Tag Archive: Behavior


I am at a point in my life where there are some things I can’t tolerate anymore, especially while dealing with the stress of having both physical and mental problems. As much as I know spiritually that everyone has good within them there are those that simply can’t be trusted. In many ways I am naïve in that I think certain people will change if I just give them the chance or if I conform to what they want from me. The way I am with people is that I bounce between being totally wide open to being totally shut down. Neither side is healthy but I think a good start for me to fix this problem is to figure out what kinds of behaviors are warning signs that I need to pay attention to.

That brings me back to my family problems but instead of talking about my sister and my problems with her as I have done a lot, I will focus on my brother-in-law. In fact I am beginning to understand that some of my sister’s antagonism towards me stems from his behavior and the fact that he is a master manipulator and a liar.

I do realize that there is no point in trying to change him but I am using him as an example of what I need to watch out for. Perhaps this is karma, except that as I frame it (in my better moods) it has less to do with punishment and more to do with second chances. The Universe keeps sending me messages that I cannot afford to ignore.

I will start with an example of how he has set me up to fail.

When we as a family went out for dinner my brother-in-law would pay for everyone. I would have my debit card out to pay and he would tell me to not worry about it since he would get it. I asked him “Are you sure?” He always said yes and I thanked him. It was a break for me as I am on disability.

Later on when my sister and I had a falling-out he sent me a very nasty e-mail and made the charge “Every time I see you, you pick my pocket!” What the hell???

I mentioned this bizarre charge to my father and he clarified what was going on. My father asked my brother-in-law to put my meals on his credit card without my knowledge.. The reason why is simple, my father pays off his credit card and in fact all his bills since he does not have a job. My father was the one who was paying for my meal, not my brother-in-law. He just found it convenient to do it this way.

Now I have tried to blow this off as a simple misunderstanding, but I am wondering if it is more than that. Because how could he possibly think that I put my father up to this when I had my debit card out to pay? And surely he is intelligent enough to figure out the reason why my father asked him to do this. How could I be “picking his pocket” when it was not his money in the first place???

If he had a problem with what my dad asked him to do then he should have addressed it with him. But now I have the reputation with him and my sister of being “a thief.”

Later on my sister told me that he sometimes puts the meals on his business account, which is still funded by my father because it is not successful. In fact the reason why my father is paying their bills is because he refuses to get an outside job as my father has repeatedly told him to do.

How the hell does he expect me or my father to know that he is doing that, especially when it is only “sometimes”?

The irony here is that in actuality he is picking my father’s pocket and mine indirectly because it would be nice if I had an inheritance., especially since I am disabled. But even more important is that my father needs the money for himself. He is 86 years old and retired. He worked hard to save his money, but my brother=in-law has not made a serious attempt to get a job in three years, since he lost his last job.

Because of stuff like this it is becoming more and more clear to me that with all this going on that having a relationship with them at this point would be an exercise in futility. I do realize that I have made mistakes in our relationship but in some cases it is obvious that I am being set up. And my brother-in-law lies about me all the time to make me look bad. He has done it with my father, who doesn’t buy it for a second but he has told me about it. I am sure he is doing the same with my sister.

I once had a dream where I was so mad at my sister I was literally at her throat in anger and then the scene changed to my brother-in-law flying a model airplane with a smirk on his face. While I am not an expert in dream interpretation I wonder if this was a warning about him playing games behind the scenes to intensify the problems with my sister. Flying a model airplane could symbolize manipulation.

This is just one example of many of where I simply cannot trust him and by extension my sister as well. It is a hard lesson for me to realize that not all people I encounter have good intentions. On the surface he is a very nice and pleasant person. And he has done some good things as well for me. But that does not mean that I can trust him. Sad but true.

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July 31st was my birthday. The Big Five-O. Yikes!

Like most people I am not eager to grow old, especially when physically I feel like I am turning 90 not 50 due to fibromyalgia. I spent a lonely birthday because I had to cancel plans with some friends because I was not up to going out.

