bipolar ex
May 26, 2006 10:03 AM   Subscribe

my ex gf who has bipolar recently packed up her things and left the state of Florida WITHOUT TELLING ME. She was apparently manic depressed etc and cut her hair. After two weeks I found out she eventually made it home with her parents. I supported emotionally and financially and boy was it crazy. And then my mom passed away and my ex wont even acknowledge the passing only to tell me that everything is my fault i ruined everything etc. She hates me for whatever reason and will not have contact. Are her actions ever forgivable if she ever calls me. Having no contact has been good because i need to figure out if i want to be a caretaker for the rest of my life....Any advice?
posted by magic74 to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Run. Don't be a martyr. Take care of yourself. Get therapy.
posted by bash at 10:05 AM on May 26, 2006


"Having no contact has been good"
Sounds like you know what you need to do and I heartily support it.
posted by like_neon at 10:08 AM on May 26, 2006


Run, run, run. You're not being a caretaker, you're being an enabler. She is responsible to take strides to be a healthy, functioning adult. That is not your responsibility. YOU are responsible to take strides to be a healthy, functioning adult. Do everything in your power to do that. See a counselor pronto. Do it.

And I'm really sorry about your mom.
posted by orangemiles at 10:08 AM on May 26, 2006


She's an ex? Why are you still supporting her, especially since it seems she has parents she can rely on?

My mother died right after I broke up with a guy who I suspect is bipolar, and the complete lack of emotional support I got from him in that time was really heartbreaking. (He also blamed everything on me.) But I wasn't going to get that support from him, he just wasn't capable of it, and so I had to learn to move on and find that support from other, more stable people.

It sounds like you're in a tough spot, but if she's not contacting you, and you've already broken up, there doesn't seem to be any point in keeping her in your life. Especially right now, when you need all the support and stability you can get.
posted by occhiblu at 10:08 AM on May 26, 2006


And I actually got some good advice when I posted my similar question here (though there's a big digression in the middle about the venality of the psych industry; ignore that if you can).
posted by occhiblu at 10:10 AM on May 26, 2006


If she's your EX-girlfriend, why are you still so emotionally (and financially?) bound up in her life? And want her so emotionally bound up in yours? You're worried about how you'll feel if, at some mythical point in the future, she calls you. You're upset because she didn't send condolences. You're upset because she doesn't want contact. Take that 'EX' to heart and stop trying to be involved with a woman you're not involved with.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:11 AM on May 26, 2006


Sorry about your mom and the situation.

Please, please, please... stop any involvement. From one who knows and took WAAYYYYYYYY too long to figure it out. IT WILL NOT CHANGE! Even if she makes apologies and does whatever penance you think is needed, I promise it will not change. She will continue to hate you for no reason. The she will "love you" more than anything in the world, and won't be able to live without you. Then she will HATE you again because of some imagined or exaggerated offense. Don't live that way.

This is from 25 years experience.

Feel free to email me if you want. Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 10:19 AM on May 26, 2006


If she's your EX-girlfriend, why are you still so emotionally (and financially?) bound up in her life?

Because sometimes ex-girlfriend doesn't mean ex-friend?

I think you're asking one of life's most difficult questions: how much do we consider other people's framework when deciding whether or not to hold them accountable for their actions.

If we learn someone is a murderer, do we cut him some slack if we discover he had a horrible childhood? Much less extreme: if someone craps all over a MeFi thread, do we cut him some slack because his dad just died?

At what point do we say, "Everyone has his problems and motivations, but I don't care ... what he did was inexcusable"?

I don't have answers to these questions, and I doubt anyone else does. Or rather, they have their own, personal answers that work (or not) for them. They won't necessarily work for you.

Navigating this minefield is called "life."
posted by grumblebee at 10:19 AM on May 26, 2006


Speaking as someone who has been in a relationship with a person who also suffered bipolar -- chalk it up as a bad chapter of your life, close the book and move on.

