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Do any of you have a bi-polar family member? How do you cope? When did you first notice the signs? How did you get a diagnosis? Does the family member have trouble with jobs, relationships, money.........

A person in our family is bi-polar. And while that person's life is falling apart in so many ways, everyone else in the extended family is affected, also. He will not take meds, and even denies the need for meds. But he drinks heavily, which seems to be a way of self-medicating. His family is really suffering, not knowing what mood swings will be exhibited. He has been able to keep a good job, but has nothing. He can't even tell you where the money has gone. He gets grand ideas, but of course, nothing ever comes of them. Then the next minute he talks of suicide and how no one likes him.

It's been very difficult for us. We never know what to expect. We love him and he will always be a part of the family, but in a way it's as if the person we used to know is no longer there. Have any of you coped with this?
 

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It's going to be a little different for me when I answer this. I'm bipolar and also have borderline personality disorder (not to mention a few other things and likelihood to develop even more things because of heredity). But here are my two cents.

First, it's ridiculous that he refuses to take medication. I've went through the drinking/drug use "self medicating" thing myself, and I look back and regret it. I was diagnosed with bipolar at 15 and BPD at 18. At 15 I refused to take medication. It spun into me hanging out with the wrong people (who I thought seemed as "screwed up" as I was) and into a downward spiral of illegal drinking and lots of smoking marijuana. It took me nearly two years to finally take any meds. They helped so much. At this point I have thankfully been able to come off my medication (for nearly three years now) because I've learned to be able to control things when it comes to bipolar, though not BPD.

Has he been talking to his counselor about taking medication? Does he actually realize how much he's hurting himself, his family, and others? When I was self medicating I never actually had it hit me that I was hurting other people. It took a lot of people shoving it down my throat and basically disowning me to realize what I was doing and to want to change.

Not the answer you were looking for probably, but I saw this and at least wanted to say SOMETHING.
 

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My dad was bipolar (manic depressive) and I think more people are this than they realize. He also self medicated by drinking, finally got on lithium. He said he felt so much better, his mind was not racing. There are varying forms. My dad was more manic and we did not even realized he would get depressed. Unfortunately he was unable to drink and hold a job. My childhood would not have been so bad if he was just a drunk but and angry unemployed drunk is another story. Nicest guy you ever met if he didn't drink. I have had patients go into a manic fit where they were totally delirious and probably didn't even know half of what they were doing. Some people have mild cases and you probably would not know they even had it.
 

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No, but my mother has borderline personality disorder and life is up and down. She craves tons of attention but pushes people away at the same time. She also goes into rages. I've had to distance myself from her in the past. I've recently moved out of state (not because of her) and this has helped my emotions immensely. I will always feel a certain amount of guilt for not being the daughter she always wanted, but I know there is no way that she'd every be happy with me.

My mom was diagnosed about 10 years ago or so and she told us of her diagnosis. When I looked up the symptoms I cried. She really had them all. I then knew that our problems weren't "me". Family functions are tricky....fighting goes on, verbally.

She has trouble with all relationships and has not had a job since before I was born - over 47 years ago.

My mom is on meds....thankfully and she has tried to kill herself. She is also a cutter, evidentally. That's something new I recently learned.

Hugs to you.....it is difficult. You have so many mixed feelings, I'm sure. I hope that your family member finally understands that he needs him meds. The drinking is another whole issue that just complicates things.... :(
 

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A while ago I posted about being upset with my father. Some of you may remember. He is bipolar and I've had to cut him out of my life. He doesn't take his meds and drinks. He really should be admitted right now because he's going through a breakdown but won't stay in the hospital. My grandfather talked him into admitting himself but he checked out like 2 days later. He's had breakdowns before and usually has stayed at least 2 weeks in the hospital. He's been extremely cruel, abusive and violent during this breakdown. I know it's because of his condition but I just can't handle it. I can't take my children around him and quite honestly I don't want to be around it. I feel since he's not getting the help he needs he's not going to bounce back from this one like he has the others. He's been a mess since October and he's not getting better. I will love him and miss him and forgive him for the horrible things he's done and said but I won't be around him. It just doesn't feel safe. He won't take any advice or help me or my siblings want to give him because in his mind right now we are the enemy and he has said we are all dead to him.
 