It was lonelier still because I am once again on the outs with my sister and her family. It isn’t all her fault, but I apologized for my behavior while she did not. After wooing me back last year by apologizing for an incident where she threw me out of her house without even telling me what she was upset about, she then decided to take that apology back. How does that even make sense? She told me that she realized that it was just a simple misunderstanding.  Now she says it was because I yelled at her, which is not true in the least. While I do tend to have a hot temper, I very purposely stayed calm because my nephew was there. It goes to show that even when I do everything that I am asked to do, it is never good enough.

No that last statement is wrong. I AM NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.  At least according to her and her husband.

My therapist has spent a good deal of time trying to convince me that just because I make mistakes does not mean that I AM A MISTAKE.

I am a smart lady. I know that. At least intellectually. But the problem is that my emotions tell me different.

It isn’t just my bipolar disorder that is the problem. It comes from a lifetime of being told what a screw-up I am. And certainly I HAVE screwed up many things. I am grown-up enough to admit that.

But rejection and lack of forgiveness sends me into a tailspin. I question my self-worth because I depend on others to tell me that I am okay.

It is ironic that I go to the one person who is not able to tell me that, for whatever reason. Because I confuse her with mommy. Because in many ways, she is just like my mother was. But even my mother eventually changed her attitude towards me, although to be honest I was too immature at the time to see that. She is passed on now, and I regret that.

My sister was told that she was better than me by our mother. There was hardly a day that went by where she did not say to me “Why can’t you be like your sister?” The question baffled me. I was ME, how could I be HER?

My mother was unrealistic. My sister was three years older than me so in terms of maturity I was never going to catch up. The other problem was that everybody thought I was a great kid, except for my mother. My teachers loved me and I got A’s most of the time. I never got in trouble at school, not even once

To my mother I was the worst kid in the world, and although I certainly did deserve punishment from time to time, it was excessive.

Oddly enough considering our rocky relationship, my sister is in fact the only one in the family who acknowledges that that our mother played favorites. She in fact needed no pressure from me at all to admit that. In fact she has told me that she feels bad about that.

My sister was not great to me as a kid, but I don’t blame her. This was a dynamic set up by our mother.  But ironically my sister treats me even worse as an adult. Because on some level, she still believes that she is better than me.

I was never good enough. When I was young, I played with my sister’s Barbie doll and broke it. I was too young to realize that Barbie’s legs could not splay apart to sit on a model horse.

My mother declared that I would not get a Barbie of my own until I learned to take care of my toys. Ironically I was not in the habit of breaking any toys, whether they were my sister’s or mine. I did bathe in the bathtub a cloth doll that had a crying mechanism, and she never cried again. But everyone laughed that one off.

That Barbie doll became a symbol of my mother’s approval and I waited year after year for it. I never got it.

Lest people think that she did not know how much I wanted it, she did after many years of waiting buy me a knock-off doll called “Tricky Micky”.  She was “tricky” all right. She was held together by rubber bands on the inside. She broke.

Granted I am sure my mother did not know how cheaply made this doll was, but she never bothered to buy me a better doll.

It was a not so subtle message: “You will never be good enough for the real thing.”

This sounds so trivial compared to stories of horrific physical abuse that many children have gone through and yet I have heard from many that they preferred the physical abuse to the emotional abuse. And this, along with the other constant verbal put downs I got from my mother, qualifies.  The message was that even the most trivial of mistakes can never be forgiven.

I AM A MISTAKE. Not that I make mistakes that can be forgiven.

As an adult people have suggested that I buy myself a Barbie doll now. I have resisted because I am not a child anymore so what would I do with a toy?

But this year I remembered that there are Barbies that are not made for play. Collector’s dolls. So I half-heartedly went on-line to look. WOW! There are literally HUNDREDS of dolls ranging from around $20 to hundreds of dollars. And they are beautiful!

So I bought one for myself. To tell myself that no matter how much I screw up, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM UNFORGIVABLE AND WORTHLESS BEYOND REPAIR. It also does not mean that my mistakes are somehow any worse than other people’s mistakes.

I haven’t murdered anyone. I have never stolen anything. That does not mean that I am proud of everything I have done, but quite frankly my sister is far from being a saint and at times has done some pretty crappy things herself. SHE IS NOT BETTER THAN ME.

