Bipolar as Love Thief: Discarded Because I Am Bipolar
After my last post, where I commented on my fear around being bipolar in public, a discussion came about regarding attitudes, and how I’m the same as everyone else. Well, I beg to disagree. I’m crazy. And the implications of that are undeniable.
In a world of education, political correctness, and tolerance, it seems like the fact that I’m sick shouldn’t rob pieces of me, pieces of my life. It shouldn’t affect my work. It shouldn’t affect my friendships. It shouldn’t affect my lovers. But that, of course, is falderal. Bipolar disorder slips into everything, even when you’re watching and you think you’ve got everything covered, it still manages to steal.
The First Friend I Lost
About a year or two after my bipolar diagnosis, I was still deeply in the throes of being depressed and didn’t know how to really express it. And I had a best friend, Hanna*, who I would talk to about it. She too suffered from depression, and she could understand where I was coming from. We hung out together every day for more than a year, sipping lattes at the university. I saw her through boyfriends, and she saw me through my first girlfriend.
And then one day, she didn’t return my call. Or the next call. Or the one after that.
I finally did pin her down to ask her what was going on. She would only say that because I was bipolar, it was too hard to be my friend, and she didn’t want to do that anymore.
She had never discussed it with me. I had no idea there was a problem. I would have compromised with her. I would have taken her needs into consideration, if only she had asked. I cared for her deeply. But she disappeared. It was as if she had never been there at all.
The Last Friend I Lost
Last year, I had an index series of electroconvulsive therapy (shock therapy, ECT) treatments. In spite of professional, well-meaning medical personnel, I still believe ECT is barbaric and horrific, despite being helpful for some. Jessica*, my love, the person I felt closest to on the planet, agreed to help me through some of them. It was going to be hard for her, I knew, but she agreed to shuttle me back and forth to the hospital, make soup, and feed me meds. I was so utterly terrified that seeing her face was the only thing that allowed me to lie on the table, and let them put me under. Her hugs afterward were all that kept me standing upright.
After the first six treatments, she had to get back to her life, which was to be expected, and another wonderful woman stepped in to help.
But Jessica never talked to me again. I called her and called her. I sent her emails. I left her jokes on her voicemail. But we never had another conversation.
My heart broke. It breaks still. The one person I thought would always be there for me had left. No note. No discussion. No explanation. Nothing. After six years, she just disappeared into the ether.
And, of course, there have been others. Those are but two. It took me years to stop feeling pangs over the first one. I’m still not over the last one. I wish them both well, but despise the way they have treated me. I deserve better than that.
Discarded Because I Am Bipolar
I’m not like everyone else. I am crazy. I am sick. I am bipolar. People abandon me without a word. People think it’s okay to treat me like that. People think it’s okay to use bipolar disorder as an excuse.
I look around, and I see a humanity that I’m not part of, a race that I’m not in, not because I feel that bipolars are intrinsically unequal or divergent, but because the world keeps showing me that I am. It isn’t about what the guy down the street thinks, or about what a columnist opines, or even how my family feels, it’s about these close, personal bonds being destroyed by something over which I have no control.
Yes, I'm crazy, I'm sick, I'm bipolar, I'm different. I know. Life keeps telling me so.
Tracy, N. (2010, June 3). Bipolar as Love Thief: Discarded Because I Am Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/06/bipolar-as-love-thief
Author: Natasha Tracy
"The people surrounding the bipolar person are tired of being nit-picked, of being debated, of being made to feel guilty, of excuses, and THAT’S why those things happen"
A lot of my ex-friends (and my ex boyfriend) felt that way during the first storm of my bipolar. That's why they're all ex. I'm much happier without them since all of my friends are friends who really care about me, who value my friendship, and the ex has made way for a wonderful husband who can't live without me.
It's your loss, and if you don't know what you're losing, then I guess you won't care.
This will hurt to read, but you have the same issue as my bipolar girlfriend, that being that everyone in the world lets them down, be it because of bipolar or something else. Bipolar is malevolent in that it makes the person who has it believe that the world is against them, that the other people are being irrational etc., when the truth is that it's the other way around. The people surrounding the bipolar person are tired of being nit-picked, of being debated, of being made to feel guilty, of excuses, and THAT'S why those things happen. Even saying this to my girlfriend will send her into a furious rage, a rage that she has gone into because I left something in the sink, because I posted something on Facebook, for a million reasons. A bipolar is like a color blind person who refuses to believe that they are color blind. Their friends know it, their family knows it, the world knows it, but they don't believe it and feel indignation when it's brought up. The truth is that you need to re-learn rules that will allow you to interact in a way that will not put you through the pain you are going through (and you don't deserve). Talk therapy, giving in to the process and allowing another philosophy to run the show, whatever it is, less defensiveness, more counting to 10, and more study of and applications of the rules and interactions that non-bipolars share. You can fight it, or you can step back, admit you have an issue to work on (ignore that voice that says everyone is full of shit) and fake it until you make it. Try to go a month without drama, without saying something negative and rather saying positive things, asking for help positively (instead of guilting people), realizing that the condition makes you take things more personally than you should. Do this for a week, concede defeat in the battle to fight the world, be positive, measure the response from people around you as you try this, and you may find that you will begin to see the positive rewards as motivation to change your thinking. I wish you all the luck in the world.
I have had this bipolar depressive before I could even walk or talk......was afraid of never having a boyfriend (real one) or husband...and it happened I'm now 51 never to this day even experienced love....i'm completley alone...no family no friends no husband or boyfriend...how's that
I was found to have bipolar about8 mts ago. I have nofriends and my family dosent understand what it is all about. My husband of 13 years is so cold to me. I had 3 suicide attempts in 4 mts and he told me it was not a joke that I was doing this type of behavior. My medications dont help much I still take them every day. I cry every day because I just want things to be normal or happy like they use to be. Not many people understand mental illness. I use to work in a Dr office I lost my job due to taking time off. I feel so alone most of the time. I know the pain that others like me feel.
