I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me.
Last night, I watched Crazy for Love a very bad movie wherein a man, Max, is put into a mental hospital for attempting suicide for the tenth time. When he’s there, he glimpses a very ill, schizophrenic, Grace, whereupon he instantaneously falls in love with her. She too is determined to kill herself. His life’s mission then is to “make her better”. To “make her happy”. Having found his new mission in life, he no longer wants to kill himself.
Well, pin a rose on his nose.
The White Knight Syndrome
The white knight syndrome typically occurs in men and is characterized by being attracted to, and needing to save, someone in distress. This is not so bad if it leads to someone helping you pick up your groceries after the paper bag broke, but in mental illness circles, it’s very bad news indeed.
We’ve all seen them. They’re the friends and lovers who will read every book on the illness. Suggest every treatment. Buy you supplements and “cure-alls” over the internet, and swear that this Native Shaman they found can fix anything. These people are endlessly hopeful every time you try a new medication or therapy, absolutely positive that this is going to work, and then are endlessly crushed when again, it does not. Their zeal to cure you, little by little, encroaches into their life until the only life they have is saving you. Your illness becomes their reason for living.
This leads to all kinds of unfortunate interaction. You feel constantly pressured to “get better”. To make a treatment work. The two of you are inexorably intertwined and probably “in love”. You know that every failure is going to crush your White Knight and so you are scared to admit them. The White Knight then gets eaten alive with the reality that you’re just not going to get better. No matter what he, or anyone else does, you will remain sick.
Unfortunately, this knowledge notwithstanding; I want to be saved.
I have lain on the hard wooden floor of my apartment more times than I care to count, begging for someone to save me. I want someone in white, on his trusty steed, to pick me up, fling me over his shoulder, and take me away to where the disease doesn’t exist. I beg for someone to handle all the treatment details that I can’t. I beg for someone to hold the hope I don’t have. I wish for someone to know the magic Shaman that will make me better.
But, of course, I understand, as most of us do, that there is no such thing as a white knight. There is no one who is going to save you. You’re sick. And you’re probably going to stay that way. The person who helps you is much more likely to be wearing a white lab coat instead of white armor.
If You Love Your White Knight, Set Him Free
I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are the only one who can make you better. You have to do the work, see the doctors, do the therapy. Your disease is not a school project. You are not a damsel in distress. You are strong, and powerful, and you are fighting this disease with both fists. If your knight would like to help, all the better, but there’s just no “saving” to be had. Your white knight will have to learn to get used to disappointment. And you and I will just have to start accepting that the suite of gleaming, white armor I keep in the corner, will never be put to good use.
Tracy, N. (2010, June 14). I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/06/im-damaged-im-bipolar-love-me-save-me
Author: Natasha Tracy
In that sense you are leading a meaningful life by writing blogs that help people.
While I know no other person can "save me" I have a wonderful support network consisting of family and friends. I am engaged to a man who doesn't try to change me, and loves me dispite my 'negative thinking' lol. Bipolar doesn't mean you can't find love many people I know with bipolar have wonderful marriages, but I don't want to be involved with someone who wants to cure me. I want a relationship where we can have children together and be friends and have wildly fantastic sex and that is good enough. People who need to save someone need therapy themselves.
*A balance between knowing that only I can help myself and the necessity of accepting support from others
*A balance between knowing that my mental outlook directly influences how well a treatment works and knowing that it's not the only thing that does
*A balance between knowing what my limitations are, working positively within them and reaching either extreme: having too positive an outlook and having no positive outlook. What we want is something I've heard described as "optimistic realism." I don't recall by whom.
Anyways, that's my two cents for now. Tahtah.
I write this not to be mean or try to single you out, however I am a 34 year old woman who suffers from bipolar. I have been on every cocktail you can think of and finally have found something that gives me some relief. So to say you can "cure" bipolar to me is just a rediculous notion. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain that can be controlled however never cured.
If you're still looking I can do this Natasha! Children of Alcoholics are attracted to people we can save or rescue. I've learned the hard way more than once. I've hardly know a relationship that didn't get bizarre. If I was in a good relationship I had no idea how to function.
Then I slipped down some stairs and rattled my brain in my skull--got a mild concussion. After that, I had some exec. function problems I hadn't had before, and they had to mess around with my medication, and I wasn't really quite so functional, and I had a lot of adjusting to do, but I adjusted.
Then I had a trauma and a divorce and got PTSD, and my ability to function pretty much collapsed for several years, and is still collapsed, and I've been going to therapy and am only now getting some function back but still can't work, may not ever be able to work. Or might. Don't know.