Forgive me for the long rant. But I need from time to time to hear myself say that I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE’S PROBLEMS!

I was not responsible for my mother’s problems. She did not have a mental illness but that does not mean she didn’t have problems. I used to think it was just me because she only got mad at me, no one else. Actually she probably was mad at a lot of people, but took it out on me.

So I bought my Irish Princess Barbie doll and I have it sitting right in front of me to remind me that I am okay. I make mistakes but I can be forgiven and if no one gives that to me then I can give it to myself.  And my inner child adores her.

Wanna see???? Do you?? Huh??Huh??

Here you go!!!

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Merry Go Round

Magical Merry Go Round (Photo credit: Floyd’s Noise)

There are times in a family relationship when it can’t be maintained anymore. But I feel that it is still my fault, because to be honest, part of it is. But apologies mean nothing unless I totally capitulate to her point of view, that basically I am a horrible person and therefore my position on anything is totally invalid. Because, you know, that “bipolar thing.”

She refuses to acknowledge that I have genuine concerns in this “relationship” Quotes because it really fell apart years ago. There is no relationship, unless it is totally on her terms.

I started the argument. So lots of guilt right there. But after a reluctant look at myself I realized that I was wrong and apologized. But not until after I got blindsided with a whole bunch of rules I should follow, based on grievances that I had no way of knowing about others that I thought had been resolved.

Like the fact that she openly agreed to an arrangement we had and every single time I asked her about it she assured me that she was fine with it. But she wasn’t and so she has a lot of anger about it and so one of her “rules” was that I should not expect that from her and that I apparently should have known that. What is wrong with her just saying “No” in the first place? I would have been fine with that. This has been an ongoing pattern in our relationship, but she will not take responsibility for it. I actually feel completely set-up by her. I go along thinking everything is fine until I get dumped on. And she completely mangled my motives for having this arrangement. I have gotten dumped on by both her and her husband for many years about how selfish and thoughtless I am (which it true that I can be that way, but not most of the time as they claim) but here I bend over backwards to make sure that everything is okay by asking her repeatedly if it was. I did not pressure her in any way.

Then I got a lot of verbal vomit about a situation that I thought we had resolved. She even accused me of things that I had not done. A while back she threw me out of her house over a minor misunderstanding. When I saw she was upset I kept calm and asked her what the problem was. I asked repeatedly but she thought I knew so she did not answer. She just threw me out with no explanation.

Now her version of this is that I yelled at her and that is why she threw me out. So therefore one of her “rules” is that she has the right to throw me out if I yell at her, Well I would agree that she has that right, but I resent the accusation because I took great pains not to yell at her. In fact I was completely and totally stunned.

After months of not talking she reached out to me and she even seemed to reluctantly acknowledge my point of view that the problem had been miscommunication on both our parts. Which is something I told her at the time.

Doesn’t that sound like an apology of sorts?

But now it appears that she still thinks it is my fault and it is not just about my supposed yelling incident but about everything.

I sent an e-mail to her saying that I am willing to abide by rules but that I did not appreciate the nastiness. Then I had a few rules of my own. That went over like a lead balloon!

You see she wants a relationship with me only on her terms. In fact she gave me a condescending figurative “pat on the head” by saying I sounded too upset, implying of course that my feelings were not worth listening to because “obviously” it has to do with my having bipolar disorder. So essentially only she has the right to be angry and make ridiculous accusations, but I am not allowed to respond. Ever.

She has taken a page from our upbringing. The only people who were allowed to have feelings were mom and dad. Actually my father was not hands-on so it was mostly my mother. I can only think of a few times where I expressed a feeling, only to be shot down. I went numb inside. At least until I had a nervous breakdown at sixteen.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to that numb state. But I digress.

My mother would often take a minor incident (such as my talking at the wrong time) and turn it into an “attack” on her. She would cry and ask me why I wanted to hurt her. At the time she started doing that I was so young that I actually thought I had wanted to hurt her somehow, even if I didn’t feel it. Because mommy was “always right.” Then one day it dawned on me that I did not have that motive so while I was grounded in my room after the lecture I started crying hysterically. My mother came to check on me and while crying I told her that I did not want to hurt her. She simply said that I was feeling sorry for myself and left.

