This static page is set up for my visitors to ask questions about events described here, bipolar disorder or mental problems in general.  Anonymous comments ARE allowed per the posting rules on my About page.


69 Responses to “Questions”

  1. Hi there,

    My ex’s new partner is bypolar. She has said that she stopped her meds a few weeks ago, as the Dr. has told her she doesn’t need them anymore (not likely). I have children (one very young, one old enough to understand). I am wondering what can be expected if she is no longer taking meds, and how long do they generaly stay in a persons system. I want to know what to look out for, and prepare my older child. My husband doesn’t see it as a problem, and so I am concerned for my little ones. I do not have a great deal of contact with this women, but from comments from her co-workers, and my child I would say that she is in the early stages of mania. Any advice would be great.

    Thank you, keep up the great work, it’s great to be able to read about other peoples stories so that we too can learn.

    Please do not post my email address.

  2. I have known several people who are bipolar, although I am obviously most familiar with my mother. It seems that this condition does not change ‘who’ the person is, as much as it changes the speed of their thoughts and distractability. Untreated, or at more severe stages, it can either cause or mimic all sorts of other psychological conditions such as paranoia, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
    Many people with bipolar have a difficult time staying on their meds. The reasons vary – some don’t think they need it any more, others complain about it making their thought process ‘slow’. The end result is the same – without the meds they are likely to experience more episodes.
    The bipolar label includes a lot of different things. The most mild is ‘hypo-mania’, which is a form of mania but not to the same level that full mania would be. Many especially creative people do their best work in this state – Robin Williams comes to mind.
    Rather than making a blanket assumption about her suitability to be around your kids only on the basis of the ‘bipolar’ diagnosis, it would be better if you could somehow observe her with them. Not all bipolar people are scary, but if she shows any signs of being unkind or inappropriate while ‘normal’, I would expect that those aspects would be very amplified if she goes into a manic state.

  3. Hi,

    I am a 42 year old mother of 3 children. After reading some of your entries on your mother I thought I might give a little insight on what I know. I was physically and sexually abused as a child but do not remember most of it. Some of the things you say about your mom sound just like my mom and also just like me. After my youngest daughter was born in ’97 I was diagnosed as being bipolar. I went through the med treatment even had to go in the lock down at the pysch ward a couple of times. This went on for several years and everyone thought I was doing better and then out of nowhere I hang myself in my closet on Sept. 18, 2001. A week to the day after 9-11. I don’t even remember choking. It was like I turned into a robot or something. I was hanging for about 5 mins. I should have died but I didn’t. To make a long story shorter I will get to my point a little faster. I had been misdiagonsed. Turned out I was actually ADHD and I also had SLE Lupus which caused phycosis.
    Not being on the correct meds for Lupus is what caused my attempted suicide and all my irational thinking and hyper-activity is a result of adult ADHD. I can have 15 projects going at one time and not get any of them finished before the day is over. Thankfully I have a wonderful caring husband who has stayed with me through all my craziness and has vowed to grow old with me no matter what. I take 60 mg of adderall a day which has made such a difference in my life. I still have crazy days but a least I don’t go and spend $2000.00 in one day or gamble over the internet anymore. I hope this helps some. Maybe not but maybe so.

  4. Karen,
    Psychology is not a science, regardless of what they say. Mom has had both severely depressed episodes, as well as severely manic episodes. When she was at the highest of one of her manic episodes, she has thought she could fly and jumped off a porch. Some of her behavior – especially the hypochondria – could be attributed to attention seeking. Unfortunately, I think she is being failed by the medical community, as she will see a specialist (currently an allergist) and they will eventually run out of things to test, and ‘diagnose’ her with an exotic ailment in their field. I really believe that is she took her meds, and got counseling, that the VAST majority of her symptoms would go away.

  5. I was looking up info. on my own mother, I believe her to be bipolar and my therapist has also mentioned it as a possibility. I found your post and it was like reading the history of one of my aunts. She is so much like your mom, we all remember the visits where we were loaded into the car with her screaming on the porch. She beat her ex-husbands and children.
    I also have a brother-in-law that is a sociopath and he has admitted to raping people in a retirement home, some years back. can only imagine what he has done that we dont know about. I havent had to see him for years and now that we are living back in our home state he wants to be the #1 uncle/person in our kids lives. I am disgusted and terrified of him. His parents have harrassed us about not associating with him and my husband was starting to give in. With my current pregnancy and the fact that this guy is dangerous I had a bit of a break down. The constant pressure and tears and anger from the in-laws has been putting stress on me, and the fact that I have currently been receiving prank phone calls of a sexual nature was too much. My husband was shocked by my response to his intent to invite Brother to a gathering and he realized that he was putting his parents and brother before me and the kids. He has had some guilt over not realizing and that I have been pregnant and fighting the whole family and feeling very betrayed. I read your admittance to putting your mom before wife and I wanted to commend you for putting your wife first and seeing how damaging it is to a whole family when the mother is put in such an awful situation. I was fighting for sanity and control of my emotions and really needed to be supported and protected. I was trying to protect myself and the kids and felt no one really saw how important it was. I know the situation is different but it your post helped me to see more of my hubands view point. I know it is hard to go against your mom but it is the right thing to do. This could have destroyed our marriage if he continued to try to appease his mom and dad and not put us first. I wish you luck.

  6. should i be worried about my future my mom is bipolar and does that mean that i am at risk of being bipolar?

  7. Statistics show that you are at a higher risk. If one of your parents has it, you have a 15-30% chance of having it. If both your parents have it, that risk rises to 50-75%.
    Statistics provided by

    Just because you are at risk doesn’t mean you actually have it. There appears to be a link between traumatic events and bipolar as well.

    The onset age varies also, with some people having their first episode with puberty, while others may be in their 20s-30s.

    There isn’t a test that can be performed, but expressing those concerns to your doctor (not shrink) may be in order. They will be able to give you some advice that may be helpful on what to look for, etc.

  8. Please hear this to help with your opinions on how I can cope with this? I am having trouble coping with this and it’s so sad how a mother can speak to a daughter like that and never forgive and really doesn’t realize that what mother is yellng at are things that daughter did years ago that mother still thinks about and won’t let go so she rants about it and I call it mothers phone message so help me cope with advice so I can live my life better!

  9. politicsreign:
    I listened to the message that you have up, and I’m not really sure that I fully understand the situation. Your mother mentioned that you blamed her for your father’s death, and that you said because she had enabled him. The text of your comment mentions that this occurred years ago. So, with nothing more to go on than that, here goes…

    If you told your mother that she caused your father’s death, you should apologize to her. Sincerely. Let her know that it was an emotional time for you as well, and could she forgive you.

    If you already have, and she has just gotten into this rut of calling and yelling at you, even after you have tried to make things right, then you need to remove yourself from the situation entirely. Change your phone number, or just don’t answer it and erase the messages without listening to them.

    You also need to forgive her. This isn’t optional. Judging from your message, and the conversation you were having with your answering machine, you are angry. That’s understandable, but there is nothing you can do to change the situation, and remaining angry will make you become bitter.

    Bitterness is a wonderful thing, but it consumes you. It’s becomes a secret that you have, in a nice glass case that you take out occasionally and admire. Get rid of it as quickly as you can – don’t wait for your mother to change, she may not. You don’t want to end up like her do you?

  10. Wow, thanks for a great reply above about me and my mother and the ranting messages she left at and I will take heed to it. By the way BiPolar runs in my family. I am not BiPolar and neither is anyone in my family like brothers and sister, but it runs in our family through my dad’s line! My cousin has it bad. My brother isn’t normal, and either is my second oldest bro. My sister has had substance abuse problems and panic attacks… as for me, I sustained 2 head injuries before the age of 4 years old so that must have had an effect on me, although I am not ADHD, I am more hyper-focused if anything else, and a bit manic, but certainly not Bipolar! But thanks for answering and listening to my mother and I ranting and angry at!

  11. Dear MBPM,

    I found your blog as part of my anxious (and possibly obsessive) quest to understand my fiance’s mother and his troubling relationship with her. Thank you for sharing your story, which is helping me to understand this mother-son dynamic a little bit better.

    The short version is that about 4-6 years ago, my partner’s mother was supposedly diagnosed BP after what would seem, based on several people’s stories as well as her own, to be a lifetime of escalating bipolar and narcissistic/histrionic behavior. I have been living with my partner for just over three years. At the beginning of that time, I witnessed numerous lengthy and abusive/manipulative phone calls each week. After about a year of this distant deterioration and a few threats of suicide, we visited her and found her basically shut-in with piles of hoarded junk collapsing on her. Needless to say, we moved her across the country to an apartment a few blocks from our home (now also filthy and filled with junk). Though she seems much happier here, I wish we hadn’t. The manipulations and intrusions are off the charts. We’re not sure if she is truthfully following through with her local treatment providers; we’re not even sure what medications she is on, though he takes her to pick them up. She is on government assistance and is not necessarily receiving the best care. She has not worked since he was very little. Together with his more fragile older brother (who helps to support her financially but lives far away), my partner has been her main emotional support for decades. He has time (sort of) but not money to give her–and she’d take anything she could get.

    Your stories about your mother resonate with what I have witnessed in this family. She can be charming and engaging for awhile, though–it’s not all shrieking and threatening. It’s usually a combination of attention-mongering and guilt-fest. She really thinks she’s a creative, amazing mother of creative, amazing sons (they are)–yet I have heard stories of neglect and emotional abuse that are told in all innocence. She acts and dresses less than half her age and seems to have no sense of her true appearance. Her eyes are generally flat and unresponsive. It seems like she does not like to be touched. She talks about herself, her (likely imagined) ailments, and her other daily minutia–and she interrupts others–endlessly. She gives us bags of junk and half-eaten food as “gifts.” Her inappropriate social behavior is usually so abominable that I have all but washed my hands of the situation. I don’t visit with her or entertain her in my home if I can help it. My easygoing family spent one holiday with her and refused to have another. My partner claims to see the situation for what it is, but consistently caves in to her demands on his time and attention, believes her to be essentially well-intentioned, and remains in denial about her future and the continued impacts on our relationship.

    I suppose I am writing for any thoughts you or your wife might have on how (or whether!) I can get a handle on the situation. I’d like to be helpful and supportive to him without compromising important boundaries–for the sake of our relationship and our future children. I have attended private counseling and that has helped me see that I’m not evil for distancing myself from her and being deeply concerned about the level of dysfunction going on here. At the same time, I have to admit that I have a hard time accepting the fact that she IS his mother, and he DOES love her–any thoughts from your wife on coming to terms with that? I probably push him too much, but I also feel protective and frustrated and unwilling to tolerate her games anymore. I am terrified about being able to protect my someday children from her bizarre behaviors, and about the possibility of her moving in with us someday soon, though he swears this would never happen.

