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.