Kaitlin and Natasha thank you for your advice...I did explain my feelings to him and he said he didn't intend to do that...he seems to be stressed about several things but attempting to work with less pain in his eyes...thanks again!
Marie, I can't speak for all bipolars, but I know that I always push people away when I'm feeling poorly. I am scared of others' reactions and don't want to burden people I care about. That could be the case if he is, in fact, bipolar.
Natasha, more great writing. I've lost a lot of friends due to being bipolar. I didn't just assume that was the reason- I was actually told outright they couldn't handle it. I'm so sorry about what happened to you.
I was actually kicked out of my aunt's house where I was staying after a breakup trying to get back on my feet. She told me it made her life stressful and she never knew if she would come home to find me dead. (At that point I was nowhere near suicidal.) Some people are just scared. Maybe I would be had I not experienced it.
As one commented earlier, friends and family seem okay with it as long as it's not "on display". Unfortunately, there's not always a lot of control over that so we can end up friendless.
On a more positive note... though it has taken me years I have found someone who is fine with it. I hope you all do.
That's an interesting problem, it's sort of the opposite of what I was talking about. It's hard to see someone cut people out of their life, but maybe he does have a good reason. Maybe he is changing his life in some major way?
The only think I can think is to be open with the person with your concerns and let the person know that you'll be there for him. Ultimately there is nothing you can do to change his mind - it's always his choice, but you can be open to the future and that's probably the best thing you can do.
I have a close friend that up and left 90% of his friends and clients and has continued to keep me as a client, but acts like I am a client. He made very impulsive decisions saying he needed to have a life. It seems so selfish to cut people out like he is doing. He had never admitted he is bipolar, but has family members that are diagnosed. I really want to be a friend that supports him but he is choosing to cut everyone out. It is really painful for me. Is there anything you can suggest?
Trust is a very difficult thing to repair. Once it has been damaged, it hurts so much that we don't wish to risk damaging it again - believe me, I totally get it.
However, I think one must consider the prospect of having a life where we trust no one. Do we want that life? Because certainly, I don't. Trust, unfortunately, will get damaged along the way, but it won't kill us. It will hurt, but we will continue on.
I'm sorry for what you went through, because obviously, it has been painful. But not everyone is the same and not everyone will treat you that way. I think that's the thing to try to remember. We want to be treated like individuals so it's up to us to realize others are individuals too.
Oh how I can relate. And thank you, Natasha for 'penning' this blog! Kudos to you. :-)
I couldn't possibly write EVERYTHING crappy that's happened to me over the past 10 years...mainly w/'friends' walking out on me because I, too, am bi-polar & they "just couldn't handle it." Although I WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR THEM & THEIR PROBLEMS! ?! I believe...NO...I KNOW...that being bi-polar has made me so much more empathetic & compassionate towards my fellow human beings.
Anyhow, my BEST FRIEND (or so I darned well thought after TWENTY YEARS of friendship) literally dropped of of Planet Earth on Feb. 3rd, 2000. She never ever gave me an ANSWER or a RESPONSE or a "WHY?" I definitely deserved a WHY. At the very least. Damn! Pardon my francais. To this day, June of 2012, I haven't forgiven nor forgotten her & why she did what she did. Or DIDN'T DO. I've never understood it & it's made me very untrusting of most people anymore.
I can relate so well to the other ladies on here & their pain & hurt & anger. I completely understand it & empathize w/all of you who are hurting. It's been 12 years since my former best friend (since 5th grade) up & CHOSE to disappear on me.
The rest of my 'friends' turned out to be fair-weather. Instead of trying TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE to deal w/on a daily, weekly, monthly, & yearly basis, they CHOSE to ignore my phone calls, emails, letters, etc., etc. Yet most of them still stick together in groups like we're still in high school! They still GOSSIP...which I can definitely do w/out because those who gossip to you will gossip about you. Most of them are spiled brats who don't have a clue as to what I REAL CHALLENGE/HARDSHIP is.
So...I'm new here (obviously) but the posts hit home so I decided to write a small amount of my own story & pain. Maybe someone has some advice for me because I can't forget the ex best friend. WHY would she do that?! We still have mutual friends from junior high & high school who KNOW where she lives & what's going on in her life...but refuse to let me know. I was her maid of honor in her wedding, too!
In the end...this is how I think now: if she could do that to me then anyone could. It's almost as if I didn't KNOW her?! I haven't trusted many ppl since.
I'm awfully sorry to hear that happened to you. I know how hard it is. Many people have been where you are.
I don't know whether friendships are "meant" to last but I do know, that like your boyfriend, real friends stick with you through the good and the bad moments. Right now you're having a bad moment and you're finding out who your real friends are and it sounds like your boyfriend is one of the good ones. Hopefully he will be an excellent part of your support system.
Keep in mind, over time, you'll find others who won't walk away from you too. But it'll take some time for them to come into your life.
- Natasha Tracy
I was recently diagnosed.My doctor told me I should build a strong support system so I thought telling my friends is what I should do even know my boyfriend thought it wasnt a good idea. Which he was right, they all just stopped talking to me. My parents said I should make the effort,but why? They were the ones that stopped and haven't responded to me.And what makes me the most mad is that over the years, I have not really mad new friends because they didn't like when we were friends with outside people.But of course they all have a ton of other friends. I am VERY lucky my boyfriend of 6 years didn't leave me, think he was happy to finally know what was wrong with me.It just hurts that friends of 15 years have just up and left me,but they all still hang out. They have NO IDEA what im going through,last time I heard from one of them was the day i got out of the hospital and I told her that. Never heard form her again.I get we are older, they have a lot more going on with their lives,maybe all friends aren't meant to last.
So much anger.
I'm going thru a time right now that I have to stay away from folks. Sometimes I just get weary of trying to keep my self together let alone trying to protect folk friends family from my disease.
