• Share. Be Supported. Recover.

    We are a friendly, safe community supporting each other's mental health. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Help Me Be a Better Partner to a Woman Who I Think Suffers from Bipolar 2 (LONG POST AHEAD)

C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
Help Me Be a Better Partner to a Woman Who I Think Suffers from Bipolar 2 (LONG POST AHEAD)

Hi all,

Just looking for a little support here, I guess. A few months ago, I met a woman who could only be described as the woman of my dreams. We hit it off instantly. I had never met someone with whom I had so much in common, not just in terms of hobbies, interests, and desires, but in terms of thought processes, quirks, etc. In all the ways that we weren't alike, we complemented each other, our personalities perfectly dovetailing and enriching each others' lives.

As time went on and we grew closer, we started opening up to each other about our experiences - I personally suffer from depression (which manifests mostly as fatigue) and take SSRIs for this, and I'm also undergoing mindfulness therapy for what could be called an adjustment disorder with anxiety. She suffers from something that is as-yet undiagnosed and untreated, she believes it may be some sort of depression. Her one experience trying to get help was a negative one, with a hostile, belligerent doctor prescribing her a cocktail of pills that turned her into a zombie and she barely spoke for a month. She lives in a small town and as best I can tell he’s the only game in town, which puts her in a real bind. Now, note that I said “she believes it may be some sort of depression,” but I think it’s probably Type Two Bipolar, for a number of reasons.

For the first few months of our relationship, everything was perfect - not like, “too good to be true” perfect, we had conflicts, but we resolved them like adults and were forthcoming and honest with each other when we had a problem. We spent hours talking, spending time together, doting on each other, gushing to each other and our friends about how much we loved each other. In spite of all this, there was always a sadness about her and we talked through a lot of it. She’s recently been through a few rough spots, many of which are personally identifiable and I won’t post them here as a result, and she’s also struggled with eating disorders, body image issues, self harm, and substance abuse throughout her life. She’s been in recovery from ED for over a year, hasn’t self-harmed in about that long, and has been clean from most drugs for about three to four months. I’ve had my fair share of hardships and we bonded over how easily we could relate to each other and support each other in a healthy and loving manner.

And then, about four weeks ago, everything changed overnight. And when I say overnight, I mean we got off the phone one night giggling about how perfect we were for each other, saying the most incredibly wonderful, sweet stuff to each other, and the next morning when we woke up she acted cold and distant. Her sex drive plummeted. At first it was just that she would change the subject or do something else when sex came up, even if she was the one who had brought it up, and finally about two weeks ago she started getting actively angry at me for even being the tiniest bit flirtatious with her. In spite of all this, we were spending a lot of time together and still reasonably loving otherwise. I tried to talk to her about this as it started - she brought it up, in fact, acknowledged that she had been depressed and it was affecting her sex drive and that it wasn’t personal, but she knew it wasn’t fair to me. I understood and respected this. In a later conversation about the matter, she started saying that in a lot of ways she felt trapped by her sexuality and it was really affecting her, because she felt like men only wanted to be her friend so that they could hook up with her, and she was tired of being harassed on social media by horned-up random dudes. She felt like she was being objectified by strangers at an almost constant frequency. I understood and respected this as well, except for one problem - As time went on, and her desire to be affectionate with me decreased, her need for attention and validation from other sources increased - she started posting increasingly risque and sexual things on Facebook and Twitter, at first talking about various sexual things, then referencing nude photos of herself, then graphically live-tweeting a masturbation session, and culminating recently in tweeting a series of nude photos of herself. [Grouchy Sidebar: I have NO IDEA why men would be objectifying her and talking to her in a sexual fashion?]

The more I tried to address how hurtful this was to me, the more she withdrew from me, the more she ignored me, and the worse it got. She stopped talking to me about my life and almost exclusively talked to me about how much she hated her life and wanted to die, even after my father was hospitalized over Christmas, but was nothing but upbeat, flirtatious and sexual publicly with other men in her life. Eventually, about a week and a half ago, she cut me off completely. She said she needed space and felt that I wasn’t respecting her boundaries and she wasn’t ready to be with anyone until she worked through her feelings of objectification, worthlessness, etc. After about five days, she called me to apologize. She told me she loved me and she missed me and was sorry for hurting me, because she never wants to hurt me and treasures me and wants to be with me. “You’re my best friend and I never want to be with anyone else, and I’m so sorry. I missed you so much.”

