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Old 03-16-2010, 05:24 AM   #1
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Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

I started dating my girlfriend two years ago. She told me from the start she was bipolar / with some schizoaffective tendencies.

After 5 months she suddenly split up with me saying I was too much pressure. We spent a month apart but maintained some contact - I realised she didn’t have her bipolar under control and after she agreed to see a new doctor and subsequently a new psychiatrist – she became much better – all with good results and on new meds (lithium and another one – sorry – cant remember). Subsequently we fell back into a great and loving relationship.

As I’m sure you know too well – there was still some rapid-cycling times when she was not ‘right’ as such and sometimes – as she put it – her brain ‘wasn’t right’. During this period she would start to question many things in her life – sometimes including me – however I always offered her reassurance and continued to care and love her.

Over the past couple of weeks things have spiralled down slightly. She had a lot of triggers suddenly kicking in (grandma sick / friend’s wedding coming up / biological clock ticking VERY LOUD) and she kept shaking her head, telling me she wished her ‘head would stop’, that she ‘hates this feeling’ and then sleeping excessively afterwards. Her home was also a complete mess which I know by now – is not a good sign…

Two days later – more questions regarding our relationship – again I reassured her where we both stood. And at work the next day she told me she wasn’t good again – I asked if she had seen her psychiatrist lately – and she said ‘no – it’s been about six months!!’ I asked her to book in – which she later told me she didn’t…

That night she didn’t want me to come over and when she got home from work she just slept right through to the next day.

The next night I went and saw her and again – she was excessively tired and not good at all. She was glassy eyed, dissociating and she was even showing me the scars on her wrist where she had once tried to commit suicide 10 years ago – although she told me she’d never do that again.

Again – she was banging her head – and shaking it – saying she ‘had all these thoughts trying to get to the front’.

She went to bed and I had no contact with her until she texted me saying she didn’t want to see me that morning – but wanted to talk later in the day. She said she hadn’t been to sleep – went for a walk around 2am and then drove a considerable distance because she ‘needed to think’. She was clearly in some kind of ‘psychotic episode’ or ‘mania’ but refused to go to hospital or see anyone.

When I met her later she told me she thought we needed a break – and that she ‘needed space’. She also said she loved me but wasn’t ‘in love’ / no passion etc with me anymore even though we were discussing marriage/moving in together/ kids two days before!

We discussed all this calmly but she said she ‘wished her head would stop’ and I asked her to book in to see her psychiatrist again.

We had no contact for a week and a half (I knew she was going to work during this time – but then she puts on a convincing ‘mask’). Out of the blue she rang me to see if I was ‘OK’. She seemed sheepish / nervous – she said she still hasn’t seen her psych but said she knows she has to, to get her meds changed etc. I kept the chat nice and light, no relationship talk, and we sort of left it at ‘well call me if you want to chat'.

I was away for work for a week and I rang her to see how she was –as she was asking me too. Talk got around to her bipolar and her psych which she still hadn’t seen although she said she was planning to. She said she didn’t think her ‘episode’ was serious (I wanted to tell her otherwise – eg we’ve split up / you were fantasising about suicide and told me at the time you didn’t care if your cat lives or dies).

She volunteered that she knows she has a pattern of pushing partners away and that she needs to book in to get her meds checked. She said she still wanted distance between us which I didn’t argue with. We finished the conversation on a lighter note.

At the end of the day I got an email from her (I have edited some bits):

I tried to call you earlier, but there was no response. I don't blame you if you are avoiding me. I know you think I am going through an 'episode', but I want you to respect what is going through my mind all the same. This seems to be my pattern. I don't know why. But I need to go away and figure some things out. And I know you don't think that you do, but as much as my opinion counts, I think you do. Are you thinking this is part of my bipolar behaviour? If it is, it is, but that is me.Please forgive me for writing my thoughts to you, but I'm not strong when you turn it all around, and the conversation becomes all about my bipolar.

How do I respond to this email – if at all? Apologise that I didn’t mean to cause offence. It was just hard for me to see someone I love in pain and I shouldn’t have mentioned her bipolar?

