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What can I do to help my family understand?

Hi. I am having issues with my family. Last year I had a bad year. I ended up in the mental hospital twice (and checked myself out way too soon, but in my defense, I was scared of being there). I have been diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder (high functioning Autism) and Bi-Polar Disorder for 12 years (since I was 14), and last year received the additional diagnosis of "Anxiety" and we are still working on confirming or ruling out Scizophrenia (I was 25 when the symptoms onset and I am 26 now.)

I never really received the help I needed for my illnesses because my mom didn't believe anything was wrong with me & ended up moving us across the country less than a year after my diagnoses and never pursued further help. Last year, during a delusional episode in which I was not in control of my bodily actions or verbal output, I called an ambulance because I had a lucid moment. My mother & her husband were there and I don't remember what exactly I said and did, but whatever it was made them so angry that they didn't follow the ambulance to the hospital & instead went home. They lost me for a full 24-hours when I was transferred from the ER Detainment Unit to my psychiatrist's Emergency Hold Unit for Assessment & admittance to a mental hospital.

They still didn't understand or try to help me even after that episode.

This past August I was admitted to the ER in the town I had moved to in May (5 hours away from Mom & her hubby) for having blackouts again. I was diagnosed with Syncope (loss of consciousness due to low blood pressure) and hypokalemia (low potassium which can cause delusions, hallucinations and blackouts). The next day, after I was released, I called to let them know I was back out of the hospital (I had informed them and my two sisters who lived in the same town as me when I was leaving for the ER & kept them updated with the testing and results and trwatment). When I talked to them after I got out, they offered for me to move into their RV while I got my feet under me and continued receiving treatment. They said that in exchange for a place to live (including utilities), I could help them care for my elderly grandparents. They told me they needed my help and asked me if I would be willing to be a part of their TEAM.

Since then, they still claim to be supportive and understanding about my mental health issues; however, as time passes and I continue to do better for longer periods of time and I have fewer and fewer relapses (that they see), they are becoming less and less understanding about any relapses I DO have & the things I DO still struggle with. Its like they expect me to be perfect (emotionally, psychologically, behaviorially, and symptomatically) all the time.

I had an Anxiety Attack which preceded a Manic Episode last weekend (and the Mania is still going on even now), and both of them (as well as my sister who visited this past week) accused me of being on Meth (all of them accused me at separate times and in private, but all of them eventually asked me straight out if I was on Meth). I have a history of USE, even of ABUSE of Meth, but I never allowed myself to get addicted to it AND I hadn't done it since BEFORE my move across the state in May (when I moved away from home). I truthfully denied using, and offered to have them accompany me to my doctor's office for me to do a UA to prove I wasn't on drugs, but they turned me down AND STILL DON'T BELIEVE ME.

I tried explaining to them the effect my mental illnesses have on my behavior and why I am good sometimes and stuggle at other times, but they either didn't care or didn't believe me. My sister straight out told me she didn't believe me and my parents just gave me a look that said they didn't.

I don't want to go home (to the RV in their driveway) because I hate the way they look at me and how it makes me feel, but I can't avoid and ignore them and their accuisational judgment forever. So, as I said above:

*WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY FAMILY UNDERSTAND WHAT MY MENTAL ILLNESS DIAGNOSES ARE AND WHAT THEY MEAN?
*HOW DO I EXPLAIN HOW THE ILLNESSES EILLNESSES?

I love them, and I don't want them to feel bad, but I also don't know how to explain to them how much their accusations & unwillingness to do their own research to understand better hurats me. I have already done the research and offered to share it with them, but was rebuffed every time. It is almost to the point that I want them to come to one of my counseling appointments so I can have my counselor help me to communicate with them and get them to understand.

Any advice?


(Sorry its so long & thank you in advance for any help!!!)

