Bipolar Infidelity: Breaking the Stigma

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.



It’s Crazy Time

its-miller-timeOk, before I catch hell over it, I’ll say that I would never use the word crazy to describe another person, but it is an accurate description of me between 3:30 and 6 pm most days.  I become crazed…agitated, motor-mouthed, intense, and overwhelming to be around.  Nothing all that serious, but still.  It started happening in February of this year.  After years of mostly level moods (I’m Bipolar I), I began to experience hypomanic and mixed states.  I started taking Seroquel XR and it helped, but with one glitch, it wears off after 22 hours or so.  Not 24, but 22.  You see problem here?

Because it is 22, I have a 2 hour gap of being under-medicated.  So, Daniel, why not take it 2 hours early each day?  Well, Jill or Josephine or whomever you are, 2 out of 10 times it makes me feel like a just drank a double bourbon.  This cannot happen at work.  And so I suffer through.  I try to shut my mouth at work around 3.  I drive home, often talking non-stop to myself.  I enter the house.  I go straight to the medicine without stopping to chat and take my pill. Then I go to my piano and either play or sing until it’s time to cook dinner, which I do by myself.  By the time I serve dinner, I’m good.  I’m chill.

Here’s the history of coming home from work. “It’s Miller Time” eventually became “It’s get shit-faced drunk time” which became “drunk and crazy time”  which became “drunk but medicated time”  which became “sober but not sure what to do during Miller time anymore” which became “It’s Seroquel and Shut Up and Sing Time!”

We do the best we can.  We create plans and strategies.  We isolate ourselves when we need to.  My motto is “When in doubt, don’t go out!”  I’d rather be alone for an evening than hurt my friends and family or create a scene or embarrass myself and others.

As I’m writing this, it’s 3:07. It’s already starting to happen.  Even my typing is more furious and intense.  I’m sharing an office.  My goal will be to say as little as possible between now and 4:15 when I get off.  I got drawn into an impromptu meeting once around this time.  I flipped out over a misunderstanding because I don’t listen when I get this way and confused the hell out of everyone.  No one understood why I was behaving that way.  I stammered something about medicine and moods but I didn’t really communicate anything intelligible. And there have been little hints dropped that members of my team don’t want to hear anything about my “personal” problems so I don’t feel comfortable disclosing and educating.

So yeah, it’s crazy time.  It’s the new normal for me.  I’m doing the best I can with it.


Pre-med Daniel

Yesterday, I posted the following on Facebook.  It was intended to be funny, but also a little informative.  Excuse the politics.

Me, before afternoon medication:

You conservatives who dish it out but can’t take it when someone throws a few hard facts at you, you’re the real crybabies around here!  Do you need a safe space?  Can I call you a waaaaahmbulance?  You’re gonna need it when I’m done with this safety pin!

Me after meds:  Let’s watch Friends

It got a lot of laughs and it elicited this response from a dear friend:

Oh, pre-med Daniel sounds like someone I can get behind. lol.

And then my wife responded:

I don’t think you would enjoy this version as much as you might think.  My sweet husband becomes a tortured, miserable soul in that state.  I’m so thankful for the quality healthcare we are so fortunate to be able to access.

It’s important to me to have a sense of humor about myself.  I want people to see that I don’t take myself so seriously that they have to tip-toe around me all of the time.  But to my wife, it’s not funny at all.  She’s seen what kind of havoc my illness can make.  Most people have not seen that at all.  I’m not even sure people believe that I’m sick.

What my friend wrote did not bother me at all.  I like parts of pre-med Daniel quite a bit.  Maybe he is a tortured soul, but he’s also a full-blooded living soul.  Part of my joke is that my meds take the fire out of me.  I’m reduced to watching Friends on a continuous loop with my wife whereas I used to be out partying and carrying on and writing novels and coming up with inventive ideas for new software systems and planning recitals and doing open mics.  People did like the pre-med Daniel, at least the people who didn’t have to live with him.

But, I’ve come to an acceptance.  There’s no way around it.  My unmedicated illness is incompatible with the lifestyle I’ve chosen.  I want to stay married.  I want a steady job.  I want to be a good parent.  I want be the kind of church leader than people look to as a model for Christian living.  Medicine is the only option for me if I want this lifestyle.  I still get out once in awhile.  I still write a little.  I don’t have the software ideas anymore, but I like working with other people’s ideas; refining them, improving them.

It’s all about goals.  If you are reading this and want the lifestyle I have, take your meds every day.  If you want a life of unfettered freedom, then maybe you can get away with no meds for awhile, until you lose all freedom in jail or in the hospital.