It's infuriating, heart breaking, and a whole bag of other emotions when you find yourself in a place where you've invested a whole lot of time (and money) in someone and they just up and randomly write you off... but this happens with people who are completely normal too.

More importantly it sounds like you're dealing with your own grief over your loss. You need to focus on yourself. Quit trying to contact your ex. So she won't acknowledge your loss... would it change anything if she did? Probably not. The last thing you should be doing is guilt tripping your ex into entering into some sort of dialog with you. Be thankful she's with family where hopefully she is getting help for her condition. I've seen bipolar wreak havoc on people who lacked the support of family.

Is she forgivable? I don't think that question even matters at this stage. She's left your state and you can probably live out the rest of your life without ever having to deal with her again. You may not realize it now, but that's probably a good thing.

If you're still having problems with the break up make sure you toss out every little bit of crap that reminds you of her... or at least get it out of sight.

Focus on yourself, maybe seek some counseling. Big upheavals in life like this are an opportunity to make big changes. Rearrange the furniture (sounds stupid, but it helps), join a gym, take up a new hobby, change your diet - make positive choices each day.

It may take a few months - even a year - but you'll eventually be better off than when you started.
posted by wfrgms at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2006


Are her actions ever forgivable if she ever calls me?

You are the complete list of people who can answer that question. You sound young, and the fact is that "ever" is a long time and people can* change. If you and she shared something special, I think it would be a shame if you couldn't have coffee in 20 years without feeling angry or resentful. But for the time being, I'd echo the sentiments above: maintain your detachment.

People often ask if ex-lovers can ever be friends. The answer is usually "yes" only in circumstances where the pair actually walked away. You can't transition passion into friendship; and if you spend 10 years holding a torch, you can't expect not to get burned. But if you actually do walk away and have a life, then yeah, maybe someday you can be pals.

Same principle here. Can you forgive? Sure. But for the time being, you've gotta walk away.

* People can change. Many don't. Beware blind optimism in that regard.
posted by cribcage at 10:24 AM on May 26, 2006


She won't speak to him. She hates him. She told him that his mother's death was his fault. That's not a friend.

That point of "What he did was inexcusable" comes when, on balance, the person is making your life worse. Telling you a parent's death was your fault, attacking you at what may be the lowest point of you life, qualifies.

And yes, I'm projecting, but really. There are few times in one's life when one deserves unmitigated unconflicted sympathy and support. Losing a parent is one of those times. If a friend can't muster even a bit of sympathy, she's not a friend.
posted by occhiblu at 10:26 AM on May 26, 2006


The fact that you're asking strangers on an internet message board for help with this problem shows you're not capable dealing with such a situation.

Let it go.
posted by justgary at 10:31 AM on May 26, 2006


I'm bipolar and I am telling you it is okay for you to walk away from this one. Best case scenario, she is not stable enough to have a relationship at this point. And if she is with her parents, that gives her the psychosocial support she will need to get better-assuming she chooses to.

IF she comes grovelling back, you need to ascertain if she is stable on meds, getting treatment and counselling, and so forth. Otherwise it's just getting back on the hamster wheel. She may be stuck on it, but you have the choice whether or not to ride it with her.
posted by konolia at 10:40 AM on May 26, 2006


when you've had time to decompress and think about what's really happened here, you're going to be incredibly grateful she left

don't call, don't write, don't let her back into your life

her leaving was one of the best things that ever happened to you ... it doesn't seem like that now ... but eventually, you'll realize it

important question to ask yourself - "why did i want a relationship like that?" ... make sure you find an answer before you get involved with someone else, or history could repeat itself
posted by pyramid termite at 10:41 AM on May 26, 2006


You apparently want her in your life but she apparently doesn't want you in hers. The message is painful but clear. Listen to the message and get out of her life -- quit giving her money, calling her parents, checking in on her, thinking about what will happen if she calls. Any other way but that leads to unhealthy behavior, and you need to be the healthy one.