    Is there hope for finding a middle ground? Will he ever see how toxic she is allowed to be? I have asked him to obtain medical power of attorney, become more involved with her treatment team, and to go to counseling as a couple to work on some mutually agreeable strategies and family boundaries–he agrees but more or less puts it off. He is essentially on-call as far as she is concerned. We have backed off of our original (now past) wedding date and have not set another, and these issues are at the heart of that. We are an older couple and the time to safely start a family is increasingly limited. We love each other too much to call it a day, but we can’t seem to find our way with this.

    Please don’t publish my email, and thanks for reading this. I appreciate your time and any thoughts you may be willing to share–especailly any that might help me rebuild a little compassion!

  12. Hello,

    I am hoping that you might be able to lead me in the right direction as far as help for my mother goes. I am not sure if my mother is bipolar or not, however after reading most of the info here, I feel as though she may very well be. Let me give you a little background. She has the extreme highs and lows as all bipolar information sites discuss. In the past month everything has gone completely down hill. She has left my Dad after 16 years of marriage. She seems to never be content with her life. When I got married 8 years ago, she could not talk to me without mentioning her desire for grandchildren. My husband and I now have a 6 year old son and a 2 year old daughter, both of which she never wants to spend time with. She likes to see them for about 20 minutes and then she is done. There is no “quality” time ever spend with them. As far as my relationship with her is concerned, it is pretty much non-existent. She flies off the handle at any given minute for really no reason. For example, about 2 months ago she called me in a really good mood (high) on my way to Lowe’s and wanted me to drop the kids off to stay a while while my husband and I picked up some hardware for the house. We were in a hurry since we had a birthday party to be to that after noon, not to mention the kids were planned to stay the night with her and my father. I very delicately told her that we were in a rush and that it would be faster for us to just run our errand and drop the kids off around 5 or so. She immediately dropped into a terrible low and began to cry and hung up the phone. I tried to call her back and she did not answer. So we decided to go check on her at her house. When we arrived, she was devastated, crying and telling my Dad that I had told her they could not see the kids. He was so confused about what was going on, we had to go and talk privately so he could understand the conversation. We went ahead and let the kids stay for a few hours while we went to the store. When we returned, my Dad was there playing with the kids and my mother was gone out shopping with a friend. We took the kids to the party and then brought them back to my parents to stay the night. My mother was there how ever in a effort to try and keep the peace I did not make eye contact and attempted to leave abruptly. As I was walking to my car, she called to me and asked id I was even going to talk to her. I was so frustrated at that point I just told her “no” and continued on the the car. She then started her ranting and raving profanity and screaming. I then got into the car and locked the door in an attempted to leave. She tried to open tha door and since it was locked she tried to break out the glass, beating it with her hands and kicking the door. All of this right in front of my kids, for the that is the worst part. I had go grow up the this type of behavior my whole life and I do not want that for my kids. I do not know what to do or even where to start. My father has told me that she is seeing a therapist and that he ckecks in every couple of weeks or so to see how things are going. I really hope that someone out there will know what is wrong with her. I want to get her some help, but how do I implement that into someone that refuses to get real help?

  13. Where is my mother:
    It sounds like you have a common misunderstanding of bipolar. High doesn’t mean (necessarily) happy, and low doesn’t mean sad. The manic phase of bipolar is more like an energy level or accelerated state of consciousness. People can be manic and angry, or manic and happy, or manic and creative. Sad as normal people understand it, isn’t possible for a manic person. They would be in more of a high-energy despair. In Mom’s case (and others that I’ve heard of) it usually quickly turns to rage.
    The low state is more predictable as sadness or depression. I think that’s because there are very few low-energy emotions that aren’t close to sadness of some form.
    Typically a person with bipolar won’t be immediately triggered to change state by external events. The state is more physiological than emotional.
    I’m not sure that there is an appropriate label for what I think your mother has. It sounds like her emotions just don’t have the normal range that most people do. Something that would cause minor disappointment to a normal person causes her to despair. Something that would normally be viewed as pleasant makes her euphoric.

    Now for the hard part, which you probably won’t want to hear…

    You say you don’t want your kids to grow up around that type of behavior, yet you abandoned them there while she was ranting, raving, screaming, kicking your car and trying to break out your window.
    Put yourself in your kids shoes. There’s a mad woman there and you were more concerned with escaping from her than of protecting your kids.
    You know what you need to do, just do it. If you don’t then think about what you are teaching your kids.

  14. There is a lot more to the story than I informed you about. My father was there at the time. I did confront him and told him that I was not comfortable with letting them stay the night. He begged me to let them stay and told me that he would not let her act in such a manner around them. I replied by telling him that if she began to behave unnessasarily, he would call me and remove them from the situation. She is so delicate right now. I feel as though when she wants to see the kids, it would be good for her, as it makes her want to be more involved and seems to make her happy. I was not trying to escape the situation.

    The reason for my abrupt departure, is that there seems to be something about me that sets my mother off. There always have been for my entire life. She is now trying to end her second marriage the the most wonderful man I have ever met. She seems to be set off by almost anyone these days. Except for my brother, he has never done wrong by her. She is in therapy now, but I fear that she will find help far to late. I have been researching bipolar disorder for a while now. The symptoms that are discussed almost fit her to a T.

    She goes on shopping sprees that I am pretty sure she can’t afford. Extreme highs and lows. She got started on selling Mary Kay for some odd reason and invested $6,000 on merchandise and quit 3 months later. She always starts things and never finishes them. She keeps all kinds of liqour at he house. Though she says she never drinks. She sleeps all the time, however she gets up to go to Wal-mart at 4-5 in the morning sometimes.

    An episode that I did not metion in my first posting, last Saturday. She lives about 30 miles away from the town I live. My sons last t-ball game was Saturday morning. My Dad had called me earlier in the week and asked me what time hid game started. I had invited my mother to the last 3 however she said she already had other plans. I did not bother to call my mother and invite her since she had not attended the past few games. Anyway, about 20 minutes before the end of the game she called my cell. I was did not want to answer bacause I knew it would end up in an argument. She called back a second time and I still did not answer, trying to avoid a argument. Five minutes later she showed up at the game. I saw her and motioned her to come a sit with us to finish watching the game. She motioned me over to her car, so I walked over with my daughter. She began yelling and carrying on and I asked her to not make a scene at the ball field. I told her that we could discuss this at my home after the game. Still she did not stop trying to agrue with me. I calmly told her that I was gling to finish watching my sons game and that we would talk about this later. She told me that I should not go back to the game or I would be sorry. I shut the door the the car and started back to my seat. She immediatly started honking her horn to embarras me. I then turned around and asked her to leave. And as you probably already know, she didn’t. The game was then finishing up and we could leave. So my husband and I rounded up our kids left. After I got home my father called me and told me that she was mad at him and that she told him it was his fault that she was not at the game.

    I asked where she was and he said that she was headed back to her apartment. I asked where he was going and he told me he was not sure. He did not want to go home, afraid that she might be there. However, he wanted to check and see if she was there without her seeing him. He told me he was afraid she would tear up the house.

    I have not spoken to my mother since that day at the ball field. However it was just a week ago. I have spoken to my Dad. I asked him how her therapy was going. He said OK. I talked to him yesterday and told him that I think we really need to seriously get her more help immediately. He said he was going to call her therapist and see if we could try to get her more help. I am afraid that she is going to get so depressed one of these days she may try to her herself. He seemed concerned also. Donlt get me wrong, my mother is a christian woman at heart. It is just her head that seems to be the problem.

    On mother’s day, I wanted to do something fun for her and me. So I planned and picknic at the zoo and then we all went fishing at a park with the kids. I was not going to invite my father and then she asked to too so I did. So here we all go. Everthing went fine and she seemed to be having a great day. While we were fishing, she decided to leave to go do laundry. We all said our goodbyes and she tanked me for the great day. All seemed well. My Dad stayed and fished with us. We played at the park for a few more hours and then we all decided to go eat. Apparently she called my Dad on the way over there and he invited her, which was fine with me. She did not get there till we were done eating. She walked in angry with us bacause we did not answer our phones. Mine was in my purse and my Dad left his in the car. we sat for a while and then decided to go on home. We said goodbye again and left.

    I later spoke with my dad that week and he said that he went o her apartment after we ate. They had gotten into an argument and she told him that he did not love her the way he should and that he was not in love with her anymore. He said that she was just a mess.

    I wish that you and I could talk. It is hard for me to put this all down on paper. It is so complex anymore. I am starting to think that I need a therpist to keep myself from going nuts.

  15. Where is my Mother:
    The rest of the story definitely sounds like bipolar. The irregular sleep, grandiose thoughts, spending sprees, and substance abuse (possibly) are all classic symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar.

    Initially, I thought that my wife and I were a catalyst for Mom’s behavior, and that she was much better behaved when the kids were there and we weren’t. We were wrong, and you probably are too. Her volume was lower when we weren’t there, but WHAT she said didn’t change.

    Your kids, depending on their ages, have developed different coping skills to handle being around her. Our kids just wouldn’t remember bad things that were done while they were there. My Daughter actually said that she didn’t want to tell us about them because it would hurt our feelings. That has a serious potential to cause severe problems later, as they will burden themselves with things to make other people ‘happy’. They’re kids, and it is NEVER the kids job to make an adult happy. Left untreated, their entire lives will be focused on making others happy to their own detriment.

    Believe me, we were there a few years ago.
    What you will need to do to undo the damage (as much as possible) is:

    1 – Explain to your kids that your mother is sick, and that is why she says things.

    2 – Until she is better, you won’t be seeing her. Don’t let her trick you. Get proof that she’s getting treatment, and that it is being effective.

    3 – Get a therapist, for both you and your kids. A counselor from church would be good too. Your kids have been plunged into an adult world, and need to be brought back to the point that they are kids again.

    4 – Recognize that she is toxic – to you, but especially to your kids. They are developing and need to be protected from that behavior. That’s your responsibility. Anything short of that is negligent.

  16. Thank you for your reply. I will probably look into getting some type of therapy. When you were talking about my kids turning into people that like thier lives trying to make people happy. It was like looking in the mirror. I have been like that my entire life. In the past year or two, I have come to accept that for my own sanity, childrens’ well being and my marriage, I can no longer do that. My bilogical father treats me worse than my mother, however I really have no relationship with him. My kids do not know him.

    I have made a promise to myself and children that this crazyness that I seemed to be surronded with ends with myself, and that I will not allow it to be passed on to my children. I will do my best to make sure that they are given the chance to have a normal childhood.

    I appreciate your steps to undo tha damage. They really do not spend much time with my mother. they are never alone with her. I do understand that there my be some questions they have about her behavior. My kids are 6 and 2. Do you think that a 6 year old would be able to understand about her being sick? He has been asking about her several times a day now. I do not know what to tell him. My 2 year old has no clue about what is going on. We also go to my Dad’s and since she is never there, it is really hard to explain to them that she is just busy. And I cannot stand to lie to my kids.

