Dealing With Dual Diagnosis : Bipolar And Addiction

Many people that have a mental illness have an addiction due to their need to self medicate. This is how my husband deals with his diagnosis of bipolar and being an alcoholic.

“Hi. My name is Rob and I’m Bipolar.”

My husband has bipolar disorder. It is no secret to his family, friends or co-workers. He is the one that openly declares his illness and claims it as his own. He doesn’t say he has. He says he is.

Honestly, I believe it is this realization and admission that has helped him achieve long periods of stability. He is, as am I, always vigilant and aware that the triggers and symptoms are always there lurking, waiting to surface. Any success of stability is dependent on never forgetting you have the illness. Believe me. we have suffered the consequences of becoming lax in monitoring his mood swings.

Many people that have a mental illness have an addiction due to their need to self medicate. This is how my husband deals with his diagnosis of bipolar and being an alcoholic

Maybe it is his 25 years of sobriety. Maybe it is 25 years of admitting to strangers, “My name is Rob and I am an alcoholic”, that has made it so much easier and natural for him to do the same with his diagnosis of bipolar. He understands that his sobriety is closely linked to never forgetting what he is, an alcoholic. That is what has helped him stay clean. So why wouldn’t he transfer that successful strategy to his diagnosis as well?

If you asked my husband to separate himself from his disorder, he couldn’t do it. He would tell you it shaped every past experience he had before the diagnosis and made him who he is today. All the glory days of his youth, which he now clearly sees as manic phases, he would have to erase, including the friends he still has from then and all the good times he enjoyed. Probably his first marriage and children too. Does he have regrets? Sure, who doesn’t? But he sees it all as a part of who he has become. And he likes who he is.

He feels so intrinsically linked to his bipolar and that it manifests itself in every aspect of his personality. His ability to love whole heartedly, his sympathetic nature to others in need, his generosity, his “say it like it is” attitude, his creativity, he feels are all characteristics that were brought out because he is bipolar. Those are also the attributes that get him into the most trouble during manic times, lol.

Would he like not to have to take a handful of medication everyday? Yes.

Would he like not to have his life disrupted and turned upside down during times of crisis? Yes.

Would he like not to have to mood swings? Yes.

But he knows it is what it is. My husband is an alcoholic and bipolar. He is an amazing man and I am so proud of him! I love you baby!


Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or a doctor. This post is based solely on my personal experiences and should not be deemed as advice or counsel. Please seek appropriate medical attention from a licensed professional.

Recommended Reading: (affiliate links)
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner
Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability
Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families

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  1. Thanks for the follow! Your writing is a grounded wholistic and refreshing look at mental health. A much needed voice. I wish you the best and look forward to reading more.

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