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Old 04-28-2006, 09:27 AM   #1
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lotus1234 HB User
My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

This is my first real dealings with bipolar and I am just looking for information on how to be supportive and things I can do.

Background...

I started dating my boyfriend about 2 months ago. We clicked instantly and have spent inordinate amounts of time together. During a heart to heart I few weeks ago he admitted that he suffers from Bipolar Disorder, and although he doesn't have severe mania episodes- though he does have small ones, he will have very extreme bouts of depression. I asked if he seeks medical treatment and he told me that he does see a doctor on occassion but hasn't had much luck with any medications and just copes with it when it happens. (I by the way suffer from generalized anxiety and have had bouts of depression when faced with large life obstacles and I do seek treatment and am on medication.) Anyway, I didn't really understand what he was telling me until very recently. I have now been forced to deal with this behavior and I know I can't fix it, but I am starting to take it personally, even though I know its the disorder and not exactly him.

What happened....
Last Friday he was really all over the place. He was being very crude and picking verbal arguements with people. On Saturday, he couldn't sit still for a minute and was trying to do a million things at once. On Sunday, he just crashed. I got a call from him stating that he didn't want to get out of bed and that I needed to know that he was going to be withdrawn for awhile and not to take it personally. He hadn't had an episode in awhile, but with lots of work stress and his mother's recent diagnosis of cancer, he really just needed time by himself. (his mom was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and two weeks ago was the first time he had saw her without her hair.). I tried to be as supportive as I could at the time and went about my business. As the days passed this week, I kept trying to talk to him. He would call me and just be silent on the phone. Saying things like he just didn't want to be around people, it wasn't me and "don't take this behavior personally...I am just really grumpy...I want to be a hermit...I can't let you see me like this...I wish I could explain this to you, but I can't...my brain is like mush, it doesn't work... etc." He has told me he hasn't really had an appetite and when he sleeps it doesn't feel like sleep. I can only figure that this is his depressive state. So I have really tried to be supportive, telling him I care about him and that I know I can't help but if wants to talk I am willing to listen and have followed his wishes not to see him this week and have not pushed the issue.

Today....Today is his birthday. There were previous plans for a bunch of people to take him out and celebrate. Yesterday he told everyone that he wasn't going out and he didn't want to see anyone. I have accepted that. HOWEVER, his friend that he goes surfing with all the time has convinced him that they need to go north for the weekend to spend time up there, and he has agreed! I can't believe this. I have wanted to spend time with him all weekend and he keeps telling me he doesn't want to see people, including me, yet he can drive up north and go surfing for the weekend. He told me not to take it personally, but how can I not??????

 
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:31 PM   #2
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ronniesteers HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

It sounds like Jekyll and Hyde to me. I'd rethink this relationship.

 
Old 04-29-2006, 07:16 AM   #3
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BetsyJean HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

I would never stay with anyone who is bipolar who is not actively seeking treatment and the right medication combination.
It would be like staying with an alcoholic who refuses that he has a problem while his family life goes down to tubes, or staying with a gambler while they bankrupt you.
I am bipolar - but I am telling you now to let him know how much you care about him,...
but if HE cares about YOU he will get some treatment and you will reconsider you decision to stay away at that time.
Tough love, yes... But he has to do his part, too.

 
Old 05-01-2006, 07:26 AM   #4
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coffeegirl2 HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

Lotus

BetsyJean is right. It is very important that you tell your boyfriend how much you care about him or you are going to get burned badly and terribly heart-broken.

You seem to show such charisma and great empathy towards him and to others around you, which is why you need to take your stand to this guy. Let him know where you are in the relationship and how you feel; about yourself, him, his illness, how he cares for his illness, and the relationship in general. By doing this, it will layout everything on the table in a basic standpoint (doing it in a positive manner with much concern towards you and him both). It is very simple and you can do this. Be strong and remember how much you care about yourself too. You are an important person and need to be respected.

If he doesn't respond to what you have to say, then you need to rethink the relationship and what you want with this guy, just as the other gals mentioned. It doesn't mean that you have made any wrong decisions, etc. It might just mean he isn't the right guy for you at this time. And, that isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes in life things happen for reasons. Life teaches us things at times when we least expect it to. You will have gained a lot of knowledge from this relationship if things do not work out for the better in many ways. Try to look at it from that aspect.

If things do work out, then you have to see things from the aspect that my DH sees it through. He knows that each day is a super-huge challenge from living with me, a person with a mental illness. I am not always easy to get along with, nor do I always make the most wise decisions, and I tend to be extremely moody even with meds at times of stress; which is frustrating. So, we have to live a very low key lifestyle, and that itself, is a bit overbearing too. My DH has had to sacrifice a lot due to the illness I have but to stay married to me, because he loves me, he has chosen to do so.

I wish you the best of luck to your future. Keep posting here. There is support here. I can also lead you to another bb if you need to for more support as well where you can ask more questions and post to many others like you, who have friends, spouses, and boyfriends (a section just for signficant others). They might be able to give you more advice as well too.

