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03/28/2010 06:46 AM

Telling the family

cardrey
cardreyPosts: 57
Member

Understandably, my husband is reluctant to share his diagnosis with other people, and I don't think it is necessary to tell the world. So far, the only people he has told is his sister and me. (His mother is living in a retirement home and has been bi-polar I for all of my husband's life).

However, I would like to tell my mother. She has been upset that I haven't been spending as much time with her lately, and she is a master at trying to make me feel guilty about that.

My husband is right when he says that if my mother knows, she will tell everyone else in my family. However, I think it would really help my stress level if she knows. I am considering telling her anyway, swearing her to secrecy, and asking her not to let my husband know that she knows.

What do you think?

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03/28/2010 09:32 AM
Mary2009
Mary2009  
Posts: 685
Member

I have to say I think that is a terrible idea. You can't be sure your Mom will keep your secret. If it's against your husbands wishes and it gets back to him, that could be bad.

Have you told your husband how much you need your family's support? If I were you, I would try to convince him how necessary this is for you. Maybe involve a third party, like a counselor, to talk you both through the pros and cons of doing it. He needs to feel that he is not being judged or thought crazy by others. You need all the support you can get. Good luck.


03/28/2010 09:38 AM
thesebrokenwings
thesebrokenwings  
Posts: 48
Member

Mental illness is nothing to feel ashamed of,just as we wouldnt feel ashamed of having a broken leg.

However you have to consider stressors for your husband,for example how would he feel if your mother knew,would it set off a period of mania or depression.

Perhaps it would put more stress and pressure on your husband if your mother knew,but if she was able to offer you support without telling the rest of your family then maybe that would be a good idea.

I think you are probably lacking support and someone to talk to just now but we are all here.

I think the element of secrecy isnt such a good idea,ie in saying telling your mother but no to let him know,potentially this could make your husband feel betrayed or awkard around your mother.

This is only my opinion however.


03/28/2010 11:36 AM
damselndistress
damselndistressPosts: 16953
VIP Member

Well I don't know what I would have done without my parents support. I have been venting to my mom all along and she has been really helpful to me.

I think my parents try as much as they can to accept the situation.

I didn't ask my husband's permission to tell them anything. I feel as if being the spouse we do need a good support system somehow, if it was left up to my husband I would have none.

The relationship between my parents and my husband is already shot to hell and his behavior is the reason.

Damsel


03/28/2010 12:11 PM
bethb2004
bethb2004Posts: 813
Member

I would try to discuss it with your partner again before telling your mom. You wouldn't want to break his trust, but I think it is pretty imporatant that people involved in your life know about it. You need the support of your friends and family and you need to be able to openly talk with them. Plus, bipolar is a pretty big secret to keep from everyone. My husband was extremely embarrased by his diagnosis, but he has found that everyone he has told is completely accepting of his condition. I can't get him to shut up about it now. He'd probably tell people in line at the grocery store!

03/28/2010 03:14 PM
bethb2004
bethb2004Posts: 813
Member

I should also add that I'm a big believer in telling people. While you don't have to tell them about every breakdown, or every little problem, I have found that it is hard to keep such a major part of our life a secret. It's almost like living a lie. It's very difficult explaining my absences to friends without them having an idea of what is going on. It's hard to explain to his friends and family why my husband isn't calling them like he usually does unless they know about his condition. It's impossible to pretend that there is nothing wrong to my parents when something is happening at home. How can I explain to my boss at work that I have to go home because my husband is sick? What grown man can't take care of himself for a few hours? (The grown man who is having a meltdown and refusing to see his doctor even after the he has cleared his schedule to see him. But, thankfully, that was way back when in the beginning...) I've found that if I'm not up front with people about my husband's condition, they will draw their own conclusions, which often times can be worse than bipolar.

03/28/2010 03:41 PM
Mary2009
Mary2009  
Posts: 685
Member

I completely agree with you, Beth. When my husband first left, everyone was saying terrible things about him. Once I told them what was going on, everyone was still very supportive of me but stopped saying things against him.