Now I have forgiven her, but I am simply looking at the dynamics of what went on between us. And to be honest, I have treated people the same way in my illness. I am actually glad that I never had children, because I think I would have been a horrible mother.

So how much am I at fault for what happened between my sister and I? I did start the original argument but I did apologize. But it isn’t just me that is the problem and she refuses to take any responsibility for her actions.

Supposedly she is the “normal” person in the family. but she definitely has issues. Big issues. She is a very angry person, but in her mind I am the only one with an anger problem.

We exchanged a few e-mails but the last time she said she was cutting off contact. I told her that when she was ready to be honest with herself and take responsibility for her actions then I would be here. I don’t know if she read it but if she did I doubt that went over well either. But I am tired of this and I don’t really care anymore.

I have a choice. I can blame myself for the whole thing (which I have certainly done in the past) and become depressed and destructive to myself. I can blame her for everything wrong in our relationship (which I have done also). Or I can simply let her go like I have done in the past. She simply can’t be what I want her to be. Ever.

I could apologize until the cows come home and not only would that not work, but I would be giving away my power. She wants to be in complete control of the relationship. I don’t consider one person being in control as even fitting the definition of a “relationship”

I am exhausted from this and I simply can’t do this anymore.

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I get a newsletter from The Happiness Club. They have support groups all over the U.S and in other countries to help them learn ways of changing their thoughts and behavior. I found a good story here from one of the clubs about changing your perceptions of frustrating situations. She describes a small change in perception that can add up to big results if we practice it:

Shared Thoughts To Keep Us All On The Happy Track.

Sharing an e-mail received from Elisa, an individual that attended a Happiness Club meeting in Fairfield.

Thursday, January 23rd’s meeting presentation: “Creating a Brilliant 2014 for ourselves,” was terrific. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I believe Lionel made it clear that night that we are responsible for our own happiness and that truly the thoughts we think (although they seem so automatic, natural and 100% “correct”) are under our control and can lead to happiness….or not. We just have to overcome our conditioning and habitual way of responding!

Here is one result: this morning getting onto the Merritt Parkway, I had a tailgater on me. So I naturally slowed to a crawl (lol). But then I started thinking that this woman didn’t get up with the intention of ruining my day (as we discussed last night)….I started thinking of other reasons why she was tailing me …things like maybe her son got hurt and she was rushing to the hospital, maybe she got up late and was going to miss her train.

Suddenly, my thoughts changed from grumbling to trying to figure out how I could help her! How could I help her get to her son? How could I help her catch her train? I got out of her way in a loving manner and with godspeed.

The lesson here: all these reasons I ascribed to her for her behavior were just thoughts in my head. The grumbling thoughts made me feel angry and seek revenge (Yes, I know this is hysterical). The compassionate thoughts made me want to help her. So this day, which thoughts will I choose?

I don’t think my change in perspective as described in the tail gating incident would have occurred if I wasn’t in the meeting last night. So again – thank you. Elisa

This newsletter is packed with inspiration so I would encourage you to read the whole thing. You can subscribe to it here

In addition to positive articles on their website, they also have a media section that is worth checking out.

I have a confession to make. I usually don’t find time to read inspirational stuff. Then I wonder why I feel so bad and negative. Duh! I am making a resolution to read at least one inspiring thing a day! I hope you will join me!  Happy Thoughts! 😉

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong...

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong with you, but there is also a lot right with you (Photo credit: symphony of love)

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I wish it wasn’t necessary to even bring this up. In a perfect world we would know how to treat people with kindness and love, including those with mental disorders.*

Example of dark circles

Example of dark circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back a hundred years ago or even as recently as 50 years ago they stuck the mentally ill in asylums and used barbaric treatments on them. Many were stuck there for life, abandoned by their families and when they died, they were put in paupers graves.

I thought that those days were long over, until I read this petition from Change.org Please read this and sign their petition. They unfortunately have been blocked from the company that the petition addresses, but they provide e-mail addresses of the people who need to hear this and more importantly do something about this.

