You’re a cheating asshole using Bipolar as an excuse for cheating.
That is the stigma. That bipolar infidelity is simply a moral failing. Just like addiction. You drink because you lack the strength to control it. A moral failing. Drinking and infidelity are not the same, but when it comes to bipolar infidelity they both have the same stigma.
The first time I cheated was before bipolar was a significant issue. I was very dissatisfied in my marriage. We rarely had (have) sex (couple times a year). We had all kinds of relationship problems. REAL problems, not the crippling delusions that followed. But as mania/depression began to ramp up, something broke in me. I no longer wanted to cheat. I was working on my marriage. We went to counseling. We started having sex more frequently. But I became increasingly more sexual and more impulsive and deluded until I was cheating online, then when my mania exploded I slept with 6 different women in just a few weeks. If you follow this blog you know about this a bit. You know that I believed I was on a mission from God to help these women feel desirable.
Before it happened I visited another church than my own. I couldn’t talk to my pastor, because I was incredibly attracted to her. It was a mega church. Big and dark. Nobody knew me. Afterwards, the minister invited us to meet with his associate pastors for prayer. I found my way to one and pleaded with him. I needed him to pray for me to remain faithful.
We prayed hard. I thought maybe it would be okay. I do believe in God, and I do believe in miracles. But a spiraled out of control very quickly after that and I cheated with a bunch of random women in the course of the next couple of weeks.
This is mania. This is not a moral failing. I know it’s hard to understand that, especially if you’ve been hurt by it. I did not expect my wife to forgive me. In fact, I bowed out when she found out. I walked away and things got even worse. I eventually contracted a bad case of pneumonia. I wasn’t sleeping. I was doing nothing but drinking, smoking, and carrying on with strange women. I quite going to work.
My lungs were filling with fluid, but it did not change my behavior for many days. Then one night, it was like a fever broke. I called my wife. She had never wanted me to leave. Her friend, a psychologist, told her that I was probably bipolar and needed treatment immediately. She took me first to the hospital to get treatment for pneumonia. It had been more dire than I realized. She took me home and nursed me in our bed. Oddly enough, she made mad love to me in spite of her great pain. She had thought that she had lost me.
Then came the doctors. Each of them, Bipolar I. Counseling. Medicine. And the beginnings of healing. Our marriage is better now than it has ever been in 22 years.
Mania is not a condition that can be controlled with moral will-power. It needs medical treatment. Right now, I’m in a state of enough mania for this to happen again. That’s why I reached out. But I came up with a plan. I cancelled all of my plans tomorrow to see my doctor and to stay away from people as much as possible. He’s been treating me for 6 years and this is the first time that he hasn’t been able to knock me down. I’m going to have to accept doses that have been very uncomfortable for me. I’m desperate enough, for example, to risk another panic attack because of a high dose of a medicine.
I DO NOT WANT TO CHEAT. But that isn’t enough to prevent it. I am open with my wife about my symptoms. She appreciates so much that I can be honest about it.
Break the stigma, friends. An illness is an illness no matter how you feel about the symptoms. I feel that I deserve no less compassion. I need help, not judgement.