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In a Relationship for 3 Years with a Bipolar Person- Needing Help and Advice


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I've been with my girlfriend for almost 3 years now.  We have an amazing connection, have lots of fun, talk, are best friends, and just love each other very much.  She told me on our 2nd date that she was diagnosed Bipolar 1, and had episodes in her past (about 3) and doing ECT. After about 8 months, she stopped the ECT and went off her meds. She still saw a therapist and her psychiatrist regularly. Things were still going well, she's naturally extroverted and very outgoing so sometimes it's harder to make the distinction of when her mood is elevated. About a month ago, while I was out of town, she had an episode and was hospitalized for 4 days. Fortunately, her parents were there to help and be there for her. Since then, her Dr. put her on Latuda. She says it's helping her anxiety but she still appears to be elevated. and just not herself. 

I shared with her early on that I still have an investment property with my ex husband and another guy who acts as the broker.  I'm not sure why I shared, I trusted her and just wanted everything out on the table.  I also shared with her that towards the end of my divorce, things got a little heated and physical with my ex.  I felt terrible of how we acted and I played my part. This was one of the hardest periods of my life, divorcing after 15 years of marriage and coming out. This investment bothered her from the beginning. I tried to explain the situation, that it's "just and investment" and I'm working through it to make my own decisions regarding it.  In the meantime, she believes that I am being used and taken advantage of by my ex and broker. When I try to explain the situation, she doesn't listen and says it creates an enormous amount of anxiety for her and she can't tolerate me being used and taken advantage of.  The way I see it, the property is my investment and my business. Nobody forced me to be in it and it's not exactly something I can get out of overnight.  She has increasingly been putting pressure on me to "get out" even through I've already been doing that on my own, but her pressuring me, not listening or trying to understand isn't helping.

The last month since her episode has been especially hard. Our routine is off, I feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride, walking on eggshells and just trying my best to support and be there for her but also realizing I need to take care of myself and she is probably not capable of giving me what i need right now.  Even when we go out, she walks off and talks to strangers for long periods of time (30min to 2 hrs) even if WE are supposed to be doing something together.  again, she is usually a very social person, but just seems her behavior is extreme right now. She shared with me that her Dr says she is "Medium" and still healing.

I'm wondering if anyone has some advice or experiences they can share with a loved one having Bipolar and how to navigate through the ups and downs, communicate, be supportive.  I don't know how long the healing process will take or who she will change and become once this has had time to evolve.  I've attended NAMI meetings and read some books. My therapist suggests giving it some space to breath and take care of myself, which I agree, but on the other hand, if I am going to be with this person for the long haul, I want to learn and know that we can get through it together. I'm hesitant to make any major decisions (like a break up) now while things are still elevated and not more settled. Although, unfortunately, when we do get into those heated moments or topics (like my investment property) things feel like they can spiral out of control quickly.  Appreciate any help/advice. 

 

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First off , yes, is majorly important that she stay medicated and have the professional help (therapy), in order to work on her issue's, vent, etc...

Second, If it's been 3 yr of her harping at you over YOUR past issue's - not sure IF it will ever stop 😕 .. Or when's the next issue? etc.

it is very hard at times to deal with someone like this.. as you have noticed (walkin on eggshells)- that is rough 😕 .

As for self care.. do you get out to hang w/ friends at all?  Get out of the house.. or manage to do your own things? ( your down time), away from this...

Re: this investment, SHE needs to calm down.. as it is not her problem.  So, as with anyone, it is not necessary to keep at it & drive the other person crazy! 😕 (you) .

 

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My father was bipolar 1. I am sorry to say never never never stayed on his meds or under care more than a year at a time. His mental health is the greatest reason he is dead. 
 

Personally, unless she is prepared to stay on medication and being under a psychiatrist’s care the rest of her life I would be done and gone . End of. 

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OP, she is mentally ill and this is never ever going to change or get better. Dating someone who is bipolar is signing up for a roller coaster ride and that is what you've been living.

It is not going to change but will get worse with age and yes, it will affect your own mental health dealing with all the issues, highs, lows, ups/downs, paranoid accusations, walking on eggshells, controlling behaviors, manipulative behaviors, and so on. This includes the fact that she will do what she has done - go on and off meds because deep down she doesn't like to feel "flat". Very very few people have the absolute self discipline, self awareness and control to stay on meds and follow 100% through on their therapy and treatments in order to control their illness and she has proven to you that she is not one of those people.

If you've done some research, then you already know the answer - you don't deal, you walk away.