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My youngest girl is bpd....... I've raised her since she was 3(sisters kid) She is a cutter. Shes beed on meds took herself off cause she was feeling better.(thats normal for people with mental illnesses) She wants to be back on the meds but can't shes nursing her baby. So they won't give her any. Her 5 yo shows signs of BP and ADDHD. My sister is like that. No one in the fsamily will have anything to do with her. She stabed our older sister went to jail. I put her in jail on our grandmothers 92 bday. Of course its everybody elses fault. I love my sister but I don't like her. You know she's 50 yo and still put the girls through hell so they won't even talk to her anymore.
Fern
 

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My mother has been diagnosed as bipolar, and also schizo-effective disorder. It's very irresponsible and hurtful to the people who care for you to not take medication if you need it. My mom played this game - she ended up drinking a LOT. She spent mad money in manic fits and at her worst had psychotic episodes. She ended up having ECT and the subsequent memory loss, and she now has her own apartment but is a ward of the state so she is monitored and can't really go over the deep end without them knowing. Having a physical relationship with her is impossible, but we stay in touch (barely) via postal mail. I wouldn't feel guilty if you find you can't have a relationship with the person in question any longer - if they're not willing to take medication or work with their doctors than you can't do much else without getting sucked in to the illness. Good luck and PM me if you wish.
 
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I had a big long post to you just now but I deleted it.

I just want to say Im sorry your dealing with this.
You may be able to stick around and support him, you may need to walk away.

My mother is BP and Borderline.
Its been a rough life for me.... to say the least.

Sadly I now have a bp neighbor teen whos doesn't respond to this meds.
The things he's done have caused our dream home to now be our hideout. We cant even go outside, not even to the mail box. Cant use our pool...
You wont believe what he did the day he moved in :O
And the days after....They moved here to get a fresh start they say. I pray every night they move.

If we can send a man to the moon.....
why cant we help these folks better?
 

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One of my older sisters is bipolar- the bad kind. She went off the deep end after heading to college. Such a shame because she is brilliant. She has most of it under control, but I can never bring myself to trust her now. My parents left me with her for several weekends when I was little and some pretty awful things happened. Now she's clinging to born-again christianity and health foods. Every once in a while she does something really weird, but it's been a long time since she's tried to injure herself or done something completely off the wall requiring the authorities to notify us.

I know she's my sister, but I'd rather not have anything to do with her.
 

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A big part of the problem is that people with mental illness do not recognise that they are ill so why should thay take the medication, sometimes it is possible for them to have long acting injections. but I do not know if the authorites in your country have the power to compel complience with medication. Is it not possible to have someone detained in hospital to enable them to recieve the help they need .
 

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I agree with Frugal Kugel as it being the persons responsibility to take medication and get the proper counseling.

On the other hand I have seen to many people misdiagnosed and over medicated to the point of basically being walking vombies.

Unfortunately, I think you will need to consider what is best for you. If that means having little or no contact than maybe that is what you need to do.

Also, until the person realizes that they need help there is little anyone can do. It truly can be a very difficult situation for everyone involved.
 

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A big part of the problem is that people with mental illness do not recognise that they are ill so why should they take the medication...
I sadly have to quote this for truth. Let's take my father into example. He has severe bipolar and on top of that he is a paranoid schizophrenic (the thing I meant when I said "and likelihood to develop even more things because of heredity" in my post). He is nearly fifty years old, and it has self medicated himself to the point of severe alcoholism and drug use. FINALLY this past year he realized he needed to change after he went 'crazy' and threatened to shoot a police officer. He knew he had illness, and was even prescribed meds, but it wasn't until recently that he started taking them.

And because of waiting so long he lost:
-His first wife. My mom, he tried to run her over with a car while she was pregnant with me.
-Me. I still talk to him occasionally, but at this point he has missed out on most of my life and doesn't seem like he's that upset about it.
-His second wife. She left him as soon as he got back from this last time in rehab. I knew she planned on leaving and I told her that I didn't look down on her for the decision...she just couldn't take it anymore.
-His only other child, my half brother. Who left with his second wife.

...sadly too many people don't get help until it's too late.
 

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I suspect my soon to be ex is bipolar. He is also self medicating with alcohol. He is a mean drunk. His drinking cost him job. I would come home from work and he would be passed out. Then when I would go to sleep of course he was up and making a lot of racket. He would wake me up and start fights. He would be so cruel to the boys and I. It was horrible. I begged him to take medications but he said that they made him feel like a zombie. Ah isn't that the same as being passed out drunk? He is so selfish, it's incredible. He of course has his good days but in the last days we where together is was horrible. My kids are so happy.
 

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Hi there and I am sorry that you and your family are dealing with this. I too, am Borderline with a little bi-polar thrown in for good measure. I am in therapy and until I found out I was pregnant, medicated. But, if it were not for my husband there were many times I would have gone off the meds. First off, many people love their highs and hate their lows so much that they do not want to "get down" from the highs. It is sad but very true. Next, you cannot help someone who doesn't want it. I am sorry but again it is the truth, they have to face their demons and what is causing them and realize that there is indeed a problem. I was diagnosed at 33 and it was an eye-opening experience for me. I did not think there was anything wrong with me, after staring therapy and being medicated I realized what I was doing to my family (husband and children, no extended family that I speak with). Now, I know I said they have to help themselves but, you can keep offering the help and if it is possible get someone not in the family (a therapist or psychaiatrist) to speak with him about what is going on. It was easier for me to understand my illness when it was presented by someone that I had no vested interest in. I know a lot of us have shared our stories here and this may not be exactly what you were looking for in terms of advice, but, just realize that we are trying to help and the one thing that you should know is there is no one thing you should be doing. My suggestion is to be available when is ready to deal with this situation because he will be alienating a lot of people and if you are informed you can realize that this is not a personal attack, he is just ill. Sorry for the long-windedness, I hope I was able to help a little.
 