Everything was fine for three days or so, and now the cycle has begun again. She’s reconciled with an ex, actively flirting with him on social media - an ex, by the way, who is known in our circle of friends (and to her) to be an emotionally abusive and manipulative sexual predator. She spent probably thirty minutes the other night defending this decision to me - “nobody’s all bad, and they make mistakes. He’s really not so bad. You should give him another chance.” He is that bad, but I digress. She’s gradually stopped talking to me again, stopped returning my calls, stopped texting me, and ramped up her attention-seeking behavior elsewhere. She’s also basically stopped eating, sleeps about eighteen hours a day, has started drinking more, and has started abusing prescription drugs again.

So here’s where I’m at. Until now, Bipolar of any sort had never occurred to me because I was only familiar with Type One, and she didn’t have the manic highs associated with Type One. But she does have the constant near-low hypomania that’s typical of Type Two, as well as the deep, long-lasting valleys of despair that manifest as fatigue, loss of appetite, pessimism, intrusive negative thoughts, suicidal ideation, a need for attention and validation and hypersexuality, as well as the comorbidity with ED, self-harm, and substance abuse issues that seems far more common with Type Two than Type One. My experiences over the last few weeks seem to mirror many of those that others have posted about, dealing with a partner who has Type Two.

My questions are:
- How can I explain to her that her behavior is hurtful to me and very much in violation of my own personal boundaries, even though I know that there’s no malicious intent behind it?
- Am I completely off my rocker and she’s just terrible, or do I seem to be on the right track as to what’s going on?
- Does anyone have any coping strategies for this, on my end? I have already determined that I am willing to stay with her AS LONG AS she is willing to get the help she needs - she’s already expressed this desire, saying very tearfully to me one evening, “I don’t want to feel this way anymore and I don’t know what to do.”
- Is there anything I can do to help her?

I love this woman more than anything and want to help her and stay with her, but I’m in a lot of pain right now and I don’t know what to do or how to talk to her about it.

Thanks for reading.
 
FuzzyPeach

FuzzyPeach

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
92
This sounds like a personality disorder.
I've read loads about it as was once diagnosed with some.
Certainly sounds like one. Maybe borderline?
Not all with bpd exhibit those behaviours but stereotypically she seems to fit the bill.
 
Last edited:
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
Possibly. It seems to be pretty textbook Bipolar 2 from my limited research, there aren't any PDs that seem to fit her profile.
I am intimately familiar with Borderline and OCD, though, and this doesn't resemble my experiences with either PD.

That said, anything is possible, I suppose.
 
FuzzyPeach

FuzzyPeach

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
92
It definitely sounds like bpd in my opinion.
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
I'm just not sure. I understand there's a lot of overlap with a lot of symptoms of many mental illnesses and disorders - for example, she definitely has the chronic feelings of emptiness and the self-harm - but the two hallmarks of Borderline as opposed to other disorders are the black and white thinking ("splitting," where people in someone's life are all good or all bad, randomly, and never in between) and the intense fears of abandonment and attempts to avoid it. Someone with Borderline will, in my experience, never push a lover away or demand that they need space, as this constitutes abandonment. Perceived abandonment almost always results in pure, white-hot rage with Borderline, and I've never seen her get angry about anything - I've seen her upset, but never angry in any sense of the word.

Again, I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying I've been there with a partner suffering from Borderline (for many MANY years, and I almost didn't make it out alive) and I don't think the diagnosis fits, knowing what I know.

I'd be more than happy to hear why you think it is, though, I'm happy to admit when I'm wrong :)
 
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
1,079
Hi Chairface Chippendale and welcome to the forum.

I've just been reading through this thread and I must say, if anything, I agree with FuzzyPeach and would guess BPD.

Obviously, we can't diagnose on here, we can only offer our opinions as mental health sufferers.

I know what you're say regarding abandonment but I think it's quite a common BPD trait to push people away and then want them back again. I might be wrong.

I'm just wondering, what makes you think bipolar? I just can't see it myself.
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
Hey there, thanks for chiming in.

I think it's Type 2 for a couple reasons -
1. The DSM-IV describes the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar 2 as follows:
A. Presence (or history) of one or more Major Depressive Episodes.

B. Presence (or history) of at least one Hypomanic Episode.

C. There has never been a Manic Episode or a Mixed Episode.

D. The mood symptoms in Criteria A and B are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and are not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

E. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Without going into too many personally identifying details, these seem to fit better than my experience with Borderline.