Sorry about your mom.
posted by dness2 at 10:53 AM on May 26, 2006


Run.

To make a long story short - on June 24th I am a year out of a marriage to a bipolar person.

What happened in a nutshell was this person transformed into the exact opposite of the person I married (hence the nature of the illness).

The sickness/health/better/worse vow thing was the hardest thing to walk away from, until a very intense therapist told me that I took a vow to an illusion, a sickness that has to do with being what you know you need to be taken care of, until you get it, and then lashing out at your caretaker. These people turn their depression outward, if you can understand that, and lash out at the people closest to them in the worst possible way - fueled by their own incurable self loathing.

After that - I went to newsgroups and bipolar marriage support forums, lurked, and was completely freaked out over the life of sacrifice, irrationality and fear the spouses of bipolar people live and exist in. I could not believe how much I had in common with these people.

When I made the choice to leave him, the relief was almost instant, and followed by nights of peace and sound sleep, a bank account that grew back into the positive, health, and the slow steady ability to replace what I lost, which was just about everything I had.

What promised to be a wonderful, stable fulfilling life with someone I loved turned out to be a scary, violent, irrational existence. I lost everything I owned too.

Now, my life has recovered and I am back on track, with a very loving, gentle (albeit quite silly) man.

I still have some Viet Nam Vet moments about the violence and the drama.

I am warning you - get out of this. Don't be fooled when this person swings back into the one you fell in love with, the reality is just the opposite, as good as it could possibly be, the worst is darker and unsafe. Go read support forums and ask yourself if you want a life of martyrdom.

And, I am so sorry about your mom. Please take good care of yourself.

Post here if you need us.
posted by mad_little_monkey at 11:23 AM on May 26, 2006


I agree wholeheartedly that the thing for you to do right now is walk away and spend some time healing. I also want to underscore cribcage's point here:

You can't transition passion into friendship; and if you spend 10 years holding a torch, you can't expect not to get burned. But if you actually do walk away and have a life, then yeah, maybe someday you can be pals.

To get to the point of forgiveness and friendship is, for now, only an abstract that must remain in the future -- the only thing that can get you there is the passage of time. So take that time and spend it taking care of yourself.

(Sorry about your mom.)
posted by scody at 11:23 AM on May 26, 2006


Do what everyone else here says. Cut and run. And figure out why you wanted to be with someone like that in the first place.

White knight syndrome is a one-way ticket to a bad place. Avoid, about, bail.
posted by ImJustRick at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2006


I think the fact that you are even asking the questions you are asking indicates that you need to distance yourself from this person more.

I lost my father when I was in my mid-20s. It was hard, and I still miss him. The normal thing to be doing at this point is mourning your mother, not worrying about some cruel and unpleasant EX, so mourn your mother. The ex is an ex for a reason.
posted by Good Brain at 11:44 AM on May 26, 2006


Stay away.
posted by knave at 12:00 PM on May 26, 2006


Ditch this whackjob and move on with life. Forget she ever existed. Or, better yet remember that she did and learn the warning signs. Avoid people like that forever.
posted by drstein at 12:36 PM on May 26, 2006


I was also in a relationship with a girl who was manic depressive and bi-polar. But I think wfrgms said it best. It's over and done, so be thankful you're out. I believe there will be a time when she will try to contact you, but (call me a bad person) do not enter back into a relationship with her. Save yourself. Good luck.