This is so difficult because I am the only one who knows about her bipolar – work colleagues don’t know / family are kept in the dark / friends think it’s just gone! Should I try and maintain contact or give her the space to 'go away and figure things out.’?

I love this girl and as much as I am suffering – I know she is suffering more.

Any advice much appreciated.

Regards Scott

 
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Old 03-17-2010, 12:34 AM   #2
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Hello Scott,

I was diagnosed bipolar at the age of 20, and 7 seven years later-- I wish I could tell you that things got better, but they didn't. I don't know if your girlfriend is consistently taking her meds, or if she accidentlally misses some doses-- but I find that if I miss a dose or go to sleep too late, I will wake up irritable the following day.
Secondly, I admire you for supporting your girlfriend, since it takes a caring and committed partner to endure what you have endured. My boyfriend has been there for me as well; but when it gets really bad, some times I wonder whether we should split up or not. So don't take it personally, when the depression sets in-- we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. When we're out of there, we can look at life more optimistically.
I am concerned about his well-being as well though, since we have lived together for four years, and he has suffered with me through my highs and lows. He is my rock, stable, strong and loving-- but everyone has a limit. We haven't married as of yet, and part of the reason has to do with my disorder. Sometimes I feel like taking off, and I want to get married when I have better control of my disorder.

 
Old 03-17-2010, 12:52 AM   #3
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

I have been living with my boyfriend for 4 years, and although it hasn't been easy, it has been one of the most rewarding relationships I have ever been in. Being bipolar makes life and relationships more complex than for the average person. I appreciate his support and love, and admit that over the course of our four year relationship, I have also pondered the possibility of breaking up. Being bipolar is hard and unbearable at times, but seeing someone I love endure my highs and lows with me, is harder still.
I was diagnosed bipolar 7 years ago and since then, I have received some counseling and taken my meds on a daily basis. There is nothing more powerful and meaningful however, than feeling loved and supported. If being there for your girlfriend makes you feel complete, then be there for her. But a relationship requires two willing people. The journey won't be easy, but if the both of you are willing to do everything to make your relationship work, then you're already on the right path (-:
Hope you both find the courage to keep your love and commitment strong. If she is willing to have you help her and encourage her to upkeep her medical regime, that's great. But if she isn't willing to let you help her, her family needs to know what's going on, cause sometimes we are proud or feel embarassed-- and don't want our family to know that we are having an episode. We'll appreciate the intervention in the long run though (-:
Warmest Regards.

 
Old 03-17-2010, 01:10 AM   #4
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Smile Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Hello Scott,

First let me say that I admire you for being so supportive and caring to your girfriend. It's not easy to be in a relationship with someone who has a problem with a chemical inbalance/ mood disorder. I should know, I was diagnosed as bipolar at the age of 20, and 7 years later-- things haven't exactly gotten better. All I know now, is that I can't avoid the lows, and whenever I do experience the highs--I am extra careful about the choices I make.
I have lived with my partner for four years, and have witnessed the stress and desperation that my partner experiences whenever I start having episodes or become overwhelmed with depression. Part of the problem, is the fact that he thinks that I can will myself to get out of my depression, but it is not that easy. It would help me feel better, if he became more interested in reading more about the disorder-- just to clear the misconceptions of the disorder.
Don't take your girlfriend's ambivalance personally; when we are depressed-- we can't think clearly-- and feel guilty about the fact that we can't remain stable for our partners. When we withdraw-- it is our attempt at trying to keep our partners from suffering with us. We do it because we care about you, not because we don't love you anymore.
I don't know if you plan to marry your girlfriend-- but if you do-- mutual counseling would help. When we are low, we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but love and consistent support-- can eventually help us rise above our depression.
I hope that you can both overcome your struggles together, and strength to cope with the ups and downs. For now, we can only confront life, one day at a time, but love and support can make a big difference in the long run.

