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A small excerpt from Nina’s story...


Wife in Limbo - living with Bipolar

Mental illness has a profound effect on the individual diagnosed with it. Few realize that an equally severe impact is had on the families of the patients. We tend to be the forgotten ones. Books are written for the sufferers, support groups formed, websites posted with advice, medical journals added to on the symptoms, treatments are discussed. Yet the fall out happens at home with the families - parents, siblings, partners, spouses, and children. They are all suffering the effects, and there is no medication for them to take to alleviate the stress.

How many wives lie awake at night wishing that their husbands illness would get worse, so that the police can be called and he can be taken away to a mental institution? This happens during a manic episode of my bipolar 1 husband. The chaos of the leading months is so stressful, that I almost cannot wait until he becomes so psychotic that I can commit him. When I said my marriage vows, “in sickness and in health”, to me it meant dispensing of some panado’s here and there, a few possible hospital visits after an operation or accident. At no time did I think that it would mean visiting my husband in a lock up state mental ward, looking into his two mad eyes that were 2 of the 80 staring back at me through the bars. Forty psychotic patients jostling for space in a lock up room at Valkenburg, and my husband and father of my two children was one of them. When the police had picked him up that morning, 5 strong all armed with guns, to commit him, I had been relieved. What kind of a wife does that make me?

The guard’s keys jangled in his hands as he leant forward to unlock the door. This was like a third grade psychic movie. As the door opened I started to step inside. As quick as a flash I felt strong arms grabbing me and pulling me backwards. The other guard pushed past us and locked the door. “You don’t want to go in there, Miss”, he said. I shivered, realizing with shock what could have happened to me in a room full of psychotic patients. The guards motioned for the patients to move back, which they did in a flock of sheep like shuffle. Only my husband stayed in front, and was quickly let out through the door. As the guards locked the door again I watched nervously as 39 pairs of eyes filled the glass pane, smirking at my every move.

During that visiting hour I was subjected to every emotional platitude that a person could portray. He cried, cajoled, screamed and shouted, laughed hysterically, berated me, blamed me, courted me, shamed me. I wanted to show the same amount of emotional capacity towards him, yet if I showed a kink in my armour with the slightest bit of empathy he would dive in for the kill. As a guard walked past he was suddenly the perfect patient, asking if he may please have his shoes back as he felt inhumane walking around in socks. Even in his state of mania and having been drugged with strong psychiatric medication, his mind was in top form, as those shoes were part of his escape plan for the next day, which he executed perfectly. If I thought my life as a wife of a mental patient could not get worse, it did. I was now the wife of an escaped mental patient.


Mental illness does strange things to relationships - it rips us apart with such force that it takes years after an episode to trust each other again. The verbal and emotional abuse during a manic episode is...

Be sure to read the rest of this amazing story of a wonderful miracle women and her mad journey with a manic husband.