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02/18/2012 01:22 PM

Having problems with a bipolar mother

Posts: 58

Hi, I am a 40 year old woman with a mother who has had bipolar/manic as well as multiple personalities and severe depression for most of her life (she is 60). She has been very manipulative of me my whole life. My father and her divorced when I was 5 and my brother was 3. He couldn't continue to deal with her either. He unfortunately was an alcoholic.

My dad has seen how she has manipulated me and how I have taken on the role of parent with her and have taken care of her for so long. I have been married for the last going on 19 years to a wonderful man who is my soul mate. I moved in with him when I was 17 and still in high school. Which it turns out she has never forgiven me for as she feels I picked him over her (even though at that time she gave me the ultimatum and said I had to choose him or her). I told her if she loved me she would not make me choose.

Anyway things have been coming to a head and I have not seen her or spoken on the phone with her in a little over a year now. She has been writing letters to me and I have written back to her trying to tell her exactly what she has done to me all these years as I don't like to make others mad and so I don't say anything, but she pushed me to my limit and beyond. I know it is not all her fault as it is partly my fault for letting it go on for so long but I love her a lot, but I have to live my own life. I can't tell her any good news in my life as then she tells me how bad her life is. She is the queen of guilt trips.

I have multiple medical issues myself (physical mostly) but I do have depression now and then. I have been in counseling off and on since I was in Junior High because of her. Now I am currently only writing to her and have not spoken with her over the phone or in person in over a year. The straw that finally was my last straw was the winter of 2010 as I had broken a bone in my foot (from low vitamin D) and was not driving plus we had below zero temperatures. So I hadn't gotten her christmas stuff to her yet and she calls up my uncle who lives in Michigan and told him that my husband was holding me hostage and wouldn't let me call her or go and see her!! When he called me I was furious. I told him I had just talked to her the day before, and that I was not going out in the cold weather with a broken foot!! All lies in her head.

In her letters she is telling me how she is doing so good and that her counselor has discharged her from her counseling as she is doing so well. I think she is lying to them as in 2010 she was in the psych ward 6 times in 2 weeks and only stayed a day or so each time as it was for her to get attention from my brother and me. We have learned over the years that is how it is with her.

I just have no way to figure out how to have a relationship with her as she has given me the ultimatum (again as she did so 20+ years ago when I got with my husband) that it is him or her. I can't make that decision as yes she is my mother, but he is my soul mate and my other half and we have been together for a long time and he helps me a lot and is a wonderful partner for me. She has been divorced 2 times and lives with a man and sleeps with others currently, but being I have a faithful marriage she can't stand it. Is anyone else having these kinds of problems? I don't know much about bipolar/manic, but I just don't know how to reach her any more. I have tried for 40 years now to reach her and reason with her and I am so tired of going through the same things from 20 years ago. I want to live my life and stop trying to fix hers for her. Any help is greatly appreciated.

I am hoping someone in the support group could possibly be dealing with some of the same issues with a parent with these issues as I really need some support. I have a great support system with my other family members and my husband, but no one can really understand what I am going through unless they are there as well. Any help anyone could give me is greatly appreciated. This is my first support group so I am a newby here so sorry went on so long.


02/18/2012 03:25 PM
Posts: 375
VIP Member

so sorry to hear how hard it is for you to have a relashionship with you mother.

manipulation,and lying are part of her sickness,she is very needy,and she knows how to get to you.

the way i think and feel is that you have to be kind,but firm,she has no right to tell you it is him or me..have you tried to tell her that you have enough love in your heart to love her as well as your husband...that a family is not one or 2 people..but a whole bunch..

My daughter has gone thru similar problems..going to church together has helped a lot.we had a date once a week,and i would make sure to keep the conversation light..the one on one gave her back some esteem and importance.

i wish you well.

02/19/2012 10:10 AM
Posts: 58

ange2009, thank you for your reply. I have tried to tell her that I have enough love in my heart for everyone, but she just says that my "family" needs to come first (meaning my brother, her and my father). My father and brother are totally behind me in this whole thing between her and me. My dad said it was about time I stood up for myself and stopped letting her manipulate me and walk all over me.

