When Bipolar Meets Bipolar

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I have a family member who is also bipolar. He chooses to self-medicate instead of seeking traditional therapies. He believes he is above seeing a therapist and that he knows enough to successfully self-medicate himself. This is really difficult for me to deal with. I see the behaviors in him that I used to have and I can’t stand it. I hate that I used to behave that way. It took years of therapy and a myriad of medications before I found the right fit. I learned how to cope with highs and lows, how to be better to those I love, and that medication is essential in my treatment. I have little tolerance for the way he acts because I know he can change for the better. It frustrates me that he chooses to continue down this path to the detriment of his family. It took nearly having my family walk away from me before I chose to seek help. Facing that situation placed a fire in my soul that kept burning, fueling my pursuit of therapy and medication. I haven’t missed a dose of medication in over two years. He, on the other hand, says that being medicated makes him “lose his soul”.

How do I deal with him? His non-compliance with medication and belief that he is above the need for therapy. I will be honest. I don’t deal with it very well. I keep him at a distance because his state can be damaging to my progress. He is a very manipulative person and uses guilt to get his way. These are traits I learned from being around him but work hard not to use in my life or with those that I love. Talking with him about these issues is pointless. He disregards anything that doesn’t fit his internal dialogue. I have spoken with my therapist about this very issue. I love him. He is my family. How can I have a healthy relationship with him if he won’t accept that he needs to change his ways? My answer is space. I keep him at arm’s length. As much as I want a closer relationship with him I can’t have that until he acknowledges the need for change and starts making steps in that direction. It is hard. I feel guilty because we aren’t close anymore. This is one part of therapy that I have found to be indispensable to my mental health. Learning that you can’t keep everyone close to you. In order to stay in a good place you have to limit those around you to those who are a good support system. That means walking away from friends and family that aren’t good for your state of mind. It isn’t easy but its necessary.

On the flipside, my best friend has bipolar too. She and I are in sync in so many ways sometimes it feels like we are part of the same person. When we lived close to one another we seemed to sync on our bipolar swings. We would be manic together and were always involved in some mischief. When we were depressed we would encourage each other through the darkness. Now that we live apart we message each other often just to say we miss the one another. We still encourage each other and vent about things no one else seems to understand. It is great being understood in that way. I appreciate her so much. When it comes to having another person with bipolar in your life you really need to take a step back and see what affect they have on your life. Is it positive or negative? If it’s negative, is there an open dialogue that could be used to improve things? Are you willing to walk away for the sake of your mental health and well-being?

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