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one more chance after a bipolar diagnosis?

Old 07-24-2012, 09:39 PM
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Unhappy one more chance after a bipolar diagnosis?

My abf has been diagnosed as being bipolar. He wants to get help for his illness (medication and therapy) as well as take antibuse while pursuing a sober life. Previously he was sober 3 months. When he relapsed a month ago I told him if it happens again I'm done. Well, it happened again but this was prior to the bipolar diagnosis. Currently our 11 month old and I are living with my mom. My mom wants me to forget about him and move on. My father is an alcoholic and when I was my son's age my grandma told my mom to get away from my dad. She didn't listen and put up with 18 years of hell before divorcing him. I know she deeply regrets not listening to her mom. The difference here is that my bf a) has a mental illness which has gone untreated and possibly affected his alcoholism and b) he's trying to be sober. It's not ALL talk, there is some action...more talk than action but if he's willing to go on antibuse I have to believe he wants to be sober. My dad never has wanted sobriety and is still hitting the bottle. I want to stand by my bf and help him with his sobriety however I am unsure of things. I don't want to continue enabling him. I do want to be a woman of my word and if that's the case, I should move on. I do care about him deeply and want him to get well so he can be there for our little boy. Am I being weak by wanting to help him?
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:48 PM
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Are you qualified to "help" someone with a mental illness? I found that my desire to help was mostly my ego telling me I was more powerful than I really was. It's not a weakness, per se, but more a desire to feel important. Check your motivations. Maybe it would be healthier to watch at wait, see if his "more talk than action" turns into "more action than talk."

L
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:02 AM
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How much do you know about manic depression (bipolarity)? You may find that exploring the Mental Health Issues forum section is helpful.

I can personally recommend the book "When Madness Comes Home: Help and Hope for Families of the Mentally Ill" by Victoria Secunda. It gives a basic overview of the illness but focuses mostly on how the family is affected. Not too technical, with many stories and anecdotes and examples of how others dealt with the situation, including the choice not to deal with it and walk away. Also gives many different points of view from various family member perspectives: parents, spouses, siblings, children etc.

Here is a more comprehensive list of possible further reading.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:16 AM
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You noticed already that his words are not matching his actions. If you fall back on your word (another relapse and I am done), you both are not matching your words with your actions. That doesn't sound like a healthy combination for a relationship.

Since the longest he had in sobriety was 3 months, why not take a break of 6 months while you both work on your recoveries. 6 months of not dating with limited communication will give you both time to focus on becoming better. That will benefit you both and your child.

Later, if recovery is working for both of you ~ you establish healthy boundaries and try spending quality time together.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:09 AM
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Welcome Electric Lights. What a great name for someone in the Arctic Tundra! I am in the sub-Arctic region of Anchorage, Alaska...no need for electric lights right now, except for my bathroom with no window. ; )

I am sorry for your situation that brought you here, but hope you find the experience, hope and strength that I have found in this place.

That said, what kind of help do you have in mind? It is beneficial to clarify how we want to "help" others during difficult times as it helps us set appropriate boundaries.

Having lots of experience with bipolar disorder with my loved ones, I do know there isn't much I can do to help during a manic period. I've actually learned that leaving them alone - detaching from their illness - is the best approach. Like yours, my loved ones are grown ups, they may not be in the right mind to make good judgement calls but they are able to make them, regardless.

Having now had the experience of alcoholism in loved ones, I realize the situations are similar in the sense that I really have no control over another person. The best thing I could do to help is back off and allow the person to make their own decisions, respect them as adults, and allow them to experience their own consequences.

There is nothing wrong with wanting and hoping this relationship will withstand these challenges, that's not weak at all. He is the father of your child, after all. What woman doesn't have the hope the man they chose to be the Father of their child will be a good one?

Just be sure to define for yourself what kind of help you intend to give him right now, and what kind of help you need for yourself as you are affected by this as well. Al-Anon is a great resource; but I don't know if you have that available to you in your community. Books are helpful. One I read and really liked was "No More Letting Go" by Debra Jay. It very much focused on keeping relationships together.

Keep posting, keep reading, and keep coming back!
~T
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:54 AM
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O Boy...