(And also, sorry about your Mom. Hang in there, man!)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:39 PM on May 26, 2006


Best thing ever to happen to your. Mark this date on your calendar and every year, buy yourself something nice in celebration.
posted by LarryC at 1:01 PM on May 26, 2006


Run away from this person. If you think it's bad now, it will only get worse.
posted by 517 at 1:09 PM on May 26, 2006


drstein, email me so I can tell you how I feel about your post. Some excellent responses, bipolar is an illness, of course you can forgive her but that does not in anyway mean this is a life that is good for you, and if it is not good for you it certainly will not be good for her. I know many very successfully married couples where one of them is bipolar--it depends on the particular person, the specific nature of their illness (how the symptoms manifest themselves). Bipolar is one of the most manageable of the major mental illness--many many persons who are bipolar lead very normal, successful and rich lives. Some do not. Good luck to both of you.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:17 PM on May 26, 2006


Get out and stay away.
posted by beerbajay at 1:33 PM on May 26, 2006


You've helped out above and beyond the call of duty. Consider your work done and have your own life now.
posted by gallois at 2:12 PM on May 26, 2006


After all the heartbreak she has caused, you ask to if it's OK to forgive. Yes, forgive, release, and move on. It sounds like you fell for the "idea" of her and for the side of her that may now be seen as more manic. But you fell for a mirage of chemical imbalance.

Dont hate her, it's very sad she was born with this affliction that she can't completely control. Yes there are medications and yes they control BP very (very) well. But it aint like pop an aspirin and all's well. There is an array of meds and one has to find out which one works for them and maybe not even then, perhaps it taks a combination and then what combination. The side effects along the way can suck like mad. The mental anquish when one doesn't work or worse, exasserbates the mood swings. And to determine the effectiveness of any ONE med takes weeks. So this process can take a lot of time and can be very hard. That is IF she even acknowledges that she needs them. Many with BP LOVE the manic phase too much to give it up as it is almost euphoric and very creative and fun. And you see from your experience and some of the posts here how the bottom side of BP can range from nasty to numb depressiveness.

But this is not your journey to take, and not your responsibility to endure. Make the break, she needs to accept the journey. And even if she does, too much water has passed under your bridge for your relationship to heal. And more likely, if she does, she'll be a different person than the two or three you knew and she wont want to associate with you and the memories of what she was capable of.
posted by Kensational at 2:23 PM on May 26, 2006


Cut 'n' run.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on May 26, 2006


Kensational has said it very, very well. Sounds like he's been where you are. So have I.

Yes, you can forgive, and it's better for you if you do. She may well approach you again when she needs something that you can provide; if you can handle it, perhaps you can maintain boundaries and provide friendship. But provide only that.

She will have trouble keeping friends, which can only make a painful life even more so. So I hate to advocate abandonment. But friends (and family) of a beeper must know what they are dealing with and how to protect themselves.

Don't re-enter a "relationship" with someone who is simply not capable of holding up her end.

And definitely don't enable her by writing checks and sacrificing your own needs & desires in life. No one benefits from that in the end, not even her, so don't cling to a white-knight mindset.
posted by Tubes at 3:29 PM on May 26, 2006


i thank you all for you time and comments..........i get it now......
posted by magic74 at 3:43 PM on May 26, 2006


magic74, everything is going to be so much better now. You're free to find the girl that you really deserve, someone who shares as much as she takes. You're going to be much happier.

You need to mourn the loss of your mother, but don't mourn the loss of your ex. She was poisoned, and was poisoning you. Her family will take care of her. You take care of yourself.
posted by The Monkey at 8:52 PM on May 26, 2006


I think you should keep her.

Just kidding! Run, don't walk. You'll thank yourself for it later.
posted by jtron at 10:37 PM on May 26, 2006


<hulk hogan>Move on, brother.</hulk hogan>

Run, run, run. Drama is the leading killer of sane people in the world.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:10 AM on May 27, 2006


As far as can be determined from what you said, the relationship between the two of you is over. She doesn't need you to take care of her, since, one assumes, here parents are doing that. Move on.
posted by rjs at 4:18 AM on May 27, 2006


well i awas taking care of her than she all of a sudden packed up and left because she has bipolar...never even told me...found out my seeing her roomate....she went to california for two eeeks to pursue her music ccarreer and than ran out of money and went home...she never spoke, wrote or emailed me..i had to talk to her mother...now she hates me bc of her disease when in fact i know its nots true...anyway becuase she has bipolar does her actions becomae acceptable?
posted by magic74 at 4:37 AM on May 27, 2006


I was in a variation of this situation once upon a time, dating a bipolar woman. When things started to get very, very rough in the way you're describing, I chose to cut and run.