Read this and weep (literally):

“Painful electric shock at the push of a button. Hours of restraint and seclusion. Food and sleep deprivation. But this is not Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib. This is a “school” for disabled children and youth.

These are only some of the practices of the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. The JRC, which has been open since 1971, is most well known by disability advocates and human rights activists for their controversial philosophy of “treatment” for people with developmental, intellectual, and psychiatric disabilities that dictates that pain and punishment should be used to change unwanted (and sometimes simply inconvenient) behavior. Their philosophy of treatment is that if a student does something they don’t want them to be doing, staff should press a button and zap the student with an electric shock designed to be more powerful and painful than a police taser. The JRC is the only facility that uses this type of punishment.

This is not treatment. This is torture.

In 2012, a case against the JRC brought by the mother of a former student went to trial in Massachusetts. During testimony, the plaintiffs showed surveillance video of Andre McCollins receiving thirty-one shocks over a period of seven hours while restrained face-down, all for the offense of not wanting to take off his jacket. Most of the subsequent shocks were for tensing up or screaming. Earlier, the JRC’s founder and executive director Matthew Israel was forced to resign in a plea agreement for destroying evidence against court orders after an incident in 2007 when a prank call led to staff shocking two students 77 and 29 times respectively over a period of three hours. Read more…

Note: Technically autism is not a mental illness, but it is often treated as such due to behavioral complications.

1212mentalhealth-RW

1212mentalhealth-RW (Photo credit: Robbie Wroblewski)

 

I have noticed that I am getting a lot of searches on my blog about setting boundaries with bipolar family or friends. So I am going to devote a short post to this topic. Unfortunately I am in a lot of pain right now with my fibromyalgia so I am saving some of the longer posts that I had planned to write until later.

So this is my opinion based on my thirty-some years of dealing with this illness and my work with others who suffer with mental disorders.

Note: Do not take what I am about to say as an excuse for bipolar behavior. I am only noting the complexities of dealing with this illness as simply a behavioral disorder. Please read the entire article before making a judgment. I do in fact talk about what the responsibilities of the person who has bipolar disorder are. Ultimately it is up to the person who has to live with the person who is diagnosed as to how much they feel they can tolerate. However I encourage an attitude of compassion, rather than judgment. Also you are welcome to respond to this article as long as you do so in a respectful manner.  If you cannot do that then your comment will not be approved.

Boundaries, for the most part, should be similar to those that anyone without an illness should adhere to. However, there are some caveats:

1. Recognize that bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizo-affective disorder, and schizophrenia are not character disorders. The person you are dealing with is the same person that she was before she got sick, so if she was a good person before then she is also a good person even in the midst of her illness. Often people get bipolar disorder confused with borderline personality disorder (which often even has the same initials as bipolar disorder, BPD). While the symptoms may be similar to each other borderline personality disorder is a part of a person’s character and is formed early on in childhood. Medications tend to not help much.  Therapy is recommended as the most effective treatment. However in people who have a true mental illness based on biology, medications are very effective in restoring function and therapy is considered an adjunct treatment.

2. Because of #1 it is very important that you not shame the person who is dealing with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness. Chances are they are already dealing with a lot of shame, even if they don’t show it. Suicidal behavior is often motivated by feelings of guilt. Guilt is actually a hallmark symptom of the depressive phase of the illness. You are not responsible for any suicide attempts but just keep in mind that the goal is to help the person feel better and guilt trips don’t help.

3. Don’t take their behavior personally. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you.

4. Keep in mind also that some people experience a break with reality in which they are not totally in control of their behavior. See my article Are People With Bipolar Disorder Inherently Evil?

 5. After saying all this I think that the primary way of setting boundaries should be to insist that the person get appropriate help. It may be that it is impossible to live with that person’s behavior otherwise. I have dealt with that problem myself when I took in a homeless schizophrenic who refused to take his medications. He became homeless when he quit his job and went on a wild spending spree. Unfortunately by trying to help him I only enabled him to continue his destructive behavior. Please note that I am not suggesting that a mentally ill person should be left out on the street. There are mental health organizations that can help with finding them medical help and housing. See the bottom of this article for resources.

