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Hello I'm new and i need some advice!(23 Posts)
Hi! I've been lurking for a bit and feel i could do with some no-nonsense mumsnet opinions on my current situation!
Here goes...VERY LONG!
Background is - split up with partner at beginning of Nov 08. He had previously been sectioned 3 times in the last 9 years after suffering psychotic episodes but had been fine for the (nearly) 5 years we had been together. We had serious breakdown in communication but the actual problems themselves that were causing a lot of the friction were relatively trivial. However he was becoming more and more shouty and aggressive and entirely unreasonable and it was not a happy home for our 2 young children.
After a weekend of rows he left and went back to his family home (his parents, his bro/sil and their child all live there). I initially attempted to get us to attend Relate and even got an appointment through but he was convinced the problems were all mine and he had no reason to go.
A few weeks after he'd left there was another big row (all shouting and anger from him after a minor request from me) as he arrived to pick up the children one Sunday morning. His mum and her friend brought the children home that evening and i was asked 'what have i done to him', 'why had i let him drive off with the children in that state', 'he's very poorly' - basically all blaming me.
He continued to function at a fairly normal level for a further week but was clearly heading for another episode. As he deteriorated i became very important to him (he has his own business and i had worked with him for years and he wanted me to help him sort out many problems he had in there). I did this and fully supported him as he declined further and was sectioned again. I spoke to his mum several times most days, visited him in the hospital more often than almost all of his family members and continued to keep life running as normally as i could for our children (who at one point he didn't remember ) and went in to his shop to work where i could.
Throught all the breakup and subsequent illness i have allowed him as much contact with the children as i can possibly give. Had hoped we may had been able to work out our problems and have offered him a way back many times - he is not interested despite treating me like a current partner not ex when he was becoming poorly and through his hospital stay. However he is now out of hospital (been diagnosed bipolar) but to me is acting like an 8 year old and has made demands regarding the children that i feel uncomfortable with and has thrown his toys out of the pram when i have put my foot down about certain issues. To add insult to injury his dad saw fit to tell me some 'home truths' the other day about how i am part of the problem not the solution, how our daughter is only miserable when she has to come home with me and that her current naughty behaviour is all down to me - not the effects of this turbulent few months, oh, and that i'm poison. This was all shouted at me as i'm leaving having picked up our ds.
I feel utterly wrung out by it all and want to know if i'm being reasonable in offering contact on a Sunday. All pick ups and drop offs to be done by his mum as i do not wish to go to the family home and see his dad again. Any extra contact to be given if convenient for me and them - has been very often cancelled, cut short etc as ex is still not 100% well and i'm bearing the brunt of my daughter's frustrations over this and have been chopping and changing to suit ex-p and quite frankly need to move on with my life not be at his beck and call. Dd is 3 1/2 and ds is 10 months btw.
Any advice on any of it greatly appreciated.
Gotta go on school run now so will check back later. X
What is the question? Is one day a week sufficient contact? At your kids' ages I would say yes. I think you are right in setting one fixed day a week and requesting that XP's mum does the transporting.
My take on the family shit is that they do not want to accept when he is getting ill (blaming you for letting him get in that state) they do not want to take any responsibility themselves (you are part of the problem) and they are probably very frustrated with the situation of his illness but at the same time 'babying' him a little, enabling his ill behaviour by trying to minimise the consequences, and can't understand why you won't do the same. You are right not to, you and your DCs are your priority, not him. You know that you are not responsible for his mental health, nor do you owe him anything - you do not have to be guilted into accepting his erratic/upsetting behaviour because he is ill.
But he is ill, which will make regular contact arrangements hard. Is he taking his meds properly and seeing his psychologist/psychiatrist? Bipolar should be manageable if the sufferer is willing to take responsibility for their health and learns to recognise the warning signs.
You don't have to (and shouldn't) be his emotional crutch.If his family think you are evil for 'abandoning him' then fuck'em.
"To add insult to injury his dad saw fit to tell me some 'home truths' the other day about how i am part of the problem not the solution, how our daughter is only miserable when she has to come home with me and that her current naughty behaviour is all down to me - not the effects of this turbulent few months, oh, and that i'm poison. This was all shouted at me as i'm leaving having picked up our ds."
I think this is shockingly bad behaviour on his dad's part.
If it were me I would sit down and write a letter detailing all the support and help you have given his son, sympathising with the fact that they now have to deal with this but making it clear that you will not tollerate them taking their frustrations out on you and particularly not in front of your children.