I've been blesed to have a husband who stands by me.So I feel I have no room to complain. That said, having someone, a friend I could visit with in my yard when. I can't leave my house might be nice
I chuckle at the notion of being able to keep your friends by "never, ever, ever going symptomatic in a big way *in front of them*" @Julie, you didn't say how old you are,so maybe you're still too young to have experienced the pattern--(or maybe it's just me?)--of returning over and over again to the status of having no close friends.
I'm 44 so I've watched a lot of friends come, and then go away forever. I'll have one for a short time, but apparently "controlling my symptoms" is next-to impossible: even though I think I am acting fine, most people do not seem to agree; it's as if my energy actually repels them. (Which makes me paranoid like Natasha mentioned). On 3 separate occasions, as a friendship has ended, I was even accused of stealing, which was NEVER the case. Because of weird things like that happening repeatedly, I have become firmly convinced that there is something about my energy that makes people edgy and mistrustful.(I have never been truly manic...but rapid-cycling hypomanic most of the time).
As if that weren't bad enough, it also appears that the only people who DO want to be around me are narcissists (I was raised by narcissist parents)....and I find narcissists so irritating that I'd actually rather be alone most of the time than endure their bull$#*%. I'm not trying to make the situation sound hopeless, but one does get used to it after a few decades.
And no, I do not get much of a seasonal effect, except that the heat is hard to tolerate for the first couple weeks. My second husband did notice a cyclicity to my mood swings, however, he said there were 3-day cycles and then an over-arching 2 week cycle.
It'd be nice if people were better than they are, but they're not. They are what they are. And actually seeing us at certain levels of symptomatic is beyond most people's ability to cope. It sucks, but it's reality. So because they can't cope, they rationalize running away without communicating.
Our behavior while we're symptomatic *is* unacceptable. Nobody "gets to" behave like that. Ever. Unfortunately, the nature of the disease is that we can't help it. The nature of their inability to cope is they rationalize that "if only" --- see the list of "if onlies" in the post above --- we were doing better at managing our illness, the episode wouldn't have happened (or another one wouldn't be about to happen). Thus their silent disappearance is justified. Or is justified by, "I just can't deal with it."
It is okay to leave a friendship/relationship with one of us. Just have the grace to say to our face that you've tried to cope with the relationship and our illness and haven't been able to manage it, so you're ending it now.
That's fair, and honest. Just because *we* are stuck with this rotten illness doesn't mean you have to be, too. Just give us the dignity of saying goodbye.
My experience has been that friends can often be just fine with intellectually knowing you have bipolar and intellectually knowing what that means, but once they actually see you having symptoms and experience being right there in the middle of you having a meltdown, they never, ever look at you the same way again. Ever.
My experience is that if I, as a person with bipolar, want to have and keep friends, then the thing I must do at all costs is never, ever, ever go symptomatic in a big way *in front of them*.
Be in another room, at the minimum. Don't have a friend talk me down from suicide, use a hotline, and so forth. The exception would be friends who have bipolar themselves and have experienced meltdowns or who have very close relatives who have bipolar and who have successfully and compassionately coped with their relative's meltdowns--and you never assume they can cope, you find out. And you're still careful about hiding meltdown moments from other people as much as humanly possible.
Other people can generally deal with knowing about it, not with seeing it. That's my "rule."
That sounds tough. I agree, it's best to be around others that share you points of view on goals and the like. But to be fair, depression can zap you of the will to do anything, including fight the depression. Not that that means you should stay, I'm just saying it may be her point of view.
Thanks for your comment. I removed your email address so you don't get unwanted emails and I don't normally contact commenters directly.
I have been in a relationship with someone who is Bipolar like myself, for eight years. I want to move on, but everytime I tell her, she ropes me back into the relationship with guilt. I used to look up to this person,but now I don't, she keeps saying she's depressed and that's why she doesn't work, or achieve goals, but she doesn't do anything to change her depression, she just sits in it! Life can be hard, but you have to at least try! I want to be around positive people who actually want to do things and have fun, and not just lay around and waste life away. so I understand where you are coming from.
Haven't spoken with manic bp friend since February. Back this past December, she had bipolar episode due to bp insomnia and her driving put us and general public at risk. Was hospitalized afterward and what ticked me off was that after all of the apologies, goes right back to the triggers- the parties, shopping, etc. She doesn't know that I know about her condition. Quite frankly, I don't care, but what's driving me away from her is the lying, hiding, denying ("Oh, it's just insomnia." Yeah, caused by mania! And "It was just a nervous breakdown!" A generic term!) I do not trust that she will accept and admit her biploar, and will not put my life in her hands by getting in her car and hanging out with her. We"ve been friends since we were 15 (we're both 40 now); and I can sympathize with how hard it is to come clean about something like her condition-the stigma keeps alot of people silent. I wasn't trying to hurt her, but my tuning out and dropping off is a last resort of frustration with her behavior and her refusal to accept and take responsibility for her condition. According to a mutual friend of ours, she has said some pretty nasty things in response by calling me the a lazy n-word and that my arthritis is fake and that she's going to get me in trouble with social security. She's seen me over the years with my condition and in fact, she was one of many people telling me to get disability and she says that? Also, her bipolar gets to a place sometimes when she percieves you've done wrong to her, then she pulls the silent treatment and won't speak for months, then she comes back and wants to resume friendship out of the blue like nothings happened! She'll complain about silly irrelevant things about everybody, but won't talk about things that really count. She's texted me twice already asking how I am, but I really don't know where to begin with her with what to say, so I've ignored her. I don't miss her and love the peace and lack of drama and feeling used and drained. I'm not interested in making back up, but would not want to leave her stranded without a word why. What do I say? Thanks!
Before I was diagnosied with bipolar, I felt terrible all the time. Unfortuantly I turned to alchol as a "comfort." At this point, I began losing my friends and family. My sister is the only one who has stuck by me. I lost a marriage of 17 years, but most painful, my youngest son has not spoken to me in over 10 years. He just can't see that I was a sick mom, not a bad one. Some people are willing to accept and understand our illness, and some are not. Will that ever change? I don't know.