 
Old 03-18-2010, 03:59 PM   #5
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Hi Scott,

I have BP disorder and I have done the same thing to my current husband. Unfortunately, this disorder doesn't go away and I have an episode of depression at least once every couple of months and do the same thing. I want to be alone. I don't want him near me. I think about ways I can break up with him without hurting him. It just becomes too much "in your head" to deal with. It takes a week or so, but I usually go back to my "normal" medicated self. It's nothing you're doing wrong. My husband just waits for me to get through it and gives me my space.

 
Old 03-19-2010, 08:02 AM   #6
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Thanks so much Rebekah and Debbiebp

Your support is fantastic. It is difficult but day by day I'm getting there.

Unfortunately I haven't heard from my g/friend in over a week - I 'hear' she's still going to work and 'functioning' but of course it could be a different story at her home.

Tell me - it's been nearly four weeks now since she had this 'episode'.

Is there any chance she is still going through 'something' especially if she hasn't see her psychiatrist?

And can these 'episode's or periods of 'mania' last for weeks and is a crash always inevitable?

Kind regards, Scott

 
Old 03-20-2010, 06:34 AM   #7
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Unfortunately, you can't know how long they are going to last. My last one, which was really bad, I told everyone to leave or I was leaving, even the kids and the dogs, did last over two weeks.

Mine was mainly due to a med change. Once I got the point where I wanted to implode, I went back on the medication I was on before (even though I don't like the side effects) but it seems to work the best for me right now.

I know that when I was going through this, my husband found a support forum because of the way I was acting. He's very tolerant and knows when I'm going through a rough patch. He gives me reassurance all the time that he is not going to leave me because of this disorder. But never brings it up in an argument or dispute we're having.

You can't force yourself on someone like this. The more you push, the more she'll pull away. Maybe it's time to ask her what she really wants. What would make her happy?

 
Old 03-20-2010, 05:56 PM   #8
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Scott,

It's hard to tell when she will be able to get out of her mania or depression. It can continue to last a couple days, or maybe longer. Meds can help somewhat, but they are not enough. If she hasn't contacted you, maybe you can try to call her-- just to see how she is doing. She may feel like talking to you about what has been going-- or just not feel like talking. But at least you will feel better knowing that you tried to talk to her. Sometimes we say that we don't feel like talking, or seeing anyone, or going out-- but the truth is sometimes we want to do those things... we just need a little push.

 
Old 03-21-2010, 03:18 PM   #9
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

lol im gay and i do that all the time, and also happens to be bipolar. So consider this as another perspective. Like from a bipolar male's side with a female's paradox.

If the relationship is going good and he appears to be falling for me even more, and the depression from outside the relationship begins to settle in, I find myself testing his patience and my self-esteem more for the relationships sake.

IT'S NOT HIM.

It's merely me wanting the best for him in every way possible; while at the same time, coming to the realization that I'm not going to be putting in that much effort and best attention toward him.

I think: How can I get out of this without bringing him down as he would most likely lose hope in our relationship?!

I panic and hint at the idea of separation. A way to defy the future conundrums from happening, so I can allow myself to fix the problems in my own life without it interfering with the relationship between he and I.

Just a tip for Next time

Do not, try and explain to her what shes going through. The best thing is to tell her you trust her and you would like for her to trust you. Listen to her and don't take anything personal, just try as hard as you can to refrain from telling her its a bad idea. Try and think of some pros and cons. You'll have to put her first as hard as it might be, bc most likely your first in her eyes at this moment.

Bipolar relationships (whatever the type) are very strong. I often feel as though I'm loosing my ego in a relationship since my soul's so intact. It becomes difficult to think of any socially acceptable thing to do.

Enjoy them and make the best of it.

 
Old 03-30-2010, 11:41 PM   #10
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

I just wanted to give you an update on my situation:

Just to recap, my g/friend had an episode and wanted a break from the relationship (the longer story is down the bottom) - she had some big triggers, was on her meds but had not seen her pdoc in 6 months.

After my last call with my g/friend - she was quite annoyed I brought up her BP but after two weeks without contact she rang me out of the blue yesterday.

