Some of you know my story, and some of you do not. If you don't, I encourage you to read some of my previous posts back to Sept. 2007 when I joined HW looking for help. I was desparate and hopeless in my attempt to save my boyfriend from his BP nightmare. I loved him more than I have ever loved another human being, and our connection was more intense than anything I have ever felt. I am here to tell you that LOVE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER. Stop telling yourself that right now.
I used to blame myself, I used to ask what was wrong with me, I used to think If only I changed, that he would be ok. I WAS WRONG TO THINK THAT. BIPOLAR DISORDER IS NOT PERSONAL...NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT HURTS YOU.
I felt this way because of my own issues in life...my abandonment issues, my defectiveness isssues, whatever they are. I let this person use me as his sounding board for HIS DISEASE, as he REFUSED to seek treatment, take his medication, see a therapist and pdoc and take responsibility for his health and happiness. Unfortunately, I didn't stop him when I should have. Now I know better.
Thanks to HW, a short stay in the hospital, and a FANTASTIC therapist of my own. I have discovered all of these things. I have managed to keep this person out of my life because he refuses to own his treatment and wellness program. He isn't stable, was verbally and emotionally abusive and with the help of my new therapist, I SET LIMITS FOR WHAT AND WHO I ACCEPT IN MY LIFE.
I have experienced the pain you have in loving someone with BP. But as you can see on HW, there are many high functioning people with BP, that do not exhibit some of the toxic, destructive behaviors others exhibit. So the question is….how much are you willing to tolerate in your life? Being diagnosed with BP doesn’t give someone a free pass to be abusive, to manipulate, to get their needs met at the expense of other people, or to refuse to take accountability for their own health and happiness in life. Those issues aren’t inherent in all people diagnosed with BP. If you love someone that exhibit these toxic behaviors, the only thing they will respond to and understand is LIMITS, because they do not respond to your expressions of hurt and pain. That is what I waisted so much of my time doing. I thought if I just constantly explained how much he was hurting me and stayed and showed him what he was doing was wrong, he would wake up one day and get it.......that isn't how it works.
You must be prepared to follow through on ALL of your limits! "If you continue to leave your dirty laundry on the floor, I will not do your laundry.", "If you continue to see other women, I will leave you", " If you continue to yell at me, I will not engage in a conversation with you.", If you refuse to see your pdoc or seek treatment, I will end this relationship." Your love may ultimately be the most effective leverage for someone, but that my not even be enough. The advice here on HW is invaluable, and if only the experiences of others could truly touch the minds and hearts of everyone so you could "JUST DO WHAT WE SAY", it would save so much heartache. But I think the journey is half of the "healing well", no matter how much it hurts.
My advice to every one considering a life with someone with bipolar disorder who refuses to seek treatment or take responsibility for their illness is to set limits and hold strong and true to those limits. For yourself and for the person you love. The decisions you make regarding this illness have NOTHING to do with love. You can love someone with all of your heart and soul, but if they are not committed to their own treatment program, and if you do not set limits for what you will accept in your life, and are not prepared to act if those limits are breached, no amount of love in this world will save your relationship with someone with bipolar disorder.
I highly recommend the book "Reinventing Your Life" by Jeffrey E. Young and Janet S. Klosko to help understand your own issues in life and to help you break your own self-defeating cycles and find the strength you need to set limits in your life. It will help you and all of the loved ones in your life. I have learned that I need to put myself first, above all, if I am going to be an effective person in anyone else's life. And if I want to be in a healthy relationship, I need to heal my own wounds, and not expect someone else to heal them for me. Just as I can't heal the wounds and save someone diagnosed with BP. They need to own their own health and wellness.
Bipolar IIIt is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness. -- William Shakespeare
(LFW...I may need your help on this one...)