I guess how I would respond to a view of high-function bipolar disorder like Claire's is that the longer someone lives with bipolar disorder, the more chance they have of having some kind of secondary event like a severe physical illness, a close personal loss, a head trauma, becoming the victim of a crime, witnessing a trauma, an abusive relationship or whatever add a complication to their initial diagnosis.
As we age, more and more goes wrong with our bodies and more and more happens to us and we accumulate damage. Over time, it becomes more and more likely that rather than living well despite our condition, our accumulation of complications will drag us into disability.
We used to think that mental health research was expanding the forefront of knowledge so fast that there might even be a cure in our lifetimes. They really don't seem to be making any progress on the forefront of preventing brain damage, much less repairing it.
Then again, maybe there's all sorts of wicked cool military research out there about regrowing zombie brains that I've never heard of. Braaaiiinnnzzzz. We can hope, eh? Zombies: Weird food cravings, thorazine shuffle, but not scared of the dark.
I've had bipolar disorder for 20 years, diagnosed for 9. I've been to 4 different doctors, 5 theorpists and been on every regimine known to man. All that and while my highs and lows are mostly tolerable, when the meds stop working all Hell breaks out. Pessimisim you say. A life of Bipolar leaves one praying to stay in control. Hoping beyond hope that I haven't passed this curse to my children.
what I'm saying is there was plenty of tuff in our tough love for each other but little compassion when and where it was needed. I was the one who stumbled, but I picked myself up with a lot of help from persons out side the family as well as from within. That out side help and interpersonal connection would not have been possible without the concept of mental ilness; bipolar in my case. As much as it is a stigma, it is community of people, with similar issues. I do resent the joint decision made to medicate my self, but it was conventional wisdom at the time. In closing I would not doubt an inborn element is some what involved in Bipolar disorder. I think that it can be mitigated somewhat be preparing our children for contingency. Give them a spiritual center along with that open mind; its a strength that may come in handy later. Jeff
Personally, I don't believe in bipolar disorder in the medicate it sense, or the psychoanalysis sense. Some hint that it has to do with a subconscious "running from" something, and so what can be better that flailing around in avoidance of that void at the heart of reality? It's a convenient distraction.
So in short, no, no one can save anyone, and denying that is merely a form of enabling a vile fairy tale that keeps people stuck in profound stupidity. Yes, it's a flaw in thinking, a flaw which is rooted in vanity (concerned with what others think of you, assessing your own value in terms of what others think of you), laziness, weakness of will and spirit, and the bizarre believe that you need saving, which you don't. We're been raised in the trapping of a hug-me/feed-me/save-me/coddle-me culture which is then fallaciously identified with love. NO!! Love is not compassion, love is not coddling. Love is doing what is escapism, love is comforting. Love is a challenge. Loving someone entails doing what is best for them, and sometimes, that something is painful, brutal and harsh. A white knight isn't generous, as some spin doctors like to cook up. White knights are completely selfish, and get off on having a feeling of superiority over their needy victim. And if that white knight sees improvement, and thus less need for him, he'll use subtle ways to sabotage the other's progress. They might not even be aware of their sabotaging techniques because they're so ingrained in their subconscious habits. Jettison that white knight! Have the courage to admit that you're not fit, not ready, for a relationship now. It's not that important anyway, and if you disagree it's only because you're blinded by the inferiority lodged in your mind. The White Knight is a coward, because he is afraid of those who not need him. He might even possess a bit of an abandonment complex, and so chooses inferior needy women because they're less likely to leave. The White Knight is needy in a different way. A weakling.
Our culture sucks because it enables this nonsense. Marriage, relationships, are meant for the purpose of personal excellence, not wallowing and rotting away in a pile of physical, emotional and mental depravity.
You just need to understand this and stop catering to the illusion and the temptation of your illusive hope. Realize there is no relief. Starve that "hope". Deprive it. Don't feed that demon! Let is kick and scream inside you out of frustration! You will grow stronger for it. In due time, you will subordinate it to yourself, you will becomes master of your fate. You will look under the building to see the foundation, and see that all of this illusion. It's the illusion that you need fixing, and once you stop outside that trap of a box, you'll see how unnecessary all that pain and suffering was, what a huge waste of time, how silly and absurd it is, and how all that seemed to threaten you into it was illusive, non-existent, powerless, stupid, impotent, imaginary. Don't seek permission. Don't seem approval. Be master of your life, and cut everything and everyone off who interferes, who stands in your way. Expand and conquer!
