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Coping with Seperation and Mental Disorder
April 17, 2001
8:18 pm
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biwife
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I just seperated from my husband of 14 years and I ended up moving across the country. We talk on the phone and by email but, I miss him terribly. The problem I'm really looking at now is this...he demanded this seperation and in the process of trying to get counceling, it was determined that he is bipolar. While I am aware of the problems we have to deal with, I have discovered that most of his behavior and treatment of me is typical of the disorder. I have been keeping an attitude that, once we both have received counceling and normalized, we would try to reconcile. He seemed to be of the same mind but, now that we are seperated, he is distant and won't speak on an intimate level.

The Last time we spoke, he told me that the familiarity I use with him is painful for him to take and eluded to never coming together again. He said these things in what I perceived as the pit....the deeply depressed side of bipolar. He's in a hopeless phase. I reacted to him badly, the conversation took a dive and he ended it promtly. His normal reaction in the last few years is to run away and hide.

I think I will be strong enough to deal with this seperation once I get into counceling. I would like any advice on dealing with a person who is suffering from Bipolar Disorder. I don't know if I can do anything but, I want, now more than ever, to help him through it. His swings are more extreme than ever and he lives in an area with little access to adequate mental health support for low income people. Am I too close to him to do anything affective since we have conflict to begin with?

April 18, 2001
4:49 pm
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Molly
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this is a tough call, is he willing to do the work? medication, and counseling, behavior modification it is all going to take time. My first thought is since I am on a moral rampage, is did you say for better or worse and in sickness and in health? #2) living with a bipolar can make you crazy, so you need to protect your self emotionally, and perhaps physically. #3 bi polar is a tough disease to treat #4 What type of resources do you have where you have moved to that you didn't have where he still is? #5 of course it is hard for him to listen to the I love you's you left him, so its understandable that he is taking a stand, and possible recommended by his counselor. It is hard to heal a relationship when you are appart, The best part of being appart, is realizing what you have gained or lost. If you love him, if you have children, if you want it to work out between you two, it might be better for you to be together, but it must have been pretty bad to make you leave, or was it opportunity after years of hell, and now you feel guilty, only you know what is best, or what you are willing to do.

April 18, 2001
6:02 pm
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salna
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Hi
I know what you are going through, My mother is bipoplar so are some of my uncles. I grew up with them. So believe me I know what you are going through. One thing I have learnt is that there is nothing much you can do once they are in their down side, except to love them more, so respect and tolerance they too are feeling bad once they are back to somewhat normal. One of the key elements is to make such that they take their medication. It is a must that they do.
Execise, keep your self busy, counseling is a very good idea, turst in your higer power, take to freinds whom you trust,Belive please believe none of this is your fault, it's just the way it is.
Hope to hear from you and rember God loves you and will not give you anything you cannot handle.
Bye - Bye

April 18, 2001
7:30 pm
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biwife
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I said for better or worse and I meant it. I want to try to make our relationship work and to help him cope with his disorder. I believe that many of the issues I have to deal with are from attempts to deal with his growing Bipolar. Now that I have a clearer understanding of what is happening with his eradic behavior, I think I can learn how to better deal with it....once he is in treatment.

After selling our house, quitting our jobs and attempting a move to another state, he had a break down. We went back. We couldn't find jobs, he had a few more bad episodes and then he decided on this seperation. I had no choice. I moved long distance because I didn't have any other options (no money, no reliable friends). I am staying with my sister. I would give anything for him to accept the help I want to give him now but, he is wrapped up in this cycle of shame and blame that he I can't get through.

In terms of available resources, I am waiting for my benefits to kick in. My husband is in a state where they offer excellent benefits for low income people but, the wait is usually at least a month and he will have to travel about 30 miles (no transportation). His willingness seemed earnest but, I think he may be making excuses now. It's just too much effort. It seems like he wants to give in to the extremeties but, when he does he's almost suicidal. I'm very worried.

Thank You, so much, I've been writting in a journal and the things I can say to my husband are limited. Having other people to bounce off of is a relief.

April 18, 2001
9:43 pm
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Molly
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Since you are his wife, legally you are the only one that can take any sort of action, and if he needs to be an inpatient, usually there are county or state facilities. There is a term of 5150 a danger to self or others, if you truly believe he will committ suicide, they can only be locked up for I think 48 hours unwillingly. Perhaps you could even communicate with his counselor. Needless to say there are issues of confidentiality, but you can share your concearn, and possibly get some feed back. I guess, the only other thing that you could do is just continue to reassure him of your love and committment. Make sure to take care of your self too, sounds like you have gone through quite a bit. Thank God for sisters huh.

April 19, 2001
8:50 pm
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biwife
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Well, Molly, I don't think committing his is neccessary. He gets alomst suicidal. I don't believe he would go over the edge. I talked to him tonight & he has swung back, is in a good mood. I guess a very significant issue is his reluctance to even discuss anything but pleasantries with me. He isn't willing to talk about our relationship or his disorder and I don't think he is even trying to get treatment. It's all excuses. He's also seeing a girl. I mean a girl...she's 18....he's 33. I feel I should just walk away and let him go on his way but I committed....for 14 years, I tried without knowing what was going on. I can't walk away.

April 20, 2001
1:13 pm
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Molly
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Well, that's a bipolar for you. Commitment doesn't include adultry, and perhaps he is under the impression "story" hey she left, life goes on. It takes two to make the commitment work, and it sounds like your wasting your time. Was the 14 years like this? Are you sure its bipolar, and not substance abuse, the two look the same, and only the insane one knows for sure. If that could be a possibility then not one of us would judge you for moving on and cutting the loss. Isn't that just like a weak man, to go out and get his validation from a young girl, pity her in a few weeks or months. You can't help some one more than they are willing to help them selves. It is possible for him for the light to go on, but give him the silent treatment, don't fund the project, focus on you, and wait to see action. If he calls or e-mails tell him to talk to the girlfriend, or the hand, you want evidence of his change, and intent to be a married person, and if you don't get that, don't look back.

