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connorc7 02-21-2006 09:18 PM

I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
I'm a woman of 27, (who after a two major failed relationships in life not worth mentioning) has finally found a person who I could see myself settling down with-He is an amazing man he's brilliant, sensitive,and I honestly never knew that I would ever feel this way about anyone.
My concern -he has a mental illness. It's not something that impairs his life to an outsider, but as someone who is close to him it is growing evermore apparent just how much it does to such depths I won't get into it now. How it is affecting me and our relationship is my concern. One day it's as though we are almost the same person, and the next day he's pushing me away and overwhelmed by our relationship... Literally. We've been involved for a year, and as we have become closer it has become more apparent just how much it affects his life. He's on medication and in therapy (He has been for 12 years.) He changes his mind about everything all of the time, and the constant swinging pendulum forces me to examine "how is he feeling today?" and make the adjustments in my own behavior to accommodate his needs. I am left feeling like a yo-yo. I'm left crying unsure of where we stand, and what comes next.
How do I learn to not take everything so personally? I love him for the person he is, and I know this is part of him.That is loving unconditionally. I see the mental anguish and physical pain he suffers from and it's heart wrenching. By nature I am a very caring, patient person, and have the strength to put my own needs aside at times. I know that I want him in my life- I need to find a way to deal with him in order to not risk my own mental health. Looking for advice...

Fabat40 02-21-2006 09:26 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
Dear Connorc7,

You can't stay dry when you're standing in the rain.

Here's my advice, if you expect to live through your BF's mental illness without being mental yourself, good luck. I tried that once and I became bonkers after a while along with an exBF. He's not going to change, I'm sure you know that. Get out of the relationship if you want to stay sane, otherwise, suck it up, gather lots of patience, understanding, and more patience and maybe you may start wanting to find a psychologist & psychiatrist now for future need.

Have you ever heard of the "caregiver" of an ill person dying first before the ill person? Yeah, it happens a lot. I'm not saying you're going to die, for heaven's sake there have been a lot of misunderstandings in here, but what I'm saying is, don't expect to stay sane when you're in an insane world.

Good luck.

Hiya 02-21-2006 09:30 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
This is a tough, tough one. As someone who lived with a mentally ill person for 20 years, I can tell you that in my opinion, it's next to impossible to live with a mentally ill person without having it affect your own mental health to a substantial degree without significant outside support. Think long and hard about this one. You're talking about the rest of your life. If he's been in therapy for 12 years and still has such significant problems, it's likely he always will. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Is he worth living the rest of your life the way you are now? And in taking into consideration the normal, natural wear and tear on your vitality, verve and self-esteem. If you are bound and determined to stay with this man, then find a good support group for people who give care or who live with people with similar illnesses. You'll need strong family ties and good, close friends who will be there for you.

SecretAgent2 02-22-2006 02:20 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
My mother is mentally ill. She has bipolar. My dad stuck with her all these years (30+now). He's a saint. But I must say that he's not had the life he would have wanted. It's been really rough. My mother is draining. She is very selfish from her illness. He works fulltime and does the house fulltime. She stays home--couldn't hold a job with her illness. She also gets into legal trouble and does wrong things. He's always on guard to keep things at bay with things she gets into. She's antisocial--or should I say embarasses him in public..so they have no friends. He would have liked to be a social guy and have people over etc. My dad's given up a lot. I don't think he'd do it all again if he had the choice. He's happy he's had us kids, and lives for us. It's hard becuase I don't want to say someone with a mental illness is not worth loving..but I just want you to be prepared with what your life could turn out to be like. Maybe you're lucky and your BF doesn't have the problems my mom has with doing wrong and selfish things. (stealing, lying, always trying to get somethign for nothing). I can say my mom has gotten worse with age. The medications take a toll on you. Then they stop working and you have to switch etc. I'd just make an informed choice. Go to support group for loved ones with mental illness, etc. Know what you are getting into. Then decide. I wish you luck.