You are right that she knows how to get to me, she definitely knows which buttons to push. She always tries to get my brother and his wife into arguments, or me and my husband into arguments or even me and my brother into arguments. My counselor years ago said it seemed she was only happy when others were miserable, and I am really beginning to believe it. We are not the same faith to go to church and she doesn't go to church and hasn't for most of my life. She only when to church when my grandparents were alive. I am glad that this worked for you and your daughter though. You didn't say who in your family has the bipolar. My mom switches channels so much it is just so hard to keep up. And the really sad thing is I don't think she really wants to get better as she puts herself into the hospital quite a few times a year around the holidays and only will stay overnight, etc. It is only to make my brother and I feel sorry for her. When she doesn't get the response she wants from us she signs herself back out. Back around the holidays of 2010 which was the end of my rope with her in 1 month she signed herself in and out 6 times. Each time she was blaming me or my brother for driving her there.

We can't share any good news with her as she just tells us how horrible she has it. Which isn't true. She lives with her boyfriend of 15+ years and he does everything. He takes her to all of her doctors appointments as she doesn't drive, he does all of the housework, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, etc. She just has to sit on her butt. She constantly complains about everything.

I am just at my wits end and that is why I am trying the support groups to see if I can get some insight into how others are handling things and if anyone else is in a similar situation. I know a lot is her illness, but sometimes she uses the illness as a crutch and everything is because of it when it isn't. She uses it to give us all the guilt trips. I have given up 40+ years of my life (all of it) taking care of her and doing for her constantly to the point I was having a panic attack every time my phone would ring as I knew it was her with another crisis I had to handle for her. I have a life and a job and a family I have to take care of, plus I have multiple medical issues of my own (depression is the only mental issue, the rest are all bad physical problems), but she doesn't want to hear about anyone else, it all has to be about her.

Honestly, I am at my wits end and am ready just to walk away and say have a nice life. I just don't know what else to do for her. I can't fix her life and I am exhausted physically and mentally from her merry go round and I don't feel like getting back on the treadmill and running more for her. I can't.

Sorry so long, but as you can see still very upset and confused. Thank you for responding though and I am glad you have found what works with your daughter and you. I hope all is well with you today.

04/21/2012 01:39 PM
Posts: 1
New Member

Hi care2much, I don't know if you'll read this as you posted it a while ago but I related to your post so much that I wanted to reply anyway.

I am also tired emotionally from trying to build a relationship with my bipolar mum. It is draining. My Mum had a nervous breakdown and was sectioned when I was 15, and since then I don't think i've been able to let go of the hurt, the pain and the resentment. It opened my eyes to so many things.

Similarly to what you've said, everything that happens in our family life or our lives just seems to be something that affects her, rather than something going on in our individual lives. I feel I have had to repress myself my whole life because of her mental illness. I don't know how to deal with this.

I remember when I was younger I used to always feel I was someone who had "grown up quickly" and felt older and less carefree and fun-loving than my friends. I had a relatively happy upbringing but now I'm older I can see my childhood without the rose-tinted spectacles and it hurts. I believe now the reason I felt more grown up than my friends is because I became her parent from a young age, and I do remember being very young and thinking "I musn't say this, Mummy is having her down days at the moment" "I can't do this because Mummy is sad at the moment, I'll wait until she's happy again" and it hurts to think I had to adapt to that so young.

I wish I had some advice for you. I also have a loving partner and feel grateful for that, I think you just have to try and focus on that. I know how hard it is. I wish I knew how to deal with it. What hurts the most is the feeling that you'll never be able to have a "normal" relationship with your Mum, and that despite how much time you spend with her, no matter how much you talk to her or see her, you'll always feel a million miles apart. A year or so ago I started to develop my own depression and anxiety and when we argued I used to have panic attacks. I almost passed out once from her standing there watching me having a panic attack, and my partner had to step in and call an ambulance. She just stood there with a bitter look on her face, saying I was pathetic. I also had therapy for a short time and she used to get upset if I didn't talk to her about it, then when I did try to talk to her about it and would get a bit upset when describing how I was feeling, I'd start crying and she would say "if you don't shut up, you'll be sent to a mental home" I hate being in her toxic environment. I wish you all the best, maybe we can talk some more if you read this. I really understand. xxxx

04/22/2012 10:15 AM
Posts: 58

Hi piglet167,

I got your message as I have it set to send me emails if I get any messages on here so I know as I don't get on here every day.

First off, thank you so much for reaching out to me. It means a lot. I have been able to find a few people on here, some who have become friends, who have been very helpful and understanding. I was at my wits end.

My mom (well her actions) put me in counseling at a young age. I was in junior high and ready to drop out as I was having to take care of her problems. Luckily I had a good counselor at school who saw what was going on and brought my mom and stepdad in for a conference and said that I needed to see someone soon.

