wow, I am so glad I found this site! I think I may be able to get some good suggestions just reading some of your stories.
I could go on for a very long time about this so I will try to keep this very short and only include details when I feel it will help facilitate and advice.
My problem is basically that I know that my dad (now 54) suffers from bi-polar disorder/manic depression. He has suffered with it since his college days. Since then he has been thru 5 wives and 6 marriages, countless jobs, and no telling how many days of suffering.
The problem is he refuses to admit he has a problem or seek any kind of treatment. I am at a point, where I feel like as his son, I have an obligation to help him. I love him very much and don't care how he acts, but I just hate seeing him miserable and hate seeing him miss out on so much.
My mom (wife #1) was the first person to ever notice anything and tried very hard to get him to get some help. She even got his family involved and concerned. However, besides being bi-polar my dad is extremely intelligent and he was able to convince his family that my mom was out to get him, etc. etc. Long story short, my mom ended up taking myself and two older sisters from the home and they divorced when I was 8.
Of course, I didn't understand what was going (in fact, I never thought my dad had a problem until a few years ago). Since that time, my dad remarried and had another son. The same thing happened again though, wife #2 recognized quickly that he had a problem and wanted him to go for help, she got the family involved again. This time they felt obliged to at least try since it had happened once before. He was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed as bipolar/manic depressive. However, long story short again, my dad was able to convince his family (inlcuding me--I always defended his behavior, though not my sisters) that wife #2 was the one with the problem. He even convinced his doctor that he was okay. Again the entire side of the family turned against wife #2 and they were divorced.
He quickly went on to marry and remarry 3 times over the next 5 years. Always getting into the marriage on a high, and getting out on a low, explaining away his depression by saying that the wife was the one causing him problems. He has repeated the same tactic with his jobs. He can keep a job for about 3 or 4 years, but it always becomes "a horrible job" and "causes him to become physically exhausted" which supposedly explains he behavior. As I said, I believed all of this for the longest time.
However, 3 years ago, wife #2 decided she wanted to reconcile for the benefit of my half brother (he was having serious problems dealing with the divorce as a young boy). She talked to us and told us that she didn't care if Daddy was sick, she just wanted her family to stay together, and she has since refused to push or say anything about him needing help.
The rest of the family has washed their hands of the situation having loaned him countless amounts of money and witnessed his behavior worsen, it is impossible to deny he has a problem, however, they seem to all feel like it is no longer their business or duty to try and get involved. Also the fact that my grandmother, the matriarch of the family, refuses to see anything wrong, doesn't help, because no one wants to upset her by causing trouble with my dad.
Like I said earlier though, I now realize that it is time for myself and the other children to get involved some how or some way. Best case scenario would be to get him to go back to see a doctor/psychiatrist because he responded very well to treatment back at the time wife #2 convinced the family to have him checked out in a hospital. However, he stopped taking treatment (lithium and anti-depressant) and went back to his old self which lead to the divorce. He seemed embarassed to admit to us and his family that he had a problem and had caused so much trouble for refusing to see it earlier, etc. etc.
If not, I just want to somehow make his life less miserable. He is about to quit his latest job and has been talking about wanting out of his marriage again saying it is all too much stress for him to handle. He falls asleep all over the house, but stays up all night walking around. He falls asleep while driving and disappears for hours on end. He buys all kinds of crap from infomericials and never opens it, he leaves bills unpaid, and despite making very good money, he never has a penny (my sisters suspect gambling, I don't know though).
I don't know what to do!? Every time someone has tried to make him go for help, he has turned on them and the whole family has backed him and I do not want my dad to turn on me or for him to feel like I am challenging him or accusing him of being "crazy" or even siding with my mom agains him. I tried to have a talk with him recently and he of course denies everything. He explains his behavior by claiming to be "worn out" from his wife and job. He has an excuse for everything and I am pretty sure he even lies about some things. Understand though, I am not mad at him for any of this. I know he has a problem and it is not his fault, I just want him to get help!
Does anyone have an experience with something like this where a family member has just absolutely refused treatment?? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I will answer any questions to clear up details, sorry I wanted to keep this as short as possible but get the basic idea across.
I really just need some help deciding what to do.
Thank you so much in advance, you are all in my prayers.
I don't know if I can help, but I do know that you are not alone. I have bpII, but my brother has very severe bp, but like your father refuses to admit it or get help. He is on the same track as your father and I feel your pain. Even with me KNOWING exactly what he is going through he won't listen. He doesn't want to believe that something is wrong, he doesnt want to admit that he has no control over his own mind. He is now in jail for the second time, and my parents refuse to bail him out on the hopes that maybe he will come to a relization in there. I know this wasn't any helpful advice, but just know that someone out there understands and is praying for you, your father and her own brother. God Bless.
actually that was quite helpful. Researching all of this on the internet has been extremely helpful and just knowing that other people out there understand is extremely comforting. I really am trying to understand this condition before I go in and start taking action.
I am very afraid that my dad will feel terribly betrayed by me and may even do something completely irrational~don't even want to think/speculate about it, I want to make sure that I am completely sensitive to any of those kinds of issues before just running in and demanding he "fess up" to his problem.
Unfortunately, I can't stand by and watch him suffer any longer without at least trying something. If it fails, oh well, I will love him anyway, and at least I will have some comfort knowing that I at least gave it my best shot instead of standing by and watching him destroy himself.
Congratulations on being able to admit you have a problem. I am also like that. I am the first person to head to the doctor whenever I begin to feel remotely down. After watching my dad for so long, I have learned that suffering with "pride", is still suffering.