Hugs,

Coffeegirl

 
Old 05-01-2006, 01:36 PM   #5
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lotus1234 HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

Thank you coffeegirl for your wisdom and thoughful response. I actually got in touch with my therapist today and spoke with her about the situation. She gave me some good insight on how to handle a person who is bipolar and in a depressive state. But most of all, she reminded me that I need to trust my own feelings.

As for the situation currently, I did not speak with him at all over the weekend. I called him last night, but it turns out he had left his phone at his cousin's place before he went surfing, so he hasn't had it all weekend. I WANT to hope that when I call him tonight, he will at least answer. But I know that there is a good chance he won't. I know he is hurting on his side of the wall he put up, but it hurts on this side too.

 
Old 05-02-2006, 11:46 AM   #6
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coffeegirl2 HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

Hi Lotus:

(((HUGS))) I'm so relieved to hear you visited with you therapist. That must have been a huge relief lifted off of your shoulders talking to someone about the situation and being able to have some positive feedback as how to cope with him.

I'm sorry that he is still being difficult. He might be very unpredictable as to how he is going to behave. There is a lot going on in his life, but that doesn't give him any reason to treat you in that manner. Take the advice of your therapist and use it. If he doesn't call, don't sit around moping. Get out, do some things with your friends, go to a movie, and do something for you! Your life is passing by as you sit and wait for him, and life is too precious to do that. Enjoy your life. You have a lot of reasons to.

Take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts. Many hugs.

Coffeegirl

 
Old 05-03-2006, 02:01 PM   #7
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lotus1234 HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

I ended up having a very good and honest conversation on Monday night about the situation. - I will get into that tomorrow.
I did ask him how long his depressive state/withdrawl from people lasts. He said he didn't really know. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks...
So my question is, and i am sure it varies from person to person, but what do you think is the average span for a state like this?

louts

 
Old 05-04-2006, 12:18 PM   #8
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lotus1234 HB User
Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

As I mentioned yesterday, I had an ok talk with him on Monday. I felt much better after that, but still not feeling good about the situation.
I tried explaining that I felt like he was intentionally shutting me out of his life and while I needed to trust that he knows how to take care of himself by withdrawing from people, that I do, in fact, take it personally. He apologized and told me he was doing it because it was his only way he can deal with whats going on with himself emotionally. That work is the most he can do during the day and really doesn't have the ability to cope with other people. So insted of hurting me, he decided to shut me out insted. I explained that by doing that, it was also hurting me. He understood, and again apologized. He said he can't explain whats going on, but that he was sorry. I accepted his apology and told him that I would honor his request to leave him alone for a few days, but that if he wanted to talk or just sit in silence that I was there and that I missed having him in my life.
Anyway, I have not spoken to him since Monday and its Thursday- and its KILLING ME! but, i do have to speak with him soon. I am moving next weekend and previous to this behavior he had promised to help me move out my furniture. If he isnt going to help me, then I need to make other arrangements. So I will text message him and email him tomorrow. I understand that he is deal with something difficult, but at the same time, life has to go on.

 
Old 05-04-2006, 06:13 PM   #9
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Re: My first exposure to bipolar...confused (very long!)

Lotus

The average depression does depend on the person and the severity of the stress they are experiencing at that time. It effects everyone differently in all aspects to various degrees.

A very good example: Myself and my twin sister.

She has unipolar depression, or major depressive disorder, OCD, and trichiollomania (sp?). When she becomes depressed the world must evolve around her, and she snaps at anyone who looks at her crossways. She gets into severe mood swings from very low to severe grouchy. And that is about the extent of her depression. She is just very low mood and grouchy.

When I become depressed, I usually lose my appetite or binge eat (I have bulima/anorexia-23 years of an eating disorder ), withdraw from everyone, don't talk, begin to cry at the drop of a hat or non-stop over nothing, will lay in bed for hours or on the couch, not want to get out of bed, not want to exercise or care for self, hate to do any housework; etc. I become quite the loser of a wife, mom, family member, and friend to everyone around me.

My DH is a very strong willed guy who is very tolerant of me and the mood swings that I have. I think anyone who is married to a person with a mental illness, or is in a relationship with a person with one must have a lot of tolerance, patience, empathy, and mostly, a lot of humor. Oh, and I forgot, they must have the ability to take the step of learning to put themselves first in the relationship. You must learn to care for yourself, treat yourself well, and never feel guilty for doing so. That goes, in any relationship; period.

Horribly enough, it is very hard to understand that when a person gets to the low points of depression, the despair is very hard to see the light of tomorrow, or direction of goodness. Only, knowing that there are good people on this planet is what makes life worth living. If your boyfriend cannot wake up and see this, then he is at a loss in his life, not just with the cancer of his mom, but with the friendships that he is hardening due to his mental illness. I know, because I've done the same thing he has done. And, it hurts, and it is a very negative path to take. It was a path I took when I was in college, and I lost many friendships back then because I was so calloused, confused, undiagnosed, unmedicated, and niave. If only then, did I have the tools and knowledge of what I know now, I would have the same friendships that I had back then. But I can't say that I do. What a mistake. He has to learn on his own and no one can force him to understand.

I hope that he will speak with you before you move out of your place. You deserve respect. Keep up the positive attitude. It is what you need to do to keep you going into the right direction. Take care of you!

Many hugs

Coffeegirl

 
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