Living with a Bipolar Family, Taking a toll on your own sanity
I will try to keep this as anonymous as I can for family reasons.
I am 21 years old I have my mother and my little brother as the only family I really knew growing up. When my mother married my stepfather things seemed to get worse for me and her. He was abusive, controlling, paranoid, aggressive, verbally abusive, and it seemed like he couldnt handle me and my mother not being in that prison of a house for more than 5 seconds at a time. After my little brother was born we moved to another state to have a new life and start over.. as well as my mother and stepfather taking marital classes.
Despite asking for help knowing that something was seriously wrong with himself.. the doctors never helped him overcome his problems. When my mother couldnt take it any longer she told him she was going to get a divorce lawyer because she couldnt stand him coming between her and her children. The next day he committed suicide in the garage with all of us begging him not to. I was the only one to see the extent of what he had done to himself before the police arrived.. and let me tell you.. that is something you never ever forget.
During thier marriage my mother was Diagnosed with Biolar Disorder. She had alot of highs and lows throughout my childhood.. So it wasnt just him that was going through the emotional problems. Right before my stepdad died my little brother was molested by our neighbor who also molested her own son at the same time.
After his death we all went through a long period of therapy. They told me I had post trauma depression.. I didnt feel depressed whatsoever, as I sat in the therapists office wondering why the heck I needed to be there. My mother went for her Bipolar and to try out different medications to make her illness livable so she could raise us both. And my brother went because of his trauma and they also needed to talk to him about him being molested.
After a short while my brother became increasingly angry and aggressive, he would have "Night Terrors" and have behavioral control issues. Eventually he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as well. Even though I am not his mother.. I still felt soo incredibly helpless and useless not being able to make his pain go away.
Through the years it seemed like an epic battle that could never be won by either side. Helping my mother raise my brother and find treatment for him. As well as taking care of her when she had her manic lows. There were even a few attempted suicides along the way. Not too long after we found a suitable treatment for my brother that worked more well than anything my mother started having physical problems as well. With having a stomach hernias, kidney stones, degenerative disc disease, knee surgery, shoulder surgery.. the list goes on. And I was there as her caretaker.. all the while being responsible for bills, appointments, medicine, school, homework.. you name it.. I was in charge of it.
After a year long treatment and medication adjustment my brother is a normal happy 13 yr old boy. But through the years my mother has become increasingly worse than every day before. Growing up in that household has taken many tolls on me and my mental and emotional strength. When I turned 18 I moved out, and once I did all hell broke loose.. my mother was put in the mental hospitale a few times.. had a car accident (a bus ran into her 4 runner and totalled it while she was at a red light).. all sorts of stuff.. and my grandfather was there to take care of her then. I believe he is still angry I didnt want to take up that responsibility anymore.
Me and my mother occasionally fight.. and every time we do I feel more and more exhausted. Mentally.. physically.. its unbelieveable how old I actually feel. I dont know how it is with other families that have Bipolar.. but for mine its lke a constant feeling of being on the edge.. because you never know if someone is going to snap and go insane.. or become so depressed you have to take another trip to the hospital because someone doesnt want to live anymore.
I have been tested and do not have any mental health problems whatsoever. They declared me normally sane I suppose you could say. And after looking Bipolar dead in the face.. and walking through what seemed like Hells Evil Twin with my loved ones.. Im not sure how to even begin to make a life for myself.. a normal non chaotic life. No worrying... no separating pills for the daily organizer.. no more doctors appointments.. how do I start? How come im not just as insane as the next crazy person? Why havent I run for the hills or walked in front of a bus to get away? Im sorry about the long story.. it seems like the only way to understand.
How do you all feel living with Bipolar or living with a loved one with Bipolar.. is it exhausting? What do you do to deal with evening out your own life and balancing Biolar at the same time? Id love to hear your stories and see how you got through the worst of times.. and made useful the best of times.
1. Fight through everyday knowing it will get better
2. Glide through it and worry about every problem as it comes along
Well for myself having made a basic full recovery from schizoaffective (read through my posts) its been difficult to accept that my mother has cyclothymia (mild bipolar). The reason is she was designated by a previous psychiatrist to monitor that I took my medications as directed (which I always did) and now with my physical disability (which is severe), she has to work to set up various accomodations I need. Its best that while doing that that we have an emotional seperation but her need to control me and manage my life was part of the bipolar. I can see this while I was growing up as well. Its been a year since her therapist diagnosed her as having bipolar and I do wish she would accept a referral to a psychiatrist and (assuming that's their judgment) start medication as sometimes her judgment isn't always logical or stable. At first when I looked back at my childhood, I felt some of the things that she did where she got angry at me when I didn't do anything wrong were abusive but in reality they were an agitated mixed state from bipolar. These occur every time I see her and I have to talk her down but that really should be talked over with a psychiatrist. I have seen a psychiatrist for almost 20 years so it really shouldn't be a big deal. That's my story.