I have been in counseling off and on since then for depression/anxiety. I have to say it has always been from her. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my brother was 3. He was fresh back from war and an alcoholic, my mom has always had depression, bipolar, multiple personalities, etc. So she has always been on medication. My dad got custody of my brother and me after the divorce and she didn't get us back for 4 years, where she married my stepdad just to get us back. He had 5 kids of his own so we really didn't get a parent back, just moved to a different state with different people. I took care of my brother from the age of 5 and our grandparents did the rest of the raising basically as my dad was always drunk (or at least most of the time) and my mom has always been self absorbed.

I lived with my mom and brother and stepfather for a while then she divorced him and moved in with a new guy until I was 17. That year she tried to kill herself at Christmas. I couldn't live like that any longer. So I moved in with my boyfriend at the time (husband now) and lived with him until after I graduated high school and then we lived with his parents for a year while we got back on our feet as I had lost my job and had to find work again. My husband has never done anything to my mom, I think it has just been that since I got with him I started getting the blinders off and started to really see what was going on and how she was treating me.

When my grandmother died when I was 8 (her mom) I took on the roll of mother to her big time and that was when I first ended up in counseling. She has tried to manipulate me my whole life, I didn't really see it until about 5 or 6 years ago I really started waking up and seeing things for how they really were. I stopped talking to her right before Christmas in 2010 as I was having health issues and had broken a bone in my foot so I wasn't driving, and we had below zero temperatures so I wasn't really going outside much and she went ballistic as I didn't come and see her. She called my uncle (her brother) who lives in Michigan and I had him calling me telling me how disappointed he was in me as she said my husband was holding me hostage and wouldn't let me see her or talk to her. That was the last straw!! I told him I had just talked to her a few days before this, and that yes I hadn't been over to see her but I had a broken foot and was not driving or going out in the bad weather. It was just nuts!!

My brother and father have stuck behind me. When I told my dad that I wasn't talking to her and what she had done, he just said it was about time I stood up for myself as he had seen how she treated me for years. My brother has gotten to the point where he doesn't tell her anything anymore either. Our mom was in and out of the mental hospital 6 times in a little over 1 month in 2010 at the holidays. She would only stay overnight because it is all for attention for her. She doesn't really want to get help as it is always me or my brother who drove her to go there because we "upset her" the last one for my brother was when he told her he may lose his farm and have no where to live (he is married with 4 kids) and "he upset her so she had to go to the hospital that night." I am so sick of it.

Sorry this is so long, I am still having a hard time dealing with it all. It is a work in progress. I have been doing a lot of praying and soul searching and have just come to the realization that I feel broken and my soul is just exhausted and I just really do not have the energy to do any more for her. Until she actually gets the help she needs and can actually be my mom, I don't think it is going to go forward from here.

I know what you mean about your mom standing by while you had a panic attack. I have been diagnosed with tachycardia (heart rate goes into the 120s or above at rest) and am on medication and told to avoid stress. I tell her this and she says oh you need to take care of yourself, then not 5 minutes later she is getting me upset!! I have only had 3 surgeries in my life, the first one was minor, but the second one was having my gallbladder removed and when I came to, my husband, father and brother were there and I asked where mom was "she had to leave because she had to get to Bingo" My last surgery was a breast reduction surgery I had for damage I have had in my back from accidents and for health reasons, I was on a respirator for that one as I had pretty long incisions, etc. She didn't even come or call for 3 days, then had the nerve to get upset as I told her I had my mother in law come and stay with me because my hubby works nights and I couldn't be alone. She tells me she could have taken care of me. I am like hello you didn't even call to see if I was alive for 3 days!! She thinks my mother in law is trying to take her place. Another long story there.

Anyway this is long enough, sorry for the life story. Still struggling as I am sure you can relate. Thanks again for contacting me. I don't get on here very often as I work all week, but try to get back when I can if someone messages me, etc. Thanks again for sharing some of your story. I have had tremendous help from this group and the people I have been able to meet. I have only been a member for a few months, but the advice and understanding are priceless. Thank you big time!!

