Do Not Engage – Dealing With Your Bipolar Partner’s Angry Outbursts

Do you see yourself strangled in a relationship where your partner shocks you with his/her occasional outbursts of temper? Is this outburst a cause of a mental illness? People do not realize that bipolar victims are prone to get angry very soon. As a matter of fact, anger is the most predominant emotion amongst such individuals.

Just because these individuals display their anger very often does not necessarily imply that they are truly angry with you. Their anger may have nothing to do with you. You are simply being a victim to the unwanted emotion. More than often, these individuals may be sad, depressed and confused, which is why they tend to get angry very soon.

Identifying the root cause of the problem helps over here to understand their unruly behavior. Also, understanding that there is a real problem with your partner will help you save the relationship. If you reciprocate to their angry reactions with similar emotions, then things will only get bitter. More anger, accusations, door slamming and tears will be a part and parcel of your relationship, if you do not understand your partner’s real issue behind the noticeable anger.

There will be instances when your partner will tend to forget all the wrong things he/she might have done while the anger was in its peak stage. Studies reveal that some bipolar victims remember only 25% or less of what they say or do while they are angry. What matters is that you do not have to feel bad about the things he/she might have said or done in the outburst of temper. The best tool that will work for you is to avoid conversation with your partner till he/she cools down. Remember, you do not want to fight with your partner; you want to fight with the disease that is causing the problem in your relationship, which is why you should not engage with your partner when his/her temper is at its boiling point.

There is no doubt that this remedy is easier said than done. It will require immense patience from your end and you will struggle during the initial days until you practice and incorporate this several times. The key is to stick to the plan, and you will surely see success with this method. Your silence will register deep thoughts into your mind. You will slowly and gradually register the fact that the outburst of temper has no real purpose nor does it reap anything positive. Also, you will realize that your partner’s anger is not an attack on you, but a result of mental illness.

The awareness factor is also the key over here. It’s only once you become aware about this condition, you will gain compassion towards your partner’s emotion, thus giving him the space and support that he/she badly needs from you. Holding back your anger will only improve your relationship over a period of time. Some day, your partner will value you all the more!



16 Comments

  1. The above information was so helpful!

  2. I have to disagree with the part that says, "you will surely see success with this method". Everyone is different, including bipolar people. This method may work for some couples, but not all. I have bipolar disorder, and I have extremely terrible outbursts on occasion. If my wife walks away from me, ignores me, refuses to engage, or anything of that nature, whatsoever, it makes the issue FAR worse than it otherwise would have been. The best thing to do in my case is to "apologize" and act like she understands why I'm angry and that it won't happen again, and then after I've calmed down and am no longer upset at all, we talk about the situation more realistically. Like the article said, I rarely remember everything I said during that time. Fortunately for our relationship, she understands this and exactly how to deal with me, and doesn't take any of it to heart. Hopefully this information is also helpful to someone.

  3. As per usual a cavalier disregard for the welfare of the non-bipolar in the relationship.

    Here's the deal – take your meds, apologise or be prepared to be dumped.

    If you are in a relationship with a bipolar remember you only live once. You have a choice. And if you are not treated with respect by your partner AND so-called professionals then leave and quick!

  4. Thanks Tony! This article opened my eyes. I made an ultimatum: seek help or seek another partner.

  5. This method may be great in some cases, but not all. In my own personal experience, not engaging the bipolar victim was taken as "ignoring" him and made things worse. Holding back my own anger was not the way to deal with things. It actually caused me to go into depression and just want to give up and wish it would all end. An open mind to different methods of dealing with the person suffering from bipolar is much more helpful. The same thing does not always work every time.

  6. I agree with Comment #2, written by Nik. I also have bipolar disorder (II). My outbursts can send me into a rage that no one wants to be on the other side of. I have had people ignore me, make excuses for the things that are so ridiculous that I find it very difficult to hold my tongue. I don't know if I'm brutally honest or incapable of being silent when I'm enraged. I think it's the latter.

  7. Remember your life has value; emotional abuse is devastating and can make you ill whether a bipolar intends it or not. Will you destroy yourself to try to save someone else?

  8. When he is wearing headphones is the best. Distracted and keeps anything he’s thinking away from everyone else. Such a shame people get bipolar, you begin to see the illness and not the person they were before. Very sad for everyone!