Every day bipolar people have to fight it or they will be drowned by it. It isn't an easy fight and not everyone can do it, but we all have to try. Bipolar is often genetic and by some chance you didn't get the gene, perhaps. It seems that your family history has been pretty sever. Some people are not as sever as others. Also some people say bipolar gets worse as you get older. This may be what is happening with your mother. But still, I say you have to continue to fight on, otherwise people end up making that last worst judgement call.
As I said, it isn't easy. I have almost failed a few times myself, but thankfully I didn't. I just keep going best I can. It really is all I can do, and I try not to make life too much hell for my family if possible. But, I wasn't helped when I needed it a lot of times, so I became really good at keeping things to myself. That's not healthy either, and I'm working on asking for help now that I am an adult.
I grew up with a Bipolar dad. He was also a heroin addict and alcoholic, which I think is because of the Disease he has. It was very hard for me growing up because there were a lot of empty promises. I had to see horrible things due to the drugs. I was really traumatized and I go to therapy every week for that and the fact that I am Bipolar as well. 2 out of 3 of his children are Bipolar. My fathers manic episodes were crazy. I remember him drenched in sweat and teaching me how to water the dirt and stuff like that. We would run people over in his vehicle in rages. He was in prison a lot needless to say. His lows were very low. He would cause harm to himself in front of his children. I won't go into details. He was very loving at times and very cold and heartless at times, which was very confusing to me. He seemed so selfish. Looking back on it, I realize now it was the disease. It destroyed him and took a lot of his family with him. It almost took me down. Luckily I got out of there and got some therapy. Many years of therapy. I must say again that i'm Bipolar as well so I am able to see things from a different perspective. I know those highs and lows and see what it does to my loved ones. Unlike my father, I make an extra effort to not just let myself go and I always fight no matter what. My family and I are in this together. They have educated themselves on disorder which hasn't helped me, but has helped them tremendously.
You can get past this. I know it's easier said than done, but you should find your own way in life right now then worry about others later. You need to find yourself. You are not your family. You are your own person. You deserve peace of mind. Then when you are able to step back for a while and focus on yourself, you can focus more on your family. Think about yourself first. Sounds like you would really benefit from a support group or even therapy for yourself. Good luck, if you want to talk PM me.
OMG Bunny u tell a very sad story, u have been through one hell of alot for you're short lifetime-u had to grow up so early in order to be the caregiver, all the burden of you're families illnesses was put on you're shoulders....u lost you're childhood/teen years/and now she is trying to take you're adult years away too.
I would think u should have many 'unresolved' issues going on inside.
My story isn't nearly as tragic as yours.
I was married at 17-2 kids before 20.
I stayed married for 40 yrs to a BP man. he was never violent just emotionally abusive.
He was committed twice than 20 yrs ago(today in fact) he shot himself and left me to find him,like u say its a memory that will stay with me forever.
For 20 yrs I lived with his mental and physical disabilities until 2 yrs ago it was necessary for us to abruptly separate as he became increasingly angry and unstable.
About the time he moved out our son was dx'd with BP also and he's moved in and out of my home needing help with another crash...I've also been dealing with his 10 yr
of ups and downs and substance abuse.
His BP is much more severe than his dads, but have similar traits including the suicidal thoughts.
Like yourself I feel like 30+ yrs of my life (or more) I've spent waiting for the next ball to drop always on edge and at times also ready to snap....
I've gone in and out of deep depressions myself along the way, but am much happier and more stable since single at 59 yrs of age.
I don't know what to tell you dear other than you are NOT RESPONSIBLE for you'r mother anymore!!! Its up to her to seek medical help and medications that can give her some sanity...before she ruins yours.
You do indeed need to emotionally and perhaps physically remove yourself and not allow her to lean on you any longer...tell her when and if she is medicated and stable only THAN will you be there for her to help out in a resonable fashion.
You need to look after YOU now and find a happy life for yourself don't wait until ur 50+ to do this ok...
Well I only recently got in contact with my father's side of the family and all of them have Bipolar Disorder except for my uncle who has Schizoaffective Disorder and somehow I went on to develop Schizophrenia from all that. I know the same gene that causes one causes the rest of those however. I can't say I've really had trouble with them like you've had except my uncle can start acting really crazy for lack of a better word if he gets angry but we're still good friends and one of my aunts with the Bipolar Disorder lied on me to him to attempt to tare us apart. I don't know if her Bipolar Disorder is to blame for that or if it's her to blame for that lying. I hear another one of my other aunts sometimes has a real temper but I can't ever get a hold of her on the phone and she's always come across as fine to me. I might not of had much trouble with them purely because of the fact that I only got in touch with them recently like I said. My brother has Bipolar Disorder and came across as fine but then I only talked to him once through myspace. One time my uncle got the crazy idea to cut off contact with me because he thought he was being a nuisance for some reason but we worked that out. In my times before my mostly recovery I really drove people nuts myself with my suicidal and homicidal ideations and stuff like where I was really delusional and screaming at people over conspiracy theories so I don't really have any room to talk bad about other people's mental illness issues driving me nuts.