SophiaM 02-22-2006 02:33 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
My friend went through the same things with her bipolar boyfriend. He was a wonderful person apparently when he was feeling good, but other times he was horrible. Like your bf, he was confused all the time, and would break up with her during the depressive episodes, only to beg her to take him back when he was feeling better again. What a rollercoaster! He was also saying very mean things to her and could be very hurtful when in his depressive stage. All this despite being on medication and in therapy. My friend was constantly crying, constantly on edge, wondering when he's going to break up with her again, dreading his next mood change. What kind of a way to live is that? Please think very carefully about this. There's also a possibility that your future children could inherit his mental illness, should you marry him and have a family with him.

galinaqt 02-22-2006 02:45 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
Do you plan to have a baby from this person? Your baby may have mental problems as well. My grandpa came mentally sick from war and it was terrible what my grandma and then other people who had to leave with him went through. Periods he is fine, periods he is terrible. When you are young and have a lot of patience and energy you think you can handle it, but it will be different when you are older. I wouldn't want to be with a mentally sick person.

Ruth6:11 02-22-2006 03:26 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
You don't say WHAT mental illness your boyfriend has.
There is a big difference in what I would tell you depending on whether he is schizophrenic, biopolar, paranoid delusional, etc.

I would venture to say that if you are having doubts now, at this point, that you may be better off cutting your losses and moving on. It takes a very special (and very THICK SKINNED) person to live with mental illness. The sentence where you state that you are "making adjustments" in your behavior is a red flag to me that either he is more ill than you are saying, or you are not well-suited for life with a mentally ill person.

Also, Galinaqt raises a Very important issue about children. Think about her post please!!!

IF the person with the mental illness can be treated and has no underlying personality disorders, and IF they take their medication, and IF the medication works very very well, then you will have better odds.

Could you fill in a few of the blanks for us? i.e. type of mental illness and just exactly HOW bad it can get?
:angel:

LostMyHeart 02-22-2006 09:21 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
Well, I think it is admirable that you want to be with him and that you love him, regardless of an illness that is out of his control.
Not many would do so, as evidenced by the responses here, and in agreement with Ruth, it takes a special person to do so.

connorc7 02-23-2006 10:07 AM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
[QUOTE=Ruth6:11]You don't say WHAT mental illness your boyfriend has.
There is a big difference in what I would tell you depending on whether he is schizophrenic, biopolar, paranoid delusional, etc.

I would venture to say that if you are having doubts now, at this point, that you may be better off cutting your losses and moving on. It takes a very special (and very THICK SKINNED) person to live with mental illness. The sentence where you state that you are "making adjustments" in your behavior is a red flag to me that either he is more ill than you are saying, or you are not well-suited for life with a mentally ill person.

Also, Galinaqt raises a Very important issue about children. Think about her post please!!!

IF the person with the mental illness can be treated and has no underlying personality disorders, and IF they take their medication, and IF the medication works very very well, then you will have better odds.

Could you fill in a few of the blanks for us? i.e. type of mental illness and just exactly HOW bad it can get?
:angel:[/QUOTE]

Well...that is complicated.I'll try to express it, however I'm not sure I will give a good representation in such a short time. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he also struggles with some other problems that they have had trouble treating and diagnosing. He has an intense physical symptom, he get this back pain that is associated with his mental illness. He explains it as a pain so intense that it is 10 fold worse than any other pain that he has ever experienced. He refers to it as an energy that comes in waves. The pain is always there and is tied directly to his illness. It is present everyday. It's difficult for him to get out of bed. It is at times worse for days and weeks at a time. He has explained it comes in "waves". Then this is intense he has indicated that he is filled with extreme feeling of anxiety, fear, paranoia to the point that it is almost paralyzing. (He tried to explain it to me once "Imagine the most excruciating pain you've ever felt, the kind of anxiety you would have if you had to host the Academy Awards, the intense fear you would have if you were about to be murdered, and feeling disconnected from everything around you simultaneously") He also expresses a feeling that everything seems foreign to him, (his home even me). At these times, I can look at him and it is obvious. It comes over him at certain times of the day, and then within hours he will be somewhat better. It's extremely difficult for me to see him in this type of pain. When it is bad, I do everything I can to comfort him. He has never been violent or mean to me at these times.


During my time with him, it has yet to prevent him from maintaining a "normal" life. He is very successful in his job, and has proven himself to be capable of responsibility. It does worry me that the possibility of it affecting him to the degree that he can not is a reality. I know a few years ago when he was working on his thesis, it was really bad for a few months and he was forced to put that on hold for a few months. Then without explanation it was fine and he was able to complete grad. school.

