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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 06/21/11

I am 36 and I take care of my husband who is 38 and has Bipolar II disorder.  He has had this for about 7 years.  I love him very much and we have two teenage daughters; we've been married 16 years.  Right now I am at my breaking point. I feel like *me* is completely gone. All I can do is think about how to respond to him so that I donít set him off. He is staying on his meds for as far as I can tell. The biggest thing I deal with is his inability to communicate with anyone and mostly me. He absolutely refuses or cannot try to talk to anyone about daily life. If I talk to him once per day, that is a lot! And then itís usually like we just met and we talk about the weather.
I want to break free of this; I want him to try to work on his issues, but he wonít. I want to divorce him right now because I just need to have a real relationship. But I love him and I promised him for better or for worse. I want to always be there for him, but I need things, too. I feel as if I just donít get to have feelings and preferences. I think I need to find someone who can listen; someone who cares about me.  I need to find people like me, but there are no support groups in my area that I can find.

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Name: Jamie
Location: California
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 09:01 PM


I am also a caregiver. I care for my mother and also am trying to raise my two young children. Your husband needs professional help, it sounds like he is not on medication for his disorder or he is not on the right medication. I am sure you have heard this before...if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be around for your husband and daughters!

Name: Debra
Location: TX
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 02:16 PM


You might also want to check out the local NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, or on the web. They have a course called "Family to Family" which really helped me understand the ins and outs of Bipolar disease in my stepdaughter. Good luck.

Name: Nina
Location: Indian Lake, NY
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 11:33 AM


Though I have little experience with Bipolar Disorder in adults, I have worked with parents, spouses and children of persons with a wide range of issues. The best advice anyone can give is find a support system for yourself and your children. Support groups, counselors, clergy, friends, extended family anyone and everyone that can and will give you a shoulder, a hand or a sounding board. If there are limited resources in your area, look for help online or talk to your doctor or a mental health person. Community colleges or nurse trainging facilities often have mental health people around that could help you connect, if you don't already have a contact. Please, above all else, take care of yourself. You can't take care of your children or your husband if you get sick.

Name: Dorothy
Location: Virginia
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 09:48 AM


I understand how lonely and frustrated you are. You still love him, but you don't have a full partner, and it is only natural to yearn for that. I recommend the Well Spouse Association, the only support organization for spousal caregivers exclusively. We have an online forum and telephone support groups that could really help you figure out how to cope with the stressful situation you are in. Please check us out!

Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 08:26 AM


Yes, you should seek a support group. This will help you feel less alone in handling your situation. If you don't find a support group in your area, go to the nearest mental health center and see about starting one. It only takes two people to share.

Name: PJCO
Location: NJ
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 08:00 AM


Hi, your letter prompted me to write as my husband is 59 and I am 49, he was diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder in 2003, although there is a family history of depression and other things that I was unaware of... Talk to your friends, minister, counseling and his counselor. It is vital that you take care of yourself and your daughters. It is a very hard road. Sometimes I get very angry with him and realize that it is the disorder that has taken over his brain and he isn't the man that I married. Sometimes that helps and other times, I just walk out of the room and do my own thing. At least he is home and safe and not wandering around.

Name: Marion Olender
Location: Issaquah, WA
Date: 06/21/2011
Time: 06:47 AM


My heart goes out to you. I have and have had several family members with this diagnosis. I believe that you cannot do this alone. You need counseling for you and your daughters. You need outside help. Don't be afraid to reach out to them. It can be done on a sliding scale, and is really worthwhile. God bless you and yours.



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