Try not to sound like you are blaming them or your ex, make it clear that you know it is his illness that has led to this situation, but be firm and clear about not being prepared to accept such criticism from them during what is a difficult time.
One of my closest friends has bi-polar so I've learned a lot about this particular mental health problem over the years. In some cases, the cause of it can be rooted in childhood experiences as well as in brain chemistry, and there is also some suggestion that there may be a genetic elements involved (though it is not as clearcut as being one single gene responsible). My point is that your XH's family may be part of the reason behind your X's bi-polar, so try not to take what they say personally. If you think you can reason with them and work with them to help your X be a good parent, then great. But you don't have to. If they won't co-operate with you, try to cut them out of the equation as much as you can. It's not helping your XH if they blame you for his problems.
Chances are, it's not about you but about their family dynamics, which you provide a convenient scapegoat for.
I totally agree with kat2907. His family are enabling him, and you shouldn't. Not only because it's not good for your XH but also because it's deeply unhealthy for your DC to watch and learn from, not to mention the fact that it will leave you physically and emotionally exhausted.
There are some great books out there on bi-polar as well as some great websites. Although you don't have to, it's worth educating yourself about this illness, if for no other reason that it will teach you not to take your XH's behaviour personally, even when it seems very personal. Once I learned to do this with my friend, it made our friendship a lot easier to maintain even when she was in the grip of an episode. It will also give you some very helpful tips on how to deal with erratic behaviour.
Although your DD is very young, don't try to protect her too much from this by pretending everything is ok. It will end up confusing her. You'd be better off explaining to her that daddy has an illness. You can't see it because it is in his head, but it's no different from if he'd broke his leg. It can be fixed but he has to take medicine and sometimes it can take Drs some time to find the right medicine. When daddy says he wants to see you but then cancels, it doesn't mean he doesn't love you or want to see you. It just means that the illness in his head is making him poorly and he can't, in the same way that if you had a broken leg you couldn't run down the road however much you wanted to.
Above all, don't let your XH use his illness as an excuse for bad behaviour. My friend has been sectioned many, many times, but apart from the buildup to times when she has literally had to be restrained by the men in white coats, she has never been horrible to her DC or to others. The biggest single factor concerning people's ability to control bipolar is their willingness to take responsibility for managing their own illness. They have to want to get better, to realise the importance of taking medication even when they feel fine, to recognise that it's vital to take regular exercise and eat a healthy diet (some interesting studies coming out on this one), to accept that there isn't a magic wand and that they have to exercise control over their own behaviour, and, above all, to stop blaming others for anything that's gone wrong.
Sorry, I'm waffling a bit here, but I hope you find something useful in amongst the waffle. You're handling an incredibly difficult situation and I admire you for it. Don't give yourself a hard time about it. THe only people you need to look out for are yourself and your DC. Best of luck.
Thank you for your replies. They have made me a bit emotional as i have been struggling so much with this situation. My op was long but oh my! could have been so much longer! That you have all basically said what i have been thinking based on just the snapshot that i have been able to provide is of great comfort to me and reassures me i am doing the right thing in proritising our children.
Ex's dad has been vile to me many times over (both in the last few months and throughout our relationship) and in vilifying me only provides my ex with further enhancment of his 'victim' status. I am utterly unconvinced that ex has taken responsibility for his illness yet and although currently taking the meds has,in the past, once he's not being monitered so closely or at all decided he is cured and doesn't need them anymore. He's been threatening to take me to court for 50/50 custody and keeps banging on about his rights. Personally i'm more interested in his responsibilities as he's yet to prove to me that he is thinking of anyone other than himself - i believe this is part of the illness but i know it is also a character trait not helped by the attitude of people like his father.
They seem to think they have the monopoly on acting 'angry' but i am becoming very angry and although not about to start shouting and swearing and hurling personal insults will stand my ground and let them see how fair i have been up to now - generous even. I'm going to concentrate on continuing mine and my children's rountines and they can have set contact for the time being and no more.
OptimistS that is a great post, thank you. I've got my ds creating merry mayhem arounnd me at the moment but will get back on later to reply properly.
Well, i've just had a conversation with xp - my first since Wed when his dad said his piece.