    I am not sure what to tell them in a way they will understand.

  17. My wife sent you an email. If you need someone….she is really great to talk to and would probably be able to help you. Yes, a six year old can understand that it is an illness. Our children were younger when we started telling them it was an illness.

    You simply tell them that there is something in your mom’s brain that doesn’t function properly. The brain produces all sorts of chemicals that are medicine to our body. When those chemicals are off then many times people have to be put on medication to help balance those chemicals. Many times the people who have that chemical imbalance don’t want to accept that they need counseling and medicine.

    Children understand a lot more than we give them credit for, I am sure you will do the right thing. My wife and I are available if you need us.

  18. I have a question as well. My story is with my sister, rather than my mother. My mom and dad were so occupied with my autistic brother, that I think there were times I substituted my sister in the place of parent, however. She has been diagnosed as bp type one, with rapid cycling. She has always been verbally and emotionally abusive, but I’ve never been physically abused by her. She lives alone, less than a mile from me. We were doing okay in our relationship, for awhile. However, when my daughter was born, she became controlling, always finding fault, and making snide comments on how I had to be in control. I put up with this, until the day I left my 4 month old in her care, to go on a short walk. When I got back, she handed me a piece of ice wrapped in a paper towel. I held my temper, but wrote her an email later explaining that, while I appreciated her caring for my daughter, I was requesting that she ask me before making decisions like this again (she had given my child this ice in a paper towel, for teething). She went ballistic, and punished me for 5 months by not speaking to me. I later learned that, during this time, she manipulated my demented mother into changing her will. My uncle is still trying to sort this out, and I thank God for him. Since finding out that she did this (of course, she denies it – but I feel certain that she was involved – for many reasons – other lies we caught her in, etc.) Since then, she has been playing games, telling others horrible stories about me, not informing me of critical situations involving my nother, stirring up trouble, etc. Most of my extended family considers this to be something between us – like not being able to get along. It’s so frustrating, because I feel like I have tried everything, short of apologizing, as I always did in the past. With the birth of my first child, I did begin to finally set up boundaries. Any, I know I’ve rambled. Here’s my dilemma. I am having my second child, by csection tomrrow. My husband and I had told her that he would call her when it was okay to visit. Then, this past saturday, she came to my daughter’s birthday party. She brought a friend, who does not know her well, to the restaurant. They talked about me and rolled their eyes at a comment I made to my best friend’s mother. The comment could have been seen as a dig by my sister, and likely was. I stated that my bf and I got along so well, because we were different but she respects me. My sister and her friend talked about me, and got up and left – without saying goodbye. Now, we’re back to not speaking. I would prefer not to invite my sister to meet her new nephew at this time, but I feel guilty about this. There are no threats or physical abuse, just constant disrespect and emtional abuse, in the form of with holding affection and stirring up problems. Am I wrong to keep my distance now? Please do not pulish my name or email address.

  19. Anon:
    I am only beginning to mentally solidify what and how much destructive behavior I should allow myself to be in contact with. What I have figured out so far is that if it affects me internally, then it is too much. That applies for everyone, not just people with mental problems.
    Since we are dealing with family, there is an additional obligation that raises the tolerance level by a bit – but does NOT eliminate it entirely.
    Mom doesn’t have the power over me any more to make me feel anything but pity for her. Her dealings with my kids and Wife are a completely different story. They don’t have the same callouses that I do, and I’d like to prevent them from getting them.
    You are really only responsible for your own life, not that of your sister. If you don’t want her somewhere, don’t invite her. How much of your family’s life you ALLOW her to be involved in is entirely up to you. If she causes problems with you, I’d expect that it wouldn’t be much. Recognize that she is attempting to control you to some extent, and that allowing it will only encourage more of the same. Set boundaries, and don’t violate them, or permit them to be violated. It really doesn’t mater how harsh other people think those boundaries are, they aren’t in your shoes. And it is always easier to relax a restriction than to tighten it back up.

  20. My husband’s mother is bipolar and narcissistic. He knows this, but his brother and sister are as well. His father is an alcoholic because that is how he has dealt with all of this. My husband dealt with it by laying low his entire life, hiding in closets during the explosions….just flying under the radar. However, he stills feels absloutely compelled to be involved with all of them; to somehow be there for them; to love them; to save them; to be the stabilizing force in their lives. And although he knows the issues they have, he falls for their manipulations every time. His mother pits all the children and spouses against one another, and he will fall for it everytime, hoping that she *loves* him now. His brother and sister do the same thing, using him the hilt.

    Seeing as you were on the receiving end of this treatment with your mother, and your father seems to keep asking you back into it and you have found a way to no. I am wondering how you found that strength. I feel my husband has been so traumatized by living in that environment growing up, that he almost feels *safer* being in it, that finding his way out of it. And he only feels truly loved, if he is somehow being manipulated by them and hoping they will love him each time.

    I write this all because it is anonymous and I am truly desperate to help him break free of them. They use him mercilessly–whether they understand or not, who has any idea what truly goes on in their minds.

  21. Louise:
    I was less on the receiving end of it since my daughter was born. About the time that I got married, Mom’s ire was directed at my Wife. On several occasions, it got so bad that we just cut off contact with her all together, only to resume it when she was ‘better’.
    There are a few reasons that I handled it the way I did. The first is that I learned early that I did not need external approval. Mom couldn’t be made happy, so I never really tried.
    Also, as a Christian, I couldn’t do what I REALLY WANTED to do, which was to permanently cut contact with Mom. Because she is my mother, I have an obligation to her. It took a few meetings with my pastor to understand that my Wife & kids were my top priority, and that Mom wasn’t. It wasn’t until last year that I realized just how upside-down my obligations had gotten. I was sacrificing my Wife & Children’s happiness to temporarily appease her. ( see the entry titled ‘Epiphany’ )
    It will probably take a significant event to get your husband to see what is happening. With me, it was my kids. You didn’t mention children, so I assume that there aren’t any.
    One thing that may help is if you can get your husband to journal his dealings with them. You should journal also, and then compare notes. If he can see what part of the interaction he isn’t noticing, it may help him tune in to it the next time.

  22. I am glad you had your epiphany for your wife and children. We do have a son, and he has many medical issues, which have resulted in medical trauma for him. This takes a lot of my emotional energy for him. It is very painful that my husband cannot set boundaries so that his mother, brother, and sister do not keep coming into our lives and manipulating him and saying horrible things about me and my son. i.e. My son’s problems are my fault, I have a bad diet; I have bad blood; I am on a lower intellectual plane then their family; I’m a whore, etc. My husband always excuses their behavior because they have problems, and I need to understand that because we are rational. I have done everything to show him they are damaging me and our son. He tells me that I am forcing him to choose who to love and that is wrong of me, that he should be allowed to love his family. He feels he is responsible for their well being since he is stable. They will not even admit their illness or go on medication, and they use him mercilessly.

    He has admitted he will see a therapist but at the same time, he says he does not think it will do any good.

    I wonder if you have this problem with your wife: If I get remotely emotional or ask anything of him, he sees his mother. He thinks I am “yelling” “manipulating him” “berating” “demeaning” “calling him stupid.” I often have to write out what I think, but even then, he feels berated. That is how his has always and does treat him. But he cannot differentiate me from her. He needs me to constantly just tell him I love him.

    I guess I’m wondering if you felt this way and if you needed therapy. If it took one Epiphany or more than one. He seems to have then, but then someone calls and he feels this pull to “help.” And he just has to believe that this time, things will be different; they will love him, and we will be a family.

  23. Louise:
    One of the most difficult things about dealing with someone with bipolar is to maintain your own sanity. After a while you begin to wonder just how far off they are, and if your expectations are unreasonable.
    If your husband sees a therapist, you should probably talk to them also, just so you are both working to fix the same problem. Therapy without a goal and plan to reach it is worthless.
    My wife and I dated for a few years before we were married. At that point, my primary mode of dealing with Mom was to tune her out completely. I never saw any behavior resembling my mother in my Wife, and would have pointed it out if I had. Mom’s method of ‘encouraging’ people to do things is guilt, and it just doesn’t work on me.
    I have never had any therapy in regards to Mom and my relationship with her. Not saying that I didn’t need it, just didn’t do it. It did come up a few times while talking with a counselor after my brother’s accident, but that was it.
    How I got to where I am emotionally was a life-long process. Part of it was accomplished when I was very young. My grandmother and mother both were never satisfied with anything, so I learned to require no external validation. I also learned that since Mom wasn’t going to be happy with anything I did, to take no account of her desires for anything.
    From what I understand, that is quite unusual. Most people develop self-esteem issues, codependency, etc. I’m not sure what made me different, but as I said it was very early – probably around 11-12.
    When my brother was in the accident, it hit Mom and Dad really hard. Neither was able to be any support for me at all, so once again I had to rely entirely on myself. I am not angry or bitter about being ignored then, they were overwhelmed. It is just one more factor that adds up to who I am now.
    Your husband probably knows deep down that he is being used again and again, but he wants each time to be different. It won’t be, but that’s what he really wants. Maybe that aspect is what you should see if he can focus on in counseling.

  24. Half a year ago I made the very hard decision to cut ties with a very dear loved one. She was diagnosed bipolar 10 years ago & responded wonderfully to therapy & medication. Five years ago she has refused both, and gradually turned into a monster. I had to cut ties for my own mental & emotional health.

    You have no idea how cathartic it has been to read your posts. You have erased all doubts that I had concerning my decision. I was feeling guilty for abandoning her & especially her beleaguered husband (who now takes the brunt of her illness by himself, & still consistently tries to convince me to ‘bury the hatchet’). Now I know I did the right thing.

    As I read your experiences, I was astounded at the similarities between your mother and her.

    I knew the rages, the manic stages, the paranoia, the selective amnesia, projecting of emotions/actions, nothing is *ever* her fault, everyone is perceived to be ‘taking sides,’ etc– were all due to bipolar.

    But there are so many exact similarities with things that I contributed to her individual personality quirks:
    -obsessive collecting
    -susceptible to aggressive TV sales (like QVC or infomercials)
    -invading other people’s privacy–going through purses, aggressively accessing her husband’s (and other’s) mail/voice messages/emails, etc
    -‘putter-cleaning’ (which isn’t cleaning at all, & just makes more work for those around her)

    It’s just too precisely alike to be coincidental.

    Something else that surprised me was the similarities in both husbands (yours and my loved one’s). Particularly:
    -How they won’t consider that their wives’ outrageous tales aren’t true until they investigate ‘both sides of the story’ (If I had a nickle every time I told him “No, I never said that—no, I was there, it happened THIS way…”)
    -Blaming others for “setting her off” instead of the disease (“She wouldn’t have been so unreasonably angry if you didn’t do this/say that.”)
    -Expecting the rest of the world to go along with & support their enabling, acting like you betrayed them personally if you refuse
    -Their odd insistence on full disclosure to their wives–telling their bi-polar wives every detail of something their wives don’t really need to know, knowing full well that their wives will have a full rage-on over it.