In my case, it may have worked out for the best for both of us -- after several years, we got back in touch and are now distant-ish friends (phone/email correspondence every few months). She's told me that having a major enabler cut her off was a positive experience, after she got done with the anger/bitterness phase. Apparently, she took some positive steps motivated by what happened, and is in a far better place than the one where I left her, and under her own power -- something that would never have happened with me ham-handedly trying to 'be the knight in shining armor.'

While there's no guarantees the somewhat-positive epilogue will happen in your case, what is guaranteed is that if you see your relationship with her as one of "caretaker," it is time to flee. We've all got our crosses to carry, so to speak, but this doesn't need to be one of yours.
posted by Alterscape at 5:29 AM on May 27, 2006


interesting here too - my former bipolar husband would freak out at me if there was any tragedy in my life, if i had a bad day, if i wasn't constantly upbeat. i wonder if that's a trait akin to the sickness.

i've been thinking about this post.

i have to tell you, you really will be much safer without this person. it took me six horrible years to figure that out.

the hardest part was drawing on the good memories, the rapture part and the intensity were so good, but ultimately so wrong.

another thing that i learned that helped me leave was the fact that the bipolar episodic stuff can last for years - not just from day to day. so it would seem like things were great again, getting back to normal, then boom, he'd have me cornered in the shower with the curtain rod. or freak out because he didn't like what i made for dinner, or took a phone call from a friend. i was afraid to come home from work because i would have no idea what i would be walking into.

it really was awful, and really confusing because after a horrid event, he would come back with how much he loved me, and we'd make plans for greatness again.

take it from someone who tried really hard. there's no fixing this person. the cutting-of-hair and moving away is a familiar scene to me, along with trashing the whole house, drug binges, and then knowing exactly what i needed to hear to feel better, and doing it.

chalk it up to experience. there's no fixing this, it's a torturous pendulum on your heart.

hang in there, and do what you know you gotta do.

seriously, read read here, here and here.

good luck to you.
posted by mad_little_monkey at 6:46 AM on May 27, 2006


magic74, I know that it's really really hard to let go of someone who seems to need your help. The thing is, you're not really helping her, with either the money or the "patiently waiting till she comes home" thing. You're just giving her license to continue to treat you like shit.

It would be one thing if she were asking for help in finding a doctor, or paying for medication, or something that showed that she herself was actively seeking help for her disease.

But right, no, I don't think being bipolar excuses her actions. As was pointed out above, many (medicated) bipolor people are able to lead relatively normal lives without constantly hurting the people around them -- but you can't force her to take medication and get better, and your letting her treat you like shit is likely delaying her doing so. She needs to realize that her life is not working as it currently is, and she won't realize that if ex-boyfriends are still giving her enough money that she can run off to California, or if her friends let her get away with murder and just say, "Oh, I can't get upset, she's bipolar."

Just because there's a reason for her actions does not mean they're excusable. A two-year-old throwing a tantrum probably has a reason for it, but it's unacceptable behavior. If we reward that child by giving in, it just teaches him that tantrums get him what he wants. I realize that bipolar disorder is slightly more complicated, but your response to it doesn't need to be.

Stop helping her. Stop excusing her. It's hard as hell to let go, but you'll slowly start to realize that your life is a better place now without her. (Trust me, it happened to me, and it sounds like it happened to many other contributors to this thread.) You did what you could while you were together, now it's no longer time for you to pursue this. She has her parents who can help her get help. She's not in any immediate danger. You need to stand back and let her struggle her way through this, both for her sake and yours.
posted by occhiblu at 8:58 AM on May 27, 2006


thank you all for your comments...i am living very peaceful with no worries right now which is nice.....
posted by magic74 at 9:02 AM on May 27, 2006


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