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Emotionally abusive bipolar relationship


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Old 4th May 2017, 10:11 AM   #1
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Emotionally abusive bipolar relationship

I feel like I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship with my girlfriend. The thing is it's not entirely her fault. She is bipolar and once a week she seems to have an episode of deep depression. This will cause her to lash out at me usually in the form of accusing me of cheating on her or saying that I don't love her anymore.

I've never met anyone with such low self esteem yet extremely arrogant. She can't hold on to a job because she believes everyone is out to get her because she is so hot (She's a 6 but thinks she's a 10). She won't take anything that pays less than 12 dollars an hour because "she's too good for that". Yet she'll go on about how useless she is. Riding in the car with her is a nightmare because she flips off at least one or two people per ride and is convinced people want to cause an accident with her so they can sue her. One day she's going to piss off the wrong guy and guess who's going to fight him? Me.

Our politics don't help at all. She's a far left social justice warrior and I'm a moderate Trump supporter although I didn't vote so I'm not sure if I even count. Point being, a sensationalist headline on Facebook about Trump can trigger her into one of these episodes. I could make a whole other post about this under politics/warmongering and I will.

Things came to a head a few days ago. She threatened to kill herself. She has no friends, hates her family and can't hold a job. She can't stand what going on in the world and feels like it would be better off without her. I sat down and tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn't see reason. I tried switching from sympathy to tough love and that just lit off a powder keg.

She was going on about how she gets bullied everywhere she goes being useless. Not once has she ever been able to give me a clear example of her getting bullied at work or by her friends. It's always too subtle or too complicated to explain to me.

I lost my patience. I told her to grow the **** up. Everyone get bullied, everyone and that's never going to change so you have to be an adult and learn to deal with it. She's 31 btw. She started screaming and throwing ****. Smashed a picture on the ground and kicked a hole in the wall.

I didn't know what the **** to do. Everything I say only makes things worse whether it's sympathy or tough love. I ended up crying in the bedroom and that's when she finally calmed down. I don't want her to kill herself because I do love her but at the same time I want her to get out of my life. The next day she was all sunshine and rainbows like nothing had happened.

I've suggested her going to therapy or getting on some sort of medication but was met with more accusations of not loving her because I want her all drugged out. I don't know what else to do. She has no where to go so I can't really kick her out and I don't want her to kill herself either. I feel like she's bluffing when she says that but you never know.

When she's normal things are great and that is the girl I fell in love with but lately her Dr Jekle and Mr Hyde routine is getting worse.
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Old 4th May 2017, 11:27 AM   #2
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Wow.. that sounds a lot like an ex I used to be with. Vain with an extremely sensitive ego. Political views that were easy to incite to the point of hostility, while I expressed almost none in front of her. She could start an argument by herself over an idea and it would ruin her day. Felt like I had to walk on egg-shells a lot of the time. Heavy mood changes. Just overall, not a fun person, unless she was in happy-mode. It never lasted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SOB86 View Post
I want her to get out of my life.
There is your answer that you realized on your own. It can be very hard for people to get to that conclusion - and stick to it. This is something I have had to understand and continue to tell myself: You can't fix her. That is not your responsibility, and it's probably not even your right. It does sound like she could benefit from some kind of therapy, but that requires effort from her.
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Old 4th May 2017, 8:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOB86 View Post
She is bipolar and once a week she seems to have an episode of deep depression.
Perhaps so, SOB. The red flags you mention, however, are far more consistent with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) than bipolar. Specifically, the behaviors you describe -- i.e., suicide threats, easily triggered temper tantrums, lack of impulse control, controlling behavior, rapid flips between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing you), verbal abuse, and always being "The Victim" -- are some of the classic warning signs for BPD.

Importantly, I'm not suggesting your GF has full-blown BPD but, rather, that she may exhibit strong traits of it. Moreover, even if your GF exhibits full-blown BPD, this would not rule out her also having bipolar because 41% of female BPDers suffer from co-occurring bipolar disorder during some period of their lifetimes. I mention this distinction between the two disorders because, whereas bipolar often can be treated quite successfully by swallowing a pill, BPD is very difficult to treat and medications will not make a dent in it.