Apparently i was incredibly rude to his dad and ought to respect my elders. Wtf?! He started on me as i was leaving their house and despite his ranting and saying hurtful things i did not raise my voice and did not become personal back. The man is a bully and is idolised by my xp. I wouldn't be surprised if so many of xp's problems do all stem from his (very weird) family dynamic.
He still maintains i am being unreasonable and denying him contact with the children. He wants our dd only to stay overnight in the family home where he is currently living. I have said both children (he overlooks our ds a lot as he is 10 months old and obviously hard work at the moment) can stay overnight when he is sorted in a place of his own so they can begin a regular arrangement with their own beds/things there. This is not something to be rushed and it is not a fun sleepover as he seems to think. I have said that this can happen since the first week he left (before he was known to be ill) and have not gone back on my word about anything else and won't about this - just waiting for the correct time.
He has just had his nose put out of joint as he wasn't too bothered about the children when he first came out of hospital and i was initiating a lot of the contact. He phoned last week to say that he wants to see the children more now as he is 'really bored' - still can't work, drive etc. Unfortunately for him, school and nursery recommenced this week and every time he asked to see dd she was at school. I did make an arrangement with his mum as she asked to have some time with ds on his own when dd is at school so we agreed on Wed afternoon. It would appear that this is double standards though as i won't let dd come on her own. Again, wtf?! What does he want me to do - cancel school on a whim cos he wants to see her for a few hours. If it's anything like other visits he gets bored/tired after about an hour and she's palmed off.
I'm so sick of having to be the adult and be reasonable while he accuses me of all sorts and can't appreciate just how much i've done for him over and above any kind of obligation to him being my children's father. I've got two children and do not need to be dealing with a third.
I think the advice about me getting more educated about this illness is a good one and i was pushing to speak to someone when he was in hospital but all info was going to his family. Although on the face of it i seem to be more educated than him about it already
Him: 'When i had my first episode i got diagnosed with manic depression'
Me (puzzled): 'That's what you've been diagnosed with this time'
Him (raised voice): 'No it isn't! I've got bi-polar!'
Me: 'That's the name they use for manic depression now'
Him (getting louder): 'No it isn't! You don't know what you're talking about. It's my illness i should think i know'
Me: 'Well you obviously should ask your cpn in one of your daily chats cos that is what it is'
Him: 'It isn't! I don't even suffer from depression! Of course you think you know more that my psychiatrist! Anyway i hate being labelled as something...'
Everlong i don't think so, no.
Because he is in the family home and he can't drive atm he always has someone else there - often both parents and his brother and sil.
I think his mum would also think him too unwell to have them totally unsupervised although he has spent small amount of times alone with each in a separate part of the house (it's large and divided into 3 self contained flats but with internal doors linking each iykwim?)
Having said that, i'm sure he told me one day he was left with his niece (aged 4) for a while cos his brother went out so i couldn't say with 100% certainty that he wouldn't ever have them alone.
Laadeda - sorry you are in this situation
I have been in similar situation to you but did not split up with DH and he was desperate for us to stay together so had more of a bargaining tool iyswim. IE take your medication and you can see kids... etc.
The mental illness makes them very selfish (it was what I struggled with the most TBH)
I second everlong - do not let him look after Dcs if you don't think he can do it.
I left DH for 2mths (we are now back together) and used to meet in park or a public place for him to play football with DS (think my Dcs are same age as yours) If I didn't feel strong enough to go (which most of the time I didn't) then my family would help.
My DH also has toxic parents (well the mother really) so definately think that is a major factor and only something DH has been able to see for himself in the last month or so but I still have to be very careful what I say about his mother to him.
I also got blamed for DH being ill...in fact me and SILs decided not to tell her DH was ill this time as she couldn't cope with the stress At least it got her off my back!!
I have considered what you are saying but feel that my hands are tied in respect of me being his ex partner and with being made to feel so unwelcome by his dad (especially recently but also throughout). His family have dealt with all the medical people and i have been kept informed of what was going on via them.
Xp also has a massive problem when he feels like other people (me) are trying to 'control his life' and he would certainly view me trying to speak to one of his health care team as just that and blow his top again leading to more grief from his dad again and round and round we go...
I wonder if his mum may be my best port of call now? She may just side with her husband now as he would probably make life fairly unpleasant if she didn't but if she has any sense then she will want to maintain a good relationship with me as she does love her grandchildren. She even admitted the other day how golden i have been through all of this but we have had a poor relationship prior to this and she will possibly revert back to that. They cast me early on as the wicked witch of the piece and have been dismayed as gradually friends and other family members have judged me as they've found me, not listened to their bitching and formed their own complimentary opinions on me! The whole relationship with xp has been a nightmare from the beginning where his family has been concerned.
