COMMUNITY QUESTION: How do you juggle symptoms and family?

AlyssaWinegardenAlyssaWinegarden New Life Outlook
Pierre asks: 'I have Bipolar II disorder and find it difficult to manage my relationship with my husband and child when I am having episodes. My husband is also in therapy to understand the disorder and learning coping techniques in dealing with my Bipolar. However, at times, when I am depressed I become distant which impacts on my child and when I have hypomanic episodes towards the end of it I become irritable and short tempered. How can I circumvent the effects of this with regard to my family. I am diligent when it comes to my medication but it does not take the symptoms away completely. Your advice will be greatly appreciated.'


  • @AlyssaWinegarden It may seem like a coward's way out but I've learned that the struggle to fight the disorder can be as disruptive as the mood swings themselves. I've learned to accept that I have a cycle of depression and hypomania that is almost impossible to control. In other words I've accepted my diagnosis and the physical, mental, and emotional changes it will bring on no matter how much I fight it. My wife and I have become a team and deal with it realistically. When I'm getting depressed and emotionally overwhelmed I do for me what is best even if that means withdrawing. She understands and appreciates that I'm not trying to force her to deal with what I can't control. (Our code phrase is "the moon is coming out so you better chain me to the wall"). Since I'm diagnosed with bipolar 2 ultra-ultra rapid cycling (four days of depression and a few hours of hypomania) it's no big deal when I'm absent for a few hours or even a day. It's like I'm pulling a double shift at work even though I may be off comforting myself as best I can. Not fighting the cycle takes a lot of pressure off. I know how difficult it is to parent your child, too. But think about the advice that's given to "normal" parents: "If your mad then walk away until you cool off." Be the best parent you can when you can and don't erase your good parenting by trying and failing at it when your disorder won't let you do it. Bipolar disorder will steal much of your life. Your fight back is to not let it steal the rest. When you're free to be you live your life richly. Russ
  • @russlhenley

    Thank you for the advice well said...It is the first time in 34 yrs of marriage that I am dealing with Mania so horrific that it almost cost us the marriage.. With the help of my counselor I am trying to learn to walk away instead of trying to fix ..It is so hard to live in the moment but you are right that is what is needed!
  • GailGail Member
    I find that I need to retreat to my bed with the depression as I can't handle the everyday tasks. I feel "safe" when I am in my bed and my bedroom door is closed. I just have to let it take it's course. I do have to seek professional help as well but sometimes find I cannot communicate.
  • AlyssaWinegardenAlyssaWinegarden New Life Outlook
    @Gail the fact that you're able to admit that you have to seek professional help is a huge step in the right direction! You're not alone in this battle - it doesn't matter how fast you go, as long as you do not stop.

  • Even though I have let parents and brothers know that I have been bipolar, diagnosed for 30 years, none has bothered to even read an article on it. My mother, my remaining parent, continues to consider that I am not 'right with God', as she has from the beginning of my symptoms in my late teens and twenties. I live abroad and don't really get anything from visits to her home, except some weeks of recovering from the time together.

    Yesterday, I made it clear that my planned trip home might not happen in a few weeks, as I have gone down into a deep depression and have no real support system in place here. I am joining this group in hopes of finding support to continue on, as, being in my mid 60's, I find it harder to see a reason to live than I used to. I am quite sure I will not have an intimate relationship of any duration. My art is only available at times. Suicide looks more attractive, yet I am not acting on it, nor do I intend to, for now.

    I am preparing to demand that any family that wants to see me read at least something on the topic, so they can understand better my life. Otherwise, I just find it impossible to care for any more family connection. I am either to blame, or mother blames herself. Phrases like, "You're killing me" or "This is killing me" are her new favorite, and I am inclined to hope that this is true, and soon. I really don't want to see her anymore.

