I have been dating my girlfriend for almost 3 years now. We have been through hell and back and back again. I am 22 she is 28. She has been bipolar for about 10 years. She has been in therapy and on meds but she has never stayed on meds or in therapy. Her way of coping with her illness is smoking weed. Which is ok once in awhile but its not a longterm "medicine". Its very sad and almost pathetic but I deal with it. I can tell when shes starting to cycle because she wants to sleep ALL the time, not shower, has no motivation, no hope, no faith, nothing...shes just a shell of who she used to be. She turns off her humanity switch and doesn't care who or how she hurts in the process. I am scared to talk to her because I know how angry she gets..she will break up with me for NO reason..so i keep quiet fearing all these things. She will apologize for her freak outs on me but in a week she does it again! It's really making me not want to be around her at all and I feel like it's destroying our relationship.In the last month she has cycled and I don't know how much longer I can deal with her angry, hopeless, bitter, hateful, selfish, mood swings. I am a very supportive girlfriend but this time it's out of control (or maybe I'm just over feeling as if I'm being mistreated). I love her with all my heart and when it's good it's good, when it's bad it's really bad. I feel like I'm starting to hate the person I want to spend the rest of my life with! This is extremely unhealthy and I want to learn how we can communicate without fighting or her literally freaking the f*** out. Please help!!!!!
What you describe is typical of people with psychotic disorders, such as bipolar disease. What she has to do, and no one can do this for her, is to accept she has a disease and it will more than likely need life time medication just as she would if she was diabetic or hypertensive. Many people with these disease start to feel better and stop taking their medication. Your girlfriend needs to accept and come to terms with the fact that she will need medication in her life. I cannot begin to imagine how painful this is for you and that it is probably slowly consuming you too. Probably the best insight you can get about what the prospects are for a stable future for you and her would be to talk with her psychiatrist if she will give permission. Your girlfriend is struggling with mental demons she cannot control without medication.
All my best wishes... take care
While I'm not neccesarily disputing your advice, KristaDe, I really wish people wouldn't refer to mental health disorders as 'diseases'. It's not contagious and us with mental health issues are not going to contaminate anyone with our craziness.
And it's not like diabetes or hypertension; with the proper help, hard work and determination, someone with a mental health illness can live a stable life without medication.
Unfortunately, when most people get diagnosed with a mental health disorder, medication is the first treatment a doctor will try, but medication is not the be all and end all of treatment.
Now on to you, iamdazedandconfused......
"She has been bipolar for about 10 years. She has been in therapy and on meds but she has never stayed on meds or in therapy. Her way of coping with her illness is smoking weed."
Firstly, what meds has she been and how long was she on them for? Meds are tricky little things; they can take years to get the right dose and type right, and sometimes it's not meds that someone needs. Did she try meds at the same time as therapy? That's usually the better combination. Meds on their own are useless- they're like a mask for the true problem (which in the case of bi-polar is emotional & thought recognition and management). However, meds on a short term can help with the physical symptoms of bi-polar (i.e; excessive energy in manic times alongside the manic's impulsiveness & mood related to heart-rate, insomnia, lack of appertite), but it's the therapy that gives the long-term strategies for recognition and managemnet of bi-polar symptoms and behaviour.
Which brings me on to my next question- what kind of therapy did she have? There's lots of different kinds of therapy. For bi-polar and mood disorders, a combination of a psycho-dynamic and a cognitive-behavioural therapy, with some gestalt techniques, would be fitting. The psycho-dynamic approach would facilitate an understanding of the origin of your girlfriends behaviour. Often bi-polar disorder is a result of abuse and/or neglect as a child. The cognitive-behavioural therapy would put in place goals and behaviours strategies and help your girlfriend monitor her own feelings and behaviour. And the gestalt techniques would facilitate a sense of personal power.
The relationship between a client and therapist takes time and it's not always easy to get a therapist that you 'click' with. If your girlfriend is not giving them much of a chance, then she won't find the 'right one'. Encourage her to keep trying- it could be that the next one is the right one, but she has to give them a try.
I've found that weed is a common choice of drug for people with mood disorders. The reason for this is that it is a great mood stabilizer and doesn't create the same dead feeling that medication does. However- as you already know- the longer she smokes weed, the more damage she is doing. Eventually, the green will bite her on the a*se and no longer give her the required feeling of stability. She will also find her bi-polar symptoms exaggerated, when she tries to stop smoking cannabis. However, right now- don't make her give it up. If nothing else has worked so far, she is probably better off smoking that until she can get the right therapy.
I wouldn't normally advise someone to smoke dope, but with mental health illnesses, sometimes it's the better devil. If you do some research on the side effects of medication and the side effects of weed, the legal one will have the most health dangers, longer & harder withdrawal symptoms and not be as effective. She is probably better off self-medicating, until she is actively taking part in therapy and achieving something from that.
I'm not spouting without knowledge here; I have a mental health illness, was a pot-addict for over half my life and have withdrawn from both meds and weed. Furthermore, I'm a psychologist and when I've asked for help for weed withdrawal, had four doctors tell me that weed was better than going back on meds! I wouldn't want to anyway, tbh.
"I can tell when shes starting to cycle because she wants to sleep ALL the time, not shower, has no motivation, no hope, no faith, nothing...shes just a shell of who she used to be. She turns off her humanity switch and doesn't care who or how she hurts in the process."
What you have described here is a typical low of a bi-polar sufferer. And you are very much mistaken- she doesn't switch her humanity off and she does care. You have no idea what is going on in her head! At these times, she is feeling an intelligable guilt; sorrow, a hopeless feeling that she is useless, unloved and unwanted. When she goes in to these states, she is not thinking about who she's hurting because she is in so much pain herself. If you sliced your hand on a knife, would you care is someone had a headache?
