Post # 1
I’m stressing out very hard right about now. My fiancé and I are getting married in Fjij in less than two weeks. However, my sister-in-law who was diagnosed bipolar over a year ago is going into another psychotic break. We never really know when these episodes will come about. However it seems as though they are almost a little planned… I hate even saying that but her last “psychotic break” was when she found out her mother was engaged over a year ago. That was when she got diagnosed bipolar. At that time she went into a frenzy and ended up being sent to many hospitals and getting on meds. Recently she decided to start getting off the meds. They had her on lithium and other medications and her mood and personality greatly improved with meds, GREATLY!! She had side effects of weight gain and breakouts but other than that she was lucid!! She was herself, the girl I met when my fiancé and I 1st got together 7 years ago. Needless to say since she decide to get off her meds thing have slowly started to spiral downward again. Right now she is with Mom (my mother-in-law) and under doctor supervision. So here’s the big kicker, We ( my parents, mother-in-law, and my fiancé and I) fly out to Fiji in less than two weeks for Our wedding… I am worrying that my sister-in-law is not going to be able to be on her own/ without mom by the time we all have to fly out. My fiancé is so upset and frustrated by the situation he has almost re-coiled. He has tried so hard to be there for her and she seems to never listen to anything he has to offer her. Now with her recent episode he is very upset that she has gotten back to this point. Upset that she was lying about wanting to get healthy and trying to get better ( she went off the radar with her doctors between the diagnosis and this psychotibe break). Everyone coming to our wedding has already paid up completely with the flight, the resort, etc. weunderstand it was a lot to get married in Fiji, but it is our life’s dream. I know and understand that life happens on its own good time. There is no way to assure no emergenciesfor to be 100% prepared for situations like this. I am just super stressed and tired making our wedding dreams come true, and now we are here… If anyone has any helpful re-assurance, or has had to deal with anything close to this please let me know. We(my fiancés family and I) have tried so hard to be there for his sister and help her through/with life, everyday situations, etc. However, now my fiancé and I stand here needing help, love, and support and are getting the brunt end of others not holding true to their words. What can we do, what should we do? Please, anything will help at this point.
Post # 3
- Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA
Well– bi-polar disorder gets worse when someone is under stress, so the stress of her mom’s engagement is definitely something that could cause a break. As for now– I doubt it was intentional to stop taking hermeds right before your wedding, but this is also common. Often those with mental disorders feel that they’ve gotten “better” and thus can stop treatment, without fully realizing that the treatment is what’s making them better.
As for what to do– go get married! You can’t let her illness control your lives, so either she can handle it or she can’t. If you’re that worried about it, maybe talk about having her voluntarily commit herself for a while to help her get back on track. Or ask a friend or other family member to stay with her while her mom is away.
It’s tough, but you can’t “fix” her, so you just have to accept the family you’ve got and move forwardwith your own life.
Post # 4
I’m bipolar, and I’d like to give you an idea of what your FSIL is going through.
The year after I was diagnosed was one of the worst of my life. The medications they put you on are horrific…lithium has a permanent effect on your body. Weight gain and breakouts may not seem much to you, but since I was diagnosed in 2006 I’ve put on nearly 7 stone. When you are feeling shitty, looking at your body and not recognising it really doesn’t help.
Your insinuation that she is ‘planning’ her breaks is extremely offensive. As the previous poster pointed out, anything that causes stress can cause one. It might not seem much to you, but I had my last break when I got a new job. I certainly did not ‘plan’ it, the timing could not have been worse.
Your wedding is one day, she is going to have to deal with this condition for the rest of her life. Try and have some empathy. Unless your FI can read her mind, he has no idea if she was ‘lying’ when she said she wanted to get better. Having to constantly see doctors and take the medication is not easy.
Post # 5
@TobeJones: Okay…deep breaths.
