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My dad is bipolar. I at 41 years old now and my relationship with him has been sporadic since I left home at 23 (stayed home during college), mainly because of the way he behaved during large parts of my childhood, which without going into details was traumatic for me. 

I have recently been talking with him more. I have been in therapy for other reasons myself and have also discussed some of my memories of my dad with my therapist. This actually led me to think I could try to mend my relationship with my dad, and it has been just small talk so far but I am thinking of talking things out with him. 

I wonder if he has memories of the things he did during his manic psychotic episodes, or if there is no point?

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That's an interesting question. 

I have definitely read about people with Bipolar Disorder who do not remember their manic episodes well, and who, when they are told what they did while manic, genuinely have no recollection of it. There are also those who do remember, at least some parts, and who think of this time as something "alien", some kind of out of body experience, if you like. 

Even if your father does not remember his manic episodes, I don't see why, if your relationship is good now, you should not discuss them. It might help you get closure and help him understand why you pulled away from him. 

Best of luck with this. 

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The same neurotransmitters that cause mood swings in people with bipolar disorders can also affect memory, I do know that much. I don't know if this specifically applies to manic episodes, or whether this is a more general phenomenon. It's interesting, how this all works.

Why don't you start off by asking your dad this question, so that you will get an answer tailored to him specifically as opposed to a general speculation?
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Apparently memory loss is a real problem in people afflicted by bipolar disorder, no whether their age. It happens. Short term is the biggest problem for people who are bipolar, and there is not so much evidence whether this applies to long term memory as well, but it is possible. People might sometimes think that the bipolar person is simply pretending to have memory loss because that is more convenient and they would rather forget about an episode or don't want to be confronted with it, but it is more complicated than that.
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I agree with this. I also agree with asking your dad whether he has any recollection of these events outright. If he has experienced memory loss related to his Bipolar Disorder, he will already be aware that there are things he has done that he cannot remember, some of which are likely to have caused other people a lot of grief.

Depending on how well you are communicating with your dad, I would also work towards discussing this. It could mean a lot in terms of mending your relationship and overcoming the damage that was done.

In the meantime, I'm here to listen if you want to talk more and so are other people.

Rosie
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Bipolar depression does affect memory. It's more, if I understand this right, that they do remember manic episodes and some of the stuff they did during these manic episodes, but the "thing" that made the actions they took during a manic episode make sense at the time doesn't exist anymore, so they can't remember the why behind what they did. They are no longer in the same mental state, so that makes sense when you think about it. 

Therapy can help people understand their manic episodes better. 

I see no reason not to discuss manic episodes of a relative with them after regardless of their memory lapses. 

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Things got bad. My dad did some really weird things that I have no doubt he would be ashamed of when not manic. I do worry that talking about it now will harm the relationship we've recently built up. My dad has been round to my house, played soccer with my sons, and though there is so much left unsaid, I won't lie, it has been pretty good.

What if talking about it will cause my dad to totally shut down and withdraw? It is a heavy topic. At the same time I feel like an "I didn't mean to do that" or sorry would really help me process this, knowing that it was his bipolar and not him, if that makes sense.
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That is tough. Since you mentioned you are attending therapy yourself though, have you thought about asking your dad to come with you to a group therapy session so you can talk through your feelings while being mediated by a neutral third party who knows how to handle that tough stuff?

I'm assuming he already has experience with therapists as a bipolar person and that he also understands his symptoms might have caused stress to his family including you. If your relationship is improving, he may well be open to this idea.

Rosie
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I don't know. This is all new territory to me and to my dad as well actually. I have written him an email about what happened and how I feel about it. I have showed it to my therapist who is neither encouraging me to send it nor saying I should not send it, leaving the ball in my court. I've written and rewritten that email and right now it sounds almost silly.

I do think I will be sending him a version of it though.

On another note I did send my sister an email. I did not mention that both my parents suffered from mental health issues and my sister is depressed as well. It is hard feeling like the "sane" (not diagnosed with anything) person in the family when I barely feel sane myself.

I've never experienced this degree of indecisiveness.
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I think it's perfectly natural to feel that way!

You get to decide when and whether and how you talk to your dad about this. If you feel it would help you, that's a good step to take. But if you think it over and decide not to touch this with him and just process whatever happened in a different way, and enjoy your new relationship with him, don't forget that is a perfectly valid choice as well!

I think as long as you're uncertain about your course of action, you should probably wait.
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