  9. I agree with Tony and Nik. My husband has bipolar and so did my father. To ignore, tells them it’s okay to rage. My father only snapped out of his rage when my mother would stand up to him, otherwise if she ignored him, he’d hit her and the rage would last for days. 24 years of that then she divorced him. In the meantime, the damage was done to my mom, my 3 sisters and myself. We’ve all been divorced and I’m on my 3rd marriage and he’s got bipolar. He’s not physically abusive, but his rages send me into panic mode.

    I’ve tried to be patient and calming, I’ve tried humor, I’ve raged back at him when I have no more patience. Depending on where he is in his cycle, he can get over it quickly or rage 10 minutes later and again in another minute. It surely takes a toll on me as I am the one with the higher paying job who h comes with a lot more mental reasoning, his job is cutting fruit all day, that’s it, one thing. My job has me multitasking for over 400 employees I have to interact with all day. Some days, I go in on 2 hours of sleep. On days when my husband is calm, he’s great, on the days when he’s raging, his eyes get black and his face is expressionless or angry.

    We’ve only been married a year and I’m disconnected from him due to bipolar. I can’t manage everything! He can’t even fold clothes normal, and I find myself doing everything from putting away dishes to driving whenever the weather or time of day isn’t “just the right conditions” for him. He’s on two medications and tells his doctor everything is just fine, yet it’s not, and he won’t go for counseling because he says his insurance doesn’t cover that… I barely have time at the end of the day to check on that, because of his unpredictable moods. Help!

  10. I am married to a bipolar man, was raised by a bipolar mother. My mother would threaten to kill herself in front of us kids. Something my sister and I, have affecting us until this day.

    My husband on the other hand, has grown more manic and rage driven as time goes on. His rage comes from nowhere In particular, and goes on for days. He locks himself i his den, screams, yells, throws things, destroys other things, slams doors and calls me names. This used to only happen three to four times a year now we may have 2-3 “good” days as 10 extremely bad ones. I have tried ignoring him, arguing with him, leaving. Nothing works. He claims no one cares about him, no one understands. But he has pushed away all his friends, his family will have little or nothing to do with him because of it, and he blames me for “turning them against him”.

    He even went so far as to threaten to call the cops and have him arrested because I haven’t fed him in three days. (I work/he’s retired) I come home, I never know what I’m walking into, today it was things knocked off of tables, chip bags broken and all over the floor, trash in the sink and my craft room torn apart. So let me tell you standing up to them, ignoring them, etc. doesn’t work every time. So maybe divorce IS the best solution.

  11. The advice to ignore or step back does not work with my wife. She gets further enraged and things only settle when I apologize for whatever she’s angry about, regardless if it has anything to do with me — The only thing stopping me from divorce is the fear that I will not get 100% full time custody of my child. Men are not given a fair shake — even in today’s times — in regards to custody. Even if I did get 100% she would most certainly lose control, hurt herself and blame me — making sure my child knew it was “my fault”. I feel stuck and like I’m in a prison — I’m a shell of the person I used to be — had to give up my own interests, friends, etc., all because of the care taker role I’m forced into. I do it for my child. I do my best to keep a calm home. But the emotional abuse I take is substantial and I feel numb at this point. The icing on the cake is that her therapists (many of them actually gave up on her!), doctors, etc, never seemed to care about the effects of her behavior on loved ones. She always has someone to blame for everything. The truth is, the medical industry has been terribly ineffective when it comes to bipolar. They don’t know what to do about it, (and they sometimes can’t accurately distinguish it from borderline personality disorder either!). They are the true “enablers” in my opinion. They seem to reinforce in their patients that it’s always the other guys fault. I get that it’s a disease that causes uncontrollable behaviors (sometimes), but there has to be some better way of treating it than to blame parents, loved ones etc,. Loved ones are asked to live a life on eggshells and nobody seems to care about them and the fact they are suffering — as long as the bipolar person gets through another day at therapy. DBT, Meds, ECT, TMS, all ineffective — Its time docs and therapists started earning their high fees! There’s got to be a solution out there… If not soon, I’m going to have to risk the custody stuff and say goodbye.

