Bi-polar husband and his road-rage….

by Rod Smith

“My husband is bipolar and for almost all of our married life he has shown severe aggression whilst driving. The slightest irritation on the road would cause him to exhibit road rage. He would most often tailgate and show aggressive signs to other drivers. I have known him to get out of his vehicle to remonstrate with other motorists, without fear of his life or the safety of others, including my own or our young family. The slightest intake of breath on my part would make him angrier, and he would be even more reckless. I often felt as though a gun was being held to my head, except that the weapon was the motor vehicle. Other than not to travel with him for months on end, I felt trapped. I had thoughts of going to the Metro Police to report him, but feared repercussions. What steps I should have taken? Due to illness he no longer drives. Please Rod, what could I, or should I have done?”

This is a tough call. Bi-polar or not, no one has the right to endanger his family and others. Staying out of the car was a good thing to do! Readers, please, send your suggestions!

11 Comments to “Bi-polar husband and his road-rage….”

  1. Regarding the reader with the bipolar husband, I can offer a few comments based on personal experience. My brother had a girlfriend for many years who was bipolar.Early on,as a family,we soon learned how she operated.If everyone fell in line with her wishes,without challenging her,she was the sweetest person around. A completely different person emerged if we did not follow her wishes,however. Small things,such as who would cook the supper could blow up into emotional outbursts.Things deteriorated to the point where suicide threats were made when my brother wanted to go out to play tennis with his friends,and so on. This went on for years.

    My brother is now married to this woman, and as a family we have had to learn to stand up for ourselves,or our lives would have become a misery. So,regardless of the tantrums and tears,we do not allow her to hold our family hostage any longer. As far as possible,we keep our dignity and do not meet aggression with aggression.We do not give in to her every wish,as this would be doing no one any favours.

    received by email — posted by Rod

  2. Not driving with him was the right thing to do. Beyond that, it really is all on him. He is the one who would have to recognize and want to change.

  3. I worked for an employer who is bipolar and exhibited severe tantrums from time to time. On occasion, I witnessed family behavior toward her both in the workplace as well as at home. When she behaved aggressively or in a controlling manner, her husband and adult daughter did not sit with her or walked away from her despite her pleas to come back. Similarly, employees after being berated or demeaned, did not return to work until the storm blew over. Most employees avoided or minimized interaction with the employer. Some eventually quit while one or two used the same harsh verbal tactics on her to survive. In each scenario, the person in the proverbial driver’s seat had the power to alter the course of bully behavior and succeeded. My employer and her husband have been married many years. He never lets her drive in or out of the car. Staying out of the car–I agree with Rod–was wise!

  4. I’m bi-polar and people with experiences is good. Some of us go through a hell sometimes once a week, a day, or several times a day. Everyone says medication is the ticket, that is a wild goose chase and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m good on my Meds. Remember most BP are highly intelligent and sometimes things aren’t logic and also through just plain mania we want control

  5. My husband is also bipolar and I have witnessed the road rage it doesn’t matter what triggers it, he becomes “the man” while driving. I can empathize with the feeling of a gun to your head. You did the right thing, you are important and so is your safety. Best Wishes

  6. Anyone can experience “road rage” – its not just people with Bipolar. I have Bipolar and have only had one episode of “road rage” in 10 years and that was prior to my diagnosis and prior to being stable on my medication.
    The DVLA (driving licence authority) in England does medical checks on all people with Bipolar with their treating psychiatrist to determine whether or not they are fit to drive. If they are, they have their driving licence renewed.
    I drive around 360 miles a week. I come across countless of angry, rude, aggressive and downright unkind drivers daily.
    Are you saying that they are all Bipolar? Or are you saying that those with Bipolar also, at times, exhibit these kinds of characteristics along with the general population?
    Blaming “normal” unhealthy human behaviour on Bipolar is not helpful to either you or the Bipolar sufferer. The person with Bipolar has to learn to recognise what makes them feel angry in the first place. If their spouse/employee/family always blames anger/frustration/rage/annoyance/irritation on “Bipolar” that is a sure fire way to make the Bipolar sufferer feel anger/frustration/rage/annyance/irritation. They, like everyone else on the planet, feel these normal emotions from time to time. To attribute it to Bipolar and to not to normal human feelings, is to undermine that person further and to invalidate their feelings thereby leading to further depression.
    Look at your own self and your own negative emotions and behaviour and see if you come up smelling of roses!

  7. I, too, have bi-polar disorder, which I continue to try to manage. Fortunately, my illness does not exhibit itself in the form of angry outbursts or aggressiveness to others. However, it does incite me to behave in ways that reflect my tendency towards self-loathing. Readers can go to and search for bi-polar disorder to find examples of an insider’s experience with this difficult mental illness.

    Many others with bi-polar disorder DO have severe anger episodes. However, obviously, as “Anonymous” accurately points out, not everyone with road-rage is bi-polar. I don’t think Rod’s reader was suggesting that.

    I can recommend two books that have helped my family and me understand the idiosyncrasies of bi-polar disorder. They are “Bi-Polar Disorder Demystified” by Lana R. Castle,and “An Unquiet Mind” by Kay Redfield Jamison. There are also countless resources online that can help family and friends of people with difficult behaviors determine if, in fact, those behaviors are the result of an illness.

  8. My husband was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I have known him 14 years, we have been a couple for about 8 of these years and married almost 3. We met in high school, and he wasn’t always exhibiting symptoms, but towards the end of high school and into college looking back, we can see that they were present. One that he still exhibits is the road rage. I would tell him I was afraid to drive with him and that made him make even more reckless choices, the solution was that if we were going somewhere as a couple, I drive. The solution was hard for him to accept at first, but I stuck to my guns. I asked him if he was fearful of his life when I drove and he said no. I then told him it made most sense to choose the path that made both people comfortable rather than only one. You may want to be the designated driver in any circumstance that you have to be in the car together.

  9. My husband is also bipolar and I have to say that even though I do get annoyed with other drives I don’t get so hell bent that I’m rude to them and try to cut them off. I think what others are trying to say is that it COULD be part of one persons bipolar trait and NOT of someone else s – we are all very different and I know that when someone is bipolar it can effect them different then “john smith” down the street.

    I’ve decided to not let my children ride in my bipolar husbands car anymore just do to the nature of his driving he has gotten better – when I first met him I didn’t let him drive when we had my daughter in the car because he scared me!!! **on his days off work hes a much better driver or when he’s had a “good” night. Funny how the “little” things can effect a person.

    when he gets to be an even better drive I don’t mind him driving until then they I feel are safer with me since I can control the annoying thoughts better than him. Of course if its an emergency or whatever and he needs to take them I will just say a quick prayer!! 🙂

  10. I’m convinced my husband is bipolar(and so does the gp), he bluntly refuses to seek prof help(says he isnt MAD) after today i’m convinced that iits more than just a bipolar disorder! we have had many many road rage incidents ,actually each time were in the car, sometimes worst than other times… from getting out of our car and kicking someones car to him dropping us off on the side of the road and going after the ‘other’ vehicle… what i am afraid of is how this mannic behaviour is affecting my 8yr old.. when is enough and why am i so scared!

  11. Please don’t going for drive with him. It is not good for you and your family. Understand him with the cool mind and if he is not understand then take a hard step against him.
    Many peoples are of bi-polar nature, i think sometimes it is good or sometimes it is so dangerous. You can pick his driving licence and give it to the police. He want to change.

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