She had misplaced her house keys - asking if I'd drop over my spare ones in her letterbox. We had a good chat catching up on friends - I kept everything nice and light - she said she was 'OK' but she volunteered (without me asking) that she had been back seeing her pdoc lately - which I told her was great. And we left it at let's catch up for a coffee sometime.

I was so pleased she had finally been seeing her pdoc!

Then she sent me a message later that night - ending it with a kiss. Bizarre - this was how we used to finish all our messages.

I haven't sent her a text back yet though - because I don't know what to do!

Again I don't know how to handle this 'space' thing!! But with her making contact - and volunteering that she's gone back to her pdoc - does this mean she could be opening up more?

And what the heck do I do next!

Thanks for your help, Scott

 
Old 03-31-2010, 01:39 AM   #11
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

rebekah u are so me thats everything i go though and i live with my fiance well if thats what it is he asked me to marry him but as time went on the bp got worst so he told me he wont marry me cause of it and it hurts but he is still here through the highs and lows...but like u said it will only last for so long...and all of us that have bp know we have someone that puts up with it and are there for us but we all know one day they might just give up and leave....we all know we are lucky for someone their and we are scared to lose them ( well thats how i feel maybe its not everyone) but who every feels like me knows they will lose something good cuase not to many pepole will put up with what bp people will put them through......and to u scott, u are a stand up guy please know u r NOT the only guy to deal with a female with problems and on top of it it bp,,,,just stick by her side thats when u need pep the most!

Last edited by hb-mod; 03-31-2010 at 01:49 AM. Reason: Removed Quote. Please use "Quick" Reply rather than "Quote" Reply. Thanks!

 
Old 04-03-2010, 07:16 AM   #12
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

And so the rollercoaster goes on...

I bumped into my g/friend at work - who I haven't seen for six weeks - I just waved from a distance but she followed me and shouted out 'hello'. We had a good conversation - I kept everything light and bright - I didn't bring up the relationship. I thought she had looked better but on the whole she sounded much better.

She also said she had been watching my car (we sometimes work at the same place) and wondering where I was, noticed I was wearing new clothes and even noticed how I had more stubble. Was weird - like she was studying me. She even wanted me to say hello to my parents from her.

Then she asked if I wanted to catch up for a coffee next week - which surprised me!

She's back seeing her pdoc again and she's seeming much more open and comfortable with me too after this last meeting. Could this be a baby step?

Thanks everyone, Scott

 
Old 06-16-2010, 01:03 AM   #13
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

I am very sorry that you are going through this......It is even harder when you really care for this individual. Let me just say that you will not be able to change things. This is a complicated issue.

I know because looking back in my situation I really should have seen the signs. The erratic behaviour,,,,the insensitivity, all of the sighns that my partner was displaying. I fell for my partner and beleived that she would get better and change. But sadly she hasnt. And to complicate things...we have kids now. I am really struggling to keep my own sanity because of the stress that living with a bipolar person has caused. I have actually thought out and planned out an exit strategy to this relationship.....but I cant....my kids are too young and this my family. I chose to have my kids with my wife and I feel like I have to stay and try to make this work for them. I envy couples who lead a normal lives. Who respect and cherish each other. Because I dont feel like I am leading a normal marriage or home life.

My advice to you would be sadly....to distance yourself from this girl. It sounds like you love her, but there is someone else out there for you and with time you will find this person. You will be much happier and live a "normal" life. Think about it real hard. Before you commit to enter into a relationship. Regretably, I know that I could be alot happier.

 
Old 06-16-2010, 12:39 PM   #14
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Re: Bipolar g/friend has an episode & 'breaks up'. How to handle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyt View Post
She's back seeing her pdoc again and she's seeming much more open and comfortable with me too after this last meeting. Could this be a baby step?

Thanks everyone, Scott

maybe for now....but don't lose sight of the fact that sometimes it's one step forward, two steps back.....don't kid yourself, not a lot has changed.

 
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