A bi-polar low is not about hating the world and wanting to hurt people- it's like having a cloud wrapped around your head and it's surrounding you with visions of how everyone would be better off with you. It's a feeling that everything you get close to is wrong and is going to hurt you- it's almost physical, so it's hard to hug, kiss, speak. Sometimes, those lows are so deep, that it feels impossible to climb out and the longer it goes on, the more you think you will die from it. A bi-polar low is almost suffocating. The highs can be very welcome after this period of time.
"I am scared to talk to her because I know how angry she gets..she will break up with me for NO reason."
She's pushing you away. As hard as it sounds, don't take it personally- it's not you, it's her! She doesn't feel good enough to be loved. I really suspect she's been abused- unstable childhood & sexual abuse, by any chance?
There is a reason for why she breaks up with you- she fears you'll leave her, so she jumps in first. She's trying to protect herself. It's like ripping off a plaster- it doesn't hurt when you're in control of it. But someone else does it and the pain always seems ten times worse.
"She will apologize for her freak outs on me but in a week she does it again!"
If you want to stay in a relationship with a bi-polar sufferer, this will be a common factor of it. And this is where you have to make a decission.....which brings me on to....
"Its very sad and almost pathetic but I deal with it." " It's really making me not want to be around her at all and I feel like it's destroying our relationship." "I don't know how much longer I can deal with her angry, hopeless, bitter, hateful, selfish, mood swings. I am a very supportive girlfriend but this time it's out of control (or maybe I'm just over feeling as if I'm being mistreated)" " I feel like I'm starting to hate the person I want to spend the rest of my life with!"
Well, for a start- are you sure this is the person you want to spend your life with? It doesn't sound as if you like her very much, never mind love. I know mental health illness is b*tch- especially for our loved ones- but what struck me about your post is that you haven't elaborated on anything nice about your girlfriend. While you have plenty to say about how you feel, you have displayed quite a lack of empathy towards her. I get that you're frustrated, but you have a choice- you don't have to live with her mental illness; you can walk away. She can't.
It's not pretty- a relationship with someone with bi-polar is always going to be difficult, but as you said "I love her with all my heart and when it's good it's good, when it's bad it's really bad.", so is that love enough to keep getting you through the bad times? It will have to be. That's something you should decide or else you will be going around in circles for many years to come.
I wish you lots of luck and best wishes, but if you don't want to continue as you are, you will have decide a path. If you stay with your girlfriend, understand that you can't make her better and you will not save her. That's up to her and a good therapist. If you leave, but still want to support her- remain friends without a sexual attachment and don't keep going back. Set clear boundries and stick to them. If you choose to leave and not be a support to her- make it final and make it clear. Even go to the extent of changing numbers, etc- more so, so that she doesn't have hope in her high moments and contact you.
With all due respect, BPD is not a cognitive disorder. Certainly "talk therapy" plays a part. However, medication is necessary just as it is in diabetes. BPD is a genetically linked. I am a firm believer in a holistic approach, but to bury ones head in the sand when there is a preponderance of object to this fact, benefits no one. In regards to using the term disease... "A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism." Contagion or lack of same, has nothing to do with what defines a disease. The bottom line is helping the patient and political correctness serves to obfuscate. This is not meant to be rude. It is meant as a statement of fact. It is defined as a disease because that is what it is. To say a person has a disease is not demeaning nor insensitive. What about the cancer patient? The human mind and has great power. Still, to say heal yourself there is no need for medication is not helpful to the person who is suffering and only serve to make then feel they are failure when that can not take up their sick bed and be healed.
Certainly you were disputing my advice and that is fine. But when that is done in a public forum a rebuttal can be expected. Thius is not about ego, it is about iamdazedandconfused question regarding her partner who is suffering because she is off her medication and she needs to be stabilized with medication so she can have some control over her thoughts and actions that are hurting her and her loved one.
Best regards, Krista
Not sure if Krista was correct about you being female or if it was just a typo. Either way, a person with mental defects that are not under control are clearly not ready for relationships, that is simply a prescription for mysery and disaster. Anyone who tells you that a person with these defects doesn't NEED to be on monitored medication is just wrong, i don't care what kind of paper they wave in your face. With all due respect to Violet_Ivy, one who is troubled with BPD, that is not on monitored medication, no matter how educated is not qualified to treat or advise. In such case, they would be as biased as most others with BPD who think they are okay and can handle the disorder without meds, it can't be done and no one educated in the field would tell you that unless they were afflicted as well. No one who is intimately familiar with BPD believes it doesn't require meds except one who has it. BTW, Krista's posts were pretty accurate in my opinion.
Ok, so now, let's get to your problem...BPD is not your problem, nor should you make it your problem. Run, don't walk. No one deserves to be abused. I'd stake dollars to donuts you never bargained for the heartache BPD has brought to your relationship, at best you probably figured it's treatable, so it won't be a problem. But it is. Many people with BPD don't take their meds, the chaos that one unmedicated with BPD brings to the lives of others is unbearable and definitely a deal breaker. Often, just the security of a relationship will make them irresponsible about taking their meds. Your life is worth more than that. You deserve peace and happiness. It isn't your job to babysit this woman. You have a life to live. Happiness is avaliable to everyone, but she will prevent you from getting yours. You can separate on a temporary basis to give her a chance to straighten up, but if she doesn't, hopefully you will see how much easier it is to live without taking on this problem. JMHO. Good luck.