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45 y/o Bipolar. High function, but a constant struggle



Jun 8, 2020
I'm 45 y/o, lived with bipolar 2 undiagnosed most of my life. I've been high functioning, with a successful software engineering career, and even my own successful startup.. but all of it was filled with struggle and coping behind the scenes.

I ended up in therapy in my late 20s during my startup, as i was having trouble sleeping and functioning. That led to 8+ years of weekly therapy and medication on and off.

The hypomania wasn't really part of my therapy because those productivity periods were not a "problem", which is why i think it took so long to see what was really going on.

I'm very emotionally repressed, so my normal state of mild depression is more like apathy or procrastination, and i have a lifetime of coping strategies which keep me "going through the motions" of life.

For decades i was reluctant to admit it was depression, since i didn't feel sad. Instead it felt more like "writers block", but after a lifetime of cycling the pattern is pretty obvious to me now (and more obvious to my wife and friends).

Then in my late 30s, when my son was born, i had a real period of disconnection / dissociation and was willing to try anything. i tried on an adhd diagnosis and ritalin and it triggered my first real mania, a hospital stay and my bipolar diagnosis. I've since had another real mania, so now im clearly bipolar 1 (though fortunately my coping, support, and life has kept it from doing horrible damage)

I've been married for 11 years, with two kids 6/8, and my wife is very aware of and tolorant of my bipolar swings. She was nearly at a breaking point when my second was born, as some father/ son triggering had me completely absent. However, with help of some doctors, and meds, and struggle, i was able to dig myself out of that hole.. and finally start to come to grips with being bipolar, and trying to be more honest and self aware of the patterns. This really helped me shed most (not all) of the aggressive/argumentative phases.

I'm here because we were watching Amazon's "modern love", and the bipolar girl episode was so well portrayed, and hit so close to home for me, it made me realize that even dealing with bipolar for 30 years, and accepting the diagnosis for 6+ years, i really still try to deny and hide the ways it affects my life. Especially the scene where she curls up and layed down on the bathroom floor. I'm lucky enough to never have trouble holding a job, but i can't count how many times i would be alone at home and turn the shower on for white noise and sit there, or feel like lying in bed all day, struggle to get out of bed in the morning, missed college exams, work meetings, breakfast with my kids, and time i could be spending with my wife and family.

I hide my bipolar from my friends (though many of them know it), i get defensive when my wife points out the patterns, i put myself into situations that i wish i could handle but honestly they just create more stress for me, and i don't admit when im having a big up or down and really just need help and to slow down my life.

Even right now, 3:30am, im clearly having a hypomanic cycle. Partially brought on my the 64oz of gfuel i drank today after being frustrated at crashing on the couch for half the day after a full night sleep.

I want to be less hard on myself, less defensive, and stop feeling ashamed, so i thought i would try reaching out to an anonymous bipolar support group where i could try (for once) to be unabashedly honest.

Even amidst the rough times and struggles, i want to balance and credit some of my strengths. I'm a good person. I'm generous. I'm a talented computer programmer, mathemetician, and entrepreneur. I have had a fantastic career. I have a modest amount of talent in improv piano.

I chose to reject the types of relationships that were triggering me, and found a wonderful, very even-keel, stable wife who is able to (mostly) isolate herself from my swings, organize our kids and household, and pick up slack when im in a down phase.. and i go out of my way in the ways i can manage, to show her how much i love and appreciate her.

I feel very fortunate my life has turned out so amazingly well.

I see evidence that my bipolar is getting worse, and in want to do everything i can to stay positively connected to my wife and kids. I hope some of my immediate struggle is increased stress brought on my covid, as that will eventually calm down.


Well-known member
Feb 27, 2020
Nashua NH
Welcome to the forums BipolarCoder!

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