But when he’s low, it really hurts.
Our elders have some advice for a letter writer whose boyfriend is struggling with bi-polar. First, he needs to seek help.
I have been with my boyfriend for two years. He suffers from bipolar triggered by childhood trauma with a parent being neglectful, parents divorcing messily severe unhappiness as a child messed up life having to live in relative poverty. Two years ago, when I met him I think he was spiraling downwards. He has improved mentally and where he is in his life incredibly over those two years. We had a lot of explosive arguments in the beginning as he has some triggers and because of his bipolar episodes. He has been much better recently but we still argue sometimes.
A month ago, he had an episode that shook him where he had hallucinations. When he is feeling low he becomes very cold and rude to me and it really hurts me and makes me consider leaving him, but I truly love the good parts of him dearly and he regrets and hardly remembers what he has said during his episodes. He is low right now and not treating me the best. Last night he said I should leave him and that I deserve better. We have been going through the process of possibly getting married – which has to happen in our religion for us to be together properly. This obviously would mean a forever thing. I truly love him and believe he deserves better than his life has given him and his good parts make me believe we would be very happy but his bad parts… I don’t know how I can continue getting hurt with his coldness, rudeness. He is unmedicated, may I add.
We are a group of seniors living in a retirement community and we are glad that you wrote to Elder Wisdom. We can certainly understand the difficult and emotional situation that you are in and appreciate that you are seeking advice on how to navigate this relationship. Although we are not medical experts, we know enough to understand that bi-polar is a very real and frustrating disorder for those living with it and those that live with and among those diagnosed as well.
It is very important that you continue to have open and honest conversations with your boyfriend. If you are serious about continuing your relationship then we feel it is only fair to require that he seeks out additional help/support by seeing a doctor/professional to get therapy/counseling/medication as needed to help control his outbursts/emotions.
Although you know that these outbursts aren’t usually intentional and/or directed at you, they are still hurtful and can be draining on your emotional well-being. We were very impressed by your letter at the empathy, love and compassion that you have shown in your relationship with your boyfriend – it is sad to realize the difficulties that so many other people face growing up and that not everyone has the love and security they deserve as a child. You are right that your boyfriend deserves better (however you need to make sure that it isn’t at your detriment…) so we think you need to create a T chart – grab a piece of paper and make a large T on it – then on one side of the paper write all the reasons that you think staying with your boyfriend/pursuing marriage is a good idea and on the other side write down your concerns and fears. Sometimes seeing things in black and white on paper can really help you determine what your next step should be. You can weigh the good with the bad and make your best choice depending on the results of your T charts.
Obviously, we can’t tell you what you need to do but what we can tell you is that personally, we would require him to get additional help or support from professionals if he wants to consider a future with us (you). That would be a sticking point for us! We agree that anyone entering marriage should be considering it a “forever” thing and it should not be entered into lightly so as you go through this process, be honest with the religious leader or whoever is overseeing the steps needed to get married, so they can really help you both determine if this is a good fit. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you have to accept less for yourself, but we must remember that no one is perfect so there are times when we compromise on what is most important to us in our relationships. What can you live with? What can you live without? Is your partner willing to continue to work on improving things (we can all improve and become “better” people all throughout our entire lives) or will they continue to make excuses instead of taking control of their situation?
Encourage your boyfriend to make peace with the past. Living in the past doesn’t change how the story is written but living in the present can because you are able to determine what comes next in the story looking toward your future that is the key! It is our sincere hope that you have found some support, help and comfort in our letter. You have certainly come to a difficult crossroads and we are wishing you the best of luck as you determine which direction you choose to follow! We believe in you and whatever decision that you make will be the right one for you!
Article #: 497013