04/26/2012 01:13 AM
Posts: 141

My mother has been officially diagnosed with bipolar. Unofficially she also has borderline personality disorder and narcisstic personality disorder. I tried for the majority of my life to have a relationship with her. I tried everything I could think of but she would always be very hurtful to me and make me feel guilty. Should would sabotage our relationship and blame me for it. Last year I went to see a psychologist. That was the best thing that I could have done. My psychologist had me read a book on the borderline part of her. This so opened my eyes to her. It relieved me of any and all guilt from having such a broken relationship with her. After talking to my psychologist I decided to not have a relationship with her anymore. I feel no guilt with that decision. I am at peace with myself and have never been happier in my life. I still long to have a "normal" relationship with her but I know that it is not possible as long as she doesn't help herself and get some help. Seeing a therapist may be very benefical to you.

04/26/2012 08:55 AM
Posts: 58

Hi oceansaway,

Thank you for your post. My mom doesn't have the narcissitic thing but she does have multiple personalities as well as bipolar. Your story sounds so much like mine it is unbelievable. My mom makes me and my brother as well as everyone else feel guilty about the relationships with her. If you get her upset or tell her something that is going on in your life, she has to turn it into all about her and she "has a break" and goes into the mental hospital. But she doesn't stay only overnight as she signs herself right back out if she doesn't get the attention from us she wants. She is not doing it because she wants help, it is just for attention. My brother and I have gotten to the point where we don't tell her anything in our lives any more. She claims she can't see us as adults, even though we are both married and my brother was blessed with children. Now 2 of her grandchildren will be graduating this year and none of them have really had a relationship with her either. She has lost out on so much, but pretty much like you said, I can't help her and she obviously doesn't want to help herself. I have been in counseling off and on since I was in junior high because of her (and my dad being an alcoholic) and I know I need to just walk away and I am pretty much to that point. My problem right now is the guilt. I am almost over it, but still working on it. The good thing is my father and brother are both supportive of me, as well as my wonderful hubby. So I have lots of support. Glad your counselor could help you. I read a lot too and I find it very helpful. I have been trying to find books on bipolar from the library to try to understand her, but really if she doesn't want to help herself there is really nothing I can do. You are right about longing to still have a "normal" relationship with her, but what can we do? I am pretty much to the point where I am just not going to have a relationship with her.

I don't know about your mom and your situation, but my mom everything has to be about her. She has constantly tried to break up my husband and me or my brother and his wife with lots of lies and she manipulates us a lot. When I told my dad (who by the way is no longer drinking, he has diabetes and has had a heart attack and has CHF now) that I wasn't talking with her and was tired of how she treated me. He told me "good, it was about time I stood up for myself with her." He had seen it all along, but didn't know how to get me to see it. I guess we have to come to the relization ourselves.

Right now I just feel broken and totally emotionally exhausted. She has taken everything I have to give and there is just nothing left. I haven't spoken with her in about a year and half. We were writing letters but I haven't written her since last Dec as she wants me to choose her or my husband and I refuse to do that.

Well I have talked your ears off. Thank you for posting. It helps me to listen to others who have similar situations so maybe together we can help each other. I look forward to hearing from you again.

04/28/2012 01:32 AM
Posts: 141

Hi care2much,

I guess that I'm sad to say this but I'm glad that I'm not the only one going through this. I didn't want anyone else to go through the constant pain of wanting a "normal" relationship with your mom (or dad) and not being able to have it. It's nice though to have someone that understands the things that i've been through.

I always knew that something was wrong with my mom even from a very young age. I couldn't put my finger on it until last year. Once I found out it was a relief because I could look up the behavior patterns and see that she fits all of the categories. I also find myself looking back through my life and understanding ALOT more. It's like all of the puzzle pieces fit. I also feel upset because I know that I will never have a mother/daughter relationship like everyone else.

I want so bad every day to help my mom but I than have to remember that she is in denial about everything. I have tried all of my life (really, all of my life) to help her but I have never been successful despite putting 150% effort in to it.

It saddens me that my mom is missing out on her grandkids and of course having a relationship with me. I think that it's that part of me that always wanted it to work out. That was why I always tried.

I know how hard it is to stop trying because you want the best for your mom. You want her to have the joy of having a relationship with her family.

I just couldn't do it anymore. It saddens me that I've given up but I had to for my own sanity and for the health of my family. I feel like a failure because I couldn't fix it. I was just going in circles trying to make it work.

I know that you're in a tough spot because I am every day. Every day I want to go to my mom's house and give her a hug and say that everything is ok. I want to share my life with her and I want to be best friends with her. But than I have to come back to the real world and realize that this will not happen. The only avenue that I have is to wait for her to hopefully choose to get some help. I have to wait for her to want it. It's painful for me to wait. it's painful for me to know that she is lonely and that she doesn't know that she is causing this. In the end I have to wait for her though. After trying for so many years to help her I know that she has to want to get better before I can help her. It breaks my heart and saddens me profoundly. I have no choice though. So I just sit and wait for her to make the move to help herself.