    There are many studies & papers on people suffering from bi-polar & refusing treatment. Have there been any studies on their enablers? These similarities are striking. Do the bi-polar personalities mold & make their own enablers, or is there a kind of person pre-disposed to be so wholehearted an enabler?

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences.
    You are very brave, and a hero to your wife & children.

  25. I read this site with deep interest. I live in North America, but come from Europe. My mom’s bp and depression destroyed my life (almost), my brother try to kill himself, father was drinking, and other brother has problem with marriage, it is all because of her (ou mom). I do love her because she is the only mother we have, but I can not help her. When I ask her that we go to the doctor together, she said I need help not her. Yet, every possible scene you guys described in your lives, we had with her. These episodes are 3 months all nice and dandy, 2 months sleep and hell. Always pocking if not one person then another in the family. She turns us all against each other. You can not even describe.

  26. anon:
    I think that the enabler, my Dad in my case, tends to follow a pattern that would be an interesting subject of research. Here’s what I think about it:

    ‘Investigating both sides’ – With Mom, it is quite common for her version of events to only gradually diverge from reality. The more manic she is, the farther off they are. Dad has dealt with Mom for half a century. It’s obvious that he wants to believe her, or can’t believe that she is as bad off as she really is. In addition, Mom has the ability to badger into submission anyone who doesn’t agree with her. Combine the two, and it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable a coping skill.

    ‘Blaming others for setting her off’ – Normal people see effects and look for causes, because all effects have causes. The emotional explosion must have had a cause, so it must be this. The flaw in that is that someone who is manic is going to go off, with or without a catalyst. Even a pleasant ‘good morning’ is often provocation enough.

    ‘Expecting everyone else to go along’ – Everyone sees themselves as rational, and expects others to agree with them. In a nutshell, I think that enablers have lived so close to it for so long that it has become normal for them.

    ‘Full disclosure’ – That’s an easy one. When Mom is manic, she can go for 23 hours a day without slowing down – for weeks on end. And her interrogation methods, while only verbal, would violate the Geneva convention for duration alone. Eventually, everyone will break. It’s easier just to give up early, and hope that it will be directed elsewhere when there’s no information left to be gained.

    In short, yes. Bipolar, as well as other mentally ill or addicted people, groom their enablers. The analogy works well if you think Renfield’s relationship with Dracula.

    People who haven’t seen it for themselves have NO CLUE as to what we’re talking about. That’s part of the reason I have this blog. And unfortunately, living with someone like that can cause all sorts of difficulties with relationships to others. That being said, however, everyone is responsible for their own life and how they live it. Your brother can no more blame his marriage problems on your mother than I can. We each need to realize what was wrong in our past and work to overcome it, so that it no longer controls us.

  27. I’m 21 years old with a 15 year old brother. My father is in his late fourties as is my mother.

    My mother is bipolar and has been diagnosed as for about three years. But it all started when I was 13. When I was 13, we saw signs of depression. She would barricade herself in the bedroom, I’d come home to her lying on the floor in the middle of the house. We moved to a different state and it got worse. She’d lay in bed all day. Then she’d be up and about for two weeks. It was a cycle. She became very against my extended family that we’ve known all our lives. She started calling my aunt and uncle and screaming obscenities. She then tried to commit suicide. I was 17.

    We then moved to another state. There were no more suicide attempts, thank God. But it didn’t necessarily become better. I started to attend college and was able to live two lives: one at my university, and one at home. I was thriving at my college, but deteriorating at home. She started driving during the wee hours of the night. We wouldn’t know where she was going. At one point she took my brother 8 hours away. He was so scared. Another time, she was driving 100+ mph down a highway in virginia. Thats how she came home, the police caught her. Another time she was parked on the side of the highway in georgia, and she was caught again by the police. That time they said she was lucky to be alive. She would also drive around in new york city. Once I looked at the car after one of her joyrides and there was a bullet hole in the back.

    She also is completely against my father. She claims that he has four wives. She names all my friends names and claims they are my fathers illegitimate children. She accuses my father of cheating on her with his secretary. She also accuses the neighbors of pedophilia in regards to my brother. She then started accusing my father of pedophilia in regards to my brother.

    My fathers never laid a hand on us.

    She won’t take her meds because she thinks that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. I’ve tried telling her that she has a problem and she clenches her teeth ready to raise a hand on me. In our culture, having a problem isn’t in the cards. Its something to look down upon. And i HATE that. Theres NOTHING wrong with being bipolar. And when I try to just be there for her, listening to her swear about my dad, curse him to hell, I just tell her that i’ll be there for her to talk to (even when i’m steaming mad inside).

    I’ve tried being there for her, I’ve tried telling her how I feel, I’ve tried telling her she has a problem. I even told her that maybe she doesnt and maybe she should try the medicine and see what happens. She started telling me that she has cataracts because of the medicine. My dad can’t even talk to her now because every time they do… she throws something at him or calls him names.

    she’ll always be like this won’t she? I’ll always hate going home, I miss her so much. I’ll never have my mother back will I? She was the most amazing mother, she was beautiful, popular, kind, level headed. And then something snapped.

    is there any hope? is there anything that we can do? the doctors never help. They discharge her too early all the time. When she is in forced therapy with them, she acts so mannerful (she knows how toact in front of the doctors), they see her as behaving and let her off the hook. No one can make her take the medicine? There is no forced therapy that will make her realize that she has a problem and that it is ruining her life as well as the lives of her family.

    i feel so hopeless

  28. Recently, my thirteen year old son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He has gone through over 40 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. His type of Leukemia was rarer than the typical leukemia in children. Thankfully, he has finished his treatment and has been in remission for the past 28 months. Each day is more beautiful, and it has truly made us more thankful people. But it wasn’t easy, and sometimes down right ugly. We were truly amazed by some family and friends that were so supportive, and that is all we had time to focus on.
    My parents were not only toxic during out family’s battle with cancer, but they were downright cruel and continue to be today. My relationship with my mother had always been strained, so I learned to be a passive player in most of her antics. I am now at a crossroads with this relationship. I don’t understand her need to be so cruel, manipulative, and plainly lie about me. Only six months into my son’s treatment she told me she had a friend whose co-worker was a psychiatrist counseling families with life threatening cancers. The hospital was over an hour away but I was interested in any help being offered to us – so I took down the number of her friend. We left messages for each other with some delay due to the fact that her sister’s husband was dying of cancer. Hooking up was clearly hard, most people don’t understand what treatment entails, especially when trying to maintain three children, husband, jobs, home, bills etc. Most weeks meant spending every day taking your child to receive some kind of treatment from 9-5 and praying for no fevers during the night. He spent 75 nights at Yale Hospital, while friends that lived close helped me with our other two children until my husband made it home from work. My parents never helped with their grandchildren as they were too busy taking cruises. They offered once, but then rescinded their offer.
    I found out about a year later that my mother said,“ that I refused the psychiatric help, that I so desperately needed.” My brother, unknowingly mentioned this in conversation, not knowing there was any significance. There really wouldn’t have been, but it was a lie. I was left to analyze why she would have made this statement, and the conclusion is- I can only surmise, that she wanted nothing to do to help, because she along with my father would have to give something of themselves, like so many of our friends did. She wanted people to believe that I was a person with mental problems, so not supporting us was really all my fault. She has lied about such silly things before, … I found out months after my family had visited her and my father in Sarasota that she claimed I stole aspirin from an unopened bottle. I knew that my personal luggage had been noticeably picked through and I was very upset. My husband didn’t want me to confront the issue because we were leaving for Disney World early the next morning. At the time I didn’t understand why she went through my things, so as my husband wished, I played a passive role in the matter. As I stated, it was several months later that my father said, you stole things from your mother. I was so upset and distraught that I begged him to tell me what I stole, and that is when I found out it was aspirin. The truth is I didn’t borrow, take, or even touch aspirin from their home. This was about eight years ago, from that point on I have never slept in their home again. We, my husband and I, never addressed the matter again, we just decided we would not visit overnight, but stay in a hotel. The kids, have visited and slept at their home. Just this past August, our three kids visited them in their LI home. My son, now 15, was in his last four months of chemotherapy treatment. I am proud to say he is a “first honors” student at Notre Dame HS in Ct, and is a kind, self-confident young man. My parents accused him of stealing four dollars after not giving them the money back when he didn’t spend it. He said he just forgot. I was not there to witness what actually happened, or if he wasn’t forthright about returning their four dollars immediately when returning to their home after spending time with a friend who lives close to my parents home. It is so silly, but they made him feel as if he had no integrity. I lived through that feeling consistently throughout my entire relationship with my parents. The sad thing is, I’ve witnessed my mother creating this type of Bull sh–, and my father backing her up. So, I asked my father what this was all about, and he naturally got defensive, extremely defensive and said he wasn’t going to take any more of my bull sh–. End of call. That was Sept. 08. My son has finished he chemo, is still dealing with some effects of his treatment, but for the most part is coming around, and we as a family are healing also. We have not spoken to my parents since that last phone call, and they as usual have not even concerned themselves with my son to see how he is doing. This past Christmas, I decided right or wrong, I was going to send the small package they sent to the three children back “Refused”. My husband and I made a very bold decision. I have never stood up for myself, and now I found myself unable to stand up for my children. During my son’s battle with cancer, my husband had to bury his brother, (who died after a very short battle of pancreatic cancer at only 38) On Our Son’s Birthday…March 20, it has almost been a year.- My parents never even sent a card. It has been 6 months, 4 months before Christmas without them even trying to call their grandchildren. Our family has faced so many challenges, and we have done our very best, I just need to try to figure out for myself how to move on and away from toxic cruel unsupportive people.

    For years I would have liked to end my toxic relationship with these people that call themselves my parents, but I didn’t because I wanted my children to have a relationship with grandparents. I do have a sister, younger, and a brother, older, each one of us have a very different relationship with our parents. My mother wants us to be at odds with our siblings, and she is getting her way right now, as she has convinced my sister that I have a problem. My brother, well that’s a book in itself. He’s an alcoholic who was divorced 4 years ago and refuses to work or pay child support. My sister and I were very close during my son’s illness and treatment, she was extremely supportive often taking my daughter and youngest son in, during our long hospital stays. I know cancer has changed us, but not for the worse, we are better stronger more solid people. While my sister’s husband doesn’t agree with his wife’s, my sister’s, new stance with my mother it has just been awful to see my sister become more and more like her mother. I now need to figure out how to move one. We, our little family unit have been lucky and fortunate in this battle against cancer. We can start living again. Ask any one who has battled cancer, life seems to stand still, it robs so much. I have endured change, I know through time I will endure losing parents who always tried to sabotage my life. I just can’t stand by, and watch them treat my child, my son, a cancer survivor, have to endure their grandparents abusive ways. He’ll be sixteen soon and cares about so much more than what his grandparents, who haven’t played a role in his life, but as for my other children, my daughter is 12, very shy and quiet, and my youngest son is 7 I don’t know how to tell them that I think there life would be better without these people in it.