This does concern me, I will not lie. It's something that my mother has repeated over and over again to me. This is the way that it will be for the rest of his life. I'm aware of that. However, if we were to get married and have children someday- what would happen if an "episode" got so bad he couldn't maintain his job, or would come home and need to be alone. What then? He is aware of this, and he is afraid to committ at times because he is afraid that could happen. At the same time, I do love him and knowing all of this I still want to share my life with him. Doesn't he deserve it? He is so loving and caring I think that he would be an amazing father.

His father is a dr., he's been to countless medical professionals, energy healers, acupuncturists, several different types of therapists. They indicate that there is nothing physically wrong with him. He is very aware of the problem, and continues to work on developing himself.

.He gets very upset, and says that its a struggle for him every day. That there is so much more he wants to give to me, and it frustrates him because even on his best day he's only 80% of what he would be if he were "normal" (I'm not sure if that makes any sense?)He at times doubts himself because of all of these problems...and truth be told the constant push/pull that he does with everything in his life makes me fear that he may never be confident enough to marry me.

connorc7 02-23-2006 10:24 AM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
[QUOTE=LostMyHeart]Well, I think it is admirable that you want to be with him and that you love him, regardless of an illness that is out of his control.
Not many would do so, as evidenced by the responses here, and in agreement with Ruth, it takes a special person to do so.[/QUOTE]

LostMyHeart- Thank you. I really appreciate it.


Thank you to all of you. I greatly appreciate all of your comments. It's one thing to talk with close friends and family, who often let their love for you cloud their objectivity. They see how much I struggle with it, because i'm constantly coming to them to "vent" my feelings, and they want me to be happy. The truth is that he brings me a contentment, and we have an openness in our relationship that I never thought I could really have.

It's so nice to get objective opinions, please keep them coming. It's a day to day struggle.

I've always been a very strong person...and I truely think I can handle this. I am a natural caretaker and people who know me have always commented on my level of patience. Part of being a strong person, is knowing when to ask for help. This is one of those times for me. Its daunting to never feel completely secure in a relationship, and hearing from all of you is helping me more that you know.

XO

Ruth6:11 02-23-2006 01:41 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
Connor, thank you for your response - I hope you'll bear with me while I ask a couple more questions...
Do you know which type of Bipolar Disorder he has, and what medications he is on?
The physical pain is not a symptom of the bipolar and must be related to the other associated illnesses. Those associated illnesses would concern me more than the bipolar disorder as long as he is on a mood stabilizer like lithium, depakote, lamictal, etc. and the mood stabilizer is working.
Does he cycle at all in his moods?
I would be totally amazed if you have not already done quite a bit of research on your own on this. I'm sure you're aware that you would need to work very hard at maintaining a life apart from his illness even if you are married.

You also ask about what would happen down the road if he had major problems with his mental health.
It is absolutely best that you consider this now before you marry and promise to love him in sickness AND in health. If you DO want to marry him for better or for worse, be sure that YOU have a well-paying stable career WITH HEALTH BENEFITS. That would be vital.

I would also strongly recommend some genetics counseling before you decide to have children of your own. Just so you know what you may face.
If your choice is to marry this man & have children who may inherit his mental illness, or to marry him and not have children of your own - or not to marry him - YOU have to be ok with your decision.

There are times that you have to know that you can love someone and yet have them not be right for you - or you be right for them.
There are times that you love someone and know that life will hand you alot of challenges, more than most couples get - and yet you cannot see your life apart from theirs.
Put yourself in the hot seat. You've been married for 15 years and he is unable to handle the stress anymore. He's out of work for a couple years. Are you sorry you married him and want out, or is it part of what you signed up for when you married him?
And Connor, in the interest of full disclosure (!) I have Type I Bipolar Disorder with no underlying disorders. I've been married for 17 years to a man who loves me and married me even though he knew we would not have children. After my Dad died I went into a tailspin for awhile and didn't work for 2 years. He never batted an eye, and we made do with what we had until I could get myself back into the work world.
He also has a very tough hide and basically doesn't even notice my occasional moodiness - a lucky man!