This kind of relapse is NORMAL with people struggling with this type of illness. It can be a vicious cycle: she started to feel better, thinks that she cured, saw that she was having side effects and decided to go off her meds. The medication can often make people feel like they’re dead inside or have no emotions. It’s tricky to find the right balance. As sad as this is, this happens a lot and it most likely has nothing to do with you or your FI. So, first things first, I’d say that you guys need to stop thinking that she’s doing this to hurt you. She’s not thinking about you…and that sucks, but she’s in her own world right now…bigger things are going on her in head.
It’s really really sad that she’s struggling with her diagnosis and didn’t pursue help after being diagnosed but that’s also, sadly, understandable. She was dealt a serious blow and it’s not like the world looks kindly on people who have a mental illness. She probably feels a lot of shame. Is this productive and/or good? Not at all. But again, it’s understandable.
I know that this is a stressful time and you just want everyone to be together for your wedding. I think that in order for you to take some control back, you could talk to your FMIL about what she thinks about travelling. Maybe she can talk to the doctors who are looking after your FSIL and see what they think about the possibility of your FMIL leaving the country. I do think that you need to realise that it’s entirely possible that your FMIL won’t be able to leave FSIL. Again, I can only imagine how much that would hurt, but your FSIL really may need her mom right now.
Mental illness is often really difficult for friends and family to “get” because it seems so simple: take your meds and things will be fine. That’s not how it seems to the individual however and your FSIL has to get to a point (and find the right meds and doctor) where she realises that she can be herself, just more even.
There are quite a number of women on the boards who have BP and I’m sure that they will be able to help more. I’ve watched someone deal with this diagnosis and it was…well….rough would be an understatement and have struggled myself with anixety and depression.
Your feelings are normal too. This has shaken your family and the person you knew and loved appears to have gone away. I think that the only thing that you can do for your FSIL is to encourage her to get help, to be there for her, and love her.
Post # 6
Stress or new situations (such as a wedding) triggers the changes and spirals. Blaming her or accusing her of planning is, as Sekhmet said, insulting to an entire community.
My suggestion is to let your in-laws deal with it and understand/accept that they may or may not be able to be there with you. It doesn’t mean they love you less, and I am sure they feel very guilty for not being able to attend if the siutation warrants that. Your sister-in-law needs physical support while you need emotional. I am sure they are giving you what you need. Let them work on your sister.
Post # 7
I’m sorry you have to go through this. Mental illness is always difficult.
That said, his sister is an adult and can make her own decisions about medication. She decided to go off her meds. People can’t reschedule their entire lives around when his sister decides to stop taking her meds or change her meds; she was aware of the possible effects when she made that choice and it was worth it to her. If she isn’t well enough to attend the wedding (if that was ever part of the plan) then I think your FMIL should talk with your sister’s doctor and see if there’s a residential program of some kind where she can stay for a week or however long your family will be out of town.
I don’t think you or your FI should feel guilty about this, and I don’t think his family should feel guilty about it. Your sister in law has an illness, and will probably have it her entire life (unless they discover a cure for bipolar) and you cannot — cannot — structure your entire lives around her illness. It’s not healthy or realistic.
I hope you manage to come up with a solution that will let everyone relax and enjoy your wedding.
Post # 8
It’s no wonder mental illness carries such a stigma when most people know all the buzzwords and think that they understand it. I’m fairly certain if we were talking about kidney disease and the fact that your FSIL would need dialysis, this thread would read very differently.
I’m not bipolar but I do suffer with chronic depression. Would I love not to have to take meds every day, and other meds to combat some of the side effects like insomnia? Hell yes. Is it an option? Nope. Do I still have not-so-great days? Unfortunately yes, but I sure as heck don’t do it to draw attention to myself, or to inconvenience anyone.
