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Serious Manic Episode Plus Alcohol

Question:

My boyfriend of about 7 months is having a manic episode. He has had one before, and was institutionalized against his will. He holds a serious grudge and seems pretty traumatized about that experience, as he was sedated against his will and kept in solitary confinement for mooning a camera. Last week his mother took him in again to the hospital as he was visiting her, but he was released. He has been drinking a LOT and taking whatever substances he can find, but generally just alcohol and weed. He has been doing very strange things and clearly has minor psychosis. He is looking at this as a spiritual experience and not something that is wrong with him, but rather something that is good for him and makes him special. He got a loan from his mom to get back on his feet, and spent the whole thing VERY frivolously in about a week and a half (I mean, giving people 80 dollar tips several times a day, buying crazy amounts of things in fancy stores, etc). Our friends are all hippie types and are pretty amused at this point, although they were alarmed and scared at first. Everyone likes to drink a lot and his house-mates drink every day and there is always liquor around. I’m worried about him, but he definitely won’t listen to me when I try to talk to him. He just says, “you don’t understand.”

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Answer:

From everything you describe, it seems to me that your boyfriend has very serious problems. First of all, there is not such thing as a “minor psychosis.” Thats akin to a woman saying, “I’m just a little bit pregnant.” In other words, psychotic is psychotic and pregnant is pregnant. Also, psychosis carries with it such things as loss of reality, delusional thinking and, sometimes, hallucinations.

The fact that he was hospitalized at all indicates that he was either suicidal, homicidal or a public nuisance at the time. No one likes to be hospitalized but it does not happen against someone’s will unless things are extremely serious. Also, “solitary confinement” was probably the result of much more disruptive behavior than mooning the camera. It appears that your boyfriend minimizes or is not aware of his behavior and the effect it has on other people.

The notion that being in a psychosis is a spiritual experience is nothing new. There is nothing wrong with a psychotic person believing that as long as they, as I indicated above, are not suicidal, homicidal or a public nuisance (yelling in the streets in the middle of the night, every night, etc). People have a right to think what they want as long as they are not bothering others about it.

All the spending that you describe is symptomatic of a Bipolar Disorder. It appears that his ability to function at work, home and among people, is impaired and, therefore, a serious concern to those he loves.

Given his psychiatric condition, drinking and using other drugs are the worst possible things he can do. They worsen his condition and will lead to future hospitalizations.

In my opinion, he is not a good choice for a boyfriend. I say that not because he has a mental illness but because he takes no responsibility for it.

Best of Luck

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