~Misty
2 Responses
1551327 tn?1514045867
COMMUNITY LEADER
Hello and welcome to the forum,
I am sorry that it took so long to get a response.  I am not sure if you will get a chance to come back and see this but I wanted to share a few things with you.  I did read and re-read your post thoroughly to make sure I could understand where you were coming from.
I am not too sure about the diagnoses' that were given to you but that has little to do with your question anyway so I will not focus on it too much.
I have been studying bipolar, the brain, and parts of psychology and sociology for many years now.  I find it interesting and what I learn I try to come on here and give back when I can.
I can understand them thinking you may be high on meth and I am sure that you understand that as well.  Mania presents certain symptoms that of course mimic behaviors of a person on meth.  You did not give a lot of detail as to how much they knew about your past use and if your use caused problems with you and your family.  I keep getting hung up on the details, I know, and I find myself wanting to know more about the story because approaching families that we have wronged or hurt with drug use (whether you consider yourself to have been addicted or not) is different in some ways than approaching families or family members that have not labeled us a certain way.
If they already see you as an addict and you are going through a manic phase right now I would recommend that you not attempt to teach them much right now.  If you are manic and no one wants your company do what we do best and find something to create, fix, or play.  I know that when you are manic you may talk fast and think fast but we must remember that most people cannot keep up with us during this time.  The average attention span, from what I have heard, is about 8 or so seconds.  If you are manic and lucky enough to get someone's undivided attention-taking into account that I trust you have read up quite a bit on your mental issues-it would be very difficult to explain what it is like to be this way.  This is because there is so much to it.  There is the illness itself and the scientific definition.  There is explaining the way you feel when you are manic or deeply depressed.  There is understanding that must happen for the needs that a person has when they spin up or spin down.  Things that the family should watch out for as signs that an episode of mania or depression is starting, or if it is too late... an episode is occurring and after2-3 days of mania (if you can make it that long without checking into a hospital) a person starts to see things and hear things that may not be there.  We become impulsive, quick tempered (aggressive), sometimes promiscuous, over-talkative, and I am sure you already know most of these and the rest.  Sorry to waste your time with some details that you likely already know but I am manic as well and keep getting on rants on here and Facebook.
Anyway, sitting down with the counselor is a good idea to try first when they are ready for it.  Some of it also depends on their faith or religious preference which you may have already said but I overlooked.  There is value in it and I so not want to say anything negative about people's belief or lack there of..... however (and this is just my experience and opinion) a strong Christian is a difficult person to try to communicate the scientific parts of mental illness to.  If you are dealing with agnostics or people who have no religious preference or concept of faith you run into a different set of problems because a lot of times (not always) these people cannot understand or believe what they cannot see.  This is unfortunate but can still be worked with.  Those people of the agnostic persuasion may not be able to understand what you see in mania or what it feels like to be so full of energy that you believe you are able to fly or cure disease and depression in others... which is another discussion.
1551327 tn?1514045867
COMMUNITY LEADER
See if they are willing to talk to the counselor.  If you come back I would like to know what your actual diagnosis is when you find out.  It seems like they are throwing darts at a dartboard of mental illness.  I am not trying to discredit their abilities because it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what is going on from a clinical standpoint without having the patient admitted to inpatient care where behavior can be monitored 24/7 That is how I was able to be diagnosed and is technically the most reliable way to find a diagnosis.  Other than inpatient care it is up to you to journal either evening or morning depending on which you prefer cataloging your behavior, mood, energy, and whatever else you want to add on.  All of it helps to add pieces to eh puzzle and we have to work just as hard or harder than the therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or whoever is diagnosing you does.  Having the proper diagnosis is soooooo important.  If you are not getting your diagnosis from a credible PSYCHIATRIST, PSYCHOLOGIST, or THERAPIST/SOCIAL worker than you may also check into getting a second opinion.  MDs (medical doctors) these days are throwing out some pretty severe and often incorrect diagnosis'.   I have seen it, it makes me sad and upset, and once it is diagnosed there is often no changing  the mind of the person diagnosed.  I am not saying they are always wrong and sometimes the patient doesn't have a choice but to see an MD.  These things are ok but in my humble, yet experienced opinion a medical dr has no business diagnosing mental illnesses other than what they can prove through physical tests.  Anxiety has physical symptoms... ok, that's fine.  I am ok with a medical doctor diagnosing minor anxiety problems.  To the best of my knowledge depression does not have physical symptoms and in untrained eyes depression can mimic other things like the natural process of grief, that is as I said natural.  The way the system is set up today it is very difficult for a dr to get the history and information that is necessary not only to know but to understand in order to diagnose a patient correctly with mental illness.
Sorry, I went on a rant there.  I wasn't really finsihed but that was mostly addressed to a medical dr who is guilty of falling for the idea that there is a certain amount/ type of questions that can be asked over the course of a couple of visits that will tell whether a person has a serious mental illness or not.  Like I said...if they diagnose either anxiety or minor depression.... that's ok as long as a person doesn't get over-medicated and the course of treatment is fully understood by the patient and where the patient and the dr decide the course of treatment together.  When someone takes and online quiz and self diagnosis or sees and md and is diagnosed by them with a major mood disorder, personality disorder, or other MAJOR mental illnesses.... I get a little disappointed and upset.  I always recommend being treated medically by a psychiatrist.  They know the medicines and give the proper diagnosis most of the time if they have the information they need.  I would go on a little further but I am not sure how much you know about mental illness and what you (yourself) believe you have.  That is important for me to know because even if you don't have one but are showing some symptoms of it (like being manic and seeing/ hearing things during an episode of psychosis) I would base a lot of my response on what YOU believe you are struggling with.  You mentioned mania and bipolar so I am pretty sure you believe you suffer from bipolar 1 disorder.  I believe that as well.  As far as the schizophrenia goes..... until the mania is back down and you re-stabliize/ balance out, I am not sure that it is going to be what you are struggling with.  I don't and can't know that for certain and cannot even make an educated guess unless you and I have a little more back and forth on here but based on how I feel right now after reading what you wrote and based on my knowledge and understanding I am leaning more towards bipolar 1 disorder although some drs may see signs of psychosis and attribute it to somethign like schizoaffective disorder.
It would also be helpful if I knew what belief system, if any, those family members you listed follow.
I know I didn't help much with your original question although I will do my best if you write me back a little so I can get a more clear picture.  Either way explaining the disorder that you have and the clinical; statistical  symptoms of it to your family either from your mouth or the therapists would likely help-especially if they are of the scientific persuasion.  However, the main points you want to get across are
What makes you more comfortable when you are feeling imbalanced or unstable either towards the high energy side or the low.
Warning signs (that you are aware of at this time) of an impending mood change or major disruption in circadian rhythm.  
Having emergency numbers available and making sure family members know where they are and what to do.  Numbers like your counselor's, dr's, or whoever.
Since you apologized for the lengthy post you submitted I will in turn apologize for the lengthy answer.  You can do this and you must believe that.  Although it is important to have your family involved in your treatment, if they are not willing to play along and open their minds to some new knowledge that would not only help them understand some of what you go through but also your triggers and the purpose/ reason for some of your actions then you are going to have to find support elsewhere but I promise you there is support like the DBSA, therapists, CBT, DBT, and group therapies that help a lot.  I would also recommend coming on here and asking questions as well as letting us know of progress you make because most of the people who frequent this site have your struggles as well.  I am usually on here about everyday... nearly but I struggle with some days.  I also have a few friends that come on here that I have a lot of faith in so come back anytime.
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