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My children's father has bipolar

(10 Posts)
magnetforce Sat 20-Apr-13 06:07:34

I'm after help to come to terms with his diagnosis and help my children. Do I engage with him again or keep away from him?

I left him after 20 yrs of marriage.

Living with him was chaos. Unrelenting miserable chaos. Domestic abuse, financial irresponsibility interspersed with mostly 'normal' behaviour. (Apologies if this description has upset anyone. It's how it was for me.) I was fairly successful in hiding the grotty stuff so that DC and family/friends perceived the marriage as ok. I suspect friends had a suspicion we weren't happy. He could be very morose and unsociable but not all the time. He got worse from about yr 7 of the marriage but until year 10 it was 'manageable'.

I think the DC have memories of a lovely Dad. I covered up a lot

Eventually I got off the roller coaster and left him (that's another thread of its own). I feel I had to, for my own mental health and our financial health. My biggest reason to stay, had been to keep him safe from unwise decisions and try and temper his behaviour. Still didn't see it as related to bipolar. Just thought he was stressed/difficult character. Increasingly I was unable to control his angry outbursts, drinking and financial recklessness. My mental health was challenged and I felt suicidal. So I left. I instantly improved depression wise. It's been a very good move for me.

Within a year he'd had a massive melt down. Bankrupt, almost homeless, left his job, chaotic emotional contact with DC

My issue is now mainly around the relationship I have with him and that of my DC.

Eldest (now adult) has moved away, reminds me of her father in the 'won't be helped' way and rockets between unsociable, depressed and happy making seemingly unwise decisions. Strong rational thread running through her though, so I don't wish to discuss her being BP if its not the case and she's just dealing with life and being a young adult with swinging emotions and fortunes. She is very detached from her Dad. I empathise with this

Middle is level headed and a high achiever. She has however taken over the burden of worrying about her Dad's health and welfare. This is dragging her down hugely.

Youngest... Might have issues as she gets more aware of his behaviour but for now its not a huge issue.

So if you've not dozed off after this life questions are:

Middle child - how can I alleviate her worries? Does this mean me engaging with her Dad again so that she doesn't feel responsible? How can I help her cope with her fears of his self destruct behaviour (suicide is a big cloud)

Eldest -should I discuss BP with her or not? Should I encourage her to have more contact with her Dad or not. She doesn't want it but is also not happy

Is it ok that I keep a virtual wall between me and him because I need to keep myself safe?

What can I do to keep youngest safe as she has unsupervised access visits on her own and is too young to understand what is safe and what is not.

If people think I shouldn't post here, I am sorry. I'm a bit desperate for advice and thought this might be a knowledgeable corner of MN

Unfortunatelyanxious Sat 20-Apr-13 09:40:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

4posterbed Sat 20-Apr-13 10:06:38

Sit down with your dds separately and discuss what you have found out with each one. Tell them honestly that their father made you very unhappy and that you couldn't cope with his mental illness and give them a leaflet about bipolar or email them with a link about it.

Let each one think over the kind of relationship they want with their father in light of the facts, and tell them you will support their decision.

You yourself have to think of self preservation first and foremost, and be understanding but do NOT under any circumstance get dragged back in to a situation you know will cause you severe mental stress yourself.

Firm, understanding but distant.

magnetforce Sat 20-Apr-13 11:09:07

Thank you.

Middle is fully aware of his diagnosis. She had contact visits during his psychotic times before he was eventually diagnosed last yr. She assumed the role I'd had of hiding it from outside world (including me in case I stopped youngest's access) and of protecting her young sister. It all came out and I've given lots of support, reassurance and unconditional, in judgemental love to her. We talk openly recognising the damage both of us have had. Bits of our experience is shared. She'd found it enormously stressful and its helped her understand why we had to divorce.

She is now miles away at uni. I have promised to maintain access visits for youngest but balance that with safety.

Just come off the phone to her and she agrees not contacting him keeps me safe and is possibly less emotionally disturbing for him. He is not over our divorce 4 yrs ago. She's going to start some therapy for herself to give her skills to manage her emotions about it all.

Eldest more of an issue. I think she can't face it and possibly because she has a recognition of the behaviour in herself. I will try and talk to her leaving it up to her how much we discuss her health. It's made me a different person and very sympathetic to mental health issues.

Destinationendoftether Sat 04-May-13 11:03:23


I can see this thread sis a few eels old but I hope you don't mind me posting.

My partner of 8 years was diagnosed with bipolar two 18 months ago, unfortunately he refuses to stick to medication due to side effects and won't countenance any psychological therapy.

He is a very intelligent, high achieving person who when 'ok' can be a lovely, loving and involved father, but when he is not feeling so good he has dreadful outbursts (he has never been physically abusive to me or the kids but can be very verbally and emotionally aggressive to me which is getting harder to hide from the children.

What prompted me to post was another outburst last night, we have all come down with a vomitting bug and partner was woken at about 1 am to find large amount of vomit on the landing floor, to cuter long story short he went 'mad' shouting nd swearing and really scared me and the children.
My eldest wants to know what's wrong with her Daddy, it's so hard to explain (she is 6).

I have asked him to leave for now(maybe forever) as I feel so low and despairing of our future. I feel like I walk on eggshells and the stress and uncertainty is making me I'll.

Alongside that's a verbs genuine worry that partner might harm himself (his mother also had bipolar and comitted suicide at age 35).

Sorry to high jack your thread but it's helped to read others are going through similar a nd also to get some of it down in writing. thanks

WildlingPrincess Sat 04-May-13 11:08:16

Hopefully now he's diagnosed, he'll get much better with the right medication. It is hard to do. I'm a single parent with bipolar and I'm getting there! Good luck and love to all of you x

Unfortunatelyanxious Sat 04-May-13 11:35:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hearthwitch Mon 06-May-13 21:20:24

my dm is bipolar and for years she used me as a crutch and the bipolar as an excuse. it was only when ds went nc and I had to go to the doctor myself that I realised I had to break away. this is your kids father and you want them to have a relationship with him. but it has to be an honest one. you need to be strong, tell and support the children but keep your distanve

hearthwitch Mon 06-May-13 21:20:45

I meant distanve

hearthwitch Mon 06-May-13 21:21:24

argh distance with a c

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