    Has anyone here ever simply decided that family was not helpful, in fact destructive, and severed the connection? Can you find peace without family? Many say not, so I have hung in there, but really am tired of it.
  • My mom and dad when he was alive find it confusing to understand Bi polar I think alot of it has to do with when they grew up it was understood to be something eles or didnt understand it at all. Kinda like my 6 year old fixed my computor when I couldnt understand. Each generation has a hard time learning the new generation. Not all but alot. I know my family loves me they just dont always understand me. Parents always want to fix things in your life if they can this is something they cant fix and as a parent myself its hard to handle when you have to see a child struggle no matter how old that child is. I keep loving my family and try to give them as much possitives about my life as I can. Makes us all happier and they even have asked about my bipolar a few times.
  • I understand how a lot of you feel about family not being supportive or involved with your mental illness. I get so frustrated and angry because a lot of my mental illness stems from the verbal abuse, alienation and jealousy of my stepfather and abandonment of my alcoholic father. My mother's mental illness created the perfect environment for a mentally I'll child. I'm 35 and a single mother of 3 children and I had to move back home after a stint in rehab because of self medicating my bipolar and didn't know I had it. For years I sought professional help by a psychiatrist who insisted I had anxiety and depression and prescribed antidepressants which made me worse. It wasn't until I was in rehab 5yrs a go that I got the right diagnosis and proper medication, but by that time I lost everything and had to move back home. Now I'm dependent on the very people who made me sick. I'm trying to get SDI because I can't handle working because of my mood shifts and almost untreatable insomnia. The worst part is they use my bipolar against me by making it the reason for family conflict when in fact they are dysfunctional in almost every way possible. They project almost everything on to me when they need extreme professional help and counseling. It's unfair and makes me feel worse and desperate at times. I feel stuck and in a box like I'm suffocating and being buried alive with on way out because I can't be independent like I used to be. I'm trying really hard to not react to them and be thankful that they are letting us stay here but I resent the fact that I have to do all of the changing when they need to seek help just as much as I do. Anyone going through this too?
  • @kemyo Hello, I find that my family is pretty much self-destructive; at least my birth family. I too am really tired of it; some days it's enough to keep my own self straight, let alone deal with their ups and downs. My Mom has passed almost 9 years ago; my Dad has remarried and does not want to be bothered with "all the drama". My twin brother has disowned me (is that even legal? ha, ha!), he believes that is must somehow be contagious or something. It's been very disappointing & sad as far as familial support. I am seeking presently seeking peace and limit my families involvement anymore. I'd have to say that it has helped, but I'm still coming to terms that they never really were there from the beginning :(
    I am new to this support group also; I'd like to hope that we can all help oneanother. Please feel free to keep in touch! I'd like to make a few supportive friends here also. Take Care of Yourself!
  • @kemyo Yes I have had the same issues as well. I'm only one of several in my family that suffers with bipolar disorder. Only myself & one sister has faced this, asked for help and continue to educate ourselves on the subject. About 15 yesrs ago I finally had to "STOP THE MADNESS" and step away from the family. I have reconnected with a few but only at arms length. I miss them & love them but for my mental well being it has to be this way.
    I too can't seem to intice the (very) few close friends or few family members to research or learn about this disorder. This only makes me feel even lower, if they don't care about putting any effort into understanding the disorder or why I am as I am, this just re-enforces my low self esteem & feelings of worthlessness.
    Even as a very young child I can remember these feelings. I always wondered why I exsist at all. I've never made an actual suicide attempt, but have put myself in all sorts of risky situations knowing what might happen, but didn't care. It was my way of trying to die without actually committing suicide. Now that I've gotten worse in all of this disorder, unable to work, and the kids are all grown & on their own, I consider suicde as my only option left. I can offer you all kinds of advice and words of encouragement, but I can't use that same advice & encouragement for my own self. Good luck and keep the faith
  • Family support is so important when dealing with bipolar disorder and mental illness. If family members do not understand this disorder they will not be of help to the person suffering and will not accept it. My best advice is to educate yourself about all aspects of this disease.

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