At some point you will need to decide between clinging on to this relationship and your own mental and, eventually, physical health. Make no mistake that the stress will affect your physical health in the long run as well.

 

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1 hour ago, girltalkCA said:

After about 8 months, she stopped the ECT and went off her meds. she had an episode and was hospitalized for 4 days. put her on Latuda.

Agree with your therapist. Step back from this and start taking care of yourself.

 Unfortunately you seem to underestimate the severity of her mental illness.

Edited by Wiseman2
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This is a very significant mental illness requiring serious medication and psychiatrist involvement for life. One of the major features is significant lack of impulse control. This is displayed many and varied ways including the belief that no medication or treatment is needed. Not one word of a lie but my dad was hospitalized at least 200 times in his life due to mental illness from the age of 21 ( the year I was born) onwards until he died last year. 
 

While unmedicated  they have no idea how erratic they are. My dad LOVED LOVED LOVED the manic phase. He felt all powerful like he was a god. So he didn’t want to be medicated. In his manic phase he was physically dangerous. More often than not he was in a depressed phase so severe eating and talking were not even possible. 
 

Seriously, this illness absolutely needs to be monitored. 

Edited by Seraphim
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This illness will not go away. Ever. It's like someone who is type 1 diabetic or HIV positive. They don't get treated for a while and then it goes away. It's there for life.

So, have a sit down with yourself (alone). Think about the next 20 years and how you envision them. Then think about how your life with your girlfriend is. Think about 20 years of your life with her. How does that make you feel? Warm, secure and content? Or does it seem more like stressful, anxiety ridden and a roller coaster?

You will need to decide if you can live this way forever. If you think your love for her (and hers for you) is enough for you to be willing to live this way forever then you have your answer. But if you're holding on because you believe she will "change" or be "cured", well, that is a fallacy because she will not and cannot be.

Edited by boltnrun
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I'm sorry you're going through this. Bipolar is not at all easy to deal with. It's something that your SO will have to work on herself, and if she stops her meds when she feels well... Then there's not a lot you can do 😕

I had an ex (6 years together) and I found out at the end of the relationship that he had bipolar. He used to do the same> feel better, all is good> meds out> depressive episode>the struggle(!) To get back on meds and be patient that they have an effect on him. He'd done this about 3 times throughout the relationship. And let me tell you, I was very supportive- but I was also drained. First time, I gave it all I got. The second time... It was difficult. Third time, I couldn't anymore. + He started using the disease as an excuse for the way he treated me. After some struggles, I managed to leave. Nothing I did was ever enough anyways.

So, listen to your heart that is asking these questions in this post and ask yourself what @boltnrun just wrote. Are you ready for the ride? Cause it'll be a bumpy one... Not the most fun one for sure.

Also, worthy to think of: does your gf give back? Are you getting your needs met in this relationship?- despite the bipolar. Would you still be compatible regardless of this challenge?

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My ex-husband wasn't bipolar but suffered from depression which he expressed in anger, and perceiving things falsely, as in saying I was giving him a dirty look when I had happy thoughts and wasn't even thinking of him, and taking offense at things said that would roll off another's back. I know what walking on eggshells feels like very well.

I married too young to make a good decision. Knowing what I know now, I always give the advice of not dating someone who has shown signs they won't manage their illness for a lifetime. He only got on meds and psychiatric care when I threatened divorce. After a few years he got off the meds and became worse and I eventually divorced him.

Your partner has shown the behavior of going off meds. Even is she's on them now, you have to assume she will repeat the pattern of going off again, since she did at least once before. Perhaps she's already gone off the meds since you don't see much improvement.

No, I wouldn't sacrifice my well being and only shot at a happy life on such a high risk person. In these cases, the good never outweighs the bad.

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I actually think you've been very patient and understanding towards your girlfriend over the last few years. It sounds like she's lucky to have you. If you want to date someone with mental illness then yes you do need to make allowances for their illness but it's actually THEIR responsibility to get all the help they need. The fact that she just went off all her medications seems like a pretty bad idea because she gets quite unwell from the sounds of it when she doesn't take her medications. She needs to follow her treatment programme carefully if she wants to stay mentally as well as possible. Most psychiatric medications do have at least some bad side effects but she needs to work together with her doctors to find the most suitable ones. Just going off everything is really not the right way to go about it.

The thing is that just because your girlfriend has bipolar doesn't mean all your needs in a relationship have to come last. Why should you have to put up with the fact she leaves you behind and goes and talks to strangers for two hours? Personally I would think that's a total nightmare and very disrespectful. If that's happening because she's manic then she needs to have her medications reviewed and/or possibly think about getting more ECT.