Some inspiration might come from Russell's "Power" and Nietzsche. It might require you to abandon certain popular conceptions and ideas that our culture likes to present to use as necessary and absolute truths (none of them are), but don't be scared. You don't need that culture. You don't need that parasitic slave mentality dogging you. You can do it alone, and it'll be more glorious than you can imagine!
* Removed by moderator. Everyone is reminded to be respectful of each other.
Not to worry, a bipolar diagnosis isn't required to comment :)
I think the concept of a "white knight" resonates for many people, ill or not. Just think about when you're behind in bills or in a terrible mess at work, at moments in those situations people want to be rescued too. It's just natural response when we feel desperate.
I appreciate anyone who appreciates honesty. Thanks for sharing.
I don't have Bipolar Disorder. In fact, the prognosis for my mental illness is often quite good. So I hope you don't mind me commenting.
Though I don't have BP your post resonates with me. I often feel like my disorder makes me fascinating to other people, usually people who favor wounded birds. And the idea of being taken care of is sometimes so very tempting. While there is a very good chance that I'll fully recover, I'm not there yet. And the struggle wearies me, depletes my resources and often leaves me feeling "less than." That is when the White Knight becomes a temptation.
I admit I've given into that temptation many times. But like you said, no one can save me. No one but me. And allowing others to try when I know they won't succeed is unfair.
I also really appreciate your unwillingness to sugarcoat the reality of your disorder. The truth - my truth, I should say - is always better than a half-truth or a beautiful lie, I think.
I think those two points are great. Thanks for chiming in.
Strap yourself in buddy. It's going to be a bumpy ride. I can relate. The "manic" phase can have you and your wife enjoying the best sex of your life or having you watching from afar when the "greener grass" partners have been roped in and you're just a memory she wants to forget for awhile. It will feel like one minute she doesn't want to live without you and the next she can't get to the "replacements" fast enough.
Your wife is ill. Mentally ill.
I wish I could tell you the cure is simple; just take X amount of Seroquel each day, go to a therapist 3 times a wk, eat well, sleep well and eliminate as much stress as possbile and everything will work out.
Sorry I can't. I've heard suggestions from run away as fast as you can to don't ever give up. My 17 yr hell had me walking away from my wife thinking I should have listened to my friends and family yrs ago and left that "crazy bitch". BP is a really cruel illness and what I've learned is the Medical community althou much more educated then 10 yrs ago is wrestling with an epidemic. I dont know who tainted the water 30 yrs ago or what is causing the surge but you'll learn and see really fast this is no small problem.
Best advise I can offer is 1) If your going to stick around and be part of the fight.....take care of yourself FIRST, you're no good to anyone unless you are at your best. Put the horse, the knight outfit and the superman underwear away. and 2) Don't take things personally. All the way down to the infidelity. She's ill. It's the illness controlling alot of what she does. Beleive me, she would get off the ride if she had a choice.
Best of luck
Take a breath.
You and your wife are in a tough spot, no doubt, but now that she's getting the help that she needs, things can get better.
First, I just want to mention that manic depression is the same thing as bipolar disorder. What will happen is she'll be given a diagnosis of bipolar I, II, or NOS (assuming you're in North America, other countries are very similar). If her highs are extremely high as you describe them, it's likely bipolar I, but a doctor can determine this.
Yes, medications can take a very long time to be found and to work. You could be in for a year or two of searching. That's the cold, hard truth. But there are things you can do right now. You should definitely get as much support around both of you as possible. You can look into support groups for her and for you. You are the spouse of a crazy person, that's hard, but others are going through it too, and you can connect in a support group.
Therapy is an integral part of getting better. Studies show that mental illness is far more successfully treated when it's done with meds and therapy together. There are different types of therapy, but for now, try to find someone who is an expert in working with bipolar. You might need some therapy together too to try and repair your relationship together.
And there are lots of books on the subject, and free information online. You should learn from credible sources about what you're facing, and then discuss options and questions with her and her doctor.
This is tough, but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your marriage. I can't say you'll stay together or you won't, but you both have choices. Bipolar doesn't have to make them for you.
Good luck. Come by any time.
I'll write about what I think about hope, sometime, but let's just say we have a rocky relationship.
That’s a good link and citing on your part. John is one of those long-time fine mental health writers and bloggers that also succinctly have the ability to address and express their personal issues while still encouraging others.
Unlike these capable writers I kind of trudge and sum up this issue by crudely referring to “education, hope and persistence”.
Who really knows “the truth” other than we can’t stop trying?
check this out, thought you might be interested
You know the old saying goes something like 'if you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right' so it always pays to keep an open mind. There's a lot of research being done in this area, so don't give up! You're obviously a fighter xoxoxo
We _are_all_different_ and it simply is a fact that what works for one will not work for another.
