Hi....I have a daughter who has recently been diagnosed Bipolar and if I could give you a perspective from the behavioral aspects it may help you to better understand the behavioral aspects of the disorder.
My daughter has grown up with much love and a great family life. Her dad and I were very much involved in her life supported her gifts and talents by enrolling her in dance, music, voice lessons, soccer, karate and attending every single concert or game or tournament that she was part of. We went to church each Sunday making Sundays family days.....got involvend in everything....I was her Girl Scout co-leader and taught her religious education classes for over 8 years until Confirmation level.
Last year things changed so severely.....she was lying to us and when confronted made excuses often blaming us for her behavior. She started self harming and had 3 suicide attempts. She manipulated us and got mad whenever she couldn't get her way. She stole money from my wallet denying that too....she ran away twice and started hanging out with the wrong type of kids. Her good friends, teachers and everybody who knew her were alarmed at the changes that took place. She shoplifted while shopping with me over $400 worth of merchandise and was arrested. She broke her probation and hung out with kids who she wasn't suppose to. She had boys on her mind 24/7 and there were IM's she saved that were sexually eplicit. She snuck over to a boys house when she was suppose to be at school for extra help. And she snuck a boy into her room at night that she barely new and had sex with him. She had 4 hospitalizations within 4 months and finally she was diagnosed and put on the proper meds which are significantly helping. Did I think that my daughter was ever capable of doing such things???? Not at all.....I watched the Bipolar wrap it's ugly hand around her and almost strangle the life out of her and thank God we were able to identify what it was that was affecting her life in such a way and how we could make things better. It was nothing short of a nightmare and I thank God everyday that we are finally getting the help that we need. Looking back on last year as compared to this one we have come a long way....but we do have a ways to go as well.
So.....I am here to tell you that yes Bipolar can and often does cause such ***zare behaviors that we would never think capable of our loved ones. In my daughter's case it was when they put her on antidepressants that this behavior worstened. I am wondering if your wife may be experiencing much of the same.....if she is Bipolar and is only being treated by an antidepressant it could throw her into a full manic episode in which behavior just as your wife has demonstrated will be exhibited. And it IS very much out of her control......until she is properly treated and stabilized. Finding the right med combo takes time sometimes years.
It sounds as if you and your wife have a lot of good years behind you and as you say, you have been blessed. My advice would be to read up as much as you can about Bipolar so that you can understand what is and what is not in your wife's control. If she is willing to accept the help that she needs she will be able to get better, however, she will most likely never be the same as when you first married her. It is not her fault or yours that this has happened.....the bipolar was genetically there lying dormant to be triggered at any moment in her life and it is an illness that requires the treatment as any other illness would and needs the same support as someone would need if they were to have cancer or suddenly go blind.....the person is still the one you loved but will never be the same.
The only bad side of this whole entire illness is how it is manifested.....it doesn't come out in the form of a lump or seen in blood work....it comes out in one's overall behavior because the organ it affects is the brain which is the most complex organ in our bodies. It is a chemical imbalance that cannot be seen and that does not have one particular treatment that fits all. In order to find the right treatment it will involve trial and errors with many different meds in order to find the best solution as well as conjunctive therapy to work through behaviors that can be controlled.. And it takes alot of physical, emotional and mental support from our loved ones......alot more than any other particular illness would take.
It is your decision in the end whether you are going to be able to be there for you wife through the long haul. If she is not yet stabilized and is open to the help that is being given to her then I personally think that you should do everything in your power to try to learn and educate yourself about this disorder. Once you do then you will be more able to make a decision as to what you can or cannot do in terms of your marriage. The more you know the better you will be able to help support her and know what you can do to get the life back that you want with your wife. It won't be easy but with alot of love and perserverence anything is possible especially if we see the blessings that we have in life.
It is imperative that you take good care of yourself and your children too. And it looks as if you are somebody who will.
I hope that this helps you see things from the perspective of somebody who loves somebody who is Bipolar. It is not easy all of the time but with love and commitment we are able to get through.
(((HUGS))) ~ Goody