Who will support me?

How can John get the support he needs to deal with his partner’s mental illness?

Relationship expert Jo Lamble answers many prickly questions in her book, Answers to Everyday Questions about Relationships. This week she has advice on how John can get the support he needs to deal with his partner’s mental illness.

Q. Tom
I have been with my partner on and off for 20 years. She suffers from bipolar and although I love her with my heart and soul, I often find the mood swings too extreme. Because we split up quite frequently, my family and friends are finding the situation difficult to cope with, and the effect on my young son is devastating. I feel as though I am isolated from everyone and don’t know where to turn. Can anyone help me?

A. Unfortunately mental illness is still so misunderstood, so it’s not surprising that your friends and family are having trouble coping with your situation. And children often have to grow up very quickly when they see the effects of an illness like bipolar. It’s wonderful that you love this woman, but it can make it even harder to deal with the extreme mood swings and frequent break-ups. Have you had any couple counselling? I have seen many couples with similar issues and together, they can discuss ways to support each other and deal with the crises. Or sometimes, they make an informed decision to end the relationship. Depending on the age of your son, family counselling may be worth a thought as well, just so your son gets the support he needs. As for your friends and family, I’m assuming that they have educated themselves about bipolar. If not, you could recommend excellent websites such as the Black Dog Institute so that they can develop some understanding of the illness. In the meantime, why don’t you consider joining a support group, so you feel less alone? Again, details of support groups can be found online.

Family and couple’s counselling can be arranged by visiting your doctor and asking for a referral. The cost of this is often covered by Medicare.
Bipolar support groups – www.bipolar.com.au/support


    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Jul 2012
    "the effect on my young son is devastating"

    So would be the effect on the husband who is the carer. Once again one must wonder if the same advice would be given if the gender roles were reversed. I think not, the woman would be seen as used and abused and would be told to depart the scene with the child at once, or simply to lock 'him' out of home and call the cops. It would be violence if he complained, right? And the time-honoured first strike for a woman is a violence order and any court would immediately oblige. The police would be proactive if there is any allegation, even hint or inference of possible trouble. A harsh word is domestic violence.

    Unfortunately in the event of a separation if the child is under 18 the Family Court is just as likely to grant custody of the child to the woman regardless of whether she is the biological mother and tolerating some broad mental illness.

    That is the problem for this concerned and loving father isn't it? That the woman cannot care adequately for the child and she is very likely to 'win' the child and continually frustrate and deny access to the dad and all of the relatives on his side. Then there will be the risk of the invitees the woman brings home, who have been proved to be the most common source of any problems for the child (and the woman too for that matter).

    What appear to be blind-siding this father and it usually blind-sides men, is the male programming to care for and protect his partner and children (which is not the mantra of the lesbian-controlled radical feminists who have the ear of Gillard ministers like Nicola Roxon, who are continually re-jigging family law to suit).

    Nonetheless the advice for this father is what would doubtless be given to a woman: talk with his GP and get psychological counselling support, get support from friends and family (is he sharing his woes with them, because he must to get the support he needs), get proper legal advice and above all, get the hell out, NOW.

    Fact is, his life will be cr@p forever and worse if he stays and the effect on the child will be catastrophic. For the child, the toxic domestic environment will eat at his/her very soul. What would definitely be anxiety-producing today will very likely become a serious chronic condition if the present unsatisfactory arrangement is permitted to continue. Put in other terms, to some that is child abuse, or child neglect. The child's health and happiness need a chance too. That can be catered for by supervised visits for mum when separated. That IS what a mother would be told if the boot was on the other foot, isn't it? It happens to be right too.

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