I attend a meeting DRA which is Dual Recovery Anomous. I am accepted there because everyone there has a mental illness, I have made friends there.
I have been sober 10 years.
I'm sorry to hear you are in such a tough spot. You aren't the only one, many people can identify with your situation.
What I might say is that being a mother is a lot of work, of course, you know that, but maybe your daughter hasn't learned that lesson yet. And being a mother means doing things you don't want to do, and maybe she hasn't learned that lesson yet either. It seems to me like her kids would be a good reason for her to get help, and if she did, you might trust her more to be with the children.
Seeing as there has already been one bad incident involving social services, it seems to me that you are doing the right thing trying to avoid another. Your daughter has to show that she's _working_ to avoid another as well. What is her plan? How is she actively avoiding it? These are questions for her to answer. If she has no plan, how can she be trusted not to let these things happen again?
Unfortunately, people who refuse treatment often hear the voice of their illness louder than the voices of those around them. There is nothing you can do about this. But I believe that protecting the children in the situation is the right thing to do even if that isn't the priority for your daughter.
I hope that helps.
My daughter has bipolar. She refuses to take medication. She has very bad periods where she gets aggresive and mean. She tells people I abused her physically when she was little, I didn't. She was spoiled and always wanted her own way and if she didn't get it she would get angry. In fact truth be known she was verbally abusive to me and used to behave badly, staying out all night, disappearing for days, going on long trips by bus, all around age 14. We didn't know what was wrong with her until she had her daughter and she was hospitalized form months. She was diagnozed as shizophrenic and then later on as bipolar. Life has been hectic to say the least, my husband and I helped raise our granddaughter. My husband passed away in 2007 and for the most part my daughter has been sweet and supportive, but lately, the last few months she's been all over the place, saying awful things about me etc. She is having surgery right now. She keeps saying no-one loves her, everyone hates her etc. but she is mean to people. She is even talking about going to court because her daughter won't let her take her two daughters by herself. In 2007 there was an incident when my daughter took her granddaughter somewhere and the granddaughter ended up getting apprehended by Social Services and my daughter ended up in hospital for several weeks. She just doesn't get it. She refuses to take medication. She lives in fear that Drs and family are just waiting to get her locked up in the "Bing Bing Parlour". I feel so sad and helpless, it's almost as if I lost my daughter many years ago. I don't know what to do. I tell her all the time I love her. It's just that we are afraid to let her have the girls, aged 11 and 3, by herself as we never know what she's going to do. We know she wouldn't intentionally hurt them, but things happen and Social Services could step in and apprehend them again.
Hello Theda, I am bi-polar and I have been very happily married for over 26 years. My husband and I have had our difficult periods due to various scenarios bi-polar or not, but we love each other so very much. We have two beautiful children that we are very proud of, and lots of friends. First of all Borderline Personality Disorder is not "very similar" to Bi-Polar disorder. They are two separate mental illnesses. It sounds like you just married the wrong person, and now you are lashing out to hurt people that are diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. You are exactly the kind of person that keeps the negative sterotype flourishing. I sincerely hope that you did not raise children to believe the same negative thought patterns you have. If anyone sounds like they are "all about themselves" and "dragging people into hell" it you. Grow up and get a life.
When I had my first manic episode, most of my friends dumped me. For some reason, it still hurts so many years later. I have trouble making friends because I fear that eventually I will tell the new friend my secret, and they will run! My best friend who was also bipolar died almost five years ago. I have four close friends (one far away) who are supportive. I feel bad for all the people on this who posted about lost friends and loved ones. However, we have a strenghth, others do not possess. We also are more compassionate and understanding of the "not so average," "not so perfect" person, which is truly everyone! I reconnected on a social network with a former best friend who dumped me, and when I confronted her through writing, her response was simply, "we did not know about THOSE things then," meaning BPD. No apology, nothing. I have been nice to her, writing her, here and there, but am ashamed of myself for being a phony. She doesn't deserve my time or my kindness. I don't think I should be rude to her, but I want to unfriend her. What do you think?
Very nice site! is it yours too
Obviously everyone and every friendship is different. For me, there really was nothing wrong and then disappearance. Without doubt, in one case my friend was under a lot of stress, some of it due to my illness. But this was not frequent. And I _was_ there for her. I would have done anything for her. You may think it's impossible for people to disappear without reason or explanation, but I know that they can.
Certainly sick people are difficult to support through hard times, but then, so is anyone else. Someone going through a divorce. Someone who suffers a death. Someone who is a victim of a crime. Someone who was hit by a car. And so on, and so forth. Sometimes people can handle that support, and sometimes they can't.
I can't comment on your situation specifically, obviously, every situation is different and sometimes a break is needed. This does not mean however, that some people treat us unfairly just due to a diagnosis.
I have really appreciated reading what everyone has written here. I myself have struggled with anxiety and depression in my life and have found that through a combination of sleep, exercise, supplements and 12 step recovery, I can mostly manage it. I am susceptible to mood swings around hormonal fluctuations but I am generally happy these days and getting more consistently contented which feels like a HUGE gift and a blessing. It's a lot of work just to feel "normal" but it's worth it to me.
I also have had the experience of having a bipolar (diagnosed) friend. My grandmother was clinically depressed and committed suicide when I was 11. I didn't find out til later, and also didn't know my father was depressed until my brother attempted suicide and my dad flipped out and wanted to know where the guns were. My brother is OK now mostly and my dad is medicated and doing better. So it's in my family too.
I had to leave a friendship with my friend who was bipolar after 16 years. I had a hard time having boundaries with her and felt criticized all the time that I wasn't a good enough friend to her. I had her live with me for a time, played "psychiatric nurse" (along with many others bc she was terrified of being committed again) when she was depressive, tried not to be too scared when she was manic and thought she was controlling the planets, but I had too hard of a time staying separate from her.