I really do appreceate the responses thus far. Its refreshing almost to see im not really that alone in the Bipolar/Schizoaffective universe. Which I forgot to mention earlier was my mother has Schizoaffective Disorder as well. Shes not really as pushy as she used to be about me taking care of her but her father is (my grandfather) very highly disappointed in me and has come really close to disowning me. I stay close enough to make him happy.. otherwise I would have moved with my dad to texas. Its hard yes not being able to let go of so much hurt and resentment and anger. Ive been to shrinks, therapists, hospitals.. i find that its not really that helpful to me. No offense to anyone who works in that industry.. I just havent been able to find the closure ive been looking for. And you know every year on the day he died.. i just sit down and imagine what it might have been like if he had not killed himself.. if he got the help he needed and my parents might have not had to get divorced. But i imagine it would not have gotten better for us in the sense that we werent being controlled anymore. But then even after he asked for help.. why didnt anyone help him.. the therapist only told him wanting to control things like that is normal..
But yes thank you.. I am glad to know I am not alone in this area of my life.. For some people its hard to understand. Like my boyfriend with whom I live, its hard for him to believe most of the things I tell him.. but he is supportive at least of how I feel and the decisions I make when it comes to my family. I hope you all have someone to lean on like that.. it makes your world so much easier when u have someone to share with and lean on when you are weary.
I tell you, for some reason it happens that when you ask for help, a lot of people won't help you. I've had that problem all of my life. I ask for help and I am rejected the help I need, over and over. It is like a curse. I wish I could say why, but I don't know why. Maybe it is just human nature or the society we live in, but I can't say.
I'm so glad to hear you havea supportive person, even if he doesn't understand. I hope things get better for you. Take care of yourself.
I've had the same problem with people not helping me with my mental illness my whole life. The people who probably would've helped me were unable to. My family's been ignorant of it my whole life and when I told people I thought maybe I have Schizophrenia when I read about it for the first time all of them except a few told me oh no it's not possible instead of helping me communicate my concerns to a psychiatrist because I've always had trouble communicating and well here we are today and I'm diagnosed with it finally after having it all my life. All those years I could of not failed in school and done countless times better at my jobs if I had been receiving some kind of treatment but instead teachers and sh!t always went after me like rabid dogs instead of assuming something was wrong because they always complained about how I looked like I was in another world. It's always felt like trying to punch a hole in a brick wall when you try to tell someone you have Schizophrenia to try to get help or understanding. It's so frustrating that a lot of people don't understand how debilitating it can be even while on medications or they flat out refuse to listen to you and tell you still that you don't have it even after you've been diagnosed by a professional. I feel like I need to go out and kill someone or do some horrendous thing for a lot of people to listen to me.
Of course you looked like you were in another world. OMG, people can be so ignorant! I just can't imagine how it must have been for you.
I like how you said it is like trying to punch a whole in the brick wall. That makes perfect sense to me! What I hate about telling people about bipolar is they think, "Oh, well, just get over it!" If it were that easy I would do it already. I don't want to have these issues.Or people just tell you you're being dramatic. I really don't like dramatic people, actually. I mean, people who have an illness is one thing, but people who do it on purpose really get to me because it makes it harder for those of us who do have an illness.
I agree if I had been treated sooner maybe I could have actually held a job! I did okay at school, but you can look at my report cards and watch how when I had my worst episodes as a kid up to my senior year which actually went okay for me. You can see it in the grades. Then community college I did okay, but I felt safe there, but I still gave up and dropped out and only really went part time. I never got to transfer to university, which was my goal, because I gave up on myself. I usually dropped a class every semester because it was too much for me. I never took the SAT because of my poor math skills and I didn't want to be humiliated.
The job I have now is the longest I've held a job and some days it is a real struggle. I don't want to fail at it. But some days, I really have to fight myself some days. It is hard. But I can't fail, so I have to keep at it.
I'm a bipolar Mom and my son (even though not as severe as yours) life has been filled with me having "episodes". Luckily, now I'm stable after finally being diagnosed 3 years ago. He's 22 now and going to college, and I have encouraged him to live for himself - just himself - since he hasn't had that luxury. He's finally gotten to the point, I think, that he does that without a ton of guilt. He's a wonderful person.
Your Mom wants best for you, I'm sure. Nothing makes us happier than for our children to be happy.
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