Quote:
Once a week she seems to have an episode of deep depression.
You seem to describe her mood changes as developing quickly -- e.g., in only ten seconds -- in response to some event, e.g., something you said or did. And, if I understand you correctly, her bad moods typically go away several hours later or the next day -- and her "deep depression" usually occurs once a week. These rapid mood flips are characteristic of BPD mood flips, which typically occur in less than a minute and last several hours.

In contrast, bipolar mood changes typically take two weeks to develop, then last for two weeks, and then take another several weeks to fade away. They are not triggered by events but, rather, by gradual changes in body chemistry. Those chemistry changes usually take a long time to develop and a long time to fade away. This is why the typical mood change for bipolar sufferers occurs about once a year. If the mood change occurs four times a year, it is called "rapid cycling." Granted, it is possible for bipolar moods to cycle far more rapidly but that it quite rare -- and the rapid cycling does not appear throughout the year as you describe. Instead, it typically occurs during a one- or two-week period when the person is about to slip into psychosis.

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The next day she was all sunshine and rainbows like nothing had happened.
Again, BPD mood rages usually last only 3 to 5 hours (only rarely as long as two days). Moreover, whereas BPD moods swing between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing you), bipolar moods swing between depression and mania (mild or strong mania). Significantly, you mention nothing about seeing any strong manic behavior.

Quote:
Lately her Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde routine is getting worse.
Like I said, BPD moods swing between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing you).

Quote:
When she's normal things are great.
If she really is a BPDer, that is to be expected. A BPDer's problem is not being BAD but, rather, being UNSTABLE. The vast majority of BPDers typically are great folks to be around while they are perceiving of you as "all good" (i.e., "with them"). And they can be terrible to be around while they are perceiving of you as "all bad" (i.e., "against them).

BPDers categorize everyone close to them in this black-white manner because they are too emotionally immature to handle being in touch with two strong conflicting feelings at the same time. You will see this all-or-nothing behavior in a four year old who adores Daddy while he's bringing out the toys but, in a few seconds, will flip to hating Daddy when he takes one toy away.

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This will cause her to lash out at me usually in the form of accusing me of cheating on her or saying that I don't love her anymore.
If she is a BPDer (i.e., exhibits strong and persistent BPD traits), her greatest fear is of abandonment. A BPDer often sees threats of abandonment in common, every day events that really pose no threat at all. Moreover, a BPDer lives in fear that, even if you really do seem to love her at this moment in time, you will immediately abandon her as soon as you discover how empty and worthless she is on the inside. This is why "Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment" is one of the nine defining traits for BPD.

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I've never met anyone with such low self esteem yet extremely arrogant.
Having low self esteem and self loathing is another one of the nine defining traits for BPD. Specifically, it is "Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self" and "Chronic feelings of emptiness."

Quote:
She can't hold on to a job because she believes everyone is out to get her because she is so hot.... is convinced people want to cause an accident with her so they can sue her.
You are describing paranoia. "Having stress-related paranoid thoughts" is another one of the nine defining traits for a pattern of BPD behavior.

Quote:
Point being, a sensationalist headline on Facebook about Trump can trigger her into one of these episodes.
If your GF is a BPDer, it would be more accurate to say that ANYTHING -- not matter how minor -- has the potential to trigger her rage episodes. The reason is that a BPDer has been carrying enormous anger and hurt deep inside since early childhood. You therefore don't have to do or say a thing to CREATE the anger. You only have to do some minor thing that TRIGGERS a sudden release of anger that is always there below the surface. This is why a BPDer can burst into a rage in only a few seconds. And this is why another one of the 9 defining symptoms is "Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger."

Quote:
She started screaming and throwing ****. Smashed a picture on the ground and kicked a hole in the wall.
Yep, you guessed it. "Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors" is another one of the 9 defining symptoms. So far, you've seen what "impulsive" means. If you stay with a BPDer for very long, you will see what "often dangerous behaviors" means. In my case, it meant that my exW had me arrested on a bogus charge of "brutalizing" her. When I got out of jail 3 days later, I found that she had obtained a R/O (which USA courts hand out like candy) barring me from returning to my own home for 18 months (the time it takes to finalize a divorce in this State).

Quote:
She has no friends, hates her family and can't hold a job.
Yep, "A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones" is one of the 9 symptoms.