I kept thinking that someday she would realize I'd been there all along, through many manic episodes and depressive times --that I WAS a good friend. But it was never enough and eventually when I got more "well" through taking care of my own needs in my 12 step recovery, I realized how hard it was for me to never be enough for someone. I know that we are all responsible for our own boundaries and she and I became friends when we were really young. I know all the psycho babble that says i should have been able to take care of myself. But really, she'd call incessantly and demand to know why I wasn't calling her...she just drained me one too many times. The decision to "take space" was mutual...but then it became a permanent situation. I was frankly totally relieved to let her out of my life. I still love her believe it or not, and I still care about what happens to her, but I don't ever want to subject myself to someone else's demanding and needy behavior that way again.
I am not trying to say things that are inflammatory but I need to say my piece too and there doesn't seem to be anywhere safe to say this stuff. Maybe in therapy--but even my therapists have supported me in letting go of this relationship. And as to the comments about "people just leaving without a trace" I don't buy it. I get that it can feel that way (esp when there is not honest dialogue about the other person's needs), but there were so many problems and signs within our relationship that it was one-sided, and there was no room for me to ever have needs or problems too. It was always about her being the designated patient. So I can see that it might feel like a sudden shock but if a person has healthy boundaries (bipolar or not), I think it should be evident to both people that things are not working.
I thank you for reading, anyone who might still be doing so. I have not known where to go with this. It seems like dredging things up with my ex-friend (in order to apologize or explain) would only make it worse and leave me open to more and more criticism, which I frankly have no interest in hearing.
Thank you for reading, again.
Take care all.
I'm so sorry it has been such a long and bumpy road for you. What you've been through sounds horrible.
Unfortunately, your daughter has probably also been through some painful situations relating to your illness. And sometimes, like it or not, we hurt people to the point where it's really difficult to come back.
Family is the worst and family is the best. They have been beside you and sometimes that means they understand what you're going through and sometimes that means they are the most tormented by it. It isn't fair, but it's real.
For my own part, I can say I've drawn my own lines with parents, and even though I've long been an adult and they have changed, I'm just not prepared to move those lines. (Not mental illness related.)
It may be the case that over time and with education you may be able to repair the relationship with your daughter. Maybe you could get therapy together to help both of you to express yourselves.
I wish you the best of luck in your situation. It's tough, but it sounds like you're making headway.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at age 48, after going to doctors that kept misdiagnosing me for depression. 25 years and 2 bankruptcies later, I was put on Wellbutrin for depression. This drug caused my to go pyschotic, to the point where I thought my brand new vehicle that was 3 weeks old was posessed by the devil. I traded it in for a less expensive car and lost $6,000 in the process. I also began hearing voices and seeing myself in the mirror as my face "appeared" to be changing from that of a somewhat attractive 48 year old, into a wrinkly, old lady and then back and forth again. I finally knew I must be totally nuts. I also experienced feeling out of touch with my body. As if my hands, arms and legs were not mine. I finally was diagnosed properly and put on the correct medication for my disorder. At the time I finally was "labled" as bipolar, my daughter, then 31 y.o. told me she had to "draw boundaries" and distance herself in order to protect herself from my disease. There were times I would be very depressed or be very manic and I think or know that if my daughter has been there for me, it would have helped me tremendously. But if my husband told her I was depressed or manic she would not talk to me on the phone and would tell him to let me know when i was normal again and she would talk to me. When she got married, she all but ignored me at her wedding. She sat me clear across the room at the reception and barely said two sentences to me. I was really devasted and hurt. Later I asked her why she was treating me like I wasn't even there. She said she figured I was manic and didn't want me to ruin her wedding. I was NOT manic, she just FIGURED I was! Yes, I had a little nervous anxiety that the wedding would go as they had planned, but nothing any other mother of the bride would be feeling. This is when I realized I can not expect anyone to be there when I most need them to be. My family being the worst.
Hi Paul, some great points.
Coincidentally, I just wrote about the importance of routines here, http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/09/stability-in-bipolar-disorder-r…
and I agree, if your SO insists on interrupting them, they may not be worth keeping around long-term.
Excellent points on honesty and forgiveness.
This is exactly what I was trying to say here: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/09/seven-biggest-myths-about-bipol…
To quote you:
"All BP’ers are not pathological liars. All BP’ers are not cold, unfeeling manipulative people. Some are however. Some “normal” people act exactly the same way. Don’t let yourself or other people use BP as an excuse. Hold em to the same boundaries and behaviours you would anyone."
Thanks for making that point.
Well written. Being in a relationship because it makes you feel like someone needs you is indeed a recipe for failure.
Truly open and honest relationships are often a maze of doors you need to step thru over time. Sometimes however you feel the need to keep certain doors shut. It's often a balance of do I let you in and possibly get hurt or keep you out and feel safe.
I've been living with my diagnosis for about 30 years now...
I think relationships are difficult for everyone. I do think there is a certain amount of truth to the idea that being up front about how bipolar effects your life will help filter out people who can't deal with it.
I haven't been too successful in my relationships, only a couple were really bad. The bad ones were due to starting relationships when I was manic. Just to be clear, I've never cheated nor has anyone cheated on me (as far as I know).
Mostly for me, it's been a case of not really trusting myself which makes it difficult to trust other people and open up enough to develop intimacy.
Another issue has been the need to have a well established routine to balance out my moods as medications haven't been very effective for me. A side effect of this coping mechanism has been the development of a low tolerance for the SO's behavior that disrupts my routines.
Black/White thinking has been a huge factor too. When I was younger, I felt more driven by my moods and took them too seriously. Now that I've come to recognize the onset of mood changes, I can take counter measures to reduce the stress on myself and my relationships.
I still feel like I've failed to live up to my potential. In my last relationship, the SO had some serious issues as well as personality conflicts. My desire to feel good about myself through trying to help her allowed me to ignore conflicts/feelings.
Being in a relationship to take care of someone is a recipe for failure. Sometimes it seems easier to focus on other people's perceived short comings rather than deal with your own...
Fortunately I was able to communicate with her about these concerns although I failed to share the depth of my concerns until things started to breakdown. I believe there was no ill will on the part of either of us and I think we each learned a lot about ourselves which will help us in future relationships.