Best of luck to you and your family. Hang in there.
In Need - I wish I had something that could help you.
My father DID go for treatment. He (and now I) is/was resistent to drug therapy. He did not improve, but got worse.
With luck, your father might be able to benefit.
I watched the last years of my own father's life become a wastage, and related to everything you expressed.
He had been a nice and caring person whenever possible. He created a few charities, even. His end was unavoidable.
I can understand your longing to do something. Unfortunately, we cannot control others. Sometimes, the efforts can even backfire.
Obviously, the only chance is to allow him - in as non-threatening a way as possible - to hear your concerns. Maybe even read them. Make it clear to him that you love and respect him regardless of his choice. It is, after all, his decision to make.
I have tried for over 20 years to talk my mother out of her neo-reclusiveness. Total failure. It's not important what I think her life should be like. It's important that she be comfortable with it.
If you decide to approach him try to make it when he's really down. I know it's sneeky but, it when he feels the worst about himself and his situation.
I'm glad you realize it may not help. You can't force him into treatment unless he's a danger to himself or other. Unfortunatly denial runs deep in we bp's. Even though we know there is medicine and help out there we can try to hang on for years on our own.
I went through 4 marriages when I was unmedicated or at least off and on meds. We can be pretty charming when we're high. I went through many jobs too.
You have a very valid point about suffering with pride! I wish I could color this pink for you but, there's every chance he will turn against you but, confronting him is a very loving thing to do. Watch for the right time.
I too feel your pain, but alas have to agree with everyone else. My mother suffered for most of her life, but we could not succeed in getting her help. Our lack of knowledge about depression and BP prevented us from perservering. I can feel how much you love your father and he's lucky to have a son like you. PrincessPea has the right idea, wait for the right moment (when he's down). Us BP's think we're perfectly fine when we're on the up swing. Hang in there, we're here for you.
I have more of a tactical question now and I thought some of you may be able to provide some insight.
My oldest sister and I have already decided that we are going to go see my dad this Friday. My sister is supposed to be calling the pscyhiatrist who he saw last time who diagnosed him as bp originally to try and see what he thinks or try to set up an appointment for my dad.
My question is what kind of method should we use to approach my dad?
(1) All-out family intervention. We inititally thought involving the whole family would have a sobering effect on him and would make it less likely for him to deny having a problem. We thought strength through numbers might be the best approach. However, we have backed off this idea thinking that he may feel too defensive and become even more defiant. He might also feel completely alone, or like it is all of us against him.
(2) My sister and I, two-on-one. We will just be waiting at home for him when he gets off work (we will make sure our younger brother and step-mom are elsewhere Friday). We will tell him that we have watched him suffer long enough and it is time for him to get some help. We will frame it as "you have always been there for us when we needed help, even if we didn't want it, and now we are going to be here for you." We are going to organize all his finances, figure out how much he owes, come up with a plan to take care of that (stepmom will probably be willing to pay it off), and then insist he at least go talk with his old psychiatrist.
Some questions specific to this approach:
(1) We are thinking about just telling him we think he is severely depressed (we don't want to say manic depressive or bi-polar, because he may feel negative connotations associated with those words - and he will feel that we are accusing him of something or taking everyone's elses side). Is that a good idea? He is at an extreme down time right now (sleeping all the time, etc.).
(2) What to do about evidence of his sickness? By evidence I mean things like the unopened boxes ordered from info-mercials (this is one of the things he does during manic times) , the hidden credit card bills that we have found (some of which are in my name~when I turned 18 he kind of "tricked" me into thinking I was signing on as a secondary user, when in fact, I was the primary), etc. Will he react negatively to be caught in his "lie" or will it make him realize that "the game is up?" This is what we are really struggling with right now.
Again, any advice is much appreciated! If you are bi-polar, try to remember what it was like being extremely down and what you would have responded to. If you have confronted someone with bi-polar about needing help, try to remember what they reacted to the best.
I can only tell you what I think would work best on me. I think the whole family intervention would be best. Remember that's only my opinion. I'll tell you why. It is a whole lot harder to deny what's going on when you're faced with several people who see it. I finally stayed on my meds because I realized how many people were telling me I was sick. They couldn't all be wrong.
Yes, during an intervention I would confront him with all the evidence that he's out of control. Personally I wouldn't hold anything back.
That psych. might be able to guide you in this. It might be worth paying for a visit if you possibly can and get some input or even better try a therapist since intervention is more their area.
I think it's amazing that you love your father enough to go to any lengths to get him help. Your sister and you are very special people.
thank you jamie, your advice is appreciated and I think I will talk with my sister about setting up an appointment for just us with the psychiatrist or even a counselor to discuss intervention.
You are right, I am afraid that my dad will just be able to deny he has a problem since its just me and my sister (especially since he is/has always been the "adult" and we should listen to him).
The problem with getting the whole family involved is, first my Granny will defend my dad to the bitter end (we think her dad may have been bi-polar as well, but not sure), second, everyone else - aunts and uncles, etc. has "been there - done that" only the be overruled.
However, we have never done an ENTIRE family type thing, people have just approached him separately, maybe there is something to that.
Thank you again for your kind words. We really do love our dad and we just want him to be happy. He has so many blessings yet he seems so miserable.
Congratulations to you for staying strong and sticking with treatment. I imagine sometimes it is very difficult, but just know that you are a truly strong person for being able to do something like that. Trust me, I pray every night that my father would have strength like you.