In particular, in contrast, the DSM-IV criteria for Borderline is:
Five or more of the following:
1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

7. chronic feelings of emptiness

8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
4, 5, and 7 are the only symptoms she exhibits.

2. I have a very close friend who suffers from Bipolar 2 and have had this discussion with her, explaining the situation in detail and all the symptoms and issues we've been having in the relationship, and she flatly told me "that's what I live with every day. That sounds exactly like me."

I am very curious as to why y'all think it's Borderline, though, again, not because I don't believe you, but because I don't see it. I was with a person with Borderline for almost four years and none of this feels familiar. In contrast, it feels and sounds very familiar to what my friend (mentioned above) deals with both in her relationship and in my experience being her friend.
 
Last edited:
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
1,079
Hehe. We might be stuck at stalemate here as I still can't see anything bipolarish in what you've said :)

I'm just going by personal experience. I know a couple of people who suffer with BPD. They both do the push/pull thing in friendships and relationships and one of them is quite manipulative and uses sex as a tool. One is very bad with the black and white thinking, the other not so...

Because the diagnostic criteria is quite broad for BPD (I think it's something like if you answer yes to 4 or 5 from the list) you can have two people with the same diagnosis but very different symptoms.

Sorry if I missed it but does your girlfriend suffer with hypomania too then?
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
Haha, yes, it's at least five of the symptoms listed in the criteria I quoted above - she only has three, and only two of those with any regularity. :)

As far as hypomania - absolutely. She will have very brief periods - a couple days, tops - where she feels great about herself and her body (this is big for someone in ED Recovery), she will be a loving and supportive friend, she'll write a whole bunch, she'll knock out all her classwork very quickly, will feel great after a few hours of sleep, and will be markedly more impulsive (shopping sprees, binge eating, flirtation with strangers, etc). And then she'll crash.
 
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
1,079
Nope, I'm still not agreeing, I'm afraid :)

I think for hypomania to be diagnosed it has to last for at least 4 days. I would also say, with symptoms, that it's a matter of degree. If she does have bipolar disorder, I would say it's quite mild. Others might look in and disagree. It's very hard to build up an accurate picture this way. The trouble is, even BP2 is a serious mental illness with very extreme episodes.

Perhaps her ED, self-harm and substance abuse issues are not actually tied in with a specific disorder at all but, whatever problems led to these behaviours, have contributed to how she is now. If that makes any sense? I'm having problems verbalising what I mean!

I suppose what it comes down to will be whether your girlfriend thinks she's got a problem or not and if she decides to ask for help. If what she's going through is impacting negatively on her life and causing serious issues (especially with work, socialising etc.) then perhaps sit her down and explain what you think is happening.

By the way, I'm not trying to say you're wrong; you know a lot more about the circumstances than I do. I'm just offering a different perspective :)
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
My reading says that the maximum to be considered hypomania is four days, rather than the minimum ;)

REGARDLESS - I completely get what you're saying. Maladaptive behaviors and mental illness can often be a chicken/egg kind of thing.

All of that said, she knows she has a problem, she knows she needs help, but negative experiences with mental health professionals make it hard for her to push herself to do so.

My issue here is that I don't know how to talk to her about this, primarily because I'm so hurt by and so angry about her actions. I have been as patient and supportive as I can up to this point, but it's getting worse and I don't know how to express those emotions AND be like "and yo, that's also why I'm worried about you, because you did all this stuff." I mean, I suspect it IS that simple, but I don't know how to broach the subject, especially because she seems to have returned to not speaking to me.

I just don't know how to balance loving her and wanting to help her with knowing that I don't deserve any more lonely nights, waking up to days when I wonder if I'm going to hear from her. I've been through this kind of thing too many times and I know that I don't deserve half-hearted, hand-me-down love from anyone. Like, as I discussed things with my own therapist today, the fact that her actions don't come from a place of malice (presumably) but rather from mental illness doesn't excuse those issues or make it okay to violate my boundaries. I love her and want to be there for her - always - but I have to take care of myself, too, or it isn't fair to either of us.
 
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
1,079
I most definitely agree with most of your final paragraph. Nobody deserves to be treated badly and there is never an excuse for it. Even if she has a MH disorder, it wouldn't be that causing her actions. Maybe you are looking for a reason so that you don't have to think of her in a bad way? Giving her excuses, so to speak.

I would advise you to leave her be. If she decides she wants you in her life and contacts you again then that's the time to bring up your concerns and decide if you can forgive her.