Above all, if we learn to be comfortable with ourselves, we'll have a better chance of establishing sustainable intimate relationships.
Nobody is perfect, bipolar or not, so I think there's a lot to be said for trying to be honest in relationships. Just because a relationship ends up not working out, it doesn't mean either one of you are bad people. I recommend we pace ourselves, forgive people, and forgive ourselves.
Having been thru alot of what you've written it sounds like you are a wonderful and caring person. I've often said communication is the key. When you're puzzled by how your partner is acting, ask whats going on? It can often be done without a confrontation; but this is where your boundaries need to be set and understood. Fidelity is my number one issue, if thats not gonna happen, things can only be a certain way. I've learned the hard way that I have co depedentcy issues and often have tolerated less then desirable behavior to be accepted. Do I like the fact that I'm wired this way? Heck no, and I'm working on changing it because alot of the "drama" in my life in the past came from accepting certain behaviours. All BP"s are not cheaters. All BP'ers are not pathological liars. All BP'ers are not cold, unfeeling manipulative people. Some are however. Some "normal" people act exactly the same way. Don't let yourself or other people use BP as an excuse. Hold em to the same boundaries and behaviours you would anyone.
Taking care of yourself however does need to be Number 1. And don't fool yourself or be the martyr about that. Journaling is a great way to express some of your frustrations and questions. I often find putting something on paper does make what I'm wrestling with a little clearer and sometimes quicker to resolve believe it not.
As far as explaining yourself to others, don't dwell on that too much. Try and be comfortable with who you really are rather what others perceive.
I have no doubt the day will come when that someone looks you in the eye, tells you how incredible and amazing you are and spends each day working as hard as they can to make you happy.
Thank-you for sharing your experiences.
If I had one suggestion for the people in your life, I would say this: make sure you take care of yourself and define your boundaries. If you feel these relationships are working for you, and that you are getting what you need from them, then that's what matters. And that's something you can explain to anyone.
I'm all for open honest communication. That goes for people who are ill and those who aren't.
I'm in love with someone who just recently shared with me he is bi-polar. Are relationship is off and on right now like the flick of a light switch. In the beginning he was compassionate and intentive. I always listened and never judge him as far as what he was feeling or is feeling. Me being a depressive being, he himself was and is considerate of my feelings. He's a wonderful person and I tell him every chance that seems appropriate that how wonderful he is. Until recently things are shakey with him. He forgets what he tells me. Wants to make love to me and there for turns around and says this feels akward. And then says like he is asking "where just friends right"? and me of course says "yeah were friends". Not really knowing what that means to him/ he then makes moves on me like were strangers about to have hot sex. Should I let him think that there isnt more than just friendship for right now. I tell him that I would hate to see the day in my life he wasnt some part of. Even if we are not together i will always be there for him. I dont want to confuse the matter for him. I understand parts of the disorder and I'm not ready to throw in the towel on him. Reguardless of whether we have an intimate relationship or not I've known him for 6 years now and I'm not willing to let go. I ask him if he wants me to leave him alone. he says no. But then turns around and says he wants to be alone. And then turns around and asks if he can stay the night because he doesnt want to be alone. Am I wrong for not questioning why he says or does the things that are confusing to me. I feel like I shouldnt inquire. My best friend is bi-polar as well and working with her and living with her I have learned some of the behaviors. She comes and goes as she pleases. when she leaves I become somewhat depressed wondering what I did wrong. I have been seeing therapists and doctors for my depression. But me as a person do not and will not let go of the people in my life. Im non judgemental and its hard for me to just let go of someone that has a problem. My dad and my favorite uncle had paranoid schitz. my mother and possibly one of my sisters have bi-polar. My best friend has bi-polar and I'm with an amazing person who I have had shared some amazing and in depth conversations with and when I think he has been toying with my emotions up until this point have been told has bi-polar..I would be so appreciative for any tips on not only how to make them know I care and will always be here for them no matter what. But tips on how to cope with the people in my life who dont have the diorder and dont understand why I put up with all the "drama" that comes with loving and supporting people in my life with the disorder. They tell me you are crazy for loving crazy people but I dont see it as that. I love them all for who they really are. And Im not saying I am crazy. But just understanding. I can see the light through them all, I support there strengths. I'm here for them even if theyve done something so hurtful of some. People ask me arent you hurt that he does that. And I say a little but not really. I guess what Im asking for is just something to tell people that dont have the disorder with out risking telling them oh. he has she has this thats why I accept the fact. Because I dont feel right letting them use it as an excuse but Im willing to excuse them because of the fact....
Well first, thank-you for sharing. It sounds like you're in a very stressful situation.
What I have to say may not be what you want to hear, but I'm going to say it anyway: you can't help someone who don't want to help themselves.
The fact is, yes, you and your job may be triggers for her due to her own psychology. We all have them, but hers might be very exaggerated.
If she has a mental illness she needs to be seeing a psychiatrist along with a therapist. Someone needs to make an assessment of her medically, not just psychologically. You say she comes from a family with those issues, yet on one acknowledges it. Then how do you know that is their history?
I appreciate that you have spent 10 years together. I have never been so lucky. And I also appreciate you wanting to renew your commitment to the relationship. Those are both great things. But a marriage takes two people. You both have to want it.
In my opinion, you need to make a plan, with your therapist's help, that you can both live with, and stick to it. What is the living situation going to be, finances, fidelity, and so on. When it comes down to it, she may just not want what you want and there's nothing you can do about that.
But think about yourself, and what you need from this relationship. And be honest. Make a plan. Things can always change down the road, but for right now, you reaching out and her pushing you away, and neither of you being on the same page just isn't going to help anyone.
I hope that helps. Good luck.
I have been together with my wife for 10 years, seven of those we have been married. I work a very seasonal job which makes me less available to my homelife at certain times of the year. In winter I am at home much more.