...that's a tough one. My wife is also a bi-polar alcoholic and all I can say is that even when she's sober it's like living with an alcoholic. While I've been dealing with this since 1998, I don't have any specific advice for you but I will share that what I'm forced to accept is that the bi-polar manic incidents she has 3-5 times a year, some severe and life threatening, and all very expensive, are permanent whether she is drinking or not.

My daughter, now 16, is lucky to be alive. I may be lucky too. If I stay with her, I choose to stay with the incidents. That is the dilemma.

I'll share this also-- check with a doctor but it's my understanding that while he's drinking he cannot be effectively treated for bi-polar. They are mutually exclusive. It is WAY too early to tell if he can overcome his b-polar and alcoholism, and way too soon to expose your daughter to that kind of dynamic and life threatening (her life, not his) disease.

Take care and good luck,

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Old 07-25-2012, 01:12 PM
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Personally, I would listen to the wisdom of your mother. She lived this, she walked in your current shoes years ago, she will not steer you wrong.

And IMHO, he is not REALLY trying to stay sober. He is simply pacifying you.

I would keep the focus on myself and beautiful baby.

There is nothing you can say or do to help your BF. This is his disease, he gets to own it, and he gets to choose if he wants embrace recovery.

I certainly would encourage you to educate yourself about addiction. Read the stickies at the top of the forum, alot of great information and support.

We are here for you, you are not alone.
Neither you or your child deserve to live with an addict. You both are worthy of so much more.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:15 PM
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I would be skeptical, I have known people with bipolar disease and they have a tendency to go off their meds when life gets too boring for them. If you want to help him, tell him you will go with him to an AA meeting or something, but it sounds like he has caused you enough trouble already.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:58 PM
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ElectricLights, hon, being bipolar does not cause you to drink. He drinks because he is an alcoholic. If he takes medicine for the bipolar, it is not going to fix him. He will still be the same person, just not as moody and a little more stable. Getting a bipolar diagnosis is not a good thing.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:20 PM
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Sorry to hear you're dealing with this double whammy.

My AH is bipolar, knows it, and won't deal with it, just like he won't with his drinking (or anything else, really). The situation is nightmarishly unbearable, so I can't fathom having a small/developing child involved, but the only option I could see would be to remove us both from his presence ASAP until he can completely address/arrest both problems...and they are each monumental (with emphasis on the "mental").
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post
[B]ElectricLights, hon, being bipolar does not cause you to drink. He drinks because he is an alcoholic. If he takes medicine for the bipolar, it is not going to fix him. He will still be the same person, just not as moody and a little more stable. Getting a bipolar diagnosis is not a good thing.
Learn2Live, there's research showing a comorbidity between the two. In abf's case he developes manic symptoms and self medicates with alcohol. Research has also shown a higher alcoholism recovery rate among bipolar individuals who got treatment for the mood disorder over alcoholics who are not bipolar and trying to stay sober. I'm optimistic that with treatment for bipolar disorder he will have greater success with his recovery.

This AM he did go to AA. After that he asked me to bring the baby over so he could see him. He is living with his father right now, and as much as his dad cares for him, he's mostly just enabling him. He had and sign an agreement that if he drank he had to move out and now it's as if that paper doesn't exist. He sends me all kinds of emails and links to info relating just to bipolar treatment, not addressing the alcoholism at all. He tells he that we need to band together to show him the love and be supportive while he's working on getting healthy. He even wanted me and the baby to stay over tonight so abf could have "his family" with him. WTH! No. I told him point blank on Monday that I needed a break from abf. That stands even more true today. It's ridiculous how much he babysvabf, even after the countless drunk stunts he's pulled, the lying, the manipulation. Ugh.