I said it in a thread yesterday (or the day before..?) but I'll say it again; it's very hard to help someone who won't get help! Only you can decide if you really want to be with someone who might end up putting you through the same things again.

I wish I had some better advice.

P.S. I'm pretty certain it's 'at least' four days for hypomania :)
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
nuh uh! nuh uh! ;)

I think these are all good points, especially the one about making excuses for her by blaming it on a MH issue - I guess for me, especially knowing that she does suffer from some kind of untreated mental illness, that's the only context in which that kind of abject cruelty and rejection makes any sense to me, even as hard as it is not to take personally. It just doesn't fit in context with anything else I or any of our friends know about her. It's an abberation.

I'd love more input from the other folks here, you've all been helpful thus far.
 
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
1,079
Well, I hope you manage to get things sorted one way or another. Just keep in mind your own advice and remember to take care of yourself.

Hopefully others will be along soon with their input and ideas.

Take care.
 
C

Chairface Chippendale

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
13
I've done a little more thinking and reading and I'd have to ask her (beating around the bush, of course) to be sure, but Borderline sure is looking likely right now.

Fuck. Not again.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
M Hypomanic help - Med choices Bipolar Forum 28
B My psych nurse feels she can’t help me anymore Bipolar Forum 8
M Help w a bipolar 19 yr old. Bipolar Forum 34
M When to help? Bipolar Forum 15
floatin Psych tomorrow, please help Bipolar Forum 5
J Help after breakdown/major depressive episode Bipolar Forum 9
M No-polar podcasts that help? Bipolar Forum 8
K How to help (convince) someone that they should seek treatment Bipolar Forum 29
M Sleep disorder tied to Bipolar 2? Help Bipolar Forum 59
S Help please - meds and doctors Bipolar Forum 19
A Latuda works, but causes me EXTREME sleepiness, help please Bipolar Forum 9
F Would love some help/advice understanding my first experience with someone who has bipolar - Bipolar Forum 21
floatin Does Meditation Help? Bipolar Forum 28
Julia_2021 Med is killing my libido, is there any help? Bipolar Forum 24
M Help! I am in Pain! Bipolar Forum 12
U Please help Bipolar Forum 17
D Help me Bipolar Forum 10
M My on/off partner has shown all signs of bipolar, and I need help & advice please Bipolar Forum 7
J Bipolar help Bipolar Forum 19
G How do reach out for help when I can't speak about it out loud? Bipolar Forum 1
B Getting help for anxiety Bipolar Forum 4
J Feeling defeated, boyfriend does not want to seek help...what can I do? Bipolar Forum 8
G best friend with bipolar disorder abruptly dumped me, help! Bipolar Forum 17
N where to start with asking for help and getting an assessment for bipolar. Bipolar Forum 10
S please help Bipolar Forum 4
M Help Bipolar Forum 1
B Re: my partner doesn't understand nor help. Bipolar Forum 3
B My partner doesn't understand nor help. Bipolar Forum 9
M Help Bipolar Forum 6
S I need help. I don’t need help. Bipolar Forum 8
S Can someone help me understand what I should do? Bipolar Forum 17
M How do I help someone with bipolar? Bipolar Forum 10
Marly92 Bipolar and amphetamines HELP Bipolar Forum 9
U Need urgent help Bipolar Forum 46
h_put2021 Need help Bipolar Forum 5
C ** Please Help me ** Needing opinions on wife's mental state... Bipolar Forum 14
K Need help regarding how to respond to my wife's last outburst Bipolar Forum 11
D Need help understanding Bipolar Forum 10
K I need help.. Bipolar Forum 13
Y Help! My boyfriend is bipolar Bipolar Forum 9
S Help My Husband has Bipolar and I dont know what to do Bipolar Forum 5
J lithium is making my hair look crazy :( any ideas to help? Bipolar Forum 16
S Some help Bipolar Forum 4
HLon99 Excessive Sleeping Help! Bipolar Forum 1
M I am bipolar type 2, and my younger brother was now recently diagnosed with type 1. Please help. Bipolar Forum 2
HLon99 Help for a friend who is seeing ghosts Bipolar Forum 3
W Help ... Doc wants to change my medication from Seroquel to Rexulti Bipolar Forum 3
D I HAVE A FORTHCOMING CAMPUS FINAL YEAR EXAM depression or ANXIETY... PLZ HELP Bipolar Forum 9
M Help with thoughts.... Bipolar Forum 4
Canadian74 New Here, I need Help Bipolar Forum 10

Similar threads

Top