I have experience of an ex partner who had a severe mental breakdown and was sectioned.
I have no advice to offer (our relationship ended very bitterly, I second OptimistS view that it can be genetic as exDP's father was unstable to say the least and played a contrbuting factor in our split) but just wanted to say you sound like you are doing a fantastic job of being a mother to your children and holding everything together. It can be hard enough at times to fulfil the role of mother within a 'normal' relationship and I think you should be so proud of yourself.
Don't be bullied into doing anything that doesn't feel right or goes against your instincts as their mum.
Are you married because if you are then legally you are his next of kin so you can talk to mental health people etc.
I spoke to DH's mental health team without him knowing as it gave them a better picture of how he was etc.
How long has he been taking medication for?
Definately worth talking to his mother. I am lucky in that DH's family live in Ireland (we are in London) so they can't interfere too much iyswim.
Can your family help you?
The reason XP feels angry about people trying to control him is probably because he feels out of control iyswim. He is lashing out at those closest to him. My DH certainly did this.
I would avoid his dad at all costs, you do have to put yourself first sometimes and there is no point seeing him if he is going to attack you. I refuse to go to Ireland because I know MIL will attack me verbally and I am in her house, no way of getting away
Simpson - thank you for posting. It's interesting to hear from someone in such a similar situation.
I think xp has at moments wanted to get back together but in getting so much back in with The Family it's almost like starting from square one again for him and combined with the episode i just don't think he has the strength to do it.
We originally lived in the family home but had to leave after dd was born after numerous run ins with his parents culminating with his dad shouting at me in front of my friend and telling us off and then when i informed him he was not to speak to me like that just keep shouting 'get out' at me.
Xp feels he owes them so much for getting him through the previous episodes but can't or won't see that they may actually be part of the problem. I think it is his safe place - his dad is the man of the house and he can be the subservient son. It is endlessly frustrating for me as i do feel that i can offer him a life as a man with his own family but he has to take some responsibility in that scenario which is something he does struggle with. The selfishness is so tiring and is only being fuelled by his family.
My DH is very grateful to his parents as he was adopted.
However he found out he was adopted at the age of 29 when his mother blurted it out while drunk Last time we were in Ireland (August) she blurted out his birth mothers real name while pissed.
When I did speak to his mental health worker I told him this information (as DH wouldn't think it relevant )
There is a thread under mental health called "support thread for those living with mental illnesses" May be worth reading/skimming through it.
BuckBuckMcFate - thank you. That means a lot. X
Simpson - no we aren't married. I ended up as his next of kin when they sectioned him as his brother told them i was still his partner and i said i hoped our split wasn't permanent so they said legally that makes it me. Didn't go down well as if it wasn't me, the next person on the list was his dad.
His mum saw the psych on Tues with him and they took him off the section then. She has spoken to one of the nurses too. I don't think any of the health care team really know i exist even though i'm down as nearest relative.
He's been on the meds now for one month. How long did it take you to see your real dh back? I feel ex is partly back but it's not the him from before. From his first episode it took him about 2 years to recover but that was much more severe and he had a bad reaction to some of the medication (i've only been told this as it was before we met).
I think your FILs position is telling you that it is such a difficult place to be in - loving someone who can vary so much in what they need! His mum is trying to love him unconditionally and hats off to her!!!!
However where does that leave you and DCs?
DH had a severe psychotic episode in 2004 which was worse than this time and took about 2yrs to recover from.
This time he has been able to go to work etc but has stepped down from being Mgr so its a 8K cut in salary which will be tough as I am a SAHM.
DH is only starting to be himself in the last 2 wks I think but is still much better being at home than out with lots of people iyswim. His latest episode happened in August although he wasn't sectioned this time.
