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Another problem
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Another problem

Yes, I earlier put up a post about the concern that my boyfriend may be bi-polor.

Another question regarding that issue:
I have tried to talk to Tyler's family about his issues. They realize that he can go from super happy to super angry. Everyone deals with it, and it just usually gets taken out on me when his family has upset him. When he is angry, he is irrational, won't speak unless it's to be mean, and can sometimes be destructive. His whole family has seen this for the past year and a half, but they don't think that he has a problem. They are in such denial about his situation. I grew up with a bipolar step-father, and Tyler acts exactly like he does. I try to explain that to them, but they don't want to hear it. I'm tired of hearing "Oh, he just needs to take a nap." (like he's 5) or "He really needs to speak to God." I believe in God, and I am a devout Christian, but they are verging on fanatic about it. They don't seem to care about reality here on earth, and that God will just fix it for them. They think that anything outside of the bible doesn't matter.

I really believe that a group intervention could work with Tyler, but I need to get that group to tune into reality. Can you suggest a good way for me to get through to them. I don't want them to think that I am rude or unchristian. I've dealt with that in the past, and if ever try to get help outside of prayer, they say that I need Jesus, and they think me and my family have mixed up priorities.
I could get through to Tyler's father, but Tyler's mom doesn't allow him any say-so. She tells him that he isn't allowed to make parental decisions since he is only Tyler's adopted father. Its mean, I know.
That whole family is difficult, but I love Tyler to death, and I would do anything for him.
Is there a way for me to get through to them without offending them?
I think it may be impossible, but it definitely doesn't hurt to ask.
Tags: Bipolar, Family Issues, boyfriend problems, relationship problems
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Dear Kyndel,

It's absolutely ok to ask. And I'm going to tell you that it's also ok not to have an answer. Maybe we don't.

Let me preface these remarks by saying that before I'd try any of the things mentioned below, I'd try all the “normal” things, such as the ideas on the websites mentioned in my last email to you, the other strategies mentioned, and any and all other practical suggestions I could find.

In this latter category, the only new idea I can think of is to get someone in the church who is a bit less rigid than Tyler’s mother to speak with her. Perhaps she'd listen to a fellow devout Christian. It's like ex-soldiers only listening to other soldiers.

Here's what I mean about not necessarily having any answers beyond the boilerplate and strategies already mentioned. Very fanatical  people sometimes simply can't be reached. Here in Boston we have the Christian Scientist church. Sometimes their kids die because they won't get them properly treated for very serious illnesses. Even when the parents go to jail, nothing changes. I've had patients who grew up under this regimen, and barely lived through it.

While you care greatly for for Tyler, the only way you may be able to reach him is by backing off, and even letting a crisis occur. I know this is playing dice with his health and maybe even worse, but it's not on you because if the situation is serious he's going to be compromised in any case, because your input will be ignored.

There's also your own physical safety to consider. How far will he go when he gets angry?

I'd talk to the parents, and of course to Tyler. If I got no response over time, I'd write them all a letter spelling out what I knew to be the case about his illness. I'd emphasize that the probable course of it was such that without treatment he’d likely get worse, and that there were medicines and other forms of help available from which he could benefit immensely. I'd send them exactly the same letter, to get everyone on the same page. I'd offer to help in any way possible, outside of the religious framework.

Then, and this is the hard part, I'd back off. I'd stop worrying, I'd stop trying to take care of him. To Tyler himself, I'd say that there wasn't anything more I could do for him, because he needed professional help and medicine, far beyond TLC and companionship. To the father I'd say I understand that he doesn't have much of a say in the family, but that his inaction could lead to real risk for Tyler. To the mother I'd say I respectfully disagree with her, and believe that religion is great but it doesn't cure infections or diseases, and from what you know, failure to get Tyler help might lead to very serious trouble. Did she want to be responsible for Tyler having something terrible happen to him during a manic attack, or making a suicide attempt when he dipped into depression?

I'd offer to be there if and when they wanted help, because I really cared about Tyler, but I wouldn't be a party to willful failure to deal with the problem, any more than I'd tacitly endorse the behavior of the mother of a starving baby who decided to feed the child sand, even if it's the best quality sand. Kids die in Africa of preventable diseases. We can't help them as a practical matter. Maybe the same here.

Then I'd wait. And perhaps pray for light to dawn.

Taking this position MIGHT get their attention. A crisis might get the attention of the medical community, or other family friends, or the authorities. Perhaps this might help (unlikely but possible). In any case backing off MIGHT remove you as a reason to maintain the fanaticism. You wouldn't be the lightning rod for their paranoia. Then again, it might not work. Maybe even something bad will happen to Tyler. We just can't say, and that part of the scenario really IS in the lap of the gods.

Now there's another aspect to all this. If you grew up with a bi-polar father, I'll lay you long odds that you have a big need to fix a man, especially one with the same disorder. Almost certainly this will make it doubly difficult to back off Tyler and let the problem play out. Continuing to try to fix him and his family will be an almost irresistible impulse. However, if you pursue it you'll just grind yourself up emotionally (and again, how safe will you be if he gets enraged/manic?) as I'm sure you did back home. How could you not? But It didn't work then, did it? And I'm quite certain it won't now.

I urge you to gather other ideas from friends, websites, and other professionals. Maybe there are some better ideas. But if these people are as far out as you suggest, either they'll wake up before something bad happens, or they won't wake up at all, no matter what we do that's decent, common sense.


Dr. P.

Thank you very much.

A couple of nights ago I sat Tyler down and had a talk with him.

He usually tries to avoid the conversation, because he does feel bad about the way he acts during his fits.
I just told him that he can't avoid it anymore, and he needed to listen carefully because I am at the end of my rope.

I just said that I love him very much, but I can't keep doing what I'm doing.
I told him that I always feel like I am walking on egg shells, afraid that a fit is immenent.

I told him that I am just plain tired, emotionally and physically from trying to help him.
I've completely centered my life around him and what he wants, and have left absolutely no time for myself.
I said that he can't deny that he has a serious problem anymore.
He knows the way he acts isn't normal, but tried to not pay attention to it.

I just layed down the law and told him if he didn't seek help soon, I wouldn't be around him anymore. I'd still love him, but its time that I start taking care of myself again. I can't handle him anymore.

He said that he still doesn't want to meet with a doctor, but he is going to consider it.

I got my step-dad to talk with him. My step-dad knows that getting treatment is crucial, and bi-polor can not only ruin your life, but other people's lives if it goes untreated.

He said the he really needs to meet with a doctor just once, and they can get him the help and medicine that he needs to do better.
He said that we watched his life and family crumble away with his mental health, and finally took it upon himself to seek help.
He told Tyler that he can't let that happen.

My step-dad gave him the name of his psychiatrist, and said that she can really help him.
He told him if he helps himself, he will be happier, and so will everyone else.
Dear Kyndel,

I'm very proud of you.

You did exactly the right thing, in just the right words. You even got your step father involved, the perfect thing to do. And he seems to have done his part as well. A salute from me to him as well.

Note that if he balks, your step-dad may need to give Tyler an additional, gentle push, or even go to an appointment with him, to make it clear the doctor doesn't bite, and that going there isn't shameful.

Now, wait, and see what happens. It's possible that Tyler will do the sensible thing. And  But if he doesn't, you'll be faced with ACTUALLY unhooking from him. It still think this may be a challenge for you. But if you want the best for all involved, you'll just have to do it.

Woman, stay the course.

And again, “way to go!”

Dr. P.

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