I would never suggest that a person stop doing what works for them, but I would also never suggest that just because something works for me, it _will_ work for them.
And finally, I represent a huge group of people who just _aren't_getting_better. And it isn't our fault. We're sick. Everyday. That's our life. Many bipolars aren't in that group. But I am. Period.
“I’m somewhat disturbed by the hopelessness that you feel about your illness being projected onto everyone else with bipolar. The truth is, you CAN have recovery, you CAN have remission, and bipolar does NOT have to be viewed as a sickness or an illness.” --- Claire
I read your posting with interest as I have of others for more than a decade that I have participated on Internet forums such as this. As a very, very long-time support person to my spouse and as her health care advocate I can well appreciate your thoughts and position but also as a former DBSA President, Board Member and facilitator I was trained to share my knowledge and experiences from the first person singular, “I” and to avoid using the word “you” as in you can or you should or you are wrong etc. To start with it tends to be less confrontational.
With that in mind and with my experiences of more than 4 decades I don’t know for sure what the “truth is” but I do believe that my endorsing patient and/or support person education and encouraging hope and persistence that recovery may be possible along with periods of longer term remissions.
From my experiences I have read of benefit from non-invasive approaches to wellness such as holistic therapies as well as talk therapies. Others have indicated benefit from combinations of talk therapy and medications and yet there is this unique population of patients often suffering for decades with little to no efficacy from any of the conventional therapies of which my spouse at one time or another utilized.
So as much as you describe your thinking abilities aiding with your recovery, 3 decades of my spouse’s experiences; talk and holistic therapies, medications and other treatments only validate for me the fact that each individual is unique and dynamic and what may work for one does not mean it will work for another.
No therapy at the time could undo her self-deprecating thoughts and/or suicidal ideations or worse yet and in her case prevent 9 suicide attempts. I’m sorry to state that in her case history, talk therapy etc. proved of little or no value at the time.
Fast forward over these past 10 years with her current effective therapy and my spouse’s original mood disorder is absent and in long-term remission to which I’ll add Joyce is “Happy to be alive” and values both her life and existence despite other medical challenges.
The point being that from my knowledge and vantage point my spouse had no positive thinking or reasoning ability to control her mood state whereas the disorder had the greater control and so too Joyce’s incessant desire to end her enduring suffering, anguish and pain.
Where else in nature does one find one of the strongest instincts, the survival instinct, overcome by suicidal ideations and/or suicide?
I am happy for you and others like you who have achieved degrees of wellness and/or remissions through whatever means but the fact remains there are a relatively large number of individuals, who unlike my spouse, have yet to find their answer(s) to relative wellness.
Oh claire, a problem of living? The problem of living are the consequences, the interaction between our disorder and our life. How it damages relationships and challenges our work and career. The bipolar disorder is biological. It is more like maintaining a chronic case of cancer. Lucky for me after 8 years I found a good cocktail. But some people try and try and remain treatment resistant. Bipolar is not a matter of attitude. Medication, therapy, fish oil, exercize, and sleep, all important for me. But I still remain bipolar. Yes, I manage my disorder. But many other BP are not as fortunate.
Certainly everyone with bipolar is different. I say that quite frequently. However, many people with bipolar really will be sick forever. I'm likely one of them. Many bipolars fight every day and their entire life and certainly don't live "like everyone else". I don't live even close to "like everyone else". I appreciate all those who do, but many of us don't.
The point of this piece is that it is too easy to get sucked into an illness that will be there forever. That might be bipolar, that might be depression, that might be something else entirely. And the point is that you can't save someone else. I can't be saved. No matter how wonderful the person, they can't do it. It's just a painful reality.
It's not hopeful, or hopeless. It's just reality.
I'm somewhat disturbed by the hoplessness that you feel about your illness being projected onto everyone else with bipolar. The truth is, you CAN have recovery, you CAN have remission, and bipolar does NOT have to be viewed as a sickness or an illness. A person with bipolar does not have to view themselves as a patient. This takes away ones autonomy and independence. Bipolar can be viewed as a problem of living that with the right attitude, determination & willingness to work in a partnership with mental health professionals, can be managed well and the person can live a happy and successful life the same as anyone else. As long as we continue to see ourselves as victims and believe we will always be sick to some degree, we will be cheating ourselves of what we can actually achieve in this life. There is no room for this hopelessness that has been placed upon us by the medical model that we have so willingly accepted. We have to have a change in attitude, accept ourselves and live within our limitations, but we CAN and will overcome this problem of living if we approach it differently. If we do what we always did, we will get what we always got.