In addition, my mom is beyond pissed at me. She basically told me that if I continue to allow abf in my life and our baby's life then she's writing us all off. My mom and I are so close so this is VERY hurtful on her part. Also, she moved with me last month to abf's home town. He promised me a lot of things to get me to move here with him, none of which have manifested. My mom came along because, again, we are very close and she wanted to be near her only child and grandchild. Well its been a huge disappointment, so she is ready to pack it up again and leave. Her apartment, wherevmyvson ans I are also living, is month to month so she could very well leave next month. This puts me into a corner because I won't have a home unless I move in with abf and his enabling father. I don't know anyone here and I don't have the resources to get an apartment on my own at this point. So I'm feeling really lost, unsure of how to proceed.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:51 PM
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I understand the comorbidity. I just don't want you to get your hopes up that if he receives treatment for his bipolar illness that will necessarily mean he will get and stay sober. I have many times looked for the underlying mental illness in those with alcoholism close to me, and thought if they'd just address this problem, they woukd stop self-medicating. I haven't seen that happen yet. I hope you listen to your mom and go through with the ultimatum you had already given him.
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Old 07-25-2012, 04:29 PM
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Sorry for all the typos in my last post. I'm on my phone watching DS play in the bath.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:36 PM
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I know it's hard to hear, but run. coming from the adult child (eldest daughter) of a bipolar alcoholic...my mom was so helpless to do anything in my dad's wake. he was controlling with all of us and i am in counseling (now at the nine month mark) working on unraveling issues caused by growing up with my dad..my parents' marriage...etc. i am not saying that this will happen to you, but bipolar is like someone else said--like alcoholism even when someone is sober...and there's so many unknowns that you have right now: will he stay sober? will he be able to get on the right meds for bipolar? will he be able to manage his illness(es)? will he take his meds every day? will he go to therapy? he has a lot of work to do and i would not wish it upon anyone--spouse or child--to experience that alongside of him. good luck
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:12 PM
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Thanks for your input Salsarita. I am really struggling with my options right now, so everyone's thoughts on the situation are helpful.

I feel absolutely horrible right now. I just want to give abf a big hug and forget he relapsed. I know I can't do that though. This is very real. And my son is being affected by it. Poor baby has been so cranky the past two days. I know he's picking up on the stress. I can't keep putting him through this.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:05 PM
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Men can be good fathers regardless of the relationship with the mother.

You can protect you and your son from the devastation of alcoholism and the madness of mental illness and still allow a relationship between father/son if and when he is a healthy, safe, positive influence.

As a mother that has made some mistakes that I regret - I urge you to think very carefully about what kind of home you want your little baby living and growing up in. If you want a home of peace, happiness, joy, freedom, laughter, honest communication, and friends - do not live with a bi-polar alcoholic because if you do, he won't get it.

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Old 07-26-2012, 07:03 AM
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a home of peace, happiness, joy, freedom, laughter, honest communication, and friends
Such a strong description, Thumper, thank you. All of these things are so important to children AND adults. I'd like to add that children VERY MUCH also need stability, predictability, routine, and boundaries. To me, alcoholism and bi-polarity represent the opposite of these things.
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Old 07-26-2012, 12:04 PM
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Right, Thumper, I completely agree and I want nothing more than to raise my son in a loving, stable household. It just guts me to take him away from his daddy. Further more, abf's father is trying to cause drama. I had mail come to his house and he brought it over this morning. Rather than call me to let me know he was here with mail he called my mom. He then started grilling her about why I'm not living with abf at his house. He knows I want a break and if abf is telling him things about me, why go to my mom about it? I'm 31 years old, I can speak for myself. My mom claims that he told her that of I try to leave with our son he, abf's father, will take me to court to get an injunction or whatever to prevent me from leaving. Abf has his dad handle all of his business so if his dad wanted to pursue that I have no reason to believe abf would stop him or be against that. I'm not a resident of this state legally though. I came here a month ago but haven't settled here. I do have a mail forward to abf's dad's house. I'm switching that to my mom's address. Is that enough to stand up in court? It breaks my heart that this may get messy. Ds isn't a possession or a pawn to to used in manipulating me. Again...on my phone, sorry for typos.
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Old 07-26-2012, 01:13 PM
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When I see crazy, I like to head the other way. That's why your mom wants to leave.

That is the healthy response to alcoholism and active mental illness and family manipulation - it's to step away from the crazy. Her life has taught her that and watching you stepping further into it is probably killing her.

Are you still thinking of moving in with a man (BF's father) who is threatening you like this?
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:28 PM
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This thread has been bothering me all day. On re-reading the first post, I finally realised what it was.

Originally Posted by ElectricLights View Post
When he relapsed a month ago I told him if it happens again I'm done. Well, it happened again ...
There it is. Black and white. There's nothing more to discuss. You're done.
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