Regarding your investment. Well, I can sort of see where your girlfriend is coming from. You were with your ex-husband for 15 years so he was a big part of your life. You still have close ties with him because you own the investment property together. To some partners it may seem uncomfortable and they would want you to cut off ties with your ex. Although you owned this property with your ex before she came on the scene. I think if you're going to sell your half of the property then you'd probably need to be really sure that you really want a future with your girlfriend. 

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27 minutes ago, Tinydance said:

Regarding your investment. Well, I can sort of see where your girlfriend is coming from. You were with your ex-husband for 15 years so he was a big part of your life. You still have close ties with him because you own the investment property together. To some partners it may seem uncomfortable and they would want you to cut off ties with your ex. Although you owned this property with your ex before she came on the scene. I think if you're going to sell your half of the property then you'd probably need to be really sure that you really want a future with your girlfriend. 

I would not sell the property to appease her. If you bought the property while married or before you knew her (plenty of people are on friendly terms with exes if one of the driving reasons for the break up was coming out) and have it as an investment as there is no financial benefit to selling it, you should not liquidate it to appease someone with mental health issues.  No offense to those who are suffering - but if you sell it, she will fixate on something else that you need to get rid of most likely.

Does she think that you still have the hots for him even though you took a big leap coming out and ending your marriage?

I would strongly caution you to invest long term with this woman. Bipolar is for life. I am not saying people who struggle with mental illness are not worthy of love and relationships, but this sounds like a bit too much as far as how she copes and how she manages it.  There are healthier people out there.

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I knew this sounded very familiar.

I really feel you are beating a dead horse, so to speak. This relationship is taking a big toll on you.  It is just as bad if not worse than it was last year. How much more of yourself do you have to shrink in order to keep this going?

 

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OP. I can only repeat what Wiseman said earlier:

 

"The best way to deal with it is to end it and examine your motives for dating someone with severe mental illness. Don't fix her. Fix yourself."

 

Two years "investment" is nothing. Imagine 20, 30 or 40 years of this kind of lunacy.

 

There are stable and psychologically healthy people out there. No one here is going to advise you in any manner whatsoever to stay. Or tell you what you want to hear.

THis above was from the last thread. You didn't take the advice. I hope you do this time.

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Well, having refreshed my mind on your old post, I actually think your girlfriend is being unreasonable. You've been divorced from your ex-husband about 9-10 years now. You own the property with not just him but a third person as well. I think that's a bit different to if you only just broke up with your ex husband and you owned the investment property with only him. If you don't speak to him otherwise apart from about the investment property and you basically never see him then she has plenty of proof that nothing is actually going on. The other thing she has said are unfair, such as that your ex is abusing and controlling you. She has no grounds to say those kinds of things. I know she has trauma from these things in the past but your ex is a completely different person and there is no connection between her own past and yours.

I'm not saying you deserve some kind of gold medal for dating someone with mental illness but in all fairness dating her has been  difficult. You've been very supportive and understanding and put up with things like her walking off on you for two hours and talking to total strangers. This would make me beyond mad. Why should you sell your investment property when you're already tolerating so much from her. If you got married and she was your wife, maybe she could have more say. Otherwise she doesn't get to make that decision for you.

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10 hours ago, girltalkCA said:

I'm hesitant to make any major decisions (like a break up) now while things are still elevated and not more settled.

There's never a 'right' time for a breakup, so waiting for her to settle will only keep you on a tender hook for ever.

I'd talk to your therapist about creating an exit plan. You get to decide if or when to use it, but having it in place will be a good psychological safety net for you.

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9 minutes ago, catfeeder said:

There's never a 'right' time for a breakup, so waiting for her to settle will only keep you on a tender hook for ever.

I'd talk to your therapist about creating an exit plan. You get to decide if or when to use it, but having it in place will be a good psychological safety net for you.

agree with this. If you wait until things calm down, you will be lulled into staying, thinking "ok, finally, things are good"...

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When it comes to a partner with this type of mental illness...you have absolutely no control over it. This is your future if you stay with this person. Even with medication and therapy, there's still going to be real rough times over and over again. Sorry but there isn't anything you can to to "fix" them. Things might be better later on, but it's temporary. You can't stay with a person like this if it affects your own mental health in a negative way...this is toxic. That's why your therapist is gently telling you to back off and take care of yourself...they are concerned for you.

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