My husband is bipolar. I have known ever since I got together with him, but didn’t quite understand what that entailed.
We have had ups and downs over the years (no pun intended), and have had very good years when he’s been under medical supervision.
We have two children, 5 and 10, and he is a great father to them.
We went through a major crisis when my first child was a newborn when he stopped taking his medication and started acting in ways unrecognizable and unacceptable to me, leaving our home for days, sleeping around, doing drugs, and even getting violent (though never with me).
We patched things up then, moved forward, had a second child, and I have mostly made it work through compromise and compassion, doing my best to see the best parts of him and understanding that the rest is largely out of my (and to an extent, his) control.
He has recently stopped taking his medication again, saying it makes him foggy and he can’t stand them anymore. I respect his decision and can’t force him to take his medication, but as a consequence, he has again started to act in ways I don’t want to tolerate. He is verbally abusive and I know he is seeing other women.
We have talked about it, I have told him I don’t want to live like this, and we have agreed to be separated without changing our living situation for now (we just live as strangers in the same house, co-parent, and sleep in separate bedrooms).
After years of wanting to make it work between us, for the sake of the commitment I made to him and our children’s, I have finally reached the breaking point, and I want to live my life without him now.
I am taking my time to let this decision sink in, and let solutions emerge, to see how exactly I want to do it, where I want to go, how I will pay for things on my own, etc.
My major source of anxiety over this is that he doesn’t want a divorce. He says we can just live like this, and if I take the children away from him I will be taking away his only reason to live. Considering he has a history of suicide attempts, this is a threat I take seriously.
How would you recommend I go about making a life decision of this kind when I know it impacts someone who has serious mental issues?
When is it okay to throw in the towel and say, this disease is your cross to bear, and I don’t want to help you anymore? At the risk of creating a circumstance that will lead to a T and an E that might (heaven forbid) lead to suicide as an A?
I’m also trying to reconcile this idea of (essentially) leaving someone who is ill. If his health issue was, say, cancer, of course I would stick with him through it, but this particular disease is transforming him into someone I don’t want to be with.
Thank you in advance for your guidance.