Post # 9
@Sekhmet, as I said in my post “…I hate even saying that” I myself have gone through mis-diagnosis of Bipolar. Luckily enough with 2nd opinion of a bipolar specialist we found that it was something different. I understand that mental illness is not a fun sun shiny event. I also understand that sometimes this medication does not work and the only way to find out is by being a “guine pig” I’ve been there. However this One Day is a happy shiny event. We have been through so much toghether health issues, job issues, enugh stress to bring some people to their knees, death, loss of family, etc. We choose this one day to reflect on everything that we have been through and to celebrate that regardless of all the hurt and pain in the world we are there for each other. We are there to stay by one another’s side even when life gets tough like this. Regardless of having to help my sister-in-law with the rest of her life, I will still stand by this man. I am sorry you took personal offense to my comment, but I want you to know our intentions are not to get married and leave our sister to the way side. We are her family, the one thing you never give up on. Thank you
Post # 10
It sounds like your FI hasn’t really accepted the realities of his sister’s condition. It isn’t that she isn’t listening to him – it’s that she CAN’T. Her compulsions from her disease don’t let her. My aunt is bi-polar. Same thing. On and off her meds a lot, behavior like your FSIL. You guys need to plan for your own life, and move forward. There’s nothing you can do to change his sister.
Post # 11
My brother is Bipolar, so I know what it feels like to be concerned. It was really hard growing up, and I think his constant highs and lows really had an effect on me (I adored my older brother) as well as the rest of my family. It is really hard to understand because you don’t experience it yourself, but it is very important to be as supportive as you can.
While my brother does not have extremely severe symptoms, he really does his best to prevent episodes. He gets irritated very easily by certain things, and we have all had to learn to just let it go and let him be frustrated. He knows certain things can set him off, so when anyone talks about something that makes him feel uneasy he speaks up and lets us know.
I have read in psychology books that when people with Bipolar disorder go off of their meds, there are other ways to cope with the illness that can have somewhat of an effect/help.
Like PP have said, medications can make people with this illness feel off or just wrong. Some even like the manic side of Bipolar, and choose to stay off of medication in order to experience it.
From what I have read, a good diet is definitely a start in dealing with Bipolar disorder. Lots of exercise helps to redirect manic energy, and can help keep them on more of an even keel. I have seen this help my brother–he teaches exercise classes, and ever since he started doing so I have seen such a positive change in his moods.
A normal schedule is also said to help, with regular bedtimes and such.
None of these things may help, but they are worth a try. Just remember, whatever you feel, it is probably 1000X worse for your FI’s sister, so just try to be supportive. Do not let it get in the way of your big day, but don’t be upset with her either for any shortcomings she may have. Mental illness is a really tough thing to deal with, I wish you the best.
Post # 12
I’m not bi-polar, I lived with a bi-polar roommate for years.
I could see her spirals, I learned her ups and downs. If you have any empathy, you learn it just by being there. What I’ve done may NOT work for you, not all bi-polar people manifest their cycles in the same way.
I usually kept a stock of chocolate on hand. If I felt she was getting into a small funk about something, I’d give her a peice. That seemed to work on the daily stuff. If she kept going down in her cycle, I’d ask her to vent. Didn’t matter what it was about, even if it was about me. I’d just let her talk. It seemed to help. If it was worse, I’d call her doctor’s office for help. Even the suicide hotline. Just for someone to talk to. Anything to help her get out of her head.
You really do have to keep an eye or ear out for the little things. Every person with this affliction is different. So PLEASE talk about it with her and ask her doctors advice.
Either way you cant let her control your life. But, be empathetic. She’s really not doing all of this to you. It’s not about you or your FI, even if she says it is. It’s her disorder manifesting it’s self. If you take it personally it will ruin you.
Sadly, my roommate was doing things I just couldnt ignore, mostly due to her disorder manifesting its self into jealousy over my relationship with SO. I had to leave the situation and move on with my life. And I really think that was because I sort of centered my life around her disorder. So don’t make the mistake I did.
Post # 13
One of the biggest issues with trying to be there for my SIL is that she keeps herself distant. We live about 45 mins away which also makes the situation difficult. I read that we need to be there for her from support groups and others, howKate we supposed to be there for someone who keeps us at arms length and does not want the help? I get so lost it it all. I’m told to help and support, but not allowed to. Her manic stages get abusive, and if she doesn’t listen because of her disease she can’t, then when is it that I am/ are we supposed to be there for her with support? Sorry to keep with worry. We will still be getting married in Fiji if my fiancés mother can be there or not. But what about when we get back, how is it we are supposed to help?