Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Indianapolis, IN, US
Re: My gf
My brain is starting to shut down, so please forgive me if I lapse a little. I don't want to offend at all, only to encourage and be helpful. And I'm not trying to be bitter, either, sigh.
I think it is wonderful that you are coming here for information and encouragement. I don't know how long the two of you have been together. Have you seen her at her "worst"? Or to you think she might be headed into?
I know that one of the things that I tend to do the first time I go through a bad episode (manic or depressive) with someone new to me and my (erratic) cycles, is try to push them away. (It's been mentioned before around here by others.) But why?
Because we are (opps, sorry, I am) afraid that the (new) s.o. (friend, bf, gf, whatever) is going to leave anyway (don't understand the disease, already prejudice against it, feel snubbed, whatever), so the sooner the better. At least then they don't have to see you (okay, read "me" at the "you"s, the pronouns are confusing my poor tired brain) at your worst - they're gone before then. Besides, pretty soon (if not already) you aren't going to have the energy to call them and do your end of the work at keeping up the relationship. (Kind of like, right now, I'd bet your gf isn't giving a whole lot, even if she'd like to, because she can't.)
This is common to many diseases - "I just found out I have (fill in the blank - cancer, mental illness, MD...) and I'm (going to die, never going to get better, fill in final outcome here), so I don't want to hurt anyone in the long run...so I'll do it now." Illogical, but part of depression and, sadly, long term disease of any kind. But w/ depression or bp, it can (will?) reoccur. (Don't know about any other disease.)
Also, the disease is a life-time disease. Sometimes a good friend can hang around for several years, then say, "Wow. You're at it again!? How many times do you have to go through this? Didn't you get better last time?" Yeah, and you get over colds all the time, but they always come back. But this is quite a bit more emotionally draining. For all involved. We (I) 'd like for it to go away and never come back, too!
If you stay with it and her, she will learn to trust your presence. There will be lots of good time, and lots of hard times, lots of emotionally draining times, lots of crazy times. But if you learn the coping techniques, for yourself and her, and occasionally stop and breath deep and smell the roses with her, it isn't impossible.
As a matter of fact, I have the most wonderful husband I could ever had. Through all my crazy (before diagnosis) college years, he stuck with me, either as bf or friend, depending on where I was. I learned that I could trust him and that he knew how to help me cope and return to reality. (Which is why I actually think you should practice her dad's technique with her - starting gently with lots of emotional support first.) He is my rock to return to when I get tossed by the storms I live in, because he knows where reality is and can (lovingly) help me reset my compass.
It took a lot of time for me to learn to trust him with my chaotic inner thoughts (it's easy to recognize the external ones - as you have learned), and I've had plenty of therapy session to help me learn to weed out unrealistic expectations (extremely helpful coping technique), but over the years (it's been 22 years since we first started dating) our communication and trust have built and built, even through the awful "I spent too much money and we are way in debt again" times. (I've worked awful hard on that one. It is possible to win out over it, thank the Lord, though I'm a recovering shopaholic same as any other addiction.)
He knew (mostly) what he was getting when we got married, and we committed to life before we followed through so we both do our part. I tell him when things are getting bad, he, like a pdoc or tdoc, tells me what to do, asks me what I should be doing, pushes me to do what I know I'm supposed to be doing. And mostly I try to do it. (Not tonight though. His final comment on his way to bed 2.5 hrs ago was, "I'm sorry I ever introduced you to a message board." I haven't been on one in about 6-7 years because once on them I can't get off and I can't go to bed because the only time I have to post is middle of the night. Same for blogs. Won't find me on them.)
One of the more recent things he has been telling me is that at least he knows he has a crazy wife who knows she is crazy. It is getting unbelievable the number of couples we know who are breaking up because one or the other (or both on occasion) won't own up to being mentally ill or can't recognize it or choose to be victims instead of doing something about it. (It is way refreshing to come here and see so many doing something about it and trying to take care of themselves as best they can.) So the "sane" (I've decided there isn't any such thing, just levels and varying kinds of insanity.) person left behind can only shake their head in wonder and decide that the leaving one just must be "crazy" or "insane" or some other label they feel comfortable with in an attempt to understand why the one they care so much about would be so self-destructive. (Please, I know there are times when getting out is best. I'm not addressing those - just the ones in our life right now that are being caused by unaddressed mental disease.)
Anyhoo, that bit of long stuff was just to encourage you in the future. If you are both working on it and can keep working on it together with open eyes (all 4 of them) and hand in hand, and a determination to keep moving forward, even if at times it is after falling down a cliff or finding yourself in waist-high mud, you will (I hope) feel blessed, as I do. I give him support, even though sometimes it is hard for me to remember or to see it, but when I can I do my best to work harder at it (my good days), and I do my best to help him help me. And he continues to have the patience (okay, he is human and he has his moments of impatience but they help me, too) to ride through my ups and downs.
Yeah, okay. I gotta go. That's way too much dumping this late at night. I do hope some pieces of it help you further in your quest to learn how to help your gf. Much luck and blessings to you both. & Good luck on your midterms.