If I am understanding your question correctly, than my answer is simple, again...LOVE has nothing to do with it, unconditional or conditional. It is a matter of what behavior you are willing to accept from someone in your life. It doesn't matter whether the person with BP understands the "deep rooted meaning" behind your limit. That is the point. You need to set the limit for YOURSELF, not just for them. You need to LOVE YOURSELF enough to set the limit. You need to set the limit because you have decided that you longer want to be hurt in that way anymore, and that person refuses to stop hurting you in that way. If you do or say something just in the hopes of getting them to change, you will never succeed in your quest, because it wasn't sincere in its purpose. If, in setting the limit, they change their behavior....great. If they don't, you must be willing to follow through on your decision.....and it will be great, too, because that means they were still behaving in a way that you decided was unacceptable to you and now YOU acted on your decision FOR YOU. It is difficult, at first, but it gets easier. You find your strength, little by little. You can't change someone else, but you can change YOU.
They may, of course, try to manipulate you by saying "your love is conditional", but you must stand firm. There is nothing wrong with being strong and no longer tolerating hurtful behavior from someone in your life. Again, it is not about love, it is about not accepting hurtful words or behavior from others.
Like I said, I wasted so much time begging and pleading and crying.....trying to understand and to be loving and accepting and tolerant and patient. I read every book and went to every doctor's appt. with him. My love was immeasurable.....but it didn't matter. He needed to take his BP, embrace it, own it, everyday and make a commitment to control it the best he could with meds, pdocs and a therapist in order to live the most healthy, happy life he could. He chose not to. My love couldn't change that.
In my previous post, I was just giving some examples, limits could be different for everyone...as everyone's situation is different, some less or more severe than others.
If you are allowing someone to treat you terribly under the misconception that you MUST accept it because you "love" them and you want to support them through their disease....than I just want you to know that you don't have to feel that way. NOWHERE in any medical journal or bp magazine does it say that bp supporters should allow someone with bp to ignore their diagnosis, not take their meds, not see their pdoc, AND suffer verbal, mental, or physical abuse on top of it. In fact, EVERY doctor will tell you it is the MOST critical thing for those with BP that they stay vigilant about their meds, and stay in regular contact with their pdoc and therapist. And you may have to set limits when their behavior/moods become unacceptable, as even those who are high functioning may not realize it right away.
But for those with BP who aren't stable, the message is clear. Seriously evaluate your involvement with them....don't confuse your love for someone with your "savior complex" or your own deficiencies. It isn't your fault that this person pulls you into their life, and then pushes you away over and over again. It isn't becaues of you that they spend all of their money or disappear for days or want to start a new life with a new person then declare their undying love for you. It is a disease, it isn't personal. They are hurting...but you can not save them. They must save themselves.
The bigger question is.....who is thinking about you? Is it right to focus all of your energy and attention on one person? Please just focus on you. Find a therapist to talk to, to help you work through these issues, so you know you are doing what is best for YOU!
Post Edited (loving frustrated wife) : 2/19/2008 1:40:18 PM (GMT-7)
That was a great post Casem. You made such a good point and are so right that loving someone with bipolar won't change their bad behaviors. That's one reason I stopped trying to have discussions with my husband. It doesn't got anywhere.
Carolsclan, wow what an inspiration YOU are. It gives me hope that dh will one day get the right help and become the best person that he can be.
In reading LFW's post, I have to say that I was one of those that I did loose myself for a long time in the midst of all of this. We have been married 25 years and I didn't know what the problem was until about 3 years ago. And it does really take time to grasp what it is all about. Then I went through stages of denial, depression and resentment, etc. like you do when you loose someone because what I lost was the dream of the life that I thought that was going to have. It is so much easier to see in hindsight. How the disorder was the big monster that kept lurking around silently killing any progress that we made.
It does take alot for a spouse or partner to see how it has affected about every aspect of their lives. I had not idea that I was co dependent much less the victim of passive agressive behavior. And I had to take check of my own behavior along the way because I wasn't easy to live with there for awhile because I was sooooo angry.
It just takes time to see it all for what it is and to let it sink in and it sure isn't easy to swallow. I appreciate you all and this forum...