  29. Just wanted to drop a quick message of thanks to the blog and all the contributions on the site. I have a mother who is bi-polar and gone through the tribulations described above. As the only child, and without father I took the brunt of the abuse and have the mental scars to prove it, but I just cant seem to walk away even though I have threatened it on many occasion. My mother, I have to say is religious in her medicine taking and on the whole is quite functioning, except from the 3 or 4 times a year when something puts her off her sleeping pattern and the manic/low episodes return. And I, as the only relative have to pick up the pieces….which after doing so for all my life, I admit am very resentful about.(for which i have no feelings of guilt about anymore) Im so glad for my wife, (who is an occupational therapist) she is an absolute rock for me when I come home from a visit to my mother and she knows that I will likely feel down as a result from it. I hope someday I might find a better coping strategy or just cut ties completely, but until then reading experiences like these and knowing im not alone with these problems gives me some solace………..

  30. wuldiba: If your mother is actually taking her meds the way she is supposed to, you should consider yourself very lucky. Sure, there will be times that she is difficult to be around, but she recognizes the problem and is doing what she can to correct (or minimize) it. Compassion, tolerance, and understanding are what you need. There are many people who have shared their stories here that would gladly trade places with you.

  31. Wow! I wish I would have read something like this 20 years ago. It doesn’t give me much in the way of answers, but at least it helps me to not feel like I’m the one who’s crazy. At least it helps me to feel that I’m not a horrible daughter because I can’t stand to be around my mother.

    All the examples of bipolar disorder were there for so many years, and my mother wasn’t diagnosed until about 8 years ago. She even had a nervous breakdown 16 years ago, and it wasn’t diagnosed then. Well, they called what she had “atypical mood disorder with brief reactive psychosis,” and according to her the psychiatrist specifically said that she was not bipolar. The only thing I can figure is that she is not Bipolar I, so maybe that’s why he said that. She is definitely Bipolar II. The obsessive collecting, hypochondria (now she has had cancer 7 times, in the last eight years, so there is some truth to that now), putter-cleaning (OMG this is the perfect term, I had no idea that was part of the BP), sleeping all day (in the down cycle) controlling, finding faults, expecting perfection,snide comments, arguing, attention-mongering/guilt-fests, numerous lengthy and abusive/manipulative phone calls, raging, threatening me with either violence or no contact or shutting me out of her life (I probably should have taken her up on that.)

    I’m an only child, and Dad just enabled her. He was so sweet and loving, and he truly loved her. I know it’s an illness, but she is SO mean, and she won’t admit that anything is her fault, nothing. Then she starts saying, “Well, you’re bipolar; you see it, don’t you. And your husband is bipolar. And your friend so-and-so is bipolar…” She won’t take her meds at all because she can think more clearly. “And you (meaning me) just don’t like it because I won’t take your sh__ when I’m high.” My Dad just died, and I never realized how much he buffered my relationship with my Mom. I left home at 18, married the first guy who asked me so that I could get away from her. I became a Christian in 1993, and I wanted to try to have a better relationship with my Mom. I thought I was doing pretty good, but I think I was just able to stay away during the really bad manic times. Now I have no choice because Dad isn’t there to take care of her, and there is no one else. It drives my husband crazy, but he doesn’t know what the answer is either. Sadly, to me it just seems like the only answer is going to be when she dies, which I know I’m going to go into some serious guilt at that point. But it’s a Catch 22: if I don’t try to stay away from her some now, I’m going to go crazy, lose my job, and possibly my husband; and if I do that, then I will deal with all that guilt when she dies because I wasn’t there enough for her.

    Man, I wish there were some answers. But I don’t see any.

    • Wow, I agree. I had the same situation, but without the father. Right now, I am not dealing with her rants. She is upset with me because, I neglected to tell her my husband was in jail for 1 year. I am 45 years old, and I’ve been married to him fro 6 years now. He and I have had a pretty good relationship, but he had a drinking problem, that she never knew about, because he binged only, occasionally. Unfortunately, the drinking binge got him into jail. I never told her because, I knew how she would react, and then she would taunt me, and drive me nuts about the whole situation. It would be added pressure from her I didn’t need. so, I told her he got a job in another state, and was doing great. When he came back, he mistakenly told her he was in jail, because he doesn’t like to lie.. I told her it was true. By the way, he no longer drinks nor smokes and has dedicated his life to Jesus. She doesn’t care about that part. She’s been mad at me for 3 months now, becasue I lied to her, and she calls me a low-life because I disagree with her about the lying part. I told her, I had to lie to her, because she can never handle the truth. All, my life, I’ve had to stay put, not say what I feel, or I would get smacked, or have an opinion, or speak my mind. Now, I’m 45, and she demands that I clarify WHY I LIED TO HER??? I told her already, becasue she can’t handle the truth. She’s not satisfied with that. Now she has told the whole family about me, and how I’ve been ignoring her, and don’t want her to come over. I haven’t said anything ; like that. I’ve told her to call first becasue I may be working on the remodeling of the house, and just dropping by may be inconvenient for both of us. SHE just see’s everything as, I hurt her, or he hurt her or they (family, friends, etc.) hurt her. Now I’m just numb. I don’t answer her constant texts, phone call, emails, voice mails, messages on my door, stalking in the neighborhood, messages from my neighbors, saying that she stopped by to ask them if they saw anything suspicious at my house to call her. My husband and I are both born-again Christians, if anything is suspicious on our property it’s the cars on bible study night.

  32. Does any of this ring a bell? My mother-in-law is bipolar and wrote this to us awhile back after she had been “victimized” by the way we have treated her unfairly…
    we are glad that her parents meet your rules. don’t worry about us anymore, you can continue with your trips to their house. it seems that both of you have decided that is what you feel comfortable with her parent and extended family. her mom and dad are nice people and we have no bad words towards them at all . we do not plan on any trips to your house to see you or keep the children. if you don’t trust us here then what difference does your house make. please do not call or send any more degrading emails to us. we have done our best to try and be a part of your life, but we are not taking anymore abuse from you. we know son that you wrote and signed this letter, but many of the ideas are from *wife*. we know you are trying to make things better by taking the blame yourself. *wife* might not have lied, but she is still selfish and this has been going on for 2 years about the trips of her to her parents and not including us. she knows what she has done and she will have to live with our being hurt and keeping us out of the picture. we feel our feelings really don’t matter to her at, she only cares because she know you love us. nothing has been solved as far as her trips to her parents with *granddaughter* in the past 2 years and not sharing.
    we don’t need to discuss it anymore. *son* please don’t have an anxiety attack over our decision to bow out. we are at peace with God about how you and *wife* feel and only you can change the hurt we feel and have felt over 2 years. there has been enough hurt between us and we can not continue any longer, so we hope that *granddaughter* and *grandson* will have a wonderful relationship with *wife’s* parents and family. we hope you never have to help *wife* write a letter to her parents like this one you did to us. we only guess if you had been the woman in the family this could have happened. we will always love you, *granddaughter* and *grandson*. we decided to write instead of calling. dad gets too upset on verbal conversations as well as me and most other people. we know you had to make a decision. we still love you whatever happens and we are always there for you. we are sorry it has to end this way, but we will live through it.

    our love,

    mom and dad

  33. Hi, just wondering if anyone might have some advice for me.

    I believe that my sister is either undiagnosed bi-polar or some other emotional disorder. She is divorced twice with three children, two boys from the first marriage and one girl from the second marriage. I am concerned about her children who I am very close with.

    My nephews are now 15 and 16. I have been a big part of their lives because they grew up without any other stable male figure and I have always taken the approach of not speaking poorly of their parents while making myself available to them if they needed someone to talk to.

    My sister’s condition has recently taken a turn for the worse (there could be many causes for this based on the things she is involved with in her life, the main suspects being a cult-like organization called The Landmark Forum and a new boyfriend who appears to be the kind of guy who hunts for un-balanced women so that he can take advantage of the situation). She has developed severe paranoia and I believe that she may even be delusional. She has alienated herself from my entire family, my parents, my two other sisters and myself so none of us really know what’s going on with her. Now, reports are filtering back from the boys that she has been telling them stories about our family that are fabrications and telling them not to talk about her to us. I know this is something that is coming from the paranoia but the result is that she is trying to disrupt any help we might be able to give to my nephews in coping with this unhealthy situation. They both love their mother very much and would not want to hurt her. As far as I can tell, she is holding them emotionally hostage.

    The advice I am looking for has to do with how to handle the situation. It must be terribly confusing and heart-breaking for the boys to be dealing with this stuff.

    I know that not having a loving relationship with a mother is something that a child might never get over, so I would never want to do something to damage the relationship they have with their mother, or what’s left of it (this relationship has become strained recently over issues she has with their father and what I mentioned about the position she has taken toward her own family), but, at the same time, I can see the damage her condition is causing them.

    I am inclined to just continue with what I am already doing by simply making myself available to them if they need me but I also feel that I might have to reach out to them a little more because of the feelings of betrayal they will feel now if they think about coming to me for help.

    Also, I could really use some insider perspective on whether it would be helpful for them to know at this age that their mother might have a disorder and it’s not just the way some people are. I worry that they will grow up with the idea that this is what love looks like.

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

  34. Hi, my mother is also bipolar, and she never took any meds, I’m 22 years old, and I feel guilt every time she makes a conflict. She is my mother and I can’t stop loving her, even when she hurts me. I really like your blog. Matilde from Uruguay

  35. goingcrazymyself:
    Your choice is between your husband and your mother. Does ‘leave & cleave’ ring a bell? Unfortunately my mother is toxic, and I suspect yours is also. You’re trying to decide if the pain and madness now would be better than the pain of guilt later. I can’t guarantee, but I think that the guilt would have limits, especially with family & friends who understand your situation. I don’t know that there would be any limit to the pain she could bring you now.

    The kids are probably already aware of a problem, but can’t articulate it, or don’t know how much other people know. I’d suggest that you discuss it with them as adults. Let them know what behavior you see as a problem and why, and that you have some idea of how difficult it must be for them to deal with. Let them know that you will keep their confidence if they share something with you.
    At their ages, if your sister gets abusive towards them, they might consider leaving. You might want to let them know that you would understand if they need some place to cool off, but that it wouldn’t be a habitual or permanent thing.