However he still isn't totally himself as his medication has side effects which make him very tired. My mum described it as though the stuffing has been knocked out of him. He is calm but doesn't get excited about anything. The most important thing is that he gets a good nights sleep so everything has to revolve around that.
ex p here with mental health issues / controlling behviours.
was not-sectioned in 2007 and now claims they only had him in psych unit as nowhere else to go! (he was covered in bruises and stab wounds from self harm at teh time, had gone very manic and atacked our son etc. i refused to have him at home).
not too clear if you decided you very definitely exes or if you still want him back?
assuming you ex then you have to let him (and his family) take responsibility for his mental illnes and himself.
agree once a week contact totlayy appropriate given the kids ages. must be defined tho given his mentla health is it supervised? by who?
so many times i allowed times of unsupervised conctact -short times but still is a risk. dds told me he "fell asleep on the sofa" while in charge of them. that he told them to be quiet because of his depression etc. i.e. he wanted conctact but wasnt able to give quality contact because of his illness. how good is that for children? also he was/is variable..some days good others bad.
what arrangements are there for him to say 2i am ahving a bad day?"
family therpaist suggested at one point he should be inc control and should develop strategies to say "today i am depressed and cannot cope" ie to recognize when he was ok or not. but i dont htink he was able to. he wouldnuse it to try and get me to look after him. "i cant cope i cant take [ds] to his disabled horse riding can you come? i woul d say - ok you go home i will,..then he would say "oh i will be ok if you come with me" . he could not make his mind up, and wanted me to be his crutch...
do you trust his mum/dad with the children?
is there any point kids being with him and his family is he isnt well?
one way forward might be to go to solicitor apply for residence order for the children to say they reside with you and his contact should be supervised - that brings it into an arena where cafcass can be involved and the mental health issues aired and contact agreed.
you could do this thru mediation too if you think he will follow it.
but i think you need to get everything agreed properly in writing.
i spent two eyars lurching along with him screaming "i will never go to mediation" and causing lots of anguish, sabotaging arrangements using his mental illness as excuses...
i have no doubt there is genuine mental illness but he uses it to try and get sympathy and its nature as otehrs said is to make him him very self centred and selfish.
what is in the best interest of the children?
i think short, defined, regular contact where he is told he has to step up to the mark. if it goes well can be reviewed in a few months. this needs to be set out in writing.
and you do not need to have contact with his family.
i think i felt some kind of responsibility towards him, i put him first at times when he was in crisis, seeing to him, going to hospital to visit, "please bring me my guitar" "oh yes of course dear..." listening to his "poor me"...leaving children with babysitter to attend to him....now i regret that.
it is not good to be around a parent with mental illness, children dont deserve that except in short controlled sessions. yes is their dad but they need to be protected from the toxic parts of this.... he is an adult and in charge of his behaviour however "ill". my ex was so clever at sucking me in....
still tries. eg send text msg to the phone i keep for him to text to: how are kids etcetc...i reply briefly "all fine" he goes back "dont be so short in your answers" - i dont repsond...he is trying to get a response. trying to still control. but but now i keeping it that it is about him and the children not about him and me. we are awaiting supervised contact sessions at contact centre to be set up.
i think i rambled...but do know what it is like with the mental illness part - and the difficulty in separating what is illness and what is that person being controlling and abusive...remember that it makes them self centred and selfish. and that it is not your repsonsibility. his mum wants to look after him - great...but he is not your child.
and his contact with children to be clearly set out and defined. routined and regular is best for all.
cestlavielife - thank you. All you've said makes a lot of sense to me.
I've just made a solicitor's appointment for next week so will be able to ask about the options you've outlined.
I did want to work things out with him but he doesn't want to be with me - i think he liked having the best of both worlds ie, i was letting him see the children anytime, he was coming to our house and i would go out so there could not be any arguments in front of kids, he could then go home where his dad had a meal ready for him and then disappear off to his part of the house and lounge and watch tv all evening. No nagging, no interrupted sleep, no having to get up early - basically all the best bits.
He then got ill and everyone bent over backwards to help him. His family are still treading on eggshells around him to an extent (although his mum did tell me that they are telling him to go into his part of the house when he is becoming snappy and obnoxious with them, so i do know that for all they make out that it's only me that flares him up, it blatantly isn't).
Last week was the first real time that things haven't gone his way and i think reality is starting to set in. I put my foot down over an issue which i am entitled to do. I have been so generous with all i've done and it's not only been unappreciated, it's been scorned. He will need to prove to me now that he is taking responsibility and stop pointing the finger of blame when times get hard at me. Difficult given his father is only inciting him.
All has gone quiet so i think he is possibly consulting a solicitor himself. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that consulatation!!
Thanks everyone who has replied on here. It has been a big help reading all the opinions and has actually just helped me to write some of this down.
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