A Few Thoughts about My Interview about Social Media and Bipolar

I recently gave an interview with a doctoral student about mental illness and social media.  He posed some really interesting questions, and I really enjoyed working through them with him.  I’ll be following the progress of his study which in part may be seeking to find ways of supporting people with mental illness through social media.

We talked about stigma.  I said that just by sharing our stories, we are helping to break the stigma.  And when we can help to educate through social media, we need to have the courage to do it.  The world and our friends and family need to get a better picture of what mental illness looks like in a person.  It may not be what they expect.

To be honest, some of us are doing everything we can to reinforce the stigma.  To a large degree, we cannot help it.  Not every one of us has access to the kind of care required to keep us well.  But wellness is a part of illness that not everyone sees.  Perhaps people see a well person and think that that means they do not still have a mental illness, for instance.  “Glad you’re better!  I suppose everyone goes through a patch of bipolar once in their life.  They thought I was bipolar when I was teen.  I was using a lot of drugs!  But I got over it.”  (implication, maybe you should get over it).

But when we write and network and reach out, we can break those stigmas.  We can humanize our illness for people.

I don’t want to rehash the interview.  This guy’s work will speak much better for itself than I will.  But I am a little more mindful at the moment.   I’m thinking about how the bipolar community is with each other.  He asked if I’d ever received negative comments on my blog.  I said “Never!  Bipolar people don’t treat each other that way.  We’ve all been beaten up, belittled, discarded, and judged too much to treat each other that way.  I get nothing but support.”

And that’s a true statement for me.  I’ve received nothing but support and solidarity from my readers.   For that, I’m am so very grateful.  There’s never been a better time in history for people with mental illness and social media is an important part of that.

If you would like to participate in this study contact John Naslund @naslundj or click here to take the survey

Attempted Listening


stock-photo-good-listener-words-on-a-name-tag-sticker-to-show-you-are-sympathetic-empathetic-and-understanding-215663989One of my wellness goals is to be a good listener.  I’m pretty good when I’m well, but when I get revved up, I’m not good at it at all.  All I can do is talk about myself, get defensive, and give criticism instead of support.  Men, in general, struggle with listening because we are problem solvers.  That’s how we support.  We offer solutions.  But often women don’t want a solution, they want to be listened to.

Recently, my wife and I took a long walk.  This is our time to share a little more in depth than usual.  We take a good 30 or 40 minutes or more.  Lately, she’s done the talking which gives me a good chance to practice being a good listener.

I’ve recently become an AA sponsor, and I’ve learned a few things about supporting someone.  Sometimes, it’s my job to tell him what to do, but mostly it’s me working with him to solve problems.  I’ve learned to help him draw out his own wisdom with prompting sorts of questions.

That’s all well and good, but within five minutes of the walk I was shouting.  I don’t even remember what about, but my afternoon Seroquel had not yet kicked in.  But as we walked, I was able to zone into being a support just like I have been for my sponsee.  I decided that I would treat her as a sponsee except for the part where I tell her what to do.

I listened and reflected which means I repeated back to her what I understood her to be saying and asked if I got it right.  Then I  began asking prompting questions once and awhile.  How does that make you when our daughter acts that way?  Do you resent her?  Do you blame me for her bipolar.  Even a little bit?  And then I validate her feelings.

Wowsers, I sound like Mister Right!  But alas, this is very hard for me to do when I am struggling with manic symptoms.  Right now, I’m in an accepting mode.  There is no perfect cocktail of meds anymore…at least not since February.  I have to learn what most other bipolars are trying to learn:  how to deal with periods of mania without the full support of meds.

When my wife shares her feelings, I get defensive.  All I hear is blaming.  I get agitated and loud.  And when I say loud, I mean trained opera singer loud.  And she is very sensitive to loud sounds.  I feel terrible later.  In those situations, I start off wanting to be helpful, but it quickly goes awry.

One strategy we’re trying is not to engage in conversation until my afternoon dose kicks in.  I come home, take my medicine,  practice music, then make dinner.  By the time that is done I’m cool as a cucumber.  We haven’t figured out weekends, though.  It’s a different pattern.

So now we have our walks after dinner when I can listen.  The remaining problem is that I don’t perceive her as wanting to listen to me.  My wife has been subjected to so much with suicide attempts, adultery, verbal abuse, crazy letters to her parents, and public embarrassment so much that she has decided it’s her turn to be selfish.  I haven’t argued with that.  How can I?

But the truth is that I ask little of a partner when it comes to service and she gives little.  So, it works most of the time.  It’s not that I wish she would give more,  it’s when she asks for too much of me that I throw it back in her face.  This happens far less.  I’m getting better at saying no when I need to say no.

