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The BiPolar Drinker

Alot of what we go through has to do with the amount of drinking that my husband does. Unfortunately, of the many problems that people with bipolar disorder have, abuse of alcohol is among the worst. According to an article in Science Daily, dated January 19, 2005 and titled “Anticonvulsant Drug Cuts Drinking In Bipolar Alcoholics, Shows University Of Pittsburgh Research” approximately 61% of bipolar patients abuse alcohol or other substances, this is higher than for any other psychiatric illness. Most of them do not take responsibility while drinking either (that is a personal observation).

A few weekends ago we had some friends over for a cookout. The day went very well, with everyone eating, drinking, and having a great time. As the evening came in, I could tell that my husband had gone past his limit (not that he has one for himself) and his eyes were glazed over and he was slurring his words a bit. I didn’t say anything and hoped the guests didn’t notice as a few of them were drunk as well. When all of our company finally left, I asked my husband if he was ready to head to bed. This started a huge argument about how I act like an old lady, don’t know how to have fun, rush our guest out the door (it was almost midnight by the time the last guest left and I did not rush anyone away), and how fed up he is with me. He promptly got up, went inside, and locked the door behind him. I sat there for a few moments, unable to speak, trying to figure out what had just happened. Then I got up and went around to the front door and let myself in.

He came from the bathroom and spent the next hour telling me how I was not interested in him, how sick of everything he was, how he wished he wasnt alive, how he wanted a divorce, how I was boring, not sexy, not sexual, etc, etc.

I have been through this numerous times, but each time eats away a little more of my understanding. It hurts, and usually the next day, all he can say is “it wasn’t me”. Very rarely have I gotten any sort of apology and when I do not change my mood, it ends up as 2 days worth of arguments between us.

I am an enabler, but I feel like there is no other choice. We can go through days of no drinking and then for some reason, he will spend the next weekend loaded. He has a serious drinking problem, the kind that causes you to drink a case of beer by yourself a day. Yes, a case. If he has had a tough day, he may go right home and ask me to pick up his beer on my way home. I repeatedly say no, in my head, but end up picking it up anyway. The alternative is to go home with no beer and watch the switch flip as he starts pouring a glass of something stronger than beer. And that is never a good option. Hard liquor has a much different effect for him, he gets depressed, angry, and suicidal. Beer seems to calm him and make him sleepy. Which would you choose? What choice do I have? He doesn’t always over do it, but he has no control over his drinking.

If your husband is a drinker and bipolar you have a tough battle ahead of you, honestly. I am constantly reminding myself that he has a disease, he cannot help his moods, behaviour, or drinking. To that end, I do not make it a habit of accepting invitations to go out and do not invite that many people over. I do not comment on his drinking, except for the following day when he is recovering with a headache. I usually make a statement at that point but do not harp on it all day long. I try to be there for him and I never leave him alone drinking, when he has had to much, he needs me there to listen.

I do it because I love him and want this to work…

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