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Advice needed

(10 Posts)
jobarker77 Thu 26-May-16 14:06:25

I have an 11 year old daughter and her father suffers from bi-polar disorder. We are no longer together but she still has regular contact him and they do have a good relationship.
Recently he has stopped taking his medication and his behaviour is becoming a little more erratic, he gets angry with her and uses emotional blackmail on her. She knows he has bi-polar and can't always help the way he acts, but as she is only 11, she doesn't really understand the full effect of his condition or what it means. she feels she has to do everything she can never to upset him and keep him happy in case he gets cross or sad.

I was hoping someone might be able to recommend a good organisation, resources, books anything really that i can share with her to help her get a better understanding of her fathers condition and how she can manage his behaviour when she sees him. I don't want to stop her seeing him but at the same time, it is heartbreaking to watch her get so upset when he acts this way with her.

Thanks in advance!

NanaNina Fri 27-May-16 00:21:29

Do you honestly think an 11 year old should learn how to cope with her father's behaviour! She's a child - she shouldn't have to "manage his behaviour" - I get that they have a good r/ship and of course I realise your ex can't be held responsible for his mental illness BUT you need to protect your daughter, not look for ways of giving her more information about bi-polar. In fact I don't think you should do this because she is far too young to understand this mental illness and she might worry about getting the illness herself as I'm sure you know it has a hereditary component.

He gets angry with her and emotionally blackmails her - that is abusive and she has to walk on egg shells, trying not to upset him. Don't you think you should protect your daughter and not let her stay with her father when he's ill. Does he take meds, as ime bipolar is usually stabilised reasonably well with the right meds, but I know people often stop taking them.

Sorry if I am direct but I'm a bit shocked that you think it's all right for an 11 year old to be treated in this way. I obviously have a mental illness which is why I'm on this thread - my DGD is a very sensible girl just turned 16 but I still think she's too young to be able to understand my illness.

jobarker77 Fri 27-May-16 08:36:51

Obviously the situation is far more complex than I have written in my post asking for information.
I am fully aware of what constitutes abuse; mental, emotional and otherwise. For this reason there have been numerous occasions where I have prevented her from seeing him and even occasions where she has chosen not to see him her self.
However, she also wants to see him and spend time with him and while I will always protect her, I believe she has some choice in her relationship with her father. She loves him as he is still her father with or without a mental illness and with or without taking his meds. When I talk about managing his behaviour, I mean finding a way for her to cope to if he is 'off' with her - not to feel it is her fault he is like this etc or that she has done something wrong.
She is going to have to deal with him/his illness all her life so yes, I do think she should be given as much information as is appropriate for an 11 year old so that she can make informed decisions. I want her to know what the illness means and what behaviour is because if it and what is just his personality.
I am simply looking for some non judgemental advice on where I can find information or support to help maintain their relationship whilst giving her the understanding of why he can behave the way he does and why on occasion she is not allowed to see him.

NanaNina Fri 27-May-16 12:11:44

Hmm - you've really just repeated what you said in your OP. I'm certainly not being judgemental about someone with a mental illness, as I have suffered from a recurring one for the past 7 years and has changed my life. Before this illness took hold I was a social worker with a career spanning some 30 years, all in Children's Services so maybe that's why I am more concerned about your 11 year old daughter and the effect that walking on egg shells around her father will have on her and adversely effect her throughout her life span.

Foxyspook Fri 27-May-16 21:01:07

But, Nananina, whether the child sees her father or not, she would still be better off understanding more about the illness he suffers from.

I don't know any books - I would just have a look on Amazon and find one with good reviews. I am bipolar and am a single parent to my 2 girls. I have just tried to explain it to them as simply as I can and as they have grown up, I have added more detail where necessary.

I think you should also make it clear that she is the child and he is the parent, and even if he is ill, she doesn't need to protect him - other adults will do this.

jobarker77 Fri 27-May-16 22:04:37

Thanks foxyspook, that's pretty much what I've tried to do up until now; explain as much as I think she can comprehend step by step. Now that she is older, she is asking more questions about it and I want to be accurate In what I tell her. Hence looking for information or support.
I've certainly explained to her that it's not her job to look after him however I think because she doesn't fully understand what's going on, she sometimes finds it difficult to believe. Again, the reason for wanting appropriate and accurate info to give her.
I'll try Amazon and see what i can find. I've found lots about depression but nothing specific to bi polar.
Being a single mum with 2 kids and bi polar can't be easy. Well done for making it work- shows us it can be done!

Foxyspook Fri 27-May-16 23:35:42

thanks, Jo. Sorry not to be more helpful about a book but Amazon and reviews is always my way to go. Good luck.

NanaNina Sat 28-May-16 12:36:16

Sorry but I don't think you're going to find a book on Amazon "Helping your 11 year old to understand bipolar" - I agree Foxy that when a parent has a mental illness, the child needs to be helped to understand but not at the age of 11 - I just think it's far too young. OP says DD "doesn't always understand what's going on and finds it difficult to believe" - I'm not surprised. She's still a child - I really don't understand why the OP is pushing her DD on this one - I can see it's difficult as she has contact with her dad. I think the best thing is to alter the contact arrangements so that she doesn't see her dad when he is not well.

The other thing is that as I understand it bipolar is well controlled if the meds are taken - is DD's dad taking his meds on a regular basis. Foxy I think it's different for you as your girls live with you, so you would have to explain a little - can I ask how old your girls were when you started to explain.

Look OP you obviously don't have to take notice of me, so why don't you consult a GP, or better still a clinical psychologist experienced in working with children. Think that might be a better bet than Amazon.

Foxyspook Sat 28-May-16 13:17:53

I don't understand why this is so controversial? My children have known since about 7, I suppose, gently. And bipolar is actually quite easy to explain in a gentle simple way - highs and lows. I would think the really important thing to explain is that the child is not responsible for does not have to protect the parent. And I would think part of the process of explaining this is to give some explanation of the illness

Bipolar is not always wonderfully controlled if meds are taken. I have to adjust mine constantly and am very vigilant.

NanaNina, could you not just take it on trust that the OP knows what she is doing and is just asking for a bit of reference material.

And, yes, I am sure on Amazon there is a book about explaining mental illness to young people.

NanaNina Sat 28-May-16 15:39:44

Ok - I'll say no more.

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