  36. I’ve spent the last two weeks reading through your blog and it has given me the “sigh of relief” I’ve needed. I have quite a family history of bipolar disorder – the most relevant being my grandmother and mother. Listening to your YouTube recordings was like listening to my grandmother’s phone calls. She passed away nearly a year ago, so it was a little creepy. Since my grandmother’s death my mother has been quickly spiralling out of control. For the past two months I’ve been trying (in vain) to help her get help. The two psychiatrists that she has seen have said that her unofficial diagnosis is bipolar (with possibly other psychological problems), abusing prescription drugs and alcohol and they suspect an eating disorder (that’s pretty evident based on her weight and appearances). I have to admit – I’ve been dealing with a litle bit of craziness from her my whole life, but this recent “manic state” she’s been in has me completely exhausted. We would just cut her off (since she refuses to get help and can’t seem to control her mouth around my kids), but it would mean cutting off other family members that don’t deserve it and don’t know the full extent of the situation. She probably has them all convinced that I’m the one that’s crazy and trying to conspire against her. Have you just had to quit seeing other family members as well? And is it neglegent of me to call it quits with her so soon? I’m the only one who has been proactively trying to help her and I’m afraid of what will happen if I stop. I just don’t think I can continue the way I have been the past few months without making myself crazy.

    • I just started to view this blog this the morning on 10/5/2010 after a very disturbing, hateful phone conversation with my elderlty mother. It was so painful for me, that I missed work and sat in a trance all day. I was numb with pain. Like you, this blog has given me a sigh of relief…..a feeling of solidarity with others who have similar experiences. I think I’m most sad adn most scared today because I know that my mom’s years on earth are very limited; it will kill me if our last interaction is the crazy, hateful, cutting mother instead of the loving one.

  37. I am 25 years of age & my son was born on 10 November 2010. As his father & I are not staying together my parents offered a helping hand until I pretty much find my feet. I however have a concern:

    My mother has suffered from a chemical inbalance in her seratonin levels all my teenage life. This has developed into Bipolar depression over the past 7 years. Does my mother’s depression affect my infant in any way? He sometimes seems more unsettled & irrate when with her, even if her spirits are high.

    This child has given her renewed reason to life, but as a mother I have to consider the effects on my son. Please help.

  38. My boyfriend’s ex-wife is bi-polar, she has tried to commit suicide many times and has threatened suicide in front of the children ages 7 & 2. She has told them that if mommy dies it is all daddy’s fault. He is really struggling with wether to let him see their mom. He is afraid that she will not only make those statements again but also take to many pills and not be able to care for them. I know what I would do but it’s hard for him he doesnt want to make her illness worse by taking the kids away. Any advice on how to help him understand whats best for the kids.

    Thank you,

  39. I need help figuring out how to sever ties with my mother. A therapist of hers once called me to inform me that she was bipolar. I never spoke w him as I was pregnant at the time and couldnt deal with the stress. My own therapist thinks that my mother is bipolar and borderline schizophrenic. She has narsassistic and paraniod tendencies as well. She claims to have PTSD, but wont seek help for it and has stopped seeing therapist since she was diagnosed bipolar. As the years go on she gets worse. I have a 3 year old son who she says she loves spending time with(though she mostly gossips or complains to me about other people when she comes over and ignores my child) She is paraniod about parasites and insists that my son has them. She will not let up about getting him an alternative treatment for these fictional parasites. This has been going on for over a year and each time he catches a cold or anything she freaks out on me blaming the parasites and basically acusing me of abuse for not seeking treatment for my son. (I have had him check for parasites by both a conventional pediatrician and also a holistic practioner. All tests have come back negative for all parasites. The parasites she claims he has only exist in southeat asia and are not found in the US. I know this is about control and boundaries. I have apeased he my whole life but my sons health is where I draw the line. She cannot deal w me standing up to her. I try to allow her to visit my son once a week but just the thought of her coming over gets me tense and angry. I am coming to terms with my tortured childhood and I am angry. I want nothing to do with her but I still love and feel sorry for her. She is ill and I know this but she wont seek help. She used to be a successful business woman and now she has lost her house all her money, everything. She lives w a boyfriend she hates and its only a matter of time till he throws her out. She has insisted that I allow her to live with my husband and I on several occasions in the last year but I have refused. I want to cut her out of my life but I know she will go crazy using the notion that she needs to see her grandson and once when I didnt speak to her for two weeks had already threatened to exercise her ‘grandparental rights’. My health is suffering from the stress she has put me through and I have been seeing a therapist for teh last year to help me deal with her. The more I delve into my childhood memories the angrier I get with her. I cannot stand to be in her presence but feel like she will mentally collapse if I sever ties and disallow her to see my son. How do you go about this? How do you cut ties with the person that brought you into the world and has controlled you with guilt and manipulation your whole life? Thanks for listening and any advice would be appreciated.

    • You ask HOW to sever ties, and I take it to mean that you have considered your options and recognize that it needs to be done. The nuts and bolts of doing it is going to differ between you and I. Basically, I had to change our phone number multiple times, and chase her off my property. I personally never had to involve the authorities, although it might have come to that.

      You could try the method that I used, using access to her grandchildren as a carrot to encourage her to get help. If you do, hopefully you will have better results than I did.

      It is a lot of material, but if you read my posts linked from starting about Apr 20, 2007, you might be able to glean something useful.

      As far as concrete steps to take:
      Recognize that it isn’t your problem, and you can’t fix it

      You aren’t responsible for it, or her

      Your time is yours, and she is no different than anyone else. They are allowed access to you and your family at YOUR convenience.

      Good luck

  40. Hi, I am fourteen years old, and my mother is extremely bipolar, depressed, and has many mood, personality, and stress disorders. She has been taking medication for as long as I can remember, but it doesnt seem to help. Everything seemed to get worse after she divorced my father, I was six at the time, my sister was four. My father, who is a diagnosed psycopath, bipolar, and an alcoholic, as well as many other things, sent my mom into a panic attack, which she still hasnt recoverd from after eight years. After the divorce my mom came to move in with my grandparents, who are very bipolar, and have an extreme amount of disorders. We lived with them for two or three years. During this time they were so many blow ups and fights, that I like to think didnt affect me.My mother had also been arrested innumerable times and spent many days in jail. Eventualy my grandparents bought us a house next door. My mom had begun using drugs much more heavily, and hadn’t had a job in over five years. She became more lazy and wouldn’t pay rent to my grandparents. Obviously this did not go over well. More and more and more episodes happened, I was terrified of my family. There were so many times that I just wanted to die. My mother just continued to blame evrything on me. She got arrested again, making me live at my grandparent’s house for two months. After a year of living in that house, my mom got a boyfriend who moved in. I liked him, but they soon broke up, and many months later we found out he was gay. During this time, my mom had another boyfriend, who I absolutely despised. She and my sister moved in with him, after three years in that house she moved out, 45 minutes away. I stayed with my grandparents to finish out the school year. When it ended I moved in with my mother It was horrible, I hated evryone. Her boyfriend, drank all the time, and I was stuck with, after all “It was his house”. Ive been here for a year, Im starting ninth grade. I get in fights with my mom all the time, and I just can’t stand it when she says that she’s a great mother. She’s incredibly lazy, ans always claims to be “sick” meaning I have to do everything Her boyfriend is abusive (emotionaly, sometimes physically to her)and controlling. I know that they will never break up because they rely so much on one another. This summer I have to go to my dad’s. I just can’t stand it anymore. The only hope I have is to go to college and make a better life for myself. I have big plans for my future, and I pray I won’t turn out like her, and hope I can be a better mother, but for now, what can I do? How do you deal with your mother?
    P.S. I have shortened this as many other things have happened.

  41. Hi, my mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years ago, just in time for her nervous breakdown. ever since then, she has been in and out of psych hospitals, and has generally become a different person. I struggle every day coming to terms with the fact that she is not the mother I grew up with, and that she doesn’t seem to have the will to be a parent at all anymore.
    my dad has depression on top of this. my mom sleeps all day until my dad gets home from work, they talk for maybe half an hour, and then both of them go to sleep. most of the time it’s until the next morning. my mom might be awake for five hours a day, on a good day. meanwhile, the house is falling further and further into disrepair. no one cleans while i’m away at school, and no one maintains the yards. i’m disgusted every time i come home, and it’s my own house.
    my boyfriend wants to visit me at some point to break up the summer (he lives seven hours away). i dont know how to explain to him that he cant stay at my house. my mom is on disability, so she is always home. my sister and i have grown used to dealing with the quirks and attitudes that come with bp, but i’ve never let an “outsider” see how i actually live.
    i guess my question is, when and how did you explain to your significant other what it is like to grow up with a bipolar parent?

  42. i have spent the afternoon reading this blog with a combination of anxiety and relief. Nevertheless i still dont know if my mother is bipolar or not.
    I relate to the parenting by guilt..My whole life I have felt like I needed to gain my mothers love by showing her how much she means to me. Going out of my way to keep her happy, biting my tongue each time she yelled and screamed abuse at me. Cowering as she beat me when I was a child, and always to scared to stand up to her until recently.

    Firstly I will give you a brief history. My parents were married for 32 years, until my father announced he was leaving for Europe, with his girlfriend. He disappeared for 5 yrs. Only contacting us when he ran out of money, which my mother promptly sent him. Then one day he returned, we found out he had moved back in with my mother.No one talked about what he had done and we where expected to act like nothing had happenend. Shortly after his return he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within 18 months. during his illness my parents returned back to thier homeland. My mother has returned to visit twice since my fathers death and each visit has ended with tears, and arguments yelling and screaming.

    This last visit was the worst. We had gone away with my sisters and respective partners. She did not like my middle sisters partner. It was late and we were all tired, but enjoying ourselves. We had all been drinking, when suddenly my mother began hurling abuse at my sisters partner. My sister and I jumped to our feet, told her to go to bed and quickly ushered her out of the room. As we led her away she tripped, and began crying telling us she was leaving. Mind you it was 1am and we were in a rural town approx 3 hours away from home. We thought it best she stay. The situtation promptly escalted and as always her words became more and more vile, hateful disgusting things a parent should never say. Of course we had heard it all before. “you hate me!, You’ve always told people what an awful mother I am. You are horrible daughters, you dont love me, Im going away and I am going to die….blah blah blah….The final straw was when she looked me in the eye, her eyes crazy with rage and hate and as she jabbed my face with her finger she yelled “you will pay for this with the lives of your children!!!” In that moment all the years of agony, and the fear and anger I felt for her erupted from me. In that moment she had finally broken me. I slapped her hard 3 times!. Immediately I was ashamed of what I had done, Disbelief set in, was I turning into her? Ii wished I could turn back time.
    Eventually we let her go, for 4 hours she terrorised us, exhausted we gave up, and she wondered off into the night. We called her the follwoing morning and she told us to leave her alone, that she never wanted anything to do with us ever again.

    We have heard from her sporadically since then, blank test messages, mysterious hang ups at home. She claims I broke her nose on that day or so ive been told by family.