Last christmas my wife began by saying that "we are having problems we need to talk." We tried our best to talk but it would always come back to me talking and my wife saying "I'm not good at talking about these things" My wife comes from a family with a history of BP and Schizophrenia. When there is an episode they all just back off and say, "Oh no, it's not that, it must be something else." The way I read it is that they don't want to drive her farther away since she has this urge to leave. She was diagnosed shortly after christmas with BP 2. In the past I did not know anything about BP and so I tried to reason and talk more about things than possibly I should have. She would show signs of anxiety and even gagging when I guess I must say that I talked and she couldn't talk about these things. We went for about 5 months trying to talk about things and then she said :I have an uncontrollable urge to leave." To make a long story short she left and moved into a house that is for sale with staging furniture where her friend has allowed her to stay without paying rent.
I have maintained that I am there for my wife for the past 7 months. She comes to me each month and asks for financial help even though she is working and not having to pay rent. We are trying our best to be friends on the councilors suggestion. Our home life for the first 6 years of togetherness was great as long as she felt she was contributing to the relationship. She has been a student for 6 years, just graduated and now wants to go back and do her masters leaving me to pay for the majority of things and her feeling like she is not contributing. Now she still won't open up to me or tell me what she needs. She just says she has no feelings for me and doesn't love me anymore. Given that we have been together for 10 years it can be expected that we have both changed within our marriage. I am looking to renew our commitment and love and my wife at this time sees it all as too much to do. Responsibility and comittment to having to real hard work seems to be a real issue. She just seems to want to party and have fun. how can I not be an enabler but still let her know that I love and care about her. We are seeing a marriage councilor but things don't seem to go well as soon as the councilor asks hard questions about responsibility and what my wifes needs are.
Sorry about the long windedness. Is it possible that she sees me and my work as one of the triggers for her stress? Any other comments are welcome as well.
My bi polar girl went from marrying me one day to marrying someone else. She was the kind that never fights or gets violent. She just tell you what you want to hear with a big smile, screws your brains out and make up outrageous lies as excuses to dissappear and carry on multiple relationship. Telling everyone she love them and selling it hard. Thats is some mean evil behavior. I heard one of the other guys was really crushed. I have never hurt so bad and took months to get my brain working again. Her new engagement lasted 2 months or was a lie. Now she is call me but has to make an excuse to call. She wont admit she is manic but I can hear tension in her voice. I know shes suffering but so am I. I am recovering from an addiction to her.
That certainly may be your opinion, and I understand it's based on your experience, but to suggest that all bipolars think it's "all about them" and that they drag people into hell and that they are vampires is rather ridiculous.
First of all, bipolar is _not_ like boarderline personality disorder. They are two completely separate illnesses and your spouse's similar symptoms are not necessarily typical.
Secondly, many of us, in fact, I would say most, are ON medication and IN therapy and are doing many things to make ourselves better. I never rage. I never blame other people.
We are _not_ like the one person you knew. We are individuals. I have _never_ driven someone to hell.
There are spouses on here that can attest that while being with someone with a mental illness may pose its challenges, it is not like what you describe.
I understand you have gone through something difficult, traumatic and feel justified in leaving, but that does not justify painting us all with the same brush. We do not deserve to be viewed that way.
My ex-husband has borderline personality disorder (similar in many ways to bipolar). I lived with him for 25 years and have been divorced for three years.
Natasha, what you don't fully realize is----people end relationships with bipolar friends or relatives because they have to save their OWN sanity. If they don't leave, they remain in a never-ending abyss of misery and pain. It's one thing to "feel" another's pain and be sympathetic and friendly. But the bipolar person isn't content with sympathy and helpful words. He (she) DRAGS the seemingly healthy person into a bipolar or borderline hell, and the only thing the spouse or friend can do---to save themselves---is to leave. My ex-husband drove ME crazy with his angry delusions and insanity, and he absolutely refused to admit he had a problem. He wouldn't take meds and he wouldn't see a shrink. My life with him became so miserable and nightmarish that I finally stopped being his co-dependent---I felt in order to regain my life and I'm no longer his scapegoat and emotional punching bag.
I've learned that I am NOT responsible for the feelings and emotions of other people. My ex would create a non-existent reason to scream, yell and rage at me for three days straight---and later pretend it never happened. And when anything went wrong---he always blamed me. The nightmare never ended, and finally, after more than two decades of enduring his mental illness, I left.
It was always "all about HIM"---he doesn't realize he's an emotional vampire with the maturity of a ten year old child. With most bipolar people, it's always "ALL ABOUT THEM." He destroyed me (and I was wrong to allow that to happen) but I've finally regained my soul, my inner-strength and my confidence.
It's great that you've found tools that work for you, and being open about your illness is certainly one option, I just find it doesn't work for everyone.
I don't think it's true that "friends who don’t stick with you are not your true friends anyway". That's something we say to children to make them feel better about the way children act. People are complicated and they can, in fact, be your friend - truly and deeply - and still end up walking away from you or severely hurting you. It happens.
I really would like to comment on having bipolar 2 disorder. I am not bipolor, just like I am not cancer. I have a disease like many other people do which changes their lives. I have supportive friends but I have found those with the same disorder as I or others are not the best to be with in person a lot. I heklp run a support group of those with mental issues of my same faith. We are there for each other with no judgement. I don't keep my having bipolar a secret, but many people think I should. My ow mother used it against me when I set boundaries with my bully Dad. It took me 52 years and a therapist and Pshychitrist to see what he had done to contrubute to my low self esteem and still was interfering in my life and marriage. I stood up for myself. I'm healthier mentally every day. Oh yes I take meds , but I also have other tools I use that work. I figure friends who don't stick with you are not your true friends anyway. Proverbs 17:17 Really if you look at the world almost everyone will admit they are a bit crazy. This world is driving us crazy!
I can see you identify with what I've written.
Unfortunately, in life, we cannot always undo the hurt we have done to others. People can't always forgive and forget. That's simply the nature of the human condition. I understand, this doesn't make it hurt any less.