03/28/2010 05:36 PM
cardrey
cardreyPosts: 57
Member

Thanks, everyone, for your advice. You've given me plenty to think about.

03/28/2010 10:42 PM
marriedtoit
marriedtoit  
Posts: 11199
VIP Member

Cardrey, I have a ton of things to say here, and I am wordy, so bear with me.

Beth's post inspires me to be more hopeful than I am. The rest is based on my experience. This may have more to do with our ages and our careers and our families than anything else.

At work--I regret telling as many people as I told. (My husband does not work in the same field even.) Now, on the one hand, I would like to demystify mental illness. Why is it okay for a colleague I am not close to telling me about a cyst on her colon but when I mention mental illness, everyone acts like I have the plague? And there are those few who people will be nasty--using it against you. I did not tell many people, and am glad. I did say "my husband is in the hospital" when he committed himself, and things like "the doctors are still not sure what is wrong." No use trying to pretend like I was not in crisis when I was. I knew people would know I was not functioning anywhere near my normal level, and I told most people my husband was in the hospital. But I wish I had told fewer people the truth. I wish I had only confided in my two closest friends at work and had dissembled to the rest.

I did eventually tell my mom and dad (in their 80s and living a four hour plane ride away). I had to, as I needed to borrow money from them after my husband, untreated and psychotic, spent too much and then got hospitalized and later, arrested. Anyway, I told my parents, who lent us tons of money, which I still feel guilty about. But they WORRY. These are folks in their 80s who are smart, and they know bipolar based on their own experiences over the years. That means they constantly worry my husband will bankrupt me (cannot happen, the way our finances are set up--and I have told them this, but they cannot really process it, since they know half a dozen people in their congregation and volunteer communities who have experience with bipolar and all of them report that you have to watch out for the bankruptcy thing), and worry about the stress his bipolarity causes me (I'm a two year cancer survivor, so you can see why). So I might send them an email in April that says "I am so glad spring is finally here. It does so much for hubby's moods"--to give them some idea of what I face. But no way am I telling them that my husband was total hell on wheels in the deep of winter. They would just worry too much.

I do think that you should tell those people who mean a lot to you that your husband is bipolar.

TO YOUR QUESTION (which I had not forgotten Smile): You need to persuade your husband that you need to tell your mom, and you need to persuade your mom not to tell the whole family. Even a gabby person can be persuaded to keep a secret if she knows that spreading it would cause harm to her daughter's marriage. Even a reluctant to have his business out there husband can agree that his wife needs to talk to her mom. Not saying either of these will be easy.

I would start with your husband first. He is probably thrown by all of this and very uncertain. Everyone I know (and many people I have read about on here) who is BP experiences a period of real shame about being "crazy." My husband now believes he should start a "Bipolar and Proud" movement, but he did not always feel that way. If you pitch this to your husband in the right way--you are just needing some support as he goes on this journey towards wellness, I think you can get through.

Just trying to help, and ignore any advice that is unhelpful!


03/29/2010 06:03 AM
damselndistress
damselndistressPosts: 16953
VIP Member

I also wish I had not talked about things so much at work. They are just a bunch of chattery competitive women there with honestly not that much going for them they lead pretty normal uneventful lives and there is nothing wrong with that but it gives them all the more motivation to make others look bad so they can feel better about themselves. I have just a few that I feel "get it" the rest lets just say it would have been better if I would have not revealed certain realities about myself. I have just been riding the waves of this relationship believing everything my husband says to me while manic and while recovering from wild behaviors ex promising me the world and I've hung on his every word.

So you can imagine what a nervous wreck I've been this entire time. I would have done a lot of things different if I had it to do all over again.

I probably would have said less to my parents too.

Staying with them this past summer I was shocked at their behavior-it was quite abnormal and I had forgotten what it was like living there as a child.

I guess you don't owe it to anybody to reveal everything. Maybe be selective in what you share. Think about your goal and purpose in sharing with who you feel would be beneficial and maybe share only information that will help them understand.

Damsel

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