    The reason I tell you this story is because:

    A: I am searching for answers. Although she has always had highs and lows, they do not seem to be as manic as those given in this blog. Except for my slap, this is typical of what we call her “episodes”. She would beat us or verbally abuse us, and then that night she would make our favourite dinner and we would have to thank her for being such a wonderful mother.
    B: I feel overcome with guilt for my behaviour, and for not contacting her.
    C: It is the only way I feel comfortable “confessing” my actions on that night.

  43. I am a young mother. My daughter is 5 and I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 yrs ago. in the begining, it took a while to get the right med combination and i have been hospitalized twice.. all though my daughter only knows of once.. and i have not attempted suicide. I take my meds and truly i dont have anger issues on top of my illness. i am very consistant with my daughter. in my personal life.. education/ job i struggle more with consistancy. I am divorced and am trying to decide where my daughter should live… her dad is not the best place for her either… So i want to know, is it possible for me to raise my daughter in such a way that my bipolar will not affect her in an abusive way. obviously there will always be some trials… but if i can make sure that those trials are limmited… i wounder if i can raise my daughter with out my illness affecting her anymore than if i were only physically ill. this might be an idealized view, and i will make my desicion carefully, but i want some feed back… not feedback that is completely full of anger toward bipolar parents, but truly do any of you think that if your parents were diagnozed early in childhood and sought and attended treatment that their illness would not have been an abusive experience?

  44. Hi,
    I have a son, 11 years old. His mother, my x-wife, is a bipolar. She had her first attack in 2001 when our son was 2 years old. We have been divorced for the past 3 years. I see my son over the weekends, he spends 2 full days with me. His mom tries everything to stop me seeing him. For the past 2 years, every Friday night I have to go & collect my son with social services people. This is a drain on my emotions and money. I am trying hard not to reflect this on my son by blaming his mother but sometimes it does not work. His grandmother also has the same sickness and lives with them. There is a court case going on for 2 years, I am trying to get custody of my son. I am wondering what my son is feeling all about this? He loves his mum but is she not knowingly damaging my sons emotions? Could his closeness with his mum bring him the sickness too? Maybe later on in the years? These are the questions burning in me….

    • He’s 11, so he is quite capable of understanding what mental illness is. I would suggest that you make sure that he knows that YOU want to be with him, and that nothing will prevent you from having him as much as you are allowed.

      He’s probably already developed coping strategies that help when he is with his mother, and you might casually inquire about what he does when she xxxx. If they are unhealthy, you might suggest some better alternatives.

      As you said, your son loves his mother. Don’t under any circumstances speak badly of her in front of him. If something slips out, apologize to him. The last thing you want your son to think is that his primary value is as a tool for his parents to fight with.

      As to your son becoming bipolar, it is at least partly genetic. You need to be a stable person and a good example of how to maturely deal with situations, since he is unlikely to get that elsewhere.

  45. I know most posts are from children of bipolar mothers, but I am the daughter of a bipolar father and many of our experiences are eerily similar. My question is regarding my own personal relationships. I am 23 and in a new relationship (about 3mos.). We are getting pretty serious and he wants to meet my family. I have not told him about my father and I don’t know how to approach the subject.

    Luckily, my father has consistently taken his medication for many years–thanks to my mom (they’re still married). However, most of us know that even with meds, my dad is never quite normal. I am afraid he will embarrass me, but I am more afraid of my boyfriend judging my father and subsequently judging me.

    Does anyone have any advice on when and how to tell your significant other that your parent is bipolar? Or is it too soon to discuss that? I don’t know anyone else who has a bipolar/mentally ill parent to ask, so I would really appreciate any advice!

  46. I am 34 and have just discovered that there are other people out there that survived a childhood like my own. I have known that my mother is bipolar but I did not understand until today that the hell that I have lived was a result of this disorder. My mother is a manipulative, controlling, hypochondriac, crazy person. I have spent my life in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing that would set her off into a “manic” episode ( I did not understand that these crazy spells are part of the illness). For example, she used to come into my room each night and shake me awake and yell at me for things that I have done at some point in my life, or for not feeling or acting in a certain way. I am still being blamed for things that happened as long as 18 plus years ago.

    I escaped from her house immediately after graduating from high school. Since this time, our ” relationship” has been on and off. But as of recent, her craziness as intensified even more than normal. I know this is somewhat of a result of my stepfather battling cancer. I feel horrible because her recent behavior has brought back some horrifying memories of my past, and I am at the point that I just do not want to deal with her anymore. She quit taking all of her medications 17 years ago and she refuses to see a therapist. So now I am at a crossroads of how she fits into my life.

    I am grateful that I have come across this website and have found other people that truly understand the hell of living with a bipolar parent.

  47. I’m 17 years old and currently living alone with my mother who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years before she had me, when she was 18. my younger brother moved in with my father around a year ago because of constant temper tantrums he had, and generally just being unhappy. I’ve known for years that the way my mother acts is not normal – sometimes it’s as if I’m living with another teenager. She makes irrational decisions, and is constantly arguing with me about the smallest things. I honestly have never had a ‘normal’ relationship with her the way that I see my friends have relationships with their mothers, and whenever I try to have a nice conversation with her she somehow finds a way to turn it into something to argue with me over. Although I know why she acts like this and that she can’t help it, I know being a hormonal teenager that argues back with her doesn’t help the situation. I’ve tried to ‘deal’ with her disorder in many ways, but what some people fail to understand is that it’s one of the most difficult things. In this past year I’ve become depressed – my grades in school have dropped, my friendships have fallen apart, etc. because of it. I know it’s wrong to blame her for these things, but sometimes I just can’t stand even being in the same room as her. She never talks to me as a normal person.

    It’s nice to know that others have dealt with this, because I am trying so hard to get through it currently. I know that once I’m older it will be easier to deal with, but right now I have so little support because no one truly understands how difficult it is to live with her. Sometimes I truly wish I did have a normal mother – one that I could talk to about my issues and won’t constantly worry and yell at me. I suppose that’s just the way things are though.

    • Hi Jessica, I’m 22 and feel like I’m living with a teenager as well. I feel like I take care of her. It’s horrible when people blame her behaviour on your attitude as a teenager/ young person, when they don’t understand that 80% of it is her attitude!!! Mentally, she’s a baby. Sometimes she sounds like a sulky teenager. And third parties tend to blame me on her upset and our arguments, as they don’t understand the disorder.

      I know how you feel because at 17 I felt the same.
      Just make sure you finish your studies etc, and move out.
      Move out!!!!!!

  48. The Question that’s on all our minds………………….

    Can your bipolar mother ‘get better’, or is bipolar who she actually is?

  49. I’m so emotionally exhausted from dealing with my bipolar mother whose medication is not working. I just found this blog and want to tell you it’s such a relief to know that other people have similar experiences. Any internet search looking for some sort of support for *me* while I deal with the doctors, her paranoia, the two-month plus waitlist with the psychiatrist, her anger, her illogical thought patterns, her *meanness* all leads to support for biopolar people, but nothing for those of us who are trying their best to help without losing our minds…

    Thanks for this blog. Can’t tell you the relief I’m feeling just knowing other people understand this nightmare.

  50. I’m 22, and my mom is bipolar, had throat cancer last year, and is an alcoholic. I love her, and no, I don’t hate her a bit. She never asked to be ill, and multiple head injuries including a traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobe did not help matters. However, my problem is that I have a fifteen year old sister still at home, who came home from a weekend with a friend to find a suicide note and a loaded revolver on the table beside our mom. Our dad was killed in a car accident when she was a baby, so she’s never had any kind of stability. The house is filthy- she leaves food out to rot in the kitchen, its overrun with mice, and I’m pretty sure that the toilets and bathtubs haven’t been cleaned since I moved out. My question is can I remove my sister from this environment in order to give her the stable home life she desperately needs? I have been seriously considering having mom involuntarily committed for evaluation, but I realize that fundamentally she has to make a choice to get help.

    • IF you have the ability to take your sister, then by all means do so. Keep in mind that she will probably have issues that she will need help with, and may be more work than you are expecting. After all, she’s been living with a bipolar mother all her life.
      Also, I’m not sure where you live, but if the police were involved after a suicide attempt, then social services would probably be also. If that is the case, then you should probably go through them for custody of your sister. They have resources available that may be of use. Be advised that this will allow them to ‘get all up in your business’, so think it through before deciding.

  51. I wish I had found this website sooner. My mother has been bipolar as long as I can remember, and my loving, caring father has continued to deal with her and her verbal abuse for 4 decades. I don’t want to speak to her anymore, and growing up I did well in school and went to college to get AWAY from her. I graduated with a Masters degree with straight As. She was my motivation to do well and succeed because I didn’t ever want to live near her or need her help.

    She’s worse now than ever, and it’s taking a toll on my elderly dad. She has called the police on him 4 times in the past week delusional things she has imagined. She refuses medication other than the times she ends up being hospitalized and/or picked up by the police—- but as soon as she gets out it’s back to the CRAZY TRAIN. She is such a burden on our family and ruins every holiday, function or event. I even purposely didn’t tell my parents when I was giving birth because I didn’t want her present.

  52. I’m not bipolar (at least I don’t think so), but I do suffer from depression. I have attempted suicide a few times and been hospitalized twice for it. I am keenly aware that my depression impacts my ability to be a good mother. I’ve tried various combinations of meds, but none seem to work very well and they stop working after a while, it seems. I feel like I am completely broken and will never be able to be fixed. For those of you who have dealt with mentally ill parents, do you wish your ill parent would have left the family so that you didn’t have to live with the illness on a daily basis? Although I really don’t want to keep living, I choose not to attempt suicide again because I am worried that my kids would be harmed (and shamed) by having a mother who committed suicide. I love my children very much. If I leave, it would cause some hardships for them at least until my husband got remarried, but I think ultimately it would be the best for them. I’m selfish and I want to be around them all the time because I do love them so much, but I’m willing to leave if it is the best thing. My husband won’t even discuss this. He doesn’t want a divorce. He also really doesn’t want to deal with my illness, either. He keeps telling me we have a great life. He doesn’t get that, yes, we do have a great life, but I can’t be happy because I am mentally ill. Trying to figure out what is best for my kids is so hard. Every day is not bad. I am not a horrible mother all the time. Half the time I am pretty normal. The rest alternates between neglect due to depression and verbal abuse due to horrible mood swings. And although I know what I am doing and hate it, it is like I can’t control myself and stop it. I guess I know I need to go. I just don’t know how to explain it to the kids so it will hurt less.

  53. I am 17 years old and I have no one helping me with my moms bipolar episodes. All my life she has had manic episodes, causing anger, aggression, and directly correlating to her multiple divorces/breakups, my young brother being an emotional wreck, and most recently, my mom had such a terrible manic state that she kicked me out, making me move to live with my dad and blamed me for her recently diagnosed condition. I moved back this year, after a year away from her. She told me she had her medications balanced and she is on a strict regimen for taking them. Yet she still constantly has manic/depressing states, when she constantly grounds me, tears me down emotionally, attacks my personal life, and punishes me for things that have happened YEARS AGO. I’m a senior in high school, and I am almost out of this aggravating situation, but I also want to enjoy my senior year. I am feeling helpless in dealing with her. I don’t know how to react, respond, or deal with her. I feel like I never do anything right, and I don’t want to lose any of my varsity sport experiences to my mom’s unreasonable punishments. I need someone’s help, it’s awful feeling like I have no where to turn when it comes to this.