April 20, 2001
6:24 pm
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janes
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I agree...

You cannot make him help himself.

No transportation...I live in one of those areas to and there is always someone if you have the DRIVE to get a ride.

And does he HAVE to live so far away from treatment or is it a choice?

You need to make YOUR choices. He chose the separation...and the new girlfriend. These choices were not YOURS.

You sound like your choices would be stability, counseling, regular meds etc.

BIPOLAR or not HE needs to seek the help etc.

He could even be checking with YOU.

How did you find out about the girlfriend? Did HE tell you? If so..don't look back unless it is to give the girlfriend a warning.

April 22, 2001
12:05 pm
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biwife
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I'm beginning to realized and accept that I can do nothing for him unless he wants it. I feel like I'm running in a circle without an outlet. I'm so used to dealing (or not dealing) with uncertainty that I'm still in a kind of limbo. Most of our marriage has been an emotional rollercoaster with the last five years or so having the most peaks and valleys. We did have a previous bout with substance abuse - marijuana - but, that was stopped about 6 months ago. It sort of evened him out because of the numbing effect it has on emotional expression but, it also made us both pretty ineffectual. When we stopped, I became highly emotional and his swings got more extreme. In my research, I have found that to be common, especially with a drug like marijuana.

Something I haven't really thought about is my tendency to put his needs before my own. In my current situation, it's pointless. Fortunately, I just got my first appointment for counseling. It made me think about being the important one in my life now. I guess coping means coping with myself, not reacting to someone else. I never thought it would be so difficult to say I instead of we or he. I can't stop being worried, though. When he's up, he's fine...I'm just dreading the next time he calls from the depths. I know I'll revert to wanting to help him despite his reluctance to accept and my inability to do anything but listen from long distance.

April 23, 2001
12:26 pm
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Molly
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Just like any substance abuse, it stuffs stuff real good, then it all comes out and is harder to handle. If he is still using makes it real easy for him to hook up with young girls, and forget about all else. With substance abusers its all about now immediate gratification, and sadly they can't see it, as soon as feeling starts to surface, here comes the substance of choice, food, drugs, women or wine, its all the same behavior. Hang in there and the longer you are able to stay clean, the more your going to see, the more your going to let this pass, as you both will end up on different pages so to speak, healthy and unhealthy, you will begin to pick up on when he is stoned vs, not ... This will get easier for you. With co-users, your only as strong as the weakest link, and he is weak, and will take you down again, its just the way it is. Sorry.b

April 28, 2001
12:34 am
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Jaskid
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You can not change the fact of your husband's illness nor control his symptoms and behaviors, you can exert some control over the way you respond to him. There are so many things in this life that no one can control. Try not to let your main focus be on the things you can not control, or you will end up feeling helpless an uncomfortable. It is important to differentiate those things which you can affect from those that you can not. Accept your husbands disease. Do not dwell the person he was before you were married or the person you would like him to be, try and see him for the person he is now. Like someone who has diabetes needs insulin to survive, he may need medication for the rest of his life to fuction. My sister has bipolar disease and I know first-hand what you are going through. Take care of yourself first. You need to know what you are feeling, so you can deal with what is really bothering you. Sometimes one emotion can be a mask for another. For example anger may be a mask for fear, guilt for grief. Sort of your feelings with a cousellor. Try and explore new ways of thinking about your life. Avoid any unproductive kinds of thinking, like life should go in a certain way, you know it can't. Life is what it is. One big struggle after another, but if we can see the the sun after the rain there is hope. Do not re-live the past. Forgive. Don't dwell on the what if's. Use your energies to deal with present realities.
Most of all DO NOT GIVE UP on your husband or your marriage or yourself. You could be surprised that through all of these trials you grow. Life is short and tough times help us remember what really counts in life. Things like love, peace, joy.... Find that strength that lies deep inside you and fight. In the end you will be a stronger person, take care.
:)Jaskid

April 28, 2001
1:01 am
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Jaskid
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Here is a 10 Point Permission List for yourself...
1. Allow yourself to grieve. This is a normal process that accompanies loss. The goal is to find some type of explanation that you can live with.
2. Allow yourself to remember that you are part of your husband's support system- not the cause or cure of his illness. Guilt can paralyze you. Mental illness is in no way caused by anything you have done.
3. Allow yourself to ask for help. You are the support for your husband, but who supports you? Let yourself ask other people for assistance or for emotional support. Professional help is good.
4. Allow yourself to develop realistic expectations for you and your husband. No one is perfect. You will have times when you do less than your best. Try not to be too hard on yourself.
5. Allow yourself to have a break from the situation occasionally. You may need to withdrawl from the situation for a time for your own well being. This is especially necessary when you have reached an impasse with you husband.
6. Allow yourself to live with imperfectionsin the situation. Things will not be perfect. Sometimes you will have to make the least bad choice.
7. Allow yourself to feel good physically.
8. Allow yourself to focus your energy on things you can change. Try to let go of the things that you can not change.
9. Allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the good things in your life. Even in the midst of suffering, ther is joy, and beauty. Depriving yourself of these things depletes you well being and does nothing to improve your husband situation.
10. Allow yourself to find meaning in the situation that helps you cope. This is a healthy resolution of your loss.

Do you have a local NAMI(National Alliance of the mentally ill) Support group in your area? I am a member and I go to meetings once a month and it helps me to know that I am not the only one dealing with this devasting illness. I do a Website online and you are welcome to check it out.
http://community.nj.com/cc/
NAMIGloucesterCounty

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