where I get my strength because on good days we are good, we have a strong loving bond, and I always say we have this love hate relationship. Because on good and bad days I always love him, but on bad days he hates me, wants a divorce, can’t stand me but on good days I am his world, he holds me extra tight on good days, those are the times I hold on to. Most of the time his episodes are caused by a sequence of other factors especially his past. He has been Bipolar his whole life but didn’t know it, he grew up and went through marriages and relationships ending the same way in an episode because they didn’t understand him and he didn’t understand himself. I will tell you its still not easy, we know whats going on and we know when its coming but can’t always control it from happening. Its a everyday emotional roller coaster but our love we have for each other makes life worth living each and everyday. Life is always a challenge as it is and I have wrote way too much but I could go on and on about Bipolar and living with it. The struggles are real some have it worse than others. But I couldn’t be more happier or blessed to have my husband in my life with me. I thank God everyday for him and my family we have together.

    2. I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this. This rollercoaster that Bipolar Illness takes us on isn’t easy for the person suffering, their family, or their friends. Before I was diagnosed I went through a long mania/mixed episode during which I was angry, hypersexual, confused, and distressed. I blew my marriage apart, decided I wanted nothing to do with my husband, acted hurtful and cruel. In reality, I was so hateful towards myself that, underneath, I didn’t think I deserved to be happy, and because of that I pushed away people who loved me, and destroyed relationships left and right. I couldn’t communicate with others about what was going on with me, because I didn’t really understand it myself, or see that things I was doing made no sense.

      I do not think you are alone in your situation, and surely my ex could relate. We had other issues that meant that we did not have a strong foundation to begin with, but he did not deserve the things I did and said to him. We are now friends and have discussed this. None of it has been easy.

      I do think that, because your relationship has been loving and strong, and has involved good communication in the past, it can be salvaged. It isn’t easy to love and support someone when they are having a bipolar episode, that is for sure. Life as you have known it IS over, but only because you have entered new, and frightening, territory in dealing with this illness. I don’t know how old your children are, but if they are not extremely young they will already have an idea that things have changed in some way. Kids are so observant. Reassure them that you and their father love them, and that is the best that you can do. As for yourself, try not to take your husband’s comments to heart, as it is the illness speaking, not the man who loves you. Stay strong, mama…you’re going to be okay no matter what path your journey takes.

  5. Hi
    Since 2012 i have been diognozed finally with bipolar , in 2010 they taught it was a depression , i was glad that finally my illness has a name it was a bitter / sweet news for me , i’m still learning how to cope with it, i’m on medications daily and i want your advice how to cope with fears, or anxiety or paranoia that i express time to time specially when it comes to love relationship with someone, and recently i met a very young man who knows about my illness and wants to be very supportive and i don’t want to lose him because of my paranoia being back again, so it’s by a search engine that i find this site, i don’t see a spychologist i’m only on medication and not even in a supportive group so please do you have advice for me? Another fact my parents divorced when i was 4 years i grew up with none of them and a loving relationship has always been what i need , now i’m 34 years old and the man i’m dating is 48 and i don’t know why the fears is coming back again, in the beguining i felt safe until the paranoia starts pump in, i want to know how i can deal with that please? and have a very healthy and happy relationship despite my bipolar.
    Thank you, with gratitude

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