  54. Just….how do you do it? I’m bipolar, my mom is, and most of my family is, but even knowing how they feel and what they’re going through, I can’t help but feel hurt, frustrated, and panicked by the things my mom says and does. She’s called me a lesbian whore, chased away almost everyone we love, violently attacked me, and even blamed me for my also-bipolar brother’s suicide.

    This has been going on since I was little, and don’t get me wrong, she’s actually gotten quite a bit better about it, but it just gets so old. Sometimes I’m even afraid to go home because I don’t know what kind of mood she’ll be in. She drinks during her episodes, will completely deny everything horrible she did or said, and usually denies she even has a problem at all. When she does admit it, she blames my brother’s death, when I know from the word of many relatives that they’ve all been bipolar since they were kids.

    What really gets me is the fact that I’m 20, she’s 55, and I at least admit I have multiple mental disorders, work to help myself stay in balance, and have actually gotten many of my emotional problems under some decent amount of control. Sure I’ve had my fair share of violent outbursts, I’ve hurt and alienated many loved ones, but I’ve learned from my mistakes and taken steps not to make them again. Long-term, the only person who can rally help you is yourself. I love my mom with all my heart, I feel so guilty for needing to distance myself from her during hard times, but she doesn’t even try.

    Anytime I try to encourage her to seek help, or more importantly, to help herself, I’m met with denial and resistance. Nothing bad ever happens to me, I just make it up to make her look bad, and everyone who agrees with me about her is actually lying to my face and really on her side because I’m the bipolar one. Yes, but so is she. I make a conscious effort to avoid conflict, watch my tongue, and be patient no matter how bad our episodes both get. I don’t want to hurt anyone else. On the other hand, she says the worst things merely to hurt me and break me down. It works very well.

    How do you do it?

  55. I am a bipolar mother I’m struggling with friendships. I’m so thankful for my husbands loving genuine compsionate caring with me but have been so let down by the females in my life

  56. What a lovely website. I mean this in the most sincere regards, as I too have the daily task of dealing with a bipolar mother, and only by reading these comments, I see that I am,neither alone, nor is my situation unique.

    My question is as such:
    I’m 29, my mom,is 54. My dad passed away early 2013. Although she has had many episodes as long as I can remember, (gun shots in the house, various attention seeking suicide attempts, written off cars etc) my dad usually steadied the ship eventually. Now that he is gone, she is left up to her own,devices. And its failing miserably.

    I live 600 km away and my sister lives abroad. I’m not going to repeat all the destructive and manipulative things she has done/said in the past, as this is not the point of this post. The issue is, she has started to hang around the wrong people, i.e. she is dating a homeless guy, and from what I can gather, she is drinking daily.

    We finally sold the house, and as i am supporting her financially to the best of my abilities, my plan whether I like it or not, is for her to move in with my wife and I to,provide her a stable home. However the issue is that she doesn’t want to leave this homeless guy and is causing major havoc as she is insisting that this guy should also live with us. The same guy that beat her up, introduced her to marijuana, and is using her for her money. It goes without saying that there is no way that I,will allow that.

    I’m going to see her next weekend.

    My predicament however, is how do I handle the situation if she insists that she would rather move in with this guy (wherever she finds a place). In my opinion, I can’t let her decide, as she does not have the psychological capacity to make rational decisions. In addition to that, its not sustainable, as well as from a needs perspective not the best her in my opinion.

    The other aspect is probably, that she is an adult, and I am not sure if I have the mandate to make decisions for her.

    Any advice would really be welcome.

    • I don’t envy your situation. As much as Dad enables Mom, he does provide a bit of stabilization.

      She’s an adult, and ‘capable’ of making her own decisions, so you will have to permit her to make the wrong ones. Your only other choice would be to get her declared incompetent, and take over her decisions for her. I understand that neither are good options, but that’s what you have.

      Your mother has been shielded from consequences for a long time, and you are trying to continue that. But don’t expect her to understand that the consequences could be in any way related to her poor decision making, they’ll always be because of other people or circumstances being unfair.

      You should think very long and hard about even attempting to move your mother in with you. Your wife has no idea what that would mean, and there is really no way to explain it to her.

  57. I noticed all the comments and posts are from years ago but wanted to thank you for keeping them in the world wide web for everyone to see. It has helped me tonight reading the comments of people who sound exactly like my mother and others pointing out the emotional language and ridiculousness of their reasoning. It has comforted me knowing others out there experience the same if not similar things and I’m not a bad person for cutting my family out of my life to keep myself happy and “sane” so thank you!

  58. I just came across your blog last night. Reading it has been very theraputic. Your mom sounds just like my mother. I have too many examples to count why our relationship is strained, and why just thinking about her gives me too anxious to sleep. I’m 31 years old, and the mother of a toddler. I no longer reach out to my mother, and she- thankfully- lives several hours away. I always wanted a strong relationship with my mother, and I always let her behavior slide. From what I understand, she had an abusive childhood, and she burned all the bridges in her family. As kids, she guilt my brother and I into putting up with her madness, because we were all she had. She left my father when I was a kid, but acts like she was the one left. Everything has to be about her, and go her way, or she actively sabotages it. She sees me in her image, so when I do or say something she wouldn’t, she considers it rebellion, and will even cut me off. To this day, she is very manipulative, cries on a dime, and is mean to my husband and his family. Whenever I get close to anyone, they are automatically seen as the enemy to her. I can’t stand it anymore. I feel guilty for wanting to completely cut her off, and keep her away from my son. During my pregnancy, while everyone congratulated my husband and I, the first thing she told me was that I was going to have a miscarriage. When she found out it was a boy, she told me she was disappointed. I hope to never be like her to my son. I’m sorry for unloading. I rarely get the chance. I’m thankful not to be alone. Thank you for making this blog!

  59. Dear fellow child of a bipolar mother.

    I came across your blog this morning as I was researching the effects of maternal depression on children (I’m a post-grad psychology student). I have been glued to my computer screen for the past two hours and have gotten about halfway through your posts. I found your accounts not only intellectually stimulating, as anything involving psychopathology is always fascinating to me, but also deeply touching in a personal way. I grew up with a bipolar mother (and grandmother, like you) and honestly, it never gets old to know that you’re not completely alone in your messed up experiences. So thank you. Thank you for taking the time and having the courage to write about your experiences.

    There’s something I want to mention to you in case you haven’t yet come across is. Although, because I haven’t read all of your posts, you may very well have. In one of your accounts of the “road-trip” you took with your mother to get her home after she was hospitalized, you mentioned that sometimes you wondered whether certain aspects of her personality were part of her bipolar or whether they would remain even if her disorder was treated with medication. I grappled with this question for a number of years because my mother often behaves in a very manipulative, attention-seeking, hypochondriacal, egotistical, and/or vindictive manner. At first I assumed this was part of her Bipolar disorder, which remains untreated because, despite being diagnosed by more than four clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, she denies that there is anything psychologically wrong with her. It was only when I met lovely, functioning people who suffered from bipolar disorder but had learned to manage it that I realised ‘being nasty’ isn’t a symptom. It was then that I started addressing this discrepancy with my own psychologist and psychiatrist (I am not bipolar but have been depressed in the past, mainly due to the effects of my mother’s parenting). It is impossible to know for sure without a clinician meeting directly with her, but from my accounts and from what her previous psychologists can vouch for, it is likely that she co-morbidly has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well. Suddently, a lot of my mother’s behaviour made a lot more sense. The total fear of rejection and subsequent blaming of anyone who doesn’t meet her demands, her complete inability to maintain close relationships, the projection of her issues unto others… I’m not saying that your mother may have BPD, but it may be worth looking into if you still think that bipolar might not be the only issue at hand.

    In any case, sorry about the terribly long comment. It’s been wonderful to read your bog and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

  60. Horrible daughter . Wow

  61. My Mom is bipolar. I cannot stand her. Yes, I love her because she is my mother, but I don’t want to talk to her, look at her, hear her voice, or ever deal with her again. She makes my life miserable, and always has. She is 79 now, and I’ve had to deal with her without the help of my Dad since his death in 2009. Dad worshipped Mom, and she treated him like crap for 52 years. The running joke with their friends was that all the women had dibs on Dad when Mom died. Well, the joke was on me, Dad died, and Mom lives on. She has beaten cancer seven times. It’s amazing. We say cancer is scared of her. Well, now that she is elderly, whenever she goes into the hospital in a low cycle, which she always does because she refuses to eat, drink, and starts hallucinating, and now wets her bed, the docs say she needs to go into a nursing home, and that lasts until the manic cycle, when she comes up, and turns mean, tells all the staff off, threatens to get their licenses revoked, calls adult protective services on the facility and the people. By the time she is demanding to leave, they are happy to see her go, and never will let her come back. She is unwelcome in pretty much every place in town now. This go-round, today, the doc asks if she can live with me, and I tell him, not no, but hell no. I try to explain to him that she is not an elderly woman who needs care, she is a crazy woman who needs care. He asked me what I wanted him to do, and I told him to commit her to the State Psychiatric Hospital, and he said when she was at the hospital in January, they tried to, but she was too sharp, and they couldn’t Well duh, that’s bipolar people, they are smart and very manipulative. I told him that she knows exactly what to say to stay in the hospital, and she knows exactly what to say to get out of the hospital. But no one believes me because she shows them this poor, pitiful old woman who cannot care for herself. She can. She just won’t because right now, in this cycle, she wants the pity. When she cycles to manic, she will tell them all where to go real fast. She spends exactly three months in this low cycle, and three months in the manic cycle. I can tell you by the calendar when she is going to change. I’m not saying the bipolar is fake. I’m just saying that she won’t admit she has this problem, and yet she uses it to her advantage all the time. I am sooooo angry. By the time they brought her to the hospital this time, she was so severely dehydrated that she had gone into renal failure. But she had food and water in the house. She had also peed in her bed, and laid in it for several days. But when she got to the hospital and they told her to walk to bathroom, she did. I guarantee you when they tell her to eat, she will do that too. She can take care of herself. She just won’t. And she will not listen to any suggestion that I or anyone else has. She finds five million reasons why our suggestions won’t work. I just cannot stand the woman. I married the first guy who asked me at 18 years old just to get the heck away from her. Not that it ended up being a great idea, but it got me away from her. I just wish I had cut off all communication and never looked back. But then I would have missed out on many more years with my Dad. I just wish she had died and he had lived. It would have been so much easier.

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