“What if I wanted to fight?
Beg for the rest of my life
What would you do?
You say you wanted more
What are you waiting for?
I’m not running from you (from you)
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You’re killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you“
“The Kill”- 30 Seconds to Mars
While trying to find some helpful websites on supporting a spouse with bipolar disorder, I came upon Living with a BiPolar Spouse.There was an article about triggers in it. I thought it was helpful, but only so much. There were a few things in there that I didn’t agree with. So, in order to attempt to be constructive, I thought that I’d create my own list of how to handle me.
A part of having bipolar disorder is dealing with mood shifts for sometimes no reason at all. However, there are triggers and red flags I would suggest for my husband to look for.
- I do not take criticism well. It may be best to offer suggestion instead of pointing out all of the things I didn’t do, or the things I did incorrectly.
- Tough love creates an opposite effect for me. I will not straighten out and fly right. There is no such thing with bipolar disorder. Tough love does not create a supportive environment. It makes me scared, alienated, and breeds resentment. Try to build a supportive environment, forgive me, and ask what you can do to help.
- Often, I will respond to nasty comments with nasty behavior. A negative environment is toxic for everyone involved and is especially harmful for me.
- Name calling is never acceptable. It is degrading and will absolutely send me spiralling.
- An event may take place at work, with our son, or something else that could trigger an episode. The best thing you can do is offer encouragement, and remind me of my mantras. Learn my mantras. And learn how to use them appropriately.
- Do not point out that I am having an episode. Do not rationalize it away. My feelings cannot and will not be validated by someone else. Instead, try asking if I’m feeling OK, or if there is something going on with me.
- Be willing to listen when I need to talk. Shutting down emotionally and shutting me out is a trigger.
- Be respectful and mindful of me. It is a trigger for me to be disrespected and devalued.
- Take me seriously when I’m telling you something that concerns my disorder. If I’m warning you to stop because I will go over the edge, I’m not making idle threats. It triggers something in me.
- Changes in biological functions. Sleeping patterns, eating patterns, etc.
- Irritability. I am always irritable before the onset of an episode.
- Isolation. If I prefer to be alone, then there is something wrong.
- When I use certain phrases. “Leave me alone.” “Don’t start.” “I can’t handle this.” “I give up.” Most of the time, though, I’ll come out and say it. I’m depressed. I think I’m hypomanic. And my favorite, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me.
- Lack of sleep without missing it.
- Highly reactive state
- Anger or open hostility
- Choosing to sleep elsewhere or at the foot of the bed
- Wrapping in a blanket, especially when the weather is hot
- Speaking less
- Speaking more
- Compulsive behaviors that are atypical, such as a preoccupation with cleaning, organizing, or writing
- Not taking my meds or not taking them on time
- Any changes in medication
- Any personality changes
- Cutting, obviously
- Negative comments
- Sudden disinterest in activities that I was once engulfed in
What do I say now?
I’ve written and rewritten and edited this draft for the last three days.
It originally started out with a rationalization:
Lamictal and hormonal birth control don’t play nice. When I first started Lamictal, I would take the bc placebos for that week and start exhibiting symptoms of PMDD. My Pdoc recommended that my OB/Gyn consider putting me on a continuous cycle for three packs and then have the off week. And I’ve been doing that for almost 2 years.
I have that liberty to schedule when Aunt Dot comes to visit. Risking a complete mental break down every 63 days was better than having to do it every 21. In the last year, the last couple had been pretty mild. I thought I was in the clear.
I lost track and went 5 months this time.
What person with bipolar disorder wouldn’t want to be able to blame conditions that are within their control? I was telling myself that Monday would come, I would be back on the BC and all would be right with the world. In the meantime, I adjusted my dosages – with no effect. I did that a couple of days ago thinking I could put a bandaid on the situation until there was a real fix, meaning I straightened my meds out and all of this moody woman bullshit was over with.
PMS was a word invented by men to explain women’s emotional behavior. (No offense intended to my male readers). My husband discovered my self-inflicted injuries today. Actually, more like he discovered the band-aid that I’ve been hiding under layers of bracelets all week. He said, “What’s that?” I answered in a low voice, with T.D. on my lap, “Nothing.” I won’t lie. I’m sick and tired of cowering in fear for someone else’s approval. I didn’t lie to him. It means nothing to him, but it will stay with me for a long time.
He asked again, “What is it?” And once again I replied in a murmur, “It’s nothing.”
“Every time you get your f***ing period, you have to go and cut yourself!!!”
I don’t recall being afflicted with such in my very first post, “To See If I Still Feel”. And I can honestly say that was the very last time I engaged in self-injurous behavior.
I’m starting to suspect it isn’t completely me.
Originally, I wrote:
My marriage has been on the rocks lately. My kid is raising hell. I have the crushing weight of being solely responsible for T.D., anything domestic, and work. I am expected to have time for everything. I am also expected to take all kinds of crap from everyone when something goes wrong. That is, surprisingly, with the exception of my boss and co-workers.
I have dealt with be mistreated and disrespected in my home. I have endured vicious criticism and blame. I am overwhelmed and over burdened. And anytime I speak up, not only am I wrong, I am intentionally starting trouble. Suddenly, my condition becomes a reality because it’s convenient to blame me “being a bitch” on having bipolar disorder.
I am falling apart and it’s not even at the seams. It’s from consistent strain and wear on my fabric. And when someone I let close enough to me starts taking swipes… it’s enough. It’s more than enough to come undone.
I wrote to a dear friend that I used to be able to depend on C.S. I described all of the wonderful things he had been to me. But now, I feel like I’m being pushed off the ledge and then kicked in the face when I finally hit the bottom.
Each morning, when I awake, I have been telling my dearest friends here that I’m doing better. And each afternoon, I’m doing worse than the day before. After that comment, “Every time you get your f***ing period, you have to go and cut yourself!!!”, I’m about to give it up. I was mistaken when I said to my dear friend that I wasn’t sure that he was even aware of what he was doing to me.
We don’t get to choose our family. Sometimes, we can’t choose who we fall in love with. But we always have the choice to make the decision to devote ourself to each other through marriage. How could someone who chose me, who is supposed to love me, be causing me so much hurt?