The decision to have a relationship with your mom or not is very tough. The only way I could've made that decision was to go to a therapist. I would've felt too much guilt making that decision on my own. Even with the guidance of a therapist I feel guilt but it's just not as bad.

04/28/2012 03:47 PM
Posts: 58

Hi Oceansaway,

You are right about hating that anyone else is going through the personal h... you have (pardon my language)but it is very good that we have others to talk to who understand. I talk to my husband all of the time, but he comes from a loving family, not a perfect family, but a loving family and so he really can't be in my shoes to understand having this lack of relationship with your parent.

I feel pretty much like you do, that she has to want to get help. I too have given my mom 150% of my life and it has not been enough. I am 40 going on 41, she will be 61 in May, I think enough is enough. I don't know about your mom, but my mom likes to give me lip service. She likes to tell me what she thinks I want to hear, not necessarily the truth. Her most recent letter to me she told me that she was going to get back into counseling and try to get the help she knows she needs. I will believe it when I see it. She only says she is going to get help, or "collapses and has to go to the hospital" for attention. "oh, look at me. I am so bad, no one loves me, etc, etc"

I was writing to her for a while but haven't written to her since December as she has put it to the question again of picking her or my husband. She tried doing this to me 20+ years ago before I married him and it didn't work then and it is not working this time. I told her then and now, if she loved me, truly loved me as she claims she does, and she claims she wants my happiness, she would not make me choose.

You are right, it is very, very difficult to go through this and make this decision, but I feel I have no other choice. I feel totally empty emotionally and just have no more to give to her. I have no energy at all. Just making it through my day and doing my job and household things and taking care of my family is more than I can handle some days. I have totally nothing left to give to her. She has been like a psychic vampire I guess and has literally sucked my life from me.

My husband has gotten tired of holding back his feelings all of these 20+ years with her and since she has drug him into all of this and said he isn't a man, etc because we don't want her boyfriend coming to our house (this happened before I stopped seeing her) and that she said he and I were going to go to h... as we would not forgive her boyfriend, etc. She thinks she can tell me and my husband what we can and can't do in our own home and with my husband working nights and I work from my home office due to health conditions, that she can tell us when we are allowed to sleep, etc. She doesn't pay my bills, she doesn't have that right. My husband is a wonderful man and helps me and takes care of me. She just hates it that she has never been able to find someone like that herself, but the way she acts she chases everyone away. When I stopped talking with her she is lucky her boyfriend stayed around as he told me and my brother he was tired of her crap too. He does everything for her, he cooks, cleans, does the shopping, takes her to all of her appointments as she doesn't drive, she just sits like a lump and complains about how horrible her life is, etc.

Sorry I am ranting, you know how it is. I was so happy to hear from you as your mom and mine sound like they could be the same person. I know that this bipolar is a real condition, but I myself believe that these people should still be accountable for their actions and still know that there are consequences for their actions.

I am hoping to get a letter out to her this week along with the letter to her from my husband, and just finish what I have to say and be done. I have written to her for over a year trying to tell her everything, all of my health conditions, etc that I have to deal with, but it all has to be about her. So I am basically going to tell her in this letter that I love her, but until she gets the help she needs, I mean REALLY get the help she needs and make a real effort and try to help herself, there is nowhere else for us to go. I have nothing else to give her.

I have a procedure coming up next Friday and will be out of commission for a little while. Hoping to be on Saturday to let all my peeps know how things went and I am still kicking. So hoping to get these letters out to her before then so I can relax and recoup in peace.

I know what you mean about feeling guilty, that is my BIGGEST problem as I am constantly trying to think of anything I could have done differently. Guilt is horrible.

Big hug going out to you. Will let you know Sat how things went if you want me to. Take care. Hope to hear from you again soon.


04/29/2012 09:05 AM
Posts: 375
VIP Member

Hello care2much..yes guilt is a nasty feeling,,going back and trying to think if we missed something..or could have done different..I learned to push thoses away,because guilt is associated with culpability,and neither you ar I are guilty of anything.

My dear , i will think of you,your procedure will go good,as i told you before,and i mean are in my heart and prayers.

your far away new mama.


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