Q. My friend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. He takes Depakote, and Zoloft. He has been medicated the entire time I have known him, and seems to be fairly even. According to his friends and family he is a new person. Late last year, his life became very stressful, (his divorce was not going well, the holidays, first time without the kids Christmas eve, and his job was getting to him) At that time, he suddenly needed to get away, was feeling very down, about himself and his situation. When he had come back, he realized that he had put everything in jeopardy, and after the holidays, he evened out again. I thought that maybe it was the holiday stress and divorce stuff. 

Again, this month, the divorce took another setback. His ex is playing games with the kids, (especially the oldest, allowing a 15 year old to get his tongue pierced, and look like a delinquent), his job he claims he is not happy with and he is not pulling his weight, is not sleeping, and when he does sleep he can't wake up. He will spend most of Saturday sleeping, and then sit around doing nothing. He has pushed me out of his life, saying he can't figure out his feelings for me, (although just before this he was making declarations of love, and making plans to move in together).

He has gotten himself so worked up that he feels he can't take the time from work to see his counselor, and after work he doesn't have time. He takes on many tasks, but then fails to complete them, feeling guilty. He wants to please the world, and agrees to many things, but then he can't do them, so he feels horrible, and beats himself up over them.

Does this sound to you like a person with bipolar disorder going through an episode? IF so, what should I do? Do I contact his Dr. or his therapist? I have been giving him the space he asked for. It is hurting me so very much, especially when there was no 'problems' such a short time ago. I care very deeply about this man, and want to be supportive of him, and not do/say the wrong thing because of my ignorance of bipolar disorder.


  A. I am certain you should contact his doctor and his therapist. Hopefully, both are working as a team. They need this information. Many bipolars try to paint a rosy picture, and the therapist and doctor may not be aware of his problems. They will not talk to you about what they are doing, it is a breach of confidentiality, but they can listen. Hopefully, your friend will allow you to go to the doctor and therapist with him. Let your friend know it is because you care for his welfare, and keep letting him know this.