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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Highs and Lows

Yesterday Dr. Phil presented a show called "Extreme highs and lows", covering bipolar disorder. I found it extremely difficult to watch.

My ex father- in- law was diagnosed as bipolar or manic depressive. I once observed him throw a beer bottle across the room, against a wall. Shards of shattered glass embedded into the living room rug. I was fifteen and horrified. Witness to my mothers feisty behavior and skirmishes, I had never seen anything like that.

Although my ex was never diagnosed while with me, I suspect he has a tendency towards bipolar too. During the divorce he was diagnosed as clinically depressed. I think mental illness is way under diagnosed; meanwhile relatives suffer, wondering why one person is wreaking such havoc on a family.

Most documentaries seem to cover the derelict mentally ill person living on the streets. You rarely hear about the functioning mentally ill character that makes life at home, a sequel to an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Tirades about nothing, misconstrued words, barrages of verbal abuse, blame, erratic behaviors with mood swings, while self medicating, are all part of the daily life of a bipolar.

They're a ticking time bomb, ready to detonate. And they do! It’s so terrifying and unpredictable. I did an extensive search for answers, reading books, checking out psychiatric facilities, and even going to support groups. Still I found no real resolve. I felt totally desperate and alone in my search for answers.

Doctors hesitate to label a functioning person as mentally ill, even though the symptoms are extremely apparent. I am hearing of more people being diagnosed with bipolar at a younger age. Apparently if you catch it early enough, there is hope of keeping it under control. It’s been my experience that it is a progressive disease that seems to escalate with age. It’s a stressful existence living in a home where the extreme moods fluctuate from day to day. Where the person you love insists on being left alone in a room to suffer their depression. There is no sense of normalcy in the home, just highs and lows.

If you find yourself living with an abusive person, or one whose moods sway from one end of the spectrum to the other, check out a few bipolar websites. Keep a secret calendar of the person’s mood swings and present it to your practitioner.

While writing this blog I had a phone call from my ex, reaffirming how difficult it is to have a reasonable conversation with the man. I shirk answering the phone when I see his number; I let my daughter contend with him. Unfortunately he caught me unawares. He needs a solution to bridge the gap between him and our daughter. I told him I hesitate to become involved now that she’s an adult. He basically begged for assistance. I gave him two solutions, apologize for his bad behavior, and make an effort at the relationship. Pretty basic advice I would think. He did however try to place blame on her, which is a common defense for his blatantly obvious lack of decorum.

Needless to say I did cut the call short, as the heat welled within, and my heart pounded out of my chest. Imagine; I lived like that on a daily basis. How did I do it I wonder?

Have you had an experience with a person who is bipolar? Were you able to find the resolve you needed? Did you doubt yourself and think you were going crazy? I’d love to hear your stories!

1 comment:

paris parfait said...

Good points here. I know a couple of people who are bipolar; both are a danger to themselves and others when not on their meds. And of course the meds have to be regulated and tweaked, according to the individual. My friend's mom once said that she wished her daughter had a physical ailment, because people could understand it better than something that affects mood swings and mental state.

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