6.  Keep in mind that most medications do not work overnight and it may take a while to find the right combination. Also most people do not get total relief from their symptoms so they might still have mood swings, just not as bad as before.

7.  Because of #6 most people need to also develop coping skills to deal with their illness. This is where therapy and support groups are helpful. One of the things that I have learned and continue to learn is how to separate my bipolar feelings from my healthy feelings, This is where self-responsibility comes in to play. I can’t take my feelings out on others and this is where appropriate boundaries are needed.

A good resource for family and friends of people who suffer from mental disorders is NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). They also offer classes in coping skills for those who suffer from mental illness.

For information on support groups and other programs to help the mentally ill go to the Mental Health America website.

For a good list of therapists and other mental health professionals who can help both the person suffering from mental illness and also family members who need help to deal with their loved one’s illness go to the Psychology Today website and click on “Find a Therapist” on the top of the page.

Related articles

 

This poem has been floating around for years but just in case you haven’t read it here it is again, a tiny, but powerful slice of wisdom:

 

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Copyright (c) 1993, by Portia Nelson from the book There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk. Reproduced with kind permission from Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, Oregon.

Drive-By Snarking

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006).

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it finally happened. I had my first “snark attack” on my blog. Frankly I am surprised that it has taken so long for this to happen since I do post on some controversial topics. Even though it was an unpleasant experience it did spark some thinking on my part. In essence, how do you explain your illness to someone without making it sound like you are making excuses for bad behavior?

In the article in question I made it very clear that having bipolar disorder does not give you a free pass. However what I was focusing on was that there are people who have bipolar disorder who experience a break with reality, including me. Any court in the land would not consider that person to be responsible for her behavior. Now the area gets a little fuzzy when it comes to medication compliance, someone who is not getting treatment may bear some responsibility for getting into the situation in the first place. Unfortunately, I lost a good friendship with a man who has schizophrenia because he stopped taking his medication. I ended up in a very co-dependent relationship with him, which ended badly.

Getting back to this comment she basically was angry with her bipolar husband and so all people who have bipolar disorder are evil and don’t take responsibility for their actions. Furthermore mental illness is not a serious disease, like cancer, so I should just suck it up.

I won’t get into my reply here, but you can read it for yourself.

What she missed was that this article was intended to help those who are perplexed by their loved one’s behavior. To let people know that the strange behavior has nothing to do with them. In other words, I was trying to comfort people who have been deeply hurt to help them understand that they are not at fault and also that most likely the person does not intend to hurt them or anyone else.

One of my deepest regrets is that I have hurt others through my suicide attempts. However I was not doing that to manipulate and punish them, it was to punish me. I felt everyone would be happier without me and that I didn’t deserve to live. At one point I was delusional and I thought God wanted me to kill myself.

When I have told some people this it has been because I want then to feel better, to let them know that I don’t blame them and to ease their minds. While my dad gets that, I have gotten a very negative response from some other people. They just see my well-intended words as excuses and that I had some evil intent to hurt them. I have even been accused of lying about my symptoms in order to get medications, even though they do not make me high and they are non-addictive.

When I get accused of not taking responsibility for my actions, that is not true. I have made changes in my life and I no longer act destructively towards myself or others. I have not made a suicide attempt in 14 years. I think this is the best apology that I can give, which is doing things differently. I didn’t have the skills to manage my illness in the past, now I do.

But I will not admit to having evil motives when I did not. I’ll take responsibility for my actions, but I am not going to roll over and be beaten up for the mistakes I made in my past. The fact is that I want very deeply to reassure them that I do not blame them for my illness, but they won’t accept it.  That means that I am not responsible for their misery, because they are the ones who are choosing to hold onto it.

So what do you guys think? Do people react badly when you try to explain your illness to them? At what point do you think that maybe you were not responsible for your actions? At what point do you think you were? Please share.

To Play Or Not To Play

Cover of "Bad (Aerial Fiction)"

Cover of Bad (Aerial Fiction)

 

A relative is coming to visit next week and I am invited.  My sister is upset that I have not gotten back to her yet. The reason why is that I don’t know if I want to come. considering my sister’s behavior. However if I do not go, then I miss seeing a relative that I haven’t seen for a long time.