Quote:
She threatened to kill herself.
Uh huh. "Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats" is another one of the 9 defining traits. Because that trait also includes "self harming behavior, such as cutting," you might want to check her arms for razor scars. If you are interested, SOB, you will find the complete list of BPD symptoms at 9 BPD Traits at NIMH.

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Not once has she ever been able to give me a clear example of her getting bullied at work or by her friends. It's always too subtle or too complicated to explain to me.
SOB, the human condition is that our judgment goes out the window whenever we experience intense feelings. The reason is that those intense feelings distort our perceptions of other peoples' intentions and motivations. We experience these distortions so many times during childhood that, by the time we enter high school, nearly all of us realize we cannot trust our judgment when feelings are very strong. This is why we try to keep our mouths shut when we are very angry. And this is why we try to wait at least two years before buying the ring.

Well, BPDers are like that too -- only much more so. Because they lack the emotional skills needed to regulate their own emotions, they experience intense feeling far more frequently than the rest of us. The result is that, if your GF is a BPDer, she often gets a distorted view of other peoples' intentions and motivations. If she is high functioning, that distortion typically will occur around family members and very close friends because those are the folks who trigger her two fears (abandonment and engulfment). If she is low functioning, however, her fears may often be triggered by casual friends, business associates, and complete strangers.

Quote:
I told her to grow the **** up.
If she really is a BPDer, she has a long way to grow. BPDers typically have the emotional development of a four year old. This is why they are fully reliant on the primitive ego defenses used by young children: e.g., projection, denial, temper tantrums, black-white thinking, and magical thinking.

Quote:
Everything I say only makes things worse whether it's sympathy or tough love.
If she is a BPDer, her two great fears -- abandonment and engulfment -- lie at opposite ends of the very same spectrum. This means you are always in a lose/lose situation because, as you back away from one fear to avoid triggering it, you cannot avoid triggering the fear at the other end of that same spectrum.

Hence, as you move close to a BPDer to comfort her and assure her of your love, you will start triggering her engulfment fear, making her feel like she's being suffocated and controlled by you. Yet, as you back away to give her breathing space, you will find that you've started triggering her abandonment fear. And, sadly, there is no midpoints solution (between "too close" and "too far away") where you can safely stand to avoid triggering the two fears. I know because I foolishly spent 15 years searching for that Goldilocks position, which simply does not exist.

Quote:
The thing is it's not entirely her fault.
True, but if she is a BPDer, you are harming her by continuing to protect her from the logical consequences of her own bad choices. Your enabling behavior is harmful because it destroys all of her opportunities to have to confront her own issues and learn how to manage them. The logical consequence of her threatening suicide, for example, is to report her threat to the police. And the logical consequence of her abusive, childish behavior is to walk away.

Quote:
I don't know what else to do.
As Bluefeather states succinctly, "You can't fix her." Bluefeather and I are excessive caregivers who learned this the hard way. I therefore suggest you protect yourself by learning how to spot the warning signs for both BPD and bipolar. I caution that BPD is not something -- like chickenpox -- that a person either "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it is a spectrum disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your GF exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.

Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits those traits at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are easy to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as verbal abuse, suicide threats, and temper tantrums.

An easy place to start reading is my list of 12 BPD/Bipolar Differences. It is largely based on my experiences with a bipolar-1 sufferer (my foster son) and a BPDer (my exW). If that description of BPD traits rings many bells -- as I suspect it will -- I would suggest you also take a quick look at my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs to see if most sound very familiar. If so, I would be glad to join Bluefeather in discussing them with you. Take care, SOB.
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Old 5th May 2017, 9:11 PM   #4
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I really appreciate the replies. I still don't know what to do. I jumped out of her car because she was driving so recklessly. I'm at a bar right now not wanting to go home. I'm afraid to break up with her because I'm afraid she's going to hurt my property or cry and cause me to give in again.

Now she's accusing me of hating women because I scoffed at some sensationalist Facebook video about rape and racism. I don't have a link but the video was really condescending and frankly insulting.
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Old 29th May 2017, 11:41 PM   #5
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Hope you're ok and protecting yourself and space.
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True power is having the ability to walk away from what I desire, to protect that which I love.
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Old 30th May 2017, 12:18 PM   #6
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Thank you Travebug for bumping this thread. SOB86, I'm sorry, I don't think I had seen your reply until now

It has been over a month. Has anything changed?
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