Help!

Lord knows I’ve had my share of problems in my life. Between the bad choices, the personality disorders, the crazy marriages and of course being Bipolar has created nothing but chaos. And the impact has affected not just myself, but scores of people over the years. That’s the nature of this beast we call bipolar; the destruction is not just towards me, but there’s a lot of collateral damage.

I’m fortunate however to have finally realized my illness and accepted responsibility for my actions.

I haven’t done it alone though. I’ve had a lot of help. Obviously the Doctors and Therapist I’ve used have contributed to a large part of my improvements. But it’s more than that. I’ve had friends, coworkers, family and spouses who have supported me and helped me in ways they may never know. And I’ve learned that I can depend on those special people who know me well enough to be able to recognized signs of mood swings and help me to address them proactively. Sometimes even those who are not trying to help ends up being beneficial. Loosing something or someone that I care about has often put me in a position to want to change so it won’t happen again.

Yes, I’ve had a lot of help.

And that motivates me to want to give back. My personality type has always been a ‘rescuer’. In fact, several of my failed relationships started with my trying to take care of someone who I decided needed my help. I felt like I could fix them if they’d only let me. I’m always ready to lend a hand anyway I can. Do you need help in the yard? I’m there. Are you short on cash? Let me pay. Does something need to be fixed? Let me take a crack at it. Are you sad? I have a shoulder to cry on. Do you need advice? Boy do I have the experience for that. I’ll give away the shirt off my back if it’s needed.

As long as it’s appreciated.

There are plenty of people who will take advantage of people like me.   They take and take, but never give anything back. Just a lilttle appreciation goes a long way. That’s not my motivation, but be honest; doesn’t some acknowledgement feel good?

I’ve mentioned several times about a friend of mine who is going through a particularly painful separation / divorce. And now her mother is sick, and likely to die very soon. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

And I so want to help.

You see, I’ve been there. I can completely empathize with her struggles. And I’ve lived through it and learned a great deal about myself and how to deal with the pain. No surprise, she’s extremely depressed too. Hello! I’ve got THAT Tee shirt, in spades. Realizing that everybody is unique and responds to different approaches I am not foolish enough to think that what worked for me will work for her. In fact, it’s highly unlikely. I have tried so many different methods though. And going through all the therapy has given me insight into all kinds of ways that help. With all the drugs I’ve been on, I’m practically a freakin’ pharmacist. I can’t fix her, but I can sure help steer her in the right direction. Or at least some direction. I try not to give direct advice. I’m not qualified and do not presume to diagnose or treat. I can only offer my insight, experiences I’ve had, opinions (if asked for), and basic knowledge of things I’ve learned about. But always with a disclaimer. I acknowledge that everything offered is an opinion. And my only real advice is to see a professional. I know that even if I can’t help directly, I can get her to someone who will.

But she won’t let me.

She refuses to even acknowledge she has a problem. There is nothing going on that she doesn’t feel like she’s up to handling. Part of the issue is, I think that deep down she knows something is wrong, but she’s not ready or willing to face it. The separation from her husband for example: If she gets help to address it, she won’t be able to ignore it like she has been.

It’s extremely distressing to me though.

My personality wants to fix things. My affection for her is concerned about he being so unhappy.  She’s making a lot of bad and self destructive decisions that worry me. She is negatively affecting others around me that I also care about. I don’t care what she thinks; every indication is that she’s absolutely miserable.

It is really frustrating!

Without diminishing her situation at all, she’s dealing with isolated circumstances that will eventually resolve. But what about dealing with a lifelong, incurable disease? What if what if the person who needs help is bipolar?

Oh my God…

I see a lot of articles and blogs that detail how a person may really love their spouse, but they just can’t deal with them anymore. Yes, there are direct actions that can be the deal breakers. Violence, verbal abuse, financial catastrophe, legal problems that often go along with this illness can just be too much. But I have to believe that there’s a frustration level from wanting to help, needing to help, having to assist with and participate in treatment that is beyond definition. The more you love a person, the harder it is to see them go through such suffering. It can be too painful to even watch. There is a self preservation that eventually kicks in that brings a person to the end point.

Not always of course. There are stories I hear where couples push through it all and manage to get past the struggle. Every situation is personal, the capacity and ability to cope is unique, and the strength of the relationship can be very different. But I think that the majority of the time, relationships just don’t survive. No judgment either way; it just seems that is the way it is.

And given the difficulties with trying to help, needing to participate, and desire to make them well it’s no wonder it fails so many times. Regardless of how much a person is invested in someone’s health and well being, it just might not be possible to achieve. There are too many factors contributing to the outcome.   The willingness of the other partner to work together and commit to their own improvement can often determine the outcome. But, alas; sometimes it just isn’t enough.

I am a helper. I want to rescue. I believe that my insight and knowledge, and even experience can be valuable to others dealing with similar issues. I feel like I’ve made great strides in my own healing, and I would like other suffering like I did to heal some too. I’ve had a lot of people give me tremendous guidance and support, lifting me up from the worst of times and celebrating the successes. I want to give that back to others in need.

But just as I’ve learned for myself; ultimately the help comes from within. No matter the desire, the ability or the willingness; it’s not up to me. All I can do is care. And know when to quit.

Because sometimes, that’s the only choice.

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