And honestly, it is _extremely_ difficult for people to discuss matters of mental illness. Again, I know this doesn't make it hurt any less.
It's unfortunate that you feel like you're being punished for past behavior. That must be very difficult. I suspect it's equally difficult for the person who loves and worries about you. Maybe he is seeing you too much as a sick person, and not just a person. Some counseling for both of you might help to deal with that issue. Because these are such powerful issues sometimes an outside voice is needed.
I'm glad you have a good friend. Those are wonderful.
Thank-you for sharing. I'm glad the article made you feel less isolated. We all need that.
I am 56 yrs old. I was originally diagnosed with manic depression when I was 26, but things were not really explained to me that I had a mental illness. I was married to a very abusive man, which made raising my children, working, and maintaining stability very difficult. Finally, after 10 yrs. of what I call spouse-induced insanity, I left him. But, I was an absolute mess, in and out of the hospital, and trying to find the right meds. I was told by hospital staff that I could no longer raise my children. This absolutely devastated me. I have learned since that today they don't say those things, and they offer support to the parent and the children.
My now adult children want no part of me. I have tried desperately to make amends for whatever I have done (not that anyone has told me), but they have all made it clear that they won't even call me for holidays. I miss them, and find all of this very painful.
I met a man and was absolutely up front about the bipolar. He accepted it. After about 3 years we moved in together and eventually married. But, boy were there difficulties. He moved out 3 times, leaving me completely confused as to why. I still don't understand why. However, now, after 19 years, we are doing pretty good.
But (and there's always that BUT, isn't there?), I feel like I'm being punished for things I've done in the past. No matter that it has been about 8 yrs since I attempted suicide, I feel like it never gets forgotten or forgiven. I haven't been in a hospital in almost 8 yrs. But he's constantly calling me from work, b/c according to him he needs to remain diligent, watch for the signs. I have actually broken down crying b/c he calls so often I feel like I have no life.
Don't get me wrong, he's a good man. But I can see where the illness has affected him deeply. Sometimes I feel like that's all I am to him: bipolar. Things can get pretty confusing.
As far as friends go: I've lost life long friends suddenly, with no warning and no explanation. It's not even like we talked every day or saw each other frequently, b/c we live in different states. But they are gone. So, now I'm very careful not to tell new people about the illness, and keep my distance when I know I'm not well. I made a new friend about 3 yrs ago who knows about the bipolar. She is so kind and non-judgmental. But she is the exception.
I have one sister who clearly sees me separate and apart from the illness. I can always tell that I'm presenting symptoms when she says to me: Now don't let this (or him, or the situation) make you sick. That's a heads up for me to pay attention. But, she loves me, and I know that. I'm careful not to overwhelm her, and often just wait for her to call me, rather than I call her over and over.
I'm so glad I came across this article, it helped to make me feel not so isolated.
I'm so sorry you're going through this. It must be very difficult.
Since you asked, here are my 2 (or more) cents.
It is extremely difficult to anticipate what kind of impact this disorder will have until you live it because everyone is different. Unfortunately, that's just how it goes.
If your husband has been well for years and is acting out of character for 3 months, he may be going through a manic episode. He may not even be aware of it. Sometimes from the inside, we can't tell. If he's continuing to be manic, he may not have much control over some of the behavior he is exhibiting. Medical intervention may be needed.
He may be on medication, but it may have to be adjusted if what he is experiencing right now is mania. He may not be able to get out of it very quickly, and you may not be able to tolerate it. Both of these things are completely reasonable, but you need to see a doctor and tell him that so he can make informed medical decisions.
Unfortunately we know that medications sometimes stop working, so constant medical review is needed.
I understand how hurtful his actions are for you. Even understanding it's his disease, it doesn't make the pain go away. I would recommend therapy and support for yourself and for both of you as a couple. You can make a plan together on how to move forward avoiding this in the future, and you can work on repairing the relationship from what is happening now.
You don't want to sacrifice your mental health for him. It's not good for either one of you. Get help. You need to be a mom and a breadwinner for your family. Get help both for him and for you. Don't tackle something this big alone.
I married this man for two years now, who told me only after we had planned to get married, that he's bipolar. I did do a lot search about bipolar before married, but could never realize the impact of episode until today. I also didn't know that I am his 5th wife, until I married him and incidentally found a document in our drawer listing all his marriage history. I guess they all left him during his manic or depressed episode.
During almost 2 years he has been a very good, loving, responsible and thoughtful husband and father for my 2 kids.
Until last 3 month, I found out he got involved in promiscuous sex with 4 or 5 different women, including those whom he paid to get laid. Over spending money, verbally abusive and very irritable.
I endured the hurtful feelings as I pushed myself to believe that it's the illness instead of him, and therefore decided to continue be with him. I also recognize that it is unfair that I stayed with him when he gave me happiness, but then leave him when his illness is taking over his personality.
But my real problem here is after he promised he would never hurt me again, I found another woman he tries to get laid. One after another, and it's starting to drain me up. I started to question whether this is because of the illness ? is he still manic ? or it's just jerking ? He's been regularly on medicals, but seems like of no use. I told him I can always deal with any manic symptoms, or even depressives, but infidelity, cheating, promiscuous sex is something that really hits me hard right on the face, which I think is starting to make me feel depressed to. Not to mention work and kids that I have neglected. My thoughts are now only about how to make him stop cheating me, how to save our marriage, should I walk away for the sake of my own sanity and my 2 kids well being ?
Any advices would be highly appreciated.
i've lost everyone because of bipolar. but i cant really blame them for abandoning me when i constantly hide anyway. i push and push and push, because they can't possibly understand, and they never will because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. boy it's a lovely way to live.
Well, obviously, I'm looking at this from the inside, but I can honestly I make an effort to be there for the people I care about. It's a short list, but that list matters to me. And they understand that I can't always give them what they need just like I understand when they're not consistently. No one has ever left claiming something I did.
But that's me.
But yes, I wonder if I'll die alone because of my illness too.