  12. Joseph G. I feel exactly the same way. I am completely miserable! I am so tired of fighting or tiptoeing around my husband all the time. I work and he is on disability now and I am so afraid that if I file for divorce he will either hurt himself, hurt me and/or the kids or I won’t get full custody and then I fear what happens when I am not around. I am just so scared to move forward but so miserable where I am. I feel trapped and have no idea how to move forward. I get very frustrated reading a lot of other articles and posts because they act like our feelings don’t matter and we should just take it because it’s the disease. That I should learn to “handle him” better. What about my feelings and my life?

  13. “Holding back your anger will only improve your relationship over a period of time. Some day, your partner will value you all the more!” I feel this is the absolute worst advice. One should refrain from actively arguing with the bipolar member of the relationship. We need to stop devaluing the non-bipolar member. Accept that the angry worlds are detrimental to the nonbipolar’s members health and mental state. Do not repress emotions. You ha e a right to be angry. If your partner does not value you get out. It’s not going to get better or easier. IT IS NOT OK TO BE ABUSED BECAUSE YOUR PARTNER HAS A MENTAL DISORDER.

  14. I do wish i’d stumbled upon bipolar rage after the girl I’d dated for a while broke up with me (the first time) letting me know she was both bipolar and suicidal. I agreed to be her friend only (VERY hard for me after making it clear early on I did not want to jeopardize our connection by making it romantic if she did not want that or was not ready for it so now my heart was open) but that quickly escalated back into (sort of) romance with her driving. The hardest part for me to deal with was dealing with the incredible affection/connection followed by the incredible and almost unreachable coldness/distance. However between her affirmations of how she felt with me even when she was like that and my research I stuck around in what was a very one-sided relationship and required constant support/compassion from me, even to the extent of dealing repeatedly with her late night suicidal terrors where I just had to hold her and comfort her to sleep. She never even realized the level of trauma this introduced into my life. I stuck through it thinking (and being reassured) I had something very special with someone who due to their illness could not cope with a relationship yet.

    What I did not hear about was the rage and one day she simply lit into me. I didn’t in fact recognize her; not just the words, but her voice, her face, her body even. It was like a different person and she proceeded to rip apart everything; who I was, my character, my looks, my decisions in life, scoffed at love letters I’d sent when I realized she just needed me to be there for her in any way she needed, utterly diminished bot the overall and specific instances of care (e.g. coming by when she was slurring that she’d opened her window and was going to ‘do it’ and closing window and holding her to sleep and telling her I’d always be there to care for her), scoffing at times I mentioned where we had amazing tenderness/connection as being not worthy of remembrance, telling me that the truth about her coldness which she always reassured me was not me WAS in fact me and that everyone else around us knew she wasn’t into to me but I was so into her. So she turned not just the future but the past to ashes and did everything she could to destroy my self-image and worth. It was so much to bear after months of daily up/down with her affection/coldness and my doing everything I could to build her UP and make her feel wanted, beautiful, worthy of living, etc. so I struck back and was and am to this day ashamed of the things I said back. Most of them were deserved in fact but that does not mean they should have been said. In retrospect if I’d known about ‘bipolar rage’ I might have just walked away but maybe not; it was months of being traumatized either by her coldness or her suicidal depression and I’d had enough. Next time I saw her I ignored her (like she thought I was going to send another love/apology letter letting her off the hook as I had prior) and she responded by returning in an hour drunk and manic and picking up a sleazy guy right in front of me and then since I had not responded and simply left paraded him around so I and everyone else would know she was having a torrid affair.

    Here is my take on ‘understanding’ people with BP and learning to deal; screw that. And screw them. I don’t have to excuse alcoholics who run over kids. I don’t have to excuse someone with Ebola who decides to just hang out in public and infect everyone; I don’t have to excuse someone with VD who has unprotected sex. YOU learn to deal with your rage and your coldness and your cycling. BP just becomes a communicable disease as I, who have been through the mill in the last decade with loss and death and caretaking of family and did so w/o a tear or drugs am now suffering from depression, PTSD, low self-esteem and likely will need therapy and drugs for the first time in my life. For what? For trying to understand someone else’s disease and give them love and support and caring and strength. BS. We need more articles on the need to walk away from BP people OR articles for BP people to learn to manage/handle ‘rage’ and ‘distance’. THEY should be the ones learning to have relationships with ‘non’s not the other way around. Sorry if this sounds harsh.

    1. This was very well written and you expressed a lot of things I have been feeling and dealing with as well. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul out so others can have the courage to walk away or avoid a possible devastating scenario.

    2. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

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