For now, I want to be the listener.  After all, she’s had to listen to my crazy bullshit for over half her ever loving life.


I’ve developed a crush on a new coworker.  She is tall, dark-featured, and curvy on top, and gorgeous.  I’m attracted to tall women, but I’ve never been involved with one.  The temptation is there.  I have not flirted, but she seems open to it.  I’ve learned to read the signs over my unmedicated years of womanizing.  I’ve caught her making very steady, direct eye contact with me many times.  In a recent meeting, I returned her gaze and before I could even think about it I winked.  A wink can be nothing, but it can be everything. This game is such a subtle thing until it’s not.

I have a history of bipolar-related infidelity.  I’m not exactly level right now, but I’m not too far gone.  Like I said, I haven’t flirted one little bit, but my resolve is low.  One manic episode and I could make something happen very quickly, or get fired trying.  My building has many opportunities for privacy including private shower rooms, a fitness room that is usually dark and empty, stairwells, and elevators. On some level, I already have a plan.  I’ve come close to pulling her close and kissing her in the elevator or on the stairs, but I REALLY don’t want to go down that road again.  I really don’t want to end my marriage.

But the honest truth is that in my state, even though I might not make a move, if she did I would be nearly helpless.  She’s too alluring and I’m just manic enough to get hypersexual enough and starved enough to give in.  I haven’t had regular sex since my diagnosis in 2011.  It’s just not happening with my wife.  I’d make a pretty good monk.

So I have a rule that is keeping me safe so far.  I don’t seek out any social interaction with her.  If it happens, it happens, but it’s brief.  I keep on moving.  I do not linger anywhere with her.

So am I just a cheating jerk?  Well, I certainly have been, but it’s not so simple.  I’ve covered hyper-sexuality and crushes before on this blog.  Take your pick.

Recurring Fantasy That May Save My Ass

Daniel Undone

Honest Confession

Open Channel

Fessing Up To My Wife About Recent Hyper-sexual Symptoms

What Can Be Forgiven

Healing After Bipolar Infedility

What It’s Like To Be Hypersexual with Bipolar

Hypersexuality: Picking Up the Pieces

I’ve described it as the euphoria to beat all euphoria.  And I’m so very confident when I have it.  I know how to make myself attractive.  And I’m highly, dangerously impulsive.  How I’ve stayed faithful for the five years since my diagnosis and reconciliation is really a marvel.  I’ve surprised everyone.  Cheating is a Pandora’s box.  You may wonder about it for years, but once you’ve done it and know how easy it is to do…

But I’m not a jerk.  I’m actively fighting this by taking care of myself and by making rules which if obeyed ahead of time will prevent me from being in a compromising position.  But it’s just so easy, cheating.  It’s as easy as making the right kind of eye contact in the right place in time in the right mood.

So this crush…it won’t pass, they never do.  I still have crushes from childhood.  But if I do not put out the vibes, maybe she will leave me mercifully alone.




The Way We Feel and the Way We Behave

130922-130551Plato said “An unexamined life is not a life worth living.”  It is crucial that those of us with mental illness and addiction examine our lives very carefully.  I’ve done so with therapy, AA, mindfulness, and writing.  Through this blog, I unravel my own hidden truths.  It’s crucial because without self-awareness there is little possibility of getting better.

Last week, I forgot a morning dose of meds.  I was as close to normal during the day as usual, but in the evening I became combative with my family.  I was self-aware to the extent that I knew that my behavior was problematic even as I experienced it, but it didn’t stop me for awhile.  Eventually, though, I went to be by myself for awhile.  That’s something I couldn’t do just a few years ago. But yesterday was different.  I forgot my meds again.  I remembered what happened before and I began to prepare myself for a bumpy ride.

First, I told my wife that I might need to isolate myself that evening.  I then began to formulate a plan.  I cancelled an evening engagement.  I envisioned myself being kind and pleasant to be around.  And you know what?  It worked.  I was a goddamn delight!  I was self-aware.

I know myself very well by now.  I do not hide my truths from myself.  I may not always do something about it, but I’m observant;  observant of my thoughts and feelings.  Feelings are important.  We learn about ourselves in powerful ways when we examine how we feel about things;  how we react.  It helps us understand why we feel the way we do, and enables us to change the way we respond behaviorally.  This is what allowed me to change my behavior last night.  I knew that just because I felt a certain way didn’t mean I had to behave in a certain way.

This is key to people with bipolar.  It is an illness of feelings.  Our feelings betray our reality.  We act on an altered reality in part created by feelings.  We must separate our feelings from our reality in order to stay grounded in the real world.