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Oh, as a side note I have a group on Cafe Mom for Moms with Borderline, but all are welcome. I also belong to a group that is for Bi-polar/Borderline Moms. Please feel free to check it out and PM me if you have any questions.
 

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I am so sorry that you all are dealing with this issue! It is such a difficult road for the affected and those around them. My first husband was a severe Bi Polar. He also, self medicated with alcohol and drugs most of his life (see a theme here). It is so common for them to swing this way. For all of you that didn;t, I give you credit.

I started dating him when I was 14 and stayed with him until I was 27. I kept seeing the other side and stuck it out hoping. But in the end, he chose to deny the benefit of his meds (and they DID work!) because they didn't make him feel like himself (as if that was a great thing???), drank, turned to hardcore drugs like cocaine and heroine, cheated, and became violent.

Obviously I had to leave the situation. I had a child and myself to consider. But during the last couple of years, fear kept me with him. Fear of deserting him, fear of his suicide, etc.

I know I made the absolute right choice to leave and he still hasn't changed! But it was such a hard road getting there.

So, I do understand the push and pull a Bi Polar loved one can cause.

Those of you with Bi Polar and maintain have my utmost respect! It isn't an easy thing.
 

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I am so sorry. I know the confusion and uncertainty that comes with this kind of mental illness. I have not had an immediate family member who was bipolar, but have had one with multiple personalities and another who was schizophenic. In both cases, it helped with hurt feelings once they were diagnosed, but it made it no less unpre-dictable. Meds can help a lot with bipolar disorde, but I have also run into the situation where one doesn't want to give up the "highs" and so is unwilling to take the medication. My niece is married to a man with that problem. Quite honestly, I'd have as much trouble living with the behavior exhibited during the high times as that during the low times - overcommitting financially, a sort of lack of recognition of responsibility, etc. I think another aspect that makes it difficult to deal with mental illness is that, to the person with the illness - that IS normal, or at least their idea of normal, so they don't realize that it is NOT normal for everybody else and don't realize that there is something wrong. Both schizophrenics and multiple personalities can turn violently angry if you try to deny their "reality" and you pretty much cannot logically argue them into seeing that it is delusional. It can feel hopeless, and can be frightening and painful, and even dangerous at times. I hope that your family member becomes aware of the need to control this imbalance, and that the rest of your family can regain a sense of comfort with them again soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Friends, you have helped me immensely. Just knowing that what we are seeing and dealing with is part of a pattern helps. Sometimes it is easy to think that I am the only one, or that we are the only family dealing with this. Your willingness to share web sites, personal stories, and encouragement, etc. is greatly appreciated. This seems to be a problem that affects more people than I thought.

If you have any other thoughts on this subject, I would like to hear from you.
 

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I've coped with it in that I've been in his position myself (bpd with potential bipolar).

It's part of the reason why I have spent so much of my life in debt and part of the reason that I found myself here (my highs included times of manic spending which of course I couldn't finance).

I was diagnosed in 2006 and whilst I'm now off medication (I'm one of those who took herself off them because I didn't like the cloudy feeling I got), I have a very strong relationship with my family and if it needs be, I trust them to tell me that I need to go to the doctors again and hold my hands up that I need help. Up until I was diagnosed, I was no picnic to live with. My mother didn't know what was the matter with me and couldn't deal with my mood swings, but now there's a "reason" she's more able to do so... Since then, I personally feel I've come on in leaps and bounds and I've stopped the drinking habit I was getting into and am learning to deal with the highs and lows that bpd brings.

There are an awful lot of books out there which might help. I can ask Mum for some recommendations if you like?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
New Developments

First, thanks again for taking time to write about your experiences with either being bi polar or having family members who are bi polar. You will never know how much this means to me.

Today a new development: Got a phone call that the wife of the bi polar man was taken to the hospital. She was checked in for probably a couple of days or so to treat stress and depression. From what I have read here, plus what I have seen and heard, this could easily happen. With all the ups and downs in their family, I think she must be a saint! From your experience, does stress often get to other family members? This couple has children, and now I fear for their future. Is the tendency to be bi polar inherited?

All this is so new to us. We had seen the behavior develop, but were unaware of what was really going on. Now we are trying to work our way through what this diagnosis really means for all of us. Thanks again for your help. If you have other thoughts, it would help me even more. Especially, I'm interested in how to best help the spouse and children of the bi polar person.
 
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