I think you have the heart to do this. But just as important are the questions on the financial, health insurance & child-bearing side of things. You have alot to think about and I applaud you for not just thinking with your heart on this...
Ruth
:angel:

ruby-red 02-23-2006 02:11 PM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
AS one who has had "mental disorder, depression, anxiety ,agoraphobia,It takes an extremely patient partner.My marriage fell apart etc and I was lost for awhile but am back feeling good.
I cant speak for Bi -polar however what caught my attention was his back pain. Honestly in almost 30 years of mental disorder research, ( we get abit obsessed ) I dont see how back pain goes with his disorder. I hate saying this , but people with disorders can become very obssessed with themselves only, and have lived a life of being treated special, and they find it hard to actually get out of their mental comfort zone. If he is on the right medication, and 12 years of therapy surely he must be getting it under control .
I have no opinion on whether you should stay with him, or not, just dont become his carer,and if you do stay, stay for the right reasons', and never feel guilty should you want out.
Wishing you all the very best in whatever you decide.
Ruby

connorc7 02-24-2006 07:59 AM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
[QUOTE=ruby-red]AS one who has had "mental disorder, depression, anxiety ,agoraphobia,It takes an extremely patient partner.My marriage fell apart etc and I was lost for awhile but am back feeling good.

Ruby-I'm so glad that you are feeling well. I'm sure you have been through so much. Thanks for your honest input.

At times, I do feel that he is completely selfish...but then I recognize that he can't help but concentrate on his needs because its a matter of survival. I am a patient person, my family has just made me question whether I can handle the "wear and tear" long term. I am committed to him, and truely love his entire package. I am a very spiritual person, and that helps me tremendously. I have been in therapy myself for the last 4 months to deal with this.

I'd love any more insight you could offer.

Thanks,

connor

connorc7 02-24-2006 08:22 AM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
[QUOTE=Ruth6:11]
Do you know which type of Bipolar Disorder he has, and what medications he is on?
The physical pain is not a symptom of the bipolar and must be related to the other associated illnesses. Those associated illnesses would concern me more than the bipolar disorder as long as he is on a mood stabilizer like lithium, depakote, lamictal, etc. and the mood stabilizer is working.
Does he cycle at all in his moods?
I would be totally amazed if you have not already done quite a bit of research on your own on this.

Ruth...thank you so much for your thoughts on the matter. I really appreciate it. I am so glad to hear that you have such a wonderful man in your life. You are lucky, and it seems he must be very lucky as well.

He is on Depakote. His moods do cycle. I don't know what he was like before the medication, as he has been on it for the entire time we have been dating. He has indicated it helps somewhat. I have done a great deal of research. You are correct, I think the Bipolar part of this equation is something that is manageable...and does not concern me as much as the rest of his "problems". Especially when he has exhausted so many efforts in trying to diagnose and be treated to no avail.


If your choice is to marry this man & have children who may inherit his mental illness, or to marry him and not have children of your own - or not to marry him - YOU have to be ok with your decision.

There are times that you have to know that you can love someone and yet have them not be right for you - or you be right for them.
There are times that you love someone and know that life will hand you alot of challenges, more than most couples get - and yet you cannot see your life apart from theirs.

I really can't imagine spending my life without him or having the kind of relationship we have with anyone else. We have a real connection. I feel like I would be lost. I've often thought if I could wave a magic wand and take this away, (I know that this will never go away of course.) would I? I would to remove his suffering, but I would be afraid if I changed that it would change the person he was...I don't want that. Like if you remove a piece of furniture from a room, yes its still the same room...but it is entirely different. I wouldn't want to change him because he is amazing. We connect so deeply in our philosophies, spirtually, intellectually, and fundamental beliefs. I love being with him, talking with him...I'd honestly rather be with him doing nothing than be anywhere else in the world.

I worry that because he constantly swings, will he ever be confident enough in his own decision making to marry me?

Put yourself in the hot seat. You've been married for 15 years and he is unable to handle the stress anymore. He's out of work for a couple years. Are you sorry you married him and want out, or is it part of what you signed up for when you married him?

This is a concern. He makes a great deal amount of $, I do well myself. However...how do you handle preparing for something like this if you are dependent on two large incomes? I suppose saving, and living a little below our means.

I'd appreciate your thoughts...thanks

charlatans 02-24-2006 10:09 AM

Re: I'm in love with a mentally ill person
 
i really admire you ruby-red :)


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