When there was a get-together on Easter I told my sister that I would come as long as she treated me with the same respect that she would give any guest in her home. She promptly “un-invited” me.

The problem is that she and her husband treat me like I am a child that needs disciplining. I am forty-eight years old.

Actually they treat me worse than that. I am treated like a dog that pooped on their floor. Last time I saw them I was literally tossed out of their house. It’s as if I were a puppy-dog that was thrown into the back yard because I did a “no-no.”

Now if I had been tossed out because I had actually metaphorically taken a dump on their floor, then their behavior would make sense. However, what really happened was that I didn’t perform the right “trick” for them.

Now they want “doggie” to come back in because the punishment is over and “doggie” is being unreasonable by not coming to their beck and call.

The reality is that all “doggie” did was give her nephew a birthday gift rather than pay for his birthday meal.

Woof, woof! BAD, BAD DOGGIE!!!

“Doggie” didn’t even know that that was what they wanted.

Well, you get the picture.

I have tried to talk with them and they don’t want to because I am being “unreasonable.” The problem is solved in their eyes so why should I be so presumptuous as to bring it up again?

This is a pattern that has gone on a long, long time where they do not respect my decisions. In their eyes I am “abusive” if I disagree with them. Because, you know, I am bipolar, so of course nothing I have to say is worthwhile listening to.

Never mind the fact that I have not been in the hospital for ten years!  Never mind that I have gotten my life together while they have not gotten theirs together!

The truth is that usually people who are that controlling have tremendous problems in their personal lives (which they definitely do) that they don’t want to face. Since they can’t find anything real to blame me for then they just make up stuff to suit them.

Ironically they call me petty for objecting to that sort of treatment! Maybe ten or more years ago they might have had some reason to object to my behavior, but not now. Other people in my life recognize that but not them. The fact is that the problem lies with the fact that they haven’t changed. Actually that is not entirely true. In the case of my brother-in-law he has changed for the worse.

He demands that everyone has to cater to him. If I were the problem then why are there others who object to his behavior also? He has expected my dad to support his family for YEARS.

This is clearly a situation of how people in glass houses should not throw stones.

When I try to talk with them about anything their reaction to me is always that I am “just making excuses.”  Not that they ever do that!

Since trying to talk this out with them had no effect then at Easter I simply told them that they needed to treat me with the same dignity and respect that they would treat anyone in their home.  That was my condition for coming and it wasn’t an unreasonable one since I was not asking for special treatment.

That went over like a lead balloon!

How do you reason with people who always think they are right 100% of the time? I certainly do not make that claim for myself but I do know that I am not wrong 100% of the time either.

I get the feeling that they are waiting for the time when I accept the “obvious fact” that they are morally superior to me.

That is never going to happen.

My choices seem to be limited when it comes to the get-together.  My dad has offered to pay for everyone in hopes of preventing any problems however since I do not consider that to be the cause of the problems with my sister and brother-in-law then I have very little confidence that they won’t find some other reason to get mad at me.

Telling them that they need to respect my decisions hasn’t worked either.

So what I am left with is the hope that they will not act badly in front of their guests. There is no guarantee of course that they won’t get mad later.

While I have felt like cutting my sister and brother-in-law out of my life forever I just don’t know how practical that is in the long-run. Maybe I should just focus on limiting contact with them instead.

I am at my wit’s end because I know that they really don’t have any motivation to change. If they really cared at all about my feelings then they would be willing to talk. They have had three months in which to calm down and be reasonable with me.  The fact is that they are set in their ways and they think that the only person who needs to change is me. They won’t even acknowledge that I have changed. Apparently their definition of change has nothing to do with handling my illness and emotions in a constructive manner that does not affect others in a negative way, as they like to claim, because I am already doing that and have been for a long time.

No, their definition of change is for me to always do what they want. Period.

Many, many years ago, before my sister was married and before my most spectacular nervous breakdowns had happened we took a trip to Nevada together. We were getting along very well at that point. At a particular tourist place, she realized that she had no money and there was no ATM around. Neither one of us had a credit card. She and I and another friend of hers had decided to get a tintype photo done. But her friend had to leave so my sister decided she didn’t want to do it with just the two of us. I had given my sister forty dollars to pay for it but since we weren’t going to get it done I asked for her to return my money to me. I saw something that I wanted to buy but she refused to give me my money back, because she thought I was “spending too much money”. Now mind you, she didn’t think it was too much money when it was going towards what she wanted. But when it was going to go towards what I wanted then it was a problem. The fact was that I had a full-time job, I was not in the habit of spending massive amounts of money and this was my vacation!  I saw a lovely piece of Native American Zuni pottery that I could not have found at home so I wanted to buy it.

When we returned to the motel she was still upset, as was I, so she went for a drive. When she came back she had a rock from the desert that she thought I might like and she apologized. I accepted.

For the life of me I never figured out her thought process as to why she thought that she had the right to decide how I was going to spend my money in the first place, because that is so completely beyond anything that I would ever think of doing to someone else. But I accepted her apology and left it alone.

Fast forward some twenty-five years and she apparently has lost the ability for self-reflection to realize that there are times when she is just plain wrong, no doubt about it.  Because I am bipolar so nothing I do is right, ever. And bipolar disorder is a moral issue, not a mental illness. And even though I haven’t been hospitalized for ten years I am obligated to make up to her every little mistake I have made until she is finished punishing me. Which means never. I guess I keep thinking that I am dealing with the person that she was back then, so I try to reason with her even when it feels like my brain is bleeding trying to follow her convoluted “logic.”

Despite all this though, I do want to visit with a relative that I have not seen in several years. So I guess I will just have to bite the bullet and hope that my sister behaves herself.  But I am damn well not going to apologize for spending my money the way that I choose. I did nothing wrong in buying my nephew a gift, rather than  paying for his meal. It was his birthday, not theirs and besides who ever heard of someone dictating what kind of gift to give?  My nephew was happy, why can’t they be happy too?

The fact is that they are responsible for their own happiness, not me. If they want to get bent out of shape over non-issues then that is not my problem at all.

We’ll see how this experiment goes…

 

PH-F-O-0025

PH-F-O-0025 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Bipolar Disorder Does Not Increase Risk of Violent Crime, Swedish Study Suggests

Sep. 8, 2010 — A new study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet suggests that bipolar disorder — or manic-depressive disorder — does not increase the risk of committing violent crime. Instead, the over-representation of individuals with bipolar disorder in violent crime statistics is almost entirely attributable to concurrent substance abuse.

The public debate on violent crime usually assumes that violence in the mentally ill is a direct result of the perpetrator’s illness. Previous research has also suggested that patients with bipolar disorder — also known as manic-depressive disorder — are more likely to behave violently. However, it has been unclear if the violence is due to the bipolar disorder per se, or caused by other aspects of the individual’s personality or lifestyle.

The new study, carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Oxford University, is presented in the scientific journal Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers compared the rate of violent crime in over 3,700 patients with bipolar disorder cared for in Swedish hospitals between 1973 and 2004 with that of 37,000 control individuals from the general public.

21% of patients with bipolar disorder and a concurrent diagnosis of severe substance abuse (alcohol or illegal drugs) were convicted of violent crimes, compared to 5% of those with bipolar disorder but without substance abuse, and 3% among general public control individuals. The differences remained when accounting for age, gender, immigrant background, socio-economic status, and whether the most recent presentation of the bipolar disorder was manic or depressed.

“Interestingly, this concurs with our group’s previous findings in schizophrenia, another serious psychiatric disorder, which found that individuals with schizophrenia are not more violent than members of the general public, provided there is no substance abuse,” says professor Niklas Långström, head of the Centre for Violence Prevention at Karolinska Institutet, and one of the researchers behind the study.

According to the researchers, the findings support the need for initiatives to prevent, identify and treat substance abuse when fighting violent crime. Additionally, Långström hopes that the results will help challenge overly simplistic explanations of the causes of violent crime.

“Unwarranted fear and stigmatisation of mental illness increases the alienation of people with psychiatric disorder and makes them less inclined to seek the care they need,” Långström comments.

Karolinska Institutet (2010, September 8). Bipolar disorder does not increase risk of violent crime, Swedish study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907103613.htm